Friday, 16 November 2012

Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels

Above this text you will see a link. This link is to a story I have literally slaved away at to create, and it would mean the world to me if people could give it a read.
I have entered it into a competition, and I really hope to win. Wishful thinking, I know, but it was just too good to resist!

I'm keeping this post short, so please go and read my story!
Many thanks

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Magic of Christmas

Many people I know fear the word ‘Christmas’. It starts at the end of the Half Term break, when the next holiday is Christmas. The adverts start up on TV, and the shelves are soon overtaken by boxes of festive chocolates, cards and gifts. Many an old pensioner in my town moans when the tree is decorated and displayed elegantly in the centre of the supermarket in early November. I almost expect a ‘bah humbug’ to slip out of their mouths.

As if this negativity isn’t enough, all the parents around town are moaning about how much it’s going to cost them, how they don’t want to see certain members of their family around the table, and how the toys are a waste of money.
What is so hard about seeing past all this and witnessing the true wonder of Christmas?
One of my favourite festive films is ‘A Christmas Carol’. Whether Scrooge is played by Michael Cane, Jim Carrey or a cartoon representation, I simply love the old-fashioned traditions and story. I have also read the book, and find it effortlessly charming. The culture in that day in age is one of which should still be remembered today. Christmas in such an era was about charity, love, giving and receiving.

As much as I love dressed-up department stores and sparkling shopping centres, you cannot beat a home-made Christmas. To me, the festive season isn’t all about getting the latest gadget your heart yearns for, or buying the most expensive dress ‘because it’s Christmas’. To me, it’s all about appreciating the ones you love and making everyone feel special and united.
I have always spent Christmas at my grandmother’s, and there is something so amazing about being together with all my family at such a magical time that almost makes it the best gift of them all. It’s lovely to look across the table before we tuck into a homemade feast and seeing the family that surrounds me. I’m sentimental like that. I see the loving auntie who lives just across the road, the grandma who’s spent weeks planning this wonderful meal for us all, and the uncle and cousins who live the other side of the country who I’ve been longing to see. There’s something about being united and gathered together to have fun and celebrate a special time that only comes once a year. 

I love shopping for presents and looking around the colourful festive window displays. There’s a dream everyone has of Christmas shopping that includes being enveloped in a mass of woolly jumpers and scarves, clutching a hot chocolate and browsing shop displays in the snow as the street decorations twinkle. I love this feeling.

However, something which is even better than this feeling is the reaction of your loved ones as they open their presents. I love surprising my little sister every year with something thoughtful. I don’t mind buying her an expensive game or pretty dress, as long as I pair something homemade or unique with it. This often includes a box of her favourite home baked biscuits or a little knitted scarf. It also pleases my parents no end in receiving two contrasting gifts; one of which they really want, and another they’re pleasantly surprised with because I made it. 

I know it’s only November, and I can hear echo of disapproving townspeople saying it’s too early to get excited, but I truly am in love with the magic of Christmas.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My Elephant Necklace

I haven't written a blog post in a significantly long time, and a contrast of exam pressure and longing to write isn't a good combination. So I've settled for the latter and sparked an idea to blog about.

Somewhen around last year I was shopping with my friends in a busy city. It was around winter-ish time as I recall, and my friend exclaimed that she really wanted to look at the jewellery market stalls out on the street.
Reluctantly and lothargically I followed in tow, not really amused at the thought of being bitten by the cold weather outside for a pair of tacky earrings which she'd surely forget in a day or two.
However, when we reached the stalls I was almost impressed. The jewellery on display took me aback. It was chic and unqiue (pardon the rhyme), and I was instantly drawn in.
There was a woman behind the stall who jumped at the chance of lecturing us customers on her masterpieces, but I didn't mind, she seemed genuinely nice. To this day I still remember her appearance. She was a tall, slender woman with long brown dreadlocks and a camoflague jacket. She also wore a purple ankle skirt with beaded pumps. She had a few facial piercings and the many studs on her ears twinkled like Christmas bulbs on a tree. She gave us a toothy grin as we looked around her stall. My friend had her heart set on a pair of peacock feather earrings and bought them instantly, whereas I wasn't looking for anything. I fumbled round the back of the stall whilst my friend payed, and suddenly spotted a little row of carved necklaces. There were about two or three on display; each hanging from a thick black woven string. The carved pendants were white and pearl-y. I touched them gently and savoured a look at each one.
My friend glanced round the corner as she put on her new earrings.
"Oh, they look nice." She exclaimed, and started to finger the texture of the pendants herself. I immediately got defensive and told her I was thinking of buying one.
"I don't really wear necklaces, but they're nice." I said, transfixed on one particular necklace. It was a little elephant with a carved out trunk and horns. I slowly took it from the wrack and tried it for size, a perfect fit.
I paid the slightly deranged but nevertheless lovely woman at the stall £5 and left with a wide smile as if I'd earned the necklace which I cradled in my hands.

As I type this I am looking down on the elephant necklace which still hangs round my neck. I expected it to break one day and for my neckline to be left naked and bare once again, but it's held up tremendously.
The necklace has seen me through good times, lucky times and happy times. It's also been worn in bad times, anxious times and terribly upsetting times. I see the elephant as a symbol of strength, and not necessarily physically.
I am often worried or nervous, and it only takes a glance at my necklace to reassure me that I'm strong and 'I can do this'. When I am particularly upset, I clutch it tight and close my eyes. It's truly amazing how it hasn't broken yet.

I'm sure there are many of you out there who have your own little keepsake or special charm, and to be honest I never thought I'd have one. I'm not supersticious about it or crazily in love with it. It's just a small token which means a lot to me, and provides a sense of comfort and security. It's something I hope to hold onto forever. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Music And Me

For me, music acts as a sort of sanctuary.

Today, I have had a particularly hard day, from which I retired home exhausted. However, to my amazement, after listening to only a few songs on my iPod, I was ready to tackle ten pieces of homework, and even finish off some coursework laying around my dishevelled bedroom.
Those few songs happened to be 'I Will Wait' by Mumford and Sons, 'Summer Paradise' by Simple Plan, 'Call It What You Want' by Foster the People, and 'A-Team' by Ed Sheeran.
The contrast of melodies between these songs is undeniably obvious, but the unique rhythms and catchy tunes made me mentally buzz at the prospect of homework.
I danced around the house for a couple of moments whilst my dogs watched on in amazement, and I was thankful that there was no-one else present to witness the sheer volume of my mad outburst.

For this reason, I am thankful that I can appriciate music in it's true form, and I take it's effects for granted sometimes. I am often motivated by some drum and bass whilst running, or relaxed by some indie tunes whilst unwinding. Music can often enhance or change your mood.
For example, if you're a woman and you've just suffered a terrible break up, the last thing you're going to want to hear is any Jason Mraz or Ed Sheeran.
No, you're going to want to hear some motivational, heartfelt songs by strong, independant women like Kelly Clarkson or Christina Aguilera.

And if you're on the way to work, you really don't want sleazy some song echoing through your ears about failure and being down in the dumps. No! You're going to need something upbeat, something to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

See, when you really analyse the music you listen to and why it can be a real journey in discovering who you are as a person. I myself don't have a particular preferance in music genre, I'm partial to most things apart from hardcore rock.
I was brought up heavily surrounded by the work of Elvis, Michael Jackson and Madonna. These are my mother's favourites and even to this day there is not one song of theirs I don't know off by heart.
But when it comes down to it, I love Ed Sheeran, as well as the bands I previously mentioned, along with a bit of Drake and Michael Buble.

I add (with slight embarassment) that for me, there's nothing better than a Christmas song, no matter what time of year it is. I constantly have Michael Buble and Mariah Carey's Christmas albums at hand, and the festive feeling seems universally uplifting to me. Mad, I know.

In conlusion, I don't know where I'd be without music. And it wasn't until today until I realised what an important role it plays in my life, and other's lives as well. I bet there are millions of people who have once walked down the road and it's poaring with rain, you're soaked through. It's been a tough day and you're listening to the most depressing song on your playlist, and ultimately feeling like you're in a music video.
I'm glad I'm not the only one...

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Life Lessons

Here I am, yet again recommending another blog!
I have been in full swing researching other blogs, and as you have seen from my last post, I have stumbled across quite a few hidden jems. One of these was 'The Quiet Place Project' and another is 'Marc and Angel Hack Life'. I have been viewing this blog daily since I found it and I feel it's an online retreat for those who need guidance.

It's rather like a 'mother blog' (self-made term alert). By this I mean that all the tremendous and in-depth advice they offer is a lot like the advice your mother would give you.
Their posts range from help with finance, life, impossible decisions, health and self-improvement. It has really inspired me, and many of their posts make me feel happy and appriciate the little things.

This blog is universally useful, not only morally and physcologically, but practically too. It has handy little hints and tips for making the most of things, and getting a head start in business. These bloggers really know what they are doing, and if my blog turns out to become even a quater as successful and inspirational as theirs, I would be over the moon.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Quiet Place Project

I have been researching and following blogs long before I even thought about starting up my own. Some blogs do not link or relate to others, as this can be percieved as 'advertising' or 'promoting' the opposition. But I don't care. I think the 'Quiet Place Project' is a genius website.

As a busy student, I get really stressed out. It can be over friendships, relationships, homework, hormones, exam dates, due-in dates and many little 'niggly' reasons. I never really take time out to breathe or do things for myself (like this blog for example!)
Anyway, today I discovered 'The Quiet Place Project'. It's a website which provides a sort of online narration of relation therapy. Soothing music lulls the brain into a relaxed state, whilst an interactive narrative comforts you. This one particular link on their webpage made me so happy. It was a little project where the reader writes down all their worries in a box on the screen, and watches as they float away and become stars on a backdrop of a serene night sky.
Seeing the images, listening to the music, watching my troubles as they floated away was an experience I'll never forget, even if it was only alive on a computer screen.

'The Quiet Place Project' also had a really good idea about how to visually see your troubles and worries float away. One of their suggestions was to blow up several balloons either alone or with friends and write down your troubles on them with a pen. Then, once outside, simply let them go and watch as the balloons float away. In my head, I can see myself doing this at night-time, in the little field near to my house and feeling so relieved, relaxed, and like a weight has been lifted.

On reflection, I am not really a 'spiritual' person, even though I am religious. That may sound a bit contradictory, but it's true. I don't have a lot of quiet time to reflect and admire the beauty of the world, so I suppose that's why I don't do it or think about it much.
But I hope that after reading and experiencing these amazing ideas I could perhaps begin to understand calming ways of becoming more relaxed and spiritual, even when I am stressed out for whatever reason. I thank 'The Quiet Place Project' for helping me realise what more I should do to make myself more relaxed, and overall happier during a day. I would really reccommend it to everyone to try!
Just by taking 30 seconds out of a busy evening really did make a difference, and I'm sure it will for many others too.

Goodbye for now and thank you for reading!

Monday, 24 September 2012

First Blog Post

Hello Readers!
(If there are, indeed, any of you reading this...)

This is my very first blog post and I am petrified! I was recommended to start a blog by a woman called Caroline who was advising me via an Online Careers Guidance website. To be quite honest, I didn't need careers guidance at all, I've always known what I wanted to do.
When I was in pre-school, I adored writing stories. Our teacher used to give us these teeny tiny blue books with little pictures in and we had to write a story to match. Of course, it was a bit like ghost writing in today's terms, I had to get an adult to write it whilst I narrated, and I think they must have changed some words around and stopped writing when I babbled. My stories started sort of crazy, and looking back on them, not a lot of them made sense. But later on, during my primary years, I developed a passion for English, and I wrote down big novels in ring bound notebooks from Woolworth's. I used to save up my pocket money to afford them, and beg my mum on more than one occasion to buy me them when I was absolutely desperate to jot down my new ideas.

As soon as I got into Year 4 of my education, I fell in love with Jacqueline Wilson books. I read and collected all of them through the years, and despite my age, I still do so now! It's something about the utterly captivating story lines, and colourful, loveable characters that keep me reading Jacqueline’s books over and over again.

I also learnt to admire the work of Elizabeth Laird, introduced to me by a library worker when I attended a club there at the age of eleven. I first read 'Red Sky in the Morning', and was totally bowled over by the contrast of more adult, mature language and relatable story lines. I went on to read 'Jacob's Tower' and 'Paradise End' and 'The Garbage King', falling in love with the characters and empathising with them in the horrific situations they faced.

Now, as I endure my teenage years, I continue my passion for English as I read the work Shakespeare, Dickens and Harper Lee. I strive to earn the best grades I can, and so far I have got A*s in all my English exams. I also use my love for writing to contribute to my school magazine and local papers. Doing so got me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work alongside the BBC when they visited my school to produce a report. This experience enhanced my dream to become 'one of them' even more!

I think I will use this blog to express my love for books, writing a few reviews here and there, as well as commenting upon current affairs, global matters which affect me, and to gain experience and express myself. I can't wait to watch my knowledge grow as I research economics and politics, as well as see my vocabulary expand as I devour book after book to provide reviews! I really hope that you (if there’s anybody out there) will enjoy my work and write me some feedback to show it!

I hope you like my blog, and I look forward to embarking on this journey!

Thank you!