Be A Little ‘Sadder’

Disclaimer: this post could be seen as a bit controversial. I just want to begin by saying that I’m not blaming anyone, I’m simply sharing my experiences and opinions and, as always, feel totally free to comment below if you disagree. I would love to hear your thoughts.

In our society so many positive things are labeled as negatives. Putting effort into something or taking it seriously is seen as ‘lame’ and having a dream and putting all your heart into following it is seen as ‘sad’.

I have had many experiences of people telling me that something I’ve done or made or that something I strongly believe in is ‘cringy’. Who are they to tell me that?

They don’t understand the motivation and dedication it takes to get up and go to work every day of your summer holidays to fund for something you love to do. They don’t understand the reason that you take your education seriously and the mindset of doing something to the best of your ability because you learn from it and you can be proud of what you’ve achieved.  To do something to help someone else because we need more kindness in this world.  To put your soul into making our society a better place to live in when you could just care about yourself.  To them that’s uncool. It’s lame. It’s sad.

They don’t understand what it’s like to love something so much that it hurts. To think of it during every moment, to dream of it day and night. To want to dedicate your life to it. To be willing to work hard and sacrifice to get where it is that you want to go.

I look at those people who call me sad or lame and I think about whose future looks brighter. Mine or theirs? I feel sad for people who don’t take anything seriously, who believe that life is a joke because that is what their life will be. One big joke. We will be following our dreams, making a difference and living our lives the way we have created them and they will have missed out on that because of their ignorant perceptions.

I feel sad and angry. People’s lives could be so much more. They could be so much better.

So be a little ‘sadder’, don’t be afraid of being called ‘lame’. All I’m asking is that we change the way we think a little bit, rewind and ask ourselves ‘Why are we calling that lame? Why is that sad?’ Often the things we dismiss or label are priceless, beautiful things that we can learn a lot from if we really take the time.

Please comment and share! I believe that this is a really important issue for our society to become aware of and I would love to hear what you think? 

 

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What Can We Do?!

This is the top headline I see when I open the news this morning.

Fifth of 14 Year Old Girls Self-Harm

Out of the 5,624 girls who responded to the survey, 1,237 said they had self-harmed.

109,000 children aged 14 may have self-harmed across the UK during the 12-month period in 2015 – 76,000 girls and 33,000 boys.

Those who felt boys should be tough and girls should have nice clothes were least happy with life.

These are all sentences that jump out at me. It makes me think – this is it. This is my world, this is the society I’m growing up in. This is it. I am a fourteen year old girl. It’s my generation they’re talking about here. What can I do?!

I can try my best to be ‘a light in the darkness’ in the only ways I know how, but what am I really doing? How am I reaching the people who really need help? Even if I could, what difference would I make? I don’t understand what that 20% of fourteen year old girls have been through. I don’t understand what it’s like to be that desperate. And I can’t claim to, but I do have to do something.

It’s not because I’m a nice, selfless, caring person. No, I just have to. I can’t sit back and let this happen. We’ve allowed these issues to settle in our society and now we’re paying the price. No, the more vulnerable of us are paying the price and they deserve everyone’s help and support to get out of the place they’re in.

I feel extremely sad and angry. And I feel helpless, I feel like I can’t do anything. The only thing I can do is be a friend. That’s something I can do.

This post isn’t a pretty poem. It’s not well-written. It’s a rant fueled by emotion and desperation. I can see my world being dragged down in front of my eyes and all around me people are getting on with their lives and telling me that everything’s fine and will sort itself out. It’s not and it won’t. Not unless we do something about it.

Thing is, what can we do?

#CookForSyria

I would like to introduce #CookForSyria.  This amazing idea was created by UNICEF ( an organisation that helps children in need all over the world ), Clerkenwell Boy ( an award-winning food instagrammer ), Serena Guen ( publisher, businesswoman and philanthropist )  and a few top chefs, as a way to fight the terrible humanitarian crisis in Syria.

#CookForSyria is a recipe book full of traditional and modern delicious Syrian, Middle Eastern food. Each recipe is donated by world-class chefs who want to make a difference! Any profits made on the sales of this incredible book are donated to aid the people of Syria affected by the tragic events.

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Food is about sharing and hospitality, we may only have a little for ourselves, but we will give some to you because we are all hungry. Food can form friendships and relationships and is an integral part of a community.  This book aims to capture that and bottle it, to use it to work towards peace.

I have already made four recipes out of his book and I’ve only had it a week and a half! They are so good! But the best one had to be this one:

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Syrian Onion and Parsley Meatballs on Spicy Cous Cous with Roasted Butternut Squash and a Tahini Yoghurt Sauce. 

It was seriously nice. Here’s the recipe for the meatballs, the sauce and the topping if you’d like to have a go:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 kg of minced beef

1 large onion

a bunch of parsley

1 butternut squash

For The Sauce

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp water

juice of one lemon

1 clove of garlic

For The Topping

Handful of pine nuts

Knob of butter

 

Method:

Cut the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven until tender. 

Very finely chop the onion and parsley. Put both in a bowl with the mince and season. Mix together with your hands. Form into meatballs the size of ping pong balls and roast in the oven at 180C/356F for 10 minutes. 

Mix the tahini, yoghurt, lemon, water and finely chopped garlic together with some salt until it forms a smooth, runny consistency. If too thick, add a little drop of water. 

Melt some butter in a pan and toast some pine nuts.  

Layer the meatballs and butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with the sauce and then the pine nut topping.

Serve hot with cous cous, flatbreads, pittas or salad and enjoy……….! 

I encourage you to buy this book, not only shall I tempt you with tales of pomegranate, spices, olives, pistachios, figs, bread, houmous and more, it is also working to change the world and to raise awareness of these people’s plight.

Let’s #CookForSyria to show we care!

 

Sita Brahmachari’s Beautiful Books

 

I love to write, and to use words to weave a web of stories that reveal facts about our world and about what we can do to change it, but I also love to read. I always have. One of my favourite authors is Sita Brahmachari. She writes about real issues and real life whilst still managing to capture a beautiful novel on the paper.

Two of her books are written in diary form, from the point of view of a young girl from London called Mira Levenson. The first, Artichoke Hearts, is about Mira’s Nana, who is an activist and an artist, but is dying of cancer. It is heart-wrenchingly sad, but messages of hope and love are riddled through it and they lift it up and make it one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sita, the author, also talks about bullying and also about Mira’s relationship with a boy in her class who survived the Rwandan Genocide. I learned so much and it really inspired me to try even harder to make a difference.

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The second is called Jasmine Skies and Mira is older in this book. She is of Indian heritage so she decides to fly half way across the world to discover the culture and customs of the country she knows so little about. She is not prepared for the huge amount of poverty, inequality and human rights abuses she will witness, working at her Aunt’s refuge for street kids she realises what she wants to do with her life. This is a quote from the book:

I’ve seen real poverty and homelessness in London, but it’s not on the same scale. When you see it in pictures you don’t appreciate how extreme the difference between rich and poor can be, though they’re living side by side. I feel a heaviness in my gut that I can’t seem to shake off. Every day here someone is tapping on my conscience and saying “Mira Levenson, this is not fair. What are you going to do about it?” and the truth is I don’t know.

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The last book that I have read is Red Leaves, which I was given for my thirteenth birthday just over a week ago. It is a really intriguing and amazing book. It opened my eyes to so much. Homelessness, war, refugees, divorce, religion, journalism, kids who live in care.
Aisha sought refuge in London from war-torn Somalia when she was ten, traumatised and unable to speak, she was alone in the world and missing her family. Now she’s twelve and she lives with her foster carer. She is starting to feel safe and loved again when her carer suggests that she is adopted by a Somalian family. She feels betrayed and runs away to a nearby wood.
Zak is angry and sad and confused. His parents are divorced, his brother won’t speak to him, his Mother is a journalist in conflict zones. When she goes missing, it’s the final straw. He becomes tangled up in a mess of the past and present. Somehow he stumbles into the wood were Aisha is sheltering.
Iona lives on the streets, with her dog. She’s rude and sarcastic and tough, but underneath she’s hurt. She lies about her age and won’t accept help, but she was the victim of a broken family. She too seeks safety and security in the woods.
Elder is seen as a dotty old homeless woman, a free spirit. But she has a story too. She’s not just crazy. She cares about the children and watches over them as they begin to form friendships, forgive and forget, learn about each other.
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I would recommend any of Sita’s books. Not only do they help you understand the world, they fill you with a desire to make it a better place.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you’d like to! Has there been a book that you’ve read that has really inspired you? If so, why?

 

 

A Quote From Gracie Chick In A National Newspaper!

On my blog I aspire to write about the world from different angles, in different styles, from different viewpoints and opinions, to challenge and to support, to make a difference through what I love, which is writing.

I am passionate and inquisitive about the world and everything that goes on in it, good and bad, and so are many other kids and young people across the UK.  That’s why a newspaper called First News has been produced, to quench our thirst for an understanding of the things happening on our planet.

It’s brilliant because it really recognises the fact that informing children is extremely important. After all, we are the next generation. It tells me and the other 2 million readers all about politics, the environment, immigration, events, sport, local issues, world issues, interesting stories, crime, interviews, advice and more.

They also have a website, feel free to check it out if you too are someone who wants to know about the world. You can watch daily news bulletins, find out about being a child reporter, enter competitions, have your say in polls, watch videos that explain things like the Refugee Crisis and make a difference. http://live.firstnews.co.uk/

I regularly visit this website and only this morning I found out all about youth courts, gun crimes in America, a plane crash in South America and children making journeys to school and what dangers they face in different parts of the world. You can comment on all the articles they write too and I often do, as I like to express my opinion.

Also this morning I was reading my weekly newspaper when I came across the ‘Quote Bubble’, the place where they put a comment from one of their readers.  I read it with interest, as I saw it was on Donald Trump. But when I saw the author of the comment I couldn’t believe it. It read:

Quote: First News Reader, Gracie, on Donald Trump:
“I think people voted for him because they wanted change. I wonder what sort of change he will bring?!”

A few days before I had written those very words on their website and now they were in the newspaper for everyone to see. I felt so privileged to have my views published like that and so proud that they had seen them interesting and thought-provoking enough to put in.

Thank you First News!