Why I love learning

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I love learning new things. I always have done, and I hope I always will. This thirst for knowledge was instilled in me from a young age by my parents, who always wanted me to do well in life and have the opportunities they never did. Saturday mornings as a child were spent in my Mum and Dad's bed, learning Capital Cities, inventors and ways to remember the Five Great Lakes (H.O.M.E.S - easy!) Lazy Sunday afternoons were spent having family quizzes to see how much information we'd retained from the morning before, and every evening I was given a word of the day from the dictionary to use in a sentence.
I was fascinated with these words and went through endless stacks of books, taking it all in, using vocabulary well beyond my age. By age 8 I was done with every book in the reading corner and had moved on to my Mum's Virginia Andrews and Catherine Cookson collections. I would read them as I walked home from school, while I was in the bath, when I was supposed to be sleeping- every spare minute I had, I was reading. I wrote poems and short stories, and when I was 11 I had a poem published by Walkers Crisps ;)
When I was 12 I came second in cringeworthy TV show 'Britain's Brainiest Kids'- are you getting a picture of how geeky I was as a kid? In the end I shot myself in the foot with my own cockiness- I was clever and I knew it, and made the fatal mistake of picking 'Literature' as my final round when I had the first choice and could have picked Pot Luck. Big mistake. I swear I could have taken that trophy home if I'd not been such an arrogant idiot. Still haunts me to this day, not that I'm bitter or anything.

Although I've lost a lot of the intelligence I used to have, the yearn to learn (smooth) is still there. I like to know why, and how, and never accept anything at face value. I believe learning is an amazing thing, and often need to remind myself not to get too caught up in routine that I can't spare a minute to learn something new. The brain is just incredible, and the fact that there is so much information out there that I am so clueless about, so much knowledge that my brain is waiting to drink up and is capable of holding just astounds me. Apparently we only use a tiny percentage of our true brain potential so it's mind boggling to think what could really be achieved if we train our brain to expand, and to use more of itself. The opportunity to learn is endless. Even if I learned a new fact every day for the rest of my life, I still wouldn't make a dent in all the things there are to learn in the world. And that is why I love learning.

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Can you handle rejection?

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Last week I found out I was unsuccessful in an application for a promotion I had put in for at work. In my whole working life it was the first interview I've ever been unsuccessful in. I can't say I was shocked, because I wasn't expecting to get the job, but it still stung to know that I wasn't good enough. I felt I had done my best throughout the whole week long process, and knowing that my best wasn't up to the standard required was painful in a way.

I'm a hard worker and throughout my career I've been used to being able to get what I want when I put my mind to it. I had done the role previously with another company, so I know I could have done the job with my eyes closed and I felt it unfair that I seem to have gone unrecognised in a position that is far less stretching than anything I've ever done before.

As a kid, my parents turned everything I did academically into a competition and if I wasn't the best, then what was I doing? "Make sure you beat Seema at that spelling competition, TAKE THAT BITCH DOWN!" "But Dad, I don't know how, I'm only 7!" I also have a tiny black emo heart so I don't deal with rejection or not being the best at things very well. I felt that I failed myself and my partner by not being the best applicant. Cue me spending every night after work curling up on my bed watching The Tudors until my eyes bled and funnelling Reeces Pieces down my throat (literally. I created a cardboard funnel out of the box) and feeling shit about my life, wailing 'WHAT AM I DOING? I'M 25 YEARS OLD AND I CAN'T EVEN GET A PROMOTION!'

In reality, now that I've had a week to think about it, my talents and good qualities are perhaps better suited to a different, more creative role. Just because in someone else's opinion I wasn't best suited to this specific role doesn't necessarily mean I am a failure, and it doesn't mean I won't get another promotion if I put myself forward for one in the future. Shit, even JK Rowling got rejected by 12 publishers before Harry Potter flew into our lives on his Nimbus 2000, and that doesn't have any bearing on her talent whatsoever. They must all be kicking themselves in the goolies for missing out on our bespectacled friend.

Can you handle rejection? Does it get easier the more it happens? How do you keep motivated and stay on track when you've been told you're not good enough?



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Faber Academy QuickFic

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On Friday I entered a short story competition called 'QuickFic' with publishers Faber and Faber to win a stack full of books! Every Friday they release a prompt which could be a phrase or a photograph, and you have to use that as inspiration to write a short story of 250 words or less. The one I entered used the below photograph as a prompt. Unfortunately I didn't win, but I had fun writing it and it got my brain ticking on a Friday afternoon lunch break so I thought I would post my entry below! If you like the sound of the competition, follow @faberacademy on Twitter for more details at 09:50 this Friday!



"Olivia held the photograph in her hand. Slightly crumpled and worn around the edges, it trembled under her touch as she stared in disbelief at the image she remembered so well; a young girl crouched amongst a flock of pigeons, the sun beaming down on her tanned skin, the straps of her dress askew. The image had been burned in her mind for as long as she could remember. The grainy black and white photograph found amongst her patient’s belongings was the only memento she’d had of her childhood, though her own copy had long since been lost. She’d spent many nights dreaming wistfully of the day she would feel as happy as she had when it had been taken. Everything had seemed so much easier back then. Before her world got turned upside down. Before her mother disappeared.
Her heart hammered as her normally stalwart demeanour cracked. “Do we have a positive ID yet?” she barked, slipping the photograph into the pocket of her scrubs.
“Karen Kennedy, according to the driving license that’s been recovered from the scene. Any relation, boss?”
Olivia shot the nurse an unimpressed stare and continued taking the patient’s vital obs.  “Just get this woman ready for theatre as soon as you can. I don’t have time for absurdities”. The door slammed behind her as she fled the room and leant against the cold corridor wall for support. She’d lost her mother once already. She wasn’t about to let it happen again."


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Lowering the smear test screening age

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I was browsing the Daily Mail website on my lunch break today, and the first article I saw was this article about lowering the smear test screening age. It's the story of Aimee Willett, a young woman of 26 years old and mother of two, who was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer after her first smear test.

Cervical cancer runs in my family and I also suffer from ovary problems, so I've long been concerned about having a smear test, and found myself eagerly anticipating the NHS branded letter dropping onto my door mat inviting me to have my bits touched by a coffee-breathed doctor with cold hands. (Not for those reasons I hasten to add). After all, girls are now being vaccinated against the HPV virus to prevent cervical cancer at the age of 12 or 13, so why wait so long for the screening for cancerous cells? 25 year olds are (mostly) very sexually active and have been for a long time and as the symptoms appear to go almost undetected until the disease is fairly advanced, as in Aimee Willett's case, I think that 25 is no longer an adequate age to have to wait. According to the NHS, cervical cancer in women under 25 is 'very rare', but by the time you reach 35, it is the second most common cancer in women.  Even after you've reached smear testing age, up until the age of 50 you only get retested every 3 years- after that it's every 5! If prevalent, think how much cancer can spread in this time. I understand budgets will play a huge part in this decision but you can't put a price on saving a life.

My heart bleeds for Aimee, who has to face this Christmas wondering whether it's going to be her last with her children and fiancee, something that could have been avoided had she been able to have a smear test earlier.

What do you think? Will you be joining Aimee's campaign to lower the smear test screening age?
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Tunnel

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You're screaming into a tunnel so loud it reverberates on every curved tile and even the train track rats can't bear the noise, but the air is so silent and your heart is battling against your ribs so hard you're sure you can hear them splintering with every thump thump thump in your chest.

They tell you it gets easier but the truth is, nine years from now you'll still be waking up in a cold sweat clinging to the sheets, and you won't be sure but you'll be convinced you can feel your splintered ribs puncture your lungs as you struggle for breath in the cold, damp air.
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Jealousy in relationships: How much is too much?

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I think jealousy is an interesting topic. Some people are naturally jealous, while others are not. It's natural for certain people or situations to bring out or heighten the green eyed monster lurking inside us but when it comes to relationships, how much is too much?

I used to pride myself on being perfect girlfriend material, never batting an eyelid when my partner went on nights out or weekends away with her friends and never caring if I knew someone was attracted to her. Jealousy just wasn't a part of my nature. I obviously had my moments throughout the six years we were together but on the whole, I wasn't bothered in the slightest what she got up to.
Now I am in a new relationship and everything I thought I knew about myself has been turned on it's head. The dickhead green eyed monster has me firmly in his clutches and the more I try to wriggle myself free, the tighter he is gripping. 
I don't know whether it's because it's still a pretty new relationship, or whether it's because I've never felt this way about anyone else, or because I've never been this physically attracted to anyone before and therefore feel slightly inadequate in comparison, but something has happened inside my brain and left my girlfriend of only 5 months thinking I am a serial bunny boiler.

Luckily, we've actually known each other for 6 years so I'm comforted somewhat by the thought that she knows what I am really like. Don't get me wrong, I don't check her phone or tell her what to wear or go all Patrick-from-Hollyoaks on her if she makes my cup of tea wrong or anything like that. It's not a controlling jealousy, but more an insecure jealousy on my part. Because I think she is the most amazing woman I have ever met, I worry that I am not enough to keep her and so my stupid hormonal brain starts working overtime, convincing me that anyone she has a crush on is the enemy and needs to be taken out. I mean, it's so bad that I can't even watch a film starring her man crush Tom Cruise, which is really annoying because I used to love the naughty bits in Eyes Wide Shut. When I think about it logically, I know I am being irrational:

1) He lives in the telly box and will never ever grace my girlfriend with his presence.
2) He's a man and she's a lesbian, and although for some reason he makes her go weak at the knees when he's at a safe distance in his Top Gun uniform, if he actually came near her saying he wants to put his willy inside of her, she'd run a mile. I hope.
3) It is completely normal and natural for people to have crushes on celebrities and doesn't mean she is any less attracted to me.

Deep down I know all of these things, and yet the thought of her being turned on by anyone else eats away at me. I want to be the only person she thinks naughty thoughts about. Is that irrational and weird on my part, or do other people feel like this? Is it normal for someone to want to smash a hole in the TV screen with the remote and then unsubscribe from Netflix when their girlfriend makes little 'oof' noises when Carmen from the L Word comes on? (Asking for a friend).

They say a little bit of jealousy in a relationship is healthy and proves that you actually care about the other person. If the shoe were on the other foot, I would worry more if my girlfriend didn't seem to care about me than if she got a little bit jealous over me watching Rachel Weisz films, because I like to know that I am needed. But I also know that other people are not as needy as me and jealousy can be a real turn off. So, when it comes to jealousy in relationships, how much is too much?

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Soliloquy

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"Don't say I didn't warn you, honey; I'm no walk in the park. Most of the time I'm okay, but sometimes I'm a shadow of myself, a silhouette, like a ghost roaming corridors after dark. I'm the biggest contradiction I know. I say I don't want company, but deep down I'm testing to see if anyone knows me well enough to know that I'm testing. Or if anyone cares enough to ignore what I say and come spend some time with me.
I push people away just to filter out those from my life who don't bother springing back. I listen to sad songs and torture myself looking for things that I know will upset me. I want to be understood more than I want to help anyone understand me.
I hate myself for qualities that I find admirable in others. I know how to play the game yet I get myself thrown off the team.
I'm shy, I'm jealous, I'm insecure and my biggest fear is rejection. Yet I love recklessly, without abandon. I wear my heart on my sleeve and give more than I think I have in me to give. I put myself in the firing line time and time again, scrambling over mountains of insecurity to please those I love. I say what I think and admit how I feel, though I know it gets me hurt. I'm as open and straight as the lines on my skin though I've only ever been taught how to close myself off. I'm a poet, a romantic, a lover of emotions although I don't know how to deal with them. I've never known how to deal with them. I've spent so long craving them like an unobtainable dream, I didn't even think about what I'd do if I ever got them. Like I said, most of the time I'm okay. But I'm also the biggest contradiction I know."
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The Dummy- Carol Ann Duffy

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Balancing me with your hand up my back, listening to the voice you gave me croaking for truth, you keep me at it. Your lips don't move, but your eyes look desperate as hell. Ask me something difficult. Maybe we could sing together? Just teach me the right words, I learn fast. Don't stare like that. I'll start where you leave off. I can't tell you anything if you don't throw me a cue line. We're dying a death right here. Can you dance? No. I don't suppose you'd be doing this if you could dance. Right? Why do you keep me in that black box? I can ask questions too, you know. I can see that worries you. Tough. So funny things happen to everyone on the way to most places. COME ON. You can do better than that, can't you?
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Elizabeth Pleurnichard

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She came into the world a bundle of fists, puce and squalling, starting as she meant to go on; desperate for the comfort and warmth of her mother's arms - only her mother didn't want her. She cried hot, determined tears day and night. Her mother couldn't even bear to look at her. Soon Elizabeth learned to comfort herself with the familiar sting of salt behind her eyes, the only thing she could rely on.

As she grew up, she trusted only books and made friends with journals. She warped the descriptions of protagonists with her tears and stained the pages of diaries with anger as she wrote about being alone. Awkward and bookish, she didn't fit in with the other children in her village, and they revelled in tormenting her every day. Curled up under the protection of her covers, she cried herself to sleep just as she did when she was a newborn.

Later, her chest racked heaving and uncontrollable every night for a week in an uncomfortable hospital bed as she longed to be 15 eternally.

At 17 she cried anguished tears of shame into the dark, damp air one fateful night in the Subway station with the cold and the putrid breath in her face and the unwanted hands clawing forcefully at her clothes, taking what was not theirs to take. For a while not even the comfort of her own sobs could send her to sleep.

Moving into adulthood, she flitted in and out of love and companionship, craving affection she had never known. Reserved and shy, she pushed people away to see how quickly they crawled back and shut out those who did. Dejection zigzagged down her face as she realised that anyone who claimed to love her always left her in the end. Sadly she concluded that the only constant throughout the pivotal moments in her life had been the hot, prick of tears that always found a way to spring themselves on her in defence. Crying came easy to Elizabeth Pleurnichard. Life, so far, did not.






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This is not love

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This is not love. This is smelling the clothes she left on the bed because you miss her, even though she only left ten minutes ago.
This is not love. This is wearing her watch even though you hate being controlled by times and routines, just to feel close to her.
This is not love. This is setting your alarm in the middle of the night when you're apart in case she misses you in her bed.
This is not love. This is taking snacks everywhere you go because she gets grumpy when she's hungry.
This is not love. This is heroine addiction in it's purest form.
This is not love. This is wanting nothing more than to fall asleep every night listening to her gentle snoring.
This is not love. This is staying up til 5am talking and then getting up at 6:30 for work.
This is not love. This is a constellation of rough sex induced bruises kissed by the gentlest of lips.
This is not love. This is the quickening of your pulse when her warm skin brushes against yours.
This is not love. This is watching her instead of watching the film you've rented, because nothing can captivate you the way she does.
This is not love. This is lying together so entwined you can't tell where you end and where she begins.

This is not love. This is more than love. This is symbiosis. Obsession. Adoration. This is adrenaline reminding you how alive you are. This is lust, want, need, infatuation, surrender, perfection, beauty.

This is not love. This is more than love.



This is home.
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Halalgate

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This is a picture of this morning's Sun newspaper, with the headline "Halal secret of Pizza Express". Pizza Express are now the third restaurant chain after Subway and Nandos to be found serving only halal meat without telling it's customers, or in Subway's instance, removing pork products entirely.

The Sun has been called 'Islamophobic' for it's views in the past, and I don't normally read The Sun, but  I have to say I agree with it today. Before I get called a racist or an Islamophobe myself, I am neither of these. I simply believe I should be given an option about what I eat. I do not agree with the cruel way that animals are killed in keeping with the halal 'rules' and as someone with my own religious beliefs, I don't particularly want to be eating an animal that has been subjected to slaughter and prayers/blessings that contradict my own religion.

It enrages me that these restaurants are serving only halal meat in a Christian country. Yes, there are parts of England with a high Muslim population and I understand that halal meat is an intrinsic part of their religion, but why are many of us being unknowingly forced and deceived to partake in something that we may not believe in? Why not offer the option of either halal or non-halal meat, in order to appease both faiths? Why should one faith have to bow down to another without even having a choice in the matter?

Imagine the uproar if restaurants were serving non-halal meat to Muslim customers deceivingly and not giving them an option about what they are putting in their own bodies?
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Sun

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I was blinded by the sun, but you couldn't understand why I didn't turn away. You kept repeating yourself, "Just come inside darling, just come inside". I tried to tell you that I was depending on the sun to stop me falling into the darkness; I tried to tell you that I couldn't bear to be just another flicker of your past that you couldn't quite recall, but the words wouldn't come out. Besides, even if I had wanted to turn away, I was rooted to the spot. Fixated on the burning. It irritated you. You said you'd seen the sun and your eyes were fine; you said I was my own worst enemy, hell bent on self destruction. Eventually you lost interest in trying to drag me away from the blaze.
"Let me know when you can look me in the eye and stop staring at that Goddamn sun". That was the last thing I heard as you left. I couldn't even turn my face to watch you retreat out of the light and into the cool shadows. My eyes were scarred yellow and orange, blistering round the edges, and I hated myself for it.
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Chasm

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I have worn my heart on my sleeve
for so long
that the space in my chest where it used to be
is an aching chasm
desperate for it's warm return
longing to feel
the rhythmic echoes
that tell me I'm
alive.

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Midnight, 13 Miles Away

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I love her for the way she always smells like clean washing and the way she looks beautiful even when she squints in the sun and the way she brings me coffee and bagels in bed. I love her for the way she can't help but drop everything and spill everything or trip over her own feet because she's so clumsy and I love the way she looks into my eyes when she tells me she loves me. I love her for the way she looks at me like I'm the only girl she's ever looked at and I love the cute birthmark on her leg and her straight teeth and I love how when we're driving in the car we barely talk, in comfortable silence. I love her silly habits like how she always wears navy t-shirts and how she has to eat with a certain spoon and the face she pulls when she's looking at herself in the mirror. I love her for her kind heart and her gorgeous bum and her poorly eyes and how she doesn't have a bad bone in her body. I love her for the way she punches the air when her team scores a goal even though I make fun of her but deep down I think her passion is attractive and endearing. I love the way her nose wrinkles when she laughs and how I can feel her pulse beating in her neck when I hold her face as we kiss and I love how she flicks her hair out of her face when she's lying on top of me. I love her for the way she makes me feel like I can achieve my dreams and how she stopped me feeling like a failure and the way she gave meaning to my life when I didn't realise I needed it most. I love her for the way she crept up on me, unsuspecting, and sent me spinning into some parallel universe and how I still can't stop pinching myself to check that I'm not dreaming.
I love her for making this happen and for the way she changed me for the better without even realising and for the way she makes me want to spend every day showing her I love her more than I will ever love myself.
Midnight, 13 miles away and she is sleeping, while I lay in my own bed aching to wake her just to tell her that I love her.
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17:50

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I taught myself to swim
in the pools of her eyes
and the sight of her face
made trees sigh contentedly
and galaxies shift
deep inside of me.
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Strangers

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We clicked like we'd known each other for years; like the sound of our teeth against each other's when we kissed so ardently we couldn't focus. And for the first time I knew what it was to love, not for the bittersweet beauty of trying to fix the unfixable, or for the bruises that kissed my skin, but for the pure simplicity of her. For the perfect completeness that filled my soul every time I breathed her in. For the first time I knew what it was to love, not just to fill a hole within myself or for the gratification of being needed; I loved despite reason, or logic, or wisdom, or choice. For the first time, I didn't choose to love, but love chose me. And I knew then that the tragedies I'd written and the broken soliloquies I'd acted out were the most amateur of dramatics. For how could love be anything other than the way my heart hangs on her crooked smile when we share a joke? I thought I knew what being in love was, but that's just it; you don't know how to be in love, you just be. You don't know anything until all the empty cracks and spaces in your heart that you didn't even know existed have been filled just by the way she throws her head back when she laughs or by the way she looks at you when she takes off her bra or by the way she brings you coffee in bed while you're still sleeping or how your heart stops in it's tracks just from the way her mouth looks when she says your name. Love is not about how good you are at saying sorry, it's about being thankful for the little things. And I can't remember the time before I knew how she takes her tea or what side of the bed she sleeps on or what shampoo she uses or what her biggest fear is. She makes me come as much as she makes me laugh. She pins me down and kisses me with urgency as much as she kisses my cheek tenderly. We touch each other like we've only just met yet we complement each other like we've never been apart.

We clicked like we'd known each other for years; that's when I realised that I knew what love is.


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Me, through you

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Maybe it's because she always cries when it rains, or because her favourite song is the sound of her own heart breaking. Maybe it's the relentless ticking of the clock on the wall that drives her crazy, or the birds in the garden that she could sit and watch for hours.
She wants everything but she's too used to procrastinating. She's ambivalent yet full of passion and opinion. She's talented and ambitious yet going nowhere. She's damaged yet she longs to fix others.
She's a contradiction of the highest order. And maybe, just maybe, though she'd never admit it; that's why she deserves to be loved.
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Miles

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The miles between us
are suspended in the air like frozen dragonflies.
I have made this journey a thousand times before,
in the half-light of dawn
while you slept soundly on your bed of hopes and big dreams.

The city lights
flicker through your window
and caress your face, in peaceful slumber
as I gaze into the tar-like night
and wish for your words to mend me.

I could cross the miles
and hold you as you slept, knowing
that when you woke, your ready words,
your perspicuous face
could soothe my fractures forever.

And somehow this knowledge,
this reprieve from the cold and the tar-like night
is enough for me to crawl
into my own bed of new found hope
and drift; my breath in time with yours.

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Phoenix

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She came into my life in a blaze of glory, a halo of earnest perfection. She was a golden phoenix to my captive sparrow. Her beauty was incomparable, breathtaking, enough to stop time. My nights were hers; in the early hours of darkness I would think of where she was, what she was doing; my heart beating so loud I could hear it ringing in my ears, keeping me awake. Keeping me alive.
Before her I was a nothing, a nobody. But she, she taught me how to breathe again, unknowingly encouraged my wings to unfurl and made me feel like a somebody. She put the spark back into my eyes and lit a match with it, illuminating me.
I walk on clouds and I walk on eggshells, but whichever way I walk my destination is always the same. I will forever find myself creeping back into her bed, lying there in the early hours of darkness, knowing where she is, what she is doing. For in the absence of a cage I have the whole world in which to stretch my wings and fly to wherever she is, settling in beside her feeling that this is what I was born for, comfortable in the knowledge that even a golden phoenix has to burst into flames in order to be reborn.
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Urban Outfitters: Exploiting Mental Illness

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Urban Outfitters Fashion exploiting mental illness

A friend tweeted this picture last night, taken from the Urban Outfitters website. As you can see from the photos, Urban Outfitters is currently selling two t-shirts exploiting/making fun of mental illness, one saying 'depression' and one saying 'eat less'. I would love to find out who approved the production and sale of these t-shirts, and ask them why they thought it was acceptable?
Depression and eating disorders are very serious illnesses, but because they are not always physically visible, people like Urban Outfitters think they can make a quick buck exploiting other people's pain.

What sort of message is this sending to customers of Urban Outfitters? That it's okay to be a bully and completely judgemental about mental illness? That people should in fact actually eat less and be disgusted with their own bodies?

It is this negative, close minded bullshit that reinforces young and vulnerable people's ideas that they are not good enough, not pretty enough, or not skinny enough to be deserving of love or happiness. This constant judgement that anyone suffering from a mental illness is crazy or weird (or in Urban Outfitter's case, easily exploitable) does nothing to help anyone who thinks they have a mental illness to reach out and ask for help. According to mental health statistics, 10% of children in the UK have a mental health problem at any one time- and no wonder, when all that they are surrounded by is the constant notion that thin and pretty = successful, and anything else is not acceptable. How can big stores like Urban Outfitters feel comfortable knowing they could be contributing to a child having a mental health issue? Obviously children are not their target market - children are not the target market of a large majority of the media surrounding us, but it's still easily accessible and the messages are all the same.

Statistics also state that 1 in 4 adults have a mental health issue, and that the UK has the highest self harm rate in Europe - showing that mental health is a real problem with real consequences. Glorifying it as some commercial slogan or 'cool statement' is disgusting and is going to do nothing to help reduce this statistic.


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2014: The year of hard truths

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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has warned of more cuts in the coming 16 months in a year that is to be known as 'the year of hard truths'. An estimated £25bn of savings is to be made, the majority of which is coming from the welfare budget; in particular housing benefit for the under 25s. A further £12bn welfare cuts are to then be made in the subsequent years following the 2015 elections.
According to Osborne, it makes sense to attack this 'enormous budget' first, believing that those claiming housing benefit under the age of 25 are essentially sticking two fingers up at those who can't afford to move out.
Firstly, I've never heard such a load of shit in my whole entire life. The benefits system as a whole is largely flouted and abused by those who are able to work but choose not to, so why single out under 25s? Hard times can fall on anybody regardless of age. Secondly, to suggest that housing benefits are being used by under 25s to solely fund a move out of the family home is preposterous. I moved out aged 18, funded by my job like most other hard working people out there. Fast forward five years, and I was made redundant and forced to rely on housing benefits as a way to pay my rent whist looking for another job. Did I enjoy it? No. Did I abuse it? No. But did I need it? Yes. In this current climate, job security is at an all time low and people out there - whether under 25 or not - need to know that if times get tough, they can draw on a resource that they have helped pay into. Housing benefit costs for under 25s totals around £2bn, whilst approximately £3.5bn is still being pumped into British prisons offering criminals a more comfortable life than many of us scraping by, penny by penny. Go figure.

All of this comes after a previous £7bn welfare budget cut out of a total £83bn back in 2010. Osborne has inherited the biggest budget deficit of any economy and therefore, understandably, drastic changes are expected to be - and needed to be made in order for our country to survive. Since 2010 however, as a country and an economy we have turned a corner - yet more cuts are predicted until at least 2018 due to Osborne's failure to balance the books. I find Osborne's views completely idealogical and quite frankly, ridiculous; he has evidently never had the misfortune of being a young person living on the breadline with no foreseeable way out. It's time for him to start concentrating on the real problem with the benefits system instead of preventing our young people from ever receiving the help that they may one day genuinely need.


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The Well

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Those first passionate throws of love, they hypnotise me and terrify me both at the same time. Those aching moments when every cell inside of you yearns for someone, someone who says they yearn for you too, and all you can do is hope and trust and pray they feel the same as you do.
Because when you need someone that badly, when you need them to need you too, you'll do anything to keep them. It's like you're at the bottom of a well, and you're looking up at the opening and you can see exactly how you fell to the bottom but you don't know how you'll ever climb out. And then this face appears, this face in a halo of light, telling you they can pull you to safety and it's like suddenly theirs is the only face that matters. And you want to reach out and let them drag you into the light away from your fear of the darkness but you don't know if they are strong enough to bear your weight, or even if they'll want to. Because once you're climbing up those slippery bricks and you let that person see you're depending on them not to let you fall, your soul and all it's flaws are illuminated. It's like you've spent every moment of your life at the bottom of the well wishing you'd see the light, and you've craved it for so long you don't know what you'd do if it blinded you.

How reckless and beautiful we are to keep tripping down wells and falling in love with those who come to find us.
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