The Great Indoors

Writing

As you down your vitamin D tablets like the sun-loving junkie that you are, perhaps with the other hand you could do something  a little bit more pleasurable (not like that), during these unprecedented times we find ourselves in.

Below, from the fluffy fun depths of my mind, I share with you just some of the activities I had originally planned to do in prison (once they find the body *wink wink)  but thought they could be put to use now, don’t you think?

Yoga

If you happen to have a random yoga mat stowed in your back bedroom since stealing it from a previous workplace, then indulge yourself in a bit of downward dog. If you don’t have the luxury of ‘permanently borrowing’ one then bite the bullet and bruise your hips against your cold wooden floor. Your hamstrings and peace of mind with thank you later even in your pelvic bones do not.

Benefits: increased flexibility, protection from injury (not guaranteed) and stress-relief

 

Spring Cleaning

Not one of my favourite activities I must admit but nonetheless essential these days, given that my present  hibernation antics have led to a state of being that would make a chronic hoarder look like a neat-freak, trust me.  A bit of useless dusting here, a spot of polishing there, all utterly pointless but do them anyway as you’ll ultimately feel much more proud of your dismal dismal cesspit, I can assure you.

 

Benefits: reduces allergies, fosters calmness and boosts your mood

 

Get Artsy

Get artsy not arsey by channeling that inner 8-year old who I’m sure you struggle to contain during your weekly exorcisms anyway. Crack open the colouring book and crayons and create a multi-million dollar masterpiece otherwise known as a unanimous mess that not even your blind mother would be proud of.  If you aren’t a fan of drawing then there’s always pottery, watercolours, glass-blowing and knitting available to tickle your pickle. Me, personally, I always resort to everyone’s old favourite – finger painting.

 

Benefits: your work gives others a laugh, inspires critical – thinking and improves coordination and motors skills

 

Movie Marathons 

Every film is like inception to me , I don’t have a clue what’s going on. But I’m sure in your case you love a bit of Jaws, Shawshank Redemption and Saving Private Ryan all rolled into one sitting. And for this very reason there is no better time to heat up the poppedy pop-corn than the present, am I right?

Benefits: encourages emotional release, problem solving and is actually a light workout

 

I hope you aren’t climbing your walls too much, in negative situations there can sometimes be a positive. Perhaps one of the above has encouraged you to see opportunity in a space you may not have seen it before.

 

Stay safe, stay inside. Hopefully this will all be over soon.

Too Narrow-visioned

Writing

For some of us, life revolves around a career, for others it’s family. But should life really have a sole focus? Is it wrong to lead an existence where we strive for one thing and neglect another? Benefit in one area of our life  to the detriment of another?

Need we only look at the rich lonely business with money to burn on himself but no partner or child to share it with. Or the family with 5 mouths to feed who are living off of rations. A dichotomous pair, with polarizing values. Are they both wrong? Should life be less about a ‘single’ goal and more about having a ‘range’of goals? Should life even be about having goals at all?

Personally, I’m annoyed at myself for having the blinkers on, and neglecting  certain areas of my life, life shouldn’t really be about one thing or the other. Truly, I believe it should be about balance.

And it has only  been through experiencing mistake after mistake via bad life decisions for me to realise this unfortunately. One example for me is infact career. I don’t know exactly where my obsession with gaining certain career goals originated, whether it was from the mouths of pale and stale teachers at school or from the rosy-pink lips of the celebs interviewed on TV. But either way, my obsessive drive to become ‘X’ as a career completely overruled any other aspect of my life as far back as my early teens.

At school I remember threats were frequent – ‘if you don’t do well at this subject then you won’t be employable. If you’re not employable then you won’t get a job, so you won’t earn money. SO you’ll die!’ This general spiel was a common go to for my college careers teacher. A spiel which struck me to my very core, instilling me with a fear and a drive to seek employment, to seek approval from others.

The beginning of a bad end was soon to commence in terms of ‘dream jobs’ for me. At this stage I think it’s best to announce my age, from the number of jobs I’ve had you’d think I was immortal but infact at 25 years old immortality is exchanged for a quarter-life crisis instead. What a trade-off!

Ofcourse I can’t just blame my teacher’s threats on being the reason I’ve experienced so many mishaps on the careers ladder, but it helps so I’ll just go with it (hehe).

Although I’m 25 years of age, I’ve had 8 jobs in 4 years (this should be a pub quiz question). No, each one didn’t last 6 months and yes, there were gaps of unemployment where I found myself crying in the corner of my room, the room I was soon to be kicked out of had I not have found a job to pay my rent. At one stage I kid you not I was down to my last £30 in my account.

But I guess the question isn’t – ‘how may jobs have I had’ but instead, ‘why have I had so many’? A question I do ponder over deeply at times. A short answer of which would be to simply say that I found each one of them boring. But the truth runs much deeper than this. Really, I think the tip of the iceberg is hinted at by a statement I mentioned earlier – ‘to seek the approval of others’. In my little brain I think at some moment in my life I had a eureka moment and I found contentment in knowing that if I obtained a ‘successful’ enough career in everybody else’s eyes then I myself would be happy. And with this mantra moulded into the neurons of my mind I set foot on getting a job in the music industry. Notorious for it’s glitz and glamour or so I thought. But shock horror hit when I actually found myself number-punching into Excel spreadsheets in an office where the perk of the day was getting a free biscuit with my luke-warm cup of tea. The moral of the story was the music industry I experienced wasn’t the music industry I had envisaged myself experiencing. And from this a trend of falling in and out of a jobs list as long as your arm commenced. At one stage I thought I’ll take any job just to pay my extortionate rent as I figure out what way I want to maneuver myself within the music industry. Which sounds good on paper but when you have a 12 hour shift as a host in a restaurant where you can’t sit down and get groped every 5 minutes by one of the bussboys then you suddenly start thinking that the luke-warm tea back at the office didn’t actually taste that bad afterall. Over the last 4 years that I’ve been in London, my job titles have changed, my salary has changed, my career goals may have even changed but one thing which has not changed is my exasperating attempts to achieve some sort of career pinnacle. Some role which will make my parents proud of me, make me enough money that I won’t have to continuously set things back at the checkout, a role which will make my friends say wow, and make me feel genuinely happy. But here comes the irony. That doesn’t exist. And why not?

Because there’s an imbalance, just as I’ve been stressing over obtaining a career everyone can give a thumbs up too, other areas of my life have been neglected. It’s all well and good landing work experience with a big-name company, but as you’re stapling their meeting packs together the thought of ‘I haven’t seen my friends in a while’ might just start to sink in. Or ‘when’s the last time I’ve been to the gym, or ate correctly, or been on a trip?’.

For me a big thing is being too hard on myself, like, I would never reward myself for any wins be them large of small. It was always on to the next goal without hesitance. Whereas if I made a mistake along the way to achieving a goal it would be in the back of my head for weeks at a time. This stick over carrot mentality coupled with my blinkered attitude towards career alone meant that my dearest relationships became frayed. On ths desperate hunt for career success I no longer saw my friends, I wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, all because I had this hardcore belief that I had no time for ‘distractions’, that I needed to focus on achieving my career ambitions. Meanwhile, had I stopped for a second and realised that the areas of life such as relationships, self-love and health hold equal importance to a career if not more. I was blind-sighted by my own obsession to seek the approval of everyone else around me all while I was slowly losing any care I had for myself.  

If you don’t take care of yourself this can manifest into snapping at those who you do care about the most – your family and close friends. For a while I felt so pressured to become something so specific, I put deadlines on every objective I had, most of the time unrealistic ones which meant I was always in a stressed-out mood. Consequently relationships with certain family members became strained. And this was the wake up call I needed to realise that I had gotten myself into a  heightened-state of disillusionment and pressure. If trying to get a high-flying career comes with the cost of losing touch with my family then I don’t want the career. Better yet, what I’ve came to realise is that having a good career in itself isn’t the key to happiness nor is it the key to sadness, the true takeaway point is having a good balance between numerous elements in life: social life, looking after your health, hobbies and job.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim to become ‘X’ but what I will stress is don’t become ‘X’ at the cost of everything else in your life! Trust me, balance is more important that you may think. x

The Gym – Satan’s Second Home

Writing

Not much of the athletic type, the only way you’ll get me running is in the opposite direction from you if you start going into a long-winded spiel about the weather or how you’re deeply madly in love with your cousin twice removed for that matter.

With that being said, I think my wispy body has been in desperate need of a bit of toning up, my mind continuously screaming out for a hit of dopamine, the kind only garnered after you’ve expelled every drop of blood, sweat and tears out of every orifice in thine very body. In other words – exercised.

With the intrinsic pep talk echoing in my ear one evening after I found myself binging my way into a diabetic coma, I decided to finally muster up the courage to face the embarrassment and shame of my noodle arms shaking under the tremendous pressure of a 5 lb dumbbell, (heaven forbid I tried deadlifts). I remember that first night as if it was yesterday (really it was a week ago but who’s counting), entering the gym felt more like entering an amphitheatre full of lions. Men built like bison, muscles bulging through their over-washed teeny weeny v-neck vest tops. I couldn’t place a bet on which would be first to rip, their crop tops or the vein in their thick thick necks from the gargantuan amount of strain which could have only surmounted in weight to easily 102.5 of my very self. A double take at that weight-lifting carry on was enough to have me retreat as any gym newbie does, by scuttling to the corner of the gym and onto a treadmill. From which I’m reaching for the oxygen tank like a chain smoker on death’s door, after all of 10 mins on the thing. I’ve gotten better though in my 5 days of attendance so far. I no longer use the treadmill, I attend the classes, which is the best solution if you’re like me and don’t have a clue how to use any of the gym equipment and don’t feel like losing a limb in the process of trying to use a weight machine only to find out it has a second calling as a modern day guillotine. If you don’t believe me watch the move – Final Destination 3, I’ll say no more on that front.

So far I’ve done yoga, and a spin class, which tallying it up now sounds pretty lame, but considering the most exercise I ever did prior to a week ago was holding the door open for a tailgater in my apartment block, then I’m doing quite well, don’t you think?

Next up is barre and Afrobeats, the dancer truly truly lost within me will be be buzzing for these. I better bring my sweatbands. Wish me luck………….

The Wacky Walking Race

Writing

Have you ever had a silent race on a footpath with a stranger? Where you both take it turns  to overtake one another. Steadily and surely picking up the pace in a desperate attempt to outmaneuver your opponent.

I’ve had this too, but what I haven’t had is an argument with an old lady who is desperately trying to outrun me on a  residential road on my walk home from work. Well, atleast that was the case until yesterday.

Yesterday evening it was dark, 5.30pm was fast approaching and my legs were making a speedy getaway from the workplace. On my usual route home I walk through quite a nice middle-class neighbourhood which, to my finding, can act as a quite the backdrop to some not so nice characters. As I trot down this residential road, as I do every other day, I try to overtake  a fellow commuter – a short elderly woman, who was walking at a slow pace and had a grocery bag full of red wine.  This was a maneuver I should have never attempted, no sooner am I inches ahead of her than can I see out of the corner of my eye her grey haired head bobbing straight passed me as she jogs with vigor to get ahead of me. I found this peculiar but thought nothing of it and so attempted to get passed granny once again. Yet this time, before I even had the chance to get parallel to her, she spins her head round like The Exorcist to glare at me before 1, 2 3, going at full throttle running the street to get away from me.

In shock at her antics I held back out of fear that had I somehow managed to outpace the geriatric then she’d have taken it upon herself to do me in in such classy style with a bottle of red wine to the back of the skull. And with that image quickly flashing into my head I decided to detour up a side road to avoid that rather inconvenient yet very probably possibility. And in doing so, the old doll, now an ant-like size in the distance, shouts back –  ‘good riddance, piss off’!

Now, bearing in mind I don’t know this woman from Adam or Eve, I have not bumped off her first born, taken the last red wine bottle in the supermarket or told her she’s a coffin dodger, so what is her problem? Can I not walk own the street without being hurled abuse at?

But I guess this is nothing compared to getting your hair spray painted red by an absolute stranger as you wait for bus no.24 at your local bus stop. Later do you come to realise through the city news rags that your newfound hairdresser is actually an escapee of a local London asylum. But I guess that’s a story for another time…..;)

Happy New Year To You, Not I

Writing

I hope you’re having a pleasant start to the new year, if not then I hope revelling in my misfortunes will have you grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. 

 

Having just about set foot inside my grotty London flat on the 1st Jan after a rather heart-palpitation inducing flight from Northern Ireland to visit the fam over the holidays, I’m greeted by a bold red-fronted letter of pure threat. Who could it be? My stalker’s love letters normally arrive for me on a Friday, it’s several days too early I pondered. Ripping it open in a fashion much similar to the scenes in Alien vs Predator where the Predator thrusts its hand into the victims stomach and then rips his spine out through his……we’ll not go there. Simply put, I open the letter with a hard swallow and what meets my eyes is the unwelcome invitation of a £1,000 fine coming my way if I so choose to abstain from paying for a TV license. Do you think I could get away with saying I don’t watch TV or is that a bit weak? I double blink in the hope that I just had a moment of utter delusion, as if the more I blinked the more zeroes would disappear from the fine. Just to be clear this is a warning – I’m yet to be fined, and have infact bought a TV License to cover my back for my endless bingeing of Botched, Louis Theroux and Sugar Rush (wait this is Netflix)? Anyhow it was just a miscommunication, I’m not keeping tabs on what channels charge me my hard earned money to become transfixed on the latest terrestrially televised topic. Why should I be? I have better things to do, like spend my wads of cash on the important things in life, such as scratchcards and Cuban cigars. 

 

As if this wasn’t enough, I also had a letter grace me from a magistrates court summoning me to appear infront of a judge for……..

 

I shouldn’t be divulging this information, for you’ll probably think I’m some sort of conman, it’s not like I intentionally forget to pay these bills, I just DO forget sometimes. Anyhow it’s all paid up now, besides it’s not like I’m tax evading millions (give it time). 

 

I’m off to buy a shredder for my letters, Happy New Year to you! 

Amazon’s Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Writing

Well, there we have it, Christmas is over for yet another year. No one wanted the tangerine in the stocking, but I think we’d take it over these gift mis-haps, don’t you?

1. A Box Of ‘Nothing’


Quite literally a box of absolutely nothing. Why why why would you buy this?

Customer Review 4.1 out of 5 stars, what is going on here?

2. Man Arm Body Pillow

Because nothing screams your a sad singleton more than the sight of a mono-limbed cushion to keep you warm and slightly disturbed at night.

3.Sandals – From The Dawn Of Time

Like some mongrel form of a slipper with teeth, these sandals are uncomfortably akin to those gifted to my very own Mother this passed Christmas by my Dad. I guess a sentencing of 25 years to marriage does something to you.

4.Party Decoration Props

Nothing says par-tay like a pile of dismembered body parts sprawled across a washing line. Not the best Christmas gift but perhaps that’s Halloween sorted.

5. Humping Animals Adult Colouring Book

Yes, this is actually a thing.And actually a number 1 best seller. Should it be? I’ll let you be the judge of that. Let’s hope no children fancy a bit of colouring.

*Ranked in no particular order!!

My Mystery Dining Experience

Writing

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out for I think you’ll find that I’m the true detective when it comes too all things ‘mysterious’.

Well, atleast when it comes to secret dining that is. Having recently signed up to a mystery dining program in the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of casting my judgmental beady eye across all sorts, from bitching waiting staff to rather greasy grub and everything inbetween.

‘Mystery dining’, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the task of eating free food and whinging about the customer service of the waiters. Just kidding, it’s much much more than that. It involves adopting an analytical eye, if you’re a natural people watcher then this job will be right up your street. You basically go out for a meal, acting as you would normally do and then write up a short report at the end of it noting the obvious stuff like the quality of the food and friendliness of the staff. Although the scheme I’ve signed up to doesn’t pay you,it does reimburse you, it isn’t about the money! It’s about improving the standards for the hospitality industry, right?

It’s a good means of enjoying meals out while doing something good for the industry on the whole. Who hasn’t had a bad dining experience? Wouldn’t it be good if you were a part of making this a more rare occurrence than it may currently be?

With dining under the spotlight, let’s have a look at some of the internet’s most shocking alleged dining experiences:

Unsanitary napkin

Liam: That would be the time I pointed out my dirty fork to the waiter. He picked it up along with my own napkin, rubbed the fork, then plonked both items back down and asked if we wanted starters.

Read more: METRO

This diner was disgusted to find maggots in a meal he had ordered at a restaurant - and he was still forced to pay the bill

Read more: Dailymail

One former restaurant worker recalled that cockroaches and flies were commonplace - unbeknownst to the diners

Read more: Dailymail

HOT TO THE TOUCH

“A few years ago, I was at a Mexican restaurant with some friends.

The waiter brings our food, and warns everyone that the plates are very, very hot.

So, of course, the first thing I do is touch my plate.

I burn my thumb on the hot plate, and my automatic reaction is to stick it in my mouth so it will stop hurting.

Just then, the woman at the next table starts yelling at her five-year-old son.

‘Stop sucking your thumb, Bobby! You’re a big boy, and big boys don’t suck their thumbs.’

The five-year-old points at me and screams, ‘They do, too!

He sucks his thumb! Look! He sucks his thumb!’

Everyone in the restaurant turns to look at me, and I try to vanish behind my menu.

Read More: Oola

 

 

Have you ever had a bad dining experience like these? 

 

 

Poem: Winter

Writing

 

Cheeks flushed crimson,

Embers crackle,

As the smoke billows beyond the seams of the Oak smoked door.

 

A faint glow from within the forest,

The little cottage.

Offering temporary relief,

From a permanent frost.

 

Brave the wind, the rain and the snow.

A feat too difficult for now.

Yet a necessity for

Tomorrow.

 

Poem: La Familia

Writing

La Familia,

Blood’s thicker than water.

A ‘V’ for Vendetta,

If any were to ‘runneth’ over.

 

Sibling feuding subsides,

Eyes are dried as,

The belly of the beast rolls over in submission.

Fist fights in a blink of an eye become,

Nothing more than a memory of augmented vision.

 

La Famila,

The Family,

The Clan.

Does the man make the family,

Or does the family make the man?

I Thought I Was Going Blind

Writing

Sitting at my desk in the office yesterday morning, everything was just peachy (or so I thought). Despite my eyelids occasionally closing over due to boredom, for the rare moments I decided to forcefully will them open, I could see as clear as day.

 

But for some reason or other I decided to wink at my morning array of spreadsheets and in doing so came to the stark realisation that my vision in my left eye was completely blurry.

 

 My vision through my right eye only was fine, through both eyes combined  it was fine, yet when solely using my left eye to look at the screen I was met with a blurred mess. It was as if someone had just poked my cornea with a vaseline blobbed finger and then proceeded to hold my head over a spoiled scrabble board. 

 

Feeling like I was about to give the game up on my sight I started panicking. Quietly. With the blurriness becoming progressively stronger I speedily sent my manager an email emphasising that my vision was weakening and that I needed to go to the opticians straight away. So sprinting into the store in an unshakeable panic I begged for an immediate eye test. My fear was less about my actual eye health to be honest and more about the condition of my brain. The earliest eye test to my dismay was to be a one hour wait. 

 

Advised to head to A&E if it got worse, I  instead chose to wait it out. Waiting out the time felt like a lifetime. Back to the opticians an hour later and I’m getting air shot into my eye and asked if I could read outloud a love letter that had been etched onto the back of a postage stamp. 

 

What were the results? 

 

Following an array of tests, I was put out of my misery as the optometrist declared that my eyes and corresponding vessels were all healthy. 

 

So what was causing the blurriness? And why was it only in one eye? 

 

The glasses. 😦

 

The bloody things which were meant to better my eyesight ironically played a crucial part in its deterioration. 

 

It’s because of the following explanation that I urge you to ensure that you get your eyes tested frequently and make sure your prescription is the most accurate  and updated one tailored for your sight. 

 

It starts with the fact that no two eyes are ever going to be the same strength, and for me my right eye is stronger than my left. So in theory I would need different lens strengths in my glasses, with each lens being specifically made for each eye. What happened in this situation was that this was not the case. Instead, the lens magnification which best suited my stronger right eye was placed into both the left and right eye section of the glasses. As a result my left eye was being put under constant strain every time I wore my glasses, to the point where the muscles were overworking so much it resulted in what felt like a remaining partial blindness in the left eye. 

 

Examples to describe giving the wrong glasses may be along the lines of:

 

-Giving chocolate to a dog. It poisons them. 

-Pouring salt on a slug. It does them no favours

-Giving someone a chocolate teapot. It’s useless. 

 

The bottom line is the glasses were not helping my eyes, they were hindering them, hence not fulfilling their purpose!

 

So Now I’m met with the choice of either not wearing glasses at all while I’m doing computer work or paying between £39 – £69 per pair (I have two pairs with these incorrectly fitted lenses). Do you think they should pay for the lens change? Or should I?

 

**This frightful momentary state of panic made me appreciate how complex we are as humans. It made me realise how important it is to look after yourself. We are human beings, made up of such complex biology. It’s astonishing how every cell in our bodies serves a purpose. And how easy it is for part of this harmony to be abruptly thrown out of sync.

 

Take care of yourself!

Is It Nice To Be Nice To Others?

Writing

Living in a city, living on top of each other, I think it’s easy to get impatient and somewhat claustrophobic. Carrying out my own little experiment in the last couple of months has brought with it some striking revelations. 

I wanted to test the waters – does being nice to people make them nicer to you? 

So to test this, I carried out the following experiments, firstly I would be ‘impatient’ with people, not overtly rude, but instead show my disapproval to something I found they were doing annoying. Then following on from this, for the remaining weeks I would put effort in to be nicer than necessary e.g. smiling at a stranger in the park, asking an eldelry person if they needed help carrying their groceries and so on….. 

This is how it unfolded:

The Supermarket Face Smasher

If you read my post on pet peeves then you’ll know my utmost deteste for queue jumpers, almost as much as I hate when someone shoulder barge me to get out of the queue.  Lining up at the self-checkout a random woman decides she no longer wants to be in the queue, which is fine (I thought). She proceeds to try and exit the queue through the most awkward of routes, squeezing passed everyman man, woman and child still in the queue instead of just going through the self checkouts. As she passes me in the queue she almost knocks me flying.

This is where I have a decision to stfu or say something, as it’s the mean experimental month I utter ‘you could’ve said excuse me’, she then says ‘excuse me’ in an aggressive tone to which I repeat ‘you could’ve said excuse me’ her next comment was ‘I’ll smash your face in!’ Security de-escalated the issue pretty quickly but let’s just say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. She may have looked like your plain Jane but really probably is the kind of person who acts like their sh*t doesn’t stink and would quite happily lock their husband/wife up in the downstairs basement for not hoovering the floor by the time they got back from strangling their colleague at work. 

Note to experiment – don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Should I have said something? I think not!

Tut Tut Tut

Train etiquette for anyone with manners is – if you’re at the platform waiting for someone to get on then you wait until anyone exiting the train carriage has gotten OFF! Obviously some ignorant individuals didn’t get the memo because as I approached the exit doors of the train all I could see was this keen bean of an ignoramus prancing up onto the carriage just as the doors were opening, I try to step off but he basically baracades me in the carriage, I swerve passed him tutting as loud as a jet engine into his left ear, to which he responds with an inferior tut, I then wanted to have the last tut so I tut again, he then looks round at me as the train doors are closing, he, now inside the carriage and me on the platform tuts again, I watch the train pull off now unable to see him clearly as the windows are slightly blacked out but still stubborn I gave one final tut and walked off laughing at both of our pettiness. 

Tutting wars! I’m sorry but this guy was all self with – ‘I want on the train, I don’t care if I block you getting off, blah blah blah’ marked across his forehead.

Should I Have tutted? No (I should’ve fly-kicked him back out the train doors).

The list of petty squabbles goes on ashamedly, but all for the name of science!

Fast forward a few weeks later and the mother Therea in me makes an appearance in full force, I’m rescuing kittens from trees, stopping crime in its tracks, helping old ladies cross roads. Ok maybe not this far but I did try and go out of my way to be nicer than what would be accepted as normal, and in the process got a few weird looks but also a few genuine smiles. Let me tell you why:

It’s In The Eyes

For the most part we go through life minding our own business, especially when walking down streets. Here, it can sometimes feel like the pavement is a magnet for our eyes in order for us to avoid the awkward eye contact with a passerby. I wanted to see if I could break this  internal awkwardness and see if I could instead show eye contact to a total stranger alongside a polite smile to see if it could be reciprocated. 

The success rate was surprisingly promising, not that I walked around in public like a grinning cheshire cat, I chose my targets wisely and pleasantly enough us city dwellers are warm when given the chance. 

Note: The acknowledgment of someone else’s existence should be encouraged more! 

Volunteering

My previous post outlines my recent volunteering experience, but to be clear I didn’t choose to volunteer for an experiment it was for much deeper personal reasons I may share in the future. But nevertheless it really emphasises that doing good for others in return can make you feel better about yourself. 

Note: Help others and you help yourself.

Conclusion

I carried out minor behaviors to see if it changed my external environment, if it changed people’s interactions with me, and in conclusion I believe it did.

Does being nice to people mean they’ll be nice to you? Not all the time, but I definitely think it does for the majority of time. 

I’m not saying you should change how you act just to get people to like you but I think on a minor level, simply being aware of your behaviour in more settings will help both you and the people around you. This is what I have found in my own experience, it is nice to be nice to people. And that most people are nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  

What’s Your Biggest Pet Peeve(s)?

Writing

This thought infiltrated my mind with the waft of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ on the train during my early morning commute to work today. For anyone unfamiliar with this term ‘ploughman’s lunch’, you’ve lived a very sheltered childhood, a very lucky childhood. It’s basically a cheese (sewage) and pickle sandwich, and the scent and sight of it makes my skin crawl. 

 

Today my attention was brought to a rather ravenous commuter munching on his sandwich like he was attending the last supper. Which I found particularly revolting in itself, no hand sanitizer + grotty train = hepatitis by mid-afternoon. But little did I know the levels of grossness this guy would sink to had no limits. Once he finished (thank God), he proceeded to throw the sandwich foil on the ground and started picking his nose rather aggressively. I turned my head away in a knee-jerk reaction to this, but like we all do, when someone is doing something abnormally gross we have to keep peering back. Like, whenever we chop garlic and then can smell it on our fingers for days, we keep checking our fingers daily to see if the smell remains, don’t you do that? I peer down the train carriage at him as he digs for gold, my brow furrows even deeper the more he digs into his flared nostrils. Repulsive! Thank goodness I got off at the next stop, I can only fear what he would’ve done next!

 

It got me thinking, what’s your biggest pet peeve? For me the list is never ending but to save time I’ll have to go with these top 3 in no particular order :

 

  1. Loud talkers
  2. People who smack with their mouths while eating
  3. Queue jumpers

 

Let’s see what some countries voted as their top pet peeves courtesy of Forbes:

 

  • Americans get more irritated than other nationals by co-workers taking others’ food from the office refrigerator.
  • Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.
  • Germans are annoyed by dirty common areas (the community microwave or refrigerator) more than the rest of the world.
  • Indians react more negatively to irritating mobile phone ringtones.
  • Japanese are more peeved by office pranks than others.

 

Relate to any of the above?

Poem: Stress

Writing

Stress.
The subtle strangler.
It manifests itself in many ways.
A fabrication of the mind.
Sending cortisol coursing through our veins.

Life – so full of precious pressures.
So petty, so small, minute.
‘A busy life is a happy one.’
A lie disguised as truth.

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?

 

 

 

 

Homesickness & Appreciation

Writing

Am I the only person who gained a newfound appreciation for my home country only once moving away from it?

I think the saying is true, we don’t really know how much we miss something until we no longer have it. And this point couldn’t have revealed itself to be more true than during my recent trip back to visit my parents in Northern Ireland.

I use to think that the little town I grew up in had nothing going for it. But actually it has quite the opposite, it holds my most cherished childhood memories, from my first day at primary school to the day I left for university, it was the place I was a child, the place where I was brought into this world. And I will always be thankful for that. Northern Ireland, in such a contrasting way to my parent’s experience due to The Troubles, gave me an overall safe childhood, filled with an eclectic range of memories, from my 12 year old self racing snails on makeshift race tracks I caught in the local park to my awkward yet endearing coming of age self throwing the bizarrest of shapes at school prom nights in cold Decembers.

I used to think I was from a quite a quiet place but with time my perception has changed, I’ve came from quite a peaceful place. That the smell of manure infiltrated my lungs making me wish I didn’t have a nose at some stages, yet now, I see it as a welcome home sign, a pleasant change from more polluted places.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that I detest city life, if that were the case I wouldn’t be living in a city. Infact I like living in a city because it makes me appreciate the places I visit when I’m not in the city even more if that makes any sense!

Do you have an appreciation for your country of birth?

 

Poem: A Parent’s Love

Writing
A Parent’s Love
Embers of amor engulf us as you touch my face once more.
Held in your arms as closely as the day on which I was born.
You have loved me from the moment my heart began beating.
A childhood spent with you,
If only time could be repeated.
Although I will grow up,
I will always be your child.
A bond that’s shared – so strong,
A love so unconditional – it’s blind.
**Picture taken by me at Woburn Safari Park in Summer 2019.

Poem: Anger

Writing

Teeth grit like vice grips on steel.

The metallic hiss rings unforgivingly long.

I raise my hands to the air

Empty handed I surrender.

Empty handed I look for answers.

Yet none rings true for this.

Like a swinging pendulum

I’m hot and then cold

Impatience – an unwelcome friend yet makes itself all too known.

Trying to pacify myself is like

Trying to run backwards up a hill.

Continuously falling downwards.

Makes for a bitter

Pill.

To swallow.

I wallow,

I’m self pity.

Woe be to me for I have seen more tragedy,

In my little mind’s eye than you’ve seen wrongs over rights.

More sleepless nights,

As the hag rides,

Drive bys

Seem like nursery rhymes

Compared the stories I rewind at bedtime.

An Evening Lit By Candlelight

Writing

It’s been a hot minute (I hate that term) since I’ve written anything mildly conducive to that of an Individual with half a brain cell..

I don’t know why but lately I’ve found it difficult being organised, finding time to post anything. I’ve found it difficult feeling fulfilled. So much so that I’ve perhaps exchanged the time dedicated to blogging to doing ‘other things ‘ which may have promise of filling this void of unfulfillment.

So last week I told myself I would try some new things. But one thing I didn’t expect to do was

Grieve. In public.

A friend of mine lost her father earlier this year and invited me to attend a grieving event in London the Sunday just passed. I can’t deny that I was apprehensive to attend. I thought grief was an emotion shown only to your closest of family members, not strangers seated before a candlelit table, but as the experience taught me, sometimes strangers can offer a support of their own in a profound way.

Ofcourse hindsight is a beautiful thing, because prior to the event I was truly afraid incase it would leave me with an overbearing feeling of sadness. A selfish thing to say, I know. But there’s a reason why grieving events aren’t as popular as club nights, I’m sure we can all agree on this. At the same time I was fearful that I may not connect enough, and show a lacking depth of emotion.

Regardless of my internally antagonistic thoughts which churned almost as aggressively as the butterflies in my queasy stomach, I attended.

On arrival I had anticipated an event somewhat structured like that of an alcoholics anonymous session, yet it was far from that. Held in a room not big enough to swing a cat in, attached by a tiny corridor to the rest of the building which took the form of a boisterously bustling bar. Quite a dissimilar fit I thought as I was greeted at the door of this tiny corridor by the friendly faced event organiser. 

 

Entering the room as a latecomer, my friend and I sat in the remaining two chairs at a table already occupied by eight. All women, no men. Which was something quite resonating and sad in itself. I took a seat and looked around at the faces, and was met with a mixture of emotions, from sadness to restraint.

We took it in turn sharing stories of the people close to us who we had lost, I found it a bit too much at times to be honest. Without delving too deep, witnessing the tellings of stories of battles with long term illnesses and overdoses was a sobering experience. Sitting in this little room lit by candlelight, the soft glow emphasising the pained expressions of the women in attendance. The atmosphere was vulnerable and heavy and raw.

I came away from the evening thinking of how we all live in our own little bubbles and sometimes think that we are the only ones going through troubles, that dark times just aren’t as dark for others as they are for us. But that Sunday evening proved to me that this just isn’t the case. 

I’m not saying that it’s a good thing that you or I are not the only ones suffering in the world but what I am saying is that there’s a relatability and with this comes shared understanding and support if needed. If you are facing a challenging time in your life, chances are someone else is too. And what we find is talking outward about an issue is always healthier than internalizing it. 

I thought I would come out of the grieving event on a low and I did temporarily due to the nature of the event but on the whole I came away taking with me a sense that everyone has ups and downs in life and that support is there for you. You really aren’t alone. 

 

 

 

 

Rejection – Don’t Fear It (Too Much)

Writing

“Rejection” 

 

A word soaked in stigma, in negative connotations, but do we have to be so damning to a term which in some respects, paradoxically takes ownership for so many of our successes?

 

It’s a stinging word, bringing with it an overcast of self-doubt and worthlessness. As Steve Harvey said  – “success is about being comfortable with being uncomfortable”, it’s undeniable how discomforting and belittling rejection can be to us. But is it true, can we really have success without first facing rejection? Can we really appreciate the sweetness that is success if we haven’t yet experienced the sourest of rejections?

Overall, is being turned down in the moment really as bad as we think, or is it the kickstarter to our successes to come? 

First, let’s take a look at some of history’s most memorable dismissals:

  • Walt Disney was fired from the newspaper ‘Kansas City Star’ for lacking ‘imagination’.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired as an evening news reporter in her early days, for being unable to resist forming an emotional attachment to her stories she reported on.
  • Megastar singer Lady Gaga, once she was finally signed onto a major record label, was dropped only three months after being signed. 
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

Not that I’m going to be the next Michael Jordan anytime soon, but I myself have been all too familiar with that stomach dropping feeling of rejection .Particularly when it comes to jobhunting. If  I started counting up the number of job applications I’ve received an automated ‘no’ email from to this date, they’d have to create a concept greater than infinity for me, I can’t lie to you. 

From work to love and everything inbetween, it seems rejection is friendly company to this thing we call ‘life’.

So if it can greet us in varying forms can it also show itself as a range of intensities?

Does a decline sting us more when linked to something we are heavily invested in? If your crush at school declines your advances, is this a tougher pill to swallow than if the village idiot did so?

If you’ve studied and worked your ass off for 3 years to get a promotion on route to your dream role, will a redlight on the careerpath derail you moreso than a rejection email for a role you’ve never even heard of?

Ofcourse it would, I think the bottomline is that none of us can hand on heart say that rejection has a nice ring to it, infact we at times go as far to say that we go out of our ways to avoid it as much as possible. But perhaps that is the real downfall of it all. By trying to reject rejection are we really infact doing ourselves more harm than good?

To try and understand this, let’s take a look at the reasons why us humans dislike rejection:

  • Physical and emotional pathways of the brain – studies have shown that the same areas of the brain are activated when we experience physical pain as when we feel rejection. So heartbreak really is a thing!
  • Blame the ancestors – as social creatures you can imagine that from a survival perspective, being ostracised from a clan has a high chance of meaning a struggle to survive and potentially even death.  Evolutionary psychologists have theorised that the human brain developed an early warning system to alert us when we were at risk of being outcasted. Perhaps this explains why I always bribe people with chocolate or smother them with chloroform if given any sudden inclination of their attempt to exile me.
  • Rejection swells aggression and anger – a report stated that  rejection was a greater risk for adolescent violence than drugs, poverty, or gang membership. Exclusion is a major factor being considered for rising knife crime in London at the moment. If people don’t feel accepted then they rebel. 

But with these negative impacts in mind, can there really be any supporting evidence for saying that rejection isn’t solely a bad thing?

  • Rejection could lead to greater levels of creativity – a Johns Hopkins university study alluded to the idea that although as humans we yearn for a sense of togetherness, a sense of belonging, it appears that some of us yearn for this less than others, and some more than others. Hence those who take a more independent path may actually find rejection from a certain social group a source of validation that they are not like others, this unconventional personality type could lead to greater creativity. Now, I’m not saying that we should all become loners and be ok with it, and in the process of doing so  we’ll become the next Picasso, all I’m saying is…..read the study!
  • Rejection gives you a chance to reset, refocus and have less regrets – The American Psychological Association shares that individuals who hold onto unresolved regrets exhibit more depressive symptoms than those who let it go. In my own experience the feeling of rejection is honestly easier to take than ‘if only I had done this…..’. 

Personally, I see rejection as a temporary sting that’s accompanied by alot of learning if you are open to the lesson in each experience.

If you can take rejection then it means you can take risks, if you can take risks then it means you will  increase your chances of being rejected more times. But guess what, it also means you will increase your chances of learning something from that ‘no’ and so increase your chances of getting that ‘yes’. The more chances you take the more likely you are to hit the jackpot. Think of the lottery! 

I feel like we hold more power to the act of rejection than we should. Life doesn’t fall apart on the bad luck of a lottery ticket, we don’t decide to declothe in the moment, crawl into a little ball and rock ourselves back and forth in our living rooms (that kind of activity is saved exclusively for Saturday nights), importantly we may even try and win the lottery a fortnight after again. And in this process of being rejected you have learnt an important quality of your character – your perseverance.

We ‘assume’ that the world around us will come crashing down if and when we are rejected. And for this reason a lot of us aren’t functioning at our highest potential. We aren’t taking the risks we have the opportunity to take and so we aren’t living to our full potential. As important as our primitive brains have been in our struggle for survival, in this day and age, the mind can sometimes be the matter. Don’t let rejection stop you from reaching your full potential. 

 

So to you I say – when are you going to be rejected next?