24 Life Lessons In 24 Years

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Life is full of lessons. Some of them we learn early on in our lives whilst others take a certain amount of time, a varied amount of experiences or many mistakes to accomplish. During my twenty-four years of life I have realised that there is still so much to learn about this crazy thing we call life. However, I can also confidently say I have already starting to create a long list of lessons that I have already learned and will continue to use throughout my life.

1. Life is too short to be unhappy.
If you are unhappy with something in your life, it doesn’t matter if it is a relationship, a job or even the place you live, change it. One day, you will look back on your life and realise you wasted a lot of time doing things that you don’t enjoy. Only create space in your life for the things that matter and the things that make you happy.

2. Travel if you can
Now I haven’t even started on my long list of places I want to travel to around the world but external circumstances have prevented me from doing so. Once I am able, I will travel to India, Thailand, Spain, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, New York and all of the other amazing places on my list. Despite the lack of funds in the last few years, I still managed to visit Dublin, Edinburgh and Vienna. I can’t wait to travel the world with the one I love and one day it will, I just know it.

3. Surround yourself with the right people
This is an important one. I have had many people leave my life as quick as they entered it because I didn’t want to be surrounded by negative people. It’s hard to push away family members or friends but if they don’t support, respect and love you in the way they should, you will be better off without them. Your happiness comes first. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not tear you down.

4. Believe in the impossible
Remember when you were five and you believed that the moon was made of cheese and fairies really did live at the bottom of your garden? Who says you still can’t believe what you want to believe? When we grow up and become adults, we kill this part of our brains. We start to only believe what other people tell us to believe and we no longer have our own individual beliefs. I believe in mermaids, magic and aliens. Laugh at me all you want, say I’m acting like a child or that I need to grow up but it’s what I believe. I want to believe in a world where anything is possible, this mentality definitely helps me make decisions in my everyday life.

5. You only get one body, look after it
I sometimes reach for the doughnut instead of the apple and I really should go to more than one exercise class a week but I never give up on trying to live a healthier life. I want to be fit and healthy, not to look good but to really take care of my body. As the years pass and I get older, I’m starting to realise the importance of looking after myself physically. It may take me a while to reach my goal of eating healthy and exercising three times a week, but I’ll get there.

6. Don’t neglect your mental health
I have had many issues with my mental health in the past few years and I know how hard it is to accept the fact that you might need help. But your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. I’m never going to get rid of my anxiety disorder, it’s part of me. I just have to hope that in time, I learn new ways to manage it. I now know the signs to look for when it’s time to seek help from others.

7. Learn to laugh
Life can feel pretty serious when you’re an adult. Bills, work, families and money. It’s an endless stream of stress and responsibility. It’s easy to get caught up in it but don’t forget to smile. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Pull funny faces. Learn to have fun and really enjoy yourself.

8. A good cup of tea can solve most things
Bad day at work? Cup of tea. Problems with your family? Cup of tea. Feeling a little unwell? Cup of tea. Now, I know there is no magic in a cup of tea but it somehow makes you feel better. It feels comforting to hold a hot mug of tea when you are tired, stressed or sad. Look for the smaller things in life that bring you comfort.

9. Find time in your life for peace
It’s a hectic life and sometimes we forget to be still and enjoy some real alone time. Meditating has been life-changing for me. Whenever everything starts to build up, a few moments of meditation can bring me back to earth, make me calm and in control again. You don’t have to meditate to find peace in your day, read a book, have a long bubble bath or do some yoga.

10. Set yourself goals and work hard everyday to reach them
It’s important to set yourself goals in life, it gives you something to focus on and work towards. I like to set myself big dreams that will take years of hard work to achieve but I also give myself mini goals every day. It could be something simple such as: exercise twice a week, eat three portions of fruit a day or read more books. Goals and dreams are the foundations of a good life. Never lose your ambition, you are never too old to dream a new dream or learn something new. Remember that failure is a big part of success and if you do fail, pick yourself up and start again.

11. Find the beauty in life
It’s easy to race through life without noticing the small and beautiful things that happen every single day. No matter how bad my day is, I try my best to take a moment to appreciate my beautiful surroundings. Enjoy the colour of the sky, the trees, flowers, sunrises and sunsets.

12. A negative attitude will give a negative life
I have struggled with a negative mindset for most of my life. It’s hard to think positive and see the good in every situation, it’s taken me years or practice and sometimes no matter how hard I try, negativity wins. I try to surround myself with positive people, positive messages and regularly watch inspiring videos and listen to inspiring speeches to lift me up when I’m feeling down.

13. Don’t compare yourself to others
One of the many negative ideas that social media presents us with is that other people lead perfect lives. People only share the good moments in their lives and when your newsfeed is bombarded with happy families, holiday snaps and promotions, it can make you feel bitter about the lack of stability or progression in your own life. I have experienced this many times but I am learning to focus on myself and ignore everything I see on Facebook.

14. Love is happiness
Love is the most beautiful thing in this life. When the perfect person walks into your life, cherish them and tell them you love them every single day. I met the love of my life and my best friend when I was just eight years old. Years later we started dating and we’ve been together even since. Every day we tell each other how much we love one another and I never take him for granted. There are so many forms of love in life: relationships, friendships, family. Grab every opportunity to love and to be loved.

15. Don’t live with regrets
You don’t want to reach the end of your life and look back at all of the things you wish you had done with your time. Regret nothing. Always do what you want to do. Ignore what other people think and embrace your authentic self. Life is far too short to be hesitant. Do whatever it takes to be happy and successful, your future self will thank you for it.

16. Always learn something new
Education doesn’t end when you take off your school uniform. Life is a classroom, never stop learning and always encourage yourself to try something new. Travel the world, learn new languages, learn to paint and draw, learn to play the trumpet or the guitar, buy some books and learn about Greek mythology or Astrology. You’ll never know whether you’ll like something until you try it.

17. Not everyone in life is going to like you and that’s okay
You can’t please everyone, no mater how hard you try. I have this uncontrollable need to please people and sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone in this life is going to like me and I have to accept that. Not everyone will have the same heart as me, I’ve come across many selfish and narcissistic people in my life that don’t see the world the same way that I do. We’re not all the same, that’s what makes life interesting. Just remind yourself that if people don’t like you, that’s their problem, not yours.

18. Plans don’t always work out
Life is unpredictable. I have learned to accept that things don’t always go my way. Unexpected things happen that I have no control over, the best thing to do when this happens is to deal with it and learn from the experience. Sometimes things happen for a reason and failure leads you to another path to success. I learnt that after years of rejection, that I was chasing the wrong dream, picking the wrong career for myself. This experience lead me to discover my passion for teaching.

19. Stand up for what you believe in
When we’re young, we think that our voice doesn’t matter and what we have to say is invalid because of our lack of life experience, this isn’t true. If you have a strong opinion about something, speak loud and proud. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t let anyone make you feel inferior. Be yourself and never let anyone negatively influence your faith, your opinions or your perspective on life.

20. Learn to forgive others and yourself
A lesson I have definitely learned in the last few years is that forgiveness never comes easy. Holding onto poisonous emotions such as hate, anger and resentment can send you spiralling down a road of unhappiness. As well as learning to forgive others for the way they have mistreated us, we must also learn in this life to forgive ourselves and be at peace with our past mistakes.

21. Enjoy the journey
It’s so easy to live in the past or focus on the future but if you don’t live in the moment, you miss all the wonderful things that are happening in your life. It’s good to focus on your big dreams and goals but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. I am learning that giving myself a few moments during the day to take a deep cleansing breath and allow myself to be in the present moment really helps me to focus on the journey, rather than the destination.

22. Believe in yourself, no matter what
If you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody will. People will treat you based on what you think about yourself. If you have no confidence in your abilities to succeed, then no one will give you the opportunity to reach your full potential. If you don’t believe that you are worthy of a good and happy life, then you will never achieve one.

23. Good things take time
I’ve learned in the last few years that good things take time and that patience really is a virtue. It’s frustrating when you life isn’t going the way you planned or the goals you want to achieve are still our of reach. However, timing is everything. Sometimes things happen for a reason and we are actually where we need to be, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I have to admit, it has taken me a long time to accept that the timeline of my life isn’t going to be how I imagined it. But I have to trust myself and know that if I want something badly enough, it will happen.

24. Gratitude is the key to happiness
When you don’t have a lot in life, it’s easy to feel bitter about it and shout from the rooftops that ‘life isn’t fair.’ However, there are a lot of things to be thankful for in your life; having a home, a wardrobe full of clothes, fresh food and clean water. If you think of a three things you are grateful for every day, it will enrich your life and bring you more happiness. The more you express your gratitude, the more things you will have to be grateful for. I believe in the law of attraction, that it is up to us what we choose to focus our attention on, think of the negatives and you will life a negative life. Choose positivity!

 

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Teacher Training Diaries: Summer Preparation.

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I have decided to start a series of blog posts about my experience on my teacher training course, which begins in September. It will be submitted as evidence of my progress, a reflection of my pedagogy as a trainee teacher and a perspective of my journey from PGCE to NQT.

It is four weeks until my course begins. My summer preparations include: taking as much time as possible to relax before the craziness starts, reading up on the national curriculum and familiarising myself particularly with KS1 (as this is my main school placement), learning about phonics and all the jargon that goes alongside it and doing a short course online provided by the university to remind myself of the academic writing standards and referencing systems.

I am training to become a primary school teacher through the school direct route. What this means is that I learn all of the practical aspects of being a teacher in a chosen school and two days a week, I complete the academic side of the course, the PGCE, with a university.

I decided to do this route because I wanted the hands-on approach to learning. It’s been three years since I graduated university and I didn’t want to begin my training by returning to a lecture hall. I wanted to observe, be in the classroom environment and see every side to teaching, the good and the bad. I have one years experience as a Teaching Assistant, but I doubt it will prepare me fully for how difficult it is to be a teacher.

I feel a mixture of nervousness and excitement as September approaches. My biggest worries are my overall confidence in the classroom, managing behaviour and juggling the academic side with the practical aspect of the course. Luckily, I am one of those organised-obsessed-colour-coding-highlighting-everything kind of people, so I will have no problem with staying organised. I am good at managing my time and creating to-do lists is second nature to me. I also think the reflection part of the course will be naturally easier for me, as the basis of my Creative Writing degree was learning to reflect on yourself and your writing. The only difference is, I will be reflecting not on my writing, but my teaching practice.

The next blog post will probably be after my first week on the teacher training course. I can only guess that I will probably be exhausted, I will be running on caffeine and adrenaline and I’m sure I will be feeling overwhelmed but excited about the year ahead. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

Writer’s Block Or Life Block?

typewriterrrr.jpgI was reading Writing Magazine a few days ago and came across an article about writer’s block. It’s something I have always struggled with. I go through phases of no writing at all and I always blame it on writer’s block, I either have too many ideas and can’t seem to pick one or unfortunately, sometimes, I have no ideas at all.

I’m sure all writer’s can relate to this, the ongoing struggle to get the beautiful poetic voice in your head to somehow find its way to the page, to find the right words and put them in the right order and to finally turn an idea into an actual story. However, I’m starting to realize, after reading this article mainly, that it may not be writer’s block.

Every writer has their ‘perfect mood’ to write. Some wait until the world is falling apart around them to finally get a poem on the page and some have to be in a happy state of mind to even consider putting pen to paper. I am the latter. I’ve been through a lot of personal struggles and during this time, I haven’t been writing. Now I feel I am moving away from the shadows and finally feel myself again, I want to write.

Strange isn’t it? Maybe I was intentionally choosing to let life block my writing muse? The events of my life were forcing me to ignore the writer in me. I was so focused on just getting through each day and understand the range of emotions I was feeling. I was failing to do the one thing that helps me get through almost anything and that is to write about it.

I feel like my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety has not only killed my happiness, but my confidence too. I had no belief in myself that I could write anything good, so I didn’t write at all. Silly really. I shouldn’t care if my writing is good or not, I should do it because it’s what I love to do. Only now that I am on the other side of a long, dark tunnel, do I actually see what I have been doing all of this time.

Now, I don’t know if this feeling of being myself will last. So I’m going to make the most of it. My typewriter is sitting on my desk, waiting for me to carve words from my mind and piece together something beautiful. I’m going to do what I do best, I’m going to write and no amount of self-doubt is going to stop me, not this time!

My First Week As A Teaching Assistant.

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I survived my first week as a Teaching Assistant.

This week I’ve been overwhelmed and exhausted, I’ve felt nervous, anxious and even a little bit awkward at times. However, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The first week was a chance to find my feet, learn, observe and discover if being a Teaching Assistant really was a perfect fit for me. I’m happy to say that it is. I love children, I love education and I love to help others and make a difference. Perfect job 🙂

Going into a brand new school, meeting new people and building relationships with the children in my class is all a little bit scary. The school I am working at is huge. There are lots of rules to learn and procedures to follow. I know that I’m never going to have the same day twice and that’s one of the many things I love about it.

The staff at my school have been so welcoming, every single person you pass on the corridor asks how you are and if you are settling in. The team feeling in the school is comforting and makes the transition from being unemployed to full-time Teaching Assistant a lot easier for me.

The only thing that wears me down a little is the travel. Due to the distance between my house and the school, I have to get up at 5.30am every day and travel for an hour and a half on two buses. This can and will be frustrating some days but it will be worth it. I may have only just started my career as a Teaching Assistant but I’m already thinking ahead about whether or not I want to train to be a teacher.

I think the only thing that is making me hesitate is my lack of confidence in myself. I know deep down I can do it and I would be an amazing primary school teacher but my insecurities and anxieties hold me back. Only time will tell if I have what it takes to be a teacher but right now, I’m enjoying being a Teaching Assistant. I will learn something different from every teacher I work with and all of my experiences will shape my future career and my future self.

 

A Story To Tell

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It’s been a long time since I had a story to tell. Writing stories and poems has always been a big part of my life but over the past two years, I’ve been doing it less. I would only feel inspired in small doses and I felt like I didn’t have the confidence to write well any more.

Today I woke up and decided to finally get an idea on paper that has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of months and it felt good. It’s a novel, in the planning stages but at least it’s something. I’ve decided to stop putting pressure on myself with my writing. Instead of giving myself deadlines and expecting too much, I’m just going to write, for fun, like I used to.

I’ve never lost my passion for writing, just my motivation to do it. If I only write my novel when I want to instead of when I feel I have to, I will probably start to enjoy the process again. In time I will get my confidence back and writing will become a daily part of my life again. No matter how much I write, I will always call myself a writer because I believe that writing is not a profession, it’s a lifestyle.

The amazing thing about writing is there is the freedom it brings me. There is no right or wrong, no rules on how something should be. I feel something strongly and I write about it. I create a character in my mind and write their story. I love to explore the beauty and tragedy of life, the questions I want to answer, the places I want to go through my writing.

I’m excited by my latest idea, I have a good feeling that this could be the story I want to tell but if it isn’t then that’s okay, there is plenty of time for me to try different stories and to grow and learn as a writer.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

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So, I have decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. After the success of winning NaNoWriMo in November last year, completing 50,000 words in thirty days for my first full length novel 1:58, I decided that it was time to do it again. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as NaNoWriMo but there is more freedom, I can choose my own word count goal. However, I’m still sticking to 50,000 words. I can do it. I know I can.

I feel like I have lost a lot of motivation in the writing side of my life and the less I write, the more confidence I lose and I knew that it was time to transfer the novel that I have been planning for months in my head, down on paper. I have started to outline and plan a novel called The Last Letter. I have it planned up to chapter twelve and I am going to spend the last few days of June planning the rest to start the Camp NaNoWriMo on July the 1st.

I have planned many novels and many of them have never been written but this one, it just feels different. I can’t really explain why but this is the story that I really want to tell. Completing the challenge last year boosted my confidence enormously because I had never completed a longer piece of writing from start to finish. I had written poetry and short stories but never succeeded in writing an entire novel. Now I can say I have. And I am going to do it again.

I have so much time on my hands right now and I feel like I am wasting it. Day in and day out, I do nothing productive and it is only getting worse. I don’t want to be the writer that doesn’t write. I don’t want to be the woman who says she wants to be an author but never even tries to make the dream a reality. I want to write this novel.

The Last Letter is my chance to prove that I can write novels. It is easy for some writers to just write a 100,000 word novel from start to finish, start revising it, complete it and then send it to publishing houses. But what about the rest of us? The struggling writers that don’t always have the discipline to complete what we start? The writers that listen to the voice in their heads that says they are not good enough and believe it. The writers that know they can do it but have to convince themselves that they won’t fail.

I can manage 1,600 words a day. I have done it before. There are a few days in the month of July that I will be busy but I will have to work around my plans and make sure I get my daily word count. I know I can do this. I have done this before.

July has one extra day than November. I have thirty one days and 50,000 words to write and this time I am going to revise the novel and redraft it and get it ready to be published. No more messing around with ideas and wondering if I am good enough to be published. I need to start believing in myself. I can be an author, no, I will be an author and doing NaNoWriMo is just a stepping stone on my journey to achieving this dream.

Writers Write

There is nothing more frustrating for a writer than a blank page.

For the last few months there has been a lot of blank pages. I have made no progress with any of my writing projects. I haven’t settled on an idea yet for a novel, I’m not writing poetry or short stories. I’m struggling to write articles and I have to sit down and remind myself to constantly update this blog.

It’s like I have nothing to say. I try my best to write but the words don’t come. I sat down at my typewriter a few days ago. I started to write a short story. I got about ten lines into it when I decided that it was rubbish, I threw it away and sat there with my head in my hands. I was frustrated with myself and I still am. Why can’t I write at the moment? I feel like I have lost all of my confidence and I have no ideas, nothing.

Writers write but right now, I’m not writing. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have tried everything. I have given myself time, I have tried to read a book to try and get inspired, I have tried writing prompts. Some writers have to feel pain or sadness to write, for me, I think I need to be happy. At the moment, I’m not entirely happy. It’s hard to explain. I feel tired but it’s a tiredness that cannot be fixed by sleep. I don’t find writing enjoyable right now and this is hard for me because writing has always been an escape. I feel like life is trying to bring me down but I have to try and stay positive.

One day soon I will pick up my pen and write, for now, all I can do is wait until that happens…

 

 

Letters To Emily

I’m still amazed that I completed NaNoWriMo in 2014. I set myself the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed it and now I feel like I am ready to write another novel. Writing 1:58 was an amazing experience, I finally finished a novel. It was a big achievement to actually finish something. 1:58 is technically a novella but it’s definitely given me the confidence boost that I need to move forward.

I learnt a lot from the NaNoWriMo experience, I found that discipline was extremely important and I learnt to turn off my editor voice in my head and just write. I really loved the characters in my story but once I wrote the finally word and ended it with a full stop, I knew that the plot definitely had to change. My original story fell flat and I knew I could do better. That’s when I started to plan Letters To Emily.

There were many different titles but I’ve decided to settle on Letters To Emily because it fits the idea I have in my mind perfectly. I’m still using the character’s Eleanor Hemming and Lacey Collins because I loved writing about their lives in 1:58. However, instead of the story being centred around two babies that were switched, I’ve decided to change it to a child that is taken.

Now, I know that the idea has been done many times before but there are a few twists and turns that I have planned to make sure that my novel stands out. There will be many different forms in the novel. Letters and messages will be embedded into the narrative and the story will not only focus on the lives of Lacey and Eleanor but their daughters Charlotte and Erin and let’s not forget Lacey’s husband Ben.

A big secret will change the lives of both families and I want to focus on how a tragedy can effect a family. I also want to write about the bond between mother and daughter and another layer to my story is how the internet has become an important part of our daily lives. Charlotte and Erin meet on an online chat room, they become friends and confide in each other about the daily problems that they both face. Erin feels disconnected from her mother Eleanor, they never stay in one town for long and she finds it difficult to meet new friends. Charlotte is tired of constantly being in Emily’s shadow, her mother is still obsessed with finding her daughter even though ten years have past. Ben doesn’t know if he can save his marriage and Lacey is either running her bookshop or posting in an online forum about missing children.

I am confident that this is the book that I want to write. I know that 50,000 words is achievable in 30 days so I shouldn’t have an issue with writing 80,000 to 100,000 words with no deadline. Of course I would love to finish the first draft of the novel by the summer, so I can edit it and make it better and hopefully get it ready for publishing by the end of this year.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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As a writer you have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like your writing or what you have to say. There are the good comments that you receive that make your heart swell with pride, when you realise that you have found the perfect words and when you string them together it says everything that you want to say and more. The bad comments are often constructive criticism and that’s okay because every writer needs it. Whether its just a small criticism or an honest opinion it’s easy to take it to heart but you just have to realise that every criticism you receive will only make you become a better writer in the future. Then unfortunately there are ugly comments or nasty comments, when people go over the line and it becomes personal.

I have been writing music reviews at Female First and I am not a know-it-all when it comes to music, I love most genres of music and I know a vast amount of musical terms but this doesn’t make me an expert. I just get given the CD’s for the week and I have to listen to them and write a review. I got given a CD by an obscure band called Wax Idols, a modern punk band from California. I give every album a chance and I listen to it twice before I start to review it. I didn’t like it. It was that simple. So I wrote an honest review and gave it two stars. It is my job to be honest and to review the music I am given and I did just that. I was going through my reviews on the website and saw that I received two comments on my Demi Lovato album review and they both said ‘Good Review’ This made me smile because it’s proof that I must be doing a good job.

Then I looked at the other review I had done and because I had given it two stars there were several people that didn’t agree with me. Nasty comments that said that I shouldn’t have the job and it was the worst review they had ever read, it did upset me, of course it did. After I got upset about it though I realised that sometimes people are nasty and I shouldn’t take it to heart. If people don’t agree with what I wrote well that’s up to them. I am there to express my opinion. I know that I am a good writer. I just think fans of the band took what I wrote too seriously. I had to write the truth and the truth is I didn’t like it. I have to accept that I will not always get good feedback on my work and if I carry on writing opinionated pieces there are going to be people that don’t agree.

I am okay with that now. Being a writer means that you have to be vulnerable, open and confident about your opinions. You are putting everything you have into your words and when someone doesn’t like what you have to say it can knock your confidence and even though it knocked me down at first I am ready to get back up again.