Monthly Musings, Entry 02 | May 2017

Welcome to my next post in the series.

I’m afraid to say that May has been a relatively miserable month for me – I’m still unwell and it’s hard for me to describe exactly in words what or how I feel, or maybe I’m just not ready to put it into words yet, and I’m not sure I ever will be, unless it’s through my fiction work – but a lot has changed for me since the start of January. It’s sometimes difficult to understand or imagine the me that I was, this time last year, happy and wondering around Cambridge with my sister, graduating with my MA and my friends and smiles all around me. I am so very much far away from her, the me last year, in both mind, body and spirit. Being unwell in the sense of constantly experiencing shallow highs and what feels like earth-shattering lows in a perpetual cycle of self-doubt and to a great degree, self-inflicted gloom and misery as a result of negative thought-processes, has resulted in nothing but total and utter fatigue. It’s been tough, and something that I am struggling to cope with, and never have I sought escape from my situation in any shape or form so ardently. Here’s to me hoping that the spiritual month of Ramadan, taking some time off work, continuing with my writing and making every effort to reconnect with the things that are important to me, helps to develop a healthy mindset and set me on a better track in the coming months.

LISTENING TO…

May has been one of those reflective months for me, so I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff – from things that are eons old to a lot of new stuff on Spotify playlists – but overall mostly with low-mood, mellow or melancholy and alternative vibes.

JIMMY EAT WORLD – BLEED AMERICAN

You know you’ve got issues when you’re listening to ‘Hear You Me’ on repeat from morning till night. Also realised they performed at the O2 Guildhall in Southampton a few months ago?! Very sad to have missed it.

JOHN MAYER

Pretty much all of his stuff on Spotify. His voice has a very soothing effect I find.

SONDER – INTO (EP)

Alternative mellow R&B/soul/techno-ish. Just been listening to it during work as it’s quite chill and doesn’t interfere too much with my thought processes. It’s nice.

SAM RUI

She’s a Singaporean singer-songwriter who I stumbled upon which I like – she’s different and I like her depressing-mellow songs with techno-type voice.

READING…

I’ve been reading a lot this month – from books to online blogs and news articles. The majority has been stuff on politics (quite naturally with the election on the 8 June looming ahead). My Facebook feed has been covered with articles from all sorts of places – not sure if it’s been depressing me or not, but it’s been interesting to see all the fake news, newspapers shifting alliances and advertising propaganda sprouted by the Tories.

ASKING FOR IT BY LOUISE O’NEILL

This book is about rape culture. I read O’Neill’s debut last year, ONLY EVER YOURS, after a recommendation from a friend and I really enjoyed it, so was very much looking forward to getting stuck into this, her second novel. It’s about a girl who gets gang raped at a friend’s party. The whole event is also documented on social media by her four assailants. The book charts the aftermath of the event and the impact it has on her, her family, and unsurprisingly, the lack of consequence and impact on her rapists. The book highlights modern culture around technology, and is actually based on true events that occurred in America.

It struck a cord with me because it reminded me of why so few women come forward in instances of rape – the conviction rate is abysmally low – a joke really – even when the evidence is blindingly clear. I was on the jury for the attempted rape and sexual assault of a 100 year old woman last year – yes I know, the stuff that makes your guts curl and want to vom repeatedly – and what happened? The guy got away with attempted fucking burglary. The evidence seemed so clear and obvious I thought it was a no-brainer. I’ve never felt so angry and utterly hopeless at the same time in my life. Especially since I thought half the people on the jury were total dimwits and completely untrained/not fit to make decisions on matters of law that they couldn’t seem to digest or understand. I know I must sound like an elitist pig, but you cannot expect to put a random bunch of people in a room with zero-minimal prior knowledge of the law, or how it is written, to make such a life altering decision. They need to be trained or have a minimal level of comprehension to understand what accounts for evidence and what does not. I can go on with this rant but I won’t because it makes me angry and it’s currently 3.15am and I need to go to sleep because I have work tomorrow. I didn’t follow up on the case after my time on the jury finished because I just wanted to be rid of the whole experience; it was so horrible. But perhaps I should follow up, because my anger with the injustice that occurred is obviously still there, just beneath the surface.

I’ve also been reading MISSING, PRESUMED BY SUSIE STEINER, WANNABE A WRITER? (yes, yes I do) BY JANE WENHAM-JONES, EAT PRAY LOVE BY ELIZABETH GILBERT, and THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE BY STEPHEN R. COVEY.

I haven’t actually finished getting through all of these this month – I tend to have lots of books on the go – both fiction and non-fiction I am finding lately – and easily navigate through them depending on my mood. But yes, I am certainly enjoying finally getting through my large book collection!

WATCHING…

LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER

I watched this earlier this month; it’s the BBC production starring Richard Madden. I have like a huge celebe crush on Madden ❤ (ROB STARRK OMG) so will pretty much watch anything he’s in, good or bad. I certainly enjoyed watching this, even though his role was primarily a bit of ze rough on ze side heh heh. Defo worth the £2.49 I paid on Amazon Prime for it.

I have a beautiful copy of the book sitting on my shelf so look forward to reading it when I have a go at working through all the classics I haven’t read. My friend did a challenge a few years back where he worked through the classics in a year (sometimes he watched the movies instead of reading the books so kind of cheating there ahem), but you get the gist. I was thinking of setting a similar challenge for myself (but I would read all the books)! Might save it for 2018 though…

BELLE

This is an independent movie that my sister recommended to me, inspired by the 1779 painting of mixed-race Dido Elizabeth Belle beside her white cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray, at Kenwood House. The film is about Dido coming to terms with her identity and status in the context of an elite white family at a time when the slave trade existed. The movie charts her involvement with a lawyer, who is seeking justice on a case that came to be known as the Zong massacre, when slaves were thrown overboard from a slave ship and the owner filed with his insurance company for the losses (what a douchebag). I personally think this film had a strong storyline, but because it was an independent movie and budget was obvs tight, it didn’t do it justice really. Also wasn’t sure about the main gal’s acting. I personally didn’t find it convincing enough, and found Lady Elizabeth Murray’s character far too one-dimensional. One dimensional characters drive me NUTS. I simply expect better, I just do. I can’t help it. If I have taken my precious time to watch something, I WANT SOMETHING GOOD TO FEED MY SOUL/BRAIN GODDAMMIT.

VISITING…

THE THEATRE

I went to both the Mayflower Theatre to watch the very classic JANE EYRE and the Nuffield Theatre (for the first time) to watch THE WOMAN IN BLACK. All I can say is that JANE EYRE was beyond MEH (struggled not to fall asleep – not my fault frankly had a very large and delicious meal with insanely lush dessert beforehand which meant that I had bloated up to the size of a whale in what is increasingly becoming my extra small dress), so sat in my seat most of the evening trying not to burst at the seams or burp. I found the actress who played Jane excruciatingly annoying, and Rochester looked like he was a homeless man that they’d dragged off the streets and forced to play the role against his will. Me was disappointed.

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Went with my work girlie Francesca! ❤

On the other hand, THE WOMAN IN BLACK was SOOO FANTASTIC YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW!! I actually yelped out loud during the play (coz it’s scary and jumpy in all the right parts), grabbed onto Tom’s arm and DID NOT FALL ASLEEP. Which for me, if you aren’t aware of my limited attention span, is a firstttt (this is why I don’t do movie dates loool). Honestly, I was completely riveted, and the show has pretty much been sold out every night – not surprised at all! I think I enjoyed it so much because I didn’t know anything about the story or plot – I decided to go on a whim because a colleague at work had seen it the night before and was raving about it in the office kitchen so I just went off and bought the tickets. It’s the famous production that has been touring London I think – well the posters at the Nuffield were the same as the ones that I’d seen in London anyhow. I find theatre a real hit and miss, so it was really great to feel like it was more than my money’s worth, and just really made me feel great. You know when you see something really good, and you feel good and keep talking about it afterwards? That’s exactly how I felt, and from all the faces of the people who left the theatre I could tell they felt the same way – they were all buzzing about it – so yes would HIGHLY RECOMMEND if you ever have the opportunity to see it in the flesh.

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Me taking a sneaky picture during the intermission even though pics were banned #rebel

EATING…

PASTRY AND CARRBBBSSS

Far far far too much. Like every night. Kill me now. PAIN AU RAISIN IS MY BABY RIGHT NOW. I swear I’ve been sleepwalking into Waitrose and buying these daily. I seem to have forgotten about my love of anything with raisins in it – I absolutely loved eating raisins in any manner and form growing up and this craving of mine has totally returned in the past couple of weeks and I have been eating it at every opportunity.

I’ve also been eating any form of carb that my eyes have laid sight on. YAY. FOOD AND MY FEELINGS INNIT.

SKINNY BAKERY GOODIES

I’ve seen these Skinny Bakery goodies all over Instagram so thought I would try them and ended up buying one of everything from the website (where else is ma monies gonna go aye?) and lemme tell ya – they are SO good. They are basically cakes and cookies but made from uber healthy ingredients, so end up being a slither of the cals of normal sugary cakes/cookies. I enjoyed them immensely and plan to order some more in the near future when I am free of ze dietlife ❤

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Cakes and coffee – my favourite hobbeee

HOLY FOOD

Ramadan has started! By holy food I just mean food that we eat during Ramadan lol. This, for a Bengali household, is what I refer to as Asian porridge, pan fried chickpeas with all the spices on the Asian continent and a large side of fresh cucumber, tomato and onion salad. Oh and delicious thick dates from Jordan. I was planning to go uber healthy this year and stick to fruit and yoghurt as dessert, because last year I gained like a stone over Ramadan, although I did go to Singapore and eat bread and ice-cream non-stop so that may have had something to do with it hmm… Anyhow, my attempt at being healthy failed like on the first day when I ate so much at Iftar I passed out – I’m not even joking I passed out on my bed and swore I would never eat again. Well here I am post my sixth Iftar drinking coffee and eating a white chocolate Magnum so * shrugs shoulders *

WRITING…

In a way this is a follow up to Meet Me in March, but many years on. Tell me if you see the link? I would love to hear your thoughts on them, as these two poems are very close to my heart.

DRAWING…

The truth is, I only draw when I am unhappy or profoundly sad. I mean, who draws when they’re flippin’ happy? No one says ‘woop I am feeling super great today! I’m gloriously happy so I am gonna spend my time drawing in my bed! Or trek to a coffee shop to see what form my happy feelings take today!’ No, that doesn’t happen – not that I know of anyway.

Drawing for me is a process of escape (not necessarily a stress-free one however as I still want the outcome to be good, if not better than good), and an extension and expression of my thoughts. So as you can imagine, I have been drawing a lot lately, as this month has been a particularly difficult one for me for various reasons. Although I haven’t managed to finish anything I’ve been working on – I’ve been jumping from one thing to another, just like my reading. I also rarely ever share full images of my work online either – preferring to share bits of a painting, or a corner of something I’ve drawn. My art is private, but I’m trying to be less cagey and more comfortable about it, just like my writing I guess.

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TRYING…

LATE NIGHT GYM SESSIONS

I have been trying to go to the gym after Iftar to keep the weight in check with my two sisters. I am certainly a fan of going to the gym late at nights – it’s empty, quiet and just soo much more relaxing than trying to navigate the rush of people during the day. Not so great however, is the fact that we have to go to Puregym as it’s the only 24-hour gym local to us. The equipment is ancient, and the music is loud and shite. It’s so loud I can’t even hear the music on my iPod with airtight headphones on! So far I feel that getting in some movement in my day has helped somewhat, as it’s soo easy to be sedentry when fasting. I’m hoping to keep up the regime over Ramadan and potentially beyond, as we all bought a 3-month pass (we were a bit over-enthusiastic at the start of Ramadan…).

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Workin off dat evening pastry

WRITING 100 WORDS A DAY

Starting off small, but decided that this was the only way I am ever going to make a dent towards completing my novel, and all the other books and number of things I plan to write. I need to prioritise this. If I set myself this, then slowly it will build to something. I read that that’s what this one author did (can’t remember his name) who’d written a ton of novels. Just kept ploughing with writing 100 words a day, if not more. I want to be a novelist and poet, and write my shitty heart out, so if it’s important to me I gotta make the time to do it. I want to get to November this year and fully participate in NaNoWriMo and have something meaty to work with, so that’s the aim!

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Monthly Musings, Entry 01 | April 2017

I used to keep a diary when I was younger, charting in unnecessary detail mundane life events, my feelings and all manner of things that occurred throughout the day, from what I was eating to documenting which sibling had decided to ruin my life that day. I gave up diary writing as I got older however, as life, studying and lack of sleep got in the way, and although I tried to pick up the habit again over the years, it never seems to have stuck.

Recently I have noticed that a lot of bloggers online do Monthly Favourites posts, whereby they share a few of their favourite things that month with their readers. I thought it was a great idea, and perhaps a bridge between diary writing/blogging/keeping a memory log of things I’ve encountered or been inspired by, and in line with my New Year’s goals, what new things I’ve tried.. or attempted to try.

So here’s the first of my Monthly Musings posts. It’s an attempt to show the more ‘cultural’ stuff I do I suppose, things that I am passionate about, experience etc. Hope you enjoy reading them, and perhaps may even be inspired to check out some of the stuff too!

LISTENING TO…

THE 1975 – I LIKE IT WHEN YOU SLEEP, FOR YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL YET SO UNAWARE OF IT

I discovered these guys very recently (like two days ago lol) whilst scrolling through some Instagram Stories of people I follow. They are an English rock band from Manchester, and recently won a Brit Award for Best British Group, so if you haven’t heard of them yet, I’m sure you will soon! I’ve been listening to their second album I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. The style is a mixture of my favourites really – jazz, post-rock, R&B, soul, indie rock and a bit of dance rock. So currently listening to this (even as I write this blog post), and plan to work through the rest of their material. My fave tracks so far are ‘She’s American’ and ‘If I Believe You’. I would give them a listen if you haven’t already 🙂

RO JAMES – ELDORADO

I stumbled across Ro James at work whilst putting a random playlist on play on Spotify. He’s an American R&B/Hip-Hop/soul singer-songwriter. I haven’t managed to work through his whole album Eldorado yet, but plan on doing so. I just like his voice basically. I’ve downloaded the whole album (the perks of being an Amazon Prime member – get lots of albums on Prime for freeeee!!), so will give the whole thing a listen to at some point.

MAX – HELL’S KITCHEN ANGEL

Again, stumbled across MAX on a Spotify playlist and then proceeded to download the whole album on Amazon Prime on my iPod. I’ve only listened to ‘Lights Down Low’ so far, which I liked, but plan to work through the whole album, most likely on my journey to work. Don’t know much about MAX at all – but seems like a newbie.

READING…

FEAR THE DARKNESS BY BECKY MASTERMAN

Took me much longer to finish reading this than I expected to, as I hoovered the first book in the series (Rage Against the Dying). I personally didn’t think this was as good as the first; naturally very well written but felt that the storyline dragged out a bit and was surprised that Brigid Quinn, a former and very highly-skilled FBI agent, didn’t catch onto what was happening sooner. The next book in the series, A Twist of the Knife, came out recently, and I do plan to pick up a copy as I really like the characters and Masterman’s writing.

WATCHING…

DOWNTON ABBEY

As usual, eons behind the times, but as I’ve been sick since the beginning of Easter weekend, all I’ve been doing is lying in bed watching episode after episode of Downton Abbey and sitting up every 4 hours to take a round of painkillers. Grim, I know. I’ve managed to consume 3 series in about 3 days, and now have slowly started to lose interest as my favourite characters have died. But I have immensely enjoyed the show thus far; I have a perennial fascination with a lot of stuff about the Victorians / early 20th century / industrialisation / post World War 1 era. I will aim to continue to watch the show but perhaps less obsessively so. Most likely when I’m walking uphill on the treadmill during a lazy gym session.

GRACEFITUK

She’s a young fitspo on Instagram and has recently started a lot of fitness/life vlogs on Youtube. I think she’s hilarious and she’s also smart too, so have been consuming quite a few of her videos recently. She’s done a whole series on cutting – ‘Summer Shred’ – which are a really great watch if you’re trying to eat healthy and get lean for summer.

EATING…

Far too much afternoon tea (and painkillers) this month! From never having tried it, to having it twice within the span of a few weeks. Not crazy about the amount of sugar but I like trying little bits of everything when it comes to food, so it’s great if you like variety (which I do!).

VISITING…

BLENHEIM PALACE

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything particularly cultural. My best friend moved to Abingdon (near Oxford) for her new job in early April, so when I visited her we trekked to Oxford and wondered around the University, and then the following day visited the gorgeous Blenheim Palace. Everything was extra lovely because it was gloriously sunny! A little too sunny perhaps, and as per usual, I was totally unprepared for the weather with my all black attire -_- .

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The palace is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill. It was great walking around inside and learning about the history of the palace and the fashion and lifestyle of a bygone era. I especially enjoyed learning more about Churchill’s life – for instance, I had no idea he was such a romantic, and also a painter – and a very good one at that too!

WRITING…

ART & LYRICS

Been too ill to write anything too substantial, but still exercising my creative faculties as much as possible through my ART & LYRICS series, which I started this month. The project combines my love for art and rhyme, and reflects my desire to express myself and my experiences through those mediums. This is probably some of the most personal stuff I’ve ever created and shared.

You can check them out here:

DRAWING…

POP ART

MY FEELINGS. Joke. Not. At least I’m not eating them eh? Sigh. I wish people realised the impact their words or actions can have on others, or lack of action.

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‘That was a dick move’ – he said.

TRYING…

HEALTHY EATING

I’ve been trying to get back into eating healthy again as I’ve been a bit all over the place since January, so have been cooking lots of soups and meal prepping. This morning I made my first mug cake topped with lots of yoghurt and fruit and it was super delicious! Eating healthy does not have to be boring and I always incorporate treats like chocolates into my day, if I really want it.

GRENADE PROTEIN BARS

They’re expensive, but they’re worth it XD . They actually taste like food, unlike Whey protein bars, which taste like shite.

PODCASTS

I know I am massively late on the scene with this, as with most other things in life, but recently I have been trying to get into listening to podcasts. I thought it would be good to listen to some stuff whilst travelling to work that isn’t music once in a while so I can learn some new things. I love anything on psychology, history, art and literature, but can’t seem to find anything good to get into. Any recommendations? Please let me know!

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Running for the Centre for Cancer Immunology

So as many of you may know, I have decided to sign up to the ABP 10k run in April in aid of fundraising for the Centre for Cancer Immunology in Southampton – the very first centre of its kind in the UK, dedicated to beating cancer through immunotherapy. As a member of staff at the University of Southampton, I have been asked to feature in the Connects Staff magazine, and talk about why I have decided to take part. However, due to limited space in the magazine, all my answers could not be included so thought I’d make a blog post of it as I spent some time writing it today and didn’t want it to go to waste! It’s also a great way to raise further awareness of the incredible campaign which is close to achieving the £25m required to build a world-class centre with the facilities and tools required to further cancer immunotherapy.

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Spot me XD.

Why are you running the ABP 10k?

Essentially to get fit! Having been overweight for the majority of my life, fitness and health have become a core part of my focus over the past year. I did the Great South 5k in 2016 with my friends and absolutely fell in love with running outside/through Southampton Common whilst training for it. This year I wanted to keep myself equally as active, so made it a New Year’s goal to keep up running on a regular basis – so the ABP 10k provided an ideal way to stay motivated and to a schedule.

Why did you choose to run for the Centre for Cancer Immunology campaign?

I chose to run for the Centre for Cancer Immunology campaign for several reasons: I work at the University of Southampton and so have been involved in the social media communications of promoting it, which means I have been able to see first-hand the amount of incredible work that goes into the campaign; I truly believe in the work of immunotherapy and what the campaign is trying to achieve (build a dedicated centre – the very first of its kind in the UK – that will potentially change the way cancer is treated across the world), and for all the people I know that have suffered, are still suffering or may suffer at the hands of cancer in the future.

How are you planning to raise money for the cause? Do you have a target you want to hit?

Yes, I certainly hope to be able to raise some money for the campaign, and plan to get the help of my sisters on board as they are much better at fundraising than I am! I don’t have a target in mind but hope to raise as much money as I can.

How is your training going? What have you found easy / hard?

My training is going…/has yet to happen! I have done some casual running/chatting with my friends through Southampton Common since February, but have yet to start running to a rigorous or regular schedule. I do have a Personal Trainer though; he helps me with resistance and cardio exercises and I have found this to be invaluable so far in terms of building core/leg strength and endurance. Currently I am trying to focus on my nutrition/food choices so I can shed a few pounds before the 10k, so there’s less of me to carry whilst I’m running!

Will friends / family be supporting you on the day? Do you have any plans to celebrate after completing the race?

I have managed to rope in several friends to do the 10k with me, so yes they will be there with me on the day. I am a foodie so I plan to celebrate afterwards by eating lots of unhealthy nutritious food! 😀

My 2 seconds of fame of featuring on the uni main blog: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/blog/sussed-news/2017/03/14/over-180-people-running-in-aid-of-the-centre-for-cancer-immunology/#disqus_thread

More info on the campaign for the Centre for Cancer Immunology, what it aims to achieve and the groundbreaking results immunotherapy has achieved so far: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/youreit/

The cure for cancer? #YoureIt

The Little Mermaid, growing up and sad endings

The Little Mermaid, growing up and sad endings

In celebration of World Book Day today, I thought I would share one of my favourite stories of all time and why it means so much to me. As you can see from the title, the story is The Little Mermaid or The Little Sea Maid (as originally entitled by Hans Christian Andersen).

A lot of people tend to be rather surprised when I tell them that this is one of my favourite stories / movies of all time (the Disney version), and I mean OF ALL TIME PEOPLE. The reason behind this is because the story/movie had a profound impact on me growing up. Let’s just say I had an unconventional childhood and used mainly books, movies and food to sedate myself – Disney’s The Little Mermaid being the one that I became somewhat obsessed with – from painting and drawing the images from my illustrated version of the book to singing along to all the songs in the movie (which by the way I know by heart and still do today… #noshame). All my sisters thought I was weird.. they still do.

When I say I know the songs word-for-word ppl, I mean word-fo-word.

So why did it have such an impact on me?

Being the young, shy, impressionable gal that I was at the time, Ariel’s personality, especially compared to a lot of the other female leads in Disney movies/fairy tales at the time, was totally refreshing: she had several characteristics that I strongly identified with, and embodied a level of confidence that I admired and wanted to exude (this all harks back to me being uber-shy beyond the confines of my head and home when I was young):

  1. She’s one among many sisters (just like moiself)
  2. She’s super curious, optimistic and thirsty for knowledge (gadgets and gizmos of plentyyyy)
  3. She goes for what she believes in, no f*cks given
  4. She’s kind to everyone and all things
  5. She has an unbelievable level of self-belief and confidence – she thinks she can get a Prince to fall in love with her in like 3 days with no voice #challengeaccepted
  6. Heart and head in sync – unlike many other fairy tales, Ariel actually spends a little time with her man – she even saves his drowning ass. Please don’t get me started on the patheticness that is Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel blah blah blaahh who play the damsel-in-distress card to a T. Ariel is in the driving seat and is actually the pursuer
  7. She has talent #datvoice – X Factorrrrr style
  8. And finally…. she’s fearless – yeh I would never swim off with creepy eels (wth) to see an evil sea-witch (Ursula – I identified with her strongly as well loool)

OK, so some of her behaviour may be questionable and no doubt driven by blissful ignorance and naivety – as are a lot things in life – and yeh, she went a bit hard on the ‘love at first sight’ thing, pretty much ditched her family, her upbringing, the ocean etc. after one glance at Eric (let’s be honest, we’d all do the same for a piece of Eric 😉 ); nonetheless, the key message I took from it was ‘here’s to independent women who go for what they want wooeeee!’ (yes, this is what I took from the story at like 6-8 years of age… I started reading thick paperbacks very early on so probably read too much into things that I came across on a daily basis anyhow).

You can never have too many sisters.. 1 of 7 right hereee

I was annoyed af when my sister told me that Disney had put their own spin on the story by giving it a happy ending (Ariel kills Ursula, saves Prince Eric from drowning AGAIN, and then marries him with her father’s blessings and she lives happily ever after on the land with legs). You see, in Andersen’s original version of the tale, the little sea maid actually never wins over the Prince’s love and the story ends with her death. She turns into foam above the sea, and floats away among the clouds. At the time when my sister told me I refused to believe this as it seemed like such a horrible ending – the fact that someone could give up everything for something they wanted and end up with absolutely nothing seemed like the most unjust thing ever. And so, I never read the original version because the happier ending suited my world view.

It’s been nearly 18 years since my sister told me this, and only last week did I finally open up my beautiful blue bound copy of Andersen’s Fairy tales to read the original version. And the ending was just like she said it was. The little sea maid dies and as she floats above, she watches the man she gave up her life, her soul, family and kingdom for, marry another woman as the sun sets and the birds echo the cries of her weeping heart.

A lot of people find it easy to dismiss fairy tales as simplistic children’s stories – but for me, the stories have always gone so much deeper, holding a multitude of layers and meanings to extrapolate from. The Little Mermaid is one of them. And now, having read this much older, with a more critical and open mind, and more years of reading and life experience, I can see it for what it really is: an honest and raw love story. The kind that comes with falling in love with someone for the first time, where boundless and irrational thought processes override all logic and action, and idealistic dreams and unseeing passion clouds the mind. The type where love is completely unconditional, where bleak reality hits home at some point and where feelings remain unsaid or unrequited. The type where human endeavors can ultimately amount to nothing but wasted time and energy, and where happy endings come to be seen as only reserved for childhood fantasies. The ‘realness’ or ‘humanness’ of the emotion in the story is what captured me whilst reading Andersen’s version. Dreams and hopes and desires are not always achieved and life doesn’t always work out the way we envisioned it. The little sea maid accepts this, and so is gracefully able to deal with the consequences of her actions.

So yes, the ending was really sad, but I didn’t mind. If anything, I connected even more with the story. It continues to inspire me, including my art. I find that today, the stories I enjoy the most are those that have the power to bring human depth and emotion to the foreground – the ones which tackle the reality of day-to-day life on Earth, from the gritty to the mundane, from heartache and loss to self-discovery, actualisation and even acceptance that some things don’t always turn out as we always hoped. Growing up has meant that accepting sad or unfulfilled endings is something that I, and everyone to some degree, has to come to terms with. That’s not to say that life is super-depressing or anything, but it is certainly not like how many books which have neat, nicely packaged endings, would have us believe.

New Year’s Goals for 2017: Part 2

Continuing on from my previous post, here’s Part 2!

6. #FitnessGoals

Following on from no. 5, I have several fitness goals this year. This includes running regularly and completing my first ever 10k in April in order to fundraise for the Centre for Cancer Immunology at the University of Southampton, completing 12 weeks of Kayla Itsines’ infamous BBG 1.0 workout and walking 10,000 steps a day (Fitbit going to be my best friend this year!). This is all part of my effort to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise has never been a regular part of my life until the past few months and this has certainly required a concerted effort on my part. It really helps that the gym is located right outside of the office in which I work and I have discovered that I do love going to the gym, having weights sessions with my PT, as well was working out at home or simply running outside with my friends. But as I’m sure you can relate, I have days where I am feeling like shite and hitting the gym is the last thing on my mind. Days like this simply have me pining for Ready Salted Crisps and huddling under my duvet with my iPod – add the psycho British weather affecting my mood swings daily – I literally never want to leave my bed. So my fitness goal really involves planning a schedule, sticking to it as best as I can and remembering that I love the endorphins and how I feel at the end of a workout. Also want mini-abs so, gotta keep going and not give up!

7. Pass my driving!

If any of you follow me on social you’ll know that the #struggle is REALLY REAL. My attention span isn’t great, I’m going to be honest. It still shocks me that I have managed to survive uni and many a number of other scenarios up to this point in my life, considering how easily I am distracted (flashback to falling asleep in my lectures and drooling all over my mate and the lecturer calling me out >_<). But honestly, the main challenge is PASSING ME BLOODY THEORY. I have failed on this shitty thing way more times than is necessary or even acceptable, and I really need to SORT IT OUT. Even the cute guy at work was like 0_0 . The problem is that I find it so tedious revising for it and the centre where you have to take the test in Southampton is so UTTERLY DEPRESSING that I just feel completely de-motivated and woebegone the moment I enter the building – SIGGHHHH. I have never really needed to drive up until this point in my life – having been able to walk or use public transport to get to places I needed to in the past but now I am finding that I REALLY NEED TO DRIVE. It would save me eons of time getting to work which means I could essentially sleep more – which is critical considering my Fitbit tells me I’m averaging 4 hours a night – no wonder I’m a zombie at work half the time!

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8. Travel goals

I always aim to visit at least 2-3 countries a year, and this year is no different. Countries on my list this year include Copenhagen, Lisbon and Croatia, and potentially Scotland and Spain if I can manage it. I love traveling, minus the actual to and fro to the airport part, and always have an amazing time. Experiencing new food, new sights and culture and just taking a break from the content monotony of day-to-day life is always a treat, although I do tend to feel quickly homesick for whatever reason! Britain, it’s a love/hate relationship with you! I am planning on going with my friends, and the countries chosen this year were in line with the places they are eager to visit too. I have a growing Google spreadsheet outlining all the places I want to go to in my lifetime, and I try and colour-code according to best times to go/high/low seasons etc. #productiveprocrastination right herreee. Currently my planning has stalled due to work turning out to be rather busy than normal so have no idea when I’m going to manage to squeeze these hols in but maybe my priorities just need to shift ehh.

9. Read the Qur’an – a chapter or more a week

Right this is super important to me. I have the English version of the Qur’an sitting on my top shelf gathering dust. In the past I have attempted to read it by dipping into it here and there but have never fully read through it from start to finish. My faith is really important and personal to me, and as I don’t understand Arabic (but can read it sort-of), the next best thing is the English version. I have one of the best translations on the market (the Oxford University Press version), and for whatever reason, I’ve read a ton of other books, but never seem to make it a priority to sit, read and take it all in when it comes to the Qur’an. I have learned of my faith through my family and readings growing up, but the actual tome itself I have not read through to the end – which in many ways can be considered somewhat ludicrous. How can someone dedicate themselves to their faith properly without fully understanding it to the best of their ability? So this is one of my key goals this year. I’ve set a chapter a week because reading it isn’t like reading any other book; every sentence/paragraph is loaded with a lot of meaning, so it’s important to take the time out and fully digest everything and see how I can apply it to my life and environment.

10. Push myself out of my comfort zone

As a person, I am quite confident in most areas of my life. This really has come from a strong belief in myself and what I am capable of, and from those around me who have supported me, invested in me and validated my worth in more ways than one, whether it’s through friendship, coming to me for advice because they trust my judgement or simply depending on my support, whatever the reason. However, just like most people, there are several areas in my life, where I am not so confident or comfortable in. For me this hails back to being at my core an introvert (I know, you may find this really hard to believe -_- most people do!); but honestly, when I was younger, I never spoke to anyone unless I was spoken to and took an interest in more solitary emo activities (such as painting, writing, reading, eating etc.). My best friend during my childhood was the opposite however; she was outgoing, loud and would befriend anyone who came her way. So as the old age saying goes – opposites attract – and it’s no wonder we were the #bestfriendsforever duo that everyone knew us as. After she passed away however, in many ways I ended up taking up many of her traits – going through my rebellious phase, to my overly outspoken and feminist phase, to my now strong, confident, don’t-give-me-any-BS-self.

Nonetheless, throughout recent years I find myself hesitating more than once, and the introvert in me pushing through, when presented with things out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to trying new things and my romantic life. During uni, I made it a priority to try new and challenging things, even if it didn’t agree with me, and I continued with this even whilst I was in London. However, since moving back to Southampton, where my life is just simply more content and stable, I have found that that part of myself seems to have been squeezed out to the periphery! So this year, I really want to do my utmost when it comes to pushing myself out of my comfort zone and not holding myself back because of others’ judgements – which I have found in the past to be quite a significant reason for holding me back when it came to doing things I wanted to do.

I have found that in the past when I’ve taken active steps to challenge myself, that it really helped me grow as a person and learn more about myself – which I believe is a key part of life! This year I want to try things from the small and mundane, such as trying hot drinks beyond an americano e.g. herbal teas, to listening to new types of music and trying new foodstuffs etc. to the more daring, such as asking someone out, being more experimental with topics I cover in my writing and even my paintings/artwork choices. I think pushing myself out of my comfort zone will really help me be more true to myself, as I find that it’s increasingly easy, without even realising, to hinder yourself or stay in the well-harboured walls of your comforts when there’s no real external push to challenge yourself. This is something I feel that everyone should aspire to. It just makes life more interesting too. Otherwise you just end up living sort of half-lives, with wanting to do stuff, but never really going for it, whether it be doubts holding you back or the fear of something going awry. Sheryl Sandberg said something along the lines of “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” This I have certainly found to be true thus far in my life. Sure, someone can say no, or things may not work out as planned, but honestly in the grand scheme of things, it really is a blip in one’s memory or feelings. So here’s to 2017 and trying things that I’ve been afraid to try, taking on new challenges and not giving a **** about what people think.

So that’s it! These are the goals that I have decided to focus on this year, amongst other things. Hope you enjoyed reading it and look out for more of my posts coming up as I plan on trying to write a few different things that I may not have been so confident in publishing before xxx

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