The Mindful Minute Challenge

Exciting things are happening in the mental health space, especially in New Plymouth. Last week I got to sit down and catch up with my lovely friend Natalie who has been super busy! In between a delicious coffee and some lunch she told me about her latest project. It’s a beautifully designed book targeting mental health, which means the content is even more important. This book is going to do amazing things for the mental health scene in Taranaki for a wider audience.

If you currently know someone going through mental illness, or if you’ve experienced it yourself this book might be exactly what you need. It’s a productive and hands on approach to encourage people to feel brave to talk about mental illness with friends or family. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Check out our chat below to find out what’s inside Natalie’s new book:

Tell us the name of your book

The name of the book is, The Mindful Minute Challenge. The book is a multimedia/ educational resource that challenges readers for a month to engage with their mental health for a few minutes each day.

mindful minute book.jpg

What inspired you to write your book?

Inspiration came from a web series that I created on my YouTube channel this time last year called ‘The Mindful Minute Challenge’. This web series documented my journey of challenging myself for a month to look after my mental health and mental well being by asking myself daily insightful questions. The web series was a success with viewers who enjoyed the daily uploads with a focus around mental health, which isn’t discussed as much as it should be.

The idea to turn this web series into something tangible arose. It aims to encourage others to partake in the challenge through whatever communication medium suited them whether it be through reading, writing or watching the educational videos.

Who helped you create your book and how long did it take?

During late 2016, the opportunity of working with Werry Workforce Wharaurau came up. They are a national centre for infant, child and adolescent mental health, led by Dr Sally Merry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and situated within the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland.

They were looking for a creative project that encouraged the awareness of mental health and well being for youth. For four months we worked collaboratively on the project to ensure it would meet our aims and the needs of our target audience. One big aim was to ensure the language used to promote positive mental well being was going to be suitable as using the correct language when discussing mental health is of high importance to reduce stigma that’s associated with mental illness.

This link is the creative project we made on their website.

Was it quite fun putting the book together?

Yes the book was a lot of fun to put together. I’d never done a project like this before but I love a challenge. Learning how to use the software and what it takes to create an e-book and hard copy book. I learnt a lot about the creative process of putting a book together, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at so many variations of the colour blue and also types of paper before! Being a creative person I loved putting the design elements of it together. The aim was to create a scrapbook/diary kind of look to the book that was bursting with colour.

What can readers expect to find in it?

Because it’s an an educational resource readers can expect to find a variety of elements to the book. We aimed to not make the book to text heavy. It’s a light read that poses daily questions, and space for readers to write their ideas down as well. Readers are encouraged to use the book in collaboration with my YouTube channel and watch the daily video that ties in with the daily question.

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Do you have a main target audience?

The main target audience is for youth aged between and 13-25. But I feel people of all ages may gain some insight from the resource.

Is there a particular message you hope to get across?

The main message I hope to get across is to assist in talking more about mental health, mental health awareness and mental illness. By releasing these resources they’ll act as a guide to anyone who may find them of use and a stepping stone to talk about mental health in a non-confrontational format.

Another aim of the book is to help people talk about mental health in everyday circumstances. Talking about mental health can be scary (as mental health is so personal to each and every individual). However, having the correct educational tools set up, resources created by youth for youth and surrounding yourself with strong support networks may be a formula for assisting in reducing mental health discrimination.

Do you plan to publish your book nationally?

Never say never. If an opportunity arose where this was a possibility and it felt like a suitable fit then I would for sure consider taking this on board. The Mindful Minute Challenge itself has evolved in such as short space of time (less than a year) and many opportunities have arose from starting the challenge in the first place (that I would not ever have imagined to come to light). I’m very grateful for this chance indeed.

Can we expect to see a series or sequel in the near future?

Yes a series and or sequel will be on the cards. The wheels are in motion for different versions of the resource to be released, this may be late 2017 as we are in the first stages of new development. It’s hoped this resource is just the beginning.

When is your book available to purchase and how will others be able to purchase it?

The e-book is available to download now via this link. Those who are interested in purchasing the e-book version will need to ensure they have the correct software installed to ensure they can open the book due to the book having written and video media components. I’ve found Adobe Digital editions the best software to open the book.

The price of the E-book is listed in USD for $8.63 which roughly equates to $13 NZD. The hardcopy book will be available to purchase early April 2017 and I’ll be accepting pre-orders soon.  The price of these books will be between $25-$45 NZD.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on a project with World Merit 360. I’ve been lucky enough to have been selected as one of 360 people from around the world to participate in the world merit 360 program in 2017. World merit 360 is an opportunity for individuals to help in changing the world by focusing on the United Nations Sustainable development goals.

The sustainable development goals are universal goals to call action to end poverty, protect the planet and help ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity for future generations to come. There are 17 goals and the goal my team and I will be focusing on is Good Health and well being.

In August 2017 I will be travelling to the United Kingdom to meet my team of my global goal and teams from the other 17 global goals. I’ll be helping to write an action plan 003 which will be presented to the United Nations themselves.

If you’re interested in following Natalie’s book release dates and projects keep an eye out on her Twitter, or subscribe to her awesome YouTube channel

How to Avoid a Flatting Disaster

Moving into a flat can be an exciting time for any teenager. You finally get to have a slice of independence, have your own room, and begin your life of adulthood. When you meet your flatmates everything seems great at first and they seem so wonderful to live with. But soon enough you’ll realise there are many types of flatmates out there that are difficult to live with. The friendly atmosphere can come crashing down at any minute.

While I was at University I learnt that flatting can sometimes be a nightmare, different personalities clash, and some people just don’t see eye to eye. It can be rather scary adjusting to a new city, a new job, and living with strangers/friends. So what can you do when you get bad flat mates? How can you keep the peace? Over the years there are a few things that I’ve learnt. Here we go:

  1. Choose Carefully

Sometimes you might not always be so lucky to share a flat with people you know so well or get to meet them first. Especially if you’re studying and desperate for a flat. If you are looking for a flat look at the job advertisement first. This will usually have keywords like respectful, considerate and so on. Do you fit what they’re searching for? Then again if you’re searching for a new flatmate a good question can be, tell me a bit about yourself? If they don’t meet the criteria or if they send off negative signals, pay attention! Once you sign a 12 month contract, or a long flat contract, that’s a long time to live with people you aren’t so fond of.

If my experiences have taught me anything it’s that you should never live with (some) friends. Even if you think you know them things can turn ugly. Until that person is in your face 24/7 and you start to see their flaws you might be in for a big shock. You eventually have to learn how to stand up for yourself otherwise you get walked all over. There can be tantrums, arguments, and all sorts and you really wonder why on earth you agreed to live with that person in the first place! It’s just not worth ruining a friendship by living together. Then again it’s not all doom and gloom! Living with some friends has been a breeze. We got along well because we were similar people, I suppose that’s what it comes down to.

2. Hang Out

If there are different cultures and people in a flat it can be really good to just hang out with each other (if you want to). My friends and I would cook dinner together once a week and have a good old chat. We would bake some muffins or go to the movies. Celebrating birthdays was also another big thing! If you happen to be living with strangers there are a few things that can break the ice. I remember watching TV shows with a girl I had just met and eating junk food together. Perfect. There are always going to be people you just instantly click with. Another great way to get to know people is to have a gathering, some call it a flat warming. It gives people a chance to bring their friends round and just chill out. Anyone for cheese and crackers? Yum.

3. Have a Cleaning System that Everyone Agrees on

dirty-dishesWhen there is a system failure in a flat it usually comes down to cleaning. People eventually end up yelling, “Did you do the dishes, did you REALLY do the dishes?” These type of people will leave a mess everywhere. Their room has a stench in it that is slowly wafting down the hallway, and you’re terrified to even think about what is under their bed. As a rule of basic hygiene if you make a mess you clean up that mess. You’d be surprised at how many people cannot do this.

I’ve seen people leave unspeakable things in the toilet, on the toilet floor, and on top of the toilet yet they just leave it there even after they are politely asked to clean it. WHY. Were these people not potty trained early in life? Have they no decency? I admit I’m a tidy person but that does not mean I want to clean up disgusting things. It doesn’t matter if you’re lazy or if you have different levels of hygiene in the flat it’s a team effort. Anyway, morale of the story is that you should try to lay out some ground rules for cleaning. Maybe a roster (if there are like 8 people in one flat) or a quick chat as soon as you move into a flat to see what works for everyone. Otherwise the arguments over cleaning will never end.

3. Be Considerate of Others

You’ve just settled into bed and you’re about to fall asleep, when BAM loud music starts playing and the house starts shaking. When you have to get up early for work the next day or you have an exam what can you do? If you’re losing sleep it can cause bloodshot eyes and grumpiness. Not good. It’s all about the golden rule; be considerate. It’s handy to know when people in the flat work, when they need their sleep, and when it’s appropriate to have friends round. Say for instance if there are quiet people in a flat versus loud and outgoing ones it can be a bit of a clash. If people continue to be inconsiderate and throw loud parties and you don’t like it, perhaps that flat culture isn’t the right one for you.

A Happy Home is a Good Home

There are some big clues as to when a flat is not a good place to live. It really isn’t worth staying somewhere that makes you feel like you have to hide in your room or avoid other people. I’ve met some really cool people while flatting, and others just don’t gel so well together. Flatting can be really fun when you find the right people to do it with.

I hope this helps anyone who might be flatting for the first time, or anyone struggling who is on the verge of tears. If you do end up living in a bad flat hopefully one day you can look back and laugh about it. After all flatting is only temporary. One day you’ll have your own place and it’ll be pure bliss.

Mental Illness: Let’s Talk About It

Mental illness. These words are often the elephant in the room. When these words are spoken it’s as if no one knows what to say. What if you say the wrong thing? It’s not unusual to tread carefully with your words. But what I’ve noticed is the silence. The silence is worse than anything. Mostly because people shuffle around awkwardly and they prefer not to talk about such a thing. Well, I want to talk about it.

I have known people close to me that have suffered from mental illness. Only with time did I realise what was occurring. As I grew older, I began to understand from my own experiences and from seeing others go through it, that when bad things happen in life, a bad break up, a death, or a loss of a job, depression can kick in very unexpectedly. I know that New Zealand as a whole has some of the highest rates of suicide and depression. Now is the time for us to talk about it more in every day conversation and to give people the hope they so desperately need. So that no one feels like they have to suffer alone.

I wanted to do something a bit different with this blog and something more personal. I interviewed some friends who have kindly shared their experiences about their mental health/illness including; anxiety, depression, and bipolar. I’m very humbled that they’re letting me share their story, so thank you again. I’m sure their experiences will encourage people who might currently be struggling. Read on to find out about their inspiring journeys.

Bipolar

winnie-the-pooh

I thought it would be interesting to speak to Raz, 25, because he is a true friend, he is full of energy and he has a very captivating personality. Most of all, he is very straightforward and upfront about his ups and downs with his bipolar disorder. It’s both admiring and encouraging! Check out how far Raz has come and what he thinks about bipolar:

When did you first notice any signs or signals that you had bipolar disorder? 

I first found out when I was diagnosed while in rehab for drugs. Prior to this I didn’t suspect I had any type of disorder.

Did it take a while for you to accept it or were you ready to seek help?
I didn’t want help, at the time rehab felt like a prison. Being strapped to the bed so I wouldn’t hurt myself.
Was it quite scary to deal with at first?
Not exactly scared, I didn’t want their help. I was young and dumb, there was a twisted pleasure from denying their help. Having to get used to taking all these different type of pills, therapy and just in talking things out instead of resorting to violence was something completely foreign to me.
Are your moods quite unpredictable and is there a sense of mania or depression?
Yeah, my mood changes a lot. I can wake up happy and by the end of the day I can be depressed, even suicidal. Generally, I can’t tell if I’m going through mania or a depressive state until it’s over. While in one of those states it feels as if you have been like this your entire life, at least that’s how I feel.
Have you pinpointed certain triggers that make your bipolar more intense, like lack of sleep or stress?
Triggers can be anything really. Something I see for example, can trigger a memory and that in turn triggers an episode. Stress not so much for me personally. I learned how to deal with stress but sleep deprivation does. The medication I take sometimes causes insomnia, so it’s like a vicious cycle.
Do you take medication, and has this improved or helped you a lot?
I take anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers. They have helped, episodes rarely happen but the feeling of depression that sometimes happens doesn’t really go away.
Are your friends and family supportive of your journey? 
Yes, every one has been really accepting. If not for some of my friends which I consider like family I probably wouldn’t be alive right now.
Have you always felt quite comfortable to share your story with other people and if so why?
I don’t have anything to hide. I’m not ashamed of having Bipolar disorder. I’ve always being straight forward with people. What you see is what you get, you either accept me for who I am or you don’t.
Have you ever had a breakdown or had a moment where your bipolar felt like it couldn’t be controlled?
Yes, when I had my two suicide attempts via overdose. In those moments I just couldn’t see any way out of the situation apart from death. I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Ending it all seemed the only way I could be at peace.
How do you put yourself in a good mood or pull yourself out of a negative space?
I call a couple of my mates who I mentioned are like family to me. Talking to them always calms me down. I also think of the best thing that happened to me that day and just focus on that.
For people who might not know much about it how would you explain bipolar in your own words?
It’s hard describing it. Unpredictability, self-destructivness, one moment you feel like you can take on the world and start doing reckless shit like “Yeah, stealing this car and driving it off the pier sounds like an adventure” and you can’t hear how crazy that sounds. It just sounds normal to you. And then when mania ends you’re on the floor crying because of depression.
What would be your advice to those struggling who might be afraid to tell other people or don’t want to get help?
Please get help, I couldn’t have gone through some of the stuff I did if it wasn’t for people willing to help. Don’t be afraid to tell people. If they distance themselves from you when they find out, it just proves they weren’t real friends to begin with. And you need as little negativity in your life as possible.

Anxiety & Depression

rftbac-peanuts-my-anxieties-have-anxieties

Now dealing with mental illness is one that is not easy and one person I spoke to has anxiety, depression, and bipolar. We’ve had good chats in the past about mental illness and Hannah is very brave for opening up about it. Read more on Hannah’s personal experience and how she perseveres:

At what age were you diagnosed with bipolar, depression, and anxiety? 

I was diagnosed at 16.

Having all three must be a struggle, are there days where it becomes to much or you break down?

I break down quite frequently. I am seeing a psychiatrist weekly though for more help and as someone I can talk too. And I get support through medicine.

Is one thing more present than the other sometimes, for instance one day do you feel anxious and depressed or does it happen all at once?

The depression is definitely more present than the other. Anxiety comes about only in situations where I feel extremely uncomfortable.

When did you think to yourself that it was time to start medication and to see a counselor?
I didn’t think anything was wrong with me. My parents saw that I was suffering and forced me to go get medical help.
Are you surrounded by good people such as friends and family that support you?
My family is very supportive of my condition, and they try to make sure my days are full of things that make me happy and put me in a positive place. My friends likewise know about my condition and are very kind towards me.
What helps you to calm down or to put you in a positive mood when you’re feeling quite down?
I listen to music that I can sing along too or have a smoke and talk to a friend on the phone, it calms me down the most.
What triggers you to self harm or to think of suicidal thoughts and how do you get out of that state of mind?
I haven’t self harmed myself in quite a while now and I think it’s due to the medication I’m taking. What would trigger me to hurt myself is thinking about little things I’ve done in the past which make me feel very low about myself and my self esteem. Once I’m in that mood it’s very hard to come out of it. If I get that way I will end up hurting myself in one way or another.
How would you describe an anxiety attack for people that don’t know what it really is?
I get really really scared all of a sudden, my breath becomes short and at times I feel like I can’t breathe. Quite similar to a panic attack which I suffer from as well, but if you have them both you know the differences.
Having these mental illnesses, does it make things quite difficult such as being in a relationship or having a job?
I think I find it a bit tricky being in a relationship because I want things to be serious and always positive. With a relationship there’s always going to be ups and downs and with my insecurities that come along with these mental issues that I have, they put up a barrier at times. I find it hard to fully trust people.
Do you ever feel afraid to tell people about your condition in case they judge you or don’t understand it?
Yes! I am always careful with who I tell because people brush it off and say “there’s no such thing, she just wants attention” and it’s things like that which really hurt someone like me and brings my self esteem down even lower.
What would your message be to people who are struggling with anxiety, bipolar, or depression?
Get help! The sooner the better. People are there who want to talk to you and help you sort out your problems. Don’t bottle it all up, get it out!
After what you’ve gone through do you feel like a stronger person and has it taught you a lot about yourself?
I’m still recovering and getting the help I need from doctors and my family. It will take a lot of time but I am fully committed to getting the help and to get better.

Depression

13329617_1427046547321282_6292145216688342401_o.jpgNatalie Lanfear, 23, is a huge role model to me and a great advocate for mental illness. Natalie has a YouTube channel/series that looks at her experiences with depression as well. I’m excited to be chatting to Natalie today! Read on for more about her plans for the future:

When did you first know you had depression, and did you recognise it as depression?

I’d most likely had depression for around two and a half years before being diagnosed by a doctor with depression (although I have experienced diagnosed anxiety since the age of 14). I had no idea for those two and a half years prior to being diagnosed that depression was something I had left alone, something I would experience or have to go through. Even when being diagnosed with depression, it took me a long time to accept that I had this illness, (mostly due to myself being a stubborn person) and that it was in fact something that I had.

However, deep down I knew something wasn’t right. I was having more bad months and seasons (rather than just days) than good, and life became a chore to do rather than be lived. Hiding the pain was something I’d somewhat become the master of, so other people didn’t know that I had it. In real terms this actually made my mental health heightened and worse by covering it up.

Do you think having depression changed your life dramatically?

Yes depression for sure changed my life dramatically. My first bought of depression happened when I was quite young at seventeen years old after a sporting injury. I had to take an entire year off school in year 12. It really changed my life and the relationships between people in my life at school. At the time I had no idea what I was going through and having to balance the act of typical teenage highs and lows whilst battling my mind was a never ending cycle of inner turmoil. I relapsed twice in the three years following this time. This is why I am partly so passionate to talk about mental health especially towards young people.

Are there some days that are harder than other days?

Without a doubt some days are harder than others living with a mental illness. A common misconception I’ve found in the past year, as in 2016 I have been speaking more about mental health on a public scale, is that because I am in recovery I am magically cured! Usually this misconception is fuelled by ignorance of mis-education that has been placed within society. Granted the recovery is not even comparable to living through depression, I would not wish that upon anyone. But with recovery you have tools in your toolbox that you know will work for you. And you are more aware of your own signs and signals when your mental health is detonating. By experiencing mental illness you don’t just get over it, you work with it and become a newer, improved version of yourself when embarking upon recovery.

What things help you get through or put you in a better mood?

Things that help manage my mental wellness are exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, attempting to have balance in my life with trusted family and friends. Being extremely honest with myself within how I’m feeling, saying no doing tasks or events where appropriate, doing hobbies that I enjoy and knowing my personality, which lies towards ambivert qualities. For example, I love being around people but also know my limits and need time and space to be alone to recharge whilst knowing within myself this is alright.

Were your friends and family quite supportive when you told them?

I was very lucky that I had an extremely supportive family and close group of friends. Although my family and friends knew long before I did, or wanted to accept that I had depression, that I wasn’t myself. At the age of 17, it was a time when I found out who my true friends were and I am lucky to still have these people in my life today. Although we don’t live close anymore with our lives having gone in different directions. Our bond as friends is strong because we have all gone through our fair share of ups and downs, mental health struggles included!

Are there certain triggers that might make your depression harder to deal with?

One trigger that makes it difficult to manage my depression is change. Change in relation to everyday life events, major life events, and seasonal change. Change is inevitable within life and change is always to going to happen. I can’t speak for the future and predict how having been through depression may help or hinder changes in future events. But being aware of my triggers and how to best respond to them, will assist in preventing a relapse and managing my mental wellness for life.

I think it’s also important to note that depression can affect people in a number of different ways, noticeable triggers may not be evident for all people experiencing depression and triggers can be hard to pinpoint.

What made you want to share your story to the public?

I have been running my YouTube channel for the past three years. I always knew I wanted to talk about mental health in some form but timing is everything. I had to make sure I was in a suitable head space to be able to talk about my mental health whilst safeguarding and protecting my mental well being at the same time. I ran a mental wellness web series on my YouTube channel this year which was well received, and also shared my personal experience with the black dog. I was extremely nervous to do this but felt I was at a point on my mental health journey that I could manage it.

I had a great desire to share aspects of my story in hope that it would help others who are experiencing/experienced their own mental distress. I wanted to provide them with hope and a form of comfort that mental illness can be recovered from.

Have you always been quite open to discuss depression if people ask about it?

Yes I have been quite open in discussing depression if people ask about it. I’ve always been the kind of person who is comfortable in discussing difficult topics with others when it is right, mental health is no exception. Mental health and depression aren’t dirty words, we all have mental health. It is something that should be discussed, in good times and bad.

Do you think the stigma around mental illness makes it hard for people to open up about their struggles?

Absolutely. Although I was happy to discuss my struggles with mental illness doesn’t mean I wasn’t apprehensive about the stigma that is associated. and continues to be associated with mental illness/health and wellness. However, I do feel like with myself , and many others, who share their stories about their experiences with mental illness, that the stigma does have less chance of thriving with the more people who discuss it.

You’ve done some amazing work raising awareness for mental health/illnesses in Taranaki, what do you hope to achieve next?

Thank you. That is very kind of you to say. It has been without a doubt an incredible year on with working on my mental health awareness projects that I have been lucky to be part of. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without my strong support crew around me and people within the community who have been backing these projects as well.

How the Media Ruined the Election

During the past week the world has turned upside down, people have taken sides, and the country of America has split in two. Some would claim that all of this is due to one person. Donald Trump. Everyone has had a good kick out of the election but things turned nasty very quickly. It doesn’t matter if you’re a supporter of Trump or Clinton there is a more important question that is being ignored. What has happened to the media and the standards of reporting?

The term “journalist” seems to have gotten lost during this election – especially the media coverage. I’ve observed and noticed these stories one after the other all with a similar theme. The mainstream media covered the election with one-sided stories that were full of bias and missing objectivity.

The media has given Hillary a piggyback through this whole campaign and protected her from “bad press.” I’m not buying what the media is saying and I know there is certainly more to the story. This is why I’ve looked into it further and done my own investigating to see how the media influences people when it comes to an election.

The Media’s Agenda 

Throughout the campaign there is a lot of information thrown out at people in America, they are given news stories left right and center. After consuming various stories there is pressure, sweat dripping down the forehead; who do they vote for? This is looked at very closely in this article:The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media, by Maxwelle E.McCombs, and Donald L.Shaw:

“The pledges, promises, and rhetoric encapsulated in news stories, columns, and editorials constitute much of the information upon which a voting decision is made.”

McCombs and Shaw investigated the 1968 presidential campaign and looked at what readers saw in the news, on TV, and other news content. They carefully studied how it affected the reader’s perceptions of a particular candidate. There are many other documentaries and theories on the deception of mainstream media, but if I discussed them all this would become a very long blog so moving on.

Voting ballot box

Fast forward to 2016 and we’re in a very similar situation, with more advanced technology, but the media still has a few tricks up their sleeve. A few weeks before the election the media assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win the polls. The narrative started to appear that she was going to skip happily into the White House. The media were wrong. Very wrong. American magazines had to retract copies of their “Madam President” issue. They were so sure of her win but it was an expensive mistake.

I suppose it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why the reporting of the presidential campaign was so poorly done. On the one hand there is Trump who many don’t like because he sometimes puts his foot in mouth. Then on the other side there is the unpopular politician. Without an honest or balanced coverage of each candidate it makes it hard for the reader to understand that Clinton’s previous allegations are real and illegal, and that Trumps “scandals” are simply taken out of context or false.

The media has instead created and formed the political debate to their liking. Let’s take a look at the last couple of weeks that covered the election. Have you seen one positive story about Donald Trump? Have you seen any negative stories on Hillary Clinton? The negative stories published against Trump seem to outweigh any sort of bad word against Clinton. The media and their coverage of the election seemed to pave the way for Trump’s success without even realising it. The media got played at their own game and quite frankly they’ve embarrassed themselves globally.

Top Ten Things You Should Know About the Election

I’ve had to dig deep during this time of gathering research to discover what isn’t pointed out in the mainstream media. The charade of the campaign have taken attention away from other pressing matters. Some of these events that are mentioned have happened before the election, after, and they’re also occurring in America at present. Prepare yourself some of these are shocking.

  1. This Isn’t the First “Upsetting” Result

The Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton result is not the first one to shock and upset the nation. There are many campaigns that had surprising outcomes. From Ronald Regan, to Barack Obama, and George Bush’s triumphs. No one expected these outcomes. From the famous image below of Harry Truman’s unexpected win. It really shows that when it comes to the election no one really knows what will happen.

truman-defeats-dewey

  1. The Journalists that Supported Clinton’s Campaign

I’ve already mentioned it, but I was curious to know why I was only seeing many well-known American news organisations spreading news stories that slammed Donald Trump. The media has been taken by storm and their true motives came to light. WikiLeaks published a list of at least 38 reporters that colluded with Clinton’s campaign from the following news organisations:

  • ABC
  • Bloomberg
  • CBS
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • Daily Beast
  • Huffington Post
  • MORE
  • MSNBC
  • NBC
  • New Republic
  • New York Times
  • New Yorker
  • PEOPLE
  • POLITICO
  • The Guardian
  • The Hill
  • VICE
  • VOX
  • Washington Post
  1. Donald Trump Tells Journalists Off

donald-trump

Each news article that I have seen posts stories about celebrities disliking Trump, that his hair is amusing, that he is racist, xenophobic, there have been death threats among other things. Enough was enough and Trump decided to have a private meeting with top reporters. Quite noticeably Trump called out news outlets, especially CNN, and called them a room “full of liars.” Trump has already said that he is running against the crooked media at one of his rallies. Trump did mention that he hopes to restore his relationship with the media, one that’s based on fairness. But still, for those journalists to get told off like that, ouch.

  1. The Real Hillary Clinton

Now everyone knows Clinton for her lying and corruption, but her supporters don’t seem to care as the pro-Clinton media has lately shown. But wait there’s more. People have testified to Hillary’s bad behavior and temper that stems back many years. Former Secret Service officer Gary Byrne wrote a book, Crisis of Character, and shares what Hillary was like during her time as First Lady. He also reveals how the Clintons operated in the White House.

Brynes did a brave thing by going on live Television to share his story in an interview on Fox News. You can imagine how hard they would have tried to stop him from publishing! He tells the audience that Hillary is two different people especially in private. He stresses that she is not a leader and he wanted to let people know how dangerous she is before they decided to vote. According to Brynes, Hillary terrifies her staff, screams and yells at people if something is not going her way.

hillary-angry-700x330A perfect example of this is the election night and Hillary’s mysterious absence. I wondered why her supporters were left to cry tears and stand alone with their candidate nowhere to be seen. In reality, Hillary was in no state to address her supporters. Once it dawned on her that she had lost Breitbart reported her mood quickly made a turn for the worse:

“She began yelling, screaming obscenities, and pounding furniture. She picked up objects and threw them at attendants and staff. She was in an uncontrollable rage.”

  1. Radical Alinsky: Obama and Clinton

Back in her days of College, Hillary Clinton did her thesis on Saul Alinsky, a man who famously published his book; Rule for Radicals; A Practical Primer for Realistic Standards. Alinsky was known for his methods of disrupting meetings, and tactics on winning media attention. What’s more surprising is that on the blurb of his book he mentions Lucifer and refers to him as the first radical. Although Clinton later turned down a job from Alinsky she has yet to quash the rumours that her and Obama are tied to this idea of a radical change. There are some interesting articles that explores how Obama could potentially be tied to the radical movement.

  1. George Soros: The Billionaire’s Agenda

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George Soros is considered to be one of the most dangerous men alive. Rewind the clock back to when George Schwarts was a teenager, before his name was changed to a less “Jewish sounding name.” During the war, George turned on Jews and handed them over to the Nazi’s to save himself. Over the years, Soros earned many names for himself. In Thailand, they call him an “economic war criminal.” He is also famous for being the “man that broke the bank of England.”

So why are the Democratic Party so happy to work with such a crook? Perhaps it’s because he likes to spend his $24 billion net worth on politics. He has given millions to the Democratic party and left-wing causes. He helped to kick-start Obama’s career, and he funded organisations that were dedicated to kicking George Bush out of the White House. He is more than just a billionaire it seems that his influence goes beyond money and his own agenda is being pushed across America. You can see more about why people ranked him as dangerous here.

  1. MoveOn.org

moveon-orgThis website allows people to create campaigns and sign petitions to create a change. Trump is a big one on their hit list. MoveOn.org announced that they will be running a multi-million-dollar campaign to keep Trump out of the White House. Isn’t it ironic that back when Obama won the republicans didn’t go around protesting?

Funnily enough, under the stop Donald Trump campaign the website this, “We pledge ourselves to speak out nonviolently in every way possible against the politics of hate, violence, and exclusion Donald Trump represents.” Yet many of their protests, and others have displayed violence. This organisation is saying they are against hate but they promote it in almost every way. MoveOn.org is yet another organisation that is funded by George Soros. What a coincidence.

8. Anti-Trump Protests Were Paid For

Back in March 2016, there was a protest held outside Trump Tower. Surprisingly enough, those who protested were only there because they had responded to an advertisement on Cragslist. According to sources these protests are designed to stifle free speech, and the protests are actually paid for by those who support Clinton; George Soros, and MoveOn.org. Several Trump protesters admitted they were offered $16 an hour. Talk about faux protests.

  1. Suck it Up Buttercup

Imagine if your schools and Universities cancelled classes because you were just to upset at Trump getting elected to do any school work. Well that’s what happened over in America. In some schools students were given counselling, a dog, and even colouring books. Bobby Kaufmaan, Chairman of the Iowa House Oversight Committee believes the reactions are ridiculous. He wants to launch an investigation into state schools to see how many taxpayer dollars money are being spent on these “crybaby” reactions. And rightly so. The campaign is called Suck it Up Buttercup, and it seems that millennials should do exactly that.

  1. The Are Still Many Americans Unemployed

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There are 7.8 million unemployed Americans to date, and not much has changed since August 2015. Could this be why Americans voted for Trump? They know he is a businessman and that he has given people jobs. People are tired of promises from politicians that don’t come true, of overpriced Obamacare, and now the people want something different. Although there weren’t the best options to choose from the voters made their choice. They’re fed up and they want their jobs back.

Bring Back Honest Reporting

People have erupted in horror at the result of this election, the sky is falling, the world is over! I doubt people would have over reacted as much if the media had taken a different angle to this whole campaign. Maybe we will see some strong and clear-eyed journalists reporting with transparency and fairness when Donald Trump enters the White House. We can only hope that the media does better coverage of all future events. After all that’s what they’re getting paid for.

 

Big City Big Dreams

The bright lights, the smell of a new city, and a fresh start. By day downtown is the heart of this booming city. Cups of coffee, greeting friends with a smile, and a biscuit in one hand. Crumbs fall on my lap as I watch the people go by in the street. A lady asks for peoples signatures to support a protest. People sit on corners of the street with their eyes closed as they play their instruments. The melody echoes down the road right into my ears and it’s a lovely sound. I give some coins to the man who is content with just himself and his music. Pop up stalls and passionate people with a cause often linger around. One group tells a crowd about the ice melting in Antarctica. I am approached and given some sort of new 3D gadget, where you watch the documentary in virtual reality. Things jump up on the screen and a polar bear is just a few meters away from my vision. I take the device off and squint at the sky. Then I am back to reality and hike up Queen Street here is a tip; do not wear heels up that steep hill.

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At night time Auckland is full of decorations where the trees are covered in lantern lights and drops of light sprinkle the streets. The Sky Tower stands proudly in the center of the city. I remember having dinner in the Orbit restaurant where the place rotated once every hour. It was a wonderful view alongside a good steak, but I did get distracted by the spinning it was very amusing. In town an ice rink sees a crowd of people fumbling around trying to ice skate, but they have a fun time anyway. I glance at all the shops as I wander by. Quirky coffee shops are hidden on each corner, food and more food is everywhere. There is so much to choose from how can I not feel greedy with all the options? Finding my local place to go is a must; a pub, or hang out spot. It is something special to have a little getaway.

 Straight Outta University

Some people travel and others get the chance to do what they enjoy. Others may relax or work for awhile to reach their goals. There are many times when I have gotten the common question after studying:

What are you going to do now?

Well I can tell you what happened it occurred in a bit of a blur. I packed my suitcase and was off. My lovely regular customers were shocked to hear I was leaving. The ones who come in at the exact same time every morning with the usual set of groceries. I was wished good luck by family and friends. I heaved my suitcase that weighed a couple of rock, and landed in Auckland. I’m happy to have joined the team at Prominence as a Content Writer. You can even view my little welcome blog here. I’ve learnt the team are a cool bunch of people to work with and a cute office dog often visits. I think my fascination with Star Trek, Star Wars, and cups of tea has helped me fit in a bit.

When it comes down to it, I have do that whole “grown up” thing of making wise choice and standing on my own two feet. I did get a bit lost on my first day and was feeling a bit mortified but I am getting better. Embarrassment is all a part of it right? In saying that I did just drop some food on myself while writing this. So if you are eating and typing do it with caution. Anyway, I think I’ve done a good job of surviving when I was a student. What do I refer to myself as now? A graduate? Still figuring out bus routes? No longer can I purchase a student movie ticket which means I am on the path to officially being a young adult. I have being equipped with knowledge from those who have it. The adult world is a step up but not all so different. It still includes multi-tasking, coffee, and grades on performance.

New Dot On the Map

I have lived in many places including England, New Plymouth, and Wellington. It is Auckland’s turn this time. I have visited this city yet never pictured myself living here. Now I am another one to add to the population of one `million and it continues to grow. By 2020 the population is estimated to reach at least four million. We will all have to squeeze into this city where everything is at a persons fingertips. I still feel like I’m on holiday and will be leaving soon it’s a strange thing. The best part is the chance to explore and wander as far as I want to. I’m still doing some sightseeing and finding quirky things in the area.I am off and out into the real world where people can be harsh, but really they are just being honest.

I bumped into a friend today out of all the places it was a sense of something familiar. Although I rushed to a new town I am having a good time so far. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but it is comforting to know home is never to far away.

Twenty two

Well I’m now twenty two. There have been plenty of milestones and great memories. A few fashion disasters, and a mullet at some point in my childhood due to an accidental hair cut. Most of all in this post I wanted to share a few things I think are important.

1) Believe in yourself. You have to start by raising, and building yourself up when others don’t believe in you. The people who achieve amazing extraordinary things are the ones who were told they couldn’t do it. Be confident in everything you do. I believe you can fly, and yes you can touch the sky.

2) If you’re having a bad day, remember it will pass. Some days you may feel like there is no point getting out of bed. You feel like you’re not where you want to be in life. You’re happy for others who are doing well but wish you could reach that level. It all takes time and everyone works at their own pace. Don’t sweat too much. Try again tomorrow.

3) Find kindred spirits. We often connect to people at different levels. Finding people who are eager to talk about similar interests, and having intellectual conversations is probably the nicest feeling where you’re both on the same page.

4) Don’t be consumed by technology. There are plenty of people who can’t stay offline. We live in a digital age where people are addicted to technology. We can’t go anywhere without phones or taking a selfie on holiday. Sitting a few inches away from a performer and we still somehow have our phones out.

Some wander the streets and get injured playing games on their phones. Families sit in a living room all on their phone, iPad, or other device. It shows how sucked into technology we are. Bring it back to the old days. Write letters or send a card. Read the                       paper. Could you last without a cellphone in your hand?

5) Mental illness. A person may just be feeling down and we can never know the pain of what someone is going through. It could be anything from a break up. Feeling depressed, anxiety or any form of an inner battle. It doesn’t define them the label is what society has created. They’re afraid and they may not even want to tell anyone about it because of the stigma around mental illness. I know people who are affected in different ways but I will always be a friend if they need to talk. During research for study I found Sir John Kirwan to be a great advocate on the matter as someone who has gone depression himself. He says depression is not a weakness. You can check out more of his talk here. 

6) Don’t think just write. My friend gave me an inspiring book by Steven Pressfield about creativity.

One of the first things Pressfield talks about is resistance. He basically sums up my problem when it comes to writing; procrastination;

“We don’t just put off our lives today, we put them off until our deathbed. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on resistance” – The War of Art; Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. 

7) A higher power. Some meditate and find peach within. Whereas others still search for that extra thing that seems to be missing from their life. Whether it is faith or religion everyone has a different opinion. People seem to be on the same path of trying to discover the meaning of life. All of the various religions lead to the one conclusion of finding a higher power. Many people feel at ease knowing someone is guiding, and watching over them no matter what. What do you believe in?

8) Share the love. To many people bring each other down because of jealousy or hate. The pressure from the media is always telling us how to act, look, and feel. Share the positive attitude. Women, and men are constantly battling with self destructive thoughts and you might not even know it. The world is a dark place to live in right now. There is a lot of negativity in the news. Martin Luther King Jr and his wise words resonate today more than ever.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

9) Spend time alone. You don’t need to chase after people to prove you’re important. Focus on yourself. Practice what you enjoy to do. When I’m older I will probably want to have told my younger self don’t waste time to just try to put effort into pleasing other people, men, women, friends, relationships. It will be there for you to pursue when the time comes.

10) A balanced mind goes well with a balanced body. If you look after your mind then the results show on the outside. Good food with a few treats. Now it may take me a while to get rid of some dark eye circles due to years of studying, but hey the crinkles and wrinkles show character right? I enjoy a nice face mask at the end of each week from LUSH, and a chance to detox all the stress or jumbled thoughts. A cup tea with a good book is a nice little getaway.

11) Love. The word has been thrown around so much by people who don’t know how to express or show it in actions rather than just words. It can be used against someone, and an excuse for bad behaviour. I don’t think it’s fair to settle for less if someone gives it their all, and in return they get half attempts at romance and no effort. Today’s generation confuses short satisfaction with real relationships the notion has become so twisted that it’s all turned into fun and games. There are shortcuts and cheats to trying to win someone’s heart just for a “laugh.” I give a round of applause to the good gentleman, and kind women who respect and value the word love. So when can you know what on earth the mystery is? The four letter word that has had people puzzled for centuries it remains an unsolved riddle for many.

12) Laughter.  Sometimes a sense of humour is the best type of charm. Those quirky and fun people you meet who dazzle everyone with their wit and charm. If I’m remembered for one thing I hope people say I made them laugh. I once dreamed of been a comedian but performing in front of people is not a strength of mine. I do enjoy it when people make me laugh. You’re doing something right.

13) Forgiveness. Whoever did you wrong, stole your barbie, and called you names or bullied you in school. Whoever hurt you do your best to forgive. It doesn’t mean they need to know or that you need to get in touch. Some people do enjoy upsetting others, and if that’s how they treat people that’s their problem not yours. Let it go and feel at peace.

14) Speak up about causes. Save the animals. Stop the violence. There are plenty of things to fight for in today’s society. Since when did violence and hate become the norm? It’s the few people who speak up that make a difference. Peaceful protests, and positive leaders who inspire those for generations to come.

15) Friends and family. They are always there for you and see you grow, and become who you are today. Encouraging and also many laughs along the way it always a blessing to have supportive friends and family.

16) Never stop learning. Education doesn’t stop once you leave school or stop studying. Going out into the world with new experience is where the learning begins and it never stops. The thirst to know more about life is always there.

17) Have good role models. Looking up to people who are down to earth, and kind can influence a person a lot. They can be inspired by those around them, and influenced in a positive way that makes them strive to achieve great things. I’m inspired by women who continue to fight for their rights for equality and everyday people who try to make a change. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the sacrifice of those people.

18) We are all geniuses. Some of the people considered to be the smartest in the world were ridiculed, and laughed at. It’s the people who think outside of the box that make you really sit up and listen. Everyone is good at something, and has different talents. We all have something to offer.

19) What is an empath. A great quote from Sylvester McNutt says;

My superpower is the ability to feel. I am an empath. I relate to and feel other’s pain, joy, and happiness. It’s a gift and a curse.

Empaths often have great hearts, and people feel comfortable opening up to them. Showing emotion is seen as a sign of strength, and consideration of others. It seems that often these people put others happiness before their own so it is important to take care of yourself as well. If you’re interested to read more about empaths this article by Christel Broederlow is quite interesting. I can relate to some of these things, and I’m sure many others do as well.

20) Enjoy every birthday. As the years go by I still like waking up to balloons. Eating cake, and having a jolly good time whether I’m ten years old or fifty. Yay for Disney movies.

21) Embrace yourself. Imagine if we were all content with how we looked. The scars and the quirky things about ourselves. Would you hide that cute laugh that sounds a bit like a seal when you get excited or would you embrace it? Would you step outside without make up on? The truth is we’ll always feel a bit insecure. Learning to love yourself is like climbing the mountain of self acceptance you will fall a goat may get in your way, and one day you will reach the top. You are you, and I am me. How brilliant is that?

22)  Take a step back and see how far you’ve come. The ups and downs of life have made me hopefully a bit wiser. Knowing right from wrong. Things could have gone different and sometimes things happen that are out of my control. I am always taught a lesson by life whether I like it or not. I have achievements behind me which I am proud of. They’re milestones to look back on to say hey I actually did that! If something embarrassing happens I try to laugh it off. There are fails and triumphs. As a huge Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fan I shall say each day has an unexpected journey around the corner so let’s go on an adventure!

How to Cope with Stress and Depression at Work

This week I wanted to talk about something that isn’t really shared much, but it should be. I have done previous blogs around mental health and depression. This time I thought it’d be important to highlight something that affects a lot of people. Depression at work. How on earth can you spot something like that? It’s a valuable question to ask because quite often a person might simply shrug it off as stress and think they’re just having a bad day. I personally want to talk more about it so people are able to identity depression or stress at work before it gets worse.

Depression at work can slowly creep up on anyone at anytime. In fact, one in six New Zealand adults were diagnosed with a mental disorder in 2013. What’s even more shocking is to know millennials are more depressed at work than any generation. These findings shed some light on why young people or adults might be more afraid to voice their concerns about mental illness because of the stigma around it.

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I’ve talked about the stigma around mental illness in previous blogs but you an imagine how daunting it’d be to share this kind of information in a work environment. A perfect example of this was when I used to work in customer service. The supervisor at the time was talking about an employee’s mental health like it was any other topic. They were gossiping about them and I was listening in horror. That employee had obviously disclosed this information in private and it was been shared with other people without their consent. Not all work places are like this but it could be one of the big problems around mental health and work places. People don’t know how to talk about it or address it.

Employees might not want to tell their boss about their reasons for wanting a day off, so it can lead to people showing up to work 9-5 five days a week. Yet they’ll perform well below average and won’t really seem like themselves. When things start to get out of control there are unfortunate consequences which can eventually lead to losing a job or leaving because you feel completely miserable. This isn’t enjoyable for anyone to go through because a common feeling with depression is guilt, so if you fail in your work life, it’s an ongoing vicious cycle. I’ve been hesitant to open up about my own experience but seeing other people on my news feed be courageous and say they left their job because they were experiencing depression, or struggling, made me want to do the same.

My experience only really happened towards the end after a few months. I had a great team I liked working with, an awesome job, and a healthy pay check. Yet I wasn’t healthy myself. This isn’t to say oh hey I got a new job and it made me depressed. That’s not how it works. Things in my personal life had seeped over where I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I was stressing myself out over little things. So if you aren’t getting enough sleep you aren’t productive at work and you don’t eat properly and so on. I had of course tried to sort out those things in my personal life and things would seem fine but then there started to be more grey days than good days. Eventually it all became too much.

lose itAfter performing well and achieving accomplishments I had gotten worse. I wondered why I couldn’t complete even the most basic tasks. I would drag myself to work and as soon as I walked in the door already I would feel like a failure dreading the day ahead. Surely this wasn’t normal. How could I be feeling this way when I’ve had many jobs in the past and thrived in busy environments? The worst thing to do is to push it aside and pretend it’s all rainbows and sunshine. I was afraid to jeopardize my new position and lose everything. I know I’m a good writer it’s what I love to do and what I want to do for a job yet my weakness was I couldn’t admit I actually had a problem. Partly because I’m a bit stubborn and pride got in the way where I thought the dark cloud would pass.

While you might not have experienced depression like I have, you’ve most likely had a bad day. Depression, however, isn’t just a low day that goes away. Everyone can feel sad, grumpy, or moody every once in a while. With depression these feelings can continue for days, weeks, or even years. It’s a lonely and horrible place to be. Plus, it can seem almost impossible to tell the difference between stress and depression at work if you haven’t experienced it before. So here are some common symptoms of stress and depression at work, but again everyone might be different:

Stress at Work 

  • Increased anxiety and irritability.
  • Impaired sleep and concentration.
  • Verbal or physical aggression.
  • Reduced attention span and impaired memory.

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Depression at work

  • Low, depressive mood with negative thoughts about self and others.
  • Numbness, emptiness and despondency.
  • Lack of interest in life and motivation to do things.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Lack of appetite, or comfort eating.
  • Sleep disturbance.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Self-neglect.
  • Anxiety.
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm.

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Getting Help 

If you’re experiencing stress at work it could be to do with your work load or other areas of your life. It’s much easier to pull yourself out of stress if you get help early and simply talk to someone about it to avoid getting burnt out. Decrease your workload or take the time to find a healthy balance. A bit of stress is good if it keeps you motivated where you meet deadlines, but not if you’re falling asleep at your desk and chugging a crazy amount of coffee each day.

Of course it isn’t just as easy as saying you can pull yourself out of severe depression because you can’t. I’m not saying it’s an easy road to recovery but the first step is admitting the problem otherwise it just goes on and on. Reading the symptoms now you may think it’s easy to spot the problem but I was experiencing some of these things without actually knowing it for at least a year. I now look back and realise I can’t blame myself for something that was out of my control. Having a mental illness isn’t your fault.

The best way to get better is to seek the help you need either through counselling or medication depending on how severe the depression is. Little things like exercise and doing things you enjoy can help with depression. Other things like meditation and getting rid of negative thoughts. Even knowing what triggers your stress or depression is a good step towards self healing.

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Walking up Mt Eden for some exercise

Most of all don’t push yourself or ruin your mental health. If the job isn’t working for you perhaps take a break for the sake of your sanity and as hard as it is, leaving a job can sometimes be the only option. There will be other jobs and opportunities in the future, but you are your number one priority. People sometimes ask, “what if that situation happened again?” well, I now know the symptoms of stress and how to handle it. Right now I’m in great health and have overcome depression, but I probably wouldn’t recognise myself a few months ago.

Some people with mental health can hold down jobs quite easily and for others it might prove to be a lot harder. Since we spend a lot of our time at work feeling supported at your job is important. You don’t need to yell it out in the middle of the office that you have anxiety or depression or whatever it is, and you don’t have to disclose your mental health situation to your employer if you don’t want to. Yet chatting to the right people and those who you feel comfortable with can bring a feeling of relief. Whether it’s family, friends or a partner, people who can support you are those who truly care about you no matter what.

If I have any advice for someone who might be going through stress or depression don’t suffer alone. Dealing with depression or mental illness isn’t a weakness. There are the old feelings of will people pity me if I tell them, will they think differently of me and not think I’m capable of functioning properly. The fear of feeling vulnerable in front of others and not wanting to draw attention to myself. When I began to think more positively I realised I wasn’t alone. There are others who have gone through a similar situation or know someone who has.

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Remember you’re valued just as much if you open up to people about a mental illness. Having a mental illness often feels like you’re trapped in your own mind and in a emotional prison. Or that you’re in a fight and it’s you vs you. It won’t happen over night but gradually you’ll get better and win the fight. Just like when you heal from an injury or a broken bone, your mind is also healing, day by day you become stronger until you’re ready to get back on track.

A Political War

Just like in my last blog I was curious to see how the media covered events in the past few weeks. It has become popular to condemn people on social media and condemn the President. If you don’t call Trump names you’ll most likely be told to sit in the corner because you’re a “fascist” a “racist” or a “Nazi.” The Democratic party and the angry people in the media basically follow the idea; if Trump wants it I must oppose it. No matter what. Some very obvious American hating propaganda is everywhere at the moment.

What I’ve found is that there are great reporters on both sides of the American political debate and there are poor ones as well. Sometimes you just have to search to find the better ones, which is what I’ve done. Along with my own research and investigating of course. I wanted to look past the negativity brewing and the name calling and really see what is going on behind the scenes. This includes the party of hate, children being used for anti-Trump propaganda, a Women’s March to Islam, people comparing Trump to Hitler. You’ll have to read it to believe it.

  1. The Party of Hate

Since the election, hate crimes and violence have taken over America and swarmed the streets. Journalists and people who support Trump are very likely to get threats, hate mail, and vile comments thrown at them via social media. Some comments even tell people that they are a disgrace to their race. The Berkeley riots and terrorist acts have shown the Republicans and conservatives are now in a political war.

For a college that fought so hard for the Free Speech Movement in 1964, they have ironically turned back the clock and betrayed everything they stood for. Milo Yiannopoulus a conservative entertainment figure was invited by Berkeley College Republicans to speak. Now of course the liberals have proved how delusional they are by calling him a “Nazi”, “white supremacist”, and a “fascist. You can’t call someone a Nazi or Hitler because it’s impossible to compare anyone to Hitler. Not to mention it’s an unspeakable insult to Holocaust survivors to trivialize their horrors and throw the word around just because you don’t agree with someone.

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The protests happened first, but then the University was taken over by a group of people in ninja like outfits with black masks on their face. How can the protesters be protesting their own fascism? I’m sure they’re wearing masks so they aren’t grounded by their parents as most of them most likely still live at home. On their wild night out the rioters set fire to stuff, broke windows threw fireworks, attacked innocent women and people who were generally just curious to hear Milo speak. Here is a testimonial from a woman who was beaten. These women were pepper sprayed and beaten with flag poles and the Left decided to call it a victory. The celebrity endorsement of violence in the mainstream media is clear:

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What happened at Berkeley was almost a mirror of the violence and rioting that happened on inauguration day as well. Both celebrities and the liberal media gave the terrorist groups a spotlight who show up uninvited and disrupt the somewhat peaceful protests. Same people with black masks. Same tactics. The only difference is the group on inauguration day call themselves #Disrupt J20, but the group at Berkeley call themselves Antifa. They could just admit what they really are:

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You can bet that the mainstream media subtly applauded these acts, well you could say they left out the very important part about violence, and painted them as protests instead. They were riots not protests. The Berkeley Student Paper praised the anti-Milo protests. Time goes as far to say that riots are a necessary part of the evolution of society. CNN has a video with the title, Trump slams Berkeley protests. In the New York Times, Berkeley cancels Milo Yiannapoulus speech and Trump tweets outrage. Wait for it though it gets even better. There was a conspiracy that Milo had organised the riots. Cough, fake news. To find out what actually happened I took a look at some other news sources. I was interested to see Milo’s response to the riots and he composed himself very well in this interview on Fox News where he discussed political violence.

A number of other people on the Right have shared their opinions on the horrific events that have unfolded. Dr. Michael Savage’s comparison between extreme anti-Trump supporters and the tactics used by Nazi Brown Shirts seems quite fitting. This isn’t to say that these people are Nazi’s but it shows how far they’re willing to go. All you have to do is look at Antifa anarchists tactics, and communist German anarchists whose violent and intimidation tactics helped Hitler rise to power in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Sturmabteilung men known as Storm Troopers, or Brown Shirts, protected Party meetings, marched in Nazi rallies and physically assaulted political opponents. The only difference today, as this great article points out, is that these people like Antifa are not Nationalists. These people are Marxist Communists and they are international. They’re wreaking havoc in America and Europe and people surprisingly support it:

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What is even more uncanny is the way the police, media, and local figures turn a blind eye. They seem to condone these illegal acts of violence on behalf of a totalitarian government which thinks they are above the law. This is exactly what Storm Troopers did. Nazism was destroyed in 1945 and Communism slowly faded away, but Internationalism Socialism lived on in Western Countries. It’s in the media, in the education system, Universities, where professors and deceptive teaching leads to brainwashed adolescents. The Left follow an ideology that is set on ruining American society and their civil rights.

If you aren’t convinced by recent events, this video shows a professor who screamed and shouted swear words at police because they wouldn’t attack a conservative speaker. In another case, Yvette Felarca, a national organiser of left-wing militant activist group By Any Means Necessary was featured on the Tucker Carlson show. Yvette is a middle school teacher who was very happy to say Milo should not be allowed to speak anywhere. In the video you can see her throwing a man to the ground. These people are somehow allowed to teach. Here we have another video of a Dallas teacher pointing a water gun saying “die” to a video of Trump. The worst one has to be these videos though. These poor children were made to read an anti-Trump message. How disturbing that these children are being used for political bias that they have no clue about. Let them go outside to play and just be children! It looks like the liberal media have learnt some cues from Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS who use children to spread propaganda.

Well, the examples above explain where the education system in America has gone wrong. These young people are being manipulated to destroy the country from within. As Robert Spencer points out in this well-presented article, the Democratic Party has painted their opposition as enemies for years and even decades. He noticed the hostility and vicious hatred that the Left directed at Ronald Reagan back in the 80’s. It all falls under Saul Alinksy’s rule number five which says that ridicule is man’s most potent weapon:

Years ago, the Democratic Party as a whole, along with the entire Leftist establishment, adopted the Alinskyite tactic of ridiculing, mocking and smearing their foes instead of engaging them on the level of ideas. Leftists today routinely portray their opponents as simultaneously stupid and evil, idiotic but crafty; it’s practically a reflex.

If we rewind back to the early 2000’s it’s easy to see that the Left was stirring up this kind of trouble long before Trump took office. Their behaviour during the election and after the election is not normal at all and completely un-American. Republicans and conservatives have remained peaceful, but things are only going to get worse. Conservatives may have to even adopt some of the same tactics the left are using to protect themselves. Author, speech writer and columnist, Peggy Noonan, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal in 2006 which sums the situation up perfectly:

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace — of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn’t had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that.

2. Women’s March

The media praises the Women’s March and said it gives voice to a roar of resistance. The numbers and historical turnout cannot be denied. Yet it would be interesting to know if the women wearing p***y hats were aware, or cared to know, who the organisers of the Women’s March actually were. Like many of the Left-wing charades this was yet another attempt to show their superiority and reject anyone who did not accept socialism, reject pro-life supporters, and banish women who voted for Trump. For those who are interested to look beyond such obvious indoctrination, the facts will come as quite a shock.

One of the main organisers of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour, is a Palestinian-American activist, Linda Sarsour. She is also the executive director of Arab American Association of New York which was created after 9/11. Huffington Post and many others quickly jumped to her defense and that she had been targeted by viscous Islamophobic attacks online after the march. All you have to do is look at Twitter to see how openly Linda romanticizes Sharia Law based on her own personal experience, apparently:

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Wait a minute. Sharia Law allows a man to marry an infant at the age of 9, rape women, women can lose custody of their children in divorce, and women can’t drive. Sharia Law has already weaved it’s way into the UK, and spread through Europe, and even into America. It’s not hidden it’s all in plain sight. The ideal Islamic state is Saudi Arabia where Sharia Law is enforced with brutality. As you can see Linda seems to have a very different definition though:

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Well Linda you sure did pull the wool over their eyes.

To get a better grasp on the March it was important to look at the funding, politics, and stance taken. What the march forgot to mention is that it is not a Women’s March, it’s an anti-Trump march. There are claims that George Soros has ties to at least 50 organisations, out of the 403 groups that funded the march. Names include Planned Parenthood which are against Trump’s anti-abortion stance, Amnesty International, and the National Resource Defense Council, who strongly oppose Trump’s environmental views.

At the end of the day, Madonna talking about blowing up the White House, and celebrities whining on stage, including convicted criminals, were not the most evident symbol. The biggest symbol was the Muslim veil. There was shock and even anger that women in America, and non-Muslims, were wearing the hijab. Cheri Berens, an American who has lived in Egypt for years working as a researcher for the Egyptian Ministry of Culture wrote a blog titled, Women’s March to Islam? She says that for Muslim women in Egypt who watched the scenes in Washington D.C it was disturbingly familiar:

The women in the coffee shop began to get visibly agitated. One said, “We have been fighting to remove the headscarf. Why are these stupid women putting them on?”

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Berens explains further that women who refuse to wear the hijab are made to suffer:

In Muslim countries such as Egypt, women who do not wear the headscarf are often sexually harassed or attacked. They are beaten, they are raped; and sometimes they are killed. In 2012, when the Muslim Brotherhood took power, there were several attacks on Christian women on trains. They were grabbed, their hair chopped off, and they were pushed off the fast-moving train. They were told they must wear a headscarf even though they are not Muslim.

So did the March somehow become a message about getting Islam into the White House? In the real world, you can’t claim to stand for rights as a woman and wear a veil that would take away your rights. These women in the photo below have insulted everything the American flag stands for.

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The women who truly respect women’s rights were not given an invitation to this march, they watched silently from the sidelines, their voices were not heard, and they’re not convinced. Instead, they peacefully marched for pro-life where Muslim veils and profanities were non-existent. But hey, the media bias was on full display when certain outlets chose to give them barely any coverage even though Vice President Mike Pence made a speech.

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3. Anti-Abortion Signed by Men, Roe v Wade Signed by Men

The trending photo on Twitter that has come up is this photo of Trump signing his anti-abortion executive order. It was shared on my news feed and people expressed their disgust that men were deciding the fate on what women can do with their bodies. Fair enough ladies. Remember Roe v Wade. The Supreme Court were a room full of men who decided the fate of abortion in 1973 by declaring it legal under the Fourteenth Amendment.

President Donald Trump Signs Executive Orders

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From left, front row: Associate Justice Potter Stewart, William O. Douglas, Chief Justice Warren Berger, Associate Justice William J. Brennan Jr, and Byron A. White. Back row: Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr, Thurgood Marshall, Harry A. Blackmun and William H. Rehnquist.

The abortion debate has divided the nation and constantly nudges at people’s conscience. Fast forward to 40 years and there have been more than 50 million abortions. Where are the protests and outrage over that. Of course it isn’t considered genocide because these babies are unborn. Very often the media like to make out that all women are somehow for abortion and don’t present both sides of the angle.

It would be amazing if mainstream media notice this mature 16 year old, Autumn, who made such a bold and powerful statement in a response to harmful messages in Teen Vogue. The article is about what to get a friend post-abortion and makes it sound like it’s something to celebrate. Girl power. It’s like someone gave the writer some strange gags and gifts and said here write about this. The language used in the article suggests all teenagers skip into the clinic like they’re getting their hair done. Check out Autumn’s strong and moving speech here.

As a final thought, I think it is fair to be either pro-choice or pro-life. What people shouldn’t do is force someone else to pay for their abortion. If you say women should only have control over their bodies, why should the government be involved with what you do with your body? Pro-life women have had to fork out money to fund abortions that goes against their beliefs and everything they stand for. Now they are the ones who finally get to celebrate and rejoice with a President who finally stands up for the unborn. Something that hasn’t happened since the days of Ronald Reagan.

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4. The Refugee Ban, Yes REFUGEE Ban

This will be a good game. Try to count how many times you’ve seen Trumps immigration refugee order referred to as the “Muslim Ban” in the media. I tried to count. I got to about 60 and gave up. Just to be clear it’s a 90-day ban on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Also known as the Visa Waver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, what a mouth full. These countries were already established by Obama as terrorist hot spots, and Trump made it clear he wished to secure the borders then of course there was an uproar. The experts and media like to call it a “Muslim Ban” though.

Media outlets who frequently say “Muslim Ban” include the New York Times, Stuff, Vox, The Guardian and there are many others. Now the use of language I find strange here is the rush to call it a “Muslim Ban.” It’s not a Muslim ban, but as history has shown the media have censored their language when it comes to Islam. To criticize Islam would be deemed as Islamophobic. Trump has made it clear he is against illegal aliens. His wife is a legal immigrant. The difference is very big. Legal. Illegal.

There seems to be a piece missing from the puzzle though. The media is so focused on painting Trump as the enemy that they forget to mention they have represented Muslims negatively in the media for decades. Both before 9/11 and afterwards under Bush and Obama. Every journalist knows that trauma, crime, and natural disasters make the best news. Hence why terrorist and suicide bombers always make the headlines. The use of the language “Muslim Ban” was no accident it is a clever play on words. It was used to evoke an emotional response from viewers.

If the media are so concerned about such a ban surely there would be more Muslim guests featured on cable news to give some clear evidence. I have seen very few shows that show Muslim experts or people who say the ban has impacted them directly. That’s why I don’t buy it. This is not limited to conservative news either. As the image shows below, Fox News featured the most Muslim speakers regarding the ban, but CNN didn’t:

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It’s evident that liberal media outlets have a certain narrative embedded in how they portray the news. With the rise of violence, ISIS, and the election Muslims have become the main topic for political debate. They are often scrutinized and studied by outsiders yet they are never invited to the VIP party to express their views. Awkward. The approach taken by the liberal media is to inspect and talk about the “Muslim Ban” but what seems strange about the picture is that there is usually a panel of male non-Muslims talking about it.

People are quick to give sympathy and pity Muslims, the country cries out to let them in, but they do not believe Muslims should contribute to the discussion. Do I smell hypocrisy in the air. By excluding Muslim voices from the media it only enhances stereotypes against Muslims. It’s well known fact that Western countries only get their source of news through the media and the results can shape their view of the Middle East significantly. A survey by Pew proves American’s know little or nothing about Islam, while 68% of Muslims in seven countries believe Westerners are selfish.

What is happening in the media is that Muslims are described as victims in a one-sided argument when really they aren’t. The award winning and eye opening documentary, Jihad in America: The Grand Deception, shows how the media can be swayed at times but it is up to the viewer to decide. An Islamic Society of North America spokeswoman for CAIR says in the documentary:

“Media in the US is very gullible. If you have something to say, especially as a Muslim; they’ll come running to you. Take advantage of that!”

5. Make America Great Again

I could go on and on with a long list of things that have happened but one thing that was a light in all the darkness was this. Seeing Melanie Trump open the Florida rally with the Lord’s prayer. It was very touching to see her hold her head high after the media have attacked her and called her terrible names which I won’t repeat here. What is such a shame is how the left made fun of her for praying. I find it odd that liberals are so against Christianity and strong advocates for Islam. If women can march around wearing the hijab a strong intelligent women can say the Lord’s prayer.

In dark and desperate times like these we could all use a little prayer. A prayer for America as the Left try to destroy the country instead of sharing it with others. The media has aided the Democratic Party for years and handed out rioters like candy. For the not my President fans look around at the madness that is unfolding and the people you associate yourselves with. They’re turning into everything they supposedly hate while the real enemy has yet to show their face. What is encouraging is seeing people fight to protect their country and culture. They’ve had enough. They’ve also had enough of the mainstream media who can report local news and the weather, but are too busy taking sides to report the real facts. Right now, more than ever, good journalists are critical to ensuring objectivity and fairness. Although we may not always agree with what they say, its important to respect journalists who are dedicated to get to the core and find out the truth. We need that now more than ever.

The Mystery of the Human Memory

Would you want to go to sleep if you knew that you wouldn’t even remember your own name when you woke up? There would be no memory of the past or any idea of the future. You wouldn’t even know your own name. You might wonder why I ask such a shocking question, but this scenario came to mind after watching the movie, Embers. The movie showed a world that had been struck by a virus leaving people with a form of amnesia. People had to relearn simple things everyday and everything looked like it was in ruins and in chaos, because no one knew how to do anything. What a strange isolated place it would be to not have any memories.

The idea of memories pop up a lot in the media and in films. Sometimes long-term and short-term memories are separated into colorful happy little creatures known as different moods. Yes I am referring to Inside Out. Even though it is a animated film it does have an important message that every single memory, sad, happy, or angry plays a vital part in shaping who we are. So what is memory and why is it important to our lives?

Defining Memory 

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Take a trip down memory lane.

Generally, memory is described as the process of storing information. Each memory from the past affects or influences what we do in the present. So if a memory is linked to an action, like been told off for eating the last cookie, it’s most likely a person will avoid doing this again. Well, maybe. Cookies are rather tempting.

Our brain uses three stages of memory known as encoding, storage, and retrieval. The way that we encode information can be visual through pictures. Now there is the term “photographic” memory where people are said to have a superb knack for remembering things visually. Although there’s no specific proof that photographic memory exists, there are some people that do have excellent techniques and they can remember things instantly. Another stage of memory is when we use acoustic sounds to keep things in our heads and this is related to short-term memory. Just like hundreds of song lyrics you can sing along to, or quotes to a movie. How is that we can remember so many songs but studying for a test seems grueling? I have tried to associate study notes with songs to see if it made any difference in remembering certain topics. I can’t say that it was an effective test, but the music did make it a bit more fun.

There are times in our lives where we associate memories with meaning and these are long-term. So of course childhood memories like learning how to ride a bike or your first day of school can be considered the most meaningful. Later on in life, we remember our birthdays and favourite times with friends and family. Then there are the more tragic times in life where people lose a friend or someone they care about. All of these long-term memories can last a lifetime.

Unwanted Memories

We all at times are selective of what we like to keep and what we don’t. This is known as memory repression, where unwanted memories are forgotten by pushing them into the unconscious. Although it is a controversial notion it is still rather interesting. If people try so hard to erase certain memories it can be stressful. Perhathey haven’t found peace with the thing that they’ve tried to get rid of in the first place. On the other hand, as time goes on some memories become less present in the mind and they can even change over the years. We move on to create new memories and experiences and the the old memories are erased in a way. But you might catch yourself thinking about a distant memory and it does happen right out of the blue!

Memory Loss

We’re lucky to have a functioning memory. As life goes on old age takes over, and memory loss can happen for some people. Getting back those memories can be a struggle. Losing that type of independence would be hard for anyone since it’s not a choice either. So wherever you are right now or whatever you might be doing, your memories are there for a reason. Don’t let them go just yet.

Summary

The human memory is a wonderful and interesting instrument where each memory is unique. The mind is a lively place filled with ideas and stories that are yet to come. Memory makes up our identity and sense of self. Maybe the good and the bad snippets of memories can co-exist to remind us of the obstacles we’ve overcome, and it can prepare us for the challenges ahead.

Life after University

I take my seat at the graduation ceremony after rushing around trying to find a toilet. I squeeze past people through the narrow aisle and sit down. I keep trying to remember the rules. Shake the first person’s hand, but don’t shake the second person’s hand. Also don’t trip over. What if I put my hat on backwards? How embarrassing. I try to cross my legs with the small amount of room that I have. I crash into the chair. No better not do that. My mind is bouncing back and forth between thoughts. Just calm down. I could be nervous or it could be all of the excitement leading up to this day.

It has all come down to this moment. Three years of an emotional roller coaster with triumphs, and failures. It’s not easy to sum up all the good, and the bad. The day I left home was the day I had taken baby steps to becoming independent. No more nice home cooked meals. I had to fend for myself in the world. I packed my bags one day with my blankets in a dustbin bag, and a suitcase filled to the brim. A fresh eyed deer arriving in Wellington ready for new beginnings.

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I really was in awe because I had never lived in a town where it was always buzzing. There were so many things to do. The atmosphere was creative, artistic, and people expressed themselves with no hesitation. There were people with curly hair, green hair, pink hair. Paint stained their fingers. Baggy colorful jerseys were worn and big boots. The old fashion was making a come back. People smelt like coffee, old leather jackets, and something else. Something new. I made the time to go exploring as soon as I arrived. Having a sip of a cold drink in a stylish bar. Discovering quirky cafe’s with art all over the walls. Finding little clothing stores. Seeing performances from Matt Corby, and Ed Sheeran. Going to festivals, and soaking up everything the town had to offer. Running home in the rain just to have a cup of tea afterwards. Going to museums, and galleries. Walking on the beach where the sand is jagged and feels like crushed pebbles. There was always something happening in windy Wellington.

I felt like I  was part of the culture it was something special. It felt like my first day of school shopping for stationary, and getting organized. I was enjoying my summer holiday, but slowly the day arrived where I had to go to University by myself. On my first day I knew about two people from back homee. Well this is a good start. I tried focusing on the papers and getting my head stuck into it, but it took time to figure out what I enjoyed. The first year was core papers, and I liked some subjects more than other papers. It was also the year of finding new friends, and going to social gatherings which can sometimes distract from studying. It’s good to have a balance right? One of the best parts for me was meeting so many different people who all have a unique outlook on life. Without them I don’t think it would have been as much fun. Having friends who are supportive, and can make you laugh no matter what mood you’re in are the ones you should never let go. As one of my favourite writers puts it Beau Taplin;

You have always been a good and devoted friend to me. You speak the same language, elevate my spirits, and embrace me despite my many shortcomings. My affections for you are unyielding and true. You are family to me. And I am family to you.

Sometimes words don’t need to be said when you’re in the company of a few good people. The music can be playing, and somehow you’re on the same level where you connect with a simple smile. The late night missions to get takeaways in the freezing cold. Talking or just having a laugh. Everyone has a busy schedule so it feels pretty superb to catch up with a friend knowing they will make a bit of time for you. There was always that one coffee shop we went to on Courtney Place. The hang out spot. I still have those friends from University I kept close to me, and I am always thankful for them because the journey wasn’t over yet.

When the second year rolled around there was no time for messing around. Well except for playing games in drama class that was a good way to unwind. Jumping up and down the room, and balancing pillows was rather hilarious. On a more serious note I had to find myself to figure out my strengths, and weaknesses as a writer. I thought I was good at high school but this was not the same. I was tested. I had to share my work in class in front of peers which was kind of terrifying. Drama, performance, and writing fiction are not my best strengths. I’m not a shy person as such, but in the creative papers for performing I was quite happy to disappear into a corner and pretend to be a pillow. Getting up on a stage to act is a nightmare. In my third year I took a paper which was leading up to the final performance of a play. I did not want to be in it at all. I thought about switching papers, and crying in the corner. With encouragement I persevered and played a villainous character. Even if I was sick with a cold on the day of performance, and sneezing back stage. I was still glad I did it. Performing on stage is meant to boost confidence and help you later in life. Hopefully if I ever have to give any more presentations in front of people, or play a captain with a cool hat I will be prepared. It was a big moment for me and something I can always look back on, and feel proud of.

There are times where I was also not so proud. This is the part where I indulge with the stressful times because three years is a long time. There were a lot of days when I wanted to give up. I got distracted by doubts, and people that weren’t so good for me. I wondered what on earth am I doing here I’m no genius there are plenty of better writers here than me. Not a good way of thinking, but yes it did cross my mind. There are many theories put forward to to say that everyone has their own talents. Give me a pen, paper, or a keyboard. I will write, and write. I don’t think education stops after school. We are constantly learning new things through research, and things that happen in life. Situations we’re put in can test us and make us learn more about ourselves. Like eating out or making your own dinner. The decisions become tough.

I was interested to know what others thought so I asked some friends what they found was the most stressful part of University. Exams? Getting no sleep? The workload can be a bit daunting, and it depends on the type of degree as well. The most common answer;

Trying to have a social life, have a job, and get good results.

Those C’s don’t get degrees! It is a challenge getting a workload of study done. Some students I knew had two jobs along with studying. Or they would study all day, and at night then somehow go out to a birthday party or a function. Where they got all of that energy from amazes me. Perhaps it’s the pure instinct to survive. To make ends meet drives people to work hard, and earn that well needed money. Somehow I managed to have jobs, and study at the same time. Massey even sends cute emails to say well done your grades are good! If I could go back in time to give myself some advice, and anyone planning on studying it would be the following;

  • I found it hard going to bed at a reasonable hour so don’t study late get some rest.
  • Get enough sleep take lots of vitamins.
  • Don’t bother with umbrellas.
  • The cafe’s can be a bit expensive so a packed lunch and snacks are always good.
  • Quiet snacks in lectures are good, but not crunchy crackers in the library I got stares for doing that.
  • Although a student budget is limited I did try to eat well with proper food, and chocolate of course.
  • Browse for flats on Trademe, and there are Facebook groups with lots of posts.
  • Studylink. Lots of forms and paperwork so apply early.
  • If you’re struggling with finding work check out this website studentjobsearch I found all of my jobs on there it’s an amazing way to help students. Why struggle when there are hundreds of jobs out there?

Personally I believe University put me through a test where I had to choose whether or not I would succeed. I could have walked away at any given time, but by staying committed and following my passion. I hope one day I can use it for something I like to do. I wouldn’t have met the great teachers, and friends who helped me through. I wouldn’t have become more independent, and hopefully now I’m a bit more mature. I still enjoy Disney movies though I watched a lot of those during the University holidays. Overall I made the right choice taking the plunge. Don’t worry about the money or student loan because some people spend the equivalent on a car or something else. At least my degree is something I can hold onto it won’t break down or get stolen. It’s worth a lot more. Dive in to the challenge and don’t be afraid!

I’m brought back to the present moment when the speaker calls out my degree. There are only about four of us in this first ceremony. After a few hours of clapping and proud yells from the audience “That’s my Grandson!” It is our turn to get up. I stop fiddling with my hat and walk up to the stage to collect my degree. My family are clapping in the background. I get to graduate with my best friend which is priceless. It’s more than just money or education. It’s a ongoing journey. A curiosity to learn more. This is only the beginning.

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T-shirt

I liked the way your t-shirt smelt. The fragrance of soap, and a hard days work.

I held this piece of fabric close to me the day we stopped believing.

We don’t share songs or joyful words together.

We are constant stars drifting towards separate galaxies.

Now you stare at me with taunting eyes, and no longer are your arms wrapped around me.

Is this what we have become. Tortured souls.

A reckless heart that has been sewn up with many stitches.

Your bitter words slice through my soul.

We could have soared through the sky with excitement, and quivering hands.

We should have made it.

I used to know how your t-shirt smelt.

Now I do not even remember your face.