Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 14: Songs and Music

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

Daily Gratitude Challenge What music are you most grateful for

Day 14 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge focuses on songs and pieces of music that you are grateful for. A universal language, music is the one thing that we all have in common. Whether it is a song that makes you smile, reminds you of an amazing moment, celebration or a favourite memory, this is an opportunity to think about the songs and pieces of music that you are grateful for. Continue reading

Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 3: Moments and Memories

In an effort to inject some positivity into my daily mindset and the online world I have created a Daily Gratitude Challenge and I am inviting everyone to participate. If you have missed my introductory post that explains the challenge and maps out the daily post schedule, visit here.

Day 3 focuses on moments and memories. I take hundreds of photographs wherever I go because I feel the need to record the moments I experience and preserve the memories I have of amazing places and people, but I always make sure to stop and take a few minutes to be mindful of where I am and what is happening. I value the memories that I have, particularly when things are tough. Here are just a select few,

Moments and Memories I am Grateful For:

Note: I haven’t included as many travel memories as there is a specific travel topic later in the challenge.

Daily Gratitude Challenge Moments and Memories

Time I spent with my Grandfather. A northern Englishman to the core, he wore a flat cap and grey cardigans and regularly asked me if I was ‘courting’ anyone (despite the fact that I was 10 at the time). He liked musicals and snooker, made up his own lyrics to songs and whenever visited he always had a little white paper bag with a selection of chocolates for us. He was adopted, and so in 2014 I set out to trace his ancestry and I found his birth mother – it was a fascinating journey and not only gave me a bit more of an understanding as to what his early life must have been like, but a greater appreciation of his kindness despite that adversity that he faced. He passed away when I was 16, and it would have been his 100th birthday last year.

The day I surprised my mum by turning up unexpectedly on my 21st birthday when she thought I was at uni. I loved the look on her face when I told her to look outside her office window. Continue reading

Tales from Behind the Bar…

Warning: NSFW.

Of all of the jobs I’ve held over the years, one of my favourites was working behind the bar in different pubs and nightclubs. Of course, any job that involves dealing with the British public (particularly when alcohol is involved) is always challenging, but despite it being a physically and mentally exhausting, I absolutely loved it. I loved the staff, the interaction with the customers, the music, the atmosphere, the DJ’s – on a good night it was almost like being paid for a night out with my favourite people.

After a few years I found that the same characters appeared in every establishment: Continue reading

He-Man and Fairy Wings

Childhood toys that I miss

This month’s NaBloPoMo is all about examining the past, present and future, and I like the idea. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection over the last six months and I find it useful to reminisce occasionally – it often serves as a reminder as to how far I have come.

Yesterday’s post about my stuffed toy elephant, while it wasn’t planned, seems to tie in with today’s theme of childhood toys.

As an adult I’m a sucker for all things cute and fluffy – cuddly toys being no exception. However, as a child of the 80’s I was obsessed with cartoons and the action figures that came with it. It was predominantly a female household – my father being completely outnumbered by mum, my two sisters and I, but toys were never gender specific for us. He-Man, She-Ra and Thundercat figures adorned my bedroom, along with the She-Ra ‘Princess of Power’ Palace and Lion’O’s large plastic ‘Sword of Omens,’ complete with a central circle that lit up when you pressed a button on the handle. Combined with my epic fairy wings and an Inspector Gadget watch that I got as part of a McDonalds Happy Meal (I always wanted to be Penny and was regularly disappointed that our Beagle, Patch, didn’t possess the skills that Brains had), I was an unstoppable force of awesomeness that saved the world regularly. Indeed, my mother still reminds me of the times she walked past my room to find me saying ‘And then Skeletor had an idea…’ I’m not entirely sure what his idea was – I have no recollection of it – but he was certainly a crafty so-and-so.

However, despite being thoroughly spoilt throughout my childhood, there was one toy that I always wanted: a porcelain doll. I had plenty of dolls already – ones that talked, wet themselves, others that came with makeup so I could paint their face – but porcelain dolls were in a different league. I thought they were pretty, with beautiful delicate faces and curly hair. I loved their little dresses and matching hats. My friend has several, and I always remember the jealousy that ensued whenever I went to her house, particularly as I wasn’t allowed to touch them.

In preparation for this post, I googled ‘porcelain doll’ to remind myself of what it was that appealed to me. I now know why my mother never bought me one..

They’re bloody terrifying.

Dont believe me?

A porcelain doll

 

See! Terrifying!

With their soulless eyes, deathly pale skin and blank expressions, I can imagine that deep in their little petticoats they are hiding weapons of mass destruction to use when they take over the world. I can only imagine the nightmares that would have followed should I have had little Pollyanna staring at me from the top of my bookcase.

I think I’ll stick with He-man and my fairy wings…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

7/7: In Memoriam

imageIt has been ten years since a group of suicide bombers coordinated a series of attacks across the London transport system during the morning rush hour, killing fifty-two people and injuring over seven hundred.

I was at a job interview in Birmingham, my first since graduating. I didn’t want to be there – it was for a telecommunications company and I knew that it would mostly entail cold-calling the general public – but fear of not being able to pay the bills meant that I found myself in a room with about twenty-five other people, making polite conversation and building structures with Meccano to demonstrate my ‘team working’ skills. Continue reading

Student Life

imageIt was a glorious day on Sunday, and I decided to go for a wander outside to enjoy the weather. Across the road there were a group of five people who were moving into a house. Everything about them screamed ‘student,’ from the items that they were carrying out of a small white van, to the way that they were dressed, and it made me smile, particularly when they sat outside with bottles of beer and cigarettes after they had finished. Watching those people (while doing my best not be be obvious as a nosey neighbour, which I blatantly am) brought back memories of student days. I remember the student accommodation I lived in during my first year…

Then I realised something – it was fourteen years ago that I started university.

Fourteen years?!

I did everything a little differently to most of my friends after sixth form college (for 16 – 18 year olds) had finished. Instead of applying to a university, I knew that I wanted to go to a music conservatoire instead – I had played the violin for ten years by that point and had decided that my dream career was to be a session musician – and so I took a gap year so I could audition, earn some extra cash and spend a little more time studying baroque instruments with my A Level music teachers. My audition was on 6th November 2000 in Birmingham (I’ve never forgotten the date for some reason), I fell in love with the city and was I ecstatic when I was offered a scholarship for the following September. The first thing that I did after receiving my acceptance letter was to visit the local Woolworths (which those of you over thirty in the UK will remember) and purchase two cooking pans, a matching plate and bowl and a cheap cutlery set, despite it being ten months before I was going to move away. I worked as a supervisor in a nightclub during the week and every time I got paid, I bought something else.

Ten months later, I was standing in my Halls of Residence. My belongings had fit into the back of a Ford Mondeo (eventually, after my father had inevitably lost his temper), my sisters had grunted a goodbye at me and we had made a two and a half hour journey where my mother was trying not to cry. My box room was part of a shared accommodation with nine other people – there was a bathroom per two rooms, with a single kitchen and lounge area. The building was old, my bathroom was mouldy, my mattress had a plastic covering on it and there were cigarette stains on the ceiling of my bedroom from the previous tenant. My mother (who has always been a clean-freak) was quietly trying not to have a heart-attack at the state of the place, discretely taking out cleaning products and scrubbing brush and blitzing everything that she could get her hands on, despite my protestations. There was a welcome pack hung on my door – it contained a Pot Noodle, some lollies, some stationary and a condom, which caused my mother to freak out even more.

After they had left, I went to the window and had a cigarette while I surveyed my new territory – my parents didn’t know that I smoked at that point and it was the first time where I didn’t have to worry about the smell being obvious. In fact, it was the first time where I could do anything I wanted – it was an overwhelming feeling of freedom. Within an hour I had unpacked everything. Looking back, I realise how little I had in the way of possessions – I had no TV or computer and my phone was a Nokia 3210 (which I affectionately called the brick). There was no Internet, no Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram – they didn’t exist – all I had was a CD player and a stack of CD’s, my kitchen items, a mirror, my clothes, a hair dryer and brush, some make up, bed linen, towels, my favourite twenty books and a couple of memory boxes that I had created over the years. I adorned the walls with photographs of friends and family and posters of my favourite singers. I made my bed and finished the cleaning that my mother had started, and then went to the pub with some of my new housemates.

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I can honestly say that that point was the cleanest it was all year…

I regret that I have no photographs of that little room, because what followed was one of the happiest years of my life. It was small, it was basic, but it was mine, and I bloody loved it.

What about you guys? What are your memories of student accommodation?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

Mother’s Day: Things To Say To Someone You Love Today

It’s Mother’s Day in lots of countries today and my reader is filled with bloggers stories and poems dedicated to one of the most important in people in their lives. While we celebrate Mother’s Day in March here in the UK, I am lucky to have been blessed with the best mother in the world…

Others aren’t as lucky. A tear is always brought to my eye with the heartfelt memories of loss, of grief, anger, and from those who would give anything to have more time, even if it just for a minute. Combined with the loss that my friend suffered recently and the untimely passing of Grayson Queen, they serve as a reminder of just how short life is and the missed opportunities to tell the important people in our lives just how much they mean to us.

Here are things I am going to be saying to the people I care about today…

1. Thank you. It’s amazing how often that these little words are forgotten. Take the time to thank somebody who has gone that extra mile to support you.

2. The fact that you like having them in your life and that you enjoy spending time with them. It’s taken for granted that we spend time with the people (usually) who we enjoy being around and who makes us happy, but have you actually ever said this to them?

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3. What you appreciate about them. My mother, The Bloke and my friends are funny, intelligent and talented people. They listen to me. When I’ve had a bad day, my friend V meets me in the pub, buys me a drink and let’s me rant. M invites me round to her house for dinner and regularly listens to stories of my blogging exploits. When I was in the hospital, C and M visited me. When my cat Wobbly died, G brought round cupcakes to my house. They buy me flowers, send me messages of support, make me laugh, entertain me and invite me out to places so we can spend time together.

4. That you find them attractive. This is something that would probably be best saying to your partner – I think my mother and friends would be concerned if I suddenly said this to them. However, a compliment on how they look and what they’re wearing would potentially make somebody’s day.

5. My best memories involve you. The ‘do you remember when…?’ conversations are always good for strengthening a relationship. Reminiscing about hilarious past experiences never fails to remind us of why we have the friendship in the first place.

6. That you support them. They may already know this, but it wouldn’t hurt to let them know that you’re there.

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7. That you love them. There are different kinds of love that are reserved for different people, but take the time to let them know (where possible – verbalising love for somebody may be taken in the wrong context in some situations).

What about you guys? Is there a special person you are grateful for?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.

 

A Lovely Blogging Surprise!

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Early last week, one of my favourite blogs, Dating a Sociopath featured a post on the changing laws surrounding emotional abuse in the UK. I had written about the exact same thing a few months ago, describing my experiences of being involved in a relationship with a sociopath years ago, and as I hadn’t wanted it to be too long I had split it into three parts. My blog was originally created to share stories from my past that had troubled me and the process of writing it down and the support I received from doing so exorcised a number of psychological demons that had haunted me for a long time.

I shared the link to my post with her in the comments – I wouldn’t normally do this as I feel that using someone else’s blog to promote yourself is poor blogging etiquette, but I admire her writing and wanted her to see it. She responded positively, and I logged out for the night.

When I awoke the next day I did what I always do first thing in the morning and checked my stats, only to be pleasantly surprised that I had received an unusually high amount of views for that time of the day, with most of them coming from Stumble Upon. I have an account but never use it, so I was intrigued, and I discovered that the story about my sociopathic ex that I had linked the day before had been posted onto Stumble Upon, and it was obviously being shared around… a lot.

It started fairly slowly, with about a thousand views for the first few days, even on Christmas Day. However, yesterday my stats exploded, resulting in my blog receiving the third highest ever amount of views for the month since I started it in April 2013… and it’s still going!

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It’s amazing – that one shared link has resulted in something far bigger than I could have ever expected and it has been a lovely end to a very positive blogging year! I hope that it is helpful to someone…

If you missed the original post, simply click on the picture below.

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You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Image 3 credit: Datingasociopath.com

 

For The Fallen: Lest We Forget

Every year I watch the service at the Cenotaph with pride as we observe moments of silence to remember the fallen. While the official Armistice Day is the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, today is Remembrance Sunday here in the UK and so I would like to share a tribute to the millions of people who have given (and who continue to give) their lives in war. I will never forget your sacrifice.

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Ode of Remembrance, taken from ‘For The Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon, 1914

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

 

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

Useless Things I Learned in School

One of the benefits of the British Education System is that students are offered lots of opportunities to be introduced to new subjects and ideas and as a teacher I believe that a well-rounded education and a love of learning is important. However, not everything that we learn will have a useful impact on our adult lives, and these will differ depending on our strengths, interests and career choices. Sixteen years after I left school, here are some of the things that I learned and have not used since. Continue reading