Sunday, 8 October 2017

My Bullet Journal...

By now, bullet journals seem like an old concept that's been swimming round the internet for years. I know for me, they're something I'd seen again and again, always thought I'd like to make one, but never actually doing it. The thought of having to work it all out, draw it and keeping drawing it each month sounded draining when I could just buy a diary and be done with it.

But a month ago I made one, and now I'll swallow my previous criticism.

If you read my post a while back, I wrote that I wanted to get a Five Minute Journal, but I couldn't bring myself to spend £15 on something I might not fully commit too and might not be used in a week. So I thought I'd make my own, then I thought I might as well go all out and make a bullet journal. I started out by looking on Pinterest and getting an idea for the pages I wanted that would suit my life and what I wanted from the journal.

I always knew I wanted to make a gratitude journal rather than a daily tasks or academic one, so I decided to make pages that related to self-care, personal projects, and affirmations, and here's what I ended up with.

I start of each month with some thoughts on habits to make and break from the past month, then lay out a calendar with important dates, some goals I'd like to focus on, and an affirmation for the month.

I see loads of really artistic, beautiful month pages but I have neither the skill or time for that, so I keep mine pretty simple but using a stencil for the main title and some crayons to add colour.

For each month I also have spending, mood, and habit trackers. I've found it really good to have a place to visualise this stuff, so I can see where I'm slipping to motivate myself to get back on track. And obviously as a student, the spending tracker is super helpful for budgeting.

Within my weekly spread I have my gratitude journal where each day I write what I'm grateful for, and an affirmation. I've also made space for important dates, a to-do list, shopping list and meal plan to help me keep track of my life a bit more. Again, I'm a really visual person so being able to see my whole week and all my plans laid out is really really helpful for me, and since having the meal plan box and shopping list to write out ingredients I need, I've actually been sticking to my meal plans for once!

Other pages I have include; a yearly calendar, lunar calendar, self-care tips, project pages for this blog, kiloran and The Tab, a page to write down ideas, and a yearly goals page. But I think the best thing about a bullet journal is obviously that it's totally customisable. If you want it to be academic focused, you could have a page for deadlines or study plans, or make one solely for social plans and to-do lists. What ever pages you need you can make, which is something you can't get from a bought journal.

All you need is a basic journal (I got mine from WH Smiths), a ruler, fine liners and any colouring pencils or crayons to design it however you want. Be as creative as you want, or keep it totally simple. It's entirely your space dedicated totally to your thoughts and needs and plans. And the process of considering what you need and drawing out is amazingly calming, I highly recommend.

I've been sucked into the trend and I'm not even sorry.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

How To Make A Space...

I'm now back in my beloved university city, and moved in to my new house awaiting the start of my second year. As someone that's massively affected by the space around me, this is always the most anxious time of my uni year; trying to make a new place a home. If you're a freshers about to move to uni I know this will definitely be on your mind, so I thought I could share my process to make yours a little easier.

Uni rooms are weird, especially first year accommodation rooms. You have to pack your life into one room, it becomes like your own little planet with all your belongings. You have to work, relax, sleep, hang out with friends, maybe eat, probably shower etc etc all in one room. It's intense, there's a lot of pressure for that one room to feel good and feel like yours. It's definitely been a lot easier this year in a house, and in a bedroom that doesn't have a neon green wall... But here's some of the things I consider when making my space, and a little look at my room this year. But I definitely thinks it's a case of finding what you find comfortable and comforting.

Lamp - Wilko
Bunting- Homemade
Shelves - B&Q
Hanging vase - Tiger
Work stuff by the work space

First and foremost uni is about work, so I always want to make the best work space possible. I'm a desk-worker, and a morning worker so this year I've been blessed with a glorious desk by a big window. 

I like to keep my work space really clean but inspiring. So on my desk there's very little, just a make-up mirror, pen pot and a lamp. This means that my desk is never super cluttered, and always looks work ready. I also have a copy of KILORAN on my desk, a whiteboard with important reminders, and some bunting that says 'grow' so my desk feels really positive and inspiring and motivating. If you don't feel motivated to sit at your desk, try and change the space until you do.

But most importantly, I think it's really important to have your work stuff by your work space, so all my uni books, my printer, and my pens etc are by my desk and ready, so when I sit down to work I don't have to wander around grabbing things. It also keeps the space very work focused so the space doesn't become associated with anything else that will distract you. 

For a similar reason I've kept my other books separate. If I can I like to try and keep work stuff as separate as possible, so I've kept my personal books on a different shelf with my own book displayed. Hoping this will motivate me to keep reading for pleasure as well as work this year.

Curate what you can see

Obviously the things you see in your room are going to have the biggest affect, and will be the things you focus on. So in my room I'm trying to make it so I can only see things that make me happy, or make me better. For example, I know affirmations really work for me and make me feel a lot calmer and happier, so I've put lil positive affirmations around my room like this bunting, my vintage 'I Love Lucy' bag, notes from my friends and Mum, or even just plants etc. This means my eyes are constantly seeing happy things. 

But I've also left out things like skincare, my water-bottle, my running trainers in the hope that it will help me improve my habits and make better decisions. It's subtle but it's supposed to be really effective.  

Bedding - Asda
Bedding - Dunelm
Keep a calm sleeping place

This one definitely isn't for everything, but I'm trying to keep my bed for sleeping as much as possible. I'm determined to not work there and try to keep the space as a place for sleeping, or reading, or winding down at the end of the day. To help this I've tried to keep this part of my room as plain as possible. And oh boy it was hard fighting the temptation to put up photos or a tapestry, but instead I settled on just these two postcards I got from the National Portrait Gallery when I was in London. I think they really compliment each other and the space with their neutral tones. Lovely. I've also gone for two pretty plain, calm, cool-toned duvet sets. Pro-tip; having two bedding sets is going to help you out so much with laundry.

Consider nighttime

A cosy night room is just as important as a cosy day room, especially for me as I tend to feel most unsettled or anxious at night. So I've gone for the typical approach of fairy-lights for some nighttime hygge while I'm relaxing or watching films. It's such a simple thing, but little things like fairy lights or plants or blankets can really make a difference. Fairy lights are also good for keeping bills down as you can put battery ones on during the day rather than an electric lamp or light. 

Bunting - Homemade
Firefly lights - Primark
Put up reminders of love

I know some people avoid putting up photos at uni in case they make them feel homesick, but I'm definitely a photo person. Seeing the faces of people I love and days I enjoyed instantly makes me feel better, so I always make a pinboard with photos, tickets and printed affirmations and images I like. I change this up quite a lot with new photos and things, but I always look at it as a reminder that I'm loved and lucky to have people in my life that I love so much. This is definitely the part of my room that turns it into a home, putting up personal photos instantly makes the room mine and makes me feel settled. There's always deals online for photo printing so definitely have a look into that.

For me, I know my perfect space is calm, positive, clean and love-filled. I do tend to match my uni room to my bedroom at home, just because I feel best in a neutral coloured room with little pops of colour and photos. But it's so personal, find out what works best for you and what you can do with your space to make you feel the most relaxed and happy you can be. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

The Past Us ~ A Poetry Film...

The Past Us is a poem about the realisation that your love has changed. It’s a poem about looking back at a relationship and realising it’s become so misshapen over time, it hardly looks like love at all anymore, it doesn’t really even look like companionship.

This poem was written in late October and it feels just like late October, to me at least. It feels like hazey evenings when it becomes annoying how dark it gets so early. It feels like the intense bout of disassociation and confusion I felt during my first months at uni, and the questions about how my new location would alter my relationships and feelings. It’s always been a deeply personal piece to me with very specific settings and conversations in my head, but maybe that’s why it’s ended up being the piece I always go back to, and a piece that my peers regularly reference and compliment (thanks guys).

We all know the tug of a dying love hanging on like a limb that’s gone numb after you sat on it for too long. The period just before the conversation when both parties are aware of the small changes in movement; turning your back, pulling away hands, seizing at opportunities to leave their company even if just briefly to get a drink, when before you always wanted them there, holding your hand and hugging in the kitchen. This poem is a brainstorm for that conversation, a mind-map drawing lines between the people you were and are.

The ideas of making a film was brought to the table in Easter, at a time when I was having this conversation again. I’ve always wanted to make a film, I love films so so much but over time I’ve accepted that I know nothing about how the hell you make a film. So a table full of people who know exactly how to make a short film, and know fancy terms for lenses and shots, and appreciated my work enough to want to visualise it, it was dreamy.

And the end product is The Past Us, it’s exactly what the poem is and all it represents (including some very specific details from it’s context). It’s grey, it’s late October, it’s the lingering thought of a love you had to accept had left long ago, packed up and moved out of everywhere but your head. But mostly it’s just beautiful and far more eloquent that my words could ever hope to be.

I can’t say thank you enough to ever quite touch on how much of a privilege this is, and how cool it makes me feel that a group of people wanted to merge their art with mine. So thank you again to Penny Eastbury, Samara Sajid and S. J Zhu. Thank you thank you thank you.

I feel v cool to have my very own and very first poetry film, am I an artistic and edgy creative yet??? Can I be famous now???

This is The Past Us, part 1 of a Chrysalism film series. This is winter.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Closing The Notepad...

Just over a week ago I filled my notepad. It seems stupid to be emotional over a some paper, but that's 591 days of work.

In that notepad there are 30 published pieces, 1 published book, 1 book draft, 5 issue plans for Kiloran and numerous other plans. It's seen me through everything; 3 break-ups, exam stress, moving city and many many more ups and downs. These pages have seen some FEELS. It's strange to say goodbye.

When I started writing in this notepad I didn't take myself seriously at all. I used to just write like a diary with my thoughts normally forming into poems or prose. Journals and diaries never really stuck with me, but for some reason this did. And I never really thought about it, I never read much poetry before I seemed to accidentally start writing it. And that's one of the biggest misconceptions I've found in poetry, that it must be traditional and formal and structured. But like all art, your poetry can be anything you want. It's doesn't need to be stanzas and short lines and rhyme, if you think your scribblings are poetry, they're poetry.

I talk about my writing a lot on here and over of my instagram, but it's normally promo rather than my absolute and total love of it. I tell people about it all the time, and it's always my first suggestion when anyone is struggling, but writing is an incredible and proven form of therapy. Writing and creative expression is often used in mental health treatment as it's obviously just such a freeing, cathartic activity. It's an amazing way to process your own emotions and work out how you're feeling in a way that is private and non-confrontational. I can't recommend it enough. Get to know yourself, get to know your emotions, get to know your creative brain.

Closing this notepad feels good. Obviously I'm proud of the work in there, I can see myself growing as a writer and becoming more refined. But mostly I'm really proud of what it all stands for, seeing hard situations turned into something that I can use and is beneficial. Pain into product. That's what I'm proud of, and that's why I love writing and why this notepad means so much. Closing it feels like closing it on all that past pain, walking away with something good.

Find your expression, whether it be writing, or art, or journaling, or music, or anything. Having an outlet for your emotions that is personal and healthy is so important, and having something that is totally yours unless you choose to share will introduce you to a whole layer of feels that you might not have explored before. Trust me, you'll feel lighter.

I'm excited to see what comes from my new notepad, and I can't wait to share some of the work created in the old one.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Advice To Freshers...

It's exactly a year since I got my A-Level results and secured my place at University of Sheffield to study my fave subject. Ahh how time flies.

Ever since the end of first year I've been feeling so reflective about the year. It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year, it only feels like a couple weeks ago that I packed up and moved to a city that I'd only visited twice before, and began living with nine strangers, embarking on living independently. I'm freshers recruiter for The Tab Sheffield, and seeing so many people tweeting about getting into Sheffield made me feel so emotional. I remember so clearly how I felt, but that girl feels like someone totally separate to who I am now. (cringe)

I think before you go to uni you hear a lot about how those years will change your life, or how you'll come back a different person. But it's true. Uni forces you to be ballsy. You have to throw yourself out of your comfort zone, talk to strangers to make them into friends, learn to be alone and thrive, learn how to handle a totally new level of socialising, teach yourself to be self-motivated. It gives you no other option but to grow to fit, but I think it brings out the best in you.

I don't want to just write out a boring, mushy run down of the ups and downs of my year. So instead, here's the best advice I can give to new freshers from what I've learnt.

You will be nervous, but you can trick yourself out of it

I won't lie, I almost dropped out before I got to uni. My anxiety and phobia were so so bad that I didn't think I could do it, and I was just so terrified. But everyone feels like that, but it is terrifying! Being thrown into a new situation is scary, but you have to push through and you'll soon forget that you're nervous. Offer to make a coffee for your flatmate, chat to the person in your lecture, find people on social media before you move and try to make some contacts. Act like you're not nervous, and you soon won't be.

Don't stick to your friends from home

It's pretty much guaranteed that you'll know people at your uni, whether it be a close friend or just someone you know from college. But don't spend too much time from them. It's too easy to stick to people you know like a safety blanket, but you have to get out there and spend time with your flatmates and new people. You don't want to stick too close to old friends, and miss out on the new.

Be somewhat shameless

Some of my best best best friends at uni are girls I stalked on social media and arranged coffee dates with. If you've just got your place, now is the perfect time to find your flatmates on facebook/twitter, find people on your course and get chatting. It will ease your nerves if you know people, and they could end up being your best friend ever. Literally, get on instagram and get searching your uni hashtag, or the location tag for your accommodation and follow some people. Social media is such a great tool, use it. There's no shame in making the first move and booking in some coffee dates or a pizza night, everyone else is just as nervous about making friends so be the one to make the move.

Do things

Uni offers you a ridiculous amount, everything from sports to arts, and societies for literally everything you can imagine. Going to freshers fairs and activities fairs is vital to get to grips with whats going on and integrate with the uni community, and societies are great for making friends outside your flat or subject. That's one thing I really failed at in my first year, but I'm determined to join more next year.

Explore the place beyond the uni

Uni offers loads, but the city you're in can offer more. Sheffield, in particular, has so much going on like poetry groups, gigs, talks etc. Make sure you go out and explore the city beyond your campus or immediate area. Go to all the parks and museums, walk everywhere to get to grips with the place, support local businesses; fully adopting your uni city will massively improve your time there and will give you so much more.

Make as many friends as possible

Never limit your number of friends. You have to abandon the 'squad' mentality, you can have friends in all different groups, doing all different subjects, and living in all different places. Yes have your best friend, but always make more. Never turn down an invite, always be kind, talk to everyone. But also, don't abandon your friends for anyone. Those friends will be your family, they'll be your support system and you'll be theirs, and no relationship or boy or girl or anything is worth sacrificing that. Friends first, always. 

Remember to settle down

Uni is fun, and freshers week is very very fun, but you do have to settle down. At some point you have to make your uni a home, rather than just somewhere you're staying for a while, you have to get into routines and eat healthy and look after yourself. This sounds super simple, but trust me it's harder than you think when you step out of a family setting and you have no restrictions, and no responsibilities beyond the couple hours of lectures and seminars. Eventually settling down and getting a night routine, and a somewhat decent bed time is super important for your mental health, and making sure you're eating well and caring for your body properly. 

If I hadn't gone to uni and took every chance it gave me, I wouldn't have released a book, I wouldn't be writing for The Tab, and I doubt Kiloran would've grown like it has. But mostly, I wouldn't have made the friends I have, or met some of the best people I've ever known. I've met so many inspiring, like-minded, funny, kind, amaaaazing people and I feel so lucky to call them friends. After first year I feel 100x more confident and secure in myself and my abilities. I'm less afraid, more social, and I'd like to think I've become a better person and a better friend. Best year of my life hands down, I hope the next two years go in slow-mo so I never have to enter the real world.