Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The great adventure

Yesterday, Tuesday 28th May, was my last ever day as an undergraduate. I woke to an email from my lovely Nan to wish me all her love on my last day as an undergraduate student. The day was a busy one actually - I completed an online child safeguarding course and I went to University to submit the paper documents for the last assignment. I returned some of my books and had a supervision meeting for the mentoring I do. I then went to Harrogate to spend some time with my mother. I arrived at my Mum's house to a cup of tea and freshly baked cake - I say 'freshly baked' because it was literally right out of the oven and it was still warm. Only a mother can do this in the way that she did. Oat, raisin and ginger cake. I know I'm most definitely not one for over-indulging mid-afternoon. Perhaps  I relax a little in the evening after a glass of wine or two when suddenly the nutritional and calorific content of 'treats' seems somewhat insignificant but this brief hour at home with my mother and tea and cake was really just perfect.

Matt and I then went on a mini road trip which finished in the pub and we watched the sunset. I was given another opportunity yesterday... One that I really hope my efforts were good enough to ensure a positive outcome because it almost seems like too much of a good opportunity to pass on. But I guess all life ultimately is for any of us is the great unknown. The great adventure. We are great travellers. We just learn to live and somehow we summon enough courage to take risks and to enjoy the ride. Do we create the ride ourselves or is it already marked out half way? I like to think that we create it entirely ourselves, and to some extent yes - we really do. But when we rely on someone else to book us for that job or to employ us or to see enough 'potential' in whatever it is that they look for, there's only so much control we have. There is only so much we can do until that decision is lifted from our hands.

If I am booking a modelling job, I cannot change my height or my freckles or the shape of my face. My hair colour and the shape of my body remain the same - they are me. Therefore the client either likes what I bring and books me, or they opt for some other girl who does offer the thing they are searching for. If I am looking at other jobs or placements or Masters or training programmes, there is equally only so much I can offer. The other half of the deal is up to 'them'... Do they trust me? Can they take a risk with me? Am I the 'right' one? These are the things that we can never really fully determine or shape for ourselves. We do determine our own life - we are self-governing autonomous beings, whether we believe that or fully live as we are, that's up to us. But within the life choices we make, we inevitably rely on others to meet us at some place in the middle.

To write about yesterday's adventures -  last night's sunset and the beautiful views, it seems almost like the description of another lifetime as I'm sat in my house and it's considerably grey, cold and rainy outside. Today I am catching up on emails and life. It feels like an important day, even though evidently I'm not doing very much as it's 2.15pm and I am drinking coffee in 'home' clothes having not even left the confines of my own house.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A bank holiday and a completed degree

If any day ever felt like a Sunday, it's today. It's not Sunday, it is in fact just gone midnight on a Monday evening. However, we have been graced with a bank holiday weekend and so the majority of England has been enjoying what's been a three day weekend of sunshine. This is a generalization, I know. Weekends and bank holidays for me are always odd - I see my friends reaching Friday night and celebrating a weekend because it's finally some time off, away from weekday commitments. This is not really what I do. Weekends in my world are for the most part just like any other day of the week. I don't work in a 9-5 job, nor do I plan on doing so any time soon so I am just as likely to have a Wednesday and Thursday off as I am a Saturday or Sunday. Not that this is a bad thing, it just is what it is.

However, today does feel like a Sunday because I have many things planned for tomorrow that are usually 'important Monday things'. Most of this extended weekend has been spent in my house writing essays, which are now completed (yes! my degree is completed!). But being a person of the sun, after recovering from the all-night party which was the summer ball and actually being on target with this final assignment hurdle, I made a few ventures outside. I am so very fortunate to have this all on my doorstep. It pays off to take a few moments once in a while. Time is always of the essence, but it oddly becomes easier to manage once we take a step back.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

For Ruth and Bryony

On Thursday evening I was seated in the second row of the audience alongside my mum, my sister Frankie and Matt. We were there to support Ruth and to watch my sister debut in her very first fashion show. Firstly, it was very refreshing to be on the 'other side' of the madness for once. Not to be modelling but to be relaxed and watching the show.

Bryony was walking for one of my really good friends, Ruth and her beautiful graduate collection. It was wonderful to see Ruth in her element doing what she does best. This redheaded woman has incredible talent. I always feel so excited for everything the future has in store for her because she's possibly one of the most driven yet grounded people I know. I remember when we first met doing a modelling competition and how much our lives have completely and utterly changed and been filled with such hard work and exciting madness since that day. It was also really an evening of immense pride to see Bryony walking and looking so beautiful. It's not that she was modelling - God knows I know that the reality of fashion shows is very much different to the image we see. But it was that she is my younger sister and she really just did an incredible job.

At the finale of the show, Ruth walked on hand in hand with Bryony to take her final bow and have pictures taken. It was one of those beautiful moments that I wish I could capture forever. A make up artist friend of mine once said that the thing they love most about this job is that good friends can come together and create something uniquely beautiful. This finale was one of those beautiful moments.

Friday, 24 May 2013


This week is panning out to be a really intense week. (aren't they all?)
It began on Monday with an 'ending' afternoon at Uni - the last ever time we'll all be together in that setting. It hasn't really hit home yet because we still have assignments to complete and the summer ball tomorrow evening. Also, it's an odd kind of ending because I'm not really leaving. Neither me or my close friends are going anywhere. But it most certainly is the end of a chapter and a goodbye to many people. One thing that has hit home is something I've been aware of all year. That's my awareness of just how much these people belong in my heart.

I remember starting University three years ago and being stubbornly adamant that I'd turn up to lectures and leave straight afterwards. I didn't 'need' to be in York, i didn't 'need' more friends and I was there to do my degree and return back to the safety of my own separate life in my own home. I'd be OK with taking time off to be in London or Manchester to work because work was work and that was my job and that was my life. I worked on my assignments and I achieved good grades - I still do. And I still work and travel all over the country/world. But life has now become something that has so much meaning. Once I stopped fighting against the 'separate' lives I lived and accepted that each aspect of myself contributes toward my whole being, I concluded that life is not to be resisted but to be embraced . Life is not imbalanced and I don't have to feel constantly at a waging war with myself. Yes, life is madness. Life is busy at times but it works because what I do is a reflection of who I am. In fact, it wouldn't work any other way.

I am aware of running the risk of sounding too 'flowery'... I like to think that if I didn't make the decision to come to University here, I might have somehow found my way to somewhere similar. I like to imagine that I'd be doing what I'm meant to be doing. But the truth is, when I set out on this journey I didn't know where it would lead. I didn't know I'd find myself at home. I'm not sure I even knew what 'home' meant. I didn't know I'd be preparing to do a Masters and training to become a qualified counsellor. And I didn't know that some of these people would have such a huge place in my heart. But I am so fortunate enough to have spent three years with people who have been part of discovering the greater good that life has to offer.

I am reminded of these words:

'Be faithful to that which exists within yourself'
- Andre Gide

It's difficult to know what to say when 'thank you' isn't anywhere near enough.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A belated happy birthday

My beautiful sister turned fifteen at the beginning of this week. Here is a belated happy birthday wish to the most beautiful fifteen year old I know. We spent a grand total of two hours together for her birthday, in which I gave gifts and cupcakes and I couldn't stop thinking about how time flies. How for someone so young, she has managed to become a person of youth, naivety and maturity all in one being. 
Happy belated birthday Brys... 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Train travelling and the present moment

On the train early evening today and I was genuinely stunned with the world. I know I am a lover of the sun. And I know it doesn't always make sense to some... I find some odd sense of eternity in the sunlight, especially when it's setting or rising. I think it's one of the most unique and beautiful things the world has to offer. It's a constant. It sets and it rises and it's never the same again. You know when you're looking at the sun, that what you're witnessing is both constant and dependable yet exclusive and rare. It has such incomparable beauty. It's everything we wish for in this world and it's right there above us, all the time.

This is beauty. This is what we miss out on when we live with only half of ourselves truly living. To be aware of our present is to be fully alive and connected. Even if in just fleeting moments. I guess that by noticing these things, despite the madness of life and the feeling of wading through marshland at times, I must be living it at least. I'm reading a book called 'The present moment', which most likely can be held accountable for my thinking today. And my thinking has inevitably informed this blog post which I have no doubt in my mind seems rather idealistic. This thinking is not at all in tune with the stress that seems to be manifesting itself all too persistently. But perhaps this awareness is a good stress-management technique that I seem to uptake without even trying. I'm sure it's much better for my body than the wine and coffee intake which is ever increasing also.

24 hours documented in pictures


On Friday I spent an entire 24 hours awake, fully and unquestionably alive. After a week of madness I am both surprised and amazed that my energy levels supported my body in keeping going. I woke to a 5.30am alarm and then headed to Manchester for a job. We were shooting all day. I then made my way to Leeds to catch Ella's band's first gig. I arrived just as they'd finished playing their set (time will rarely be on our side!) so I spent some time there and then went to York and straight out for a birthday/celebration of dissertation hand in night out. I didn't sleep until about 6am on Saturday morning. Of course on Saturday I attempted essay writing, I rushed around town like a mad woman on a mission to purchase my little sister a birthday gift and then we did some baking and had probably the most welcomed movie night of the entire year.

24 hours of being awake and alive... for me, it's a good thing. I always speak about how we seem to be constantly putting all our energy into chasing after time which is becoming increasingly more difficult to catch. As we grow older and life gets busier - full of commitments and people and work, the phrase 'I'm too busy' or 'there's no time', as much as I don't like to admit, it's likely that they are some of our best used phrases. On the other hand, we run a great risk if we fill too much of our time up and neglect the aspects of life that our 'head' puts at the bottom of the priority list but our 'heart' desperately needs in order to beat with a purpose. We run the risk of running through the motions as opposed to feeling alive while doing so.

Perhaps 24 hours is an extreme example. I think balance is always paramount in order to keep both our head and heart happy. Living in balance is something we strive to perfect and there is nothing more satisfying yet completely and utterly affirming, overwhelming and intriguing in the process of learning how to do so. It takes a lifetime to learn how to live. None of us really know. We are just learning from each other and learning from ourselves. But when it comes to the end and we face in absolute reality what comes next, maybe only then do we truly know what it means to be alive. I think the beauty lies in what we do with our time in-between.

And if that means filling an entire 24 hours with the things that matter... I'm happy with that.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

a momentous day

To mark a momentous day, today I submitted my dissertation. And for once in my life, I actually felt ready to submit. I had that last minute panic of course, but I am almost certain that  my 10,954 word dissertation is a reflection of my best efforts. I guess only time will tell if my best efforts measure up to a good enough grade. It was submitted with all my positive thinking sent along with it, and with proofreading approval of two of my most trusted friends and my Mum.

I know that for some this seems incredibly bizarre, but I enjoyed writing it and I really enjoyed the process of my research. People warned me that by the end of my write up, i would be likely that I would hate my piece and I'd be happy to see the end of it. In fact, some said that I may want to get an extra copy bound in order to burn it as a symbolic celebratory good riddance. I am pleased to say that I am immensely happy to have submitted it, but I don't hate it at all. Usually if we hate something, it means that we've been damaged or hurt in some way. There's a lot of negativity attached to the word hate. I feel quite the opposite about this dissertation... Now on to the final two assignments and all the endings. Endings that are drawing closer and closer and closer.

My conclusion about these inevitable endings are as follows... Endings happen as sure as the sun sets and time moves on. Change happens - we cannot avoid it, we cannot ignore it and we certainly cannot assume that the clocks stop just because we want time out. I think we have to just feel it and embrace it because at some point, we'll look back and wonder why on earth we spent a certain moments fighting and resisting something the universe was giving to us whether we wanted it or not. The real gift lies in what the universe provides - the real gifts are the doors being opened and the people who are opening them with us.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sunday shoots

On Sunday I had a job in the middle of nowhere... No great surprise there. I couldn't even recall where it was we were shooting. It was a £26 taxi ride from the nearest train station. A fair distance, and even the questionable taxi driver seemed to get lost en route. A disoriented taxi driver is always a reassuring sign.

It was a cool shoot with a very feminine team of lovely girls. We had a laugh and drank tea and we also had a beautiful house to shoot in as our location. I can't help but think that I should have spent the day before my exam revising and not playing dress up and pose and try to look beautiful even though you have a million other things on your mind. However, from a more positive outlook on life, I am earning money and meeting some more really great people. I'm not sure if I have become a master of disguise or if the eyes really are the window into the soul, but yes - my mind was not there. Not fully. I left home at 7am and arrived home at just before 9pm absolutely ready for bed with good revision intentions but alas, they did not materialize into reality. 

There is more to write in another post. For now, it's 2am and the rain outside is so loud and oddly comforting. I shall make the most of being able to lie in the dark listening to the rain and hoping that dream-land seduces me into deep slumber... 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Saturday revision day

Today has been almost entirely dedicated to revision. Revision is not my forte. I like reading, I like words and I love nothing more than to write about something I care about. But revision... Re-learning what I'd hoped was already in my mind somewhere? I don't know, there's something a little repetitive about this which does not motivate me in the slightest. And there is something a little misleading about the illusive nature of exams in that I highly doubt we can ever do justice to our knowledge without adequate and sufficient resources and time. However, it is what it is, and it must be done. Perfect? No, it won't be perfect. But that's exactly it - that unattainable, misleading and illusive thing.

Lessons of a Friday: Decisiveness, power and macaroons

This week, once more, has been madness. In fact, just today alone has been enough to make me absolutely write off any revision plans I had this evening. I won't thank myself for this self-indulgent but rather sanity-preserving decision on Monday at 2pm when I'll be sat in an exam hall faced with essay questions of which reading could really benefit me. So, considering the madness, I think the best way to write at the moment is under bullet points. Under which the three lessons of today are outlined. This speaks a lot about my mental capacity right now...

Decisiveness. Being indecisive wastes time. Time is precious and people are precious and to spend hours debating how you will spend an evening to then not spend it with either of the people you had previously planned on spending it with...? I like to think of myself as fairly decisive. Fairly in touch with my instinct and usually trusting in that means I tend to do things on my own accord. It's a Taurean red-headed streak of passive determination. I actually like that a lot, but stress seems to be impacting me and making me a somewhat inconsistent individual. I worry so much that I won't have any free time that each potential free moment I've been grabbing with both hands but torn by the idea of spending time with people I love. Balance will be restored soon, I just wish soon came soon enough.

However, lesson number two: Macaroons should never, ever be questioned. Never debate whether you are allowed a small treat in the form of some macaroons with your best friend. They are worth it. Eating them does not make you a bad person. And you earned them. Particularly passionfruit and lemon macaroons... Those things are heaven sent little packages of pure goodness. Guilt-free goodness.

Final lesson of today: Sometimes we're under the illusion that asserting ourselves will feel good. There's a lot of power and politics associated with assertion, both of which make me feel uncomfortably like the bad guy. That I am under the illusion that somehow the world owes me a lifetime of goodness when I know that the world owes me nothing at all. I found out today that for someone like me, asserting myself doesn't feel good at all, and it is sometimes not productive in any way, shape or form. But then I wonder, for how long can one be complacent until the rug is snapped from under your feet completely? Do people gradually walk away or is it one big dramatic explosion? Or are we just compliant forever and in submissiveness we are powerless? Surely this is not the way we live? However, I have a friend who advised me to fight back with the power of the universe. This reminded me of the greater good and of the immense power the universe holds. The kind of unfathomable power that only exists in the dreams of superheroes. If we put our faith in the universe, the universe in turn, puts it's faith in us. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Music, friends and perspective

It's good to take a break. It puts life into perspective. I'm on the straight and narrow now... Single digits until the dissertation hand in date. Last night I spent time with some of my very closest friends and we watched some awesome local music, and yes, my worries were put into perspective. I am so incredibly grateful that all it takes is the presence of good people and my mindset is transformed. A change of mindset changes the way we view the world. My world looks significantly brighter today. I think I've been smiling at strangers.

An afternoon of belonging

I'm sat outside a cafe in town by the river re-igniting my love for reading and writing with only the company of my own thoughts, music, a book, and my pen and paper.

I am planning an assignment, so unfortunately it's not reading for pleasure. I shouldn't really be planning this assignment anyway, I should be working on the more imminent deadlines such as dissertation and exam. This is just where the afternoon has taken me though. I am fortunate enough to study in an area that I find so compelling and fascinating that it doesn't matter that so much of my reading is limited to my degree. I don't despise my reading lists and I wish there was more time to enjoy this kind of activity. More time would allow me to fully embrace rather than read with an open minded heart but through tunnel vision sight due to ever imminent deadlines and focussed assignments. I am educating myself on my own philosophical stance as it stands at the present moment in time. How can this be ever fully justified in one essay? It can't... I'm not even sure it can be eloquently and sufficiently phrased but without feeling grounded in my understanding it will most certainly be a challenge.

If working can ever be a blissful experience, this is it. It's beautiful outside and when it's warm and peaceful, it eradicates some of the impending doom I think deadlines tend to advocate. It really is a place where my soul feels at home, even if just a temporary home, my soul belongs. We can spend a lifetime fighting these deadlines, or we can decide to go with it and put to good use the energy we otherwise spend fighting something that ultimately we cannot change.

Monday, 6 May 2013

All that you need is in your soul

'all that you need now is in your soul'
- Simple Man, Shinedown.

Happy bank holiday Monday. The sun is shining outside and I shall always continue to be a strong advocate for seizing the sunshine as and when we can - it has potential to bring so much joy, even to the most despondent souls. The most simple and natural and consistent thing there is in this world is light, yet the power it holds is unimaginable. Imagine a world with no sunlight. We wake up and assume the sun will suitably follow our awakening because that's the world we live in. Because light and dark is such an objectively known fact. However, for anyone who's spent time with me lately as the sun's been setting in the evening, they will have been witness to my love for how beautiful and incomparable the view is each day. That ball of fire in the sky holds much more power than we are momentarily aware of. The sun is 150 million km away from earth yet it creates the most breathtaking views.

Anyway, moving away from my inner romantic idealism; there is no time for such thinking at least for this moment in time! Currently I'm sat in my room with a full draft completed of my dissertation whilst listening to some beautiful music. (that's where the above quote comes from) I am considering relocating to the garden with my exam revision because yes, it's beautiful outside. This time next week I will be sat in an exam hall taking my final year clinical psychology exam and I haven't even begun to even look at past questions or my overbearing mammoth sized 'Psychopathology' book which lies rather intimidatingly in front of me. Time to remove myself from dissertation land for the time-being. In a few days time I can consider edits and re-drafts and the lucky souls I pinpoint to proofread my dissertation baby, which oddly, I feel somewhat protective over at the minute.

It's a beautiful day to save lives... OK, I'm no Derek Shepherd, but it is a beautiful day and I need to use it wisely. I am going to my boyfriend's gig tonight, so today must be embraced, even if it means sitting in the garden with books and coffee. As the music says, all that we need is in our soul. Let us use it.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

An appropriate coping mechanism?

I have successfully gotten through almost the entire three years of my degree rarely touching alcohol because it just 'isn't something I do'. However, recent activities seem to have significantly proven this statement to be very wrong indeed...
Bad habit, self medication, substance dependence, or just a fairly appropriate coping mechanism that most third years with hectic lives turn to in desperate times? Let's face it, it's a most enjoyable coping mechanism if there ever was one to enjoy.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A continuation

A continuation of life's madness.

I say 'madness' here, and it's not a bad thing. In fact, it's ironically the one constant of my life. It's the thing that causes much stress but simultaneously I'm not sure I am capable of living any other way. It's a necessity - keeping life moving the way it does. Life, at least for the time being, is one beautiful. extensive and ever-lasting continuous series of events that I suspect would probably string together one day very nicely with an abundance of stories to tell. To corrupt the string of events before it's time would be a crime.. so for now I am going with the process, going with life, and hoping that it doesn't cause too much damage along the way.

Yesterday only I could sit through the last lecture at Uni, rush off to a photoshoot with some great and talented friends, and spend the evening with some of those people drinking wine and talking about I don't know what whilst editing the shots. I have to say too, that the location was the most breathtakingly beautiful castle. And we modelled my good friend Ruth's collection, who I think absolutely deserves all the wonderful things that life can give. Her collection is just beautiful.

Here's to a day of catching up on the things 'madness' often causes us to neglect. That's after my casting in Manchester and after I attempt to forgive myself for missing my morning lecture due to the fact my head is living in a parallel universe where it happens to be any other day but Friday. I'm sure we all have days where the madness of life causes us to live in blissful unawareness particularly regarding the date/day. Similar to that feeling of returning back to reality after a holiday and you somehow lose touch with the days and all sense of time is forgotten about. It's actually a little disorientating; not that I've been on holiday at all, but it's a similar concept.

I shall get ready to leave for the train, where I will sit for an hour and a half with my laptop and dissertation and coffee and hope that no train buddies attempt to join me. I'm all for making friends with strangers and bonding over our travel experiences but for today, I need to dedicate every ounce of my attention to my dissertation and perhaps begin some exam revision. Sitting in a casting room is probably the most rest I will get today...

Below are some pictures from yesterday. Thank you Ruth, for organizing a day of beautiful clothes, beautiful surroundings, and beautiful people.