Christmas #2

blog, christmas, festive, nanowrimo

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Christmas #2

The other day, I posted a blog discussing why some people dislike the run up to Christmas…Grinch! I think I made it pretty clear that that wasn’t me! Today I am going to tell you all about why I love Christmas and everything about it!

The music. The music is wonderful! Somehow, it manages to lift my soul, hearing sleighbells, strings, choirs – the beautiful descants! Christmas songs are so uplifting, euphoric. I won’t lie, if you were a fly on the wall, you would hear Chrismas music being played all year round in my house! I love the idea of Carol Singers, although I’ve never been able to go around myself…

The decorations. I live in quite a small village, and at one end, there are two houses that face one another. Each Christmas, they seem to partake in an unspoken contest. Their houses are light up with every light and decoration imaginable! The trees in the gardens are adorned with lanterns and baubles, the chimneys host giant santas, and one of them even puts up inflatable Simpson characters! Last week, I was travelling home from work, and several houses had Christmas lights up already. Now that the nights are drawing in so early, it’s magical to see bursts of colour lighting up the streets.

Giving and receiving. Last Christmas, I had a student loan. I also had a job and lived in the Universities cheapest accomodation, and so I was able to spend more than I’ve ever spent before on gifts. People talk about the ‘gift of giving’, and I do believe that being able to present someone with a gift that I have personally picked out for them, and then seeing the happiness on their face is a really wonderful thing to be able to do. It’s also pretty nice being given presents too!

Family. As I think I mentioned in my previous Christmas post, at Christmas my parents host a party for all of my cousins, aunties and uncles to attend! I rarely get to see my relatives during the rest of the year. There are so many of them, and none of them live particularly close by. They’re busy with their lives, have jobs, are off at University. All of that is forgotten for a day when they visit. It’s lovely, although it’s probably a little stressful for my mother!

The food. With Christmas comes parties, and with parties, comes food! At Christmas, we eat foods that we don’t eat at any other point in the year! Mince pies, turkey, sprouts, mulled wine, Christmas cake…the list is never ending! Christmas is the only day of the year that it’s remotely acceptable to eat a full English, several chocolate oranges and then a massive Christmas dinner at the end of the day! I like to think that Christmas Day is also a calorie-less day too!

Midnight Mass. Christmas is the one time of year that a lot of people who don’t usually go, go to church. I love the service that the church next door puts on, and me and my dad usually get involved in leading the music side of things. This year, I have been asked to sing a solo as my contribution to the service, which is very exciting! The church itself is always decked out nicely, with candles and tinsel and holly, along with a full nativity scene at the back of the room. Despite the cold winds outside, and the lack of heating inside the villagers all turn up wrapped in scarves, hats and gloves. The community really comes together!

And of course there was a guy that a lot of people like who was born on that day – the baby Jesus!

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Soulmates

blog, goodbyes, love, nablopomo, nanopomo, nanowrimo, soulmates

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Saying goodbye is never easy. You’d think that my weekly goodbyes with him would get less painful as the months went on. Unfortunately not. It doesn’t seem to matter how much practice I get, it doesn’t get better. I can’t get used to it.

I know I’m only saying goodbye to him for a little while, I’ll see him again in less that a week. Yet each time I stand on that platform, each time I watch him step onto the train, each time I watch the train carry him off into the distance it’s as if a little part of my sould has gone away with him. It’s as if I’ve entrusted a part of my heart to him, to for and to cherish, a gift for him to carry around whilst we are apart.

When he is gone he is all I think about. He occupies my mind. ‘What is he doing right now? Is work going okay? I hope he got there safely. I know he was stressed yesterday…has that issue been resolved? I hope he’s eating properly – that he’s managing to eat veggies – I sound like a mother! I hope he’s happy…does he think about me this much too…?’ I imagine ways to surprise him – maybe I’ll bake something for him next time he visits. Perhaps I’ll buy him a new hoodie – I know the one hes got at the moment is getting a little bit old… Or I could get some photos printed for him!

Even if I had all of eternity, I doubt that I would be able to describe my love for him. It is constant and always on my mind. I didn’t know that it was possible to love someone so fiercely, so powerfully. I know that people probably doubt us, they think we’ll never last. We only knew eachother for three weeks before we starting dating, and even though we’ve been together for well over a year, I know that people are still dubious. They think our love is so much less than it is. ‘Give it another year or so, and they’ll end up like everyone else. They’ll never last.’

You might think that it’s too much of a cliché for me to say that this is different. That our love isn’t like anyone else’s, that it will pass any obstacles. But it is true. I know that it’s true. We were made for one another. We are soulmates.

“L” is for the way you look at me…

blog, dating advice, looking for love, love, nanowrimo, relationships

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Starting a month long project can be daunting. It is day 7, and I feel like I could already be faltering – I’m only a week in! Thankfully my job is pretty mindless and I’m left with my thoughts so I can spend my days thinking about what I want to write about next. (My coworkers manage to give me daily ammunition with the disgustingly sexist and crude comments that they make! I have a feeling that there will be some anti-sexual harassment posts coming your way in the near future..!) Alongside the mind numbingly simple job I have, I have also had a good couple of hours after work/before my nightly Skype session with the boyfriend in which I can sit and write. Its very nice and I’m sure that once this month is up I will spend some of those hours reading instead of writing…what bliss it will be!

Today, my boyfriend is coming over. He lives in Leeds, so I can only see him at the weekends. The train journey can take up to two and a half hours, which probably isn’t the first thing anyone would want to do after a long day at work! Last week it was my mother’s Birthday, and so we decided that he should have a weekend to himself and I could spend a bit more time with my family…so he didn’t visit last weekend. *Sad face*. Therefore I am very excited to see him!

Whilst I’m on the topic of relationships, I would like to address an issue that a friend of mine has had. She recently asked me for some “relationship advice” (apparently having had one boyfriend in my life means I know what I’m on about..!) Basically, all of her friends are in relationships. Some are moving in together, others are getting engaged and some are even having children! She just feels that she is falling behind in the “dating game” or something. She feels like her friends have all deserted her; that they didn’t have time for her anymore. She thinks that they’re all so focussed on their significant others, that it is as if she doesn’t even exist any more! She hasn’t had a boyfriend before, but she’s never really met anyone that she likes enough to date.

I know that it’s easy for me to say this now, but for anyone feeling this way, “the one” will arrive, whether you’ve known them since your childhood, or whether you’ll meet them at the age of forty! Before I met David I really felt like I would never meet a man that I liked enough, and who liked me enough. I honestly believed that I was going to live out the rest of my life single, either living alone with an army of cats, or in a Convent. One of the two. I thought that no man would ever look at me twice, that I was too plain, that my sisters were just far more interesting. I was too shy to go out and meet people on my own, but when I went with others, it was if I didn’t exist – they over shadowed me.

In hindsight, I am really glad that no one was interested and that I waited for David to come along. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with having more than one relationship in your life, I’m just glad that I waited until now to have my first (and hopefully last!) It makes our relationship seem so much more meaningful to me. Neither of us are comparing the other to an old flame.

I guess I have one question. Why do we as a society base our self-worth and success so much upon our relationship status? So many people allow their relationships, or lack thereof to define them. I know that I did before I met David! Looking back I realise that it wasn’t until I was content and comfortable with the single life, that he came along. I wasn’t looking for anyone, and then he was there. I wasn’t flirting with every guy I met, hoping that perhaps they would return the action. I was myself. And when I met David, he met the real me. I had felt like I was falling behind in the dating game too, but in reality the right guy just hadn’t come along yet!

He/she will be worth the wait!

(I would also like to say, if you’re not interested in a relationship, then that is great too! My post is really more geared towards those who are looking for love, but I am aware that, that won’t be everyone who is reading this.)

Time, please slow down!

blog, nablopomo, nanopomo, nanowrimo, writing

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This morning it hit me. It is November. It is the fourth day of the eleventh month! I can hardly believe how fast the time has flown, how quickly this year has tiptoed past me, without even catching my notice. It’s kind of scary, really. It feels like only yesterday that fifteen year old me was sat in a classroom, bored out of my mind and just wanting to grow up! To finish my GCSE’s, leave school, get a job – to get away from the bore of classes that weren’t art or music or drama. I thought that my maths homework was the hardest thing in the world and that school would never end. But it did.

I took a Gap Year which flew by – too fast. It was probably the best year of my life. I worked at the Oakes in Sheffield; we ran activity camps for 8-18 year olds and it was wonderful! I met some of the best people that I know that year, and even though I’m personally particularly terrible at staying in touch, I know that whenever I go to talk to any of them, it is as if no time has passed at all. Last week Jemma, my old roommate posted a photo of us with two other girls, commenting that it was a two year old photo! I just don’t know where the time has gone. I guess something good came out of my gap year ending – I met my boyfriend!

I went to University for three months after my gap year to study music. I soon realised that University was not for me; I mean I was bad enough at school, I don’t know why I thought that going back was going to be of any use! I’m glad I went. I know that if I hadn’t, I would have spent the rest of my life wondering. It was an experience if nothing else – it gave me a taste of independence, leaving a good flavour in my mouth (much to the despair of my parents…) Whilst I was there, David practically lived with me. He travelled down on a Tuesday evening after college, and then travelled back again on a Sunday night – I’d go to the station with him, and then drop in at church on the way back. It was wonderful. I was with the man I love.

I also got a job at the bar that was located right below my lectures. When I was working I’d be able to hear the concert band practicing, students learning their recitals and impromtu choir practices. Every face was friendly and familiar, I got to know third year music students, one even asking me to sing with her in her end of year recital! It was such a great job and I loved it. It might sound crazy, but working is one thing I’ve always enjoyed. Earning my own money and saving up for a nice ukulele or microphone, being able to buy my own sheet music, books and stationary! It’s something I excelled in. So I left.

Now, life is whizzing by and I can’t stop it. I know that I’m only 20 and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me – I get told that all the time. I just can’t help but feel that if I relax, if I start getting complacent about my life, I will just miss it. I won’t even realise it, and it’ll be gone. I want to write a sucessful book, find my dream job, perform in a professional musical performance, travel, get married, have children and then bring them up right…I guess I just want to make something of my life, and after realising how fast these past eleven months and four days have passed, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my life will have been for nothing. That when it inevitably ends, all memory of me will die too. I’ll just be another soul that had the great privelage of walking the Earth.

Time, please slow down! You don’t need to fly so fast. Just float…

I Love Writing

blog, nanowrimo, reading, writing

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I love writing. Ever since I could read I have wanted to write a book of my own. I would take a book in to school every day when I was younger – whether it was one of my own books, or one I was reading in class you couldn’t tear me away from it. During my break times, when everyone else was playing “Kiss Chase” or “British Bulldog”, I was sat on the wall with my nose buried in a book. The dinner ladies were my best friends, and they’d (have to) listen as I told them all about the world I was reading about at the time. I was a sensitive child and I thought that I was being bullied for a lot of my life – I’ll be honest, looking back, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed. Although that didn’t make it any easier. Reading did. It would transport me to a magical world somewhere, a place where no one could hurt me.

I remember when I was about 8 years old, I started writing a short story about a servant girl who was born, lived, and worked in a Lord’s castle. The Lord was a good man, but his son was tyrannical, evil. He had this vendetta against the servant girl and did everything he could to make her life a misery. I think my eventual aim was that the son would start to fall in love with the servant. They would fall into this forbidden love, possibly get caught and banished from the land – but love would prevail! I illustrated the story and everything – I wish I could find it now, but I’d probably be too embarrassed to share it with you all anyway.

Back then, I wanted to be a published author, and that passion has never really waned. I read as much as I could, and I wrote as much as I could. I think the problem I had back then, the thing that held me back was that whenever I expressed a desire to be an author (or an actress, or a singer…) I was told that it was just unrealistic. “Authors rarely make the big time,” and “unless you plan on being JK Rowling, you’ll never be able to pay the rent!” Writing is really in my family. My sister, Hannah won a Creative Writing competition when she was (I think) 16, at Keele University; I believe that my younger sister and I have poems in an actual published book of selected poetry – full of poems written by school children; my oldest sister writes for a blog, who she also proof-reads essays for, freelance; my Grandad writes short little poems. Writing is really part of my DNA and I still have this desire to write and write!

Now, I am 20 and I have all of these ideas in my head that I just have to get down on paper! Short stories, poems and even novels come to my mind. I know that I was only told that writing is a difficult field to get into because it is true, and the people who told me only did so because they were concerned. However I honestly believe that with a little bit of persistance, anything is possible. Currently it is the National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The basic aim is to write (and complete) the first draft of a novel. I plan on writing every day, whether it be a blog post, a poem, a book review or a bit more of my current writing project. It is supposed to take 21 days to form a habit, so writing a little bit every day for 30 days should really get me into the cycle of writing! Wish me luck, and if you are also wanting to write a little bit a day, good luck to you too!

The Compliment Angel

compliments, kindness, Uncategorized, YouTube

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In the past month or so, I have started watching Gary C on YouTube, and honestly – I don’t know why I didn’t start watching him sooner! He – is – brilliant! I’d seen him around the internet; in Carrie Hope Fletcher’s videos for example, so really – I have no excuse! However, here I am marathoning his videos when I’m feeling down, and being cheered right back up again 🙂

In a recent video marathon, upon which I embarked, I came across one particular video;

“The Compliment Angel”

Gary had essentially created a Twitter account which he had used to anonymously send random compliments to his friends and family. Sadly, he decided to delete the account once people found out that it was him, but the video really got me thinking; how often do I give out random compliments? How often do I take a moment of my time to tell someone how good their hair looks that day? How often do I stop for a moment, to tell people how much their friendship means to me?

Often I’ll think the compliment, but I’ll never actually say it out loud.

Now, where Gary made a Twitter account, Carrie began The Hopeful Notes. The Hopeful Notes is a little campaign that Carrie started, where she encouraged people to write a little message – be it song lyrics, an inspirational quote or just a nice comment – on a post-it note. You then stick it somewhere for somebody to find (e.g. in a library book, on a bus window, on a bench…)

Gary and Carrie have such positive outlooks on life, their love and kindness just shines through in every video. Their desire to cheer up strangers with random compliments and little love notes has really pulled me up short and made me think.

Are there aspects of my life in which I can increase my…complimentary-ness? (Is that even a word?? It is now!) I know I  don’t compliment people enough. Only the other week, I was in Manchester and a girl in the queue in front of me had a beautiful skirt on. I was so close to telling her how nice it looked, and asking her where it was from…but I didn’t. I was worried that she’d think I was weird, or a bit of a freak…but really…if being kind, giving out compliments and cheering up people’s day makes me look a bit odd…so be it!

I’m challenging you to give out compliments! It could be a phone call or a text message to someone, a Facebook post or a Tweet. Or just say it in person. Lets spread love. Go out and be somebody’s Compliment Angel!!

Hermione Granger

Harry Potter, Independence, Inspirational Women in Literature, Novels, Women

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I’ve never been particularly bothered about celebrities. I didn’t know who half of the actors that my school mates spoke about were. I have only ever seen Gareth Gates, Busted and McFly in concert – and a couple of Classical Spectaculars. I have no desire to know the ins and outs of Kim Kardashian and co.’s lives. However, I am obsessed with books and the world they bring to life.

From the age of about 9, I have loved the Harry Potter books. I would sit in the playground, on the wall alone, reading. Page after page, chapter after chapter, book after book. I immersed myself in the wonderful world of Harry, Ron and Hermione. I identified with the characters, I identified with those who were perhaps bullied a little, who didn’t have any friends, who the teachers seemed to hate. You see, my parents evenings always went a bit like this…

“Your daughter is…well…a bit of a loner. She doesn’t make any effort to make friends.”
“She always has her nose stuck in a book. She doesn’t join in with the other kids.”
“I think sometimes that she just doesn’t really care…”

My parents told me that they were “worried” about me. They thought I believed in magic. They thought that I believed that the magical world of Harry Potter was real. I might have been young, but I wasn’t stupid.

At the age of 10, I befriended another Harry Potter fanatic. I had a friend! We would play Harry Potter in the wooded area of the car park in the playground. We always fought over who would be Hermione, of course.

Hermione Granger. A girl who, like Harry, knew nothing of her magical powers up until her 11th Birthday. A girl who had come from the Muggle world, into a completely new and strange dimension. A girl who was considered unattractive – with her bushy brown hair and big front teeth. A girl who was named know-it-all and bossy, because she liked reading and learning and school.

Hermione Granger. A girl who, despite her late introduction to magic, was considered the “greatest witch of her age”. A girl who despite her bad first impression, made some of the best friends she ever could have made. A girl who blossomed. A girl who’s knowledge was her power and strength.

Jo Rowling created a girl who was a couple of years older than me. I looked up to Hermione. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be smart, I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be beautiful. I watched Hermione grow up, from everything that I felt I was – lost, alone, unattractive, nerd – into everything I wanted to be – strong, independent, popular and beautiful. Jo Rowling made everything seem possible for me.

What was I? A 9 year old, chubby girl, unpopular and friendless. I was lonely, clutching Harry Potter to my chest every lunch time. Sat alone on the wall, immersed in my magical world, inspired by these fictional characters and role models. Now what am I? A 20 year old girl, not unattractive, surrounded by friends. I have a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. I am a little bit stubborn. I am not unintelligent. I have good morals.

Hermione helped me to become who I am today – she showed me that women are just as capable as men. She showed me that having opinions didn’t make me bossy. That showing emotions didn’t mean that I was a hysterical woman. That getting upset when boys (or anyone) let you down, is actually okay. She showed me that not having nine boyfriends before I turned 15 was absolutely fine. Jo gave me a role model, someone to aspire to be just like.

You might tell me that she’s just a fictional character, nothing more. Just words on a page – but she is more than that. Hermione is a part of my childhood. Children have the ability to imagine fiction as their small reality. I was lucky enough to have the Potter universe as my small reality.