National Vegetarian Week

From the 15th to the 21st May, vegetarianism is being properly celebrated. I’m ignoring the narrow minded Twitter trolls who love to bully us veggies because they’re the ones making the choice to live in ignorance.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this lovely recipe I threw together at the weekend. Feel free to adapt to your own tastes. Even meat eaters can adapt this for their “needs”.

 

Risotto recipe

Apologies for lack of pictorial evidence but thedish went down rather well and was polished off before the opportunity arose!

The World’s Greatest Blogger…

Ok, so that’s a huge exaggeration as I contemplate my meagre offerings to the Bloggersphere over the last year or so.

But, it does spark a question. What makes anyone or anything, “The World’s Greatest…”?

Is it by being prolific, blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking etc. every day or does that just make you a pest and an attention seeker? Is it the quality of your content i.e. a message so profound that it has far-reaching appeal and gets people talking even though you might then disappear for a few months?

I often wonder about this when I read through my various social media feeds. I know for a fact that in the world of blogging, I am a small fish in a large ocean but that’s fine with me. I say what I have to say, I guage the reactions (if any) and I respond to comments because it’s the courteous thing to do and it’s right to show appreciation.

But, everything has a dark side and this is my problem with social media. On Facebook, users can be as open or as private as they like but it’s the one application where you are laid bare. Some people update their statuses at an alarming rate or have thousands of “friends” (not realistically possible) offering their tuppence-worth and if it’s someone you don’t know particularly well, that can lead to all sorts of problems. I’ve seen a simple reply or comment escalate into virtual war, people blocking each other and never speaking again because something has been taken so out of context or misconstrued.

Social media has removed people’s ability to interact with each other on a human level which is disturbing. It’s almost sociopathic.

So, I shall get back to my scruffy notebook and pen, lose myself in the world of Horizon Skies and it’s characters who don’t need mobiles, internet, social media etc. Because they inhabit a world where none of that exists and I consider that to be glorious.

Love & Hate

Today, I came across the news of the brutal and shocking murder of transwoman Dandara dos Santos in Brazil. The filming of her murder, which has gone viral, has led to the arrest of some, but not all, of the perpetrators. The crime, shocking in its ferocity and of taking place in plain sight of residents of the area is sadly, one of hundreds being committed against the global #LGBTQ community every single day.

Whilst I struggle to get my head round the facts of what she was put through, how she begged for her life and the utter fear she must have felt in her last moments, it saddens me further that despite living at a time when people of the rainbow can express themselves freely, come to terms with their sexuality, their gender type and being “different” that there are still those who seek to persecute, harm, humiliate and ultimately kill them.

I ask, what have these people ever done to you? What has caused you to have so much hate in your heart for someone who was born in the wrong body? Boys who grew up and realised they liked other boys instead of girls and vice versa?

I put out a Tweet today that simply says:

If someone is not educated on a subject of which they know little they are ignorant of that subject. Ignorance breeds fear for, if you are ignorant of something, how can you understand it? If you don’t understand it, you begin to fear it, hate grows from that fear. What do people do when they hate something? They attack with no rhyme or reason.

So many perpetrators of these crimes claim to be Christians or of some other religious persuasion and they feel justified because to be #LGBTQ goes against those teachings. Well, hang on a minute, isn’t “God” supposed to be all merciful and forgiving? In Christianity, aren’t we all “God’s Creatures”? If so, shouldn’t we ALL then be treated equally? The hypocrisy of religion and it being used as an excuse to persecute minority, gender or ethnic groups is enough to make my blood boil.

The expression, “that’s so gay” has become a buzzword to be used in a derogatory and insulting way when having a bit of banter. I hear it a lot in my office environment, on social media etc. even in Shaun of the Dead (ok, the script is fiction but, even so). How has a word for sexual orientation become an insult in a day and age when society really should be past all that crap?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Education is the key. If our schools adopted a broader approach to sex education, including sexuality, gender identity etc. then surely, kids will grow up with a better attitude towards it and it just becomes part of society’s fabric. If religious people could look past their zealotry and realise that fear and hate just make things worse in society then surely they could live their lives by the better teachings and look past the hypocrisy.

In countries where society is still lagging far behind, I can only hope that the rest of us can set a better example. We need stronger laws to protect the rights of the #LGBTQ community and people need to learn that just because someone is gay, transgender etc., it doesn’t make them a danger to others (why is that such a common misconception?) It smacks of a kind of arrogance when straight men are afraid of gay men. What, do you really think all gay men are dying to get into your y-fronts? I think not.

Take the blinkers off, broaden your mind and educate yourself. If you are one of the lucky ones in this world who doesn’t suffer abuse and persecution then how about lending a helping hand to those who are suffering? You don’t have to go on a Pride March in your best Spandex but allow those people who do to live their lives with as much rights and freedom as you have.

Dedicated to Dandara dos Santos x

 

 

London is a Paradox

A place that evokes romantic visions of a glittering city built on the famous River Thames, home to millions from all walks of life. For many, it’s the centre of the universe. However, it’s also home to extreme poverty, rampant homelessness, high crime rates and the place where, quite literally, manners have gone to die.

I fell under London’s spell back when I was a young Brownie on a day trip to the Natural History Museum. The big, busy streets, grand buildings and black cabs were like another world to the one I’d grown up in. As I got older, day trips to London were still immensely thrilling; seeing the London Eye glide past as my train pulled into Waterloo Station would give me a frisson of excitement and I could not wait to be out, mixing with the swell of commuters and tourists like I was one of them, like I belonged there.

Moving there in February 2005 marked a major change in my life and a huge step forward to achieving something I’d always wanted.

The first six years there were brilliant. The first place I lived was in a flat on the Isle of Dogs, my favourite part of the city. For the first couple of days though, I felt a bit nervous of going out and just stayed at home which was really silly as I was finally in the place I’d always wanted to be, I soon realised I should just embrace it! My first proper venture out was straight to Oxford Street and after that, it was just a question of familiarising myself with the area and my commute.

From the Isle of Dogs, I eventually moved to New Cross in South (or Sarf) London which was an interesting place to live, to say the least. Living there taught me to be streetwise, it was a completely different vibe and feel to the East End (which I loved) and I got to know places like Peckham, Lewisham and Deptford.

Back to the Isle of Dogs I eventually went, a nice house share with some nice people, back in my comfort zone. A house sale forced another move and I ended up in Muswell Hill in North (or Norf) London. As different to New Cross and the Isle of Dogs as day and night. As lovely as Muswell Hill is, it does have a every elitist element with its posh shops, quirky restaurants and the sort of yummy mummy element parodied on social media. It didn’t suit me and I only lived there for ten months before high-tailing it back to the Isle of Dogs.

Alas, the dream had to end and end it did. With the advent of the Olympics in Stratford, rents and house prices in East London began to sky rocket. People were being turfed out of their homes so greedy landlords could rent them out for three or four times the normal rent just for the few weeks of the event. I moved further out to an area of South London where I ended up staying for three years.

I’d never liked the general attitude of people in the city. Rudeness and selfishness go hand in glove there. Manners are a thing of the past. Getting on and off busy tube lines is like a rugby scrum, some people think nothing of elbowing, kicking, pulling or pushing someone out of the way just to get on a train. Ridiculous really, when the next service is usually only a couple of minutes behind. The cost of living is beyond what most people can afford, travel is very expensive, it’s overcrowded, dirty, smelly and not very safe.

I remember being on the District Line one morning, travelling to work as usual and a thought popped into my head; “Why am I doing this?” I had a real moment of clarity and knew that the time had come, I was ready to leave.

How fortunate it was, that I changed jobs in 2014 and discovered that my new employers, being a very large company, had offices outside London. Less than a year after starting my new job I had relocated lock, stock and barrel to a beautiful market town in the country. I have gorgeous countryside all around, a car instead of an awful train journey, a 3-bed house cheaper than my 1-bed flat, a nice office to work in and my stress levels have massively reduced.

So, whilst this post isn’t written to put anyone reading it off the idea of ever going to London I would just like to invite people to think about why they might covet the idea of going to live and work there. As I discovered, London is not the centre of the universe; there are so many other cities and towns in the UK with thriving prospects, vibrant life and better opportunities. Ok, the wages may be a bit lower but this is offset by lower cost of living, lower house prices etc.; it’s all relative.

I do have very fond memories of my ten years there and I enjoyed my life. I had a lot of fun, met loads of interesting people and made some lovely friends so don’t think for a moment that I regret it because, I don’t. I guess I’m just older and wiser now 🙂

The Despairing Veggie

It was probably only a matter of time before I got onto this subject.

Two questions I am asked most frequently are: “How long have you been vegetarian?” and “Why are you a vegetarian?”

Ok, the first question is simple enough to answer; I’ve been vegetarian since Christmas 2014 which is when I had my last meat based meal.

The second question, for me, is also easy to answer. I became veggie because I no longer, could, in all good conscience, continue to eat meat in the knowledge of the suffering that goes hand in hand with the modern meat industry.

But why are people so bothered about me being a vegetarian? That baffles me.

I came late to the veggie party but better late than never, as the saying goes. I’ve been aware for some time now, that the modern-day methods of factory farming are not conducive to treating animals in a fair, ethical, moral and humane way. I chose to educate myself on where my food was coming from. The more I found out, the more I became eager to make changes to my diet.

I moved in with my boyfriend in 2012, he has been vegetarian since he was 18 and I adopted a veggie diet at home simply because it was easier and more economical than having to cook and prepare two different types of meals. Eating out socially would be my “time off” from being veggie.

As someone who is always keen to learn about things and educate herself however, I made the choice to learn more about modern-day factory farming. The things I have learned, are not for the faint of heart.

“But, humans have eaten meat for thousands of years!” I hear you cry.

True, but, thousands of years ago, factory farming did not exist. Our cave dwelling ancestors killed only what they needed to survive, they lived in equilibrium with the land and what it offered them. They also relied on what they could grow.

In my opinion, it is simply not right, that animals are crammed into tiny cages and crates with no room to move. That they are kept in warehouses on concrete floors with no sunlight, no grass under their feet, no freedom to roam. This is prison of the worst kind.

My boyfriend is going down the more vegan route. I admit, I find this more of a challenge but there are some changes I have made to my diet which have been very easy.

Milk – humans are the only animals on the planet that consume milk from another animal. We don’t need cows’ milk, it’s meant for cows, not humans. I made the change to soya a couple of years ago and have since moved onto oat milk which is lovely. The flavour is soft and nowhere near as strong as cows’ milk.

Cheese – a bit harder this one, cheese is really quite delicious and the vegan versions are a long way behind replicating that but, to be honest, I only ever have cheese when eating Italian food and apparently, the vegan parmesans are very good so I guess I will get used to not having my usual cheddar.

Eggs – I used to eat a lot of these, poached is my favourite way to do eggs and in baking, they are a binding ingredient. However, the dairy industry is incredibly cruel so I’ve simply stopped buying them. My diet includes Quorn products though and egg is used in a lot of their food so I’m not quite there yet.

I no longer wear animal skins. My old leather shoes and boots are from a time when I was less informed about the choices I was making so now, I make do with the fake versions (I have always been anti-fur). I haven’t worn wool or silk for years.

You could call me a hypocrite and perhaps you’re right. I grew up on the traditional diet of meat, potatoes and veg. I never really gave much thought to where my food came from until I was much older and it still took me some time to make the changes I wanted to make. Make them I did, however and I feel within myself, much better for doing so.

Aside from the health benefits of going to a plant based diet there are benefits for the planet and our environment, something which every single one of us should be concerned with.

On a simpler level however, vegetarianism challenges me to create and cook meals that are varied, healthy and full of flavour. I don’t go hungry and I don’t get bored either. I have a shelf full of veggie cookbooks and I’m always keen to try something different.

I am not telling you to go veggie, I am not telling you to change your lifestyle overnight. What I am doing is asking you to perhaps have a little more thought about where your food comes from. You might want to continue eating meat, if so, perhaps go to your local butcher instead of the supermarket, buy direct from source where there is a chain of traceability. Support your local community instead. Still want to eat eggs? Buy organic, better yet, get yourself a couple of hens and have fresh eggs every day. Lots of people have their own hens, what better way to have ethically produced eggs?

I love animals. They are sentient creatures, just like humans. They have brains, nervous systems, they breathe oxygen, they feel fear, pain and joy. We keep cats, dogs, rabbits etc as family pets but think nothing of eating a cow, lamb or pig – why are they any different to the rest?

Hopefully, I have given you food for thought (pun intended) with this post and if even one person reading this blog decides to make changes or educate themselves further on the meat and dairy industries or replaces a couple of meals a week with a veggie option then my efforts will have not been in vain.

http://www.quorn.co.uk/

http://www.oatly.com

https://www.vegansociety.com/

https://www.vegsoc.org/

 

 

 

On Hiatus…

For too many reasons I won’t go into but as it’s been a while since I blogged or wrote a short piece I think it’s better to take a proper break from this element of my writing.

My focus now is finishing my book; chapter 28 is underway which means there are two chapters to go to completion of the first draft.

One thing I can say is that I absolutely love my story and my characters. The sequel is in the planning stage so that’s a good thing to be excited about as I can properly envision the story arc.

Keep in touch, I will be back soon 🙂

EDIT 22/01/17: Whilst I may not have had the inclination to blog recently, I have written part 3 of my short story, “The Silent Ways” which is up and published. You can reach it from the main menu or link to it here: The Silent Ways – Part Three I hope you enjoy this latest and somewhat overdue instalment.

Progress on Horizon Skies (and things I’ve learnt)

Back in May, I was really pleased to have reached a milestone in my writing which you can read about here.

Five months later and yet another milestone has been reached!

Using the luxury of a well needed week away from the day job, I have been able to fit in some pretty decent writing time. My aim was to complete two chapters and possibly a short story.

As I am quite lazy by nature, the short story went out the window and the second chapter I wanted to write hasn’t yet made it to the notebook but I have completed chapter 24, which means I am now six chapters from the end.

I scheduled myself to write 500 words a day, a quantity which is more than achievable and considering I spent the first few days slobbing around, playing Red Dead Redemption on my PS3 and not much else, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get anything written.

Wise words from my boyfriend, advising me not to “moan about wasting time off”, as I have done in the past, spurred me into action and by this morning I had finished chapter 24 with a total word count of 3,362 which equates to almost 700 words per day (based on a working week). I more than beat my target and it gave me a huge sense of satisfaction to know that I am now three-quarters of the way through; a point I never dreamed of reaching.

If I wasn’t doing the #SoberOctober challenge, I would be looking forward to a glass of wine or three tonight by way of celebration!

However, this now brings me to what I have learnt during this process and I share this with you now.

Read, a lot.

I know a lot of writers say this but it’s so, so true and should be a Golden Rule for any aspiring writer. Reading helps you develop as a writer; by learning how other writers create their work you learn what works for you. Don’t limit your genre either. I’m a huge Fantasy fan but I do have Sci-Fi, Horror, Chick Lit and General Fiction in my collection.

Write, whenever you can.

Another obvious one but if you’ve never written before, how do you start? There are simple ways to hone and develop your skills, before diving into writing your masterpiece. Write a blog, short stories, flash fiction, anything that will help you find your voice and build your audience. The more you write, the less daunting it will seem to get started on your opus.

Plan.

Planning a book involves not just the book itself but the time you can spend on it. For many of us, this means fitting in our writing with full-time jobs, studying, families and social lives. My writing time tends to be in the evenings after dinner when TV is generally quite poor and I have nothing social on that night or at the weekends, as I’m an early riser and it’s nice and quiet. Even ten minutes writing is better than none at all. If it helps, draw up a timetable and stick to it. If you can block book time off, do it.

My Process

I play the chapter I want to write as a movie in my head. Sometimes it plays out very fluid and natural, other times it’s a bit slower. I let this part of the idea germinate for a few days, making sure I jot down any pieces I feel are worth remembering such as pithy dialogue or the environment in which the chapter is set.

Chapters are split into scenes which I have planned out in a spreadsheet. Writing in scenes is a great way to place the action into blocks as I am able to focus on a specific scene within that chapter before moving on to the next.

I write, longhand in a notebook. Even if I’m not happy with what I’ve written, I keep at it, reminding myself that this is simply the first draft and not the finished version. Edits and rewrites can be done later.

Once the chapter is finished, I transcribe into my writing programme. For this, I use New Novelist but there are others out there (check out these Reviews for other programmes). It’s important to find one that works for you. I usually find during the transcribing process that I make little edits along the way or add/remove sections, dialogue etc. that don’t seem to work.

From New Novelist, I copy and paste into a Word document which is formatted to the recommended style of Times New Roman size 12 font.

I keep a spreadsheet of my progress.

I back up my work to a USB flash drive – this is  VERY important!

I am, by no means, a professional writer and I’m sure anyone reading this will have their own methods and opinions. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way of writing but I do believe that unless you find a method that works, you won’t progress beyond those first few pages before frustration sets in and you give up.

Writing is an incredibly rewarding process but it can be lonely and frustrating especially at those times when the words simply won’t come. My notebooks are full of crossings out and half-finished passages and there have been times when I’ve been so stuck on a chapter that I’ve almost given up but I keep my end goal in mind and it keeps me going.

What is the world coming to?

How often have we heard or even uttered that expression? I know I grew up hearing it from my parents and other adults and now, as an adult myself, I find myself saying it more often than not.

Today, I heard the news that Sajid Javid overturned Lancashire Council’s decision to stop the fracking company Cuadrilla from exploratory fracking in the local area.

In the face of overwhelming opposition from his constituents, scientific evidence from anti-fracking organisations, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth etc. this politician has shown his true Tory colours. Profits before people. As long as his palm is being greased by some shady corporation he is certainly not going to put the interests of the area he is supposed to be serving first.

Apparently, even our UNELECTED PM Theresa May has said that the government needs to listen to its electorate. So, has Sajid Javid suddenly gone deaf or did he miss that part?

As long as big businesses and corporations continue to live in the pockets of our politicians and vice-versa, things like this will never, ever change. The back room deals, broken promises and reversed decisions have been hidden by a propaganda that pulled the wool over a lot of voters’ eyes. Should I feel an ounce of pity for a Tory voter who now regrets ticking that box during the General Election?

No, I shouldn’t and I won’t. The Tories have always been about the spin and the propaganda. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing and if people don’t wake up to that fact then Britain will continue to be the country that persecutes those who need the most help, condemning more and more people to poverty as the gap between rich and poor widens even further.

Why our government couldn’t follow the example of Iceland and jail it’s bankers who contributed to the huge 2008 crash is beyond me. The wealthiest people in this country are those who benefit the most from the elitist organisation occupying Westminster.

The Three Stooges (Cameron, Osborne and Smith) have blood on their hands for the persecution they meted out on the vulnerable and disabled in our society. People committed suicide as a direct result of the benefits cuts waged by those men. Jeremy Hunt is single handedly destroying the NHS and we are losing medical professionals in their droves as they head off to places like Australia where their prospects are a hundred times better.And now, he wants to fine doctors who leave the country! What will that achieve? We’ll still lose them and you can bet that money won’t go back into the NHS where it’s needed most.

This isn’t a government of the people, by the people, for the people. This is a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

The Dream Is Over

If you haven’t heard the news, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are no more. Finito. Kaput. The End.

I think the inevitable demise of their relationship has come as no real surprise to those who have followed their story from meeting on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith to their eventual marriage and now, pending divorce. It’s really not a very noteworthy news story considering the tumultuous state of the world we presently live in.

It’s not very surprising, either, that suddenly, everyone wants to know, “What does Jennifer Aniston think?” followed by an explosion of GIFs and Memes on Twitter that have probably flooded every Twitter users timeline from here to eternity.

This is sad though. Somehow, the paparazzi, popular press, columnists etc have put out the word that the demise of Brad Pitt’s marriage has somehow led to visions of Jennifer Aniston rubbing her hands together in glee and cackling knowingly. That, due to his treatment of her 12 years ago, karma has caught up with him quite spectacularly in this life already.

Never mind the fact that Jennifer Aniston moved on with a quiet dignity after she was, quite frankly, humiliated by the one person whom she should have been able to rely on. After Brad Pitt, Jennifer dated a few guys before meeting Justin Theroux, she didn’t constantly lament her single status or complain about men being douches. She continued on with life and ended up meeting the man who became her new husband. (I refuse to say second because it indicates a possibility of a third etc and this isn’t Elizabeth Taylor territory).

So, why is it that, 12 years after they split, the subject of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s marriage is still speculated on? She got over it, why can’t everyone else? Are we really supposed to believe that Jennifer Aniston is so bitter after more than a decade? Come on, if that was the case, it would severely undermine her relationship with her husband so it’s an insult not only to her but him as well.

Of course, certain behaviours can’t be forgiven or forgotten. In this case, it would seem that Angelina Jolie was less than discrete when talking about how she and Brad got together. It was rather insensitive. After all, women are supposed to be united in sisterhood.

Which brings me to my point. Why, in a world where so many women are still treated as lesser beings, where the gender pay gap is still so wide, where girls are forced into early marriage, denied education and basic rights; why then do so many women undermine the basic fabric of sisterhood and solidarity? Sure, competition is healthy, but not when it comes at the expense of our fellow sisters.

Lots of men (not all) bandy the notion about that they’re biologically programmed to sow as many oats as they can and this has been used as an excuse for affairs for decades. It gets rather tiresome. Free will and free choice can overcome biological programming any day of the week so it’s a pretty poor excuse in my opinion. The man who chooses loyalty is a man to be trusted.

Women too, who in his day and age, have more sexual freedom than ever, can also choose not to screw over one of their own.

It’s all about choice but it’s also about showing consideration for a fellow human being. Angelina Jolie has shown what a great humanitarian she is through her work with Unicef and childrens’ charities so I hope that over the last 12 years or so she has perhaps looked back and at least felt some apology for her part in breaking up her soon to be ex-husband’s first marriage.

 

A Mixed Up Kid

I am in a bad place at the moment. In fact, I’ve been in a bad place for most of my life. Sometimes, (like now) it overwhelms me and other times, it’s more manageable.

I was diagnosed with depression in my mid to late teens, I’ve been in therapy, I’ve taken Prozac and Fluoxetine so I can say, “been there, worn the t-shirt” and it doesn’t phase me anymore. I’ve been living with the condition for years.

What has prompted me to write about it, however, is that in the last few months, I’ve been at a stage whereby the darkness is overwhelming me and it’s horrible. I really hate it. Aside from the sheer exhaustion I’m currently experiencing, I’m running on auto-pilot. I’ve got to a point again where I’ve had to stop and say, “I can’t cope anymore, I need help.” I’d be driving to work with a perpetual feeling that I was heading towards a nervous breakdown. My mind is a massive tangled mess of worry and anxiety. It doesn’t matter how trivial the problem is, you can guarantee, I will worry about it.

I was a very unhappy child. I was bullied throughout my entire school years so that amounts to twelve years of near constant abuse. In secondary school, my attendance record was terrible, I would play truant, fake illnesses; anything to get out of going to that hell hole which I shall name and shame as Regents Park School for Girls in Southampton. I was utterly failed by the system and those who ran it. My tormentors got away with giving me hell and that is something I have never been able to forgive.

I would very much like to forget that it ever happened but I have also fallen victim to workplace bullying over the years and there’s only so much one person can take!

I went to work at the age of 16 as a travel agent. There was no way on Earth I was willing to continue with formal education and be faced with the prospect of ending up in the same college as those who had treated me so badly. I was a mixed up kid, suddenly I was in an adult environment with no idea of how to behave around adults. I went to college on day release, found it hard to make friends and ended up being the loner of the group. A girl with quite a nasty character came to work in one of my branches for about a year, instantly singling me out and proceeding to turn my colleagues against me. Again, I was let down by my colleagues, bosses and peers. Imagine my surprise when, years later, she sent me a friend request on Facebook!

Fast forward to now. I’m 43, I’m stronger than I ever was but I’m still fragile. My sense of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence are low. I make up for it by being outwardly gregarious whilst inside I’m shaking like a leaf. I constantly worry about what others think of me, I still find it hard to make friends and I have a terrible tendency to put others first instead of thinking of myself. When I do try and be a bit selfish, I feel guilty. But why should I? Surely, looking after oneself should come above all else? For, if you can’t look after yourself, how can you help others?

I don’t believe I’m a bad person. I’ve always gone out of my way to help others. I love animals, I care about the environment, I support various charities, I’ve helped create friendships, given food to homeless people etc. People have called me a “lovely girl” and apart from the usual teenage rebellion and questionable past relationships I believe I’ve created some good karma.

One thing that does sadden me is that I have no idea the kind of person I could have been were it not for all I’ve been through. Like Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Whilst my past hasn’t beaten me, for I am still here, it has made me choose different paths and make different decisions, my life could’ve gone in a very different direction had I been able to choose differently.

I feel sad for kids being bullied today, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. bullies have better access to their victims. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if those things existed when I was at school. I’m sure the outcome for me would have been very different.

All I can do now is make up for lost time, learn to put myself first, succeed at my goals and not get dragged down.