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Before yesterdayBoho Boss

Beneath the Mask

5 July 2021 at 13:29

While I am as thrilled as anyone that the English Government plans to remove the mandatory face covering rule on the 19th July, the news also resulted in a catch in the back of my throat, and a strange wave of emotion, the rationale of which I was unable to really pinpoint until I had had some time to process the news.

I found myself on a popular internet forum, which was running a poll and discussion as to the efficacy of face coverings, and asking which participants were planning to continue to wear them after July 19th, and who was relieved to see the end of the mandatory masks. An overwhelming majority voted in favour of the latter, with comments celebrating the banishing of the “balaclava”, and others asserting their intention to burn their face coverings in some kind of ceremonial fire. While obviously it is promising that so many will be “daring to bare”, it also brought home a very stark reality. That most of these people did not believe that masks made a difference. Their willingness to throw away their protection even as cases rise belied their subconscious attitude towards “masking up”, whether they were consciously aware of this or not.

And yet these were the people shouting abuse at strangers last June, the day the mask mandate came into play, and not one second before.

These were the people filming unmasked shoppers in supermarkets, and uploading the footage to social media to allow everyone to vilify individuals.

These were the people who had hissed “murderer” every time I dared to enter the petrol station without a piece of cloth over my mouth. Who had made loud, public declarations that “people like that” should be held down and forced into a mask, should be banned from public places, should be publicly named and shamed.

These were the people who took their five year olds hand, knelt down to their level, and pointed directly at me, saying loudly to their innocent child “You see that lady there? She is a murderer because she isn’t wearing a mask. She’s a nasty, selfish person. Aren’t you glad you’re not like that?”

These were the people who were championing masks at each and every opportunity, who were claiming that they were “saving lives” and who took every chance they could to show hoe good and virtuous they were: primarily through their loud, public judgement of others.

Now, Our Leaders have declared that the masks can come off, and the nation is in celebration (more on the sinister nature of this statement later…)

And the majority of these people will toss away their masks into landfill on July 19th, and breathe a sight of relief (not to mention fresh air for the first time in over a year).

And they will never give a second thought to how they made people feel.

They will never consider the consequences their actions and words had. Never question that they were doing “the right thing”. Never stop to consider the impact of mindlessly, relentlessly parroting the narrative of the “greater good”.

They will simply go back to their lives, or turn their “greater good” narrative to the issue of the vaccines.

For those who have realised what it feels like to be a second class citizen, however, the feeling has yet to fade.

I am fortunate; being ostracised for a bare face was a temporary inconvenience. Those who are singled out for other attributes deemed “wrong” face a lifetime of hostility, judgement and abuse – to those people, I take my hat off.

Covid will pass. The masks will come off, DJ’s will return to nightclub decks, and hugging your mother will no longer be a criminal offence.

But there is a side of some people which has been exposed to the light, and for those they attack, life will never quite be the same again.

therenaissancewoman15

Beneath the Mask

5 July 2021 at 13:29

While I am as thrilled as anyone that the English Government plans to remove the mandatory face covering rule on the 19th July, the news also resulted in a catch in the back of my throat, and a strange wave of emotion, the rationale of which I was unable to really pinpoint until I had had some time to process the news.

I found myself on a popular internet forum, which was running a poll and discussion as to the efficacy of face coverings, and asking which participants were planning to continue to wear them after July 19th, and who was relieved to see the end of the mandatory masks. An overwhelming majority voted in favour of the latter, with comments celebrating the banishing of the “balaclava”, and others asserting their intention to burn their face coverings in some kind of ceremonial fire. While obviously it is promising that so many will be “daring to bare”, it also brought home a very stark reality. That most of these people did not believe that masks made a difference. Their willingness to throw away their protection even as cases rise belied their subconscious attitude towards “masking up”, whether they were consciously aware of this or not.

And yet these were the people shouting abuse at strangers last June, the day the mask mandate came into play, and not one second before.

These were the people filming unmasked shoppers in supermarkets, and uploading the footage to social media to allow everyone to vilify individuals.

These were the people who had hissed “murderer” every time I dared to enter the petrol station without a piece of cloth over my mouth. Who had made loud, public declarations that “people like that” should be held down and forced into a mask, should be banned from public places, should be publicly named and shamed.

These were the people who took their five year olds hand, knelt down to their level, and pointed directly at me, saying loudly to their innocent child “You see that lady there? She is a murderer because she isn’t wearing a mask. She’s a nasty, selfish person. Aren’t you glad you’re not like that?”

These were the people who were championing masks at each and every opportunity, who were claiming that they were “saving lives” and who took every chance they could to show hoe good and virtuous they were: primarily through their loud, public judgement of others.

Now, Our Leaders have declared that the masks can come off, and the nation is in celebration (more on the sinister nature of this statement later…)

And the majority of these people will toss away their masks into landfill on July 19th, and breathe a sight of relief (not to mention fresh air for the first time in over a year).

And they will never give a second thought to how they made people feel.

They will never consider the consequences their actions and words had. Never question that they were doing “the right thing”. Never stop to consider the impact of mindlessly, relentlessly parroting the narrative of the “greater good”.

They will simply go back to their lives, or turn their “greater good” narrative to the issue of the vaccines.

For those who have realised what it feels like to be a second class citizen, however, the feeling has yet to fade.

I am fortunate; being ostracised for a bare face was a temporary inconvenience. Those who are singled out for other attributes deemed “wrong” face a lifetime of hostility, judgement and abuse – to those people, I take my hat off.

Covid will pass. The masks will come off, DJ’s will return to nightclub decks, and hugging your mother will no longer be a criminal offence.

But there is a side of some people which has been exposed to the light, and for those they attack, life will never quite be the same again.

Musings On Easter

4 April 2021 at 05:35

So we all blinked, and suddenly the year turned into April, bringing with it actual real life sun, a dazzling landscape of daffodils, and the promise of new life everywhere you look. After the seemingly endless winter, I don’t think anyone could deny that this was a welcome and much needed relief.

As the days began to lengthen and the dark nights to withdraw, the world started, achingly slowly, to come back to life. We stepped tentatively from our houses, full of anxiety, uncertainty and fear of the unknown. The world we once knew seems a distant memory, and though reminders are around us, and growing stronger, many of us had changed at the very core.

Irreversibly? That remains to be seen.

Which brings me to musings on Easter.

Like so many, Easter crept up on me (despite supermarkets selling Mini Eggs on New Years Day), and gave me reason to reflect on the quarter milestone of the year.

Today is Easter Sunday. The celebration of the Resurrection. And this year, it holds greater significance than ever.

The world has changed beyond recognition. Our relationships are unrecognisable. Partner has turned against partner, brother has turned their back on sister, parent has been torn away from child. Distance has erupted, trust shattered, and perceptions warped.

Last week, a Good Friday church service was raided by an excessive number of police officers, all intent on delivering their own version of ‘justice’ – namely, a questionable interpretation of even more questionable laws and powers the Government have taken the liberty of imbuing themselves with in the name of ‘public safety.’ The service included workers who spend their days in close proximity, working for minimum wage – an allowance deemed acceptable in a way that worship was not.

In a way, we have all died a death over the last year.

And now, on Easter Sunday, as the world bursts into life around us, and we celebrate the stories and miracles handed down for thousands of years, perhaps we have the chance to enjoy a Resurrection.

To take our first steps back into the world. To question everything we have so obediently been taught – just as the Roman soldiers accepted the rumours about the man they were told had betrayed them. To fight against fear, oppression and control from those who have not been authorised to wield that power. To show love and compassion, even to those who have wronged us. And perhaps most importantly, to know in our hearts that we have tried our best to act with good intentions, love and kindness. To stand up for what is right.

As a famous headmaster once said: there will come a time, when we all have to choose between what is right, and what is easy.

So as we move forward on this Easter Sunday, it is important to be grateful for what we have. To be kind to those who have wronged us. And to be strong enough to fight for what is right.

Happy Easter

J

x

therenaissancewoman15

Musings On Easter

4 April 2021 at 05:35

So we all blinked, and suddenly the year turned into April, bringing with it actual real life sun, a dazzling landscape of daffodils, and the promise of new life everywhere you look. After the seemingly endless winter, I don’t think anyone could deny that this was a welcome and much needed relief.

As the days began to lengthen and the dark nights to withdraw, the world started, achingly slowly, to come back to life. We stepped tentatively from our houses, full of anxiety, uncertainty and fear of the unknown. The world we once knew seems a distant memory, and though reminders are around us, and growing stronger, many of us had changed at the very core.

Irreversibly? That remains to be seen.

Which brings me to musings on Easter.

Like so many, Easter crept up on me (despite supermarkets selling Mini Eggs on New Years Day), and gave me reason to reflect on the quarter milestone of the year.

Today is Easter Sunday. The celebration of the Resurrection. And this year, it holds greater significance than ever.

The world has changed beyond recognition. Our relationships are unrecognisable. Partner has turned against partner, brother has turned their back on sister, parent has been torn away from child. Distance has erupted, trust shattered, and perceptions warped.

Last week, a Good Friday church service was raided by an excessive number of police officers, all intent on delivering their own version of ‘justice’ – namely, a questionable interpretation of even more questionable laws and powers the Government have taken the liberty of imbuing themselves with in the name of ‘public safety.’ The service included workers who spend their days in close proximity, working for minimum wage – an allowance deemed acceptable in a way that worship was not.

In a way, we have all died a death over the last year.

And now, on Easter Sunday, as the world bursts into life around us, and we celebrate the stories and miracles handed down for thousands of years, perhaps we have the chance to enjoy a Resurrection.

To take our first steps back into the world. To question everything we have so obediently been taught – just as the Roman soldiers accepted the rumours about the man they were told had betrayed them. To fight against fear, oppression and control from those who have not been authorised to wield that power. To show love and compassion, even to those who have wronged us. And perhaps most importantly, to know in our hearts that we have tried our best to act with good intentions, love and kindness. To stand up for what is right.

As a famous headmaster once said: there will come a time, when we all have to choose between what is right, and what is easy.

So as we move forward on this Easter Sunday, it is important to be grateful for what we have. To be kind to those who have wronged us. And to be strong enough to fight for what is right.

Happy Easter

J

x

Gratitude

27 October 2020 at 15:21

Today, I walked in the rain.

I had to leave the house to run an essential errand at my uni, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to actually brush my hair, put on some mascara, and wear something with an actual shape. As I pulled into the carpark, the rain started. By the time I had filled in my details on the Parking app, it was torrential. Drops pelted the concrete frame of the carpark with such force, I could barely hear the conversation of my companion.

My first though? Oh for gods sake; my outfit is going to be ruined.

There were no two ways round it though; the errand was essential, and I was going to get soaked.

My bad mood continued all the way up the hill to campus, easing off slightly when I reached the gorgeous old buildings, greeting them like familiar friends after a long period of digital interaction and online learning. For the first time all year, I stood in front of the Great Hall and drank in the incredible Gothic revival architecture. The rain had made everything soft around the edges, and the majesty of the structure brought with it a sense of calm. This building had stood, unrelenting, for over 100 years. Inside the walls, students had laughed, cried, argued, celebrated and commiserated. As I passed through the heavy front doors, the unmistakable smell of old building and administration hit me with a jolt; so drastically different from my old home, who’s aroma of coffee, family life and gardening had become my norm over the last 8 months. My boots echoed on the stone floor, only to be muffled by the thick carpet, and the warmth of the room started to dry my soggy hair.

Once my responsibilities were taken care of, it was time to re-enter the great outdoors. As I hovered in the doorway, it became clear that the rain had increased in its fury, if that was even possible. Now though, it looked different.

As I headed back out to the open, I paused. The droplets were bouncing off the flagstone floor in front of me, each one a mixture of colours as they hit the light. I could feel the drops on my hair, each one distinct and unique; hitting the top of my head, and soaking down, reanimating the sodden strands which had taken a chance to dry off in their temporary reprieve.

Thats when I realised.

I was lucky to be able to feel the rain. To feel the biting October cold on my hands, turning my fingers numb. To turn my face up and feel each bead of rain hit my face. To feel the weight of my hair, heavy on my head.

I took a step. Then another, then another, until I reached the main road. All around me were people covering their faces, throwing up their hoods, hiding underneath files and folders and books. And all I wanted to do was laugh.

This year has been tough. We have been subjected to rules and regulations which are a direct contravention of our most basic rights; the right to free movement, to freedom of association and, increasingly, to freedom of speech. We have been told what to do every minute of every day, with relentless updates and briefings and rule changes and advice and guidance. Those with the power to do so have sought to control every aspect of our lives; where we go, when we go there, who we go with, what we do at home, who we speak to. In some cases, even the contents of our shopping trolley is cause for inspection and scrutiny.

But this, nobody could control.

The rain falls. The leaves fall. The wheel of the year continues to turn. No regulation or rule, Government or politician on Earth has the power to change that.

As the rain continued to pour, my jeans became sodden, my hair was ruined, and my carefully applied mascara was smeared across my face.

And all I felt was gratitude.

I was able to walk in the rain, feel it on my face, and breathe in fresh air. A freedom denied to so many for so long

If you can feel the rain, it means you are free.

And that is something none of us should ever take for granted again.

therenaissancewoman15

Gratitude

27 October 2020 at 15:21

Today, I walked in the rain.

I had to leave the house to run an essential errand at my uni, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to actually brush my hair, put on some mascara, and wear something with an actual shape. As I pulled into the carpark, the rain started. By the time I had filled in my details on the Parking app, it was torrential. Drops pelted the concrete frame of the carpark with such force, I could barely hear the conversation of my companion.

My first though? Oh for gods sake; my outfit is going to be ruined.

There were no two ways round it though; the errand was essential, and I was going to get soaked.

My bad mood continued all the way up the hill to campus, easing off slightly when I reached the gorgeous old buildings, greeting them like familiar friends after a long period of digital interaction and online learning. For the first time all year, I stood in front of the Great Hall and drank in the incredible Gothic revival architecture. The rain had made everything soft around the edges, and the majesty of the structure brought with it a sense of calm. This building had stood, unrelenting, for over 100 years. Inside the walls, students had laughed, cried, argued, celebrated and commiserated. As I passed through the heavy front doors, the unmistakable smell of old building and administration hit me with a jolt; so drastically different from my old home, who’s aroma of coffee, family life and gardening had become my norm over the last 8 months. My boots echoed on the stone floor, only to be muffled by the thick carpet, and the warmth of the room started to dry my soggy hair.

Once my responsibilities were taken care of, it was time to re-enter the great outdoors. As I hovered in the doorway, it became clear that the rain had increased in its fury, if that was even possible. Now though, it looked different.

As I headed back out to the open, I paused. The droplets were bouncing off the flagstone floor in front of me, each one a mixture of colours as they hit the light. I could feel the drops on my hair, each one distinct and unique; hitting the top of my head, and soaking down, reanimating the sodden strands which had taken a chance to dry off in their temporary reprieve.

Thats when I realised.

I was lucky to be able to feel the rain. To feel the biting October cold on my hands, turning my fingers numb. To turn my face up and feel each bead of rain hit my face. To feel the weight of my hair, heavy on my head.

I took a step. Then another, then another, until I reached the main road. All around me were people covering their faces, throwing up their hoods, hiding underneath files and folders and books. And all I wanted to do was laugh.

This year has been tough. We have been subjected to rules and regulations which are a direct contravention of our most basic rights; the right to free movement, to freedom of association and, increasingly, to freedom of speech. We have been told what to do every minute of every day, with relentless updates and briefings and rule changes and advice and guidance. Those with the power to do so have sought to control every aspect of our lives; where we go, when we go there, who we go with, what we do at home, who we speak to. In some cases, even the contents of our shopping trolley is cause for inspection and scrutiny.

But this, nobody could control.

The rain falls. The leaves fall. The wheel of the year continues to turn. No regulation or rule, Government or politician on Earth has the power to change that.

As the rain continued to pour, my jeans became sodden, my hair was ruined, and my carefully applied mascara was smeared across my face.

And all I felt was gratitude.

I was able to walk in the rain, feel it on my face, and breathe in fresh air. A freedom denied to so many for so long

If you can feel the rain, it means you are free.

And that is something none of us should ever take for granted again.

#gratitude, #october, #university

Desire

29 November 2019 at 15:05

And as she stood in the ashes of what was once her life, she took a moment to contemplate the steps which had brought her to this point. Surrounded by nothing but ruins, still smouldering from the fire, once magnificent structures torn down in a heartbeat by a force which was more than either of them could have hoped to control.

Desire.

Strange isn’t it? One decision is all it takes. It leads to an action. Which leads to a consequence. And so the whole cycle begins again. And all in the name of desire.

For what is desire, but yearning? And what is yearning, but an attempt to fill a void? A void of your own creation, carved into the deepest, darkest shadows of your soul. The old adage tells us that nature abhors a vacuum, and so it comes as no surprise that an attempt to fill said space with desire is only ever destined to end…

Well, like this.

Desire is a greedy beast. It consumes the mind, heart and soul at the expense of all else. Nothing is enough to satisfy until you achieve that peak of desire; but, like trying to scale a mountain in a blizzard, the summit is always just out of reach. Just a little more and you will be happy…but the result never arrives.

It is captivating. Intoxicating. All consuming.

She knew that now, as she stood, the taste of endings in her mouth like smoke after a house fire.

As all around her burned and died, she finally realised that the cause of her downfall had been that which she was chasing all alone.

Desire.

 

therenaissancewoman15

Polish Your Specs…

29 November 2019 at 07:21

All my life, I felt I was different.

That sounds like another tired cliché, but it is the only way to describe what I know.

I noticed details that everyone else overlooked, got fixated by information which everyone else discarded, and didn’t see the hype in the latest thing everyone else had to have.

I’m not saying this to play a ‘look at me I’m so special thing.’ I am special. We are all special. But feeling different doesn’t make you superior. In fact, it can be hella lonely.

In our busy, noisy world, you are defined by two things: what you earn, and what you have. We take pride in competitive tiredness and busy-ness – if someone proudly boasts that they worked a 40 hour week, there is an overwhelming urge to inform them that actually, you worked 45. If someone only got 3 hours sleep, there is an intrinsic need to beat them by proclaiming that you got 1 and a half.

You spend all your time working your arse off to buy your dream house…only to never enjoy it because you are spending your time working for things to put in it, to make sure you are not left behind. Or to buy a bigger house. Or a newer car. Or working yourself into the ground to pay off the mortgage 10 years early to then, and only then, can you enjoy life.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Life is happening now.

Trust me, I’ve heard all the excuses. “I’m too busy.” “I can’t afford to slow down.” “Bills need to be paid.” “My children need to eat.” “But I love my job!” They are all totally valid, and I’m not going to suggest that you quit your job, move to a gorgeous tropical island, and spend each moment of every day in reflection and meditation.

For most of us, idyllic as that would be, it just isn’t practical.

So we need to go within. To put on different glasses, and consider another view. Life is too short to do anything else.

Just because something has been the status quo forever, doesn’t mean it can’t change.

Don’t waste another day. Be brave, and put yourself first for once. Do something revolutionary.

Believe me, we have a lot of fun!

J x

 

therenaissancewoman15

Desire

29 November 2019 at 15:05

And as she stood in the ashes of what was once her life, she took a moment to contemplate the steps which had brought her to this point. Surrounded by nothing but ruins, still smouldering from the fire, once magnificent structures torn down in a heartbeat by a force which was more than either of them could have hoped to control.

Desire.

Strange isn’t it? One decision is all it takes. It leads to an action. Which leads to a consequence. And so the whole cycle begins again. And all in the name of desire.

For what is desire, but yearning? And what is yearning, but an attempt to fill a void? A void of your own creation, carved into the deepest, darkest shadows of your soul. The old adage tells us that nature abhors a vacuum, and so it comes as no surprise that an attempt to fill said space with desire is only ever destined to end…

Well, like this.

Desire is a greedy beast. It consumes the mind, heart and soul at the expense of all else. Nothing is enough to satisfy until you achieve that peak of desire; but, like trying to scale a mountain in a blizzard, the summit is always just out of reach. Just a little more and you will be happy…but the result never arrives.

It is captivating. Intoxicating. All consuming.

She knew that now, as she stood, the taste of endings in her mouth like smoke after a house fire.

As all around her burned and died, she finally realised that the cause of her downfall had been that which she was chasing all alone.

Desire.

 

Polish Your Specs…

29 November 2019 at 07:21

All my life, I felt I was different.

That sounds like another tired cliché, but it is the only way to describe what I know.

I noticed details that everyone else overlooked, got fixated by information which everyone else discarded, and didn’t see the hype in the latest thing everyone else had to have.

I’m not saying this to play a ‘look at me I’m so special thing.’ I am special. We are all special. But feeling different doesn’t make you superior. In fact, it can be hella lonely.

In our busy, noisy world, you are defined by two things: what you earn, and what you have. We take pride in competitive tiredness and busy-ness – if someone proudly boasts that they worked a 40 hour week, there is an overwhelming urge to inform them that actually, you worked 45. If someone only got 3 hours sleep, there is an intrinsic need to beat them by proclaiming that you got 1 and a half.

You spend all your time working your arse off to buy your dream house…only to never enjoy it because you are spending your time working for things to put in it, to make sure you are not left behind. Or to buy a bigger house. Or a newer car. Or working yourself into the ground to pay off the mortgage 10 years early to then, and only then, can you enjoy life.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Life is happening now.

Trust me, I’ve heard all the excuses. “I’m too busy.” “I can’t afford to slow down.” “Bills need to be paid.” “My children need to eat.” “But I love my job!” They are all totally valid, and I’m not going to suggest that you quit your job, move to a gorgeous tropical island, and spend each moment of every day in reflection and meditation.

For most of us, idyllic as that would be, it just isn’t practical.

So we need to go within. To put on different glasses, and consider another view. Life is too short to do anything else.

Just because something has been the status quo forever, doesn’t mean it can’t change.

Don’t waste another day. Be brave, and put yourself first for once. Do something revolutionary.

Believe me, we have a lot of fun!

J x

 

26 Things in 26 Years

14 September 2018 at 15:27

It’s funny. As a kid, you plan your birthday all year. You know exactly what you want to do (McDonalds party anyone!). You spend weeks ringing everything in the Argos catalogue and leaving it on the kitchen table in what your six year old mind believes is a truly subtle hint. You spend the days before whispering and giggling, feeling like some kind of queen as you make the final decision on who will be invited (to be honest, my birthdays were always my two best mates plus horses, but the discussion still needed to be had.)

Then you get older. You start ‘forgetting’ your birthday. You dodge the ‘how old will you be’ question, and mumble “Er..you know, twenty…er…”

A couple of years ago I spent my birthday with strangers. I had recently moved to a new city into a houseshare, with my new course starting on my birthday day. I didn’t know anyone, had no idea where I was, and was fully prepared to enjoy a low-key day with a couple of Facebook messages.

Those strangers changed my perspective on birthdays.

Having only met me the previous day, those wonderful, kindhearted strangers took the time and effort to give me an amazing birthday – we’re talking decorations, delicious breakfasts, beautiful cards, the lot. We were all busy that day – our course was starting early in the morning, we were all exhausted from moving in, and still in the very new, apprehensive stages of friendship. But they opened their hearts and their homes, and made me feel so incredibly welcome. I still well up when I think of that birthday, and the wonderful people who came into my life.

It made me realise. Like can be tough. Like, really tough. We’re all hectic and rushing about and always, always “too busy.” But we shouldn’t be. There is always time for others, and there should always be time for yourself.

As I sit here on the brink of another birthday, I am inevitably nostalgic. I wanted to share 26 of the things I have learned in 26 years on this wonderful planet.

  1. Strangers can be amazing people if you give them the chance, and can turn into wonderful friends – as seen by my story above.
  2. Whites and colours can be washed together – I give you colour catchers my beloved readers. Life is too short to be separating your knickers.
  3. Breathing is everything. When it all seems too much, take a few proper, deep breaths. Fill your lungs and let it all out. It’s amazing what that can solve.
  4. Same with tea. I have yet to find a situation which cannot be helped by tea and a biscuit. Maybe its the comforting routine, or the fact that tea is actually magic.
  5. Being kind is more important than being right (unless you’re dealing with a crazy homophobic facist dictator or similar).
  6. This too shall pass. When things are rough, it feels as though they will never change. But you know what? The wheel of the year keeps on turning, the planet keeps on spinning, and day always turns to night. Things will get better.
  7. A good skincare routine is everything – I use a cheap, basic moisturiser and it has changed my life (Astral if anyone is interested.) But I do it literally every day, twice a day. It’s my religion.
  8. Speaking of: it is not worth falling out over politics or religion. Tolerance and respect is everything.
  9. At the same time: don’t be a doormat. You know what is right and wrong. Stand up and fight like a goddamn alley cat for your beliefs.
  10. There is no shame in doing nothing – sometimes you just need a day to laze about, regroup and catch up with yourself. Life is busy.
  11. When all else fails, beans on toast will be there.
  12. Yoga. That is all. Everyone should do yoga all the time. That bus driver? Do yoga. Ninety five year old lady? Do yoga. Hench, six foot five body builder? Yeah, you do yoga too. Life changing.
  13. No-one is ever going to hand you the things you want, you have to go out and fight for them. Don’t waste time waiting.If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else. You don’t get to go back and rewrite scenes which have passed, you can only make the next one better.
  14. Talking on the phone is still terrifying. Email all the way.
  15. Never leave a room empty handed. Anyone who knows me knows I am chronically messy, but this helps me to keep some form of order, as does…
  16. Declutter. Seriously, I hate cleaning. As soon as I win the lottery I am hiring a cleaner (and paying them like £100 per hour, see my next point). I suddenly discovered a brilliant theory: the less stuff you own, the less you have to clean! I am still working on this, but I am now at a stage where most of the stuff I own, I absolutely love. As William Morris said: “Have nothing in your home which is neither beautiful or useful.”
  17. Be nice to everyone, from CEO to cleaner. I have done some seriously shitty jobs in my life (quite literally), and I have been treated by some customers like something I found on my shoe. Not cool. Just because someone has a six figure pay check as opposed to six pounds per hour, does not make them any less worthy of your time and respect. Some of the people who earn the least work the hardest (#givecarersapayrise.)
  18. Money is just energy. This is something I’m really working on, but it does help. It’s not real, its an invented medium which we use to exchange for goods and services. Most of the money in banks isn’t even really there. Yes, we need it, but it is NOT the most important thing in life. Time is precious; don’t waste it trying to earn another pay rise.
  19. It’s ok to say no. You matter. Being a yes man just sucks your energy from your core, and means you do everything half heartedly, instead of what you love one hundred percent.
  20. Planes are absolutely freezing. Wear layers. Also, take your shoes off BEFORE you get to security, and don’t wear the entire contents of your jewellery box.
  21. Education is a precious thing, and should be respected. Never ever be ashamed of trying to learn, of asking a question, of being interested. I read an amazing comment which has stuck with me: “Never mock someone who pronounces a word wrong. It means they learned it by reading.” Don’t dumb yourself down; we all have amazing potential if we allow ourselves.
  22. In your bag, always carry a portable phone charger, wet wipes, sanitary protection, a pen and spare hair bobbles. You never know when you might be a strangers saviour.
  23. Take photos. I know, I know, we live in a society saturated by social media. But seriously, take photos and videos. I have had some amazing experiences unearthing old videos, and hearing the voices of those who have long left this earth. Placing photos of my siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles side by side and exclaiming at the resemblance. Asking my granddads photo for advice. Smiling as I remember a forgotten day at a theme park with old friends. Take photos.
  24. Go with the flow. What’s for you shall not pass you by. People come and go, in and out of your life for a reason. Yes, sometimes it hurts like hell, but realistically, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it. Fight like hell for the things you can change, and release anything which no longer serves you.
  25. You are a precious, unique human. On a planet of 7 billion, there is NO ONE else like you, and that is your superpower. You are a totally unique cluster of cells and processes and thoughts and dreams. You also have far more power than you think you do, so use it wisely, and do good with your badass self.
  26. It is none of your business what other people think of you. You can’t change other people, so just try to be the best you. Apologise when you are wrong, and ask how you can make it better. Cry if you’re sad or happy, and enjoy the feeling of being alive. Ask questions, roll in leaves, throw snowballs, play with your dog, answer a childs questions, eat the pizza, do the extra round of shots (not always the best idea…) Just be one hundred percent, unapologetically you, and see what happens. (Obviously the law applies here: “And it harm none, do what ye will.”
  27. (Just because its crucial). Animals are amazing. Protect them, respect them and love them. They are superior to us in every way.

See you on the other side folks,

J x

therenaissancewoman15

It’s OK not to be OK

28 August 2018 at 13:05

Hey my lovelies!

So here we are at the tail end of summer. There have been triumphs and tears, sunshine and sandcastles, and all those oh so nears…(may STILL be channelling my inner Baddiel and Skinner and in denial over the footie result…)

The evenings are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in. Kids are heading back to school and thoughts are already turning to the C word.

In many ways, this is my favourite time of year; cosy evenings in front of the TV, hot chocolate at every opportunity, and an excuse to shave my legs as rarely as I can get away with (an I’m single, so it’s a lot.)

The other side of the coin however, is that encroaching darkness defiantly takes a toll on my mental health. It’s been a bit of a rubbish week in that department, and I know I am far from alone. I wanted to share my top tips for self care when your mood tips from sunny to grey, or when you feel the dreaded black dog hovering overhead…

  1. Get outside

It may seem the last thing you feel like doing, but getting some fresh air and vitamin D can help to boost your mood, and blow out the cobwebs. Wrap up warm and crunch through the autumn leaves, make the most of the last warm days, let the wind blow through your hair and just take a moment to appreciate Mother Nature.

2. Be selfish

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is put yourself first. Whilst socialising and keeping in contact with your nearest and dearest is hugely important for your mental health, sometimes you need to step away and spend some time with yourself. You don’t have to say YES to absolutely everything: if you need some you time, don’t be afraid to take it. Just make sure you don’t tip too far over the edge and isolate yourself.

3. Find a distraction

When I’m having a bad day, there are a few go-to’s which I can pull out. Yoga is a massive help, and I have talked a lot about the benefits it can have here. I also love to draw (or scribble like a madwoman as the mood takes me), play music or get lost in a good book. Whatever your therapy, it can lift you out of a black mood.

4. Treat yourself like your date.

Consider the words you are using to yourself. Would you let your brother, sister, significant other or best friend talk about themselves like that?  Hell no! Treat yourself like you love yourself. Take a long, hot shower or bath, and use all of those products you were saving for a special occasion. Wear an outfit you feel amazing in, or one which is insanely comfortable. Eat your favourite food, drink the good wine, and talk to yourself like you would a loved one. Trust me, it helps.

5. Don’t take things personally

This is easier said than done I know. But one of my favourite manta’s is “It is none of your business what other people think of you.” When you are in a down phase, it is easy to assume that every barbed comment is about you. That person who isn’t texting you back? It MUST be because they hate you, not because they’re working/sleeping/studying. Why did that girl glare at you in the shop? Does she hate you. Stop. Take a breath. Every single person has their own shit going on, and 99% of the time, their bad behaviour isn’t about you. The 1% of the time it is, you call them out because you are too fabulous for that.

And finally, if all else fails, find an animal (preferably one you know, don’t be stealing random puppies from strangers) and give it a big hug. Animals are magic you see.

 

Hope everyone finds their therapy

Speak soon

J x

therenaissancewoman15

Football IS coming home

12 July 2018 at 08:08

We still believe…

Once upon a time, on a tiny damp island called England, something magical happened.

The nation was divided, with people arguing over Brexit, clashes between governments, and arguments in household over whether Love Island is the best creation ever invented, or a pile of sexist, dated tripe which needs to be destroyed and thrown into the sea and never seen again (I’ll leave you to guess which team I’m on).

Then one day, many many miles away, a group of men whom most of us had never met won a football match. And the people of England gathered round their televisions, bedecked in red and white from head to toe. Some drank beer, some cider. Some were Man United fans, others would die for Chelsea. Some were Remainers, others staunch Brexiteers. But for those 90 minutes, none of that mattered. Everyone was rooting for the team from that damp little island to do well, and at least get out of the group stages and not make us an international laughing stock (can you tell we usually don’t do overly well?)

Tears, beers and lots of bad language. Eyes were covered, hands were waved, and flags flown proudly.

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Contrary to our expectations, we carried on doing rather well. The team were the youngest squad in the tournament, and played quietly and determinedly, with none of the usual scandal or drama which tend to follow the team around. In a shock twist, they were making headlines for their football, not their disappointments. And the people of the damp little island started to hold their breath slightly, hardly daring to hope.

It wouldn’t be England playing if they didn’t stress the hell out of all of us and make it almost painful to watch. They pushed us to the limits when playing Columbia, allowing an equaliser in extra time to create an additional 30 minute of play. Fans around the country begged the Lions to put one in the net, whether by fluke or talent, anything to prevent us from heading to the next stage: penalties, and the inevitable defeat which would follow.

We don’t have a very good track record when it comes to penalties you see (disclaimer: this is a SLIGHT understatement).

To our frustration, extra time finished on an equaliser, and as the commentator announced that we would be going to penalties, fans around the world started saying how good it was while it lasted, how at least we got this far, how there was always 2022.

Then something miraculous happened. England pulled it out of the bag, and they won. On penalties. For the first time EVER.

And the country went absolutely apeshit.

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And for the first time in a very long time, England had something we have been lacking for a long time: hope.

This country has been through the mill over the last few years. It seems the papers are hitting us daily with devastating news: tragic and senseless acts of terrorism. Brexit. An increasing murder rate in London. We haven’t had much to look forward to. All of these elements, coupled with the fact that we are regularly booted from international sporting tournaments pretty rapidly, meant that no-one had much faith in the team.

The match with Columbia changed all that.

Suddenly, people dared to hope. They started to believe. England had done the unthinkable, shaken off their preconceptions and stigma, and achieved a stunning victory.

Even Southgate cracked a smile.

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World Cup fever was everywhere, with people proud to fly the flag, to wear the shirt, to support the team. ‘Our lads’ were a hot topic of conversation, and it seemed it might truly be possible. Everton fans were civil to Liverpool fan, and Manchester city was united (excuse the pun) for a few brief weeks. We flew through the quarter finals, and for the first time in years, made it to a World Cup semi final.

We didn’t win. We didn’t quite bring it home. But you know what? I’m not sure the trophy matters.

One of my strongest memories from that match wasn’t Kieren Trippier’s stunning goal four minutes in (though I was sobbing just as loudly as anyone when that happened.) It wasn’t even the agony of realising that Croatia’s second goal had hit home. It is of three England players surrounding a fallen Croation, and Dele Alli standing over him, offering a hand up. Croatia were 2-0 up at this point. We had hope, but we weren’t born yesterday; we knew there was a chance it was all over. The players themselves must have been feeling the same, yet they acted like gentlemen on the world stage, and conducted themselves with incredible dignity. I’m not saying they were perfect; there were eyebrows raised and questionable tactics on both sides (I wont go into detail about the conduct of Croatia: all I’ll say is we all watched the match.) This, for me, was one of the stand out moments of the whole tournament: young lads, under the most immense pressure, acting like decent human beings.

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The whistle went, and Croatia flooded the pitch in ecstasy. All around me, grown men were sobbing. Then the camera panned to the devastated members of the England squad,and instead of the expected jeers, boos and insults, a lone voice in the crowded pub shouted “We’re proud of you lads!” This chant was taken up, and the atmosphere was one of gratitude, respect, and incredible appreciation for making it as far as we did. The comments today were full of praise for the squad, and a confidence that we can only get better, smash the Euros, and try again at Quatar. This is only the beginning of our journey.

Someone said to me that “it’s only a game.” But this World Cup was more than that for England. Gareth Southgate and his boys brought a love of football home. They brought belief and strength to a jaded, tired nation, and united the entire country with their tireless effort. They showed that it is possible to overcome even the biggest hurdles with the right mindset: England can even win a penalty shootout with the right team, belief and support. They showed that you can take on the challengers and doubters who oppose you: and win. They proved that even in times of heartbreak, you can reach out a hand to an enemy, and show compassion. They brought home all the best aspects of football, and united the country unlike anything I have ever seen.

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So boys, you may have lost the match, but I would argue that you definitely brought it home. The lessons learned this summer are more important than the trophy, and I want to thank you for creating something magical. Can’t wait for the Euros, and out next shot at the glory.

Now lets smash it on Saturday, let those lions roar, and take home the bronze.

We still believe

J x

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therenaissancewoman15

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Take a Breath

20 June 2018 at 14:00

Hey lovely people!

It’s been a while, and I feel as though my feet haven’t stopped moving for the last few weeks – lots of exciting things happening!

This week I took some important time out, just to chill. Instead of looking to exotic destinations, I decided to make the most of the town I live in, and it proved that sometimes there can be hidden treasures just around the corner, if we take the time to look. Take a moment to take a moment.

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It’s a pretty good metaphor for life really. So often we spend our time waiting for the next thing. “When I’ve paid this debt. When I’m 2 stone lighter. When I’ve got a house. When I get that job…” but once we have those things, we still aren’t satisfied. Instead of looking at what is in front of us, we continue searching for the next thing which makes us happy, then the next, then the next. It sounds like a cliche, but we are so focused on the destination, we refuse to look at the journey,.

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I’m just as bad in this; I’ve spent the last few months playing the “but when” game. “But when I get into graduate school, things will improve…but when I get this client, things will be easier.. but when I earn x amount a month, I can do this…”

Sometimes its easy to get so carried away with what isn’t, what might be, and what might never happen, that we risk losing all sense of what is.

By taking time to re-walk the paths right on my doorstep, I noticed new tracks, spots of breathtaking beauty, and scenes I have never before noticed.  I saw the familiar around me in a whole new way, and exploring that which I know gave a brand new sense of perspective.

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I guess the message here is that life is busy, hectic, and constantly moving. We don’t have time to take a moment, to catch a breath, to admire the view. Which is exactly why is is so important we do that.  Stop searching for what else is out there, and take the time to admire and appreciate that which is right in front of you. There is beauty t o be found int the most unexpected places.

Take a moment to take a moment. Breathe. And live in it.

More to come!

Speak soon,

J x

therenaissancewoman15

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New Moon in Taurus

14 May 2018 at 17:16

Hello my lovelies, it’s that wonderful time again: New Moon!

The New Moon this month is in Taurus, and is a time for change and new starts. Although the New Moon is always a time for fresh beginnings, the inclusion of Taurus means that this is the ideal time to set goals and start new challenges.

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Taurus is all about stability and security, especially around finances, family and the home, and so you can be confident that any changes are happening for your greater good, and will have a positive end result. Uranus moves into Taurus on the 15th May, bringing with it a powerful energetic shift which you can harness and use to your advantage!

Many of us look externally for security;  a nice home, good wages and a nice car. All of these things are nice and important (I’ve been hankering for a new Audi for longer than I care to admit,) but it is important to remember that true security comes from within. When you start to accept yourself internally, warts and all, your sense of security shifts, and this has a recognisable impact on your surroundings. How to gain this inner stability?

Accept that everything changes.

Sounds counterproductive right? Finding stability by accepting change? I’ve finally lost the plot.

Except I haven’t.

Once you accept that everything changes and that nothin is permanent, once you stop taking change personally, you regain control over your mojo.

The world changes. People are born and die, in every town and city and country and era of history. the only thing constant is change.

Benjamin Franklin told us that the only certainty in life is death and taxes. Whilst he was correct in his wonderful cynicism, he forgot one other certainty: change.

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When a surfer approaches a hairy looking wave, they don’t suddenly turn away and try to avoid it: doing so would be stupid at best, dangerous at worst. They ride it out.

A tree in the middle of a field which becomes a housing estate which becomes a city doesn’t cease to shed its leaves, stand bare, grow new life and turn golden year after year. It carries on the cycle, going with the changes which surround it.

The tide doesn’t change just because the world does, or the coastline erodes, or the beach becomes polluted. For millions of years, the tide has continued to ebb and flow in its natural rhythm, and it will continue for millions of years after humans are a distant memory of the Universe.

Once we learn to accept this change, to ride the wave, to adapt seamlessly to the constant world around us, we can harness the power, and that is a bonus of this New Moon.

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Taurus is about finding stability and security, and a New Moon promises change. Reconciling these two aspects is tricky, but doing so can have a profound impact on your life. Start small. Notice your thoughts. How are you responding to a situation? Are you resisting it? Will resisting change anything? Is there anything you can do? By simply observing what you are thinking, feeling and responding, you are gaining power, and learning to let go just a little more.

We have no control over the things which happen to us; we can only control the way in which we react to them.

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So this New Moon, and thereafter, catch a wave. Go with the flow. And see what happens.

Stay wild moon child,

J x

therenaissancewoman15

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New project!

12 May 2018 at 06:51

Hello lovely people!

I know I have somewhat neglected my wonderful followers lately, but I have been working hard on a new side project…

Ta da! (Wish I could have big dramatic music or at least a drumroll…)

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My new site, JHM Media is now officially live!

Whether you are a regular blogger, just starting out, or need copy for your business, I offer a full, comprehensive service to meet all of your writing needs. Blog management, social media connections, CV management…drop me a line with your requirements and I will do my best to help.

 

This doesn’t mean I am abandoning my blog, just branching out a bit. Because growth is good apparently.

Much love to you all, I’ll update properly very soon!

In the meantime (blatant plug here), please do check out the site and let me know what you think! http://www.jhmmedia.com

Adios and love,

J x

therenaissancewoman15

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More than Mind

15 April 2018 at 09:43

My dear readers, I have been absent from blogging and writing for far longer than I am comfortable with. Life got a bit crazy (read abso-bloody-lutely awful) and I lost faith and interest in everything, reduced to simply going through the motions day by day, waiting for something to happen. Yesterday I reached rock bottom, had an avalanche of rejections and bad news, and dealt with it like an adult by hiding in my bed and having a cry about how crap my life was.

Then something hit me.

Lying in bed crying about how the Universe hated me made me feel better for about ten seconds. Then I just felt sorry for myself, had a blocked nose, and looked like crap, which made me feel worse (like Helen from Bridesmaids, I am definitely an ugly crier). It didn’t actually change my situation. It didn’t magic a job opportunity into my lap. Or a one way plane ticket. Or even the winning lottery numbers. It didn’t get rid of my hideous bosses or screechy customers, it didn’t make my workplace treat me like a human being, and it didn’t make anyone appreciate me more. I wasn’t suddenly chilling on a beach in Thailand, riding through a sunlit forest or having the freedom to run my own life.

It achieved absolutely nothing.

And that’s when I had a second wave of realisation.

(This all sounds very profound but in reality I was hiding under the duvet with birds nest hair and snotting all over the place: transformation is not as glamorous as it seems)

I had zero control over the things which were happening to me. I couldn’t make people respond to my emails with Yes’s. I couldn’t magic up my dream job just because I want it. I couldn’t help the way customers and colleagues treated me. I had (and still have) absolutely no power over any of these things.

I do, however, have absolute power over my reactions.

I can choose whether to stay in bed and cry and wreck my very nice overpriced (but oh so with it) Egyptian cotton pillowcases with mascara.

Or I can put on my big girl pants and deal.

We are more than our minds.

The only thing we have total control over is our mindset, and our response to situations. Once we know this, we get our power back.

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Now trust me, I know this is easier said than done. I can hear you right now, arguing, “Oh it’s easy for you to say! I’ve got x,y and z going on!” I’ve been there, I am anxiety’s bitch more than I’d care to admit. And I’m not saying its easy. Nothing worth doing is easy, according to dear old Teddy Roosevelt. And that sucks, I agree. But it is what it is. And that’s exactly the crux of what I’m saying.

On occasion, life sucks beyond the telling of it (thanks Buffy, you do good quotes.)

You have power, even when you feel powerless. You can help yourself even when you are helpless. The way you respond can make or break everything.

Think of it hypothetically. You and a loved one are having a nice time. You’re chilled, having a laugh, all in a good place and it looks set to continue. Then they do or say something that gets right on your nerves, sets your teeth on edge, and you go to kick off. You snap, they snap back, one of you storms off, and that lovely day you were having is ruined until someone apologises and you move on. Or, you could look at the bigger picture. Does what they’re doing really matter? Will you remember it in 6 months? Or can you choose to let it go, accept it as one of their irritating quirks, and carry on having a nice day?

Your choice.

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Obviously I’m not trying to minimise other people’s crappy behaviour. If someone is way out of line, you need to tell them off. But this is also part of it: own your power. Be assertive. If someone is treating you like a doormat, you can choose how to respond to that.

In that moment, you have a choice.

This feels like it’s escalating into a power ballad, so I’m going to wrap it up there. This is something I will definitely be returning to, but I just wanted to dip your toes into it whilst I remember how to write again.

Mindset can be everything, and you are the only one with the power to use it.

Deep stuff. Go and eat some ice cream to digest (Ben & Jerry’s now do vegan ice cream, so the world is a good place.)

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(This is not Ben & Jerry’s, but it IS Northern Irish ice cream, which may be even better.)

Thanks and love and stuff

J x

therenaissancewoman15

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What is Anxiety?

7 March 2018 at 14:42

According to the NHS website, Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Just a feeling of unease, like nerves or uncertainty. Just a niggling worry, an underlying fear. Something easy to deal with, to brush off. Take some deep breaths, pop a Xanax and get on with it. Keep calm and carry on.

If only it was that easy.

What about all the things that definition fails to tell you about anxiety?

Anxiety is walking into your favourite shop, only to immediately have to leave because you think you’re going to throw up.

It’s automatically looking for the exit whenever you enter a room, and positioning yourself at the edge of a crowd, to allow you to bet to safety when you need to.

It’s overreacting at the tiniest, most insignificant things (my personal favourite recently was a full on breakdown over a toothbrush), because you start panicking about absolutely nothing.

Anxiety is cancelling the plans you were desperate to attend, turning your phone on silent, and sitting in your room because you’re too scared to leave the house.

It’s being late to work, meetings and appointments, and putting up with disapproval or warnings because you’re too embarrassed to admit you couldn’t leave the house.

It’s switching from chill and relaxed to sweaty palms, pounding heart, and the overwhelming feeling that some has put your chest in a vice and is squeezing, to the point you’re convinced you’re dying.

It’s replaying conversations, scenarios, messages and looks over and over and over in your head, overthinking every glance, nuance and suggestion, seeing the bad in everything.

Anxiety is having people you thought understood telling you to simply take a pill, man up and get over it.

It’s isolating yourself from those you love, because even you don’t understand your feelings.

It’s a sense of inadequacy, overwhelming self doubt, negativity, and the assumption that things won’t ever be better.

It’s a ‘glamourous’ illness, appropriated by everyone who has ever had butterflies, and turns us into drama queens and overreactors.

Anxiety is a battle. But it’s not the war.

It’s overcoming adversity. It’s facing situations you thought you never could. It’s being in tune with your own thoughts, feelings, emotions and mind. It’s finding strength from deep inside yourself. It’s finding out who you really have on your side.

Anxiety is a battle. But it’s definitely not the war.

Stay strong,

Namaste.

J x

therenaissancewoman15

“It’s Not Supposed to be Easy!”

15 February 2018 at 10:57

My dear followers, I am writing here in order to make myself accountable. Lent has begun, and will end on March 29th. This is a period in the Christian church which involves giving up something you enjoy; traditionally, alcohol or meat. Now I’m already a vegetarian, and I don’t really tend t drink enough for it to be a sacrifice. The one thing I do love, however, is chocolate.

Guess what I’ve given up for Lent?

I don’t know if I’m particularly religious. I’m baptised, and I am defiantly a big believer in there being SOMETHING out there. I’m just still in the process of figuring out what it is and what to call it. But more on that later.

For me, Lent is not only a traditional fast for 40 days. It is a challenge, a commitment and a period of sacrifice to reflect and think. If I can do it, I will be so proud of myself because it shows I can set a goal and stick to it despite MASSIVE temptation (Lindt Easter chocolate in EVERY shop anyone???) I think it does us good as humans to take a break from indulgences and luxuries we enjoy every now and again, as a sort of personal challenge and goal. In a world where we can access pretty much what we want whenever we want, it is interesting to see how strong we actually are when put to the test.

I’m not a saint, so we shall see. Putting it on here makes me feel like I have more accountability for it; I have made a public statement, and promise to do my best to stick to it!

Namaste,

J x

therenaissancewoman15

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