Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

It’s my Birthday today and I’m celebrating by having the day off from work!  Seriously, booking my Birthday off as annual leave has been a long-standing tradition which started when I was in primary school.

My birthday falls just before school half term and my Mum would never let me have my Birthday off from school unlike my friends Mum who aaaaalllllwwaaaayyyysss let her have her Birthday off if it fell on a school day.  I vowed then, when I was 6 years old, in the middle of the playground, on a damp October morning, when I had been made to leave my new Birthday toys at home and attend school, that when I was an “adult” and working I would never, ever, never work on my birthday ever.

As soon as the annual leave renews itself (in my current job it is every April that we get our new holiday allowance for the year) I book my Birthday off.  And every job I have had, it has always been questioned as my employers always think that booking off a day in October when it is the first week of April is a bit weird, but it is one promise that I made to myself that I vow to keep and so far I’m doing pretty good!

So, my plans for today?  Well, even though this will be published at 8am (UK time) I will probably still be sleeping (this schedule thing is totally amazing!) and plan on having a lie-in with Roxy until late morning.  I then plan on getting up and making myself a lovely fresh, proper coffee, toast and marmalade and sitting to enjoy it before opening my presents from my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew.  I will then get dressed and head to my local pet shop.  I got given a fish tank from a friend as part of my birthday presents, and I have a voucher to use so I intend to get some bits and pieces for it – gravel, lights, ornaments, bubble thing and get it all set up and running so I can add fish to it in a few weeks time.

In the afternoon my Mum and Dad are coming over so I shall spend some time with them, have a cuppa and maybe something to eat.  In the evening I plan on snuggling up on the sofa in my fleecy, fluffy jimjams and socks, with Roxy and a blanket and watching The Apprentice.

I may treat myself to a bit of a pamper and a bubble bath and read a bit of my book before getting to bed at a reasonable time!

Do you have any Birthday traditions?  I’d love to hear if you do, or don’t and why or how they came about so let me know in the comments!

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Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Google informed me that it is Mental Health Week in America this week which coincides with my Words On Wednesday post where I wanted to talk about my mental health as I feel like I haven’t done an update in ages.

I’m still taking my Sertraline which the Dr prescribed to me over a year ago now.  My current dosage is 150mgs though I am currently wondering whether I should go back to the Dr for a review as I’m not sure that the dosage I am taking is enough or if the Sertraline is still the best medication for me.

I’ve been having sleep issues, again, recently, from hardly sleeping one day to sleeping nearly the full day away the next and I’m feeling constantly tired.  I’ve been putting this down to my shoulder pain but I’m starting to worry that it could be a dip in my mental health.

I do get more tired as the season’s change, the dull days and damp weather affect my mood quite a bit normally, so perhaps this is not something to worry about too much but maybe a visit to the dr would be a good idea.

I’m pretty lucky that I have close friends and family who I can talk to about how I’m feeling and that they check up on me regularly but I do urge you to pay attention to friends and family and to chat with them about how they are really feeling, especially as the weather changes.  So many people are affected by SAD and having a friend to speak with can help tremendously.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that at the beginning of 2019 I left Facebook however I have now returned (as I revealed in My Blog is 1!!!!).  I have made the choice to return to Facebook after a lot of thought and deliberation, weighing up the pros and cons of what Facebook can do for me that other platforms can’t.

My reasons for returning…

  • I wanted to make a Facebook group for fellow bloggers to share their posts in, be able to network and interact with others and ask for advice or share ideas and opinions, the group is called Bloggers Brew, please come and join us!
  • Advertise Colourful Cactus Designs to the right audience.  As I am mainly doing graphic and logo work for bloggers, their social media and websites it made sense to advertise on social media.  I didn’t feel that Instagram, with its ever-changing algorithms, was the best fit for Colourful Cactus Designs (though I do share my design work there, you can check out the Instagram feed here) and Twitter seems to be a better fit for having conversations rather than any kind of advertising.
  • There are a few groups that I wanted to join that are most active on Facebook which offers help, advice and support on things I am interested in which are beneficial to me.
  • I want to see if having a Facebook page for my blog will increase my reach, this is more out of interest than anything else at the moment, however, the outcome may influence a few ideas I have for future blog items.

I am not really interested in adding many people to my Facebook, from previous experience I didn’t really gain anything from it.  This time, my return is purely to use it as a tool to further ideas that I have and for helping fellow bloggers.

Have you ever left a social media platform and then returned?  What were your reasons?  I’d be really interested in your thoughts and experiences so let me know in the comments!

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

In this day and age, there are so many pressures on kids to obtain good grades, get into college and university, find a career and make so many life choices but one thing that kids leaving education seem to be lacking in life skills.

Life skills are things like learning to pay bills, money management, how to cook for themselves, shop on a budget, mend clothing, carry out simple repair jobs, car maintenance, iron, use a washing machine, DIY, even things like time management.  These skills are becoming less and less learned and more and more likely to be outsourced to other people to undertake for them.

I was one of the oldest when I was in uni and I watched the students who were younger than me (by around 15 years) struggle to cope with day to day life, from managing money, shopping on a budget to managing time when it came to juggling uni work, part-time jobs and a social life.

It was sad to see in a way.  But is the education system to blame or is it the other adults in those kids lives that should be more hands-on in teaching these skills?  I think it should be the responsibility of both parties.  Parents are under a lot of financial strain and many need to work and may be too tired when they come home to teach these skills so the education system should have a part to play in teaching basics.

I used to have home economics in school (I believe it is now called food technology…) where I was taught how to make pizza, fruit salad and some sort of rice salad but we were never taught how to cost out these meals per portion or how to create a full meal to feed a family, it has taken me a lot of time and effort to get to where I am now.  I was lucky though that my Grandma and Mum would spend time with us kids in the kitchen teaching us how to make lasagne, pasta sauces, roast dinner, and so many other meals.  Other kids are not so lucky.

When I was growing up, my brother and I always had chores to do around the house, from dusting and hoovering to washing up, laundry, making the beds and all sorts of other jobs so we learned a lot that way.  We also helped my Dad when things needed fixing and gained loads of knowledge that way too.

I hope that something changes for the kids of tomorrow as I think that they are being put into a vulnerable position by not having a skill set that includes a certain amount of life skills.

What do you think about the skills that kids today have?  Would they benefit from some kind of life skills classes?  What do you think they should learn?  I’d love to hear about your thoughts in the comments.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

When did people become so obsessed with being internet famous?

Did it start when the likes of Kim Kardashian and Co shot to fame, or the rise in social media influencers, or even just YouTube being so accessible and easy to use?

I overheard a conversation where a mother was talking to another mother about her daughter’s lack of interest in college work or getting a job, working towards a career as the daughter “really wants to be an influencer on social media and is happy to sit at home posting videos day in day out.”

In some ways I get it, I really do, especially when you read of the money some people have made, and the careers some have carved out for themselves, though, when you look at the work that these people have put in to get where they are, its much more work than I do in my day to day job.

I have been thinking about the conversation I overheard, and if I was young now, being an influencer may seem like a totally legitimate, and easy way to make money while being famous as well, posting pretty pictures on Instagram and running a YouTube channel where I talk about my latest shopping purchases, but is it sustainable?

The internet is full of people trying to make a fast buck and be the next Kim or Khloe, so much so, nearly every other image on Instagram seems to be some kind of promotion to get me to part with cash, affiliate links run wild on blogs that are really not that well written in the first place, it’s such a saturated market that it will be hard to succeed.

I also feel that this kind of “career” is not very sustainable, the money coming in is not steady and you are working from day to day to hit some sort of target in order to bring in enough money to survive.  I know how much I need day to day and having to worry about how I am going to make it is not for me, I like the security that my day job gives me.

You may like to think that you are your own boss, but you are at the mercy of companies letting you promote their goods and to your audience, for them to buy the products using the links you provide.  If you say something that others don’t like these deals could be taken off the table and that’s your career over.

And what happens when the next person comes along who can do everything better? Do you get dropped and forgotten about like a bit of old litter?

I can’t help but think that this obsession with being “Internet Famous” is unhealthy, surely a lot of it is a popularity contest of sorts that could do more harm than good in the long run?

What do you think about being “internet famous”?  Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your views

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve had the tv on for a fair amount of time over the past few weeks, partly as background noise and partly to fill my time when I have been unable to do tasks I want to because of my injured shoulder.  In that time I have seen a large number of adverts, which is what I want to talk about today.

Does sexism still exist, especially in advertising?  From all of the adverts I have seen I am pretty sure that the answer is yes.  I’ve seen adverts for weight loss aids, healthy eating plans, skincare in the form of facial treatments to shower gels and moisturisers, haircare, clothing, shoes and accessories, these adverts have predominantly featured women and been aimed at women.

Advertising seems to be one market that, should an alien being watch, they may come to the conclusion that women are obsessed with their looks and not much else.  All of the women I know or have met, at any stage in their life, are a lot less superficial than the adverts will have you believe.  Women have hobbies and interests, some like to go running, camping, to gigs, motorbiking, gardening, others may be the main fixer of things, researcher, reader, gamer, so why do these kinds of advert still exist?

From my general experience, men have skincare concerns and may want to take better care of their skin (shaving aside), men shower and use shampoo, some even use conditioner, men may want to lose weight or eat more healthy, men buy clothes, shoes and accessories so why are we not seeing an equal amount of this kind of advert being targeted at men?

It’s no wonder that women feel under pressure to look a certain way, buy into the latest fashion fads and spend so much time in the bathroom either getting rid of hair or covering up the ones they do have with another colour.  And it is no surprise that so many women have body hangups when we see this kind of advertising day in day out.

Are we ever able to escape this nonsense without having to get rid of our televisions, avoid magazines and cancel our internet subscriptions?

If you have any thoughts on anything raised here, let me know in the comments!  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this!

I wrote a similar post a while ago about targeted advertising which you can read here.

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve had bad shoulder pain for the last 3-4 weeks and its been gradually getting worse.  I can’t wash or brush my hair without a pain coursing down my arm and an odd feeling like the kind you get when you need to “pop” your finger joints.  Sleeping has been awkward and I have woken several times in pain as its the same side as I sleep on.  So alongside being in pain I am also tired, and when I’m tired I get grumpy and irritable.

Driving is a nightmare, as there are so many shoulder and neck movements that you perform without really thinking about it, looking out of the mirrors or windows to see what is coming, turning to look out of the rear windows when reversing, steering, changing gear.  I’ve been lucky that I’ve not really needed to drive in the past week and my friend has been able to give me a lift to and from work.

I finally decided it was time to see a doctor, though getting an appointment was a bit of an ordeal.  At my doctors surgery you need to call in the morning (9am onwards) for an appointment that day or for the next day, by 11am they stop taking appointments.  I called them on Monday and all appointment slots had been taken and had to call back Tuesday morning.  At 9am I was on the phone, the phone rang and rang and rang before eventually disconnecting.  This happened a total of 8 times, no one was answering the phone.  Luckily my surgery is one of 2 that work together so I decided to call the other surgery and see if I could make an appointment there even though they only deal with patients from my surgery if we have been referred.  The girl I spoke to was lovely and took my number, called me back and had made me an appointment in my surgery for 11:30am.

I left work and went to the doctors, had to wait around for 40 mins to be seen.  The Dr performed a few tests and I was poked and prodded.  I came out with a prescription for really strong Ibuprofen and a painkilling gel to apply to my shoulder and have been referred for physio.

So what have I done?  I’ve pulled my rotator cuff muscle, specifically the Supraspinatus muscle which runs along the top part of your shoulder.  It can take up to 6 months to fully heal.

The other question I bet you are all thinking is how did I manage that?  I was out in my garden, collecting weeds in a big flexi tub, the kind that has handles.  I decided to empty the contents into my garden waste bin, lifted the tub and managed to drop the whole thing into the bin.  This did not cause my injury, what caused my injury was caused by me trying to reach into the bin and flip the tub over to pull it back out.  Common sense is not always my strong point, what I should have done was to lean the bin over then get the tub out.  Just to give you some dimensions…the wheelie bin is 3.5 foot tall and I am little over 5.5 foot and the bin was empty before I dropped the tub in.  It was the overreaching and stretching that caused the injury.

So I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself and hoping that the painkillers will kick in soon and that my shoulder will heal fairly quickly and I can start doing the things I have planned.

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!  🙂