World Suicide Prevention day

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Sunday 10 September was World Suicide Prevention Day. It shouldn’t be that we need a day to raise awareness about such a sensitive topic, but like with mental health the stigma and negative opinions associated with suicide are taking time to dispel. It is only as a society, encouraging and educating people will we be able to move forward and prevent potential suicide victims reaching the stage where they feel death is the only solution.

 Taking a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger or close family member or friend – can change the course of their life

This year’s WSPD theme was ‘take a minute, change a life’.  Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. How many of these could be avoided if we were to just take a minute and have a conversation with each other. We can blame technology and social media for many things;

  • social media is damaging to people’s mental health
  • mobile phones and social are ruining the way we communicate
  • we are becoming less sociable

But we can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room, it’s time to turn these negatives and use social media and technology to our advantage. Campaigns like Time to Change’s ‘Be in your corner’ mental health campaign, if your friend’s acting differently, step in. It isn’t always easy to make that first step, there is always the worry that you may say or do something wrong but more often than not all the person going through a rough patch wants is someone to listen. You don’t always have to have the answers or know the solution but showing that non judgemental support can make all the difference. If you think someone you know is struggling then go ahead and start your conversation.

Mental health problems can affect anyone at anytime, regardless of age, gender ethnic background. It is so important that as a society we all come together to raise awareness and educate people. Being Asian and of a Muslim background it was and in some cases difficult for people from the Asian community to acknowledge the existence of mental illness. In many religions suicide is a sin which as further confusion and stress to those who are already going through a difficult period. It’s not about vilifying religion and those who have a strong faith but more about educating people and having religion and treatments complimenting each other. Having a faith has helped those with a mental health illness, giving them inner strength and peace.

University Students

With the new semester starting there is more focus on the mental health and wellbeing of university students who for many it is the first time away from home, pressures of study, exams and student loans can be a stressful time. A study carried out by IPPR showed that the number of students reporting and seeking help for a mental health concern had risen to 15,395 in a decade and 134 students killed themselves in 2015 (source The Guardian)

Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems

Men’s mental health

imagescfk9d35gSuicide is the leading cause of death in men below the age of 50, men were more likely to take their own life than die from road deaths, coronary heart disease, accidental poisoning or diseases of the liver.

There has been a lot of work being done to encourage men to talk about their physical and mental health. There are a lot of stereotypes I that negatively impact society and how people function. Pigeon holing them only leads to people feeling trapped thinking they will be ostracised, ridiculed and not taken seriously, an attitude Movember is trying to change. Admitting there is something wrong and talking about it is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t make you less of a man. if anything it takes a lot of strength to open up.

Post natal depression

Spoken about students and men’s health we can’t ignore women, in particular post natal depression. It is important to understand that this is not an illness that women will recover from in a few weeks, it can take years and can be a long road.

Some people, myself included have confused the baby blues with post natal depression. Though the two have similar symptoms the recovery is different.

Up to 80 per cent of women report “the blues”, usually within the first week after birth. It often coincides with an increase in breast milk supply. Women may feel teary, sad, anxious or struggle to concentrate.

“The blues” are usually self-limiting and no treatment other than reassurance and support is required.

Postnatal depression (PND) affects approximately 15 per cent of women in the months following the birth of a baby, so is a lot more common than some might imagine. It is more severe and prolonged than “the blues”, and can substantially affect the relationship between the mother and baby during this critical period. Women who suffer from PND frequently report feeling sad, tearful, anxious or guilty, often without an obvious “trigger” that they can identify.

There are support groups like Pandas and Mind. Social media Twitter support groups like Lotus Petal, PND & Me. Don’t forget your health visitor will also be able to help if you are struggling.

Days like world suicide prevention day is a time to raise awareness and educate people that we can all fall down, some of us will need a little bit of extra help to get back up again. You could be that person that makes a difference in someone’s life.

Don’t forget that World Mental Health Day is 10 October, hold you own tea and talk day!

References

WSPD Home
Time to change
Samaritans
The Guardian
The calm zone
Essential Baby
Pandas
Mind

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Puppy Love

Growing up my family had budgies, my grandparents had budgies, I can barely keep a plant alive! I’ve not ever had a great love of animals; I haven’t had any desire to own fish, no rodents or reptiles of any kind and definitely did not have a desire to have a cat or a dog. The hair, the slobber etc. just does not appeal to me. Until I met my partner, who let’s just say has ruined me! The person I once was has evolved into the person I don’t recognise. He has always owned a dog from a Doberman to a Rottweiler, usually raised from a puppy up until the end. His last dog was Rottweiler, this hulking beast of an animal who came up to my waist was a puppy deep down inside unless he didn’t like you or didn’t know you then depending on if you were an intruder or a non-threatening person a few treats and a firm voice could sway him to your side. Sadly this loveable creature became quite unwell and became paralysed and the unthinkable had to be considered and a very hard decision was made. I had known this dog for over a year and her recognised me every time I came to the house, would sit with me and tell me off when I would stop fussing over him. This is not me, I do not behave like this with animals, or at least I didn’t but something about this dog just tugged at my heart strings. Don’t get me wrong I still washed my hands a million times after running my fingers through his thick coat of hair and needed to use a lint brush after being covered in said dog hair but he was still one of the first people I would say hello to in the house.
When the end came it was a private moment and I wasn’t sure if my partner would want me there as I hadn’t know the doggy as long as the rest of the family but was touched that he wanted me there at the vets with him and other family members. Not going to lie, I was probably worse than everyone else a blubbering mess, I still feel I should replace the box of tissues at the vets based on the amount of tissues I singlehandedly went through. It was one of the most horrible and heart-breaking things I have ever experienced.

Can you guess where this is going?

My partner has always had a dog for companionship, friendship and security. Going through the options when deciding future dog a few boxes needed to be ticked.

  • limited slobbering
  • limited hair moulting tendencies
  • child friendly
  • formidable guard dog

Proud co-owner of a gorgeous playful puppy

RoccoI am the proud co-owner of a gorgeous playful puppy who will grow into an equally lovable and trained the right way a, protective adult dog, I am so excited.

When my partner and I initially went to see all the see the puppies for sale at the breeders we had a few choices but settled on one particular pup. During this process I’ve learnt that buying a puppy or any dog is not as simple as popping into your local supermarket and picking one of the shelf. There is the breed, the family line, who are the parents, any history of illnesses, disabilities etc then there is such a thing called stud dogs, all of this was a complete education for me. This all explains that before making a final decision and parting with money partner wanted to see the dad with whom the breeder is friends with and would also be at a dog that just so happened to be taking place that same weekend. The breeder brought along the puppies to the show, as you can imagine cute fluffy puppies garnered a lot of attention so thought in order to protect our interests it was necessary to get our future pup out of the shared pen so other potential owners new it was off limits, I wasn’t quite tall enough to lean over but decided to give it a go anyway and nearly fell in the pen trying to get hold of my pup. I’ve turned into one of those crazy puppy women!

The puppy will live with my partner as he won’t be left on his own during the day, my partner is also the most experienced to train him. I am still working up to being able to pick up his poop, I know I will have to do this eventually I’m just not there yet.

All I know is I talk about this puppy as if he is a child and if anyone was to hurt him, let’s just say there would be some serious consequences. Researching into getting the right deworming and defleaing products that won’t make him ill; some on the negative online reviews were enough to cause nightmares. Then there are the toys, blankets and getting the right food that doesn’t cost a small fortune. If this is a fraction of what parenthood could be like I don’t think my young / old ticker can take the stress and worry.

Soda Bread anyone?

Generally I’m more comfortable baking cakes and biscuits and have been learning the joys of freezing cut biscuit dough. As much as I like baking it can sometimes the preparation can be time consuming and when I’ve been at work and then have the craving to have a few biscuits, take a few out of the freezer and in about 15 minutes maybe 20 at a push I have fresh biscuits ready to go with my tea!

Enough about the cakes and frozen biscuits, the one area I dabble in and generally fail miserably is baking bread from scratch. I’ve used shop bough ready mixed bread where I just add water in the past, I’ve even tried focaccia bread from scratch with varying degrees of success and failure. So I thought I would try something a bit simple and opted for soda bread, no yeast involved, thought what could go wrong? My first attempt went wrong!

The dough was a wet, sticky mess …

Soda Bread_AllrecipesI found a recipe on Allrecipes that looked straightforward, I didn’t have any buttermilk but the recipe used the homemade version of buttermilk; milk with vinegar. I halved the recipe just in case it all went horrible wrong, which it did. The dough was a wet, sticky mess to which I kept adding flour that should have made the situation better, it didn’t. The dough became a bit tough and even though I was trying to find the silver lining in the moment and though the dough still had the chance to develop into a great looking and tasting soda bread, the oven would be the cocoon to make this all happen. Alas no this did not happen, the bread shouldn’t have taken long to bake yet the outcome was a lovely looking bread on the outside and a doughy substance on the inside. I couldn’t subject the daring foxes in the area that like to roam the streets, the only place for this lump that would offend bread bakers everywhere was the bin.

Was I beaten by this failed bake?

Soda Bread_James MartinI was for a short period of time, until I bought a pot of buttermilk then with the aid of BBC Good Food website and a recipe by James Martin (also see below) my bread baking fighting spirit was back in action. The ratios worked, the dough looked how I think it was meant to, onto the actual baking. Though there are many steps in bread making that I fall down on the actual baking and listening for the hollow sound does confuse me a bit but I went with it. The bread itself did catch a bit more colour than I would have liked, if I was comparing it to a colour chart I think it would have been the colour swatch that is just before burnt! The response from critics; brother and sister was the bread was a bit chewy, could have done with a few minutes in the oven which could explain why it tasted ok toasted and with butter, extra cooking under the grill. The main thing to take away from this attempt was it was edible.

Ignoring my limited bread making skills this bread is actually very simple and take no time to make. Give it a try and come and share your bread conquests on here or head on over to my Twitter share your thoughts.

Ingredients

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.

2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)

4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Using different oils for your skin & hair

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about beauty stuff. I do like my makeup and the ability to magically banish a multitude of sins with a handy little tube of concealer. No matter how much makeup I use it have the same effect if the base, in this case my face, isn’t in good condition. I use the term good loosely as I do have my problem spots, my face can produce enough of its own oil to make me quite shiney which can be a problem with makeup, I do also have dry patches where it can be noticeable when foundation and concealer doesn’t blend in properly.

  • I’m not that great at eating my 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • I try and stay hydrated but if it’s a rough day I am known to hit the caffeine
  • I don’t drink alcohol so I caffeine is my vice.

Externally I try and do right by my skin, wash my makeup brushes, moisturise, use eye cream, all that good stuff but what I have discovered several months ago and still use on my skin is oil. Yes you have heard my right oil, I use coconut, jojob, almond, olive all for different parts of my body.

Face

I stopped using shop bought makeup remover for over a year now and only use baby wipes if I’m being extremely lazy to remove my makeup otherwise it is a good old trusted jar of coconut oil. This stuff is great, it removes all my makeup including the waterproof stuff. I know you’re meant to use the good organic stuff, but I generally use this one from KTC. I do also have a jar of organic coconut oil and you can notice the difference between the two products but for the removal of my makeup I find the cheaper product does the job just fine.

Face wash is great stuff but did find it could dry out my skin. I was going through a phase of trying to save pennies and also be kinder to my skin and came across oil cleansing.

Oil Cleansing

Oil cleansing doesn’t agree with everyone’s skin as you using a blend of oils clean you face and using warm tap water and a flannel to wipe it all off. From reading other people’s experiences oil cleansing caused them to have acne breakouts. Fortunately my skin hasn’t reacted in the same way, not only does it leave my skin feeling nice and soft it is all great for removing makeup, when I want to skip the cotton pad and coconut oil I just got straight to the oil cleansing.
It sounds odd and you would think that your face would be left feeling greasy from any oil residue, and some people have experienced this but I haven’t had this problem.

Pumps some of the blend you’re your hands, rub your palms together to warm the oil up then massage onto your face. Using warm tap water, dampen a flannel and wipe the oil off. You will have you wipe your face with the flannel and water maybe 2-3 times until all the oil and if you had any on the makeup is removed.

I tend to use a mixture of castor oil and almond oil with maybe a few drops of essential oil thrown in. My usual blend;

1/3 castor oil
2/3 almond oil

Or if I’m feeling like a change I’ll use this blend;

1/4 castor oil
2/4 almond oil
1/4 jojoba oil

Everyone’s skin is different and it took a bit of experimenting with smaller quantities until I find the combination that worked for me.

Night time

At night instead of a night cream I use an oil blend, sometimes I use a few drops in my day Jojoba oilcream if my skin if feeling exceptionally dry and the face cream alone isn’t going to cut it. I haven’t and measurements for this as I chop and change it up all the time. I always use jojoba oil as my base oil and leave it at that, a few drops of lavender essential oil, good for the skin and for help you sleep and few drops of vitamin E oil also great for the skin. I’ve been noticing lately my skin has been feeling a bit dry, that could also because I have been feeling a bit under the weather and not drinking enough fluids. To deal with the dry skin problem inside an out I’ve added coconut oil to the mix, when I have time I’ll make a rich cream with oils and coco butter always great for the winter. 
I also use a simple homemade facemask with yoghurt, gram flour and turmeric, the one I really like at the moment is just yoghurt and white kaolin clay. My skin feels so soft afterwards.

Body

Creams and Lotions

I have played around in the past making my own body lotions which have been heavily oil based with a blend of coconut oil, almond oil and coco butter with some essential oil thrown in. I do like ylang ylang. I haven’t been brave enough to experiment too much with my own measurements but have used a whipped body recipe from Wellness Mama and a 3 ingredient body lotion from Mommypotamus, with this one you also use water and no preservative so best to make a small batch. You have to remember that oil is used and at first it will feel greasy on your skin until it is absorbed. Great for the winter as skin tend to be drier, great to use in the summer before bed so your skin has time to repair itself.

Body Oil

In the mornings I can be quite lazy and skip using body moisturiser, not great when my legs get Oilvery dry and itch. So I have just begun using a blend of almond and jojob oil to spray and massage onto my wet skin after a shower. I would definitely recommend investing a small travel size spray bottle, only 50p from Wilkinson as it means you don’t waste any oil and less chance of it spilling everywhere. I can’t tell you yet if this blend works as I have only just starting using it, I can tell you though that my legs do feel a lot let dry.

Shaving is a pain, I do own an epilator but the patience to wait for the hair to grow enough to use it is sometimes non-existent, so shaving it is. Instead of investing in shaving cream I have used shower gel, not great really as this contributes to my dry legs! No I could make a homemade shaving lotion with an oil blend, shea butter etc but have instead resorted to whipping up some coconut oil with maybe some almond oil (you may have noticed that I use this oil a lot), or forgo the almond oil and just use the whipped up coconut oil in place of shaving cream. I wet my legs, massage the oil onto my then razor away.

Fancy a body or face scrub? You guessed right, a bit of coconut oil and sugar. If you want a gentle scrub then use brown sugar, for a more gritty scrub opt for granulated (white) sugar. I’m currently using coconut oil with a mixture of granulated and brown sugar for my face and body. It smells nice too with a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Of course you don’t need to use sugar or oil, honey and coffee granules are also an option.

Hair

Hair oil is great, I tend to either leave it on overnight or about 10-30 minutes in the morning depending on how much time I have. In the past I used to use hair oil called Amla hair oil that I used to only be able to get from an Asian shop when my parents did their food shopping in Ilford, I now use almond oil or jasmine hair oil. Gently massage onto your scalp and your hair, if leaving on overnight I lay a towel on my pillow, you can also use a shower cap. For a hot oil treatment, wrap you oil covered head up in a warm towel.

I’m not an expert on these things, I just like to play around and if I can save a bit of money in the process then added bonus. These treatments worked for my skin, like with anything if you have an allergic reaction then stop using it.
Not all oils will be suitable for your skin, I’ve read that jojoba is the closest to the sebum oils our body naturally produces so if you are brave enough to try out using oil anywhere on your body then this could be the one to begin with.

What can you learn from a drag queen?

I’ve recently discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix and I am hooked! The programme is a take on America’s Top Model but the Queens make their own outfits which are phenomenal especially when teamed up with the sometimes outrageous wigs and disgustingly high heels that make me want to scrunch my toes from imagining the pain.

These ladies have skill, imagination and big personalities to match. It is fascinating to watch seeing how these men turn themselves into women from their makeup to their figures, everything gets all tucked away, a bit of padding here and there, use of chest plates and voila! In some cases you can’t even tell they work born male, the transformation is that good.

The Queens who starred on the show were over the top dramatic they would refer to themselves and call each other ‘bitch’ but it wasn’t necessarily to be unkindest ‘bitch’ can also be an acronym for babe in total control of herself. The tones used were playful and teasing but secretly they all wanted their competition to crash and burn in the challenges and on the runway so they could win.

Behind the layers of foundation and reams of tape used there is a serious undertone. The show always ends with the line ‘ If you can’t love yourself then how the hell are you going to love anyone else? ‘ which I think is a very important message. Many of the contestants have gone through emotional ups and downs, personal tragedy and experiences. Being unhappy and disliking yourself can have a negative effect on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing, some of the contestants touched upon the topic of suicide. There is a lot we can learn from these Queens and apply some of their attitude to everyday life.

Be yourself

untitledHow many of us have tried to change ourselves just to please others or to ‘fit in’ an environment that wasn’t really suited to us to begin with, it was just something we thought we had to do?

Many of the contestants have gone through difficult, painful experiences.

  • Some either no longer speaking with their families who don’t approve, don’t understand their lifestyle choices or the fear of being disowned once their family find out the truth about them.
  • They have suffered physical and emotional abuse from family members and random people.
  • Eating disorders
  • Joining gangs
  • Hating themselves by being an angry gay, one constant on the show said he was an angry gay, just angry for being the way he was and he looked fantastic as a woman; Carmen Carrera

Yet despite all of this they have learned to accept and corny as it sounds love themselves. Eventually you will find the slot you fit into and if you don’t then you create one where others will see you shine.

Inspire yourself and others

Our life experiences, the good and the bad help shape the person we become. We all fall down but there is strength in how you get back up to be happy, content and be where you want to be in life.unleash inner dag

For some of contestants this show was a platform to tell their story, to inspire others to take risks and be themselves. It’s ok to be scared, not everyone will always agree with the choices you to make as long as you are confident in those decisions.

Looking at these Queens, their diva attitude and fighting spirits you can’t but feel inspired to channel your own inner drag queen to be the best that you can be.

Be supportive

We all have our strengths and weaknesses and need a bit of help to pick ourselves up when we fall down. Behind all the sniping there is a team spirit, in group challenges contestants helping each other with their makeup, helping to put a dress together as not all the Queens were a great with a sewing needle and thread, many opting to use a hot glue gun.

Helping each other and being supportive is how we also we learn new things and see things from a different perspective. I would rather help someone feel confident about themselves rather than try to break them.

It’s one thing to get ahead, but get there on your own merits and hard work, not by stepping on other people. Remember the people you upset on your way up that ladder could be the same people you see on your way down.

Work frustrations

I know this is going to sound like a bit of a ranty blog and it probably is but I need to release some of the pent up frustration of the day. I’m not out to offend or insult anyone but since I haven’t visited the gym, kickboxing is on the back burner until finances improve and yoga can only do so much so writing is my outlet.

Ever get days where you thing that all the planets have aligned so that all the difficult people are sent your way on the same day just to challenge you? If that is the case then in some ways I feel that I succeeded and rose above that challenge by remaining calm then in other ways I failed miserably and got somewhat annoyed.To counter balance this I was on the caffeine and sugar,  yet the spawns of Satan kept coming in my direction. Maybe I was being punished for something in previous life or the past few days, who knows.

Bit of background, part of my job is updating the company website, working with the different teams in the company to update their web pages. We could give everyone their own access to the website so they could update their own webpages..only if we wanted the website to look like a child had been let loose on it or we want to get sued. So I’m polite, I’m patient but no matter how much I may wish it, I am not a unicorn and I cannot scatter fairy dust create miracles. So you can imagine my frustration when I am trying to accommodate a request and may have to use Google to find the answers only to discover the person making the initial request already knew the solution but for whatever reason didn’t do it. Bit unfair I think especially when I do have other work to be getting on with. By this point there wasn’t enough caffeine in the world that was going to placate me.

I’m not ashamed to say that despite there being times where I do feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall I do enjoy my job. It has enabled me to learn a lot and opened me to new skills. As a result I do feel a bit protective over the website, it’s not that there aren’t other people  who also update the website but I am one of the main people who are know for updating the website. Not saying I’m perfect, I make mistakes too but if there is a breakdown in communication, work is duplicated and then to top it off it’s not done properly you can imagine I’m not an impressed bunny. As you can tell I am a bit agitated but I also know this will pass and things will calm down, there will eventually be a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities in place until then it looks like there are going to a lot of smiling, internal Tourette’s, occasionally that is also external and lots of mugs of tea in my near future.

Will changing my morning routine give me more spare time?

Whilst browsing through my LinkedIn newsfeed I came across the article titled ‘You’re wasting your spare time and it’s killing your success‘ by Tim Denning. Although I’m not completely convinced by all the changes the author has implemented in his life to make him more productive I am interested in trying to implement the whole getting a better nights sleep and getting up earlier and using that time productively. I don’t think I can give up television or caffeine completely and apart from the odd slip up and binge weekend I do try to eat healthily. At the moment I don’t think I can get out of bed a full hour earlier than usual so am going to try and gradually ease myself in by starting with getting up 30 minutes earlier.

Tuesday 25 July

Alarm goes off at 6.30 and struggled to get out of bed

But the light shining through my window at about 5.20 waking me up meant I wasn’t fully asleep when the alarm went off.

  • I managed to tidy a few things in bedroom where I had left things strewn around in exhaustion from the night before. I had gone to a different body combat class, lets just say my stamina needs a bit of work hence the exhausted / my body is broken feeling.
  • Did morning yoga video.
  • Was showered and dressed in record time.
  • It’s usually too early for me to have breakfast, I generally have some milk to tie me over until I get to work.
  •  I was all ready to leave for work with at least an extra 30 minutes to spare, something I don’t usually have. In that time I was able to get petrol and check the tyre pressure on my car and was still at work 15 minutes early. Enough time to get myself settled and ready for the working day.

Wednesday 26 July

Things are not going well

Alarm went off and I’m still half asleep. Rolled out of my bed and rolled out my yoga mat for a wake me up morning yoga session. Maybe it is just me but in those short minutes of yoga I did manage to wake up enough to not want to crawl back into bed. I thought about switching my laptop on and doing a few things but realised there wasn’t really a lot of time to do what I was thinking of doing so decided to read a chapter of a book I recently got called ‘My soul to keep‘ by Jackie Sonnenberg, I’ll write a review once I’ve finished it.

By now I was fully awake and ready to get on with the rest of my morning routine. I was at work early and seemed to be in a bit of a hyper mode, my mood levels were at a high. Not sure if this was because of my new morning routine where I didn’t have to rush around and had extra time for myself. Lets see how the rest of the week goes.

Thursday 27 July

It wasn’t a great start.

The night before I did fall asleep whilst reading at a reasonable time, however despite being July the winds picked up and my guttering needs repair, so loose guttering plus strong winds made a lot of noise right outside my bedroom window.  I woke up again at 12.30, read a bit more and resorted to putting cotton wool in my ears which helped me get a few hours sleep at least. This guttering debacle, weather permitting will get sorted out this weekend so I can continue with this experiment without looking like an extra from The Walking Dead, which defeats the purpose of

Alarm goes off, bleary eyed and pressing the snooze button did cross my mind before deciding against it and crawling out of bed. Opened the curtains and rolled out the yoga mat ready to start my day. I didn’t get much else done this morning other than the usual getting ready for work as my movements and energy to do things was a lot slower this morning. I managed to do some food shopping before work.

Friday 28 July

Finally, I’m finding getting up at 6.30 easier!

This morning alarm went off and I was up and out of bed, yoga mat rolled out and ready to go on with a stretch here and there. Relaxed a bit before I washed and dressed for work. This is how crazy I think I must be, I had plenty of time this morning and decided to clean my kitchen sink and scrubbing away the lime scale & and tea stains. Of all the things I could have done with the extra time this morning I decide to clean the kitchen sink! At least it is one thing of my to do list.

Saturday 29 July

Still up early bright eyed and bushy tailed!

With it being a Saturday I wasn’t sure if I would make it out of bed but the alarm went off usual time and I was up and doing my morning yoga routine. I even managed to get a few things done around the house all before 9 am. This left me with approx. 1.5 hours spare before a body combat class at 11.

Sunday 30 / Monday 31 July

These two days I failed miserably

The late night Saturday didn’t help hence the 7.30 start on Sunday, I would say I’m allowed a cheat day. I managed to get a few things that morning that will save me time and not be rushing around. There were a few family drama’s that Sunday which resulted in myself and my partner being at the hospital late Sunday afternoon until about 7.30. Those who know me well know that I don’t eat much take away but by the time I got home I was too exhausted to even cook dinner and resorted to a McDonalds. I know it’s not the healthiest of meals but needs must and I needed something convenient. To top it all off the dodgy guttering still didn’t get repaired, lets hope there aren’t any hurricanes in the near future. We might be heading into August, month of the school summer holidays but also lets not forget we live in the UK and the weather doesn’t care what season it’s meant to be, if it wants to hailed down torrential rain in July then it will.

Come Monday morning and I’m still drained, skipped the 6.30 alarm and morning yoga instead getting up at 6.50. I was a bit concerned about looking like an extra from The Walking Dead where they have just been turned into the zombie and that was with makeup!  Lets see if I’ll have recovered by Tuesday and be able to go back to the routine.

Tuesday 01 August

I started of this experiment quite well

Waking up earlier, morning yoga, feeling relaxed. But the past few days I have fallen of the wagon, not enough sleep, not sticking with the morning routine and running the risk of falling back into old habits.

Today was a bit different, I got up early to go and meet a friend for breakfast before work. The food itself was so so, but the company as always was worth dragging myself out of bed for.

Conclusion

Will I stick with this new morning routine?

I’ve only stuck with it for a week to see how I would fare, I need to stick it out a bit longer to see what the long term effects will be. What I did discover is that waking up earlier in the mornings wasn’t easy, it was the initial being woken up by the alarm that I struggled the most with. Most days by the time I had finished the yoga routine I was more alert.

All in all I do think this little experiment taught me that with a bit of organisation I do have more time to get things done. I also found that;

  • I felt a lot better within myself and how I approached the day
  • I slept better
  • Had more energy

Lets see how long I can keep this up, at the moment the morning aren’t as cold so the temptation to stay wrapped up in the warm duvet isn’t there yet.

Learning difficulties, autism and employment

‘…6% of people with a learning disability and 15% of people with autism are in full time paid employment

I would like to say I’m surprised with the number of people with learning difficulties and autism who are in paid employment but I’m not. Unfortunately a large number of employers can’t get past the conventional way of employing people; CV, Interview then a choice is made to hire the appropriate person. In most cases this is the standard hiring process and works for many companies but not for those with a learning disability and/or autism.

This topic is close to my heart with a brother who is diagnosed with Asperger’s who finished university last year and is looking for work. His degree in graphics and animation and in my opinion he is talented; he is constantly working on something and expanding his skills and knowledge. However I also know that the conventional type of interview is a daunting experience for him. The interview tips that are given to people are not going to work for him. His body language and lack of eye contact doesn’t mean he’s not interested in the position it’s just he doesn’t understand that what is the right amount of time to hold eye contact or that crossing your arms are the slouching can show him in a negative light. He is passionate about what he does and has a great imagination not to mention his witty and sarcastic sense of humour that occasionally makes an appearance. But an interviewer will not see all this because they may not understand Asperger’s, have not been able to make changes to the interview setting to accommodate him or they just can’t be bothered to think outside the box. I may seem like I’m making sweeping generalisations here and unfairly vilifying interviewers and companies but the statistics don’t lie, they can be manipulated but in this instance they don’t lie. I am biased but personally I think employers are missing out on a valuable talent pool.

‘Normal’ is such a generic term

A disability of any kind does not automatically mean that person is incapable of being employed & being brilliant at their job. Like the rest of us they want to have some kind of self worth, feel a sense of achievement. Despite all the attention surrounding the lack of people with a learning disability, autism or both, I wonder just how many employees ‘get’ what it means to have learning disability, autism or both? What cookie cutter employee mould do they consider normal? ‘Normal’ is such a generic term these days, what is normal? We live in a day and age where people decide to pick which gender they relate better with or no gender at all, they are gender fluid. Yet there is difficulty finding gainful employment for those with a learning disability, autism or both.

So what can, needs and should be done about this?

As I sit here ploughing my way through a box of Mikado I browse through the intrepid world of Google seeking answers to this very question. To begin, with autism and learning disability are not the same.

Autism is not a learning disability, but around half of people with autism may also have a learning disability, which will affect the level of support they need in their life. Some people may also receive a ‘dual diagnosis’; ­ for example, they may have Down’s syndrome and autism.

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

Network Autism offer useful pieces of advice for both Jobseekers and prospective employers. If you prefer a more visual guidance visit autism.org to view the video’s.

I know I am biased but do think employers are missing out on a valuable talent pool. With a bit of tweaking here and there, a bit of adaptability and understanding employers could tap into this hidden workforce which for far too long has been ignored.

Resources
Mencap
The National Autistic Society
Network Autism
Dimensions

Find your online voice

When I first looked into developing my online personal brand I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing or where to begin. After reading a few articles with their own tips and words of advice the fog is starting to clear a bit I realised I was approaching things all wrong. Some of the articles I read said I should keep my online persona and my actual persona separate, maybe this works for some people but not for me. I have a varied set of interests and that I should focus on one topic and work on building an audience around that subject felt like I wasn’t giving a clear picture of the type of I am by neglecting my other interests such as baking and reading. The problem with this approach is I can’t give every topic the full attention it deserves, at the moment my Twitter feed is full of posts relating to mental health, social media, technology with the odd post about baking and exercise adding the personal touch showing that I do have a life and interests that may attract a new group of people who also bake and have an interest in robots being developed to mimic human traits.

I need to find a happy middle ground that worked for me, a mixture of posts that Once I had worked out that in order for me to be comfortable posting online and building up a network I needed to be more ‘human’, more myself. Remain professional but understand the people I engage with online and whose posts I share haven’t met me in person, they don’t know my personality all of which I need to convey through an online post.

This new approach seems to be working with Twitter and I’m trying to utilise some of the resources on there to help my bother find a job by sharing his digital artwork. His Asperger’s does hinder him in some ways, new people can unnerve him but don’t feel sorry for him as his has a lot of positive traits that any employer would be lucky to have him once both parties get past the initial obstacles. LinkedIn I’ll keep it more professional for now until I find a voice for this network that I am comfortable with, this is still a work in progress.

I know I have been lax in posting on this blog, but on here I have always tried to be myself. Blogging is the one place where I have written about my interests, things that have caught my attention in the news to work related pieces. I probably should have put more thought into the type of image I wanted my blog to have or what personality I wanted it to have, but over thinking all this would just stress me out instead of having fun with it. Which I think I do, I’ve written about random people fly tipping to the lack of forks in the work kitchen, I have also been serious when writing work related articles.

If you want to know about creating an online personal brand than there are lots of articles out there to help you, some will get straight to the point others will be very long winded that you will lose interest within the first paragraph. They will have one thing in common, be you; be genuine, be real. This is your selling point, talk about the things that interest you, make you laugh, make you cry, share your knowledge and experiences but don’t be fake. You can’t please all the people all the time but the first person you might as well please is yourself the rest will eventually fall into place. For some an online persona is about building an audience for their brand for others it is a therapeutic experience. You can think about how you want network, market yourself and your blog once you have found your online voice. Once you achieve that there will be no stopping you.

Weekend; Body combat, guttering & eating

Body combat

I survived another week at body combat and lived to tell the tale. I thought I was doing okish in the class, was doing my best to keep up if it got too much then slowed it down to my pace and only had to fight the urge the vomit once, pretty good going if you ask me. There I am feeling all proud of myself when as we’re walking back to the car my sister comments that at one point she was genuinely worried about as she thought I was going to pass out. Her reason for this was I looked worn how and my cheeks had gone very red, how red I can’t say as I wasn’t wearing my glasses during the class to see in the giant mirror opposite us. By the time we had got home my cheeks apparently had calmed down but not enough for her to worry our mum that I should stop or slowed down if I start to feel that I’m pushing myself too much. It doesn’t help that our dad passed away last year from heart failure and in general our family has a history of diabetes. The reason we exercise and try to eat a bit better is because we are not ready to given into our family’s medical history of diabetes and heart disease.

The problem with a high intensity class like body combat is that I am always so hungry afterwards, can’t be a bad thing as food is required to replenish energy and nutrients. The problem is this weekend in particular I even surprised myself by how much I could pack away, the share bag crisps were shared between me, myself and I on top of normal lunch, dinner, trifle, rice pudding, bagel and generally whatever else I could get my hands on. I personally don’t think it was all a bad thing as my body seemed to recover a lot quicker and I could lift my arms above my head without crying by Sunday evening.

My sister who has discovered the physical and mental benefit of exercise and making full use of the gyms is trying to get me to go to a spin class with her. I’ve seen the videos I’m not putting my knees through that, that’s the excuse I’m sticking with!

Guttering

It’s no secret I’m not the most sociable person, sure I can fake it if I have to but otherwise I’m the person who may smile and say morning to the neighbours but that’s as far as it goes. So you’ll be proud of me when I say that I spoke to a neighbour to ask if I could borrow his ladder to fix some guttering on my house. I had the guttering redone a few years ago and one of the clips had come loose, seeing the size of the screw that had been used it is no wonder the clip had come loose. I had so much trouble with the company used and cannot find the paperwork that I’m not rushing to phone them to see if there was a warranty of some kind on the guttering and if they could search their records. I could find payment details for the company as proof they had done the work but the question is can I face the headache when I now have obtained a ladder and a friend has offered secure the clip that has come loose and add another one for extra measure.

Cooking

20170724_131718Now that you have finished laughing no I didn’t cook as such, because I got a bit too eager with the rice measurements I had plenty of boiled left over and didn’t want to throw it away so decided to make something with it. I discovered recipes for Kheer (rice pudding) and Zarda (sweet rice) both Asian sweet dishes on the veg recipes if India website. which turned out better than I had hoped. I would have taken pictures of the kheer but it got eaten, like I said my eating habits were on a roll this weekend. The zarda I improvised a bit as I didn’t have all the spices to go in the mix but I had the rice, sugar, cardamom pods and threw in a few sultanas because I like them and it was too shabby. Definitely edible.

Rest of the weekend

Remainder of the weekend resulted in me vegetating in bed with the not so share bag of crisps and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. There was no yoga before bed, I didn’t get out of bed in time for my 5 minute morning yoga session this morning either. Think my vegetation moment is over and I need to leave the crisps and equally bad food alone until the weekend and get back into a healthy week routine. I had fruit for breaksfast….after the cinnamon and raisin bagel but I promise I will be back on the porridge oats once I have finished the bagels, don’t want to waste them now.