Words play a bigger part in our lives than we may think. Each one carries connotations. We may hear or read the word ‘summer’ and get transported to feelings of warmth, or memories of joyful beach days, or snap back to a time when July weren’t as lovely as it so stereotypically felt it should be. This time travelling, sensory-exhilarating snap can be applied to all words and it is an exciting facet to human experience.
I decided to call this section on my website ‘news’ as I felt it was the best term to cover what I wanted to post here. I knew I wanted to share more than poetry but I didn’t want to confine what I could post, so news felt an appropriate word as it gave me freedom in my shared writings. This word was neutral to me but with corona virus and the American Election dominating most headlines recently, I started to explore a little bit more into its connotations.
For many people around the world this has been an incredibly difficult and exhausting year, health and politics holding the main contribution to those ill feelings.
Everyday new articles and posts and discussions are on the topic of such, and it’s a treacherous feat to escape them or try to hide these negative pieces from our daily interactions.
Now, when I hear the word news, I am thrown into associations of despondency, even if only subconsciously. It triggers recent memories of slander between the electorates, the rising death toll, and worst of all – how Kim Kardashian does her under eye makeup.
In the nervous wait for the American election’s results, I started to see that news wasn’t just a neutral word for many people. It held a lot of power in it. For years we have been manipulated, confronted, and let down by the news, and it’s connotations are more devastating than uplifting. So, what to do with this information?
The best step to effect change is taking that leap yourself. As Gandhi so famously said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” There are lots of things in the world that I would like to change.
Something that deeply bothers me is the infatuation with perfection at the moment. The internet is full of girls with blown up lips and photoshopped waists; boys decked out in Gucci and driving only top of the range cars. Men and women presenting pore-less and age denying; everyone rejecting the beauty of imperfection and looking, dare I say it, normal. The pressure to fit in has always been part of society but recently that society is so far from the realm of real, we are getting lost in this strive of being someone that doesn’t even exist.
Teenagers are seeing other young people become celebrities over night through shameless social media antics and copying their techniques of selling themselves online and it makes me angry. We are seeing carbon copies popping up all over the show and I feel originality is slowly being stamped out of our youth.
Pornography is being consumed more each day, with younger and younger viewers tuning in to watch what I personally call deprived entertainment. Many individuals start getting desensitised and follow on to watch more violent porn, thinking that this is how everyone is having sex and ultimately ruining real intimate moments with disappointment. There is hardly any notice on sex trafficking, as it seems to be in the category of ‘I know it’s happening, I just don’t want to think about it.’. I see more girls becoming enamoured by the porn industry and the money and attention available, and turning to platforms like Only Fans to earn an income. With the struggling job market and economy and the pressure nowadays to be rich no wonder these young people find it all so appealing.
With the fantastic bursting open of conversations in regard to sexual and gender identity and race, more people are finding entertainment in opposing these begged for rights and are turning to facist and alt-right ideologies, just for the sake of community and the oh-so-exciting thrill of fighting in a cause, even if that cause is dangerous and against the simple being of what we all are – human. Divide is hot right now and it makes me sad to see so many people joining in on the conflict of disunity.
I am upset that we keep celebrating famous people that contribute nothing to the arts or to the intelligence of people. The more we toast to the vapid elite, the more we let people like Kae Tempest be forgotten. I am frustrated by the ephemeral way we give a fuck nowadays. We care long enough to get a few likes on Facebook then go back home to self centred again.
This may seem like I’m just pouring out some moany, personal afflictions, but these are things that I have observed and feel are effecting people more and more each day.
I try to make my change in the world by not covering up every imperfection. I deleted social media last summer so I can’t vouch for any of my posts on there, as they don’t exist. But if I have a spot on my face, I don’t hide away. If my hair is a greasy mess, I just put it in a ponytail and go about my day. I rock up to the shops in Crocs and a tracksuit. I’m not there for a fashion show, I’m there for a mundane duty. This life isn’t about being polished, it is about being lived. And the more we show people that they can just relax in the way they look naturally and that in that space they are beautiful, I feel we will see more confidence arise. I am grateful for the body positivity movements on social media and I feel the people who contribute to this change are doing a great job.
Building other people up is something that benefits both involved. I have so much hope and belief in the young people of today and there is such a bright future for them. When I started secondary school was when smart phones were just becoming big. They took hold of all of us in year seven and I remember very clearly how massive of a role they played in my generation’s growing up. But we weren’t like kids nowadays, seeing social media as a prospective job. This pressure to get x however many likes and hoping to go viral, therefore pushing the boundaries and going further and further in hopes of pursuing that recognition. Children don’t think about the future. They don’t see that far ahead, so when they are posting whatever shit online, they aren’t considering really the consequences of doing so. I know that when I was a young teenager I posted many things that I don’t feel good about today but I just didn’t have that concept of it mattering. Being online often feels separated from real life, so you feel you can be much more reckless, especially at such young ages.
The more we build kids up and support creative and academic outlets, the more we will see them succeed, I believe. I am not a parent. I have no kid that I am responsible for. But whenever I am in the company of a friend’s child, I try my best to make them feel good about themselves and show them that there is more to life than what’s on their phone. I don’t think children shouldn’t be on social media, and there is a lot to learn out there, but I feel they should have a healthy balance between it and real life. The same goes for adults.
I watched some documentaries on the porn industry, learning about the horrors of it. Of course, not everyone in the industry has had a bad experience, and I do not believe in the demonisation of sex workers. Many times these are individuals who see no other way to provide an income. But I am against this celebration of it that seems to be occurring recently. The suppression of women’s sexuality angers me; for years we have been told that we cannot enjoy sex and if we do, we are sluts or so on. I am grateful that this idea is being turned on its’ head, but I don’t think anything is achieved by inspiring young girls and boys to join the porn and sex industry. Just my opinion. Many young people I’ve spoken with have no idea that some of the men and women in porn are being abused or sex trafficked. They believe all these free videos are totally consensual and are shocked when they learn the truth. I feel the education is important and I express my opinions on the topic if it comes up.
I am half English and half German. When I was very young I learnt about the atrocities of World War II and what Adolf Hitler did to Jewish people. It disgusted me, as I hope it disgusts anyone. My young brain couldn’t comprehend how it could happen and how anyone could commit such evil tragedies. I naively thought racism was extinct in the naughties. None of my peers at school spoke of racist ideology, therefore I felt I was in a country that was safe from prejudice. But really, we were just too young to be talking about such topics. As I entered my teenage years, I was still kind of blind to the hate the world had to offer. I didn’t know the history or the facts to really have a grasp on what was racist and what wasn’t. Growing up in a very caucasian area of England also meant there wasn’t really anyone to correct us kids if we did say something that wasn’t right. But I knew that I opposed hatred and if I identified it being handed out without reason, it upset me. As I grew into my older teens, I started learning more about the world and it’s past and started to understand the complexity of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism and prejudice, to name a few. I knew these things weren’t parts I wanted in the world and have since made the conscious effort to uphold my beliefs in a vocal and passionate way. In the last few years we have seen many people start to talk about these things and inspire change. But that doesn’t mean the world is ‘fixed’. With the rise of figures like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, it is no surprise that so many people are following this example of indecency. We should value the lives of our fellow humans. We all have families and loved ones, we all have to put food on the table, we all breath the same fucking air. Whatever your political stance, there should be a fundamental consideration for people. Not just ‘your people’, but all people. The discourse on these topics should continue, in its most ardent fashion, and hopefully we will see a future where a little girl felt like I did when I was younger, but she will be right.
I don’t mean to shit on anyone. How can I write the previous paragraph about loving thy neighbour and flow into this one with hate? I don’t hate the celebrities and influencers that contribute to the vogue of vapidness and vanity; I know none of them and I wish them only well. It is not them personally that I have a problem with and I understand that they are basically ‘advertisements’ to sell stuff, but I do take issue with the culture they are central to. It is almost like we are so afraid of intelligence that we take the easy route of glamorising stupidity. I love makeup just as much as the next person, but is there no more that these neo-Gods give to society? Do they not invoke any dreams other than to be filthy rich, shagging whoever you so wish and wearing designer clothes? There is nothing inherently wrong with these things, but please can we pair them with a bit of creativity, intellectual acuity, passion? The future will be nothing more than a recreation of The Truman Show if we don’t start promoting individuals of true, non-ostentatious greatness. I love listening to music made my people who write there own songs, people who look how they look and make incredible art, people who aren’t driven by just money, fame and attention. Let’s start giving these under appreciated individuals our time. The ones with millions in the bank will be alright – I promise.
And let’s just start giving a fuck more. Let’s care about other people, other living things. Let’s care about our environment, let’s care about ourselves, let’s care about what we are putting in our bodies and what is coming out of our mouths. Let’s care about the information we consume and the feelings we radiate to others. Let’s care about what matters, not what we think other people think we should care about. It is temporary and it is fleeting, this satisfactory pat on the back for pretending to really give a shit about something popular for five minutes. Let’s spend our lives caring about the significant stuff all the time and watch how we start to blossom.
So, that’s my two cents. I’ve named a few things that frustrate me and participate in what I consider news. Nowadays, with the use of the internet, something doesn’t have to be published by The Sun (to be fair, nothing needs to be published by The Sun) to qualify as news. Ultimately whatever humans are up to, is news. And humans aren’t just up to things I dislike. There are plenty of people out there contributing to the good in the world and in the news.
One of my favourite happenings of this strange year was Captain Sir Tom Moore walking laps in his garden to raise money for corona patients. He turned a hundred in April and served in the Second World War, and spent his centurial celebrations doing what he seemingly aways has – helping other people. His actions, of committing to raising money for those in need, inspired the nation. It bought hope and joy to know that one of us was doing so much, at the age he is, to give to his fellow humans that were suffering. I feel a lot can be learnt from this and I hope many people take heed in Captain Tom’s charitable and selfless act.
I heard a story on the radio this week of a town in England, called Belper, ritually ‘mooing’ each evening to keep spirits high during lockdown. The neighbours would mimic cow sounds to each other at half six each night and it formed a feeling of togetherness. This tickled me. It was some lighthearted news founded on the principal of people coming together and doing something communally with the objective of lifting spirits. It lifted mine when I heard about it.
This is some personal news, opposed to national, but one of my friends transferred to a law degree this September. She was telling me about all the hard work she has been putting in and of her aspirations to become a barrister. She has had to print out what can only be described as a Lord of The Rings size mass of information on her course and has recently undertaken the first exam of around twelve to sixteen that she will do throughout the year. She also works on the days that she isn’t studying or at university. Hearing about the effort she is putting into her degree inspired me. Hearing a young person speak of their aspirations and how much hard work they are putting in to achieve them is pure magic. It made me think of how many other young people are in the same position as her and inspired promise of the dedicated people of any age with goals. We must keep encouraging ourselves and others to dream. Positive change will never occur without these ambitions and they are a healthy component to a successful society. Hearing of the work she is putting in influences me to try hard, too. Receiving good news from friends can often impact us more than what we see in the media. That personal connection can spark something inside us as we are motivated in our ovations by pure love. We don’t really have that with public figures, so when we hear of their successes we may be triggered into more negative feelings, such as jealousy or anger. When it is a friend or a loved one, we feel an empathy and a longing for their success, and when we hear that they are achieving that, it is very exciting. I think the world would function at a higher frequency if we tuned into this empathy we feel in our personal relationships and apply it to all the successes we hear of. We should celebrate success in all forms and strive for it ourselves. Failure is a false concept. You never fail – you just take a wrong turn. Let’s stop being so hung up on our own and other people’s failures and focus on the successes.
For every negative attribution, there is a positive parallel. As above, so below. If we start to hone in more on the positive parts of the world, maybe the negative parts will start to minimise and we won’t be spending so much time focused on the bad bits. Maybe start filtering your social media and only follow pages which are positive and uplifting. Maybe stop reading that newspaper which keeps putting you in a bad mood every morning as you read about the state of the world. Maybe stop spending so much time with people who bring you down or start trying to build them up and reverse their negative atomic habits, creating a positive space for both of you to thrive in. Maybe stop watching the TV programs or listening to the music that creates anxiety in your life and start searching for new shows and artists that speak about happy things – there are plenty to choose from. We, as humans, can become addicted to the things that don’t benefit us and start to reject what can expel darkness. You have to make a conscious effort to surround yourself with brightness and in that environment, you will start to see yourself fit in.
With the rapid growth of social media and the boom of online presence in the last decade, we are experiencing more and more negative bullshit thrust in our faces daily. Negativity is only an arms length away now. As this section of the website is titled news, and as we have all seen so much awful news recently, I want to finish this off by dedicating this post to some of my own positive news. A few nice things that have happened in my life recently and hopefully will inspire you to recognise pleasant happenings in yours, opposed to unfavourable ones, which seem to be in fashion at the moment.
I wrote my first play
I am in my first year of university, studying creative writing. My passion for poetry lusted for some structure and a deeper education on the art form, so earlier this year I knew that going to university was the right choice if I were to pursue my creative calling. In the course we are covering poetry, writing prose – both of which I am familiar – and playwrighting and screenwriting. The latter two are brand new to me. Before starting the lessons on playwrighting, the closest I’ve come to theatre is seeing a few productions on the West End (which I loved). I felt a bit like a little fish in the deep end of the ocean but ultimately recognised that I was there to learn, and if I was already a playwrighting genius, I wouldn’t be at university!
So I have spent most of my late summer and early autumn reading books about the theatre and listening intently in my drama classes. Our task was to write a ten minute play, on any topic we so wish, using the proper techniques and submitting it to be workshopped with the class. I felt a bit under pressure; like I was expected to recreate Les Misérables as my first attempt at playwrighting. I took a step back and put all my newly acclaimed knowledge into a simple think-through, observing what the lessons have been covering and what the books have spoken about and using that information to formulate an action plan. In one night I scribbled down my loose plot idea and slept easily. This past week I have written the script, redrafted twice and submitted my piece to the university. And I feel good about it. I ensured there was a beginning, middle and an end and that my protagonist had a goal and a sacred flaw. I tried to make my dialogue as realistic but powerful as possible and sent it off before I could scrutinise it any further.
I feel really good about writing the little play. I have written prose since I can remember and I have been writing poetry for nearly three quarters of my life. This was a new task, a new art form. I exercised the techniques I’ve learnt and it aided in giving me the confidence to write the piece. I am looking forward to writing more!
I took my cat out for a walk
My cat Zoot will be two in January. He is a house cat as I live on a busy road and our neighbours have lost too many cats to it. He enjoys looking out of the windows, observing the birds and watching insects and spiders dance in his eye line. I received a backpack to carry Zoot in for my birthday last month and have been taking him out on little walks around the garden to get him used to it.
This week I took him out for a big walk, around one and a half hours. We plodded along in the county side and he got to see sheep and alpacas for the first time. It was a beautiful, dry day and the weather was nice enough to leave my coat at home. We returned home with a very tired Zoot and a very hungry me. It was lovely to be able to take him out with me, he seemed to enjoy it and we are planning our next venture already.
I watched a Shakespeare performance… and kind of understood it
I have always been interested in Shakespeare, but never had much enthusiasm to explore his work. I simply didn’t understand it and didn’t have enough knowledge about theatre to really dive into it all. I’ve now learnt art is about feeling just as much as it is about the product being created.
I had seen Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet and enjoyed it, but I think I was more enamoured by the visuals of the film. So the other day I watched Macbeth (1979), directed by Phillip Casson and starring the incredible Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. The acting was so powerful, so exciting, so good, that I didn’t need to understand the words, per se, to understand the play. I was transported while watching but it wasn’t until after that I really felt the potency of the performance. It appeared to seep into me and I kept being reminded of different scenes in it as the days progressed. I had this moment of truly understanding good art, and it was exhilarating. It reminded me of how I feel when reading a Charles Dickens’ novel. It expanded my newly found appreciation of the theatre and I am excited to see more performances; feel more power.
I recommend anyone to watch this version of Macbeth. Or watch any Shakespeare play and not judge what is understood on the surface level but what goes deeper. It may do nothing for you and in that case, it is exactly how art is and should be.
My hair is getting longer
I shaved my head three years ago. I had gotten a mullet haircut, instantly regretted it, and buzzed all my golden locks off. I loved it. I had spent years worrying about my hair and trying to make it look good and suddenly I had a hairdo that required no attention. I didn’t even have to use shampoo and conditioner (it’s a cheap style, too). It made me feel cool and beautiful and I acknowledge the skinhead as a metaphor for my fun and care free lifestyle at the time.
Hair is often said to hold a lot of emotional memory and power and throughout my adolescence I struggled with my brain, so cutting the hair off felt symbolic of letting all that shit go. It was also beneficial after the amount of times I had bloody bleached and dyed it.
Although the skinhead came with many benefits, I started to feel a bit unfeminine after a while (it might of had something to do with me drinking beer like a man, smoking fags like a truck driver and swearing like a sailor, too, however.). I decided to grow it out, knowing it would be a long process before I got the Rapunzel locks I was dreaming of.
I still don’t resemble Daenerys, but my hair is approaching mid-chest and I feel very womanly and beautiful with it being longer. I am starting to wear it down, without putting it in a ponytail or an up-style, and I am enjoying it. It has bought some happiness and confidence to my life.
My blood sugars have been in control
Any diabetic will tell you that they spend their whole life aiming for stable blood sugar. It’s not only something that is vital for our health, it is also extremely satisfying to go a whole twenty four hours without going above 10mmol/L.
At the beginning of the first lockdown in England, I was doing a lot of physical work and juice fasting two times a week. It did wonders for my blood sugar levels and I was in single digits almost everyday, all week, for the first time since I was diagnosed in 2008. It was amazing!
I lost some of that control in the last month and a half. My sugars were fluctuating and I couldn’t get them to stabilise. I was a little bit stressed out and as usual, my blood sugar took a beating for it. I had a few situations were I was going well above 20mmol/L and I knew something was off and needed changing. I adjusted my basal insulin (long acting insulin that I inject every morning and night) to higher quantities and my sugars stopped being so erratic. This past week I have really focused on my daily yoga practice, which is great for stabilising my bloody sugar levels, and I have seen an instant change. I am keeping a steady count under 10mmol/L and I feel really good for it. I hope it keeps up but having been diabetic for so long, I know the pendulum can swing at any moment. It is being dedicated to healthy blood sugars levels and putting in the effort (listening to my body, adjusting when I need to, etc.) that makes all the difference.
I have used a majority of this newsletter to discuss some negative aspects of the world but I have also presented my ideas on how these things can be reversed. I am keeping this page titled news, but I want it to no longer be a word which conjures up feelings of anger and frustration and gloominess, but to be one where every time we hear it we are being inspired by all of the positive changes in the world. We all have the power to affect this change. I will be using my life as a continuous opportunity to change the bad parts about myself, and hopefully change the bad parts that are external to me, too. I hope those reading will light their torch, get out there and start putting into action the greatness in them that is dying to spread across the world. Each little tweak and step towards a more positive future will contribute to a tsunami of wonderful differences, and it all starts with us. Are you ready?
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: Hurt by Arlo Parks – Arlo Parks is a fantastic young, female musician who writes her own songs and sings with angelic beauty. She inspires me. All of her songs have a tenderness to them and a personal insight that is just so exciting to listen to. ‘Hurt’ is a song I can’t get enough of at the moment and I hope you enjoy it as well.
Book: Let Them Eat Chaos by Kae Tempest – well, I can’t claim this as a new excitement. This masterpiece has inspired me for years. It is a long poem, following the lives of seven London residents experiencing their own breakthrough in the early hours one night. It is beautiful, tender, real, emotional and vivid. I also recommend their album of the same name, as they recite the poems accompanied with music and it is just fantastic.