Woman posing in front of a blossom tree

Veganuary has become really popular at the moment, so many people want to try it either for a healthy diet or for environmental or ethical reasons. My sister, Miranda, has been a vegetarian for years and has been a vegan for a year. Today my post focuses on why Miranda became a vegan and her experience being a vegan.

How long have you been a vegan and what made you make the change

I have been a vegan for coming up to a year now and it was the best decision I have ever made! Not only for my body but for the environment too. Together, we can reduce the amount of animal and animal based produce that is being consumed, in turn reducing the amount of land we use to produce e.g. corn for the cattle to eat and the emissions that are being pumped into the environment.

Documentaries on Netflix opened my eyes to what we are all eating. For example, I did not know that there was a percentage of puss that is allowed to be consumed in our dairy products, I did not know that puss filled cysts were being popped on meat and still being placed on our shelves and tests on meat found that pharmaceutical medications that are being used to prolong animals lives and keep them ‘healthy’ are also found amongst the meats on our shelves, including faecal matter may I add! Who wants to eat that? No wonder why we all feel unwell, sluggish and lethargic!

Not only that, I do not support animal cruelty and the conditions that these animals aren’t kept in to then become our rashers of bacon and beef burgers is disgraceful. Therefore I again, do not and will not eat meat or any product from an animal again.
Eating vegetarian includes products such as egg and milk and as I’ve said above, it’s not good for us and it’s cruel to the animals and therefore I do not eat it.

How hard is it being vegan?

It’s not hard to keep yourself healthy when eating vegan. You can buy good, wholesome products and vegetables from your supermarket that does not break the bank!
Recipes can be as simple or as complicated as you fancy and it’s not as difficult you think to use alternative products in cooking or baking. For example you can use egg replacer for your pancakes and cakes that taste just as good! Granted sometimes you end up spending more on items such as chocolate or toothpaste that’s vegan and cruelty free but it’s so worth it and so empowering that you’re not supporting the unethical production of products.

I can’t lie that at first, I had no idea what I was doing when cooking as I had it in my head that it was a lot tougher to eat vegan than not. However, it’s just as easy and the stereotype that we don’t eat enough or are not healthy as vegans is just daft as we probably have the healthiest diet around and can eat just as much as everyone else!

Have you always been environmentally conscious?

I don’t really know when I became environmentally conscious. I have always enjoyed being outdoors and for example, have always put litter into bins etc. but wouldn’t really say anything significant spurred me into being as how I am today.
Watching documentaries on climate change and where our food comes from certainly changed my thoughts on the world and how fragile, special and unique it is, how everything can be linked (e.g. mass breeding of cattle to produce meat – adds to the issues with global warming and the reduction of natural land that is available), how unhealthy it all can be (poor methods of producing and keeping food and the effects of co2 emissions to our bodies) and finally, just how cruel we are as people to the world and to natural habitats, the wildlife, animals, each other and beyond! Knowing what I know now from that and from what I’ve seen further caused me to be more conscious and protect the earth and ourselves too.

I got involved with the fracking demonstration in Nottingham as just as other happenings in the environment such as the plastic in the oceans, it is a really important issue! Not only from increase in traffic causing more congestion to the roads, to the contamination of water, small tremors, the lighting used during the night confuses nocturnal animals and more!
I do not support this and therefore I play a part when I can in the peaceful protests against this.

Woman and a group of people protesting against fracking

At the moment I’m not a part of any other protests or groups that campaign various issues but I am constantly reading about what’s happening in the world that campaigns against fracking, treatment animals, anti whaling in Japan etc. and to me, that’s just as important as actually participating in demonstrations as it keeps you in the know and it allows you to spread the word to others which in the long run, can educate others of the issues that are occurring in the world and can promote/induce alternative attitudes towards them and thus stand against them for the better.

What would I say to someone who wishes to become vegan or vegetarian?  Go for it! You may find it difficult but gradual change is change for the better and sticking with it until meat and dairy is a thing of the past is so satisfying and empowering! You feel more at one with nature and the earth and it opens your tastebuds to all these flavours and meals you might never have tried or have wanted to try before! Some products (at the moment) do not compare to non vegan products but by trying alternative products you become accustomed to it and what’s to say that these vegan products that are the alternative to meat or dairy products, are how they really should taste!

My final ‘take home’ message is be the change that you want to see. Just because you are one person does not mean that you cannot change anything. Together, we can turn things for the better, not only to the environment, to the treatment of animals, to ourselves but also to the world. It all can link and there is only one earth. We do not live on a stable planet, it is dying, we are all dying and we are destroying our true place called home.

Rebecca running with her dog

I quite like running now. I never was a runner before (I love and still love cycling!) but after going through a lull with cycling earlier on in the year and incorporating Park Run more and more into my fitness regime I decided to enter in a few races. Two races I entered myself in for were virtual runner races.

What is Virtual Runner UK

Virtual Runner UK is a site where you can enter in races and gain medals with part of the proceeds you pay for going towards a charity. Once you enter, you have to email in your result and proof that you ran the distance (proof could be your fitness tracker, Park Run result or Strava) and your medal arrives through the post. You can even print out a bib number and wear it if you want! When you enter your result you can see how other people have done. There are many distances from 5k up to full marathons and I decided to enter in the Run like a Time Lord as part of the money went to the National Autistic Charity and November 5k as part of SBR events. The November 5k medal I will particularly treasure as it is the flag of Lincolnshire and as I am born and bred there it is particularly important to me.

How did I find it

I am quite fit so both races that I entered were 5ks so they were fine. I think if you are starting out these races are perfect because depending on your distance it is a challenge but still achievable. Obviously you miss out on the crowds and the race atmosphere but if you find that intimating, as that atmosphere doesn’t suit everyone, then it is perfect. The medals are lovely as well (although some are a bit tacky!), the races are cheaper to enter then marshalled races because obviously you are not paying for the marshalls etc and the money goes towards charity. The medals came very quickly through the post and the results were verified in less than 24 hours.

Am I entering in any other Virtual Running UK races next year?

No not at the moment, I am thinking about running a marathon next year so to keep my motivation up I may enter in some of the half marathons.

 

Collections of plastic toys and goosebump books with the word friends written on scrabble tiles

I am a collector and I have no shame in it! When I was younger I collected free samples of soaps, shampoos and conditioners and had them in a small bathroom bag that my Uncle gave me for Christmas once (to this day I still don’t know why I collected them). I collected snails when I was ten, materials so I could create lots of arty things, I helped my Dad collect stamps and remember helping him stick them in the stamp book. I used to collect CosmoGirl (remember that magazine!) and ElleGirl when Peaches Geldof used to be a columnist. I slung those out when I left home!

As I got older I collected Sweet Valley High, Point Horror, Point Romance and the Babysitters Club books and amassed a massive collection of the Babysitters and Sweet Valley High books which I still have proudly on display in my spare room. These days the only things I really collect are vintage ladybird books because I like the covers and I am building up a small collection that currently spans two of my top book shelves. It was when I was adding a book to the shelf and I was thinking (I really had time on my hands) why on earth do people collect things?

Psychology of collecting

Well having a Google search on the psychology of collecting, people collect for a variety of reasons- it could be a comfort thing to help people relieve their childhoods, some like the idea of the adventure – I remember collecting Pokemon trading cards and the thrill of finding the Pikachu card or a new Sweet Valley High book. Some people collect because they like to organise, again when I collected Sweet Valley books I would spend hours putting the books in order. The chance of meeting other collectors as well is a plus that other collectors like. I never did that myself.

So what does being a collector mean?

I had to admit before I wrote this blog post I never really thought beyond my collections as being part of my behavioural traits of my personality. I remember the thrill of finding a Sweet Valley High book that I really wanted (this was before I was old enough to use ebay) and it was cheap. I do like order in my life and being fairly in control and I used to be really tidy which reminds me of the time spent ordering my books. I am not too bothered anymore, I just pile the books up on the shelves and I am not as tidy as I used to be.

What do you collect?

 

 

Winter scene with trees, snow on the floor and chair and table

Today’s post has got me focused on what does self-care mean.  I always saw self-care as bubble bath, candles, turning the phone off and mindfulness however I am finding more and more that self-care means different things to different people. Hannah Daisy draws a series of beautiful images on Instagram using the #boringselfcare. I think these images they are brilliant they range from doing my banking to cleaning the dishes to emptying the bins. I have to admit from doing all of my housework jobs I do feel pretty good and it has improved my mood a little bit, however is it self-care? In one instance it is self care – walking around in a filthy house is not healthy and seeing it filthy isn’t going to make anyone’s mood better. Also neglecting where you live for a long period of time is an indicator that something is going on.

However I see housework as another job and I do have the tendency to put it off to do the things that I want to do, which isn’t ideal and also the reality is that housework and other jobs have to be done and although it may not seem like it completing all of these jobs does help towards your overall self-care. Also is there a limit to self-care? Self-care ultimately means to me is doing something that you want to do whether that is reading, listening to music or exercising to make sure your mind is switched off from the world.

There are people that think that self-care is something that only the wealthy can afford, which is ridiculous. Self-care isn’t about spa days and expensive liquids it is about being able to switch off for an hour. I agree it is a lot harder and sometimes impossible for many people to do this due to their circumstances. So what do I do to relax, well reading is the best for me, completing word searches and exercising.

What does self-care mean to you and what do you do to relax?

Picture of colouring pencils and sharpners

Hello, hello! today I am back with a chatty post about my experience balancing part-time study and full- time work. After I graduated from my Geography degree in 2012, I have spent the last few years working in Marketing and decided in 2015 to go back and study for a Chartered Institute of Marketing Certificate in Professional Marketing. This was normally a year long course but in the end it took me two years  (more about that later) however I completed it and now I have the certificate which I am very proud of.

The first module, I remember sitting down and actually feeling very nervous about studying because I hadn’t studied for a while and I really understood why mature students get so nervous! I soon got into the swing of things however. One thing you learn early on is that you need to keep on top of things and that the homework you cannot really miss, as if you do you are missing out on the extra learning which is only going to bite you in the bum later on. I had an exam for the first module so the pressure was off in terms of coursework. I was very lucky that I was allowed two days off per module for paid study leave at my work. Three weeks before I also dedicated one day of my weekend for exam prep.

The coursework modules were so much harder. The CIM is different to normal uni in that your lecturer can only look at your work once and not really give you much feedback. This is quite difficult with the CIM because at times I found the questions quite vague (my biggest bugbear of the entire course!) and half the time was spent deciphering these stupid questions but once you got you get your head around them it is ok. You have to start the coursework quite early because if you don’t you will easily fall behind. My lecturer was quite helpful in the fact that he had set out a timetable as a indicator of when different parts of the coursework should be completed, so I just followed that.

The final course work was Digital Marketing and that module practically broke me. It consists of six tasks. One of which is a podcast, Powerpoint, two blogs a briefing paper and a report. This module was so hard, in terms of sheer workload. I took about four days off and was working almost every Sunday from the start of the module to make sure I kept ahead. Again this module had a timetable to keep by, I did feel that we spent too long on the podcast (I think it took us three weeks) and not enough time on the other tasks.

My experience balancing both is that it certainly is doable especially if you don’t have any caring commitments (I don’t know how parents do it!). You just have to stay on top and try and dedicate a day to getting all the revision and course work done. I would also try and see if you can use a project for work as also part of your coursework as you are then killing two birds with one stone. Certainly booking annual leave helped as it allowed me to have a weekend and helped me not to burn out. If you do feel burned out or you end up with extra commitments – don’t be afraid to take some time out. I decided to take a year out between my second and final module and I am so glad I did. Yes it was annoying that I had to wait a whole year but the module felt so much more manageable and I could fully focus on it. I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude from 2016 to 2017.

When things get tough try to remember why you decided to take the qualification in the first place for me it was to give me a better chance for the future and also for me to take the experience back into my current workplace and implement – which I already have.