Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The impending doom of the general election

Okay so I know that the election is looming over our heads right now and I'm sure that with this comes a lot of anxiety. Hell, I know that I'm anxious about it. I've spoken to lots of people thst still aren't sure who they're going to vote for. I could sit here all day and express my own political views. I've had several 'debates' with colleagues at work this week too and these conversations have made me question a lot of things about my views. But I'm comfortable with who I plan to vote for and it's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the Tories. I would like to make something clear though, I am not planning to vote solely on the basis of university fees or based on my position as a student. Obviously this will be a factor in my decision because I am a full time student. But mainly I am voting as a young, working class, woman.

I wanted to write something that would seem less judgy with regard to who you are planning to vote for.

I'm hoping by now that more young people registered to vote. Because every vote counts. I've grown up being told that one vote cannot make a huge difference. This is not true. One vote can make a massive difference. Over ten million people all had this attitude in the last election and didn't vote. Imagine if all of those people had voted.

Research is so so important when considering voting. After the dreaded brexit vote, I spoke to so many friends that hadn't voted because they felt uninformed about it. I'm researching even more after my discussions at work this week. As I said, listening to somebody else's views at work raised doubts for me. I think it's really important that you make an informed choice. I would hate for anyone to feel as though they made the wrong choice or not vote because they didn't look into the options properly. Most politicians have Twitter, you can watch debates, etc.

I mentioned that i was voting as young woman from a working class back ground. Now my parents don't vote. Neither of them have ever voted.  But this is my vote. I sort of get where my parents are coming from. But ultimately I do believe that my vote will go toward making a difference. It would not sit right with me to be silent in the election as it's such an important event. There is so so much change that will follow these votes. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't let somebody else's views automatically be your own. Everyone will vote for different reasons and it's important that you understand why you're voting and whos views you are voting for.

One final thing: be proud if you vote. As I mentioned, I grew up in a non voting house hold. And I'm learning now that politics is one confusing feild that just following requires a certain amount of commitment. So voting is a huge deal. Congrats in advance and I hope that you get the outcome that you were looking for.

I had planned something very different for this post. But in the light of the early morning sun I've opened for encouragement and no judgement.

I hope you all have a good day and I'll probably return in a few hours.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Social injustice of the sexist variety...

Afternoom folks and welcome to post two of the day (wow I need a hobby)

Okay, before I start, I'd like to make it clear that I did not bear witness to any of this. I am working on the words of somebody else. But the concept itself is not unheard of and it is unsettling to me as I'm sure it is to others.

Yesterday I was informed of something particularly disturbing. My sister is in her first year of sixth form; she is going to turn seventeen next month. She informed me yesterday afternoon that there are some girls in the year above her that have been sent home recently. When I asked why, she answered that it was because their tops were considered 'too revealing'. I asked my sister what the girl was wearing, despite the fact that I had already made my mind up with regard to my opinion, but I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt. She was wearing a vest top. I'd like to point out that the West Midlands has been blessed with a bout of blazing sunshine this week. There have been highs of 27 degrees. No wonder she was wearing a bloody vest top! I wouldn't turn up to university in a blouse, for fear of over-heating, sweat patches, and similar issues and embarrassments.

And yet she was sent home anyway. I wonder what the answer would have been if one of them had dared to ask why they so desperately needed her to change. I wonder whether it would have been an issue with the fact that it simply didn't adhere to the dress code. Or whether it would have been because it was distracting. My sister, however, pointed out that her boyfriend was always walking around school in vest tops and he's a sports student. What was different? And her teacher, jokingly, observed that he was well built and therefore had a right to show them off. Joking or not, this angered me. You have stopped a young woman from attending her lessons in a day, because of dress code. Yet you have accepted a young man's dress code as a service, almost. Very very strange. It's okay to objectify men, it seems.

I just visited the website of the same school, in which they celebrate International Women's Day? Like you can't celebrate something as amazing as that day, and then teach your women that they must remain covered up and worry about being a distraction to males. That is wrong, and disgusting. I'm just gonna bring in the same argument that Emma Watson employed when accused of showing too much skin. She stated that feminism was about liberation and freedom. It breaks my heart that women are still subjected to this crap and that it's still considered acceptable to objectify men like this. 

Society needs to take a long hard look at itself. But this disgusted me and I thought it was worth sharing. I'll confess I've had panic attacks over what to wear in a morning. It's part of the reason I'm rarely ever on time. I worry about whether outfits 'go' and whether this top makes me look fat or too skinny. Whether the patterned tights make me look 'slutty'. I often put the opinions of others and wider society before my own and I hate that this is the world we live in.

For more brutally honest examples of every day sexism, check out the their Twitter at @everydaysexism.

I hope you all have a sexism free day!

Another month, another Fairyloot unboxing...

Hi guys! So as you know I finished my second year of university last week! I'm going to be honest and admit that I have spent most of my time since finishing it in bed. I hope that there are some people that think me worthy of a rest. But thus far, I feel amazingly lazy. It doesn't sit right with me to do nothing. So I thought I'd get on with writing a blog post including the unboxing of the May Fairyloot box. So here goes nothing:

I didn't really have high hopes for this box. Fairyloot have been setting the bar pretty high in previous months and I honestly didn't think that they'd manage to top it again. The summary indicated that this months book would be a Mulan retelling and as much as I like Mulan, I wasn't all that excited or intrigued. But Fairyloot never fail to deliver an absolutely brilliant box! The theme for this month was Warriors and Legends and was said to be perfect for fans of The Lord of the Rings and other epic fantasy adventures. What's not to love right? Although I'll admit I've not seen or read The Lord of the Rings, nor The Hobbit. I'll get around to it eventually.

Anyway; the first couple of items were resting atop of the infamous purple curls and were tins. The bigger tin is a blend of green tea. I used to drink green tea all of the time and I don't know why I stopped drinking it. I will definitely be giving this a go pretty soon! The next tin was another candle! This months was by In The Wick of Time and mine was entitled 'Flame'. It smells absolutely beautiful.  From what I gathered, the candles varied from box to box. My friend Chels received a different candle. Before long I will need to keep an empty Fairyloot box for these bookish candles.

Beneath the purple curls was the wearable item they had mentioned; Celtic patterned socks! I've had socks from Fairyloot before and this new pair were equally beautiful and of a good quality. I don't think I'll wear either as I don't want to ruin them! Now following this was a couple of books. I was surprised by these as I don't normally expect more than one book. This time there was a chapter of a new novel and a book of summaries of myths and legends. It's such a cute little book and would have been so helpful in my first year of university; I took a module on popular myths. Both of these were absolutely adorable. There were three absolutely beautiful bookmarks also included in this box. One of which was based on The Lord of the Rings; but this is different. It is a woodmark! It's really beautiful.

My favourite item from this months box was the quill shaped pen! Mine was a pink, almost rose gold sort of, colour. I didn't realise that there were other colours but Chelsey got a gold pen, and there were even bright blue pens that went out! All of them were just so pretty. The pen writes beautifully and I've been using it to start my dissertation planning. It's now in the pen pot (which is shaped like the Mad Hatter's hat) filled with the novelty pens I seem to be collecting.

Okay, so this brings me to the book for this month. I was in Waterstones the week before the box arrived and had a feeling about the book. And I was right; The Flame and the Mist. The cover is gorgeous and Fairyloot included a print of the cover minus the title. I am saving this; I'm thinking of scrap booking all of the art that Fairyloot include. Right now it just sits around in boxes. It's such a waste.

Anyway, I started the book straight away and admittedly I'm only half way through. But that's because I started buddy reading Replica with Chelsey early on in the week. This book is one that I'm finding hard to follow, but I think that's because I'm only finding time to read a couple pages at a time. I haven't given myself chance to get fully submerged in it yet. But I do like it and have high hopes for it. The online reviews are positive, too. I'm excited to carry on reading and hopefully finish it this week.

Here's a picture of everything that came in this months box and I already can't wait for the June box!

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend and I'll hopefully be back later today, after yet another shift!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Reasons Why I Will Not Vote Tory

(I am currently half way through another blog post, but my god this needs writing).

I'd like to tip my hat to Theresa May, this evening. Why, you ask? On the basis that I didn't think she could stoop any lower or miss the point even more than she already has. Lady, you are laughable and you disgust me.

Right, I'll point out once more than I am not politically minded. Before last year, I didn't bother taking notice. But oh my god. I am shocked by the number of people that do not vote, and the sway they have over the election. It is appalling. It is two minutes out of your day, to really make a difference.

In case it wasn't already obvious, I wanted to list the reasons I will not be voting Tory in the general election on June 8th.

I'm going to start with something I read today. I found it on facebook. But it came from Theresa May's official facebook page. I link you to the post, here. Whether you read it or not, I found it disgusting and is full of reasons not to vote conservative. This was my favourite paragraph, though:

'Labour’s plan – with its fantastical promises and utopian vision – would drag this country back to the past. It would undo all the progress we have made, return us to the days when the trade unions held sway, and put our economic security at risk'.

Did anybody else feel the urge to laugh at this? I, for one, do not feel as though we have made progress at all. We are putting the vulnerable at risk in this country. Today, I read an article regarding May's ideas surrounding the elderly and health care and its limitations! I can only see the ways in which she and her leadership are targeting the vulnerable. The Fat Cats remain 'strong and stable' whilst the rest of us are on a steady decline.

She continues to state that they will fund schools- including new waves of 'selective schools' to ensure that young people have the best start in life. At this point I started wondering if she could hear herself. Education should not have the word 'selective' anywhere near it. Education should be universally accessible. I don't feel very supported, as a young person, in my journey toward a good life. Under her government, my tuition fees have gone up. The interest rate on these fees have gone up. And my stress levels have gone up with them. Oh, and it's worth mentioning that the threshold for paying your loans back was twenty five thousand pounds before this year. I reapplied a few weeks ago; and this has come down to twenty one thousand pounds. I will be now paying my loans back sooner than I thought and I'd be lying if I said that this thought didn't scare me. If I said that this change didn't have an impact on my wanting to do a masters. In comparison, Corbin is promising to abolish tuition fees. I don't think this is either possible or going to happen at all but you know what? The incentive is pretty damn good. The fact that this guy gives a shit enough about students to benefit them.

Theresa May wants children to have the best start in life, and yet she has announced that she plans to remove free school dinners for thousands and thousands of school children. Who in the hell does this benefit? This is madness.

Following this, May has proven herself to be a liar time and time again. Did she not campaign for 'remain' during the EU referendum? She argued that Brexit would 'risk Britain's future'. Yet now she is the face of Brexit, with her infamous slogan 'strong and stable' driving us all crazy. Do we all remember her saying that there would be no 'snap-election', yet here we are with the deadline to register to vote looming over us. Now, she introduces what the public are calling 'dementia tax'.

"Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s election co-ordinator, branded the Prime Minister “weak and unstable”, adding: “She is unable to stick to her own manifesto for more than four days".

Strong and stable is fine. But I want a strong and stable leader. A leader who does not refuse to participate in debates with other politicians and yet insists she is capable of leading us through Brexit and negotiating with something like twenty seven other countries. I want a leader who does not make so many damn u-turns. A leader with a clear vision that she is dedicated to. A leader with the best interests of this country at heart. Theresa May is not that leader. Sure it would be fantastic to have a strong and stable leader that was female; a elected female prime minister. I'm sure there will be those that argue this. But I am voting who I think is the strongest and the most stable leader. I am sure as hell not voting for a woman who voted against gay marriage, not just once but ten times. So on June 8th I will be voting Labour. I have no regrets.

There is so much uncertainty right now. I can only hope that the right choice is made.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Here's to tough weeks and perseverance...

Okay, so this week is mental health awareness week. You're probably thinking 'oh no. Not another post on mental health'. But I love weeks like this. Weeks that highlight mental health make me happy and comfortable. It's as though there are these days and weeks throughout the year where it is more socially acceptable to admit that you're struggling with anxiety, depression, and similar conditions.

I cannot stress enough how important raising awareness of these issues is. There is so much stigma that still surrounds them and I do not know why. I am sure that a lot of people would consider themselves to have a good standard of awareness of mental health issues. But I very much beg to differ. If we were as aware as we needed to be, then the world would not need shows like Thirteen Reasons Why. I have been so many pictures, tweets, and posts this week, and I started writing this post on Monday. I have read so much that the world has posted in support of this week. And it has made me feel so very happy and supported and I wanted to join in. I found Matt Haig the best at putting things into words.  This particular tweet was my favourite. It really sums me up as a person and I was very grateful for it. Matt Haig has a wonderful habit of making me feel very normal (I still hate this word).

I am much more open about my mental health than I used to be. When I was younger I couldn't even imagine being in a position where I wasn't hurting myself on a daily basis, never mind being able to reflect upon this so positively. Apparently being this open is a tad unusual and my lecturer informed me that I am much more open than he was at my age. But I had a teacher in high school that used to tell me that my experiences would one day come in useful. I don't know whether they are useful, per say. But I am not ashamed anymore. So why not write about it? I see no sense in hiding something that has contributed to my character. I would like to note that they have contributed, not defined, however.

I suppose you could count what I did this week as research. And I discovered something that I know I am very guilty of. I often separate my mental health from my physical health. But I think we all do! Okay, so if I get a cold it's a physical condition and it's just a cold. But if I'm having a day in which panic attacks are frequent, even though they physically affect me, I refer to it as a 'bad mental health day' or something alike. I wish that it were socially acceptable to state that 'I am having a bad anxiety day'. However frequent, or extensive these periods are, I would sure as hell be grateful for the opportunity and room in which to say it. Mental Health is more important, I think, than the majority think. In some places and situations, I do feel comfortable sharing. I have a wonderful group of friends at university, and I know I could turn to Chelsey or Lauren at any point and inform them of my anxiety. I am grateful for this. I just wish that I could do this more widely, and that other people could.

I have a friend at work who suffers with small bouts of anxiety. A couple of weeks ago we started to refer to these sudden, sometimes unexplainable, bouts as 'having a Walter'. Now, having a Walter can refer to anything from the smallest feeling of anxiety to the biggest panic attack one can have in the middle of a shift. Even if this friend and I do not share what is bothering us or what's caused the anxiety/panic, it is very helpful to be able to share what I am feeling and have somebody understand. More often than not, we hug and go about our shifts. This definetly makes me feel better and makes things more bearable. I know that it seems silly that the smallest acts of kindness can have the most impact, but it's true. It's the little things.

I know that I talk about self love and care a lot these days. But not so long ago I realised how important they were to prolonging a period of good mental health. Right now, self love for me is binge watching some series on Netflix in my room and eating some good food. Tonight, my poison is Pretty Little Liars and iced buns. I understand that it isn't always easy to provide love and care for your body, especially with a mental illness. But I also understand that because of this, it's important that I recognise my own small victories. I know that I am way too hard on myself, all the time. I am my toughest critic and I had another high school teacher that used to say that I was guilty of catastrophizing situations. This was my biggest problem. But now, at twenty years old, I would like to think I am better at being rational.

I know that I do not give myself or my body enough credit, and weeks such as these remind me that I am wrong for this. My body does a great job in keeping me going, and after the shit I have put it through it really deserves some love. As soon as my exams are over in six days time, I will be exercising regularly and eating properly and maybe even sleeping a bit better. I can't wait.

But I wish that more people knew that healing is the furthest thing from linear. I wish I could have planned out my recovery from self harm. I wish it had been smoother. It sounds clich├ęd but life does not work like that and recovery doesn't either. Some days are always going to be harder than others, whether you are recovering form something or coping with anxiety and/or depression. But the best advice I can give to anybody is to be gentle with themselves. Any mental health condition can make a person feel alone but it is so so important to remember that you're not. I think here is a good time to drop in one of my favourite Jennifer Niven quotes:

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader” 

If you're into poetry, then Rupi Kaur has a hell of a lot to say about self love and in some ways has inspired me. Also, I wholeheartedly recommend The Mighty! It has so much on there including personal accounts of experiences with mental illness and that help me feel a little bit more normal. (A few paragraphs down, still hating that word!) I know that I suggested Rupi Kaur and The Mighty but I wanted to share a picture of helpful books. Of course I am going to recommend both of Jennifer Niven's young adult novels. But there are books such as Liz Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, Gayle Forman's I Was Here, Matt Haig's Reasons to Stay Alive, Holly Bourne, The Bell Jar and even The Catcher in the Rye.

I guess what I've been trying to say in this post is that I am not okay. I am not okay more than I care to admit. But that is okay. I am not a failure, or a mess, or crazy because of it.

This week is tough for me and full of varying degrees of Walters for a number of reasons. But most deadlines and a lack of sleep. I am getting there though and every day that I do a little bit of prep for my exam is an achievement. I was really happy with my Shakespeare essay. Who knows what it will come back as though. Honestly the terms feel so so short these days and that does not help with anxiety.

Okay, last couple of things before I return to my university work. If you can do one thing consistently, then be kind. It can save lives. If you can remember one thing, it should be that you are not alone and you are worth more than you think.

We must step away from this sickening ignorance and stop the stigma.

To all of you having a tough week, students and beyond, you can do this.