Thursday, 24 August 2017

Closing The Notepad...



Just over a week ago I filled my notepad. It seems stupid to be emotional over a some paper, but that's 591 days of work.

In that notepad there are 30 published pieces, 1 published book, 1 book draft, 5 issue plans for Kiloran and numerous other plans. It's seen me through everything; 3 break-ups, exam stress, moving city and many many more ups and downs. These pages have seen some FEELS. It's strange to say goodbye.

When I started writing in this notepad I didn't take myself seriously at all. I used to just write like a diary with my thoughts normally forming into poems or prose. Journals and diaries never really stuck with me, but for some reason this did. And I never really thought about it, I never read much poetry before I seemed to accidentally start writing it. And that's one of the biggest misconceptions I've found in poetry, that it must be traditional and formal and structured. But like all art, your poetry can be anything you want. It's doesn't need to be stanzas and short lines and rhyme, if you think your scribblings are poetry, they're poetry.

I talk about my writing a lot on here and over of my instagram, but it's normally promo rather than my absolute and total love of it. I tell people about it all the time, and it's always my first suggestion when anyone is struggling, but writing is an incredible and proven form of therapy. Writing and creative expression is often used in mental health treatment as it's obviously just such a freeing, cathartic activity. It's an amazing way to process your own emotions and work out how you're feeling in a way that is private and non-confrontational. I can't recommend it enough. Get to know yourself, get to know your emotions, get to know your creative brain.

Closing this notepad feels good. Obviously I'm proud of the work in there, I can see myself growing as a writer and becoming more refined. But mostly I'm really proud of what it all stands for, seeing hard situations turned into something that I can use and is beneficial. Pain into product. That's what I'm proud of, and that's why I love writing and why this notepad means so much. Closing it feels like closing it on all that past pain, walking away with something good.

Find your expression, whether it be writing, or art, or journaling, or music, or anything. Having an outlet for your emotions that is personal and healthy is so important, and having something that is totally yours unless you choose to share will introduce you to a whole layer of feels that you might not have explored before. Trust me, you'll feel lighter.

I'm excited to see what comes from my new notepad, and I can't wait to share some of the work created in the old one.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Advice To Freshers...


It's exactly a year since I got my A-Level results and secured my place at University of Sheffield to study my fave subject. Ahh how time flies.

Ever since the end of first year I've been feeling so reflective about the year. It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year, it only feels like a couple weeks ago that I packed up and moved to a city that I'd only visited twice before, and began living with nine strangers, embarking on living independently. I'm freshers recruiter for The Tab Sheffield, and seeing so many people tweeting about getting into Sheffield made me feel so emotional. I remember so clearly how I felt, but that girl feels like someone totally separate to who I am now. (cringe)

I think before you go to uni you hear a lot about how those years will change your life, or how you'll come back a different person. But it's true. Uni forces you to be ballsy. You have to throw yourself out of your comfort zone, talk to strangers to make them into friends, learn to be alone and thrive, learn how to handle a totally new level of socialising, teach yourself to be self-motivated. It gives you no other option but to grow to fit, but I think it brings out the best in you.

I don't want to just write out a boring, mushy run down of the ups and downs of my year. So instead, here's the best advice I can give to new freshers from what I've learnt.

You will be nervous, but you can trick yourself out of it

I won't lie, I almost dropped out before I got to uni. My anxiety and phobia were so so bad that I didn't think I could do it, and I was just so terrified. But everyone feels like that, but it is terrifying! Being thrown into a new situation is scary, but you have to push through and you'll soon forget that you're nervous. Offer to make a coffee for your flatmate, chat to the person in your lecture, find people on social media before you move and try to make some contacts. Act like you're not nervous, and you soon won't be.

Don't stick to your friends from home

It's pretty much guaranteed that you'll know people at your uni, whether it be a close friend or just someone you know from college. But don't spend too much time from them. It's too easy to stick to people you know like a safety blanket, but you have to get out there and spend time with your flatmates and new people. You don't want to stick too close to old friends, and miss out on the new.

Be somewhat shameless

Some of my best best best friends at uni are girls I stalked on social media and arranged coffee dates with. If you've just got your place, now is the perfect time to find your flatmates on facebook/twitter, find people on your course and get chatting. It will ease your nerves if you know people, and they could end up being your best friend ever. Literally, get on instagram and get searching your uni hashtag, or the location tag for your accommodation and follow some people. Social media is such a great tool, use it. There's no shame in making the first move and booking in some coffee dates or a pizza night, everyone else is just as nervous about making friends so be the one to make the move.

Do things

Uni offers you a ridiculous amount, everything from sports to arts, and societies for literally everything you can imagine. Going to freshers fairs and activities fairs is vital to get to grips with whats going on and integrate with the uni community, and societies are great for making friends outside your flat or subject. That's one thing I really failed at in my first year, but I'm determined to join more next year.

Explore the place beyond the uni

Uni offers loads, but the city you're in can offer more. Sheffield, in particular, has so much going on like poetry groups, gigs, talks etc. Make sure you go out and explore the city beyond your campus or immediate area. Go to all the parks and museums, walk everywhere to get to grips with the place, support local businesses; fully adopting your uni city will massively improve your time there and will give you so much more.

Make as many friends as possible

Never limit your number of friends. You have to abandon the 'squad' mentality, you can have friends in all different groups, doing all different subjects, and living in all different places. Yes have your best friend, but always make more. Never turn down an invite, always be kind, talk to everyone. But also, don't abandon your friends for anyone. Those friends will be your family, they'll be your support system and you'll be theirs, and no relationship or boy or girl or anything is worth sacrificing that. Friends first, always. 

Remember to settle down

Uni is fun, and freshers week is very very fun, but you do have to settle down. At some point you have to make your uni a home, rather than just somewhere you're staying for a while, you have to get into routines and eat healthy and look after yourself. This sounds super simple, but trust me it's harder than you think when you step out of a family setting and you have no restrictions, and no responsibilities beyond the couple hours of lectures and seminars. Eventually settling down and getting a night routine, and a somewhat decent bed time is super important for your mental health, and making sure you're eating well and caring for your body properly. 

If I hadn't gone to uni and took every chance it gave me, I wouldn't have released a book, I wouldn't be writing for The Tab, and I doubt Kiloran would've grown like it has. But mostly, I wouldn't have made the friends I have, or met some of the best people I've ever known. I've met so many inspiring, like-minded, funny, kind, amaaaazing people and I feel so lucky to call them friends. After first year I feel 100x more confident and secure in myself and my abilities. I'm less afraid, more social, and I'd like to think I've become a better person and a better friend. Best year of my life hands down, I hope the next two years go in slow-mo so I never have to enter the real world.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

No Banana Gets Left Behind...



The UK throws away £13 billion worth of food each year, including around 1.4 million bananas each day.

With around 8.4 million families in the UK struggling to feed themselves, this is such a huge issue, and so unnecessary. We're trapped in the confines of judging fruits and veg by appearance. We've all been guilty of throwing out bananas that are a little too brown, or a bit too soft for our taste. But unless you've got a compost heap, all that wastes is off to a landfill and adding to the growing issue of food waste as the gov failed to meet their targets.

The UK's household waste and recycling systems are pretty far behind. We're so stuck in our ways of just chucking stuff in the kitchen bin when we could be recycling more, and helping the environment through compost, or becoming more aware and trying to buy biodegradable packaging. Although the gov tried, launching voluntary contracts with supermarkets to avoid waste and send unsalable food to food banks, their target was missed as most shops still only sell the 'pretty' fruits and veg, and chuck food as soon as it goes past sell by. So it's up to us to try and do our part, starting at home.

A quick google and you can find recipes to use up pretty much every fruit and veg possible when it's a little past it's best. It's so quick and easy, and gives a new life to food you might have been temped to just throw out before. Enter the banana bread, the banana pancakes, the banana porridge.

I love bananas, but when you're a student, cooking and eating for yourself, it can be hard to eat them all before they get a bit too soft for my liking. So I always, always, always take to baking. It takes max 40 mins, and you've turned brown bananas into a cake to share. No waste, and a treat, WIN.

Here's the recipe I follow. It using mainly items you'll just have in the cupboard, and is vegan so you can lick the spoon to your hearts content.


You'll need...

225g of plain flour - or if you only have self-raising, you only need to use 2tsp of baking powder)
3tsp of baking powder.
100g of brown sugar.
3tsp of spices - I like to use 2tsp of cinnamon, 0.5 of ginger, and 0.5 of nutmeg.
3 super ripe bananas.
75g of vegetable oil.

How to make it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2.Mash up the bananas and mix in the oil and sugar.
3.. Add the flour, baking powder, and spices.
4. Add anything else you want - it's good with dried fruit, walnuts, or choc chips.
5. Slop it into a loaf tin.
6. Leave it to bake for around 20 mins, then stab a knife into the middle to check.

Literally so easy, and you've saved some bananas from waste. But I'm not done.

Then, when the cake is starting to get a little hard and everyones bored of eating it, there's no need to waste. Turn that banana bread into some banana bread french toast. Unfortunately this isn't vegan, but it's a good way to use up those left over eggs wasting in the fridge.


You'll need...

Left over banana bread
1 egg - add more depending on how many people you're serving.
A splash of milk.
A sprinkle of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract - this is optional, but it makes it taste 10/10.

How to make it...

1. Put a little oil in a frying pan to heat up.
2. Whisk together the egg and milk, add the cinnamon and vanilla if you want.
3. Cut the banana bread into thick slices, and soak them in the mixture.
4. Fry it up in a pan.

I served mine with some left over mango. But it's amazing with some natural yogurt, berries and syrup. This is so good, like insanely good. Make it, please. You deserve this.

But that's just the bananas. Find some ways to save all the fruits and veggies from waste; start at home then start considering your buying habits and how you could recycle more.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August Aims...


August has crept up on us, and honestly I'm glad. In short I haven't been doing so great lately so I decided to adopt the new month as a new start, as an opportunity to introduce new and healthy habits into my life, and work on areas to change. The 1st of a month is always a time to set new aims, so here are mine for August to help pick me up and power home.

Read everyday

At the start of July I set myself the challenge to finish Anna Karenina by the time uni started, and yeah it's not going great. I know when I sit and read for a while I instantly feel calmer, but I find it hard to just sit down and chill. But in August I'm going to try and take some time out of everyday to chill and work on my brain. 

Don't go on my phone before 9am

Lately I've become so aware that the instant I wake up, I go on my phone for like an hour in bed and while I eat breakfast. That's so bad, like I know how bad that is and this is the month I will stop. I'm going to try and avoid my phone until after breakfast, and stop instantly bombarding myself with social media and stress in the morning. I'm also going to get the Five Minute journal app, so when I do go on my phone I can start my day thinking about goals and thinks I'm thankful for. 

Release an issue of Kiloran

Issue 5 of the magazine I edit is on the way, expected to be released on the 13th August! So I gotta work work work.

Don't stress about exercise
Eat healthy but don't restrict

I struggle quite a lot with my relationship with exercise and food. I have such an obsessive personality, so the second I start exercising or thinking about body image or what I'm eating, it becomes a huge thing. I start to obsess over working out and what I'm eating. I need to stop that this month, I want to learn how to exercise and make better choices without it becoming toxic.
Say only positive things about others

This is a forever goal of mine and I'm still on it. Trying to have positive vibes on both the inhale and the exhale.

Plan ahead

I've been getting myself down watch other people travel and experience things, while I'm just at home working. So I'm trying to plan ahead; think about the future and plan trips and holidays to look forward to. I'm trying to let that motivate me through this month of work, and try and fight off the jealousy.

Be happy with where I am

This is both physically and mentally. I want to enjoy this last month or so at home, make the most of my hometown and soak up the downtime. But mentally, I want to learn to stress about the future and next steps less. I want to learn to celebrate present achievements and victories, rather than brushing them off too quickly to focus on the next move. And I want to learn to be okay with having sad days and down moments rather than self-bullying and causing myself to spiral. BIG GOALS, lets try.

Find joy in simple pleasures

Pretty similar from before, while I'm at home I want to try and find happiness in myself and in simple things, like morning coffee, and going out for breakfast, and doing my nails. I'm struggling to not sink into a pit of sadness and jealousy of everyone else on hols, so to combat that I'll find joy in little things and look forward.

Go on at least 2 trips

While I can't jet off on hols, I can take myself away for a day. So the aim for this month is to go on at least 2 trips, even if it's just a day out to another northern city, and even if I go alone. It's little, but it's something.

Fingers crossed I manage, and fingers crossed it boosts my mood. But I'm feeling positive for the new start, we got this.