Wednesday, 30 April 2014

When is it Time to Change?

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Do it now.  Sometimes 'later' becomes 'never'.

Last night I decided I was going to change.

I decided that we only seem to hear about the bad things we do and it is about time that that changed.

Just like that I am going to change, I think that if you aren't happy with the way you are running things in your life now is the time you can change it. There is no use saying you need time to change, the more time you spend living the way you don't want to the less time you have to live the life you want. Right now is the time to change.

This morning I got up and sent an email to the angels in my life to let them know what is great about them, what I appreciate of them. I had a think about it and thought what if they were having a really rubbish day and I didn't know about it. What if I change the way I thought about people, what if I assumed everyone was having a rubbish day. All I want when I am having a rubbish day is something to make me smile, that could be a tiny thing but it could change my day.

What I'm trying to say is, if there is something you want to do different about your life do it right now. You might not be able to change everything in one minute but you can make a start.

Hannah

Friday, 25 April 2014

Fighting Back to Fitness

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Back to Exercise

I decided that this week was going to be the start of my body's full recovery. I haven't done anything I'd consider to be 'proper exercise' since before this foot incident started and was starting to notice how weak the muscle on my bad side was.

I had anticipated that this week was going to be difficult because just popping to the shops has been exhausting as of late with my pain being so bad. On top of this my body loves me so much I have felt constantly sick which I don't know if it is due to pain or painkillers, either way I can't do anything about it so I may as well just power through. 

All of this considered I think my body has done brilliant this week!

I managed to do quite a lot of yoga which both relaxed my little head and loosened up my feet. I hadn't done yoga in so long, I'd forgotten how tiring it can be on my joints and accidentally had a nap at the end of it.

I had planned a day to go swimming on then woke up on the day feeling absolutely horrendous. This part in my brain just clicked and I found myself saying "Hannah your body has felt very far from fabulous since February. I know you are sore and feel sick but just try." So off I went to the pool, I initially couldn't even finish a length without having to stop in pain however, by the end of the hour I managed to complete six lengths before needing to stop. I did have to run to the toilet to be sick once because of the pain relief but I survived an hour swim and I am well proud of my body.

This week has been difficult but I am writing this feeling the least sick I have been recently and have managed the most food I have done recently.

Hopefully things are on the way up!

Hannah x

Fashion Revolution Day

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On 24th April 2013 an eight-storey factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1100 people. One year on the anniversary date has been named Fashion Revolution Day. Now I'm not naive enough to think that posting a picture on Twitter of me wearing my clothes inside out is going to cause a clothes manufacturing revolution but it is a symbol of my desire to be more fair trade-conscious.

A few years ago I stopped eating all chocolate then vowed to only eat fair trade chocolate as a commitment to the farmers I'll never know but that is no reason not to care.

Last week I became a vegetarian because I feel like I never know what is in the meat I'm eating and that concerns me. I'll wait until legalities change with regards to labelling of meat.

These were both commitments of journeys and now I am going to commit myself to another journey, the journey of my clothes from factory to wardrobe.

Hannah x

When Confidence Becomes Criticism

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Print by Alice Edmonston

Last year I did a TEDx talk on the body confidence of young people and what people can do to support positive body image. Since October my opinions on body image seem to have gotten stronger, I used to feel a bit awkward speaking about them. Not any more.

The decision to eventually write this post was fuelled by an argument I witnessed on Facebook in which one person was protesting that no man would want a 'skinny girl' because they have no personalities and only plus size women have hearts of gold. I was genuinely horrified to read this and felt like she single-handedly undone tons of work within body diversity.

You don't have to be plus-size to have been subjected to body shaming, if anything it can be more difficult to speak up about your body shaming experiences if you are smaller, because obviously thinner people don't have concerns about their body image too.

No matter your size you are still going to have things you don't like about your body, that's just the way it is sadly so why are people being body shamed left right and centre?!

It really gets to me that every time I talk about healthy eating or needing to exercise that someone has to say "why, you're already skinny". The reason I try and lead a healthy life has nothing to do with my size and everything to do with my health on the inside. This leads onto meal-shaming (I am not sure if that is an actual term). Why is it okay for someone to tell me to "eat some cake" or "have a burger" because "you need to put on some pounds". I will eat some cake if and when I want to eat some cake however, I am a vegetarian so won't be eating a burger any time soon. I can only imagine the horror if I told someone not to eat some cake because they need to shed some pounds. It's not your body so you have no right to try and control what goes in and out of it!

As for "skinny girls have no personalities". Come and have a chat with me about the body shaming you are doing and then you'll see my personality.

Complaining over!

Hannah x

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Invisible Illness

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I have a connective tissue disorder which causes me to have hypermobility. In simple terms my joints are over-flexible, this sounds like a great thing until you factor in the fact it causes inflammation and my body to have to over-work, leaving me exhausted. This flared up particularly badly recently leaving me on two crutches. It was obvious when I got on the bus that I struggled walking, given the crutches yet nobody allowed me to have an easy access seat which is incredibly frustrating. I understand that usually people wouldn't know if I was in pain because it is invisible but when I am dragging myself around on crutches I thought people would be a bit more considerate, maybe not. 

Related to this, I was flicking through Twitter yesterday and found a petition to get badges for the London tube available for those with invisible disabilities to enable them to have a seat similar to the "Baby On Board" badges that had been produced. Although I don't live in London I think this is a great idea. 

The petition is here if you would like to sign it: Invisible Disability Badge Petition

Hannah x

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

William Shakespeare Four Hundred and Fifty Years On

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The man who told us to wear our hearts on our sleeves was born four hundred and fifty years ago on Saturday, I like many others are amazed by the fact his legacy is still going.

Most teenagers gladly say good riddance (he came up with that too!) to Shakespeare once they leave secondary school and their days of analysing his every word are over. I am not one of those teenagers. I'm more of a Shakespeare fan when I'm not reading so deeply into it, I find that with whatever you study. Studying something teaches you how to hate it.

My favourite Shakespeare play is an exception to the rule that you will hate what you study. I studied Much Ado About Nothing six years ago and it still remains my favourite play of Shakespeare's. I think it is my favourite play because it contains one of my top ten characters of all time: Beatrice. Beatrice is a head-strong, she's sarcastic and sharp tongued but beneath it all she has a heart of gold that has just been damaged a little bit along the way. We watch her initially rip Benedick to pieces at every interaction to then agreeing to marry him. In my eyes we see a changed woman who learns to let go and love.

I identify with Beatrice for different reasons throughout the play, I see a lot of myself in the character which fills me with hope for the future given her happily ever after. On a partially related note, I told my friends if I had a daughter I would like to call her Beatrice. Partially because I love the character and think she has lots of good qualities hidden away inside of her. I would like my children, if I have any, to be as determined as she is. I also met a woman named Beatrice who was absolutely amazing and said some beautiful things to me.

My second favourite bit of Shakespeare seems a bit predictable on the surface, I love Jaques monologue in Act Two Scene Seven of As You Like It:

"All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players; 
They have their exits and their entrances, 
And one man in his time plays many parts...
...Last scene of all, 
That ends this strange eventful history, 
Is second childishness and mere oblivion, 
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

This was the first thing I read and thought 'I want that on me', I have thought of so many since that if I get all of these tattoos I will be much like a library. I am a believer of the fact that it's our experiences both good and bad that make us who we are today, we enter the world as a blank canvas. However, before discovering As You Like It I had never thought of it over the span of an entire life: we all take to life's stage with no script, we go through many a change but ultimately we all exit the same side. Without everything. Just as Jaques said. 

Shakespeare has left a legacy all these years after his death and I have no doubt in the fact it will continue. People will always make adaptations of his work, take inspiration from his work and use the phrases first coined by the man himself. 

Read some Shakespeare, I dare you. Use it how you like. 

The world is your oyster. 

Hannah x

Boobs Aren't Just for Porn

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French Connection From Sketch to Store
French Connection From Sketch to Store



















I have wanted to talk about boobs on my blog for quite a while now and the time has now come after I almost tweeted a photo of a mannequin in H&M because her top had fallen down then realised that might be a bit weird.

I first thought about this post when French Connection launched their 2013 Autumn/Winter campaign 'From Sketch to Store' featuring the work of fashion photographer Rankin. I thought the campaign was beautiful and that fact that there was naked people in it added to that, although I barely acknowledged it. When this was first launched I heard people (mostly women) outraged about the fact that naked women were being displayed on the high street, this is something I didn't get whatsoever. Firstly, there are also naked men featured. Secondly, their modesty is still protected. Thirdly, it isn't porn for goodness sake. The campaign was not about the nudity or the boobs for that matter, they were just there, just as everyone's boobs are 'just there'. The campaign did just what it said on the tin showed how their clothing went from being sketches to being available in stores.

When I tell people I don't wear a bra most days they tend to look at me like this:




There you are, the stunning Jennifer Aniston. Bra-less. So why aren't the rest of us embracing no-bra days. After telling someone I don't wear a bra they then say well, you don't need to. Neither to you, yes I do have tiny boobs but that's not the only reason I don't wear a bra, most of the time it's either because I can't be bothered or don't see the point in wearing one. No massive feminist statement either.

I've thought there is no point in a bra since the first time I abandoned it. My mam gave me a lecture about it being bad for my boobs to which all I could say back was 'what boobs?'. I can understand where people with bigger boobs are coming from when they say they need to wear a bra but who are us little boobed people trying to kid? Try it, it's liberating. I promise.




On to the feminism side of things. I don't get why it is okay for us to see male breasts but not female breasts. If anything female breasts should be the ones being celebrated and on show, they feed children. Pretty big job, eh? Recent years have seen the increase of talk around male breast reductions and how men can improve their chests, something that has been focussed on in female magazines for eons. Despite more men confessing dissatisfaction with their breasts I have seen no fewer oiled male chests casually plastered about the place. The importance is the casual sense of all of this. Women's boobs are never casual, people act like their only place is in pornographic magazines. It's not.

We all have boobs, lets chill out and be more casual about them.

Have a bra-free day, it's liberating!

Hannah x

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Events Review

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The Events
Northern Stage
Tuesday 15th April 2014
7pm
David Greig
Ft. Gosforth Community Choir


Two spilled coffees, Dizzee Rascal and Souls. The Events is ultimately a play about atrocity, forgiveness and being human.

I'm not going to lie, I initially thought I was in the wrong show, the casually dressed choir majorly threw me off but as soon as Claire starts lip syncing Bonkers then to be joined by the choirs rendition of it I knew I was in the right place however bizarre that place may be.

Jesus had started a new religion, Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that started World War One and Bod Geldof has saved Africa by the time they were the age of The Boy. This leaves him to assume "the only means I have are art or violence and I've never been very good at drawing." Supposedly a response to Anders Breivik's mass shooting on Ut√łya Island, the play tackles the subject of racism head on, ultimately asking the question:

"I think we're all racist don't you."

This made sound outwardly ridiculous because we supposedly live in an accepting society but ultimately most of society does seem to exist in little communities who keep themselves to themselves. Yes, we aren't all actively racist but I do believe in a way a lot of people are racist in some way. I feel that the play has the ability to leave a lasting impact in that it has made me think more about how society is constructed and how it ultimately runs.

The Events features a different community choir everywhere it is performed at. Gosforth Community Choir took to the stage on Tuesday to play Claire's choir and owned the stage each time they opened their mouths to sing.

"Popular kids think that people are basically good. People are basically not good."

This is a line with which all who have been tormented can identify with, when people let you down over and over you learn to think people are basically not good. This leads us to assume that is how The Boy got to the point that we meet him at in the play.

Ultimately the play dances around the subject of forgiveness as we follow Claire, a priest, who wants to forgive but cannot find it within herself so becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for The Boy's actions.

Remember:

"It's important to turn the dark things into light."

Hannah x

Friday, 18 April 2014

Thank You to the Ones Who Stayed

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I think people should always be told when they do good, nice things so that is what this post is. I am going to name individuals but there are others.

As most of you know I've recently hurt my foot so have been unable to do lots of the things I used to. I have been a bit unpredictable and unreliable, mostly because of pain. The pain is tiring and often makes me feel sick so obviously I don't always feel like going out. This is a giant thank you to those who waited around for me, who juggled things around to make things easier and just asked how I am.

Thank you to Laura B for endless cups of coffee and someone to listen to me.
Thank you for understanding and keeping me smiling.

Thank you to Ben for being the one who picked me up from hospital when all of this happened. Thanks for putting up with me crying and feeling sick of everything.
Thank you for taking me shopping when I couldn't carry any bags, as boring a job as that is.
Also thank you for keeping frozen yoghurt in your freezer.

Thank you to Beth for still giving me giggles when it felt like there wasn't much to laugh about.
Thank you for always being at the end of the phone.

Thank you to Emily for always fixing my life, usually with ice cream or chocolate buttons. T
hanks for reminding me that things are still normal.

Thank you to Laura R for being the one from uni who always checks in with how I am even when there was a chance I might have to drop out.
Thank you for being the one to help me work out the solutions to my messes.

There are other people who have supported me but these are the ones who needed the first mention.

Hannah x

Cross-Tinted Glasses

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I feel like today I may have had a breakthrough with how I identify with religion.

I went to the Good Friday service at my church, I'll be honest I didn't really want to go because I felt upset and the service is usually quite sad. I had this vision of me bursting into tears during the first hymn and leaving before doing my reading. Nevertheless I went to the service, did my part, didn't cry and stayed until the end.

Now to the breakthrough. The service was themed around 'looking through the cross' rather than at the cross. We see cross symbols on a daily basis but just look at them often with no sense of meaning or thought. The service then went on to discuss looking through the eyes of Jesus in a sense.

I've been told before that I look at things with rose-tinted glasses as if that is a bad thing, I'm starting to think these are the same as cross-tinted glasses. I believe that everyone has good in them, you just have to look for it, this is what I get from my cross-tinted glasses. We are all equal in the eyes of God. I saw a picture on Pinterest the other day that said something along the lines of don't judge people because they sin differently to you and this has kept cropping into my head since I saw it and even more so in today's service. When it comes down to it we are all equal, made up of different parts of good and bad.

I rarely write about religion on my blog because I often don't know how to articulate myself. I urge you not to be put off my this post just because you aren't religious. You don't have to believe in God to share these values. I think they are important to keep in mind no matter your religion.

I challenge you to wear your rose-tinted or cross-tinted glasses and see the good in people.

Hannah

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Ouseburn Farm

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Yesterday I had a lovely day in the sun feeling like a child again. I went for a walk through Ouseburn Valley and a visit to the farm. Ouseburn Community Farm is definitely worth a trip if you have young family members or if you, like me, miss being a child. 

Visit the website to find out about the events on over spring: http://www.bykerbridge.org.uk/farm/ 

If you need convincing, have a flick through some of my snaps below:



Saturday, 12 April 2014

Save the Richardson Eating Disorder Inpatient Service in Newcastle

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Hello,

I am blogging to ask for your help and support.

Richardson Eating Disorder Service (REDS) provide expert inpatient and outpatient care for people with eating disorders. The service won Clinical Team of the Year at the Beat Awards in March as nominated by the public as a team that never gives up. The service is committed to the care of people with eating disorders and supporting their families.

Despite being an amazing service REDS are currently experiencing the back lash of cuts to mental health services after the contract for inpatient eating disorder treatment went to Tees, Esk and Wear Valley Mental Health Trust leaving REDS without commissioned beds. Having no commissioned beds in the area means that if a person needs a hospital admission they will have to travel to Darlington, however if there are no available beds there a person could be sent even further afield.

Sending a person miles away from home when they are in a vulnerable state can prove to be more detrimental to their condition as they are away from the support of friends, family and carers. Hospitalising a person close to their home will enable them contact with 'real life' and enable a more seamless reintegration into the community when the time comes for it.

REDS has ten beds physically in their unit however these are private beds therefore a person would not automatically be place in them if there is an NHS bed located elsewhere. A campaign has launched to re-commission these beds.

This is something very close to my heart, I know someone really special who needs this care and support.

Please take the time to sign the petition.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-richardson-eating-disorder-inpatient-service-in-newcastle# 

Love

Hannah x

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Single Parents

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My amazing Mam and I
I thought about writing a Mother's Day blog post but then I figured all of the rest of the UK would be cluttering up social media with declarations of love mostly to people that will never actually read it. Go and take her a cuppa in bed, I reckon she'll prefer that. With that in mind this blog post isn't specifically about my Mam but about all single parents in the world because for the most part they are amazing super parents.

I thought about this blog post the other night when I went to see an author talk by Erin Lange and was thinking about her book Dead Ends in which both of the protagonists come from single parent households so my little head started ticking.

For all of the people out there who think a family needs to consist of a two parent household and that's how a child gets the best start in life, I'm going to have to disagree with you. Most of the other kids I went to school with were from two-parent households however I don't think this made me feel odd in school. It didn't feel different to be from a single-parent household, maybe that's because my Mam did all of the things I needed her to.

I didn't need to come from a two-parent household because I had one super parent. Now that I am older and know how the world works I have no idea how she coped being a single parent with two under-five daughters but she did and that is pretty amazing.

When I got a bit older I wasn't really living in a single-parent household as such. My Mam's partner moved in and for all intensive purposes served as an extra parent. The poor man got all of the raw deals that come with a teenage girl: going to the midnight book launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, helping me move into my flat (and out and into another one) and driving me the whole way to the Scottish Highlands.

I guess what I am trying to say is, in a round about way I am happy to have been brought up by a single Mam, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Hannah x

What's a Diagnosis?

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I believe getting a diagnosis can either make or break a person. It will either make sense of their world or make a complete mess of their world. For me a diagnosis made things made sense. 

As some of you might know I've been on crutches for awhile, around two months. All I was told at the hospital was that there was a bone bent in my foot and that I needed to be seen urgently by Rheumatology, I then waited two months to see a specialist at Rheumatology. This time was really difficult for me:

1. I had convinced myself that I would need surgery to have the bone straightened.

2. I couldn't go to work because of the crutches so I felt really sad.

3. Every day I seemed to have a new guessed diagnosis. 

4. I was in almost constant pain and when I wasn't I felt sick off the pain killers I was using. 

I have a wealth of bad doctor experiences so assumed I wouldn't get any answers from my appointment with the specialist. Thankfully, exactly the opposite happened. I was treated by one of the most lovely doctors I have ever met and she explained the problem. Apparently all of the problems I am having at the minute are because of a combination of Hypermobility Syndrome and Reynaud's. I got diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome in my early teens, I had physio and some medication to help with pain, it made some things difficult but I could manage. Recently, I definitely have been managing. As for Reynaud's, my circulation has always been rubbish but I had never been diagnosed with anything until today. 

I am now on medication to treat both of these conditions, the one for Reynaud's is working instantly. I could actually feel my feet the other day! (This is a big deal). The one for hypermobility will take a little bit longer but the doctor seemed confident that it should make things a lot better. 

Things feel like they're on the up again, good treatment can change people's lives. Be positive! 

Next stop: Great North Run 

Hannah

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

How to be an Ally to your Trans* Friends

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Hello Internet,



My friend Ben vlogs on Youtube channel OurLifeAsTrans and on his own channel minusthejerrys both of which are really awesome so you should head over and have a listen.

Last week as part of Allies Week on OurLifeAsTrans I made a video with Ben on 'How to be an Ally', have a little watch please:



p.s. I am wearing my pyjamas and look a little bit poorly, I was.

Hannah x

School of Language

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Cluny, Newcastle 
Monday 7th April 2014
8pm


Displaying photo.JPG
School of Language - 07/04/2014

You wouldn't think Monday's Cluny gig was the first School of Language had done since September 2008 with the form Dave Brewis held throughout. I had hoped the entire gig would have been performed in the Mario-esque boiler suits with matching School of Language caps they wore during sound check however Brewis returned to the stage dressed his trendy self.

Brewis played songs mostly from the released on the day album, Old Fears however the show would not have been complete without a song or two from Sea From Shore namely the Rockist set, much to the delight of the audience. Now that singles aren't a big deal any more the audience were blissfully unaware of the musical mastery that was to come out of Brewis' mouth and guitar.

An album that takes us back to Brewis' roots, Old Fears feels so much like we are flitting through his early adult years and dare I say it his early love encounters in Suits us Better. Almost like we can see his romance on a screen, his lyrics are encompassing of many a young boy-meets-girl scenario, but with a focus being literature, there is a tenderness and a uniqueness to Brewis' words not found by myself before.

I really want to write about Dress Up however in this moment the words escape me and all I can think is go and buy Old Fears, jump to track five and soak up the quirky beauty of the track. Then times that beauty by one hundred and you have the atmosphere of Monday night.

Never have I heard such a good gig announcement as "My wife made cakes", every other merch stand is quite clearly missing Dave Brewis' wife Laura's free bubblegum-pink cupcakes iced with an album title.

Displaying photo.JPG
Ms Brewis Bakes

"This is definitely the last song because we don't know any more and encores are bullshit"

Praise be to the Lord that I did not have to stand the awkward crowd moment of waiting for a band to return to the stage when we all knew it would happen because they hadn't played something so obvious like their titled track.

If you happen to be located elsewhere in the UK, try and catch School of Language on tour.

Hannah x

Friday, 4 April 2014

Erin Lange Author Event

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Seven Stories
Wednesday 2nd April 2014
6pm


'By reading I was someday learning how to write.'

Displaying image.jpeg
'This coffee shop was my safe place.'

Erin Lange, Erin Jade Lange, EJ, Monkey and a few other names that are lost in my short memory. Erin Lange has three small scars on each knee off an operation on dislocated knee caps; a giant leg scar from nobody telling her you don't press down when you shave; a moon shaped scar on her arm that came from being a Subway Sandwich Artist; a scar on her head after it was stapled back together and a toe scar from falling down an escalator in Chicago. Erin Lange's biggest scar is a one none of us could see, the scar of 'stupid', the scar from age thirteen which still hasn't faded.

The term bullying is just another word we're all desensitised to, yeahyeah everyone was bullied, kids are kids. Next. Well no, not everyone is and it's not just kids being kids. Erin went on to talk about meeting elderly people with Alzheimer's, most of whom couldn't remember their family members but each and every one of them remembered being bullied. That's the thing about being bullied, it's okay to remember it ten, twenty years later and still be a little bit scared when you pass that same bully from high school on the street.

By day Erin works in the news room as a producer, she's the one behind the scenes telling the people on TV what to do while by night she writes fiction and finds that 'reality is way worse and scarier than fiction'. That response alone explains the need for debut novel Butter, the tale of a boy who threatens to eat himself to death live on the interne, because for every event we would never happen there are cases of it happening all over the world. More than one thousand people signed online to watch Abraham Biggs take his own life so, sadly I have no doubt that Butter could happen. Erin then went on to tell us that this is why she writes, yes she can't change the facts but she can 'give the edge of hope'.

With this, we learn a lesson:

'Don't be afraid to write what they tell you not to write.'

As readers we are never satisfied, especially when it comes to fantastic authors like Erin Lange so the only obvious question is 'what's next'? Next is a story of four teens who witness a crime and then accidentially commit one of their own. In the twenty four hours that follow this they learn that the people to trust are each other. Aka: the Breakfast Club on wheels with an edge of thriller. 

Visit Erin's website here for news and information on Butter and Dead Ends: http://www.erinjadelange.com/

Follow Erin on Twitter: @erinjadelange