I love… Music

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What’s up, World?! I mean other than a global pandemic and all…

It’s been a while. I’ve actually started two other blog posts since my last one, which didn’t get much further than the title, so third time’s the charm I guess! (And the two attempted posts will eventually be completed when I can summon the inspiration and motivation for them.)

As you can probably guess from the post title, today I will be talking about why I love music!

Childhood

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? When I was a kid I had a “child minder”, which is essentially a nanny or a babysitter type of situation. She was a lovely older lady who would take me to school and pick me up again, and I would stay at her house until my muma finished work and could come pick me up. This woman was a huge influence on my life. We watched TV together (Murder She Wrote, anyone? Excellent show in my opinion), we would complete puzzles together, and sometimes we would listen to music together.

She had a proper record player. Not like those tiny, compact things that they sell now. This was a giant record system that took up almost the entire wall. And given that she was an older lady – I would guess in her 50s at this point of my childhood – she had all the classics; Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, you know the drill.

My childhood best friend – who also happened to be my child minder’s grandson – was into Linkin Park and Green Day, and I remember a game he used to play had Run-DMC on it, among many other epic songs!

I also had my own music taste, which was really just a bunch of boy-bands and girl-bands from the time. Let’s face it, it was the late 90s/ early 2000s. S Club 7, Steps, Hearsay, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, McFly, and I can’t go without mentioning the absolute love of my childhood, Busted. I had both their albums, their singles, and I remember crying when I saw on the news that they broke up. Don’t judge me, it was a traumatic moment at that age!

And then of course I’ll have to mention my parents and their music tastes. My dad listened to a lot of 80s and early 90s stuff, because that was the music he listened to in his late teens and 20s. Any time I went on a long-ish journey with him in the car he would put on his CD that he burned with all his favourites on – could that sound any more 2000s!? I still listen to a lot of those songs now! My muma was more the type to listen to whatever was on the Hit 40 UK list and then decide what she liked from that. Honestly the only thing I remember muma actually listening to was Will Young and Daniel Bedingfield, so we’ll move swiftly on…

The Teen Years

Ah the teen years. All those hormones and teenage angst. Such a magical time.

During the teen years you generally fall into some kind of category: emo kid, chav, the populars, the nerds, etc. I was an emo kid (and honestly for anyone who knows me in person I still kinda am. It’s not just a phase, emo kids for life!), so as you can imagine there was a lot of Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Simple Plan, Panic! at the Disco… honestly we could be here a while if I listed them all, so we’ll just leave it there for now!

This music taste and lifestyle was heavily influenced by my friends in school. I can’t honestly remember how most of the bands I listened to became part of my playlists, but there are two bands in particular that I know exactly who to thank for them. Shout out to Jay for All Time Low, and Sophie for Simple Plan! There were many people involved in influencing my emo side during this time, and honestly I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Despite me being an emo kid, however, I was also a bit of a drifter – I had friends in different social groups, so I would also listen to music with people with different tastes. My “sister” (not actually related, but basically we are) is the reason I listened to things like Chipmunk, Jay Sean, Sean Kingston, Pitbull, etc. Whenever she slept at my house we would constantly have the music channels playing in the background.

Of course, the teenage years are complicated. It’s hard enough to deal with all the usual school drama and puberty anyway, and then throw in social groups and your “identity” and you feel like you have to fit into a specific box! Due to this, I never listened to anything other than my stereotypical emo music when I was around people that weren’t my close friends. The fears of being branded a fake emo were real people!

Young Adulthood

That brings us on to the young adult years, and can I just say, THANK GOD FOR THAT. I do not miss the petty drama and stress from school and college. I do miss having such simple problems though. They felt like such life and death things at the time, but honestly they were the most basic problems.

Being a young adult was a lot of change for me – the start of my mental health issues, starting real employment, the beginning of actual adult responsibilities, first serious relationships, and of course, my muma’s diagnosis and death. But there were also positive changes, like more freedom, true friendships, and the beginning of my self-discovery!

I no longer had to fit myself into a specific box and only reveal certain things that I loved and enjoyed to people. I had so much more freedom and confidence to be myself. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a work in progress. I still don’t show 100% of myself to everyone. But I also don’t deliberately hide stuff away either. This meant that I could enjoy all of my different music tastes and not worry as much about what people thought of me for it (I have anxiety people, there is still some worry involved regarding being judged… we’re working on it).

I should probably do a special mention here for my current boyfriend – thank you for introducing me to a load of new bands and artists (here’s looking at you Imagine Dragons and Lukas Graham), for reinforcing my interest in artists I already liked (what’s up Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi), and for reminding me of how much I love musicals. Our many, many roadtrips have always been filled with music, singing, and laughter. So once again, thank you!

So this brings us to now. Right here. In the present. I still listen to a whole load of music from my past. I still listen to my favourites from the classics, I still listen to some of dad’s songs, and I definitely still listen to my emo music and the absolute bangers from my teen years. But I also listen to anything new that comes out that I like the sound of. If I hear something on the radio that I think sounds good – or even sometimes a song on TikTok that I find catchy – you know that I am not even hesitating to add it to my playlists on Spotify. Forget fitting into a box. I’m going to be me and allow myself to love the things I love. You do you boo!


So that brings us to the second part of this post that I wanted to bring your attention to. I am so, so sorry for how long this is already! Honestly if you’re still reading, I appreciate you! I promise it’s not much longer.

Why do I love music?

I love music because it’s so powerful. The right song can make you feel so many different emotions. The right playlist can determine your entire mood. Music is such a huge part of life, connecting people over any distance.

Music can get you pumped and excited for a night out, give you the energy and motivation to complete a workout, or be background sound for studying. It can remind you of a certain person, a certain time, a certain place. Music can make you miss someone, or make you feel closer to them. Music can make you feel happy and loved, or make you feel sad and emotional. It can make you nostalgic. It can make you focused. It can make you want to sing and dance. Music can help you get your day started right, make your commute more enjoyable, or be your wind-down for the evening. It can set the mood for a romantic dinner, or be the outlet for your feelings. It can give you the words to say to someone when you’re unable to say them yourself.

So that’s it! That’s why I love music so much, and why I rarely go a day without listening to any. Music is life.


Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope you feel like you know me a little bit better! Let me know if you can relate to how I feel about music, tell me your favourite bands/ artists/ songs, or just say hi! My comments are always open, and you can even message me directly using the contact feature or via my social media pages.

I love you all, and I will see you again soon.
K xo

Music is life itself.

Louis Armstrong

2020 Roundup

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Let’s face it, this year has been… Well, there is a lot of words I could use to describe this year. Interesting, tough, difficult, strange, different, a nightmare, challenging – you name it, that’s what it is.

But despite all the trials and challenges, despite all of the horror and sadness, there have actually been some positives this year for a lot of people. And with all the news and the media showing us the things that have gone wrong, on this blog I want us to focus on the things that went right.

I did a roundup post last year, in which I started by saying I wasn’t sorry to be saying goodbye to 2019. Oh poor, naive 2019 Kirsty. You had no idea what was coming. If you want to check out what happened last year, just click the link!

2020 Roundup

So, let’s crack on with the run-down of 2020:

  1. I went to Italy for the first time in February! It was absolutely beautiful, the people were super friendly, and I would definitely like to go back. I currently don’t have a post about it, but I may create a backdated one… in which case I will add the link here once it’s complete!
  2. My anxiety went through the roof in May. Working in a healthcare setting while there is a pandemic is stressful enough as it is without mental health issues on top of it. I started off okay, I was hanging in as best I could, and then I just couldn’t do it anymore. I kept crying at work all the time, shaking and unable to focus. I just couldn’t function. So I ended up being signed off work for 2 months, and the mental health nurse at the GP upped my antidepressant dosage – which then led to a lot of other problems for a while, but that’s a different post.
  3. I changed jobs! While I was signed off sick I did a lot of thinking about what made me happy, and future plans. My other half and I are saving to move out together, so I knew I needed a full-time job. A full-time post for the same job I was already doing came up, but for different departments! I had already met one of the new managers so I knew I liked her, and everyone told me how nice the other manager was. I applied for the job, and arranged for an informal chat with both of them to make myself known and show that I was eager, and shortly after the interviews I got the job! Some more problems occurred here too, but that is also a different post – the main thing to focus on here is that I love my new position and I’m much happier.
  4. During the times that we weren’t locked down, I got to see my friends. Even when we were locked down, our group chats have been what’s kept me going. I am surrounded with so much love and support, and I am truly grateful for the absolute diamonds that are my friends. You’re all amazing.
  5. Thankfully, I have been extremely lucky not to have been personally impacted by COVID-19. I have had some work colleagues that have had it (all of which recovered after just a few weeks), however no close family or friends that I know of.

So that’s it. That’s 2020 in a nutshell.

Christmas Roundup

Needless to say, Christmas was very quiet this year. Present deliveries were made by dropping bags at doors, wearing a mask, and social distancing. No group nights with friends, no annual family Christmas meal with my out-of-town relatives, no end of term meals/ parties with my Guides and Rangers, no Christmas Day at my auntie’s house. This year has just been me and my dad at home. Good thing we’re both home-bodies and don’t get stir crazy.

Final Thoughts

I really haven’t been on the blog much this year. As much as that frustrates me (because I expect better from myself), I’m not going to worry too much about it because let’s face it: I’ve had other things on my mind during a pandemic. It’s been a difficult year and I’ve done what was best for me during all this – I needed to disconnect from the world, from all the doom-and-gloom in the media. Everywhere you looked people were talking about COVID-19, including here on the WordPress feed, so I just had to distance myself and focus on keeping my mental health as safe as my physical health.

*Just as a little disclaimer here: despite distancing myself from media, I did still keep up to date with the latest guidelines and information for all relevant areas, such as my work, my country, and my local area. I just didn’t want to keep seeing the death counts and personal stories.*

This brings me to the positives that I would like to end this blog post on: the things I am thankful for this year. As always, I am extremely grateful for my friends and family, the support that the give me, and the joy that I feel when we’re together. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. This year I would also like to say how grateful I am for my new work colleagues and managers. My new managers are so supportive of my mental health, and of my dream career progression. They encourage me, support me, and help me know that it’s not my fault if I’m unwell and unable to be at work. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So that’s it! Another year is over. Goodbye 2020, you will not be missed. Here’s to 2021 being an improvement. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time, as much as you possibly could, and I wish you all a healthy new year.

See you all in 2021!
K xo

Anxiety flare up


Today is the first time I’ve been food shopping since the lockdown was announced two weeks ago.

I normally go shopping every Monday evening, but I didn’t go last week because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thought of going out and struggling to find the bits I need just stressed me out, so I buried my head in the sand and told myself I had enough stuff to last another week.

Barely. I have barely made it another week. But I couldn’t put it off again this week, I desperately needed to get food.

I was already feeling a little bit anxious when I left the house, and I was reluctant to go, but need for supplies won. When I got to the supermarket I had gotten to the point where I had started fidgeting to try to relieve some of my built up nerves. By the time I finished shopping and got back in my car, I was high on the anxiety scale. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest. It was heavy, and tight, and felt hard to breathe. I was getting hotter and hotter, to the point where I was worried I was going to pass out in the middle of the shop. I was trying not to freak out and start crying, so I just got round as fast as possible so that I could get out.

It’s been a while since I’ve had an anxiety flare up, especially one to manifest like that. I’m worried that my anxiety is going to keep getting worse and worse again, until it gets to the point where I can’t leave the house again without having a full-blown panic attack. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, and I don’t want it to feel like I’m back at square one again.



I hope you’re all keeping safe, both physically and mentally. If you’re struggling like I am, just know that you’re not alone. We’re all in this together, and we will all get through this together.

Stay safe. I’ll see you soon. K xo

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Introducing Me

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I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I’ve decided that I would like to introduce myself. Completely. No more anonymity.

It’s scary, and I’m nervous about it, but it doesn’t really matter. The majority of my readers are people who don’t know me in real life anyway, and the ones that do know me are extremely supportive of me and my blog.

If I get negative comments from this, then so what? I have a lot of love and support surrounding me, and I’ve faced far worse in my life to have to worry about people’s reactions to me putting my name on this blog.

So here it goes…

Hi everybody, I’m Kirsty, aka Tibbs or Tibbles. I’m currently 25 years old, I have a part-time job as a Matron’s Admin Assistant at my local hospital, and I am working towards studying to become a CBT Therapist. I have anxiety and depression, as well as being a massive people-pleaser, self-critical, and have low self-esteem. I am a fussy eater, and slightly OCD and Autistic in my tendencies (neither diagnosed, just traits and tendencies associated with both conditions). I still live at home with my dad, but I’m looking to move out with my long-term partner. I am an only child. I have a lot of varied interests and hobbies, including: Psychology, mental health, mythology, reading, writing, binge watching Netflix/ Amazon Prime, listening to music, singing, playing video games and board games, D&D, seeing friends and family, and, of course, this blog.

That is an extremely quick overview of me. The basics, just to get you started on getting to know me. I will more than likely share some more personal stories about myself as we go on, as I have previously. However, even though I have decided to give up my own anonymity, I will not be naming anyone else on this blog unless they are happy to be named, or I will change names if necessary for those who need it.

I suppose that’s it for now.

If you have any questions for particular things you want to know about me, or if you just want to say hi, then leave a comment below, send me an email, or message me on my blog social media pages!

I’ll see you guys again soon. Thank you for reading.

Kirsty xo

Friends during a crisis

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I had told myself that I wasn’t going to do a blog post about the current situation, because everywhere I look it’s all about COVID-19. I didn’t want to be yet another person talking about it when all you see and hear is about the Coronavirus. I wanted to be the positive distraction during this time of panic. I suppose in some ways that is still what this post is. It’s not specifically about COVID-19, it’s actually about the absolute wonderfulness of the people I get to call my friends, with a shout out to one in particular.

It’s a stressful time for everyone right now, and with the statement from the UK Prime Minister tonight finally starting a lockdown it’s becoming more and more difficult to get that social aspect that we need as human beings.

I’m an introvert, so the prospect of being indoors and away from groups of people isn’t the worst thing to happen to me. In fact, I’m loving the enforced alone time. Hello fully charged emotional batteries! The bit that I am struggling with though, is not being able to just pop to my friends’ house for a drink and a catch up. It’s the lack of the option to do that which is the difficult part. Two friends in particular I see at least once a week. They keep me grounded and allow me to vent. Two other friends I see less frequently, but they’re the ones that I’ve known forever, and we just vibe on the same level. I’m really going to miss them during this time, but there is always phones! We will still be able to talk to each other, even if it won’t be in person.

I’m not even going to mention how difficult it is not to see my family and my future in-laws. My partner and I don’t live together, we currently still both live in our parental homes. I normally stay at his house 3 nights a week. That means that thanks to the lockdown, I won’t be seeing my partner any time soon, or the rest of his family. It’s for the best to keep everyone safe, but it really sucks to be separated for the foreseeable future.

Now for the shout out to one friend in particular.

I’m currently still anonymous on this blog (but not for much longer!), so I won’t be mentioning names. I’ve recently been talking a lot to a friend of mine who has helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. I first met him when I went to South Africa with my university a couple of years ago, and it was one of those instant connection kind of friendships. He was a volunteer on the reserve that we were staying at for our field trip, along with another volunteer that I got on really well with.
I was going through a very difficult time during that field trip, because I was struggling with uni and my mental health. I ended up having a massive mental breakdown on that trip, and this friend – who I had literally only met on the trip – helped talk me down during this struggle. We ended up having a late night heart-to-heart, with me sharing my life story and just venting and purging everything to this virtual stranger. Thank the Gods and the Universe that I did. I felt so much better after getting it all out, and it gave me the clarity and the confidence to make the decision to leave uni at the end of my second year. Best decision I made for my mental health.

Fast forward to now. We talked on and off for the couple of years since we met, but never a sustained length of time. Recently we have been talking almost every day, as we still have that same wavelength vibe that means that we can help each other through our mental health issues. We both get it. He has been so invaluable for keeping me sane during this stressful time. Now that’s not to say that other people haven’t also been super helpful, because honestly I am surrounded by love and support! It’s just that this friend is impartial. They live farther up the country, nowhere near where I live; we don’t really have any mutual friends; and he hasn’t met any of my friends or family (and visa-versa). This means we are both completely unbiased about the situations that we talk to each other about. The advice and support focuses purely on us and not our opinions or preconceptions of other people. For this reason, he has been my go-to for my mental health conversations.
Currently I’m still in a manageable position with my mental health. I’m still pretty calm about the situation. It’s not because I think I’m invincible or that the virus won’t get me, it’s because I feel like I’m logical and sensible enough to keep myself as safe as I possibly can. What I am stressed about though, is my dad and my partner. My dad has a whole bunch of health problems, and that makes him super high-risk if he gets the virus. Common illnesses already hit him hard, so if he gets Coronavirus the likelihood is he’s not surviving it. He’s my only parent left after having already lost my muma, and I have no siblings, so if I lose my dad I will have no immediate family left. That stresses me out. And then there’s my partner, who’s anxiety has sky-rocketed during this pandemic, and he doesn’t have the tools to deal with the extreme panic that he’s now feeling. I was trying to calm and reassure him as much as possible, but now with the lockdown I’m highly concerned for his mental health.

Because I’m the kind of person that takes the world’s weight on my shoulders and puts everyone before myself, I don’t like to share my concerns with those that I’m concerned about unless it’s necessary. This means that I need to find a release somewhere else for my anxieties, otherwise I will just make myself ill from the worry and stress. So once again, thank you to my friend for being that impartial soundboard that I can release all my worry onto. You truly are a lifesaver, and one of my heroes.

And thank you to all of my other friends and family who have checked in on me and let me vent throughout the years, and during this current crisis. I love you all.

I really hope that you all have someone you can turn to for emotional support, because as important as it is to stay physically healthy, we also need to look after our mental health.

Stay safe, and I’ll see you all again soon. xo

We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.

– S. Kelley Harrell, Gift of the Dreamtime – Reader’s Companion

World Book Day

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It’s World Book Day!

I love a good book, and reading has always been my first love. From a very young age I’ve always loved reading. You would always find me curled up somewhere with my head in a book – including under the covers with a torch when I should have been sleeping… Oops!

When I was 7 years old I had an assessment done at school, and they told me I had the reading age of a 14 year old! I was put into the gifted and talented group, and I was able to write my very own short-story and have it printed and bound. Reading has always been a big part of who I am, and so I am very excited to write this post today!

I want to talk to you guys about the book I’m currently reading. It’s too soon to do a review just yet, so I’m just going to give you the blurb and my first thoughts for now.

The Quality Street Girls by Penny Thorpe

It’s the first sign of Christmas…

Reenie Calder is delighted to land a seasonal job at Mackintosh’s Quality Street factory. She feels like a kid let loose in a sweet shop, though it isn’t long before Reenie falls foul of the strict rules.

Beautiful and smart, Diana Moore runs the Toffee Penny line, but Diana has a dark secret which, if exposed, could cost her not only her job at the factory, but her reputation as well.

When a terrible accident puts the country’s supply of Quality Street at risk, Reenie has a chance to redeem herself. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a family tin to open and Reenie and the girls know that everything rests on them…

So, first impressions.

This book was a Christmas present from one of my closest friends, and it’s not a book I would normally choose for myself. From reading the blurb, I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be my kind of thing, but I’m not one to judge a book by it’s blurb! Or at least, not when it’s a gift I don’t…

I had just finished reading Suicide Club, so I was after something a bit lighter. And something different I suppose. This was in my ever growing “to read” pile, so it seemed the perfect time to try something new.

From the get-go I was still unsure about it, as it is written in quite an “old-timey” way, as it is based in 1936. I thought this might keep me from really getting into it, but I persisted. There has only ever been one book that I couldn’t get to the end of, and I wasn’t going to let this be another one!

I managed to get through the first chapter, and I was hooked. Despite the blurb only mentioning two names, there are actually three main girls from what I can tell (and based on the cover I’m pretty sure I’m right). Mary Norcliffe is our third main character, and she has her own troubles with a wayward younger sister.

So far I’m only two chapters in, as they are quite long chapters, and I haven’t had the free time to read as much as I would like. At the end of these two chapters the characters have only just ended up all in the same place, however they haven’t properly met yet. Diana and Mary already know each other, so it’s just Reenie that needs to become involved.

I know this hasn’t given much away as to what is happening yet, but I don’t want to say too much on the plot without giving it a proper review. And I won’t be able to give it a proper review until I’ve finished reading it! So for now, I will leave you with this final comment: so much dramaaaa and it’s only been two chapters!

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful World Book Day, and please let me know what you’re currently reading! Any recommendations to add to my ever growing “to-read” pile are highly encouraged.

See you all soon. xo

I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.

– H.L. Mencken

World Thinking Day 2020

 

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Today is World Thinking Day, which is a very important date in Girlguiding. The 22nd of February is celebrated every year in Guiding, as it’s the birthday of our founders. We do this by thinking about our time in Guiding, and all our sisters around the world who celebrate it with us.

As a tribute to all of my sisters in Guiding, I would like to share my experience in Guiding so far with you all.

I have been in Guiding since I was born. My muma was a Guide Leader, so I went with her to unit meetings every week, and started going on Guide camps with her from the early age of 2 years old. Some of my earliest memories are of those camps!

I was so used to being around older girls (10-14 year olds) and doing the activities that the Guides were doing, that when I turned 5 years old and became old enough to join Rainbows, I didn’t want to. I went to two sessions and then left, because it was just too “babyish” for me after doing all the “big girl” stuff with the Guides!

When I turned 7 years old I was given the option of joining Brownies, but I didn’t even attempt that one. I still felt that the activities weren’t going to be exciting enough for me. I decided not to join the Brownies, and so I was unofficially a Guide from birth pretty much.

I couldn’t wait to turn 10 and officially become a Guide! I had practiced my Guide Promise over and over, so that once I was old enough I would know it by heart. I did my first Promise while on camp at Blackland Farm, in the indoor swimming pool there.

By the time I turned 14, I had been a Guide for so long that I had enough. I went through the typical teenage phase of being too cool for everything, and too worried about boys and having a social life. I decided not to become a Young Leader, and honestly, I can’t even remember if there was a Rangers/ Senior Section unit available at the time for me to join! Even if there was, I probably wouldn’t have gone to it seeing as I was too cool. The joys of being a teenager.

After a couple of years out of Guiding, I got dragged back to the unit by my muma when I was 16. They needed some extra hands, and so I became an unofficial Young Leader. I was still too cool to be back for good, so I just came and went as I pleased – and when my muma was desperate for help and dragged me along.

So now we get to 18 years old, and by this point I was over my phase and wanted to come back. Or at least, I wanted to be involved again, but not necessarily tied down. I didn’t want to do my Leadership Qualification for a couple of reasons – I was working shifts at the time, and so I wasn’t really able to commit the time; and I didn’t want to get “stuck” in Guiding. So I asked to be a Unit Helper instead.

The most exciting part about turning 18 in Guiding was that I was able to join the Division Leadership team to go to Disneyland Paris that year! The downside to being part of the Leadership team was that it meant I actually had to be responsible for a group of girls. Thankfully, because it was my first event as an adult I shared responsibility of the group with my muma, which meant that I still got to go on some of the rides! Worth it.

Sadly, shortly after this I had to step down from Guiding again, as my muma was diagnosed with cancer. She became too unwell to continue as Unit Leader, so I became her carer and stayed with her at home most of the time. When she felt well enough I would take her to visit the unit, but those days were few and far between. When I was 19 my muma lost her battle to cancer, and I couldn’t face returning to Guides without her. My entire experience in Guiding was with her. All of my memories there included her. It was too painful to go back.

When I was 22, I was invited to a tea party at my old unit to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday. It was a wonderful party, and I got to see some familiar faces. I loved being back, and the girls that were there were so welcoming despite most of them not knowing who I was, or my muma. I made the decision on that day to come back to Guiding, and I told my Division Commissioner – who was also a guest at the tea party – that I wanted to do my Leadership Training and become a proper Leader.

My dad didn’t want me to go back into Guiding, because he didn’t want me to end up like my muma. She gave up all of her time for Guiding, never said no to anyone, and so she was out most nights of the week. My dad hated this. He felt like Guiding took her away from him. I understood. I felt the same in some ways. And I found out that when she was really ill right before she died, she actually told my dad that she regretted giving so much for not a lot in return. I promised him that I wouldn’t let that happen to me. I would only say yes to things I wanted to do.

Since being back, I achieved my Leadership Qualification for Guides, have been to Disneyland Paris again with my Division as part of the Leadership team, was approached to take over the Ranger unit in my Division with another Leader, started my Leadership Qualification for Rangers, volunteered to be part of the Rangers sub-camp team for the Olave international camp in 2018, completed my Octants before they were phased out, have been assessed for modules 1-7 for my Going Away With Qualification for Guides, became Young Leader Advisor for the Division, became a Leadership Mentor, have been approached to become Peer Educator Advisor for the County, and I’m hoping to complete my Queen’s Guide Award by this July!

I’ve got future plans to complete the camp module and international module for my Going Away With – as well as completing the programme module again for Rangers, attend the Wellies and Wristbands festival with my Ranger unit this August, attend Octagon 2021 in Ireland with my Rangers and Guides, and I’m hoping to reopen another Guide unit in September 2021 with my friend and fellow Leader.

My take home message from my experience in Guiding is this: You will experience some downs. There will always be politics, and pettiness, and people you don’t get on with. And being a Leader does mean sacrificing some of your own enjoyment for the sake of the girls. But it’s worth it. We are a family, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without my Guiding sisters – they have supported me, and encouraged me with everything that I do, inside and outside of Guiding. Coming back to my unit feels like coming home, and I know my muma would be proud that I’m keeping her spirit and memory alive. Finally, my absolute favourite part about Guiding? Watching girls grow into incredible young women and being able to support and encourage them like my Guiding sisters have done for me.

Have a great World Thinking Day!

I’ll see you all again soon. xo

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Book Review: Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

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Hey guys! It’s been a while since I last did a book review. Let’s jump right in!

I want to try a different layout for my reviews, so let’s start with the blurb:

Everybody wants to live forever. Don’t they?

In a near-future New York, medical technology has progressed far enough that immortality is now within grasp – but only to those who show themselves to be deserving of it.

These people are the lifers: the exercisers and the yogacisers, the green juicers, early nighters and spiralizers.

Genetically perfect, healthy and wholesome, one hundred-year-old Lea is the poster girl for lifers, until the day she catches a glimpse of her father in the street, eighty-eight years after their last encounter. While pursuing him, she has a brush with death which sparks suspicions. If Lea could be so careless, is she worthy of immortality?

In this world, risking your life is serious business.

Suicide Club wasn’t always an activist group. It began as a set of disillusioned lifers, gathering to indulge in forbidden activities: performances of live music, artery-clogging meals, irresponsible orgies. But now they have been branded terrorists and are hunted by the state.

And Lea has decided to give them a call.

So there you have it. Great blurb, right?

I’ll admit, when I bought this book the thing that caught my eye was the title. I was going through a very low point in my depression, and quite honestly feeling pretty suicidal, so I saw this black book with a neon sign saying “Suicide Club“, and I thought, yeah, I’m going to be picking that up.

From the blurb alone I was interested. I love a bit of futuristic fiction, especially when it’s a pretty plausible future. The idea of medical technology is fascinating, and as a girl who loves both science and the supernatural, a medical answer for immortality is right up my street.

But enough about the blurb.

This book. Hoo-boy. It wasn’t what I expected it to be like, and honestly, I’m not mad about that. It was so much more than what I thought it would be. It was intense, and thought provoking, and emotional, and really makes you question the system as we know it.

The blurb for Suicide Club only mentions Lea – and admittedly she is the main character – but there is another leading lady who we need to mention: Anja. We get to experience the world through both Lea and Anja’s eyes, with their extremely different backgrounds and lifestyles. They view their world in such contrast to each other, and it really helps you to question the system when you see it from both points of view. Lea is a lifer – she has a fancy job, a lush apartment, and due to her social status she gets good quality medical upgrades. She’s on track to become one of the first wave of immortals! In stark contrast to that we have Anja – once a lifer, now working in a greasy diner and living in a dark and dingy apartment with her should-be-dead mother. Her mother is kept alive by her artificial heart and lungs, but she is no longer present. Her brain has shut down, and she is basically an organic machine at this point.

This is the present that we are given for these two characters. This doesn’t even scratch the surface. Further into the book, we learn more about their backstories. We discover why they are the way that they are, and what secrets they’ve been hiding. Both are pretty emotional and tragic histories, and some parts are rather heart-wrenching.

Now we can’t review this book without talking about the world it takes place in. Suicide Club is set in a “near-future New York”, so you have already got a rough idea in your head of what we’re working with. Big city, tall buildings, lots of people. In terms of style and structure, it’s not much different from what currently exists. The main differences that the book focuses on is more to do with the society itself, and the day-to-day living of the future. For example, windows above a certain floor level are unable to open at all. Instead, fresh air is pumped directly into your home. This is to prevent any accidents that could come from falling out of a window from height. Music is banned. Instead there are soothing sounds, but no actual music. Strenuous exercise is out. Only soft exercises are encouraged, like yoga and swimming. Can’t put too much pressure on your joints, or push your limits and accidentally tear a muscle! These differences first appear to be the system’s way of keeping you safe and healthy for longer, because that’s what everyone wants, right? Later on the guidelines feel more and more controlling and oppressive.

The ending is half what I expected. Don’t worry, there will be no spoilers here. The only comment I would like to make about the ending is this: it was both exactly what they deserved, and emotionally draining to read. I will leave it at that.

Suicide Club was a much more thought provoking book than I anticipated it to be. It made me question the world we live in now. Our societies, our governments, our technology, and our healthcare. It made me think more deeply about the class system, and how different backgrounds and experiences shape us. It sparked some in depth conversations with people, and allowed me to get different viewpoints on the message behind the book.

The bottom line is, this book was so much more than I ever thought it would be when I first picked it up in my depressed state. I thoroughly recommend it.

If you’ve read Suicide Club, or something you think sounds similar, let me know what you think! I would love to have a nerdy chat about books!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this review.

See you soon. xo

Something has to change. In being robbed of our deaths, we are being robbed of our lives.

– Rachel Heng, Suicide Club

Film Review: 1917

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Yesterday, I saw 1917 in the cinema.

For those of you who may not of heard of this film, or just aren’t sure what it’s about, this is the description for it:
“During World War I, two British soldiers — Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake — receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother.”

I will admit, I am not usually one for war films. I just find them boring and historical, and they feel more like school than the escape to the movies that I’d want. But I am slowly being convinced otherwise…

It was stunning! The choice to film it as almost one continuous shot made it feel like you were right there with them. You got to experience the scenery and the chaos as if you were the characters themselves. It was a brilliant choice visually.

The locations and sets were also very well done. You could feel the destruction and devastation of the areas. The trenches and the craters and the destroyed towns. It was very humbling.

And a massive hats off to the makeup department. They absolutely nailed it when it came to the injuries and environmental influences on the characters. It was so realistic and so flawless that you feel more like you’re watching a real-life documentary than a film. Well done to you, you have my utmost respect.

There were some big names in 1917, however all the big names were merely cameos! The whole film was done off the backs of unknown actors, and I think that was the right choice. It made it much more relatable and realistic, rather than having big names be the main characters and getting distracted more by who they are than the story itself.

As testament to just how gripping and immersing the film is, I balled my eyes out. I cried so hard and so much that my bottom lip was quivering uncontrollably. It was a very emotional film. It was beautiful.

As someone who isn’t really into war films, would I recommend this film?

Yes. Undeniably and undoubtably, yes.

xo

“There is only one way this war ends. Last man standing.”

– Colonel MacKenzie, 1917

Wicked

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Yesterday I went to see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London!

Admittedly, I have seen the show before, however that does not mean that it wasn’t still a magical experience! Pun intended.

The tickets were a Christmas present for my other half and I, from his mum and step-dad. My other half had never seen Wicked before, but he loved it!

For those of you who might not know what Wicked is all about, it’s the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became who she was. It’s how The Wizard of Oz story came to be, and how the characters became how we know them. It’s a beautiful story about friendship, love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Not necessarily in that order.

If you’ve never seen the show before, I thoroughly recommend it.

There is also a book! I personally don’t recommend the book. It’s very dry and slow, which makes it difficult to read. I couldn’t get on with the layout and the language used. But that’s just me! If any of you have read it, and enjoyed it, then I applaud you and wish I could have! I had high hopes for it, but it just wasn’t for me.

Now back to the stage show.

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I don’t want to give away any of the story if you haven’t seen it, so all I will say is that the music, the choreography, the characters, and the story are all perfectly designed to engage you and amaze you. You might even shed a tear…

This is a short and sweet post for today, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

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“Are people born wicked, or is wickedness thrust upon them?”

– Glinda, Wicked the Musical