Chapter 2 Of My Family’s Story

Heyy everyone!! I’m so sorry that it’s been awhile, I’ve been crazy busy lately and will definitely be back with a life update soon as I’ve got loads to tell you all, but for now I thought I’d share the second chapter of the book I’m writing to tell my family’s story. For those of you who haven’t read Chapter One, you can find it HERE. Enjoy and please do let me know what you think x

Chapter 2

Our journey began for real in late April 2019. With one turn of a key in the ignition and the low rumbling of a fifty year old Morris Traveller engine, we were on our way to Hull. A new journey was beginning, a journey that was the next step in lifetimes spent searching for solutions and, although our life experiences and motivation were all very different, each one of us was ready for a challenge.

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When I look back now, I see our challenge as a whole and as this incredible, epic, life transforming journey, but when you break it down,  it was and still is a tapestry of daily ups and downs and small connections with human beings. It was not completed in leaps and bounds, but in lots and lots of small steps. Small steps which eventually led up to all of us sitting in a tiny Morris campervan, about to embark on a challenge that, to our knowledge, no one else had ever been crazy enough to take on.

What holds so many of us back from doing so many things is the fear of stepping outside our comfort zones, of going against what we’ve always thought of as the norm, of choosing to live our lives differently. We’re so often afraid to take the first step towards creating a better life, for us and for others, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. As a family, a big part of us taking on this journey was to show anyone watching that ordinary people can make a difference and that if we could do this crazy challenge, imagine what they could do! In choosing to live differently, to focus on lifting those in need as a priority and not just an afterthought, we wanted other people to look at us and see that we aren’t extraordinary or special, we’ve just made a choice, and they can too.

I remember it all feeling so huge and so unknown and so full of possibilities at first. If you know anything about us, you’ll know that we’ve never been a family who’ve shied away from living life differently or going completely against the norm in pretty much every aspect of who we are, but there is something about that first physical step on any journey that feels so significant. You can spend months and months planning your big adventure and talking over every little detail, imagining what your step into the unknown is going to be like, but nothing prepares you for how it really feels to be on the threshold of change, to not know what’s around the next corner or the hundreds of corners after that, to not have anything more defined to stick to than just the UK coastline and a tenner a day.

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On our way up to Hull we needed somewhere to stop off so we pulled up in the car park of the Gordon Boswell Romany History Museum in Lincolnshire. As we ducked out of the streaming rain into the huge warehouse to see if anyone was around, we found ourselves surrounded by a massive collection of the most beautiful traditional travellers’ wagons and other memorabilia from the Romany gypsies’ colourful culture and history. As we wandered around, an old lady came out from behind a wagon and introduced herself as Margaret, the owner of the museum and the wife of the late Gordon Boswell, a well known and loved advocate for the Romany people and their way of life.

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We spent the day sheltering from the storm with Margaret and her daughter Lenda, both strong, proud and incredibly generous Romany women. At first, they didn’t really know who we were and what we were doing there, but after we explained that we were just about to set off on a journey of our own, they were so eager to tell us all the stories of the journeys their people had taken – be it all the way from northern India over a thousand years or to the Appleby fair over the course of a few weeks.

Their hospitality was incredible. As the high winds brought on by Storm Hannah made the thin metal walls of the warehouse groan and creak, they made us the first of countless cups of tea on our journey and told us all about their incredibly rich and diverse history, all the negative and false stereotypes and misunderstanding they face and how hard they’re working to educate people and show them who they really are. Just sitting round the table talking to them for one day, we could see the strong and long held values the Romany gypsies have, how genuine they are, how they look out for each other, their hospitality and their unbreakable family ties.

Wandering around the museum itself was like stepping into another world, a world of simple, timeless colour and vibrancy. Gordon is infamous for how he could capture people with his stories and you can still hear his voice on a film that plays on repeat as you gaze in wonder at everything the museum holds. I remember thinking how that must be for Margaret, to spend her days amongst all those memories, with his voice narrating it all.

We felt a strong connection to these people – not just because of their wandering way of life – but because of what they value. We got a small glimpse into that in the time we spent with Margaret and Lenda and their stories of days gone by and their current very large family. We experienced how hospitable they were when they let us stay the night and when Margaret came running out the next morning to humbly give us a very generous donation to CatZero.

Hospitality, family and welcoming people no matter what their background or circumstances have always been really important to us and a huge part of who we are. For a long time, we’ve just put our beliefs into action in our everyday lives, whether that be by making sure our home is always somewhere that people can drop in for a cup of tea and a chat or whether that be through cooking for all our neighbours and providing the opportunity for them to forge friendships. We’ve always strived to be the catalyst for connection as we know how powerful it is, but we haven’t always been successful and the things we value are often hard to come by in general society. We’ve always searched for this true sense of community, both consciously and subconsciously, I guess. Maybe this would be the chapter of our lives where we’d discover it. Margaret and Lenda had given us hope, even though our challenge hadn’t even officially begun.

And that wasn’t the only major thing that had happened before we’d even started. We were having issues with Mo. As we swung into a park just south of Hull and Dad got underneath the van to investigate, we discovered a hole in our rear axle which was leaking oil all over the place. On top of that, we’d been experiencing some undiagnosed problems with the engine, which was really frustrating as we’d had it all checked out and serviced before we left. Little did we know that this was only the beginning in what would be a saga that would span pretty much the entire journey and thousands of miles, involve many mechanics, breakdowns (from both us and the vehicle) and the kindness of strangers, and result in us zigzagging back and forth across the country in a desperate bid to get Mo fixed. Unaware of what was to come, we temporarily patched up the axle with some tinfoil and a butterknife (brought along not for buttering bread, but for oiking limpets off of rocks as we didn’t know when our £5 a day for food would need supplementing). The engine problems were a bit more worrying though, as we had no idea what was causing them. We had no choice, we had to keep on going. We had to reach Hull.

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From the moment we pulled up on the dock at Hull marina, all leapt out of Mo and climbed the stairs to CatZero’s brightly painted offices, we were welcomed into the CatZero family with the same enthusiasm, smiles and openness that they welcome everyone. As we sat around the table with the team drinking tea, Louie the famous therapy whippet at our feet, people constantly popping in to say hi, I felt like we were really doing something that mattered. That feeling was only amplified by getting to see CatZero’s work in action when Pete took us along to a celebration event for the participants who’d just finished one of CatZero’s programmes.

Seeing all these people, young and old, who’d had a really tough start in life or fallen on hard times just due to their circumstances, stand up and talk about how CatZero had changed their lives, showed them what they were capable of, believed in them when no one else did (least of all themselves), taught them skills, given them a support network, pushed them out of their comfort zone and helped them build themselves a future, was so motivating. Seeing their newfound confidence, even when their voices trembled slightly as they stood up to speak, and the deep bonds they’d obviously forged as a team, I couldn’t stop smiling. They talked about all their highlights – from going sailing after never having even stepped foot on a boat before to cooking for and eating with all the local businessmen and women at their pop up cafe after never having cooked hardly anything in their lives and from doing outdoors team building activities like raftbuilding and camping to gaining loads of qualifications to help them get into work or education.

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After the presentation, we hung around chatting and everyone was overwhelmingly supportive and grateful for what we’d decided to do on CatZero’s behalf. I remember talking to a couple called Lee and Katie who shook mine and Evan’s hands over and over again, telling us that we were their role models for, in their words, ‘giving people who want to change their lives the opportunity to do it’. It was the same when we met Jim, an incredibly successful businessman who was one of the three founders of CatZero. He came up and shook our hands with tears in his eyes and told us that, even though he’s had such a prosperous career, founding CatZero was the best thing he’s ever done.

Over those few days in Hull, we also got to hang out with and really get to know Callum and Caz, two young people whose lives have been completely turned around by CatZero.

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Before he joined one of their programmes a few years back, Callum was addicted to drugs and alcohol, had fallen out with his family and was homeless. He’s now working for CatZero fulltime as a really positive role model for other young people who want to turn their lives around. He’s a capable and talented sailor and actually completed a leg of the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race last year, from the UK to Uruguay, right across the Atlantic ocean. I was extremely jealous.

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Up until a couple of years ago, Caz would never leave her bedroom, really struggled with her mental health, would drink and self harm, didn’t have a great relationship with any of her family and had given herself eight weeks before she took her own life. That’s when she discovered CatZero and they saved her life. She’s now one of the most positive people I know, constantly busy doing something to push herself out of her comfort zone or help others in her community, whether that be volunteering as a Beaver leader or inviting elderly neighbours for dinner. Having never been able to ride a bike or swim, she’s now part of a triathlon club and completed the Coast To Coast Cycle Challenge in 2019. After living on only chicken nuggets and toast all her life, she’s also faced her greatest fear – fruit!!  Raspberries are now her absolute favourite food, but she’s still not too keen on kiwis. Not knowing how to eat it, she once bit into one like an apple and has had nightmares about it ever since!

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Callum and Caz are both huge inspirations to me, with their motivation to change the lives of others and with everything they’ve overcome. They always had the potential to be such incredible people, but up until they came across CatZero, the world was geared against them and they were never given that opportunity. It goes back to a story Dad often tells us, of a boy he once met who wrote a note saying ‘I want to be a good boy, but there’s no one there to help me…’ and then crumpled it up and threw it away. Everyone should have a choice and that’s what CatZero gives them.

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Soon, it was nearly time to leave our CatZero family behind and set off into the unknown. I write this now, looking back on our family sitting in Mo, staging our departure for the TV cameras whilst knowing we’d have to turn around and do it for real again soon. I now know everything that journey held in store for us and I’m so excited to live it all again and share it with you as I write, but at the time, we didn’t know what would happen over the course of the next ten months. In fact, we only planned on being on the road for six.

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People had been telling us for months how crazy our challenge was. In fact, when we got our first taste of being on the radio in the BBC studio in Brighton, the host opened the interview by telling all the listeners that he was going to try and talk us out of it. Obviously he didn’t succeed. I guess in theory, we knew it was crazy and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but it didn’t feel reckless or even particularly scary. When it came to it, we knew it was the right thing for us to be doing, for CatZero and for our continued search for community and a way to truly make a difference. We’d taken lots of little steps to get this far, we could take this one too.

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We took the step, turned the key, started the engine and, just like that, we were off.

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International Make A Difference In A Positive Way Day (yes I made that up), Short Story & SURPRISE BLOG PARTY For My Best Friend

Heyyy there people, bet you didn’t think I’d be back that quick, huh? Gracie? Post twice in less than two weeks? Unheard of. No way.

Well, today’s post is a little different guys. It might have something to do with the fact that it’s OCTOBER THE 4TH and I’ve been looking forward to OCTOBER THE 4TH for ages and CAN YOU TELL I’M EXTREMELY EXCITED THAT IT’S OCTOBER 4TH? 

Ahem. 

As I was saying, this post is a bit different. Usually this blog is used to share my ramblings on the world, on life, on the future and on the challenge my family & I have taken on to try and make a difference. People often tell me that my posts make them think or give them a new perspective or make them feel empowered or less alone and I’m honoured because that is EXACTLY what I want my presence in the blogosphere to do. 

BUT 

Sometimes we all get a lil busy changing the world and rebelling against societal norms that we forget that we’re supposed to be young people living life and having a good time. We forget to celebrate all the huge positives in our lives. 

So today, as it’s October 4th, I want to celebrate one of the HUGEST positives in my life – my best friend. Adria.

We’re starting with this photo and getting cringier bc what kind of best friend would I be if I only posted sensible photos, right?! Watch out for horrible photos of me popping up all over the internet as she gets her revenge uh oh

There are literally no words to express how much my best friend means to me, but as it’s her 15th birthday, OCTOBER 4TH, I’m throwing her a surprise party. 

That’s right – a surprise party and YOU are invited! This party is for all of us and it’s all about celebrating the positives in our lives. 

So go comment down below – 

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADRIA!! (plus give her all your cake)
  • A positive in your life/something that needs celebrating/means a lot to you
  • Either something you could do to share that thing with others or something you have (a skill or passion) that you could use to make a positive difference in someone else’s life. 

Then get interacting, people! Say hi, exchange ideas, celebrate each other as well as my gorgeous best friend. In her honour, I am naming October 4th International Change The World In A Positive Way Day haha

Being our cringey selves on FaceTime ❤ THE best times

 

But before you go, I have one more thing to share! I was firing random writing prompts at Adria the other day and this one about someone who goes to prison because they did something wrong and a loved one who campaigns for justice just popped into my head so I decided to write a short story based on it as part of her present…here goes….

This is a short story that I was inspired to write as a young person who wants more than anything to stand up for her generation and it’s dedicated to one of the most passionate young people I know….who also happens to be my best friend and actual twin. 

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Light The Way

The sirens screamed in the distance. We both knew exactly who they were looking for. Ali turned to me, eyes burning with an intensity somewhere between determination, anger and sadness. I knew then what he was going to do.

Half of me wanted to run from this nightmare, run far away and never come back.  The other half wanted to throw myself between him and then and protect him until it was my blood at his feet. 

“That’s not who you are.” I told him, but it sounded more like a question. My whole body shook, every molecule pleading with him to turn around and walk away. “You have to show them. You have to tell them….something…you have to make this stop.” 

He smiled as if it physically hurt him to do so. “Maybe it’s not who I am, but it always was who I was destined to be. You know no one can change that. It just is what it is. This is the right thing to do, Nancy, and I’ll be okay, I promise. Don’t worry about me.”

“I love you” I whispered.

He grinned, and I remember wondering how he could do that when every part of my being throbbed with pain. 

“I know” 

“But I never said…” 

“Oh baby, you didn’t have to. There’s a way you look at someone when you love them. A way you say their name. I know that because I love someone too, and I sure hope she knows it. Nancy, you’ve gotta be strong, okay? For me and for everyone here.” Only then did his voice start to break. “You’ve gotta -” he stopped, a single tear running fast down his cheek. 

I reached up to wipe it off and smiled up at him. “You think this is the end, Ali? I will fight for you. Damn, I will fight for us all. Now go…let’s both do the right thing.” 

He walked away and I watched him go. The blue, flashing lights lit the way. 

Five Years Later

“The arrest of then seventeen year old Ali Johnson for theft and various alcohol, drug and gang related charges, took place five years ago to this day. Now, the 22-year-old is due to be released from HMP Brixton after serving his five year sentence. Johnson will be warmly welcomed back by many, but none more than childhood friend and activist Nancy Jones. Miss Jones has spent the last half a decade fighting for the futures of the young people in her local South London neighbourhood and, from his prison cell, Johnson has been her biggest supporter. With his help, the 21-year-old has made a hugely positive impact on the lives of many young people and greatly reduced the crime and violence rates of her community.” 

 “I love you” were the first words he said to me as he stepped outside as a free man for the first time since we were both teenagers. 

I stared out at the crowds waiting to meet us, a tiny smile threatening to break out across my lips “I know”

We stood side by side on the steps up to the prison and looked out at the colourful sea of people before us. It seemed like the whole of London had turned out. There was a murmur and then total silence, broken only by the distant traffic. I took a deep breath.

“We believe in young people choosing their own destinies. Why should where we come from limit our right to dream?” I shouted. My words were met by a roar of agreement and approval. 

“People like Nancy here light the way for us all” Ali spoke up “Take the opportunity to change and be who you are, not who society tells you to be. We will not be limited by the place we call home. The people we share our lives with will not watch those same lives be thrown away.” he turned around to point to the prison buildings behind him. 

“Our communities are special.” I continued, “They are what make us who we are, they are beautiful and unique and that is why we cannot let them stay like this. At the moment, that beauty is buried under a layer of dark and dirt and our young people are starting to forget what it looks like underneath.”

The energy that had been building up erupted and the crowd went crazy. 

“Look,” I fought to be heard over the noise. “it won’t be easy, maybe no one will listen to us, maybe no one will help us, but we’ve got to try! We’ve got to create a brighter future for us all!” 

Ali looked at me and smiled. “I think we did the right thing,” he said. 

I grinned. “Me too.” 

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NOW go comment down below – 

 

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADRIA!! (and give her all your cake duh)
  • A positive in your life/something that needs celebrating/means a lot to you
  • Either something you could do to share that thing with others or something you have (a skill or passion) that could make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTEDDDDD……

Rant On Changing The World, The Importance Of Community In Our Society + My Challenge To You

Warning – this is going to be one very ranty post about a ton of things I’ve been thinking about recently so it might not make any sense. Please bear with me though ahaha. This blog is the one place I can just write my heart out and be totally honest so if anyone would give me their thoughts on this, I’d really appreciate hearing what you have to say 🙂

Everything I see around me shows me just how important it is to make a difference. Watching anthropology (the study of humanity) videos when I can snatch some spare Wi-Fi, hearing people talk about their stories, it makes me realise that our world is such a beautiful, messed up place full of such good, but broken people.

It’s the good things too – not just the bad, like when you see people standing up and making a difference in their communities, people like our friends Finlay and Ella who are striking for climate crisis and taking action for our generation, all the other inspiring people we’ve been meeting on this journey and, most of all, the team at CatZero (the charity my family are raising money for on our challenge).

It’s things I read and watch and the conversations I have. It’s Tip from the episode of ‘the Waltons’ that I watched with my family the other day- he’s the life of the party, so full of stories and extravagance and energy, but it’s all a fake. He has no purpose and no one and he’s dying inside because of it. I’ve written about it countless times because I see it so much in my generation. So many people I know are so over-the-top crazy and take nothing seriously, but I know them well enough to see how much they’re struggling underneath it all. They’ll never admit it though and it breaks my heart.

My Mum tells everyone that this trip is born out of my concern for my generation and the issues we’re facing and, although it’s just a word, I feel like such a fake when she says that. What do I know of their struggles? I feel like screaming. It’s not concern, it’s desperation. Tell me again that I should be ‘concerned’ when my friends are getting pregnant, overdosing on drugs, killing themselves, hurting themselves, being held back by their depression and anxiety, feeling alone and hopeless, tell me again that I should be ‘concerned’. I rattle it off like a list, but these are lives we’re talking about here. Human lives. Lives that being destroyed. Your sister. Your son. Your granddaughter. Your best friend. Tell me I’m being dramatic.

We’ve passed through so many little towns on the East Coast of Scotland, all places with bad reputations for drugs and poverty, visitors to that part of the country go round them or pass straight through and never stop. We were welcomed with open arms. These places are struggling, but they have such a strong sense of community, they are coming together and actively doing something to support one another.

Community is truly the answer. If people had a support network of people who cared about them and who they knew they could always depend on, if they were working together to achieve something and keep their community thriving, it would make such a difference.

Greta Thunberg stopped talking because of the effect the way our planet is heading was having on her and some days I understand how she feels, but every day there’s places for me to go and things for me to do and people for me to meet and I’m learning that action is the only way.

I often feel like I’m not doing enough. I lie awake at night because I’m overwhelmed by it all. When I write this, it makes me sounds so selfless, but that’s not the reality at all. I just feel the pain of my generation kinda like it’s my own and although that hurts a lot, it’s also incredibly motivating.

I’m well aware that it’s easy to ramble on about the faults in society and the struggles of young people (well, all people really) without coming up with any answers so that’s why my family are on a search. It’s been continued throughout this journey since starting a lifetime ago, though I think some of what we’ve experienced on this adventure even just in the last seven weeks has been just about the closest we’ve ever come to finding what we believe is the answer – true community.

It exists in little pockets around the world, for sure. Places like those little Scottish towns, but what we need is community on a worldwide scale. People committed to the well-being of their fellow people, people who care about the future generations, people who work in harmony instead of fighting and starting wars. It sounds a long way off, but it starts here, at home. Your family is a mini community of its own and families are just another thing that have broken down in our society today. If we started applying that same mindset of commitment and understanding to the people closest to us, it might just make a difference and you never know, it may reach Donald Trump eventually hehe.

I went on a climate strike with some friends the other day and it made me realise just how good it felt to stand up for something I believe in. That’s what it’s like on this challenge too. I want to challenge everyone (YOU included) just to take one small step towards making a difference in the world we live in.

Here’s something I wrote in my journal a couple of weeks ago that is kinda relevant to what I’m talking (ranting) about today –

I’m nearly ready for bed now and my hair is still wet from the sea. The island of Tiree off of the West coast of Scotland has always been my favourite place in the world, but Durness beach (where we are today) may be a contender for second place.

As soon as Mo (our van) pulled up, I leapt out of the back, skidded down the sand dune, ran across the beach and into the sea. The waves were crashing and the water was so beautiful and blue and so I proceeded to spend the next couple of hours in the ocean. I honestly think that one of the times when I’m at my happiest is when I’m swimming in the sea. It’s hard to describe the feeling except to say that it’s almost the opposite of hopelessness.

It’s simple, pure, sweet freedom and it’s so different from the ache that’s sometimes fills my heart. That’s partly why I love swimming so much. I can’t over-think and every single part of me is focused, plus I love the power and control I feel over my own movement and strength. Also, when I swim as part of a team, it’s like another mini community feeling. Being a part of something positive is so important and it’s what we all need.

Being on top of the world is an extreme, but it gives me hope and it makes me realise that we will all be okay.

I can’t get knocked down by negativity or what use I am to the revolution? As my friend Ruby always tells me, you can’t help anyone if you’re crying on the floor – focus on what you can do, focus on the solution.

We’ve all got to do what we can to help others and play our part in creating a better world. It won’t always be easy, but we’ve got to try. Small steps, people, small steps. Please do let me know how you get on!! I’m also well aware that it’s  not always easy to know what you can do to make a difference so if anyone wants to discuss it, shoot me an email through my contact page and we can have a conversation and figure it out together xx

btw, what posts do you all wanna see coming up? I had the idea to do one with letters to people who’ve meant a lot to me throughout my life or there’s always more rants haha…?? Let me know in the comments xx

A Teenage Perspective: Q&A Collab With Erin @KittyJadeBlog

Hey there people,

Today I bring you a Q&A collab with Erin from KittyJadeBlog. We’ll both be sharing our experiences, opinions and thoughts on the world around us, all from a teenage perspective. To read my answers to Erin’s questions, head over to her blog– be sure to follow, she’s a talented writer and her posts always give me something to think about.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing young people in our society?

I know from experience that comparison is one of them. Just looking through your best friend’s story on Snapchat can trigger a certain nerve in your brain that says ‘I wish I was having a day out with my friends’ or ‘I wish I looked as good as her’ etc. Instagram also does this, but you have got to think: would you post a selfie of yourself when you are having a really bad day? Would you not edit your photo before you post it? No one is perfect, no one is not insecure about something (external or internal) and if they did love every bit of themselves every day – they would be vain.

This is very clichè but: when you are happy this won’t matter. Consider your feelings over your body. This is how you are made and you can’t change things (without spending loads of money) about the skin and bone. Maybe take a break from the mirror, the selfie camera, and see the difference.

What do you find most frustrating about the society we live in?

At the moment I am at an age where either you are mature, sensible and hardworking or time-wasting, immature and foolish. I know where I kind of fit in. I go to school and I see people in my form wasting their education because they ‘can’t be bothered’. They are ungrateful for this free education that they have and never considering someone who doesn’t have an education and wants one. So my main frustration is ungratefulness. It is hypocritical of me to say that but if we could change the importance of money and put happiness there instead I think that people would be more grateful. Young people don’t work as much to live nowadays (in certain countries, like England for example) and obviously you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

If I could change one thing, it would be to get people bothering again – rather than can’t be bothered.

What are your plans for the future?

I have only ever been to two continents (Europe and America) so one big thing of my ‘bucket’ list would be to travel and try to explore every continent of the world. In my near future is university. I would like to study politics and English but I’m not sure what the outcome of that would be. Art is another thing that would be an option I could potentially succeed in but the subject would be a hobby, not a career choice. Or maybe it will. I don’t like to plan too far ahead; it will kick me in the butt.

Tell us something you have read/experienced/heard about that has changed the way you have lived your life?

Over the years of my life, many things have influenced me and had a great impression on me. I do not think I could narrow it down to one thing. People obviously play a big part in all of our lives and my biggest influence is the one thing I have grown up with: school. I am so super grateful that I have the opportunity for a free education at the moment and I appreciate the influences that it has on me: so many experiences available, so many people I can see and good and bad influences clearly separated.

If the whole world was listening to you for a couple of minutes and you had their full attention, what would you say?

I love this question. Despite having this great opportunity, I would probably be speechless. There are so many different people in the world and I would want to offend anyone – so I’d probably stay silent. Maybe an awkward ‘hello’? Probably just a smile.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out Erin’s blog to read my answers to her questions.

Now, tell us your thoughts! Discussions welcome in the comments section down below. We wanna hear your answers…from your perspective….

Playground Swings

 

Playground Swings – a poem

**all photo credits to my sister**

silence
a child’s cry
they both call me to this place of familiarity
at different times
I think it’s
the security of a soft landing
the comfort of children playing
the simplicity of just saying
or
or it’s the lonely poeticness of a playground when it’s empty,
the cold, quiet paradox of a place like this in silence.
and something about the way
I can always smile here

thinking out loud on playground swings,
these creaking chains are the only ones that will ever set me free,
and yet still I’m trapped,
torn back down to earth
by the limits of my wings,
I want to fly higher
and I will
never quite knowing
stomach lurching
you will catch me when I’m falling
right?

Hood up
pulled over my face like a shadow
legs stretched to the sky
lips and mind searching for the ‘why’
in everything

my fingers are getting cold
kinda slipping
letting go
I’ve been here too long
nostalgia
memories burn holes
in your pocket
matches set fire to the past
then watch as flames destroy souls
and poetry is composed
and the future is all they leave us
covered in ash
so close and yet so far away

the wind blows in my face
just reminding me of its power
I rise and fall like the waves
and I can do nothing
yet I still strike out for the shore
and swim
but sometimes I am torn between
the devil and the deep blue sea
and sometimes
the mystery of the horizon
is too beautiful
and I fill the ocean with my tears
whilst the tide takes me
and I have to decide whether to fight
or to let go.

but I am stronger
I am stronger
than anyone knows
and I will sing a song
my song
and people will hear me
and they will lean over the fence and listen
and I will be a child on a playground swing again

{Messin’ With A Camera and Some Words}

I’ve taken some kinda aesthetic photos recently. Not a photographer, but I like messing around with my phone camera so yeah, guys, enjoy…

I tell the sunset that I miss you. I tell it how my heart aches and how, if the blue of the sky was a little deeper, it could be an upside-down ocean.

 

~sparkler wizard in his element~

What the mirror sees is what I forget – wild hair and cowgirl jeans. Bracelets up one arm, a metallic road spanning bruised skin stretched over muscle, swimmer’s muscle. Swimmer’s bruises. This is me. 

Fire and noise call me from afar. The drums feel like a revolution. There are crowds, but all I see are hands, tucked in pockets, reaching for the sky, for the fireworks that explode above their heads, just out of reach. Beautiful, but fleeting and no one’s to keep. There’s smoke, but all I see are flames, leaping through the air towards me. They call me, set my soul on fire. There’s sparks that burn my heart and it….it makes me feel alive.

Cars pass like moments, seconds even. Things we wanted to say, but….never did. Times when we turned our unspoken words into sighs….wrote the text message, but deleted it before we pressed send. Talked to the stars. Hid our feelings in metaphors and rhymes. I’m guilty. Another car past.

Stop! Don’t run into the fire, don’t burn, don’t follow the crowd, don’t be hypnotised by the flames, listen to my warning in the dark. Please.

“Mummy, the sky’s on fire.” 

I like talking to the sky. I tell it how I feel and then that I don’t know what to feel. I tell it that I don’t know what to say and it listens. I sing in the car because it makes me feel powerful. Just like when I’m in the water, I feel like I’m on top of the world, but I’m not. I feel the light above me and I fight my way up. 

Shadows And Promises

There are shadows that don’t match their shape,
Promises that were only ever made.
Not kept.

Waves come crawling back to the shore,
On their hands and knees and full of remorse,
They can’t go back.
Not any more.

One day, people will wake up and open their eyes,
Hollowness will fill up and chemistry will override,
And life will go on.

Maybe we’ll stop doing things whilst not really knowing why,
Stop sitting in the dark and spark a fire.
Maybe we’ll set light to our hearts and learn how to truly love.
Maybe…

And I’ll look out for you because, for a reason I don’t even know,
the perfect, hazy memory of you fills my soul.
And I need you.
I need you so bad.

I think of all the nights I’ll cry
because I don’t have the answer,
or the reason why.
And that destroys me.

I dream of shadows that don’t match their shape,
Promises that are only made,
Never kept.
And I need you.
I need you so bad.

On Friendships, Being Different and The Future…

*Note: not attacking/blaming anyone here. These are just my own opinions. If you disagree feel free to say so and we can discuss it 🙂* 

My little sister came home crying today because she feels so different to all of her friends, she feels like she doesn’t fit in. Truth is, she doesn’t. She doesn’t even want to. 

I walk past and see her standing there surrounded by her entire peer group. They’re all around her – singing stupid songs, doing silly things and talking about TV shows and movies she has no interest in. I catch her eye. She looks so sad and alone.

Later, back at home, she’s pretty upset. “Why can’t my friends be normal?” she asks me. Her perception of normal makes me smile. “They are normal” I tell her “It’s you who’s different.”

She doesn’t want to fit in with them, to be the same, to wear the same type of clothes, to talk the same kind of rubbish – she just wants her friends to be themselves,  to have fun and not care about being ‘cool’ and fitting in. She just wants them to see what’s good and important, to realise that what they’re watching, listening to and basing their small-minded lives around is nonsense. No one ever did anything notable by being like everyone else.

Look, I understand how hard it is to escape from. This stuff is all around us. Our own society is telling us how to think and act, but our whole future is at stake here!

I understand my sister’s struggle. It’s kinda like there’s something that sets us apart. Like our eyes are opened.  Like for some reason we can see the stupidity and danger in following the crowd. I listen to the rubbish some of my own friends and I feel like screaming at them “wake up! Is this how you want to spend your life??!?!”

Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually even likes this stuff – TV shows, music, internet trends and crazes? Maybe everyone is only obsessed because with it because it’s popular and they think they’ll be left out if they don’t join in with the hype?  Wouldn’t it be cool if one person was like ‘guys, what’re we doing? This is seriously so bad!’ and everyone else admitted they never liked it either?! There’s always got to be a first one, right?!

When I talk to my friends one-on-one we have the BEST conversations. Sure, they’re often a bit crazy, but that’s okay. We talk about our dreams and hopes and our struggles and things we’ve done and learnt. How we feel and things that have made us laugh or smile. We talk about memories and stories and things we’re scared of. Things that make us happy, things that make us sad. Very rarely do I have these conversations when there’s a big group of us. Everyone’s so worried about being popular and liked and fitting in that the conversation always turns back to the same old nonsense. ‘Here we go again.” I think, without enthusiasm. I either roll my eyes and zone out – or listen, get all worked up and offend someone. Oops! 😂

If you’ve known me or have been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know how much I’ve struggled with friendships. It hasn’t been easy for me to avoid peer-pressure. In fact, I’ve probably succumbed to it more than I’d care to admit when things were really tough. I’ve found it so hard to find anyone like me and by ‘like me’ I don’t really mean into the same stuff – I mean not afraid to be themselves and be an individual.

I remember this one day when I just had to let it all go. Holding in the words was suffocating me and I needed to breathe. I wrote this whole long piece, but this was what stood out to me the most when I say back and read through it  at the end:

Do you ever know for certain that you’re not like them or like them or them or them or them? 
but you wonder who you are like?
And you wonder if you’ll ever find anyone like you?

This is why I’m so grateful for the friends I keep in touch with online. They are what real friendship looks like. Blogging friends, friends I’ve met sailing, friends I don’t see often enough, but talk to via email. I’m so lucky and happy with the friends I have in my life and I don’t know where I’d be without them.

So yeah, I’m worried. I’m worried about the future of our world in the hands of this next generation – my generation. We’re lost and the only thing we have to guide us is the negative influences of our society. You see the sickening results of it all around you – mental health, suicide rates, kids nearly losing their lives after jumping out of cars for some new internet trend. Need I say more?

It’s crazy. It’s tragic. And it has to stop. If you’re with me, let me know. It’s not easy for any if of us, but we can do this together, okay 👌❤️

Family. Community. Society. Humanity.

There is so much negativity building up at the moment. Within families, within communities, within society, within humanity as a whole. These things, these things that are the pillars of our world – they’re breaking down, being replaced.

It’s a massive challenge as anyone really, but particularly teenagers, to grow up in this world. It’s so essential that we, as the future, hold on to what is important. Family. Community. Society. Humanity.

This is a huge struggle, but I’m trying to make the decision to understand and believe in these things.

Soooo, that was the thought of the day! If you guys have any comments on that please do let me know.

Now, I’m going to do like a mini update/catch up thingy with everything I need to tell you all. There’s quite a bit!

  • The amazing Bri has just started blogging again after a couple of months. This is such good news. Please go check out her blog and introduce yourself, it’d mean the world to her.
  • I’m participating in Hannah’s photography contest! No, I am not a photographer, but I wanted to try something new and Hannah is just the sweetest, loveliest person.
  • Remember the social experiment a load of you helped me out with a couple of months ago? Well, I’ve nearly finished putting together all my results and I’ll be sharing them on here very soon. Stay tuned.
  • I’m staying at my Nan’s at the moment looking after her as she just has a knee replacement. She’s doing really well as she’s super determined. She ALWAYS reads my blog so please give her a quick ‘get well soon’ in the comments. She’d be thrilled. 😀
  • I’m going to be doing a ‘day in the life of me’ post soon. So I’m quite excited ’bout that. Also, I’m thinking maybe a little Q and A sesh maybe?
  • I think that’s it??????

What was your thought for today? Tell me all your news! Are you excited for all my future plans on this blog? Lemme know….

Wish Me Luck – Spoken Word Poetry Performance Update

Hello there!

In my recent post I talked about an urban music and spoken word poetry performance I am going to be a part of very soon. Well, I’m here with an update on that!

  • The performance is on Thursday and I am SO excited.
  • I went to London for the rehearsals last week and it was AMAZINGGGGG!
  • I have two solos.
  • I am performing two very poignant, topical spoken word pieces written by yours truly.
  • At the rehearsal I spent a hardcore one and a half hours with a spoken word poet learning everything you need to know about performing.
  • I spent another hour running through the whole thing with the rest of the group who are sharing all different genres of music, but all with an urban twist – rap, acapella, reggae, etc.
  • I am basically the complete polar opposite of the word urban #countrygirrrrl so I went to the rehearsals in my wellies. Picture below!

Stay tuned for photos of the actual performance coming soon! Oh, and wish me luck, my friends! *dances* *practices like crazyyyyy*