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Plastic Free July

Hello July! It’s our very first day of 31 in this beautiful month!
In recent days, it has come to my attention a campaign is running called “Plastic Free July” and I signed up to take part this morning. Over the past week, the amount of plastic I consume has been brought into my conscious and I’m trying to help raise awareness of the issues plastic causes!
I’ve been loyal to recycling over the years, but I’ve realised I could do a whole lot better at “reducing” how much plastic I use. A cursory scan over my room reveals LOTS of plastic – plastic storage boxes, plastic bin bags, plastic tupperware, plastic coat hangers, plastic water bottles, plastic toothbrush and shampoo bottles. Of course, there’s no sense in throwing these out, but it really highlights how MUCH plastic we use, and there’s a definite need for alternatives.
Plastic use causes so many environmental problems, but the worst is single use plastic items. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year, with lethal effects. Aquatic life is being severely impacted by plastic – it pollutes the water, and many creatures also die from ingesting plastic. This also affects human life, as the ocean is responsible for producing over 2/3rds of the oxygen we breath. Incinerating plastic also releases many harmful toxins into the air, which can lead to respiratory problems. This is just a few examples of the ills of plastic, but a simple google search will reveal thousands more reasons why reducing plastic use is a pretty good idea.

It’s easier said than done, and I know trying to participate in Plastic Free July will be a real challenge for me! I plan to reduce my plastic use by:

  • Bringing reusable cups and bottles with me when I go out
  • Taking tote bags with me when I go shopping so I don’t purchase plastic bags
  • Purchasing ‘shampoo bars’ instead of bottles of shampoo
  • Refusing plastic cutlery or straws
  • Buying ‘loose’ fruit and veg!
  • Lobbying the government and companies to use less plastic!

I encourage everyone to try and use less plastic! There are many more ideas/tips available online 🙂 It’s also important not to become overwhelmed by all the different ways you can reduce your plastic consumption! Take it one step at a time, and just try your best!
If anyone wants to follow my Plastic Free July attempt on instagram @beeblossoming, please do! Any tips or words of support would also be super welcome!

-A x

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Mental health · Rambling · Uncategorized

Getting my sh*t together

 

These past few months have been rough. I’ve struggled A LOT.
Fortunately, I am currently in the best place (mentally) I have been in a long time. Since April, my outlook has totally changed. I’ve truly been living my best life. However, I am still finding ~life~ challenging. The year is over half-way done, and still only half-way there in terms of getting my act together again!
My previous posts have sung the praises of my medication, but I have actually stopped taking meds for my mental illness. Whilst this has had positive implications (I’m able to cope with life, woo) it’s unfortunately made my insomnia a lot worse.

I’ve learnt the hard way that I can’t do it all. I’ve felt crushed to learn to respect my ‘spoonie’ life, to realise I have to stop ‘biting off more than I can chew’, and that there’s some things I simply cannot do.
I am so lucky in that I have received a lot of support from the staff at my university. My subject director held an intervention with me to discuss how best they can support me, and highlighted to me that I “need to ask for help”.
I’ve been making a martyr of myself in an attempt to ‘do it all by myself’. She showed me there’s no reason I shouldn’t ask for help, and that by striving to be ‘independent’, I’ve caused myself difficulties I did not need to.

In light of this, I am applying for PIP, to try ease the pressures I face. This is a very scary reality for me, regardless of the outcome. I will either qualify for PIP, and because of the stupid stigma my stupid pride will take a knock, or I won’t, and I will keep struggling on, physically, emotionally, and financially, (which is unfortunately where a lot of the health problems I face stem from in the first place!).

She also highlighted to me that the rather difficult situations I have found myself in late 2017/early 2018 take a lot to recover from. Many things in my life have been put on a “backburner” whilst I prioritised recovery. Some days getting out of the flat and down to the local shop to get some food was a huge feat. And that’s okay! Some horrible things happened that ripped me down to my absolute rock bottom but it’s meant I have had to rebuild myself. I’m stronger and better than I’ve ever been before, but instead of trying to ‘do it all’ I’ve been gentle with myself. I’ve taken things ‘one at a time’ to avoid getting overwhelmed. Each new thing I pick up needs to be carefully added into my life, instead of me running around, spinning too many ‘plates’ until they all crash and fall because I burn out (basically what happened for me to end up at ‘rock bottom’). Someone very dear to me who has come into my life recently has shown me I can “do more by doing less”, by committing myself more fully to one or two things, instead of spreading myself thin by trying to do it all. They encourage me to listen to my heart and follow my dreams, and I am very grateful to have them in my life.

I was granted a three week extension on my university deadlines, and was able to utilise that to finish my first year. Admittedly, I did not get ‘good’ grades, but I passed and I am working with my tutors to develop a support system and ‘plan of action’ to ensure I can tackle Year 2 without the problems I have faced in Year 1.

I feel that a weight has been lifted now I no longer have to tackle looming assessment deadlines. I have not allowed myself to despair over my somewhat disappointing grades, but instead, I’ve celebrated the relief the year is over and that I have actually passed! I have a beautiful summer stretched ahead of me; I am taking this time to set down the paving stones that will help me better access university when I return in September.

I have also learnt to ‘make time for myself’, so over summer, I will be attempting to practice better self-care habits to avoid future burnouts/breakdowns/bad situations.
I am also currently luxuriating in my free time, spending it with new friends and old. One of my favourite things about currently rebuilding myself is the opportunities it has presented me to begin fostering new friendships, and to spend time with old friends. I haven’t had the time to spend with friends prior to finishing university (expect for those who attend university with me, who I could see during my ‘breaks’ from studying). I feel very lucky now to have the opportunity to see friends over summer, but also very lucky I have friends who have understood that I have needed to ‘disappear’. In the past few weeks, I have been able to see 2 of my best friends who I haven’t seen since January. This has done me a world of good, and I am so so grateful to Euan and Liv for understanding that I quite literally haven’t had the time to see them. I’m so grateful too that they can understand that merely ‘keeping going’ can suck up so much time that trying to ‘make an effort’ is a mammoth task.

I have dragged myself out of hell over the past few months. I have had some horrible things happen to me (which I won’t detail on my blog) but they have shown me my strength, and to have self-respect.  I have learnt to re-prioritise my life, but that doesn’t happen overnight. Slowly, I have been “getting my sh*t together”, and I’m very hopeful about how the future looks.

Recovery is bloody hard, but I’m made of tough stuff.

 

On my way back to the light ❤
-Amari x

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Musings on turning 19

Today, I turned 19. At midnight, I was boogieing away in a club with my flatmates – not a bad way to celebrate in my book. I spent my last day as an 18 year old adventuring around charity shops in York, putting together an outfit for my friend with a budget of £10 (he looked stunning btw!), and chilling by the river. My flatmates dragged me on a night out ❤ Today, I slept until 12 after falling into bed at 6am, and enjoyed the sunshine with my friend Jules. We plan to go see Deadpool 2 this evening, although this plan may change as I’m quite tired…
My 18th year on this planet has been a strange one – crammed full of life-changing experiences that have allowed me to learn A LOT about myself.
I am learning who I am. I’ve discovered I’m not all that bad either 😉
I look forward to what year 19 on this crazy planet will bring me.

This post would be a lot longer, expect I’m procrastinating, and have another post due soon! (Well, it’s over-due, but I’ve been procrastinating it haha)

19 seems to hold a lot of promise for me. I’m fiercely independent, but learning also to ask for help. I have beautiful connections with people and I’m learning how to utilise them. I feel strong and confident and hopeful.

19

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! 🙂

-A x

(Update: We didn’t end up going to the cinema. Instead, we built a huge blanket fort and watched the original Deadpool on Netflix and it was AWESOME)

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Hello again!

My last post on this blog was November 2nd 2017. Almost 6 months ago. Writing another post is incredibly scary, and seems almost ‘pointless’, but I realised those feelings attach too much expectations to my writing. I now aim to utilise this more as diary, a creative outlet, than to try ‘document’ my journey for others. I can use this blog to share what I please, but I should do so for myself, not for the gaze of others.
It was this need to ‘cater’ to a perceived audience that lead me to neglect this blog for so long. November 3rd, Benjamin, my partner mentioned in so many of my previous blog posts, broke up with me. He was a big support system, and I needed to give myself time to heal. But as time went on, returning to blogging seemed harder and harder.
I entered another relationship in December 2017. Without going into details, it taught me a lot about myself. It made me ‘grow a backbone’. The ex-boyfriend from this relationship almost destroyed me, but after it coming to a close, I have finally made peace with who I am. I finally feel whole.
I’ve learnt a lot in the time between now and November ’17. Especially about myself.
My friend Jules pointed out I was exhausting myself by constantly ‘working’, by constantly trying to be a good person, and since his words, I’ve stopped *trying* so hard, and just *be* instead. I make mistakes, but I try to be guided by compassion, instead of striving to be compassionate. It’s hard to explain the hippy babble that goes on in my head, but it’s super helpful for me.

In the interim, I was also employed as a support worker for 2 months. Although I left this role, I absolutely loved this job. It taught me a lot about myself, and inspired me to keep fighting for what I believe in. I also learnt a lot about life from the old people I cared for. They imparted a lot of knowledge.
Additionally, through working with YNC I’ve had chance to hang out with toddlers, who are amongst the wisest beings walking on this planet. I’m super excited for the cafe to open May 4th. I absolutely love volunteering with YNC, and it’s allowed me to build an amazing support network who’ve been brilliant when things have gotten rocky over the last few months.

It’d be impossible to fill in everything that has happened in the past 6 months; too many memories (good and bad) to capture. But I feel a sense of purpose returning to my life, which is awesome ❤

Oh, and another important update – I now have blue hair! 31019277_1192599794213789_1668035971_o

 

Apologies for neglecting the blog for several months, but I’m super proud of myself for finding the energy to resurrect it! This post would be longer but I have uni work to crack on with.

Before I end this post, I would like to remind readers of the power of setting good intentions as you go about your day, and the magic of practicing conscious gratitude! Both have helped me heal so much ❤

Love,
– A x

Rambling

My day – November 2nd 2017!

Hi guys! I’ve had a super busy day today and I thought I should write about it! (Even though I have uni work I promised myself I would do – whoops!)
I woke up early this morning as i had a meeting with my academic tutor, Gary. I’ve missed some of my lectures due to stress and illness, so he wanted to check in and see how I was doing. One of the things I love about studying at York St John is that the pastoral care system is great! With the support I’m accessing, I’m sure I’ll overcome the challenges I’ve recently been presented with.
After my meeting with Gary, I picked up my fluoxetine from the nearby pharmacy and walked into town. I stopped by the Vodafone shop to buy an SD card, and ended up having a really lovely chat with a technophobic old man and the salesman. They were both exceptionally lovely, and laughed at my inability to navigate technology despite being merely 18.

After that, I headed to ARGOS to pick up a new phone charger and laptop mouse. I wandered around town, trying to find a veggie-suitable but budget-friendly sandwich for lunch. I also made the mistake of going shopping when hungry, resulting in me buying £6 hot chocolate from Whittards. I suppose the fact I eventually sourced a cheese and onion pasty from Poundland for my lunch somewhat makes up for that haha. Despite the chill in the air, the sun was shining and the weather had a brisk, autumnal feel. It was really beautiful walking through York.

I headed back to my uni, and had time to kill, so went to Coffea, my hiding-spot nestled in the shops near the university. The cafe was way busier than when I’m usually in; the owner, Katerina’s friends had come over to visit her at work, plus other lunchtime patrons. I settled down to people-watch with cup of tea and teacake, when a customer came into the busy cafe. He commented on how busy it was and Katerina pointed out the free seat next to me (knowing I wouldn’t mind). He was insisting he’d get his coffee and sandwich to go when I called over “Don’t be silly! This seat is free and I don’t smell funny!”. I introduced myself, and we got chatting. I found out his name was Mike and he teaches at a local Quaker school. He told me about his job, I told him about uni. He showed me photos of his incredibly cute dog Rosie. We had a deep chat about the ‘state of the world’ but all the positives and freedoms we have that people fail to appreciate; in Britain now, I can safely be out as bisexual, whereas when Mike was my age, that just couldn’t have happened. I’m very lucky to live openly. We also fangirled over the massively underrated film Mr Nobody and I told him about my obsession with John Wyndham and the love of sci-fi I share with Benjamin. It was really fabulous to have someone to “geek out” with over obscure science fiction haha. When he finished his meal, he paid for my tea too, refuting my objections because “the student loan system is a shambles”. I was taken aback, and very grateful, for his generosity.

I still had time to kill when he left, so I remained seating, scrolling through instagram, when the lady opposite piped up “I overheard you say you’re studying Counselling.” She divulged she was studying a PhD in counselling psychology and we chatted about that for a good while until I needed to leave. It was really interesting talking to her about her experiences, and her thoughts on the various counselling practices and theories.

After leaving Coffea, I went across to student finance to find out more about how YSJ can support my fundraising for China. I felt horrendous when the woman I spoke to started crying, but also very moved, as she told me her friend had recently been admitted to St Gemma’s (the hospice I’m fundraising for). It was striking to see the very real impact the charity has on people outside my immediate family, and reassured me that the money I’m raising will make a real difference. St Gemma’s is a phenomenal charity.

I decided to pop into the Students Union on my way home, and luckily, managed to corner all three of the Presidents to have an impromptu meeting. They were so receptive of my fundraising ideas, and really keen to support me. I started the ball rolling on some fundraising events for China, but also was able to promote a scheme they are going to get involved with with York Nurturing Community. I felt very positive and empowered after the meeting.

My friend Aneesa was fundraising in the SU again, but she looked dog-tired so her friends and I persuaded her to come home instead of continuing with Isoc. They had enough manpower to handle it, and would have been packing up soon. She begrudgingly agreed to come to mine for a cup of tea, which turned into a 3 hour heart-to-heart. Aneesa is a lovely person and I’m so glad I have met her.

She’s gone to do some work now, and although I should also be doing uni work, I’m sat here with my (totally worth it but expensive) hot chocolate and I’m going to make myself some food.

Today has been a really good day, full of interesting and lovely people. It’s been one of those days I’ve felt truly happy and grateful to be alive.

I’m glad November is going to a positive start!

-A x

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Halloween 2017

Halloween is my absolute favourite holiday of the year! 

I normally celebrate Halloween by taking my younger siblings out trick-or-treating with my friend Mara, before coming home to watch scary movies, and topping the night off with a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Halloween 2013!

Given I’ve moved to uni and couldn’t feasibly come home, my first Halloween in York was a bit of a big deal for me. Unfortunately, none of my friends had plans, as most had 9am lectures or had been out at the weekend. Rather forlorn, I accepted my night would consist of cheesy Halloween flicks in bed on my lonesome, reminiscing about the weekend, when I saw my little sister Lilly and we carved a pumpkin and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas together.

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Our pumpkin! (Frame copyright held by Facebook, I sourced this photo from my dad)

I attended university in the morning. My seminar focussed on an assignment I seriously need to stop neglecting. #studentlife

I had an hour’s gap between the seminar and my training to be an Academic Rep for my course. (My role basically consists of feeding back students’ opinions to the staff running our degree). I picked up a falafel and sweet potato wrap and a cup of tea from the uni cafe. (The 20p discount because I used my own cup was a nice surprise). To fill the time left, I went to visit my friend Aneesa, as I knew she was running a stall in the SU to raise money for Islamic Relief.

As I chatted with her, I told her I was feeling a little blue that I had no plans to celebrate Halloween. She very kindly invited me along on her night out! I had a really fantastic night!
After I got home from uni, I headed to Sainsbury’s with my flatmates in a quest for fake blood to piece together a last-minute costume. Sainsbury’s were flat-out of fake blood, and I got roped into buying toilet roll for the house, which in hindsight I suppose i could have made into a mummy costume haha.

Luckily when we got back from the trip, one of my flatmates’ girlfriends kindly gave me her left-over fake blood. I delved into my wardrobe to piece something together, and don’t think I did too bad a job.

As I did my makeup (a skill I’ve been aiming to develop recently – thankfully my friend Liv taught me the basics when she came to stay on the 22nd), I danced around the room to spooky tunes, before settling down to eat a burrito and FINALLY watched Stranger Things Season 2.

At about 9, I met Aneesa and was introduced to her friends Nafeesa and Hasnat, and her sister, also called Nafeesa. They were all really lovely and we popped to SPAR for Fanta before heading to the house party. Nafeesa and I chatted for ages; she told me about her travels and teaching degree.

We eventually headed into town and danced away at Stone Roses Bar. The experience was somewhat surreal – all these people dressed fantastically as Harley Quinn, pumpkins, zombies, John Travolta, vampires, bananas, cowboys and mermaids, drinking cocktails and dancing. Another part of me wished that that was how everyone always dressed! Everyone looked amazing!

At about 12am, we walked down to meet Aneesa’s friend at the train station, before grabbing McDonalds on the way home. They all walked me home before heading back to Hasnat’s. (I was invited along but way too tired to face it!) It was really lovely being on a night out with Muslims as there was no social pressure to drink and we all had a really good time without having to get drunk.

After getting settled in bed, I fell asleep watching Miranda on Netflix. All in all, a very lovely way to celebrate my favourite holiday!

As today marks the first of November and I did a post at the beginning of last month, I thought I would reflect on my October goals that I set for myself now.

My fundraising for St Gemma’s isn’t going quite at the pace I would like, but I have gotten support from the Careers/Volunteering department at uni and had a meeting with Ashleigh (a member of their staff) today. Ashleigh made some great suggestions and has helped me devise a fundraising plan!
I’ve continued working hard towards my degree, and I’m super excited to start as an Academic Rep. Admittedly, I need to buckle down and sort out my assignments instead of procrastinating. I’ve also been busy with blossoming friendships, and spending time with Liv and my family. I’ve been trying to promote YNC as well.
October has been a really great month for me, and I saw it out having lots of fun. Bring on everything November has to offer!

-A x

Rambling

My day – October 10th 2017

Today has been a bit of a whirlwind so I thought I would make a post about what I’ve been up to.

I woke up early this morning and called my boyfriend for a little bit of a chat, as he had a 9am lecture and was in university most of the day so i knew we wouldn’t be able to chat much throughout the day. After Benj left to go to his uni, I made myself some porridge, got dressed and checked my emails.
Finding I still hadn’t received an email I was supposed to receive on Friday, I rang up the Recruitment team at my university, and was informed I “probably hadn’t” got the Student Ambassador role I was interviewed for last week. I was absolutely gutted, and rang my mum to have a bit of a moan, as I felt the interview had gone really well, and was so disappointed I didn’t get the job.

Benj and I had decided to get a pet Giant African Land Snail if I got the job to have income to support myself and our pet snail. Grudgingly, I informed the lady we had reserved a snail with that we were not in a position to care for them. (She was completely understanding and wished me luck on my job hunt – I found her through a facebook group I would highly recommend joining if you’re a fan of GALS/considering one as a pet!)

At 11am, I made my way into uni for a seminar. The first half was delivered by two representatives of ‘York Virtual School’ who were hoping to recruit a few students to undertake a work placement with them. The opportunity to mentor a young person is a really exciting one and I’m definitely going to aim to get a placement through their ‘Inspire Project’. Their talk about the hardships faced by children in care was extremely moving and made me appreciate how lucky I am.

The second half of my seminar consisted of a fun team-building exercise (building a tower out of plastic straws) and reflective practice. After the seminar, I arranged a meeting with my academic tutor as I was feeling a lot of stress about not being able to find a job and finances. I will be meeting with him tomorrow to hopefully find some solutions 🙂

After my lecture, I went to meet some friends as we were helping the LGBT Society raise money for Mind.org via a bake sale. The fundraising was very apt as today was World Mental Health Awareness Day so consider this a gentle reminder to look after your mental health folks ❤

Whilst I was helping out at the bake sale, I received a phone call telling me I had been misinformed this morning, and I was actually recruited for the Student Ambassador role. I was absolutely elated, and rushed home to get the relevant documents so I could come back into uni and complete the paperwork they needed me to do. (Don’t worry, it was only twenty minutes before I was down to leave anyways, and sales were quite quiet when I left the bake sale!) I was so, so happy that I had the job, it took a weight off as I’m under a lot of financial stress at the minute. My rent is due next week, and as my student loan doesn’t cover my accommodation costs, I will end up in overdraft, which is far from ideal. I also need money to ‘live on’ and unforeseen events like needing new shoes and having to buy household items has screwed up my budget a little bit. (Despite working two jobs over summer, the money i had saved worked out at roughly £20 a week to live on. When you have to fork out for £7 for coathangers and pillowcases, £2.20 per laundry cycle, £50 for some new shoes, the budget soon isn’t feasible).

This morning, due to the financial strain I’m under, I got in contact with York Nurturing Community about their ‘Pay-As-You-Feel’ scheme in the hopes I would be able to work a shift at their pop-up-cafe in exchange for some food. Although I am probably not going to have to rely on a food bank to access food now that I have secured a job, i will still be meeting with the manager on Thursday to discuss how I can help out with the YNC cafe and how they can help me when I’m struggling to afford food.

After completing my paperwork for the Student Ambassador role, I headed home. I had a fiddle on my ukulele and my flatmate, Jules, kindly cooked me pizza for tea. (I normally do the cooking, so it made a nice change). After tea, I headed out. I was planning on attending a recruitment evening at the local LUSH store, but anxiety got the better of me, and I ended up only making it to the Porter’s Lodge on campus where we send our post. I’d received an email earlier that day telling me a package had arrived for me. I assumed it was the birthday present I had ordered for my friend. I found out it was actually a care-package from my lovely friend Euan, containing vegan chocolate, earbuds, a sack (yes a SACK) of tea and a can of febreeze. I actually teared up when I opened it up and read the thoughtful messages attached to each item. I’m so lucky to have such cute and generous people in my life ❤

This evening I mainly played Puppy Luv (i have no shame in admitting the kids’ game is a source of comfort for me) and also read ‘first steps in Counselling’ by Ursula O’Farrell to compliment my studies.

I will be calling Benji to say nanight soon so I better end this here.

Today has been an emotional rollercoaster, but served as a reminder to look after my own mental health, and stressed how important access to support networks is!
I hope you’re all okay, and i’m here if you need a sympathetic ear ❤

-A x