All the Extras
This page is where I'll discuss a mix of other topics which either are important or I just want to discuss and let you know about.
Since I've been so busy with applying for university for my MA course in English/Creative Writing (and I got in!!) and all that comes with it, I've had to put some posts back a bit. So this post is just a bit of what I've been watching or listening to, ect.
What I'm Reading
I'm actually between books at the time of writing this post, but I'll also be starting The Bear and the Nightingale later today as well. I've had it on my physical TBR quite a while now and have heard so many good things about this series that I figured I should start it.
A second reason is that I'm also in the middle of the NEWT's readathon, so it's my O in Care of Magical Creatures. Both of these books I'm planning to read for it, though A Stranger in the House is extra. However, I've read both of the author's previous books and really enjoyed them. She also released her 4th book in July 2019, my mum has read all of the books, so I need to catch up now! :D
What I'm Listening To
Skillet just released their new album this August and I love it. It's my favourite album of theirs since Comatose and possibly my favourite album they've done!
On another note, I'm also listening on and off to several pieces of classical music. Just for my own enjoyment, but they also help with the writing things I'm in the middle of, or planning to do soon. As sometimes happens, I'm at a point in a few projects where lyrics would distract me if I tried to write/plan with them playing in the background.
Thirdly, I had to put this song below. It's by Victoria Carbol and I've just discovered it within a couple of days of writing this post. I've had it on repeat quite a lot. :) It's a Throne of Glass tribute song to Manon and the Thirteen, particularly within the final book, Kingdom of Ash, so spoilers are in the song. If you're a fan of either of both of Sarah J Maas' book series, then I'd definitely give it a listen (and other songs on her YouTube channel as well).
Well, I'm back on the blog.
I didn't think I would be.
Checking back over everything, I've only posted a handful of times this year. I took a hiatus early in the year and think I was a bit burnt out from trying to do too much- maybe having what passed as a second quarter life crisis.
I just got tired of doing this. I mean, I still enjoyed it still on some level. Having a corner of the internet for me to ramble and talk about things I want to, even if no one else ever reads them, is a good thing for me. That's maybe why I write so much, in part, so that I can make sense of things.
But the thought of deleting this blog or just leaving it up as it was forever, didn't sit well with me. I knew I'd miss it. I knew I WAS missing it. Even writing this is bringing back something that I missed and I'm glad I can keep doing. I've got a good bit to catch up on, but I'll do all of that in due course, whilst also talking about current things going on in my life.
So this was a really quick update to say what happened and that I'm definitely reviving my blog. I'm going down to posting twice a week, maybe even only once if not a lot is happening. I'd rather not have a take quite as many hiatuses as I had been over the last year or so. But there's a lot more to come in the future!
I've been planning this post for months and now it's finally here- Happy Hufflepuff Pride Day to all my fellow badgers out there! :D
Now, this is basically going to be a post on reasons as to why I'm a proud Hufflepuff and to show off some of my HP memorabilia. There isn't too much (at the moment), but I am hoping to go to the Warner Bros Studio tour later this year (fingers crossed). I'll definitely be buying things then! :)
Let's get started.
Sometimes, I think people think Hufflepuffs are the rejects of the other houses, or that we don't have any of those qualities to make it...or something else?? Not true. The last time I checked, Hermione could have been a Ravenclaw, Neville a Hufflepuff and Harry a Slytherin. In real life, people are made of up of many different qualities.
I am many of the things that make a Hufflepuff, yes, but I've had to work at some of them. I'm not naturally patient, for example. I can be really clumsy. Trust me when I say I have a temper at times. I thought I was a Ravenclaw for a while, before realising that decent qualifications were more through hard work than any overly natural abilities.
Badgers are very capable of defending their own and there's a joke that a badger could rip your face off but there's probably some truth in it. Likewise, one of the most important things to me is loyalty, which is a two-way thing. Don't forget, most Hufflepuffs stayed to fight at the Battle of Hogwarts because it was the right thing for them to do.
From a nicer, personal point of view, I love being a Hufflepuff because of their accepting nature. I've said it before on the blog that Hermione was the character I related to the hardest as an 11 year old just discovering the books for the first time. She was me, in many ways. Later on, I found some of that in Luna and Tonks as well. I'm so happy Newt is representing Hufflepuffs in the Fantastic Beasts films- I see me in him too.
See, I think Hufflepuff house bring out the best in people. I love the idea of the Hufflepuff common room. I'm a socially anxious, introverted, perfectionist. Only one of those things in that sentence is good. I didn't even know what half of that meant ten years ago- the pressures of school then, society and not being like everyone else made me become that, or try and become something I wasn't.
It's taken a while to get there, but I'm being more of me every day. Don't get me wrong, I love the other houses. I have favourite characters and also friends from them all, I think. But the bottom line is this:
Being a Hufflepuff means I can just be myself.
And that's why I'm proud to be one.
Several years ago, my family went to Florida and I got my first look at the Orlando HP world. Yes, it's been updated a fair bit now and I want to go back. But it was brilliant at the time and the above are some of what we got up to. The Chocoloate Frogs were a bit expensive or else I'd have gotten more, but they're quite big to eat, from what I remember.
Of course, I couldn't go away without a wand of my own. After debating between an original or a character wand, I went for the latter and queued for quite a while outside Olivander's. I had a fun time in there, and the wand I came away with is a willow one, as the underneath of the box says. I don't remember anything else about it now, but knowing what Pottermore says about willow wands, wand cores and knowing my own personality, it's probable it would also contain unicorn hair, if all of this were real. :)
Also from Orlando- and a friend- is this HP mug. I actually kept the box just for this post- I love how the 'Hogwarts Mug' bit is basically a label from the Marauders Map. Anyway, it has the Hogwarts logo, a pretty pattern along the bottom and is something I use all the time.
This beauty is a money box my parents bought me from a local merchandise shop as a surprise this last Christmas. They knew my Hogwarts house probably because I keep going on about it, so they couldn't get it wrong. :) I haven't really used it yet, but I will.
It's also heavier than it looks!
And finally, my cushions from Primark! The Hufflepuff one is smaller than the Hogwarts silhouette one, but the really important thing for me is that both are firm to help with my occasional back problems.
That's all, folks. Let's raise a Butterbeer to all other Hufflepuffs out there!
(Of course, I'm also not forgetting the other houses when it's their day this week. Let's be proud of who we are.)
Happy New Year!
Is it too late now to say that? Oh well. :)
In this post, I'll be talking about things I want to do more of this year or things I want to pick up again that I started last year.
The first thing which is the most important and that's self care. I'm glad to see the back of 2018 and it was a pretty hard year, particularly in terms of my mental health. I started doing the self care thing and taking it more seriously. Self care isn't selfish. It's important.
I'm already doing quite a bit of writing at the moment, mainly a spoken word-type project I'm working on properly. But also this year, I really want to get back to my writing roots, so to speak. This involves:-
- Two first drafts of novels to be finished this year.
- My spoken word zine to get put together and out/self-published.
- Planning of some short stories that I've had on the back burner for a while.
- Plan out a new play (maybe).
I know that maybe seems a lot for a year, but there is more ideas on the back burner that I've left for a while to see if they still have any actual substance to become something I could write properly. I've learnt to put any new ideas I get into a separate folder and wait for a while, else I get too distracted. :)
There's also a few TV shows I want to either re-watch or catch up on, with the box sets of them I have. Likewise, there are a few films on DVD I own that I need to get around to this year.
Along the looking-after-my-mental-health-more line, I plan to do more exercise this year. I used to be pretty active and I still do a lot of walking, but I miss the other stuff, you know?
Finally, last year I started to get serious about learning Dutch, but had to stop for a while. So in 2019, I want to continue with it and re-learn some French as well. Hopefully one day, I'll visit both countries, but until then, I just want to do something I enjoy and I enjoy learning languages. Always have. :)
So those five points are the main things I want to focus on more this year. It should be pretty exciting and productive in the end!
All the best.
Today brings another book tag and like last week, this is another one that I found on Destiny's blog. Her answers are here.
Over the last few months, I've found the way I like coffee, so I'm drinking it a lot more (meaning: I never used to!) I feel like I'm now eligible to do this tag too. :D
5. Starbucks: Name a book that you see everywhere
Oh, there are so many answers to this! Right now, it's either Kingdom of Ash (which ruined me) or The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (and now I'm guilty of this since I started it this morning). To be honest, the most popular YA books always tend to crop up at the same time for a few months in a row as everyone reads them, so I could also say whatever's a new release.
8. The Perfect Blend: A book/series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying
I'm going with Alwyn Hamilton's Rebel of the Sands trilogy. I laughed, I cried, I cared way too much, but the end was satisfying and I'll definitely be rereading at some point. And as I often mention, I adore all the UK covers. <3
That's it. I suppose I'd better keep it going and tag whoever wants to go ahead and do this one and the Cheesy Goodness Tag I did while I'm at it. :D
All the best.
I'm finally doing this tag!! *cheers self* I was never officially tagged in it or anything, but since when I have I ever let that stop me! :D However, in what feels like a long time ago, I saw the answers Destiny @HowlingLibraries gave to it and thought it looked fun. Thanks, Destiny! <3
That's the end of the Cheesy Goodness tag. Thanks again to Destiny for doing it and outing it on my radar. This has been really fun. If anyone who hasn't done it yet and wants to, feel free. :) All the best.
After a crazy week, I'm gonna be changing by schedule a bit over the next week and a half until things calm down. So, tonight's is one of my 'What I'm...' updates.
What I'm Reading
This should probably be titled a bit differently since I'm not currently reading anything. But today, I finished The Extinction Trials: Exile (book 2 in the trilogy) and that review will be included in my monthly reading list.
I'll also be starting Bright We Burn (book 3 in the Conquerors Saga) this weekend- I've put it off for too long and I should just resign myself to the fact that it will hurt and probably make me cry.
What I'm Listening To
In between other things, a song I keep coming back to is You Should See Me in a Crown by Billie Eilish. I first saw it on a new fan video a couple of months ago for an old TV show I love(d) and the song is now part of a playlist for a new writing idea I'm in the planning stages of.
I've also recently found a Hufflepuff Pride video called Sorted This Way- a parody of Born This Way by Lady Gaga, which is brilliant. I think the account has done other songs for the other Hogwarts Houses too, but I'm not 100% sure. As a proud Hufflepuff, it's nice to see we're finally getting the recognition we deserve! :)
What I'm Watching
I've been watching a good amount of TV recently, mainly English shows on the BBC, which I'm enjoying all of them.
The last film I watched was Lost in Translation, with Bill Murray and a young Scarlett Johansson. I've only seen it once before a long time ago and it was nice to familiarise myself again. Despite a premise that could come across as creepy, it actually works somehow and is a pretty decent film.
That's it for today. I'll be back soon with my holiday posts (finally!) and one with my small Harry Potter collection, including the things I'll be buying soon and what I want to buy in the future.
What are you reading/watching/listening to, ect? All the best.
This post has been entirely spontaneous, but I wanted to write it anyway. Trigger warnings for anxiety and depression.
For anyone who doesn't know, I took a hiatus on the blog over August while I tried to sort out my mental health and some other things. This last Saturday, I returned with posts planned from the summer and a general more confident feeling, even while I had to scale back the days I post to Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Tuesday arrived...and passed without me blogging anything. The feeling I got the day after felt exactly the same as any other day this happens- why can't I keep this up regularly?
But the truth of everything is a lot different. I've had a pretty tough couple of weeks with my mental health. On Tuesday, I found some of my triggers. Before I (finally) realised this was what the issue was, my reaction was always the same- freak out, shout at the person who'd accidently triggered me and slam my invisible walls back up. Now I know, I hope I can be calmer about it next time.
I'm in a weird in-between possibilities place at the moment. I'm putting pressure on myself (thanks, brain!) and unfortunately, so are some people around me, though I know full well they don't mean to. My introversion means I don't like confrontation even amongst my nearest and dearest- and my anxiety fully flips out at the thought of having a serious conversation about this stuff. Instead of saying them face to face...well, I'm a writer for a reason! :) But I have some of the best people around me to support me.
So, that will have to happen.
I also keep not hearing any news about the counselling I'm looking into. It's really annoying, but I'm sure something will happen soon. Until then, I thankfully have unofficial counsellors which is probably just as good. I think so, anyway!
But it's a clear Friday evening in England as I'm writing this and I made it through a mostly bad week. It involved crying on people who are both brilliant listeners and some of my best friends. It involved me listening to my new favourite podcast, Mentally Yours, which is funny and just a great reinforcer that I'm not alone. It involved me yet again scrolling through the TWLOHA blog, which has long been a wonderful source of encouragement and relatability for me. It involved me reminding myself of all the places I want to travel to, the dreams I have for the future, the things I want to write and that this week is just one of many and better weeks are ahead.
For the record, trying to write this post in a way I wouldn't even accidently trigger myself was hard. I am sure there will be more triggers I haven't yet found and this week may repeat itself in some ways when/if that happens. But I still have lots of hope.
I may be fighting my mental illnesses for the rest of my life, but it's a fight I'm here to win.
All the best.
I'm back! I had a great holiday and that (guaranteed to be long) post will be coming within the week, along with my book round-up whilst away. But, while I've missed blogging, I learnt a few things about myself, along with the struggles I had in life before the holiday.
Therefore, I've made the decision to cut down from three to two posts a week, given how hectic life is at the moment and, well, I'm kinda struggling to meet that goal. So now I'll be cutting out Thursdays and just posting on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
So let's get re-started with this thing! :D
At the start of the month, I wrote this post celebrating a year since I graduated university, and what my journey looked like from then to right now. I can't remember if I talked about it or not, but more or less from the moment I began job searching, there was this lingering aspect of doing well and doing it in the least amount of time possible.
This looked a lot like the following statement:
I should know what I'm doing.
But I didn't. And I still don't.
And that's ok.
Of course, people keep asking me what I'm doing now. Though I'm getting tired of having similar conversations every month or so with various people. My anxiety tells me they'll be judging me, because it's been a year since I graduated, because it's been about eight or nine months since I started job searching.
But in that time, my brain has been getting more unwell, so I still need help to figure stuff out. At the moment, I'm properly trying to work out things I could potentially do, but it's early stages.
You see, expectations always carry a lot of weight. I've carried my own for a very long time and it usually leads me to be a perfectionist. Adding other peoples' expectations to that and it's no wonder I move at a snail's pace sometimes. Being a perfectionist means I can be a control freak in certain areas. The 'should's in my life lead me to think I'm not living up to my potential and when I have no idea where to go or what to do next...it's very debilitating. It does my mental health no good.
A very close friend recently told me how I don't need to worry about not knowing what to do right now and that I have time to figure it out. She's right, but- the feeling is still there. Feelings of not being good enough, of being a failure.
It's all rubbish, but unfortunately there is no off switch to my brain or what it feels. There are lots of things I think I 'should' be doing, and one of those I'm trying to improve on is self care. Self care isn't selfish or stupid. It's necessary for me. If that means putting off figuring out what job I want, or if I want to start my own business, or whatever else, then so be it.
If nothing else, I 'should' be looking after myself first.
Over the last few days, I've felt like there's going to be a breakthrough soon somewhere. It'll take it when it gets here.
This is a life update, since yesterday marked one whole year since I graduated university and left education forever!*
I actually did it!
This will be a rather long post. I have a whole year to cover after all, and hopefully some words of wisdom to give too. :)
*Well, I'm debating going back to a different uni to do a different post-grad course in creative writing, but I don't know if that will actually happen yet.
See, I've made no secret on my blog before about how hard my third and final year was in terms of my mental health. I nearly quit SO many times, but for every time I wanted to walk, I had double the amount of people telling me to stay. Especially given how short a time I had left to go.
They were right.
I also failed my dissertation, the biggest piece of work you can do on a degree. I can write those first five words without any of the feelings I'd carried around with it when I first found out. Disbelief. Shock. Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment for what I thought. Anxiety for what other people would think.
I was convinced I'd have to re-do it over the summer and re-submit in hopes of graduating in the November. I was wrong.
On our course, we had a certain amount of lee-way, where we started the course with a set number of credits. If we failed a module that didn't have an exam in, we could use some of those credits to make up the difference and allow us to progress to the next year, if need be. Until third year, I'd only ever used them for one module in my first year and had passed everything else.
When I found out my dissertation result, I was utterly convinced I couldn't use credits for it and was resigned to the fact that I'd wasted three years of my life, because, if I couldn't pass the dissertation the first time around, I didn't have much hope in a second attempt.
Our results were sent in the post and my mum wanted me to wait to open them with her and my dad present, but I refused. Why prolong the agony?
It turned out that, yet again, I was wrong. Thankfully. Credits could be used on dissertations and I'd managed to save enough through the course to make up for it. Though I received the lowest final grade/classification possible for an undergraduate degree, I was going to graduate in the summer, along with the vast majority of my class.
It took a few minutes to sink in, as I kept staring at the piece of paper.
Cue the ugly crying. Lots of it.
Honestly, there was some part of me that didn't quite believe it. Not until I arrived at uni on the 6th July 2017, our graduation day, and picked up my set of robes along with the official certificate I got, saying I had a degree.
Because that's the truth- I have a degree. No matter what the final classification is. I put three years of hard work into that thing. I both developed mental illnesses all over again, or experienced them to a greater level, with an unfortunately limited support from my uni. In third year especially, it at times felt like I was literally going insane.
And let me tell you something- university is not for everyone. I didn't always get the best grades for my assignments- in fact, I was often in the lower percentages, even when passing them. I still put everything I could into the work. In my personal opinion, university is often too academic, with too much emphasis on grades and how 'well' someone is doing in that way. Whenever we had practical sessions (not enough of them), I found myself doing better. While I like classroom learning to an extent, not everyone can sit in classrooms and learn for two hours solid, all day, almost every day.
Actual proof I graduated a whole year ago!! Getting a tad emotional thinking about it.
With it being both a college and university, and doing both, I spent a total of five years at that place. Which is the reason I'm giving as to why I cried a bit when we drove out f the car park for the final time. I do still miss the campus, especially now in the summertime. But I don't miss being a student there. Sure, I learnt lots of things, both academically and personally, but I wouldn't want to go through it all again.
Even despite my experience of undergraduate level, especially my third year, I'm looking at going back into education for creative writing. I know someone who's just about to finish his post grad course in this field and he's said it's a lot less academic. That's reassuring.
But I still don't know yet. My anxiety has a lot to do with it, but I'm going to do more research and whatnot before I make a decision. It's too late to apply for this next academic year anyway and I'm ok with that for now.
See, I've done a lot between 6th July 2017 and 6th July 2018.
Some of it has been very hard, other things so enjoyable.
The first big thing I did after graduating was to go on holiday. I definitely deserved and needed that break. It was lovely to go away knowing I could fully relax and not have to panic about re-doing my dissertation!
Secondly, I got so much reading done that summer, you have no idea! I wrote a post on it sometime last autumn, but, given how little time I had had due to uni, my reading was almost non-existent and when I did have time, I was too tired/stressed/depressed/insert other emotion here to actually read.
Over the summer, my Goodreads reading progress shot up so quickly, I actually cried when I finished my reading challenge on there at all, let alone a few months early. It was crazy! Reading is and always has been my top relaxer. Not being able to do it hardly ever for those first few months of the year just made my mental health worse. If I wasn't writing assignments, I was thinking about them/my dissertation or feeling guilty for not writing them. I didn't give myself as many breaks as I should have done, I know that now. Being able to read realigned things within my mind and self.
Might as well be actual footage of me catching up on reading! At least actual footage of my TBR pile currently. :D
After several months of giving my brain a much needed break, I began to think about what I'd do next. Either my classmates had found jobs when they'd returned home or had started their own businesses. I had no idea. I wasn't in the position to think about it too much and it felt like I should just know what I was supposed to do next.
Massive shout out to the Warren Centre here. :) Thanks to a friend who took me along that first day. So they began helping me job search. In between this, I also joined a creative writing/spoken word group and I found out that actually I can write poetry, despite not liking it in the past. I've actually done so much writing in this year too. It's been great!
But in the end, the whole idea of 'I should know what I'm doing' basically set me back a bit. Fun times.
Every drop of sarcasm intended.
So now, I'm claiming support for my mental health. This means I have some money coming in every month and I don't have to panic about my dwindling finances and I don't have to panic about not having a job. It gives me time to figure me out and what I might actually want to do with my life.
Things like saving to go travelling. Doing lots of writing in the various areas I do, beginning to get my name out there in little things and working towards maybe even getting a novel published in however long it might take me.
Shock horror- that might even mean that I don't ever even use my degree or work with animals. You know, the degree I lost half my sanity to getting- and then continued to worry about what potential employers would think when they saw my overall classification.
And I'm making peace with all of that now. Maybe, in the long run, that might even be a good thing. We'll see.
But the past eight months would be looking very different for me without the help and total support of people at the Warren. So if any of you read this, then thank you. Like, a lot.
So I think that's about it. I'm off on holiday next week and looking forward to it, of course. But I kinda need the break too, albeit in a different way. I may not be trying to restore my sanity this year, but I'm still trying to rest my brain and figure myself out. Even in my mid twenties, but so what? :)
It feels like forever, really, since I graduated. Sometimes it doesn't feel like I've done a lot since then. But I keep reminding myself that I've come a long way in a year. And wherever I'm going, I'll get there at my own pace. It's great that the people I spent three years with are doing so well and whatever else. But their paths aren't mine.
Of course, I'm proud I graduated. but I'm also proud of me right now. Even if I am still a bit of a mess every so often. But that's ok too.
Hi, I'm an animal lover and have a degree. You can usually find me either reading or writing. Failing that, I might have actually ventured into the outside world...