Are you doing it right?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of asking yourself if you’re doing it right at university. I find myself constantly asking myself how other people  appear to do so much. How everyone found the time to read the book this week plus the secondary research, and you see on Facebook they’ve been to the pub too? I can’t seem to find the time to do my shopping these days. Personally, I’m convinced some of these people are taking a leaf out of Hermione Granger’s book and have managed to obtain a time turner, and I want to know where the hell I can get one too.

I think if we’re all honest everyone has this paranoia sometimes. We’re told to work hard and play hard, but what about all the other bits? You can’t live without sleep, we’re all supposed to be little gym bunnies hopping away on treadmills attempting to get into shape, and somehow we have to find the extra time to do all the boring bits of life, like cooking and laundry and washing your hair. We all try to find the balance, but the frank Orange PNG image, free downloadtruth is, you can’t hold twenty oranges in two hands. Something that’s essential to remember is that people only show you what they want to present to the world. Someone’s Instagram doesn’t truly represent their life, its simply an imitation of it, seen through rose tinted glasses. They won’t show you the arguments, they won’t show you puffy eyes in the morning, or their pile of washing. We’re taught that our humanity, our inability to be on top of every item on our to do list, isn’t something to be shared. So we don’t share it. It’s important not to forget that when it looks like someone’s holding all 20 oranges in their hands, there’s probably several fallen to the floor that you can’t see in the picture.

Sometimes you have to realise it’s okay to take it slow. That’s what we need sometimes, just to close our eyes and breathe and forget about the rest of the world for a couple of minutes. Let everything fall away. Realise that the world will not implode if you don’t manage to read every last word of Marco Polo’s rather dull account of his travels. Realise that it’s okay if you stay up an extra hour tonight, because you’re laughing with your friends, you might have to have an extra cup of coffee in the morning, but it’ll be worth it cause you’re making memories. Realise that you can just put your hair in plaits tomorrow if standing in the shower for an extra ten minutes really isn’t worth the effort. Sometimes you have to be kind to yourself. The important thing to remember in these moments of paranoia is that, if you’re doing the thing that will make you happy in the long run, then it’s okay. Let’s rethink the work hard, play hard model, and reconsider that not one shoe fits all. Let’s just take a moment to breathe, and figure out what’s right for ourselves, as individuals.

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Some thoughts on ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ and Orlando

I’ll begin with a caution, if you’re looking for a lighthearted book which will make you giggle and send you on an escapist journey, then this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a book which will not only tug on your heartstrings, but rather rip them out through your throat, then make you eat them, then this is certainly the book for you.

This book has made me truly reflect on life. It’s a story I will carry with me through my day to day life. It just so happens that the most terrible tragedies in this book occurred just after the Orlando shootings. I was locked in two worlds of tragedy. I felt like a child re-discovering just how terrible and how utterly cruel this world can be. When you’re young, you believe the world can do you no wrongs, and the worst that can happen is that you’ll get shouted at if your sibling tattles on you. I found myself questioning if ignorance is truly bliss. If the knowledge of these terrible happenings is worth the cruel realisation that this seemingly beautiful world, whose winds gently kiss your face on balmy summer nights, is infested by parasites that mar this paradise and commit unforgivable crimesP1140032.JPG against one another.

I found myself feeling guilty that I have ended up in this body, in this privileged life. That for some reason, this soul, my soul had found its way to this shell that transports me from A to B in a country that is not ravaged by injustice.

When the Orlando shootings happened last weekend I was dumbfounded. This didn’t seem like something that happened in my world. There are no words to say how awful these ‘crimes’ are. I put the word crimes in inverted commas, because this act seems so much more than just a crime. When you abstract what has happened, it seems to be a far fetched idea out of some horrific storybook. Some evil plan created by a villain which will eventually be thwarted. However, in this story, as of yet, there is no complete resolution.

A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks for the women of Afghanistan, who endure and persevere despite continuous adversity. Though this book is undoubtedly devastating, it also sends a powerful message, that even ‘Hovels shall turn to rose gardens, greive not’. No matter how many times the world seems like an ugly place, flowers and life will persevere and will be found even in the darkest and most quiet corners of this earth. Life is not bad forever. There will always be a smile even on the darkest day.

This book has touched my heart, and has made me put my life into perspective.Despite small daily grievances, my life is good. My life is happy and fulfilling. I battle day to day with small demons which can be squashed with my big toe. I don’t climb mountains each day simply to survive. I am one of those lucky few. Though I am lucky, it is not my job to feel guilt. Reading this book has made reflect on and appreciate my life. In my reality, I can go where I wish, wear what I wish, I can stop and smell the sweet summer air. I can hear the song of the birds outside my window, rather than the whistle of rockets. I haven’t simply survived, or endured like some. I live. This is a book that forces you to reassess your life, and to find the beauty in a sometimes ugly world. Now and then everyone needs to read a book like this which grounds you, and makes you appreciate the warmth of the sun on your back, or the way the one you love laughs. Time and what you do with it are precious. Don’t let it pass you by, but savour the moments life sends your way.

Gym grumbles

Going to the gym is a painful enough experience in itself, but it is in no way aided by those who make it an even more traumatic experience than it has to be. There is one thing alone that really gets my blood boiling when I go to the gym. I’m talking about the people who though they might appear to be gym fanatics on social media, but in reality sit at the gym on the exercise bikes, doing little other than posing for selfies and browsing Facebook. If you’re more interested in watching Hollyoaks than working out then, please, stop hogging the machine and return to your couch at home and do what you are doing there. Instead of using up oxygen I am trying desperately to catch as I puff away on the treadmill.

Now, I want to make it very very clear that I am in no way slating people who are slow. I applaud you, going to the gym is hard work, and anyone who actually gives it a go is a hero in my eyes. I’m talking about the kind of people who when using that thigh machine that makes you feel like you’re in Dante’s 7th circle of hell, do one rep on the lowest weight, sit there for 3 minutes, do another, then give up, but instead of getting off and going home, use the machine as you might a bench in a park. They park themselves on it for a good 10 minutes which watching TV on their phone.

Another thing that gets on my nerves is when I see people wearing FLEECES in the gym. Firstly, the gym is air conditioned, it’s a normal temperature to wear just a t-shirt in, and secondly if you are doing any kind of exercise, then you definitely shouldn’t need to wear one. Like me, you should look as red as a postbox, and like your head should look like it might explode like an overripe tomato any second. If you go to the gym, then make the commitment, rather than using the place as a somewhere to carry out your own amateur photo shoot.

Some thoughts on domestic violence

While trawling the internet I recently found a video, which clearly breaks down an issue on many people’s lips today. We’ve seen all the videos about how a man gets treated when he hits a woman compared to a woman hitting a man, and most of us, I am glad to say, have been downright outraged at the normalisation of domestic abuse against men. Most people on the street don’t intervene if they see a woman hit a man, even around the face. This video was clear and informative, and raises the issue of happy slapping in media which surrounds us today, and she asks why are we teaching our children that it is okay for a woman to hit a man? The simple answer to this question is that it is not okay. We shouldn’t live in a society where this double standard not only exists, but is perpetuated in popular culture.

Though I knew it was without a doubt a bad idea, I had a little peek at the comment section, and yet again YouTube commenters did not fail to disgust me. Youtuber ‘spoofer20′ comments :’My ex slapped me really hard (actually 2 times) because she got upset, I slapped her back and she cried and said “WHY DID YOU SLAP ME IM A GIRL!” I told her girl or boy I dont care, you slap me I slap you She didnt slap me a single time after that, easy problem to solve.’.

It disturbs me that a great video advocating kindness and encouraging us to use a little bit of humanity before we act is contaminated by these kind of thought processes.It worries me that some are using this video to encourage their own mutated form of gender equality, one which instead of focussing on improving our society for the betterment of both sexes instead focusses on a poisoned kind of equality which is detrimental to both. I was shocked to find so many were okay with this kind of comment, it received 92 up votes, and my question is why are we up voting domestic abuse? This comment reminded me of an argument I have heard used many times about feminism. Frequently when discussing feminism in the past I have been asked ‘So does this mean men get to hit women too now?’. The answer is absolutely not. A discussion about equality and equal rights should not be followed up by a violent threatening question such as this. It truly shocks me that this is what many people’s response is to a debate about gender equality. In what world does gender equality equate to violence?

I was going to discuss in this post how fundamentally men and women are different, we have different body masses, women bruise easier and that in my opinion the consequence is what is important rather than the incentive, which is why men shouldn’t retaliate when hit by a woman. But I have come to the realisation that this is besides the point. The larger question here is why instead of taking on the view promoted in this video that we shouldn’t hit a man or a woman, we instead discuss that abuse towards either gender is fine. Violence should be intolerable in any setting, there shouldn’t be any conditions. It shouldn’t be a matter of ‘she hit me first so I hit her back’, it shouldn’t be a question of gender or race, religion or any other variable you can think of. I left that video feeling sadly disillusioned. This is not what gender equality means, and I am glad I know this, but I fear that there will always be some individuals who suggest that equality means violence against all is acceptable. So lets battle (without throwing a punch) these dated ideologies and spread the word that gender equality does not equal violence.

Here’s Natalia Milano’s article on the normalisation of slapping men in the media, this makes for a really interesting read, and really made me think about why so many people think hitting men is normal.

If you liked this post, you might want to read a few of my thoughts on rape culture.

Spring rain

Air stale with the humid threat of rain

No sound

No animals

A silent sky

Pregnant with promises of purging

A promise to wash away the winter darkness,

To bring the fresh touch of spring

The chill is open and inviting

A whisper of cold nights biting your nose,

The scent of the air nostalgic,

You can taste change on your tongue

Let the air envelop you

Warming you in its intangible palm

The breeze caressing your neck

As droplets of rain kissing the horizon,

Which blushes with joy,

As the sun’s last vermilion rays fade

Valentines Day for singles

This year is my first ever Valentines Day not being single. I have kissed many a frog in my time, but this year I have managed to find the one to take me to the ball on February 14th (but I’ll settle for a Thai and a cuddle). However I know all too well the feeling of dread that would fill me when Valentines day loomed ever closer.

I think we need a new approach to Valentines Day. Lets revolutionise it. Instead of sitting in pyjamas and watching Bridget Jones, I think we should make it a day of celebration. Not of romance, but of love, all kinds of love. Love isn’t confined to romantic or sexual relationships. This Valentines Day make your best friend your Valentine. Your mum, or sister, anyone who you value, and thinks deserves to be shown it. There is always someone who loves you in this world, and though ‘the one’ might not be thinking of you on February the 14th, the people who love you most will.

So this Valentines Day have a lengthy phone call with a member of your family you haven’t caught up with in a while. Watch your favourite film with your best friend and a bottle of red wine. Tell your cat you love them, and treat them to some obscenely expensive cat food. Find love in your life that isn’t purely sexual or romantic. Your single status does not define you. Don’t feel the need to have someone in your life to make you feel ‘whole’. Who came up with that crap anyway?

And above all else, celebrate yourself, go look in the mirror, and smile, tell yourself that you love you. You’re the best person in your life. You are what matters. Have a night in with yourself. Read a book, play that instrument in the corner of your room that’s starting to get dusty. Get in the shower and sing until your lungs feel like they could burst.

This Valentine’s Day I want to give you the best present I possibly could. You.

 

Why I love words

talking
Credit: theumlaut.com

My name is Kate, and I can say for sure that I have had some word experience in my time. When I was young I tripped and stumbled over words. Like strangers in the street, doing a dance, attempting to co ordinate body and intent. I found them slipping out of my mouth, bumping into each other. I used my body to say my words, I created the words, huge with my arms, gesticulating wildly, like a melodramatic mime. Later, I became friends with words. They were no longer fumbling around each other, they were placed like luggage on a carousel, and I could select whichever case I liked. On a Friday I chose a lurid pink case and on Tuesday the case was tenebrous blue and understated. I became close with my words, my constant companions. They gave me confidence when I was shy, always holding my hand, but never my tongue. They gave me solace, curled between sheets when I was alone. Words have allowed me to find myself, words which spread black spidery legs across blank pages. I look back at my words, as a pool of water, crystal clear, my identity tangible beneath the surface.