Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

With the start of a new school year looming most parent’s thoughts are on preparing their child for school, new school uniforms will have been purchased along with a bag and stationery, questions will have been answered about the classes they will attend and the things they are set to learn.  A lot of thought will probably have been given to continued learning at home whether it be in the form of homework or activities.  A child’s education is so important for their growth and development for the future.  But there is one lesson that is not taught in a set syllabus and it is an essential skill to learn and one that could change the world.

The lesson is about kindness.  If you can teach your child to be kind in thought, in action and in word, from our own actions then the world could become a better place.  So often I see comments left on twitter, blogs and other internet sources, I hear words spoken that are hurtful and not thought about and I see actions that exclude others in one way or another and I have realised that these things, if thought about, would not have happened if we were kind to each other.

I was really not a big fan of school, most of the time I struggled to fit in which left me open to bullying.  If we were all taught to be kind, compassionate and notice others, instead of focusing on ourselves, our own wants and needs then I think my schooling could have been very different.

If we can teach our children to reach out to the lonely, the kids who are awkward, the ones that are left alone in the playground, the ones that others shun, and they can include them in what they do, it is a start.

Imagine this small act, going forward, into the future, how different our world could be?  How could you see the world changing just by teaching kindness?

So this year, and going forward, we should be teaching kindness and acting in a kind way to everyone we meet along our way, maybe we can change the world?

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

On a total flip side to last week’s “Words On Wednesday” where I wrote about how I felt a bit isolated in work, today’s post is all about being included and belonging.

Since I wrote last weeks “Words on Wednesday” post I have had lots of lovely comments from fellow bloggers with suggestions and other helpful ideas and also people sharing their feelings and stories too.  I began to realise, that although I don’t really feel like I fit in at work, I feel like I really belong here.

It struck me that blogging is one of the only places that we don’t get judged on how we look, our appearance, what we are currently wearing, our occupation, whether we are rich or poor, famous or not, whether we got good grades in school or whether we dropped out at the first opportunity, where we are from, our accent or dialect, the colour of our hair or skin, any medical conditions we may have, how we spend our time and all that other stuff that we get judged on in “real life”.  Blogging levels the playing field in so many ways.

And because of that levelling of the playing field, and we only really can judge on what each of us writes, I have found that the blogging community is far more accepting.  Since the first day I started blogging, I have never been made to feel awkward or stupid, I’ve never felt left out or singled out, I have always felt supported and able to ask advice and questions (no matter how silly they may have seemed) and I have always felt like I belong.

And that, that right there, that feeling of belonging, is what makes blogging so great. Each and every one of you have, in some way, helped me to feel like I belong.  And in turn I count each of you as one of my true friends.  And I really am very lucky to have you guys in my blog life!  Thanks so much for supporting me and reading and all the other great things you do!  🙂

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I have Aspergers, and for the most part, living with it does not really bother me but recently I have found myself feeling a bit isolated, especially in work.  Normally, I am quite happy to keep myself to myself and I actually prefer my own company or interaction with just a few select friends but recently I have been wanting to be part of the “crowd”.

With my Aspergers, I find it hard to have conversations and make friends, I never really know what to say or how to keep a conversation going, half the time my mind goes blank and there are awkward silences or I say things that are out of context, or I just feel really awkward and self-conscious.  On top of that, too much interaction can leave me feeling a bit exhausted and overwhelmed and I need time to process my thoughts and feelings.

I have been having these internal conflicts in my head, I feel that I want to talk and add things to conversations but at the same time, I have no real idea of what to say or anything.

Because of this, I very rarely get involved in conversations, especially in work, and now I’m starting to feel a bit isolated.  I don’t really sit near enough to anyone to just chit-chat over the computer monitors and would need to leave my desk to go and chat or have to raise my voice to be heard.  I’m pretty conscious that I have work to do and don’t want to be seen walking around and chatting, nor do I want to disturb anyone by raising my voice, both are things that really irritate me about others.

I do listen when people are talking and do try to join in occasionally but sometimes I feel like I’m not being listened to which is something else that puts me off from joining in.  I have been working in the same office for the past 4 years with some of my colleagues and I feel that sometimes I just don’t get included in things because I don’t get so involved and that can hurt sometimes.

A lot of my colleagues are friends outside of work and see each other regularly, go out for nights out and all sorts of other things which, for me, are too overwhelming.  My anxiety, as well as my Aspergers, makes it hard for me to do these things as I am not keen on crowds or overly loud places.  I struggle if I go out to hear what others are saying or concentrate on what is being said as everything seems as loud as the next noise and can all blur into one deafening roar.  And I think that is partly why I don’t get asked to go places as I normally say I can’t go unless it is to somewhere that I know and that I can leave when I need to.

I know that I won’t always feel like this and that I’m really ok just going to work and doing my job and coming home again, that’s what I’m paid for, but sometimes I think it would be nice to be included in these chats that go on.

I am struggling a bit with this, and really wish I could explain to others how I feel.

 

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

If you have been reading my blog for the past few weeks you will have read that I  have started trying to eat more healthy.  I have decided to eat a predominantly vegan diet with a lot more fruit, vegetables and pulses, cereal and seeds included.

There are so many reasons behind this change in what I eat, I’ve been pescetarian for years, eating a mainly vegetarian-based diet, but I have not bought milk or eggs for the past 2 years.  I drink my coffee and tea black and didn’t have eggs unless they were in something that I had ordered or prepared for me.  The reason for that shift was that whenever I bought eggs or milk I was finding that it was, more often than not, going off and needed to be thrown away, and hating waste I decided to just stop buying them.  My theory was that if I didn’t have it then it couldn’t go off and I would not be wasting money or produce.  I would, however, occasionally buy yoghurt and have that as part of my lunch for work.

Since living on my own I have really struggled with cooking for myself.  Preparing meals for one was hard work and I found that I would often cook more than I needed.  Buying meals for one was often more costly than making something, and everything took ages from preparing to cooking to eating and cleaning up.

I started to rely on sandwiches, beans, toast, soup and cereal to get me through the week.  That and a LOT of snack foods.  I found that I was eating hardly any fruit and vegetables and relying too much on what was in stock in my local shop for food.

This “diet” left me feeling tired, my skin not looking its best, my weight starting to creep back up and I was just not feeling right with myself.

I looked hard at what I had been eating and what I should be eating and decided to make a move towards a more vegan lifestyle.  Gone are the cheese topped pizzas, cheese toasties, creamy pasta bakes and in its place I am now eating a healthy breakfast, either overnight oats, made with water and topped with dried fruit, seeds or fresh fruit.  For lunch, gone are the cheese sandwiches, and I now have vegan pasta salad with tomatoes, sweetcorn, red kidney beans and another veg, or I have a simple rice dish with similar ingredients.  I prepare my lunch the evening before, having it for my dinner in the night and then the following lunchtime.  Snacks used to be crisps or chocolate, hastily eaten and hardly tasted, now I’m eating fruit in the form of fruit salads or the fruit as it is, dried fruits, nuts or seeds.  A few times a week I have a breakfast smoothie in place of the overnight oats as a treat.

I’ve come to enjoy preparing my dinner and lunch for the following day, I’m feeling a lot more energetic and less foggy-headed, my skin is getting better and I have lost a small bit of weight too.  The biggest change for me is the cost, I’ve found that by simplifying what I eat I have been able to save money on my food bill even though I have to go food shopping more often.

I always thought that going vegan was going to be really expensive and that I would need to buy specific things to eat but, in all honesty, I don’t feel the need to replace meat in my diet as I haven’t eaten meat for so long anyway, or replace other things.  I thought that I would miss cheese but have found that I can live without it.

Another surprising thing is that meals have been so easy to prepare and taste lovely too.  Today’s lunch – brown rice with mixed veg and peppers, peas, kidney beans and a tin of tomatoes took me 25 mins to prepare and cook and is really filling.

While I wouldn’t say I’m completely vegan, I think the transition period will take a while, I’m enjoying this food journey so far and am looking forward to making even more changes to what I eat.

If anyone has any easy, cheap and tasty vegan recipes I’d love to hear about them in the comments!!!!

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

It has dawned on me recently that I am beginning to feel happier in my own skin, less critical of myself and, dare I say it, a lot more comfortable just being me.

It has taken a lot to get to this place, a lot of my younger years I was bullied for being too quiet, for not fitting in, for being weird…the list goes on.  This bullying was not just verbal but physical and mental too, for years I thought that what people were saying about me must be true.  I thought I was really unlikeable and not worthy of having friends, every little thing that got said to me, I believed and, worse than that, I let it affect me.

Once I moved to college and away from my high school, the bullying stopped and I found like-minded friends but that niggling was still there, all those things that had been directed at me, becoming an echo in my own head and I would be forever doubting myself.

As time went on and I moved away, built my own life and began my working life, going to uni, becoming a “grown-up” my confidence started to heal and grow again.

But, I’d still look in the mirror and be very critical of what I saw before me, I worried about the clothes I wore and whether they were “in fashion”, whether I needed to diet, worried about my weight, what hair cut I should have, which make-up I should be using and loads of other things.

I couldn’t really work out where these feelings were coming from, until one day I sat down and was about to read a magazine that I always bought and really, really looked hard at it, at the contents of it and how it made me feel.  This glossy magazine that was aimed at women in their 20’s, that was all about being “positive” was FULL to the brim with diet advice, how to look good in this garment, what to wear to attract the right man, how to look thinner, how to get fuller hair, bigger lips, better cleavage…

All of these, supposedly helpful, articles that were pretending to be something that they weren’t.  The reality was that this magazine wasn’t full of positive vibes but full of ways that you could view yourself in a critical way.

I’d substituted the school bullies for another kind of bully.

And as women, we seem to do this every day.  We constantly seem to compare ourselves to others, are critical of our own appearance, our weight, whether we have exercised or not.  We have been taught to never be happy with what we have, to forever chasing the next version of ourselves, to constantly be aware and working on ways to change.  We are never happy.

When I realised that I had been caught up in this exhausting cycle, I wanted to get out.  I was fed up of beating myself up about this person I could be, heck, I’m here now and this “me” could do with a little love before I even look at making changes.  So I stopped.  I stopped buying those magazines that told me what I should wear, should eat, should look like and I slowly started to appreciate what I have that has been given to me.

I very rarely follow fashion, much preferring to curate my own look, I don’t diet, instead, I have an awareness of what I should be eating and not depriving myself,  I don’t weigh myself very often, I know when I have gained or lost weight by how my clothes feel and adjust what I eat and my exercise levels to accommodate these changes, I no longer spend money on some kind of ideal that I know I won’t be able to obtain and I no longer worry about whether I fit in.

I woke up and I feel happy.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Today, this post is going to be about something I have been thinking about for a long time – qualifications and skills, both of these things have been on my mind since I decided to update my C.V a few weeks ago.

We all have qualifications, G.C.S.E’s, A-Levels or the equivalent, some of us have N.V.Q’s or City and Guild’s qualifications, some of us have degrees and these are things that employers look at when we apply for jobs.

The other thing that we all have, that prospective employers are super interested in are the skills that we have obtained through different job positions we have held, these are listed under our “Work Experience” section on a C.V and often will be a brief description of what we do on a day-to-day basis in our employment.

But what about other skills that are self-taught and we have learned on our own?  Those skills that have no qualification tied to it, nor any referee that can vouch for those skills?  I have a “Hobbies and Interests” section on my C.V and have several things listed there but no real explanations of anything as, not only would it take up space but I have always been taught that professional qualifications and skills are the things that most (if not all employers) are most interested in.

I have always given a list of hobbies and interests on every C.V that I have ever handed out, but in the interviews that I have attended have never really been questioned in any depth about these topics.

It has all got me thinking…I have gained some really valuable skills that have been learned and self -taught because of my hobbies and interests, shouldn’t these skills be as important as those gained in work or educational establishments?  In fact, in some ways, shouldn’t these skills be even more important and nurtured by employers?

We spend a great deal of time with our hobbies and interests, they are things that have piqued our interests and things that we want to spend time doing, learning about and honing our skills in, and that we have taught ourselves these things should be an added bonus.

For example, through blogging, I have learned a lot about WordPress, websites, SEO, layout, design, content creation, content writing, time management, scheduling, attracting and engaging readers, social media, Canva…the list goes on.

Every single hobby and interest has its own unique skill set which should be given the opportunity to be showcased and shown off to prospective employers.  A covering letter used to be the go-to thing for being able to explain why you are interested in certain positions and any other relevant information that may be of interest to the employer when considering you for the job.  Unfortunately, many companies don’t even want a C.V any more, everything is done by generic application forms which give no space to list any other skills you may have outside of the work environment.

And that, the lack of interest in any other skills, is where my frustration lies.  I am more than just qualifications and stats that can be proven, used in a massive game of “Top Trumps” in order to single out the best candidates for the job.  There is more to my skill set than I am ever given the chance to say, and I think that goes for most people.  How can employers know that they have the best person for the job without taking into consideration us as whole people with skills that come from our “Hobbies and Interests”?

And more to the point, how can we detail our skills and experience outside of the jobs that we have had?

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about targeted advertising and its effects on mental health.

Targeted advertising campaigns are usually run by online services, typically social media such as Facebook and Instagram.  This type of advertising uses different methods of selecting the types of adverts we see, from items we have searched for online, products we have bought, our location, age, gender, race, and even relationship status.  Some of these adverts are specifically targeted, for example, you may have searched for a certain type of tea and start seeing more adverts for different types or brands of tea, others could be more generally targeted, such as posting your relationship as being single, you may get targeted with dating site adverts, others may use your demographic, mine being female, 30’s, single, in full or part and match your stats to what others in that group have been searching for, or things that advertisers may think your age group are interested in.

My thoughts on the types of targeted advertising.

  • Specifically Targeted.

I don’t mind specifically targeted adverts as I find that I can discover other brands that I may never have heard of before or items I may never have considered.  This type of advertising is a bit like browsing the supermarket shelves and can expose us to more brands and deals.

  • Generally Targeted.

Generally targeted adverts can be a good or bad thing, I’m neither for or against this type of advert.  Back in my Facebook days, I found lots of things I was interested in through generally targeted adverts, equally were the adverts that I saw making the assumption that I was lonely and needed to find a date what with being single and everything…(eyeroll)

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  • Demographically Targeted.

This type of advertising is one that I have seen a huge rise in and the one that I find affects me most mentally.  I see adverts for weight loss products, fertility treatments, baby and toddler things, wedding dresses, the list is endless.  This type of advertising makes assumptions based on what it knows about you and where you fit in society, what your age group and gender are searching for, not you specifically, and this is the advertising I think that is most damaging to our mental health.

Why do I think this demographically targeted advertising is most damaging to our mental health?

This advertising makes assumptions about us regarding our age, gender, location and shows adverts that others in that group have been looking at.  Now, the adverts that I have seen assume that because I am in my 30’s I am thinking about or having children, that I am looking to lose weight quickly, planning a wedding, buying my dream home, and I’m not doing any of those things.  On a good day, this kind of advertising doesn’t bother me, and in all honesty, I don’t pay it that much attention, however, on a bad day, this sort of advertising can add to my negative mood.  I find myself comparing me to others, feeling sad, lost and insecure, unaccomplished and wondering if I am good enough.

Instagram introduced a mute button for us to still follow an account but not see their feed anymore, partly to stop us feeling so overwhelmed by others seemingly perfect lives (well, that is what I have used it for in the past) and it has been a suggested technique by several articles to help people to start loving their own lives again.  I have gotten used to seeing perfectly styled Instagram images and am aware that the images we see are highly curated, well lit and edited, and I view them as I do magazine images –  they are only that way for a second and no one sees how bad things may be behind the camera lens, or know in truth what is really happening behind the scenes.  What I am unable to block or mute are these demographically targeted adverts that I seem to be bombarded with each and every time I step foot onto social media.  And if I am being affected by them, how many others are as well?

What do you think of demographically targeted adverts?  Let me know in the comments!  I’d love to hear your opinion.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I watched an interesting documentary film (docufilm?) on Netflix the other day called Stink.

“STINK! opens with a foul smell and a pair of kids pajamas. And a single father trying to find out what that smell could possibly be. But instead of getting a straight answer, director Jon Whelan stumbles on an even bigger issue in America, which is that some products on our store shelves are not safe — by design.”

Taken from https://stinkmovie.com/

I don’t know if you have watched the documentary but I was riveted from the start.  The documentary deals predominantly with scent starting with a nasty whiff that was on a brand new pair of pajamas that were bought from a children’s store.  This moved on to what chemicals are lurking in our day to day products that are not listed fully on the ingredients section of the packaging.

Now, I was under the impression that anything added to a product needed to be listed but there is one loophole – the things that make a product smell – scent.  I was horrified to learn that most products contain “perfume” but no real ingredients listed for this.  The documentary was set in America but upon checking several items I use on a daily basis I found that they contained “perfume” with no other information given as to what may be contained in this perfume.

What came out of the documentary is that so many different chemicals have been added to create a scent, some of them harmful, toxic, carcinogens, untested, that listing them would cause the product to never sell.

I always imagined that perfume would be some kind of alcohol, naturally derived scents and other things that were not particularly harmful to us.  When you look at the amount of advertising and money that has gone into campaigns such as quitting smoking and eating more healthy, I never thought that I could unknowingly buy something that could alter my life in such a way.

We are forever told that eating unhealthily can cause diabetes and obesity and that smoking causes cancer but really that is the tip of the iceberg, especially if products we buy and use all the time contain known carcinogens that can enter into our bloodstream through absorption by our skin.  Can we ever totally be healthy?

I guess my biggest concern is that ingredients listed on labels can be totally misleading, and what concerns me is that there are harmful substances lurking in even the most innocent of products, and if we don’t know what is in them then how can we make a good choice and protect our health?

I have not yet read any arguments that go against those raised in the documentary but it really is something that I am interested in finding out about so I can eventually come to a fully informed decision about what is contained in products.

While I am not going to go and throw away all the products that have the dubious “perfume” listed in its ingredients, I think that I will be looking a lot closer at the labels before buying things in the future.

Have you seen this documentary?  What are your thoughts on the labeling of ingredients in our products?  I’d love to hear your comments!

New Blog Series – Words on Wednesday

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I am always thinking about things; ideas that I have, thoughts, conversations, comments, opinions, annoyances, observations, the list goes on…,  and sometimes I think that I would like to share these things over my blog, but never really do as they either don’t fit into any of my blog categories, are something that is pretty current and my schedule is full or they are things that don’t warrant a full blog post dedicated to them.  This is where my new series, Words on Wednesday will fit.  Each Wednesday there will be a post called “Words on Wednesday” which will be a post about, well, anything, I am letting myself be led by my thoughts and see what happens when I have a free thinking space in which to air my views, thoughts, and goodness knows what else that may flow from my brain to my fingertips and onto this screen…we shall see what happens and where this takes me!

So, if you are interested, Words on Wednesday will be starting here on Wednesday next week!