October Evenings

Autumn evenings at home might be my favourite thing about September and October. I will spare you all the other reasons I love autumn- I wrote about that a few weeks ago.

It’s starting to get darker earlier. Evenings are longer which means it is acceptable to get into pj’s earlier and hide under a blanket on the sofa. Saying no to social plans gets a little easier as there is no evening sun glaring at you through your living room window as you inform Netflix that you are very much still present and wanting to watch your sixth episode of Riverdale.

There is really only one downside I can think of for autumn. In all its wonderfulness it is getting colder. Whilst this means cosy jumpers and nights in it also means I am about 100x more tempted to drink hot drinks. While I am sat writing this I have a cappuccino to hand.

Caffeine has been very closely linked to high anxiety levels, as sad as that makes me. This is very much the case for myself and whilst giving up coffee over summer was fairly easy, I can’t say no to the pull of a coffee shop on a crisp Friday afternoon. And decaff has no place in my life- if I wanted to drink muddy water I would just go outside and find a puddle.

This has meant that I have spent most nights since I finished university, a month ago, sat up, mind racing and feeling completely worried for no reason. It doesn’t help that any sort of routine I had as a student is now gone.

During one of my 4 am ‘oh my god is the house being robbed? Why is the silence so loud?’ panics I decided it was probably time to make a little bit of a change. There was no reason why someone who spends most of her day in front of a screen should be this tired. My concealer could no longer hide the bags.

When I get into bed I am rarely tired. Realistically my days aren’t too strenuous right now. Swapping out my evening routine of TV until twelve o’clock for an hour at the gym or even better, yoga has meant that all of the things that have pissed me off in the day get left on the running machine and I can go home feeling calm.

Once I get in from the gym all I want to do is get in a very long, cold shower. Having a skin care routine that you actually look forward to doing has made a massive difference to me both mentally and physically. Swapping out a face wipe for what can only be described as the most heavenly smelling face scrub in the world feels a bit indulgent (it absolutely isn’t) which is always nice. Treat yourself.

I used to scoff when my parents would tell me that I wasn’t sleeping because I was on my phone in bed, but annoyingly they have a point. Once I get into bed I am the worst for watching youtube/Netflix/iplayer. I get to 3am wondering why I can’t sleep when I have a little box of light (my phone) two feet away from my face. Hiding my phone from myself and picking up a trashy novel (Bridget Jones forever and always) means I end up falling asleep earlier but I’m not bored in the process

Lastly, I am really messy. My dad calls my room ‘the swamp’ if that gives you any indication. But I have found that, as much as I hate tidying my room, if my clothes are put away and my draws are sorted I sleep so much better. The hour of pain is worth the good night sleep and no one really likes sleeping under their clothes.

I am not saying my anxiety has completely gone away. I am still drinking maybe a little bit too much coffee and the thought of going to the gym at eight o’clock is sometimes a little bit too much but having more of a routine has definitely left me sleeping better and feeling calmer.

I hope you’re enjoying the long autumn evenings as much as I am.

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#metoo isn’t just about supporting the victims, it’s about persecuting the perpetrators

My twitter feed can be a bit of a dark place. A video of the earth’s most majestic creature, the cocker spaniel, playing in a paddling pool will swiftly be followed by a thirty tweet thread on the atrocities in the world. It is twitter, it comes with the territory. Since the revelations about Weinstein have come out I have been in a bit of a digital hole, reading numerous accounts of his despicable actions and getting more and more angry.

Yet, this is okay. I am glad this is getting as much coverage as it is. He should be shown for what he is- a predatory pervert with absolutely no moral compass or respect for women. What has got me riled up is the hordes of imbeciles that somehow managed to find their way onto my twitter feed repeating the ‘why didn’t they tell us sooner’ victim blaming narrative.

Watching people, very high profile people *cough* Donna Karen *cough* say that Weinstein’s victim were in some way asking for it doesn’t just send out a message to the stars who he took advantage of, who are now grown up and in a position that they feel secure enough to speak up. It also gets to the girl who spent the night before telling boys to stop touching her in a club or the woman going to a job interview and being told to wear a tight skirt and low cut blouse because it doesn’t matter what your skill set is so long as you’ve got a nice pair of tits and pretty face.

When you condemn these women for not speaking up sooner you are disenfranchising other women to come forward. It is reported (and so often sexual assault isn’t) that 1 in 5 women in the UK have experienced some form of sexual violence, 1 in 3 teenage girls in England has been pressured into doing something sexual by a partner and a third of female students in the UK have experienced inappropriate touching or groping at university. You can use the argument that men get raped and abused too and do you know what? Yes they do and that is horrible but there is no getting away from the fact that 90% of sexual abuse and rape victims are women and the more they are silenced the bigger the problem grows.

This week it was reported that a 17 year old girl was very seriously sexually assaulted three times in the space of an hour on her way home. The saddest thing is this isn’t unheard of. The suspected five perpetrators are now being hunted down and vilified, and rightly so. Yet, James Corden saw it fit to stand on a stage at a black tie charity gala in LA on Friday and make jokes about Weinstein’s actions.

“It was a beautiful night in LA – so beautiful, Harvey Weinstein has already asked tonight up to his hotel to give him a massage”. I wonder how many times Corden, a white, straight man has been at the brunt of unwanted sexual attention or touching?

Silencing of victims and a blaze attitude to sexual assault has to stop. We are raising boys in an environment of toxic masculinity where ‘boys will be boys’ might as well be translated to ‘behave badly and we’ll have a good laugh about it’ and girls to accept that being commented on, touched or forced to do things you don’t want to do is part of growing up.

It is like twitter has awoken to the conversation that sexual assault is massively pervasive through all walks of society. It is just devastating that it has taken the actions of what appeared to be an untouchable pig. The reality is most women have a story of sexual assault and harassment in one form or another, be that in an office in the Hollywood hills, a night club in a city centre or her own bedroom.

You shouldn’t need a daughter or a sister or a mother to see that it isn’t funny, it isn’t normal and it is wrong. We need to expel this idea that certain people are untouchable in society. The leader of the free world has admitted to very similar things. When can we expose him for what he truly is?

This wasn’t a one off and Weinstein isn’t alone in his actions.

23 @ 23

By the time this post goes up (if all goes to plan and I manage to schedule this properly) it will have already been my birthday! YAY! I would like to say that I am having to schedule this because I plan to be curled up in bed, spooning some chicken nuggets and nursing a wine hangover but no, I will be on work experience, gal still needs a job.

This last year has been a big one for me. A lot has changed and I feel like I have grown up a little bit. It has also just been Mental Health Awareness Day, something that has changed for me massively this year. So, I thought to mark the entrance of my 24th year being on this planet (yuck) I would write down the 23 things I have learnt at 23.

  1. Actually go for things you want to do- you might get them. I have got to do quite a few cool things this year simply because I applied myself and actually went for them. And do you know what? I didn’t always win or get everything I wanted but I did get to do some things which I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t applied and written myself off.
  2. Take pictures all the time, whenever you can. Like so many other people I have hundreds of pictures from my first year of uni and so few from my third and now I miss looking at my beautiful friends drunk on the one night they allowed themselves between dissertations and final projects. I lived with a group of girls last year who loved taking pictures and whilst at the time I bullied them about it, I am so thankful now.oct1
  3. At every possible opportunity in life stroke a cat or a dog. I mean this one doesn’t need an explanation. It makes them happy, it makes you happy, their owner might be hot, next thing you know you’re married and have a new pupper baby. What more could you want?
  4. Don’t get too caught up in your day to day stresses. This is rich coming from someone who will cry at the drop of a hat but generally things will work out. I remember one of my first assignments for my Masters was to go to a little town in Nottinghamshire and find stories. I went and sat in a pub and after being told to fuck off and then propositioned by the same elderly man I ran back to the train station, called my Mum and told her I couldn’t do it. But I did, I never saw the man again and haven’t thought about it until I wrote this.
  5. Being honest is generally the right thing. It might be hard but if you know it will make you and anyone else involved happier in the long run then it is probably the right thing to do.
  6. Go on that holiday. Last year I dropped the most amount of money on flights I ever have in one go to go to LA and Vegas with my gorgeous best friend. It was terrifying (I’m still not quite sure how we got there) but it was also the best three weeks ever! From walking the Vegas strip shoeless at 5 am to sun bathing on Huntington Beach there isn’t one part of me that doesn’t want to go back.oct2
  7. Drink more water. It doesn’t taste half as nice as coffee and it makes you pee like there’s no tomorrow but it clears your skin and makes you less hungry…who knew?
  8. Just because someone dares you to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it. I don’t even know where to start with this one. In my house at uni we used to play a game called eyebrows- if someone made a bold statement (something that I am partial to) and then went against it they had a slit (or more often than not) half their eyebrow shaved off. It is for this reason I spent second year with one and a half eyebrows.
  9. But if you’re anything like me, can’t turn down a dare and end up looking stupid. It will always be a great story…in a few weeks.
  10. Having a tight group around you is really important. Be that at home or uni it will be them getting you through the 3 am library sessions, break ups and job rejections. It will also be them bringing the wine when you finally adult well.
  11. If you try and be as positive as you possibly can you will generally attract positive people. Last year we would put on Jeremy Kyle of a Thursday afternoon and moan about our problems, have a little pity party. And that was good because once it was over and we all felt heard we could go back to discussing the real issues in life like whether Deborah really slept with her daughter’s boyfriend.
  12. Don’t date people you meet online. It won’t go well, it doesn’t work. Someone will end up getting drunk to mask the awkwardness and then they’ll wee themselves or you’ll accidentally say I love you. Even worse, you could get attached and then they break up with you by telling you their grandma has been ‘stolen’ and they don’t want you getting involved with court proceedings. And my mum wonders why I’m still single.
  13. Talking to someone when you’re feeling down, isn’t embarrassing. Be it your friends, family or a professional, it is what they’re there for and will more likely than not, leave you feeling so much better.
  14. Dance and be nicer. So, I went to Prague at the end of the summer and met some of the best people in the world (obviously I’m not bias). Whilst I was away we went on a few nights out and after spending time with people who are so okay with who they were I started to let go. I wasn’t concerned with whether there was a creep near me or if someone was judging me for the way I danced. I just got on with it and it was the most fun.
  15. Wear whatever the fuck you want. I spent years avoiding topshop believing that it only catered for girls who are 5’11, straight up and down with very small boobs. I fit none of those categories. Once I realised that you could actually wear a crop top if you had tits or high wasted jeans even if you had a bit of a tummy I became about 100 times more comfortable in my own body. I no longer had to spend my time looking for a wrap dress that ‘minimised’ my chest…whatever that means.
  16. Keep things even if they don’t seem that important now. I used to laugh at my mum as she has cuttings from the wallpaper I had as a baby or old toys but I kept so much stuff in a little box from uni and now I have graduated I love looking over it and ignoring the impending doom of adulthood.
  17. Using lip products as eyeshadow is just a no! One of the biggest arguments I have ever had with my parents was over a shimmery, pink, frosted lip cream (it was as vile as it sounds). I thought it looked cute caked across my eyelids for school, my parents didn’t share the same view and if I had listened I wouldn’t have spent the first half of high school looking like I had some sort of skin condition on my eyelids.
  18. Don’t let people make you think that what you’re into is a waste of time. If it makes you happy go and do it. So in that breathe, if cheap, nasty lip balm as eye shadow is your thing go live your truth.
  19. The friendships where you can sit up all night watching tacky real life murder documentaries on CBS reality or sit in hungover watching Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version of course), making really naff jokes about one another are the friendships you need to cherish. Telling someone they’re such a Lydia after a night out will never get old.

    oct11
    Old picture and poor quality but this was the last time we had one together (2013)
  20. Don’t use gradual tan unless you want to inflict streaky orange lines and the smell of digestive biscuits on yourself and anyone in a three meter radius.
  21. Say yes every once in a while. Not all the time, but it doesn’t hurt to agree to things you might not usually do.
  22. Never ever, ever, ever go on a crash diet of smoothies before a summer/ winter ball/ graduation/ event. You will arrive, have your complimentary glass of champagne and spend the rest of the night with your head down the toilet. You won’t look any slimmer and as soon as the food arrives you’ll inhale it. So attractive.
  23. Lastly, in different social or work situations I often find myself feeling one of two ways: that I am being too loud and obnoxious, essentially too much or that I am being too quiet, or that I shouldn’t speak in case I say something stupid and fail. They’re the same fear- of just letting yourself be. So I think this year I have learnt to cut myself a bit more slack and get out of my own head.oct10

Lets get physical

I hate the idea of quitting something. I played violin up until the age of 14 (I know) and ran away from that as soon as I could. I quit drinking Malibu, a wise decision made after first year of university. Quitting seems so final, walking away and not going back. Did I quit working out?

Going back to something is hard. It is harder than starting something new because you already know what to expect. You have also already quit before and know how easy it is just to walk away, stay at home and snuggle up in front of the TV.

So as I stood on the treadmill in my local gym, iPod and towel in hand, I thought I knew what was to come. Much like my little yoga experience (which I would like to say has now got mildly better) it was hard. Not ‘I will have will power and not have another piece of cake hard’ but ‘thighs burning, back sweating, muscles working in places I didn’t know I had muscles’ hard.

Yet, after years of paying for a gym membership every month only to go on the day after the payment has come out of my account because I feel bad- the tax on the lazy with good intentions something seems to have clicked.

For such a long time I thought people who enjoyed the gym fell into two categories: the first were the ones who looked like they’d walked off the cover of women’s health and could ‘do’ the gym (I did not believe I could) and the second were bizarre hooligans that preached the notion that the gym gave them endorphins. For me the gym was all about how you looked, how quick you could drop five pounds and get a peachy bum.

Like so many other people I have had a rather long, complex relationship with the way I look, particularly my tummy. Weight is a funny thing because people find it so uncomfortable to talk about, even if you’re not talking about there’s. Rather than ever speaking seriously about it I have always opted for sarcastic quips or blatant jokes. So naturally, I have now decided to talk to the internet about it…

A Masters year of sleep deprivation, 2am library snacks and a treat yourself attitude has left me a squishier version of my former self. Who knew a diet of bagels and vanilla lattes would make you balloon? As I moved home a month and a half ago and suddenly had a lot more time on my hands I thought it might be time for me and my tum to part ways once and for all.

There are a few things I have learnt about myself in the last few weeks: sports bras with no underwire were not made for girls with boobs the size of mine, investing in proper trainers will mean you can actually use your feet for the rest of the week and, perhaps most importantly, I have felt the positive effects of the gym already, even if I haven’t seen a physical difference.

No one is staring at you when you’re running, red faced and tears in your eyes because no one really gives that much of a shit. They have their own work out to concentrate on and in reality, they’re probably more concerned that you are staring at them. The endorphins aren’t a lie and the second category of gym goers aren’t mad. I look exactly the same but I feel so different. Going to a boxercise class where a tiny woman shouts ‘what is your worth’ while you kick and punch the air in gay abandon might not be fun at the time but it leaves you on cloud nine (until you have to go and do it all again).

I massively believe in positive actions towards improving mental health, I just never thought I would find them on a running machine. I am still very much aware of the fact that my tummy is very present over the top of my jeans but I also know that I am getting stronger and little by little it may be getting smaller.

This could get really addictive.

Just a little side note: As I am now trying to get my life together and get into a bit of a new routine I have created a blogging schedule. I will post every Tuesday and Friday and would love it if you continue to read! Thank you xx

Ridiculous glasses, brash comments and a cup of tea in hand- Wednesday night may be the best time of the week

I don’t hold Wednesdays in very high regard. I don’t know why? Now I am a graduate/ painfully unemployed there shouldn’t really be a difference between Wednesday and Saturday and yet I so often find myself sort of at a loss at about three o’clock every Wednesday afternoon. I don’t know if it is because it is the middle of the week and I have, undoubtedly not done as many job applications as I thought I would have since Monday morning or whether it is just the feeling of wading through to Friday that seems a bit unbearable.

I was sat on my kitchen work top, drinking a cup of tea and watching Theresa Mays speech/ coughing fit at the Conservative Party conference when I realised Wednesday had snuck up on me again (as if I didn’t already feel depressed enough). However, just before the guilt and impending doom crept in I realised; it isn’t just any Wednesday, it’s THE Wednesday. The Wednesday I have been waiting for since last winter…the Apprentice starts again tonight!

I know the Apprentice isn’t everyone’s ‘thing’. My mum hates it because she says people shouldn’t take joy from watching people being horrible to one another- the very reason I adore it. I don’t know where they find their candidates and who writes Sir Alans quips (my personal favourite being “If I wanted a friend I would get a dog”) but it’s ingenious and I am there for it.

So post- Apprentice revelation and after choking on my tea as Theresa May finally made it to the end of her speech, I set about finding out which horrible human beings would serve as my Wednesday night savours.

It didn’t take long to deduce that they are even more ridiculous than last year’s candidates and the next twelve weeks are going to be even better than I first anticipated. Evidently, there was some sort of memo that this series was all about eye wear. I guess no one told Charles you can’t just take the glasses the optician tests your eyes with.The-Apprentice-Series-2017

As the girls settled in for their first argument- who should sell their questionable burgers out on the street of canary wharf, Siobhan piped up with the even more questionable advice of ‘you should be careful who you send because men will only buy from certain women’. Oh of course Siobhan, because only men work in canary wharf and they will only buy something from you if you’re skinny and have your tits out. Great input.

Then I stumbled across the mansion that the candidates would be staying in (in reality I was looking at similar town houses that I will buy when I somehow make my millions.)

The show is known for its ginormous, central London houses that the candidates get to stay in, with the weird shared bedrooms, futuristic décor and phone in the hall way that each candidate can take in turns to run to of a morning in their underwear because who knew Lord Sugar would call so early?

As I delved further into all things Apprentice 2017 (like the good journalist I am) I found an article on the house by the Evening Standard. “The Apprentice 2017 house: Candidates are staying in £29,000 per month property in Notting Hill.” I nearly choked for the second time that day (pass the cough sweets Theresa). £29,000 per month! I was under no illusion that Notting Hill was a cheap area but that is a small fortune.

The eight bedroom, Victorian property would set you back a cool £13 million if you had that sort of money lying around. It is the perfect place to contain the contestants, let’s just hope they don’t go wandering around the area sprouting too much bullshit or none of us will be safe.

No I am lying, if the first episode was anything to go by, Wednesdays might just become my favourite day of the week.

The summer that may be the turning point for womens sport

The BBC have just released their 100 influential women of 2017 and after a summer that celebrated the talents of Britain’s sportswomen where do you go from here?

The summer of sporting achievements was rounded off at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast for the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final. Although the Red Roses could not secure a win over the formidable Black Ferns, ending the game on 32-41, the game was arguably bigger than the final score itself.

Not only was the game broadcast on prime time ITV live to 32.6 million viewers (a first in women’s rugby sporting history) the debate that followed did not focus on the gender of the players but the tactics that were used on the pitch, the strength of the teams and the game itself. It is hard not to feel like this is a massive step forward for women’s sport.

Earlier in the summer Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach a Wimbledon semi- final since 1978; she received the highest ever audience figures for a women’s match at Wimbledon with 7.4 million viewers tuning in. England’s women’s cricketers lifted the world cup and the Lionesses narrowly missed a spot in the European championship finals losing to the Netherlands.

The BBC have released their top 100 women this week. They seek to highlight and celebrate the women who are breaking glass ceilings, tackling street harassment, female illiteracy and funnily enough, sexism in sport. You can get involved yourself (go to the BBC website) and whether you are #Teamlead #Teamread #Teamgo or #Teamplay you only have to read a couple of the case studies to be moved.

The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign has said “This summer has been amazing for raising the profile of women’s sport but the work doesn’t stop here. It is fundamental that women have equal opportunities to men in sport, from the playing field to the boardroom.”

This Girl Can is working closely with Sport England to extend workshops and other playing opportunities to women and girls up and down the country in schools, universities and sports clubs. After receiving extra funding from Sport England, This Girl Can have collaborated with the Get Out Get Active Programme to extend their workshops to help disabled women and girls enjoy being more active.

However, according to ‘Women In Sport’s’ most recent survey, women’s sport makes up only 7% of all sports coverage in the UK. If you break down the statistics, that’s 10% of TV coverage, a tiny 5% of radio coverage, 4% of online coverage, and only 2% of newspaper coverage. Whilst the argument stands that the media doesn’t cover women’s sport because there’s not enough demand for it, it would be fair to say there isn’t more demand because the media doesn’t cover it. Either way, ‘Women In Sport’ also found that in 2014 only 0.4% of all the commercial investment into sport in Britain was going into women’s sport.

Lisa O’Keefe, a spokeswoman from Sport England has said: “television coverage helps to normalise women’s sport and encourages participation. The profile and pay of women’s sport is still absolutely dwarfed by men’s sport. It’s barely comparable and that needs to change”

Steph Houghton, the England women’s football captain, revealed before the European championships that she earns around £65,000 a year. This is a decent salary, until you compare it to Waynes Rooneys £250,000 pay cheque. Many of England Women’s rugby players started the world cup on full time contracts. These were terminated at the end of the tournament, reason being resources had to be used elsewhere.

Lisa O’Keefe said: “Women’s sport is a growing market and the opportunities to reach new audiences are great. I’d like to see more women in sports boardrooms and pay and exposure reflecting interest. This is an exciting time but we’re not there yet.”

 

The left is not exempt from sexist abuse, stop acting like it is!

Picture this: you’re at the top of your career, you have worked so hard for a long time to reach this point and as you go to attend an event that, by very description you have to, your boss decides that you need a body guard because of the number of threats made to your life over the internet. Just because you are doing your job.

Would you be able to focus on the task at hand? Or would your subconscious be more preoccupied with the hoard of strangers telling you you’re shit at your job (or worse)? Laura Kuenssberg did attend the Labour Conference this weekend in Brighton, bodyguard in tow but should we expect this now as a woman in a vastly male dominated sector? It’s not normal!

It is not an uncommon sight for Theresa May to step out of Downing Street with numerous body guards surrounding her. She’s a world leader, it comes with the territory. I just didn’t know the same rule applied to BBC journalists? You never see Nick Robinson or Andrew Marr needing the same level of protection.

Yet maybe it should have been written in her job description that as a women aspiring to be a BBC Political Editor, Kuenssberg could expect to experience violent and systematic abuse for simply doing her job. She should also expect that although her title would suggest she knows something about politics, she will be told continuously that she isn’t doing her job properly or doesn’t know what she is talking about by people who have absolutely no qualification to pass judgement on her job performance.

Can you recall one male editor of any publication who overtly criticises Jeremy Corbyn as being singled out in the same way? But it’s not all down to misogyny. There are many within the Labour party who are horrified at the racist and sexist abuse experienced by MP Dianne Abbott on a daily basis. However, in the same breath they will tell you that what Laura Kuenssberg experiences is somehow different.

Intimidation of journalists is now something we more commonly associate with the likes of Donald Trump yet Kuenssberg has experienced violent hostility repeatedly from both the right AND the left. It is arguable that political editors are under more pressure now than they ever have been. We live in an ever-changing, unstable world with a 24 hour news cycle. Kuenssberg is at the top of her game purely because she is excellent at her job. News flash: just because you don’t like or agree with someone doesn’t mean they should die. This applies to everyone- from Nigel Farage to Jess Phillips.

The question isn’t ‘who does Laura Kuenssberg think she is walking around Brighton with security’ but how did we get to the point where she needs it?