Hollywood Trips Into Diversity

Progress is finally being made in Hollywood!

Viola Davis won an Oscar for Supporting Actress in Fences, and thus became the first black woman to win a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar award for acting.

Moonlight star Mahershala Ali has become the first ever Muslim actor to win an Oscar!

And, after a particularly awkward mix-up that even trumps the epic fail for the Miss Universe pageant back in 2015, Moonlight won Best Picture (and Best Adapted Screenplay).

But let’s not focus on the blunder and consider what this means for non-white film-makers.

It’s 2017 and we’re still struggling with racism and racial inequality, and the EU referendum and the Presidential election have not helped with this. There have been people shouting at black and Asian people in the streets, telling them to “go back to your own country”, and it’s disgusting. And Hollywood has not exactly helped to deter this ridiculous idea that white people are supposedly more superior. And I’m not just talking about Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winners. I’m looking at the fact that there are still so many white leads, and the fact that – especially now – the only acting roles that Arab men seem to be able to get are the roles of terrorists, and black men in gangs, like there aren’t any white people who do things like that. It’s insane that non-white people are still portrayed as the bad guys in a lot of films, because by now we just know for a fact that that is certainly not the case.

So I was rooting for Moonlight at the Oscars, which is a beautiful film about a young black man struggling with his sexuality and finding his place in life. The fantastic thing about this film winning Best Picture is the fact that it finally shows a response from Hollywood to the lack of diversity in films in the past. There are so many different stories out there to be told, and finally something is being done to ensure that we as an audience get to hear them.

Source: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Of course, racial equality still has a long way to go, unfortunately, but this year is already a year to be celebrated for these milestones. Let’s hope that Hollywood and society continue to progress.

Well done to everyone at the Oscars!

8 Ideas For Coping With Depression

Around one in five people in the UK suffer from anxiety or depression, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Depression is slowly becoming more understood and accepted in society, and there are now some well-known ways that a person can use to overcome their battle with depression. I would like to share with you eight ideas for coping with depression.


Make exercise more of a convenience

We’re always told that exercise helps battle depression due to the release of endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. The problem with exercise, for me, however, is the inconvenience of physically having to go out to the gym or out for a run, especially with it being cold. After all, it’s just me I’m letting down, right? Who cares?

NO.

If that’s the state of mind you’re in when you think about exercise, change it. Find a way to make exercise more convenient for you, whether it’s by getting a gym membership to motivate you to get your money’s worth or having a partner to exercise with on a regular basis (this can be running, or going to the gym, or playing a game like squash or football – anything).

If you have the money to splash out a bit, you could even start exercising from the comfort of your own home by buying your own personal exercise machine. I purchased a Ultrasport Home Trainer F-Bike on eBay (it cost me £40 second hand and is in fantastic condition) and try to do at least 2 km two days a week. Sometimes I come home from college or work feeling extremely annoyed and I take my frustrations out on the bike; 3+ km later I feel the euphoric rush of endorphins and no longer care about the exasperations of the day. And I haven’t even had to leave my house to get that hit.

I have also started completing some of the 30 day exercise challenges, which make me feel a sense of achievement, even if they do sometimes hurt like hell. These challenges give you targets to meet every day, whether it be lunges, push ups, crunches, or sit ups. There are rest days every five days for you to recover as well. I am coming to the end of the 30 Day Easy Squat Challenge, and although I am so looking forward to it ending, I can’t wait for the next challenge. I may do the sit up challenge next.

Even dancing around like a lunatic in your room is a form of exercise; plus it can be really fun and allow you to loosen up after a tense day. Do whatever you can. The idea is to make it as easy and as convenient as possible for you to exercise regularly. Get those muscles pumping!

Source: Headspace
 


Breathe: Yoga or Meditation

Yoga and meditation can be used to train your mind to dismiss negative thoughts that can worsen your anxiety or depression. Just ten minutes of yoga or meditation a day can be enough to reduce your anxiety, improve your sleeping patterns, and relieve any strain in relationships with friends, family and co-workers.

Yoga and deep breathing classes are a great way to maintain a routine, learn different poses from a professional yoga trainer, and meet new people. However, if this does not suit you, there are other alternatives. Does anyone still have the WiiFit? If you do, there are a number of different yoga poses to try on there. There are also a number of YouTube channels to choose from for your yoga fix. YogiApproved.com have a list of 18 recommended YouTube channels to suit your needs.

In terms of meditation, again there are a number of meditation classes and YouTube videos to choose from – check out Mindful Muscle’s 7 Best YouTube Guided Meditations for some inspiration and see what fits your needs. There are also a number of apps to choose from. I personally use Headspace. It’s available both on iPhone and Android and each session is just 10 minutes long – ideal if you don’t have a lot of time.

 

Medical Assistance

This probably seems an obvious one, but I’ve still put it on the list because it’s incredible how many people dismiss it for whatever reason. There is no shame in asking for professional help. Some people just need a leg up, and some need a bit more assistance. Either way, counsellors and antidepressants are there for a reason. And if something isn’t working, don’t do what I did and give up: try something else.

I tried a number of different counsellors in my area, as well as fluoxetine and citalopram, and nothing was making me feel better, so I just gave up and somewhat submitted to the dark cloud of depression over my head until my boyfriend pressed me to try again. I have now been on 50 mg of sertraline for about 6 months and I finally feel like I can start to overcome depression with these different ideas. So definitely go back to your doctor if you feel your prescription isn’t working for you.

Your doctor might also suggest you set a monthly or bi-monthly appointment with them to monitor your progress on the medication, which you should definitely do if possible. Note any side effects and hopefully you will find an antidepressant that works for you. If not, don’t worry – there are other types of treatment out there, which I’m sure your doctor will go through with you.

Counselling aims to talk through any problems you are having, identify key events that may have lead to your mental illness, and coach you on how to challenge any negative thoughts that you may be having. Just because the counsellors in my area didn’t suit me doesn’t mean that they won’t be useful for you.

There are a number of different types of counselling to choose from, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal therapy, and Psychodynamic therapy. Talk through your choices with your doctor and see how it goes. And if you do go to counselling, try to be as open as possible with your feelings and requirements as possible (I asked my counsellor to be less sympathetic because I got enough of it back home, and he was actually really great about it). And if you feel you’re not progressing with that counsellor, try another. They are paid to help you, so shop around as much as you can.

 

One of my rats, Chadwick
One of my rats, Chadwick

Therapy Pets

Animals might be the key to your recovery – how amazing is that?

A therapy pet’s duty is to give a person struggling with mental health issues a loyal companion while also helping to boost their confidence and reduce their anxiety. The fact that a living creature depends on you to feed it and look after it can give a person a strong sense of routine, something that they may have lost track of if they are struggling with depression or anxiety, and the reward of gaining their love and trust is inconceivable. Just simply stroking an animal or watching fish swim around is well known to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.

Therapy pets can be any animal you wish, and since the needs of different pets vary widely there is no need to worry about biting off more than you can chew. Whether you want a dog to help you to start walking every day, or a goldfish that just needs a pinch of food every day and regular tank cleans, a therapy pet can help significantly with your mental health.

I have five rats as therapy pets (I know, that sounds absolutely insane!), and they brighten up my life so much.

The reason I chose rats is because I missed having rodents in my life, and rats are perhaps the most rewarding rodents you could keep as pets. They are extremely affectionate (I just wanted all of the love), and highly intelligent – you can train them much like you can a dog. They also really love to play, so I knew I would never feel alone with them in my life. They don’t get overly grumpy or judgemental like humans can, and their love is unconditional. Basically whenever I feel down I turn to my rats to cheer me up, and they haven’t failed me yet.

Another great thing about rats is that, like dogs, you can enter them into shows! I am a member of the North of England Rat Society, which is fantastic for meeting new people and giving and receiving advice on looking after your rats.

There are a lot of pros and cons to each animal, so it’s always worth doing some research before you choose a therapy animal, and make sure that you can afford potential vet bills.

Of course, there are people out there who can’t get their own therapy pet due to living circumstances or just not having the time or the money to keep them. However there are other ways in which to get your furry fix. Going horse riding has the added benefit of fresh air and exercise.


Do things that make you feel good – even if you don’t feel like it

One of the ways in which depression makes us feel utterly alone and useless in the world is by making us lose interest in the things we used to love. It makes us feel too overwhelmed to even think about doing those fun things, and before we know it life just seems pointless.

While you may not be able to force those feelings away and have fun, you can push yourself to do things that you enjoyed once, whether that be a sport that you enjoyed, a walk in the park, some music or art, or just going out with friends. Set yourself little goals that are really easy to achieve and you could be surprised by how much better you feel for it. You might even start to have some fun again!

I used to do a lot of writing, which I haven’t done for a good couple of years due to my depression. I recently decided to set myself a daily task of 100 words a day – or more if I feel like it – just to get back into the habit of writing again. It didn’t have to be good or make much sense. It just had to be a minimum of 100 words each day. Sometimes I don’t manage it, and I have to remind myself that it’s okay to not always meet this target – it’s a work in progress to make this a habit again. But the fact that I am writing – somewhat – again feels amazing. I feel as though I’m slowly seeing the real Claire again. I try not to think about the fact that this post took me three weeks to write!


Learn something new!

What better way to earn a sense of achievement? It can be absolutely anything and has the potential to become a new hobby for you to turn to in times of need. I’m learning how to knit and crochet and it’s actually been so ideal for me. I can do it whenever I want, whether it’s while I’m watching TV or working out on my exercise bike, and it also gives my hands something to do – I have a condition called dermatillomania, which causes me to obsessively pick at my skin, so knitting and crochet have reduced this significantly for me.

You could also try learning a language, photography, sewing, a musical instrument, anything that is doable for you and that will give you a real sense of achievement.

Stay connected to friends and family who can offer you support

This may seem like an obvious one, but one of the biggest things that depression does is make you feel alone in the world. You don’t feel like going out with friends anymore because you feel like you’ll just be a constant downer and they won’t want to hang out with you.

You are WRONG.

We are fortunate today that society is becoming more aware of mental illnesses, and understand better that depression is a whole lot more than just “feeling down”. There is more respect and support now for those who struggle with mental illnesses than ever before.

The worst thing you can do is shut yourself away from those who can help you overcome this. Friends and family are there for us to reach out to when we’re in the darkest of places, just like we are for them in their hour of need. You are not a burden; you are a human being fighting a mental illness. The fact that you have decided that you have accepted this and decided to find ways in which to conquer it just shows how strong you are. But a battle is never won alone. You need comrades.

Going out with friends can take your mind off your depression for a little while and make you feel better about yourself. You can also confide in them about how you’re feeling, and maybe help support them in their woes – if you’re anything like me, then you can deal with anyone’s issues but your own!

Social support is essential to your recovery, so make the time to call or hang out or send a message.

 

Keep a Bullet Journal


This is a fantastic way to plan your days, set goals for yourself, and unleash your creative side. As the Bullet Journal website puts it, “The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.”

Your bullet journal can be as simple or as extensive as you want it to be. You can jot down a list of things to do and goals to aim towards each day and places you need to be. You can also create ‘collections’ of information you want to keep a record of, such as books you want to read, movies you want to see, new healthy habits you want to start up and maintain, and savings goals. It can also help you to introduce the previous coping ideas into your life without you having to remember it all in your head.

It is your own planning and creative haven for you to do as you wish with.

If you’re still not sure about bullet journals, there are plenty of websites and YouTube videos out there to help you figure out if keeping one would be useful for you. Boho Berry is a particularly good channel to go to in order to gain a good idea of how to start and use a bullet journal.

I hope that these ideas help you to get onto the road to recovery. Regardless of whether you have suffered with depression for a day or 10+ years, you are not alone and you can get through this. You just need love and support, and with that you can get through anything, even this horrible chapter in your life.

And remember: you are worth every second that you are in this world.

 
Keep smiling!
 
Claire

A Brief Description of Depression: Wooden Wheel

Ring o’ ring o’ roses… Ring o’ ring o’ roses…
Ring o’ ring o’ roses…
Ring o’ ring o’ roses…

It’s dark behind the lids. The clouds are blacker than night and they stick like tar melted to the eyeballs. The brain is numb and the tears blotch the skin and every day they sit on the chest and whisper and snarl, and laugh and sneer. And they bounce and jump and flop and loll. They wear dark grey suits and never walk alone. Instead they catch a ride on the first poor soul who stops, who only too late understands the ignorance and apathy of the others as they choke from the dangling bodies now swinging around the neck.

The definition of maybe is never. Weight and daggered tongues press against the skin and flesh and bones, and the saliva eats through all like acid. Decrepit and insane, the feast is only just beginning as the chains close around tendons and wood and the cries are choked and strained and ignored. And the spinning…

Ring o’ ring o’ roses…
Ring o’ ring o’ roses…
Ring o’ ring o’ roses…
Ring o’ ring o’ roses…

The wheel never stops; it just keeps turning, and turning, and turning… The angle of the spine is excruciating and the shoulder blades dig into the hard wood; bone dowels mated to the circumference, and the hot sweated glue locks it air tight. The carvings deepen with each turn; the dancing of fire illuminates the crazed red eyes and the skin melted off to reveal the bloody flesh and the wide maw opens and closes as shrieks of psychotic joy leave through its teeth.

The axle screeches its miserable tune as the cackling continues…

The fog is thick and the hands are cold as they close around both wrists and slam them into the hard dirt. A crash and a shriek are drowned by the roars of monstrous laughter and the cracking of ribs as the weight increases and blood rushes out in streams of ruby wonder.

Its heat soon dissipates; as do the memories of good times in which smiles were wide and pearls glistened in the golden rays of the sun. As do the hopes and pleas and the nails that bite into the wood and splinter, and the limbs that struggle and strain and fight, and the tears that glistened and fell and the thoughts of conquer and prevalence. All of them: gone.

The dark darkens and the light ceases to have ever had a meaning.

Source: Kevin Casper

Overworked and Underpaid: The Painful Truth About Being a Waitress

Before I got my current position as a quality inspector for an engineering firm, I was a waitress for a total of three years. I can safely say that it was the worst job I have ever had – and I’ve cleaned toilets for goodness’ sake!

During high school I never imagined I would ever be a waitress. I can be a bit clumsy on my feet, and I couldn’t see me managing to balance trays of glasses and meals on my forearms without dropping them. But I quickly learned that jobs are really hard to come by, and so when I finally got offered a job as waiting on staff, I didn’t hesitate in taking it.

When I started university – and thus at the hotel I’d been working at for the past two years – I started to really see how rubbish it can be in the world of hospitality. I know it’s not as bad waiting on in America, where you rely on tips to make a living, but because everything was prepaid for, I received no tips whatsoever. I was being paid below minimum wage, and asked to work pretty much every hour I possibly could; in order to pay my rent I needed to work 52 hours a month on top of my full time course at university. Not only that, but or every 4.5 hours we worked, 30 minutes’ wages would be deducted for breaks that we didn’t even have. Needless to say, what with the amount of work my course demanded from me, I was rather grateful for my student loan to fall back on.

As a waitress I have had to deal with a few really nice customers who I’ve been able to have a laugh with, and a helluva lot of really horrible customers I’ve wanted to punch in the face. Here are some of the types of customers I want to rob blind to compensate for the pain they’ve put me through serving them:

1. It would be funny how many people think that because you’re waiting tables you must be dumb and thus proceed to speak to you in a really patronising tone…if you weren’t so knackered from pulling all-nighters studying and completing your assignments towards your degree. I can’t wait for the day when I become a chartered engineer so I can wait for them to come back to the hotel and throw my CEng in their faces: “Remember your ‘idiot’ waitress back in 2013?”

2. If you have kids who don’t know how to behave at a function such as a wedding or whatever you’ve been invited to because you’ve just let them do whatever the hell they want, I really hate you. Do you know how hard it is to run around after customers with trays full of food when there are tiny children screaming and running around underfoot? And when they actually run into me while I’m trying to serve soup…*deep breaths*

And for the love of God, when I ask your kids to please leave the piano alone because it disrupts other guests, that is not an invitation for you to join them in bashing the piano keys (seriously, this has happened on too many occasions).

3. If you have preordered a particular course and decide that you don’t want that, you want a different one instead, that’s annoying but fine. If you decide that you want something else that is not on any of the menus because we don’t have that, that is not okay! One gentleman at a Christmas function decided he wanted chocolate cake instead of his crème brûlée, and regardless of the fact that three of us on different occasions told him that we didn’t have chocolate cake because it was not on the menus, and that we were running round like headless chickens, proceeded to argue with us for about half an hour. I avoided that man like the plague for the rest of the night.

4. When your food is taking too long, 99.9% of the time it is because of the chefs. Therefore your food isn’t going to turn up any quicker if you spend five or ten minutes having a go at me infront of 100, 200, 300+ customers because your food hasn’t arrived yet. I don’t care if you’re family of the bride, the host of your grandmother’s 90th birthday party, or even the lead singer of some band no one has ever heard of. I can’t snap my fingers and magically make the food ready – and even if I could, since you have been so rude as to try and humiliate me during such a big function, I wouldn’t. Just remember who’s serving your food…when the chefs finally cook it.

5. Snapping your fingers at me is rude and degrading. I’m not a dog or a naughty little child, so don’t treat me like one.

6. When I warn you that the plates are hot – and you can see that I am serving them with tea towels because they are goddamn hot – don’t grab it off me and then complain that it burned you.

And people think waitresses are dumb…

7. Don’t wolf-whistle, jeer, or hackle at me. I won’t hesitate in “accidentally” spilling something down your suit.

By my final year as a waitress I had more or less gotten to the point where I just didn’t give a damn. It’s a career that can really get you down because sometimes (most of the time) it is a thankless job where you’re only recognised for when you screw up. It can sometimes feel like you can do nothing right and that you are unappreciated, and I can’t express how happy I was to quit. Seriously, I was grinning from ear to ear as I handed in my badge and apron and clocked out that final time.

I know I will perhaps one day have to go back to waitressing, and that’s okay. I’m older and more experienced in that line of work now than back when I was 17, and I know I won’t stand for the nonsense I did from the staff again. Of course, I’ll have to deal with it all again from the customers, but if I can get a slightly better pay rate, tips, and basically don’t get screwed over, I will be much happier.

Until then though, screw waitressing. It sucks.

Merry Christmas and stuff

Hello, one and all!

I guess I first just want to say that I’m sorry for not blogging at all lately. Life’s been a lot busier than I’ve expected it to be, not to mention I haven’t had a laptop for the past two months because it decided to die on me after 6 years of us being together. But Father Christmas (aka Mother and Grandmother) has provided me with a brand new laptop so I’m now once again connected to the Internet world – yippee!

So a lot’s new with me at the moment. I have a new job as an inspection engineer and polisher for a company who provide nuts, bolts and studs for Formula 1 cars, luxury cars, and the aviation sector, so I can finally call myself an engineer, which is great. And it’s going great; I love it. At the moment it’s rather basic (well obviously seeing as I only started at the beginning of the month!), but I’ve been told there is plenty of room for me to progress within the company, and they want me to come back during the holidays next year, and after I’ve graduated, so I’ve finally got my foot in the door.

Because of this job I’ve finally been able to hand in my apron and letter of resignation to the hotel I used to work for, and can safely say that I am no longer a waitress. I cannot tell you how good it feels to be able to say that!

Another thing that’s new with me is something I wasn’t exactly planning on happening. I have a boyfriend. It’s kind of ruined my plans to write a blog post about why I don’t do relationships, because hey, I’m in a relationship now! But I might still do that blog post so you can understand why I was always so adamant that I wasn’t going to join the dating scene.

As I say, I didn’t plan on getting into a relationship, but he’s liked me for a long time, and I was secretly attracted to him too, but I didn’t act upon it until about a month ago. And it’s rather terrifying because it’s probably the most emotionally invested I’ve been in a relationship. Usually I can be quite cold and distant in relationships, which is stupid, I know, but I can’t help it. But in this one I guess I’ve been a little more committed to it, which I find rather scary. I finally understand what people mean when they refer to the ‘honeymoon period’ a couple goes through when they first get together and sometimes I find myself insufferably corny. There’s a lot to get used to, but he’s happy taking baby steps with me so all’s good for now.

So that’s why the one-post-a-week thing hasn’t gone to plan as of late! It’s unfortunate that my writing has taken a back seat once again and been completely ignored, but hopefully once I get used to having a full-time job I will be able to get into a schedule and fit this blog into it. There are a few ideas I have that I would like to work on, so hopefully in the New Year, you’ll be hearing from me on a more regular basis. If I don’t take on too much overtime that is – I’m such a workaholic!

So this will be my last post for 2014. This year has been a series of ups and downs, and tears and bouts of depression. But I can safely say that I have ended the year on a high and that I’m in a decent place ready for 2015.

I just want to thank you all for your patience with me, and I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas. In the meantime, keep smiling and I will see you all in 2015, hopefully with more regular blog posts!

Take care, all of you.

Claire

Improving one’s self

So since I have taken a year out of university, I am working on improving myself in whatever way I can so that when I go back for my third and final year I’ll be in the best shape I can be physically and mentally.

As you all know I suffer from anxiety and depression, and everyone knows that the best cure for these is a combination of healthy eating and exercise. And I’m going all out: I’ve swapped most coffees for peppermint and nettle tea, I’m eating more fruit and veg, and I’m lucky enough to have a fitness freak for a housemate so I’ve started going running with him.

In fact I went running with him today along with my other housemate, and WOOOOO, those endorphins were rushing through my bloodstream like crazy antelope. An hour after finishing our run, I was asked if I’d taken drugs, because I was hiiiiiigh.

On endorphins. Just to clarify.

I’m also working on improving my brain, because it’s never too late to do that. So I’ve signed up for Lumosity where you can give different areas of your brain a workout online, and bought a Brain Boosting book by Parragon for tips on how I can study and use my brain more efficiently. I have a long way to go – at least 144 pages – but I’m going to get there.

I’m trying to write more as well, but unfortunately my laptop has decided that now is a good time to die, and so the few blog posts I had lined up I no longer have access to, and if I need a computer I have to go to the university library. I guess that bit works out better though – it gets me out of the house and I’m more likely to study if I have to go to the library all the time.

I had a job interview last week with a motorsport company for the role of a trainee thread rolling engineer (believe it or not, cutting threads is a highly skilled job), and the company were really impressed by me and invited me to have a trial day which I took to like a duck to water. However, since I’d be going back to university next year and they’re looking for someone permanent, they’re a bit unsure about hiring me. I really want this job; it’s perfect for me and I’ve told them that I’d be able to do evenings and weekends when I go back to uni and I’d be happy to go back once I’ve graduated, so it’s just a matter of waiting to see how my opponent for the role does in his trial, and hopefully getting a phone call saying I have the job. I’m trying to stay positive.

I believe it’s important to always try to improve oneself, not in appearance but in self-worth and ability. Whether that’s by reading a book every day or learning a new language or facing a fear, every little bit helps to result in a better you, and that’s a goal we should all strive to meet.

Are you trying to improve yourself? If so, how?

Keep smiling!

Claire

The Evolution of the Coffee

I miss the good ol’ days when a coffee was a coffee, and the only question faced with ordering one was, “Black or white?”

During the summer my mum and I went to our favourite little café in Blackpool and I ordered a coffee. Or at least I tried to.
“What kind of coffee?” I was asked.
“What?” I asked dumbly.
“What kind of coffee would you like?” the lady repeated. “Would you like an Americano, a Latte, a Cappuccino, an Espresso…?”
Quite frankly, I felt like a deer in headlights. Where the hell did all this come from? I knew that the ‘posh’ coffee shops were like this – and thus steered clear of them – but this was just a café; place to eat and a place to not have to deal with what seemed like a seriously complex way to get a caffeine fix.
This process was repeated several times at several different cafés, and I approached it either one of two ways. Option 1: freak out like I did that first occasion. Option 2: get someone else to order for me…only for them to come back and ask me what kind of goddamn coffee I wanted.
“I just want a normal coffee!” I would end up exclaiming. “It has ground coffee beans, and it has hot water and milk in it. And it’s strong and it wakes me up!”
“Oh, so you want an Americano,” was the response. Since when did my simple coffee identify as an American?
Anyway, the situation got me thinking about life as a whole, and the following question came to mind:

Is there such thing as too much choice?

I’m not talking about coffee or anything trivial like that now (although those kinds of decisions are still stressful as hell!). I’m talking about life paths. When I was in high school there were so many opportunities that I wanted to grab, so many paths I wanted to go down, and the number has just continued to increase as I have progressed in life. I want to be an engineer…yet I also want to be a writer…and help with different charities…and own a farm…the list goes on. And these paths then branch out into more paths, and more, and MORE! It’s never ending!

Think back to when you were at high school and you had to consider what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. Once you’ve figured that out, you have to then decide upon the several ways you can get to that point in life. Now if you want to be a vet or a doctor or something, this is an easy choice: you have to go to university. But then you have to choose what university, whether you want this course or that, whether you’re going to do a year in industry or a year abroad, or a Masters or a PhD.

And then there are other options for other careers like apprenticeships and traineeships and the list of opportunities just keep growing and growing and growing. It’s enough of a pain in the arse deciding what you want for tea, let alone making all these choices that are actually going to affect the rest of your life. And studieseven show that too much choice can lead to riskier – and often bad – decisions.

I get really stressed out about choosing stuff, as are a lot of my friends. This leads to really frustrating conversations that all go the same…and all last for what seems an eternity:

“You choose.”

“I don’t mind. You choose.”

“I don’t mind either. Just choose one.”

“No, you choose.”

“No, you choose!”

Then again, maybe there isn’t enough choice either.

Taking my earlier example of what a person may want to do for a career, maybe there needs to be more choice because not everyone is the same, and thus not everyone suits the same path. University isn’t right for me since I am a more kinaesthetic learner, so I learn better by applying knowledge to a situation where I’m actually doing something, not by sitting in a lecture theatre trying to soak up the notes and what the lecturer is saying. An apprenticeship would’ve been better for me, but if you don’t get an apprenticeship, all that’s left is university, right? Which is then a series of visuals and audios.

And then there are those who just aren’t right for the typical education system, yet what else is there? Home schooling is a choice, but this isn’t the right choice for families with low income or two working parents, so what then?

It’s an interesting paradox to consider. What do you guys think? Is there too much choice in the world? Is there too little? Share your thoughts.

In the meantime I think I might go order a green tea instead. There’s only one kind of green tea that this café can offer me, surely!

Lest we forget

My friend Ken put together a couple of beautiful pictures in time for Remembrance Sunday today. Let us remember those who fought for their countries and the many people and animals who died at the hands of war.

Without them, the sun would’ve set, never again to rise for another tomorrow.

Photo credits: @Aviationprints.
Check out his beautiful photography and digital art on photo4me.com/ken

 

Look what the cat threw up!

Ladies and gentlemen! I have returned!

After all this time I’ve finally come round to writing again. Unfortunately I’ve been suppressed in a cage of depression, and only now have I had the strength to stand up and start moving again (albeit very wobbly steps!). My apologies to you all.

And so my blog will once again become active. But what’s in store for you?

I have a few ideas at the moment for blog posts, including my Halloween costume, my opinions on feminism, and which anime I choose between Code Geass and Death Note. Of course, there will also be some stories. However I will also be wanting some requests from you guys. Give me writing prompts or subjects you want my opinions on, and hopefully I will be back on my fingertips in no time.

I’ve also been doing a bit of art as of late, which I have thoroughly missed doing. Again, if you have anything you want me to try and draw, feel free to let me know and I’ll see what I can do. I’m currently working on drawing a platypus, which is driving me insane!

Plants and insects in the style of Salvador Dali

Eye see you!

“Anime bullshit” as one housemate describes it

I’m hoping that this time I will be able to keep this blog up to date and just stay motivated and productive. So watch this space, and bear with me.

In the meantime, keep smiling!

Claire

Black and Blue

The door slams.

You open your eyes.


Your trembling hands are covered in blood.


Looking in the mirror: a huge gash above your left brow.


You ease into the shower.


The water burns.


Your ribs are black and blue.


You relive the hitting.


The spitting.


The name calling.


You cry.


Pause.


Deep breath.


You get dressed.


You dry your hair.


You pick up the phone.


Dial:


“999, what’s your emergency?”


“Police, please. My wife attacked me.”




How many of you first thought that this was a woman being assaulted?

A lot of us forget that men can also be victims of domestic abuse; in fact 40% of domestic violence victims in the UK are men.

Male domestic violence charity ManKind posted a new #ViolenceIsViolence campaign video on YouTube which has over 4.5million views since being uploaded last week. We all need to remember that violence works both ways: if a man cannot hit a woman, a woman should not be allowed to hit a man.

I have now ManKind‘s membership, donating £20 every year at the very least. If you can give any sort of donation or publicity to this charity, I would be eternally grateful to you.

#ViolenceIsViolence