What music am I currently obsessed with?

Dear Evan Hansen. Okayyy so I haven’t actually seen the broadway production because I live in London, a mere 8 hour flight away from New York but I’ve just fallen in love with the story. It’s such a mundane, relatable topic which isn’t usually featured in musicals and just makes it so much more interesting. Also, Ben Platt, who plays the main character, was one of my favourites in Pitch Perfect soooo…

Bleachers. More specifically, Wild Heart, Rollercoaster and Like a River Runs. These are a very new addition to my library (as in, I found them yesterday) but I can already tell they’re going to be played on repeat. Aaaand, I believe they have new music coming soon 😀

The Japanese House. Right, ok. So I’m the first to admit that all of their music sounds the same. I have a playlist of their three EPs and I could not tell the songs apart, but I find it’s really good to work to, as the consistency keeps me concentrated on the task and there’s not much variation or lyrics to distract me. I also find the music so so calming, which is great for school work but also if I’m feeling stressed or anxious. 

Beauty and the Beast. The original, not the remake. Need I say more? It’s such an underrated, beautiful Disney classic. 

Different Creatires. I love Circa Waves, and this album was no exception. The style is so different to Young Chasers, but to me that just shows versatility and talent.

Moana. I couldn’t not mention this. I seem to have developed a somewhat unhealthy adoration of this film and soundtrack. I don’t want to tell you how many times I’ve watched it in the past week, and tbh I don’t even know. There’s just something so warm and welcoming about it, and practically a guarantee to put me into a good mood. Definitely one of the best Disney films. No question. 

‘Some are great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them’ – Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

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How to be more productive

So lately I’ve been having trouble with writing an english essay. I’ve tried various methods to be more productive so I thought: why not share them with you!

Make  it colourful. For me, colourful, aesthetically pleasing notes are so much nicer to look at, and therefore make having to use them to study much less daunting.

Break it into smaller, more manageable chunks. This makes the amount of work seem much smaller, and therefore les intimidating.

Change your location. This was the best thing for me: I went to a coffee shop, where there was hardly any distractions, and I actually finished the essay :))

Music! I’m really enjoying ‘The Japanese House’ at the moment, especially to work to. Their music is so chilled, and it’s such a great background noise which blocks out any distractions, but also keeps me calm and grounded. 

Give yourself a deadline. I work so much better if there’s a strict deadline as then I feel as though there’s something to bind me.

Surround yourself with productive people… If they’re going to motivate you. I have to be in a certain mood for this, but sometimes if I’m surrounded by my friends being productive then I feel bad and I also buckle down and work. 

… Or hide away until you’re finished. Other times, anything and everything distracts me, and the only way to things done is to completely isolate myself where there’s minimal distractions. 

Take breaks. I need to do this to keep sane, enough said. 

‘Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?’- a song in Dear Evan Hansen

Organisation is kind of important

This is a new realisation of mine. One of my main goals for sixth form is to stay organised, keep on top of my notes and meet deadlines; at the moment, this is going really well!

So in September, I used an actual planner. I’d write my homework down in the little boxes, and then the subject and the date it was due. Now, this didn’t last long. Maybeeee 2 weeks? The thing was, it was soo messy. Having to scribble down what my teacher was saying within the narrow lines (and trying to keep it as neat as possible) was hard, and the general messiness really annoyed me.

So then I moved onto my next system: a ‘note’ on my phone, with different sections for each subject. When the teacher told us the work, I simply type it in the corresponding section, along with any extra notes/guidance and the due date. This was much more visually pleasing; I had as much space as I needed, and it was so much clearer to see what I had to do for each subject all in one place. One thing that I didn’t like, however, was my lack of order. Yes, I had subheadings for each subject, but say I came across a quote that I liked in english and I didn’t have the text on me, or I found a piece of music I really wanted to learn… It got stuck at the bottom of the note. This soon became a mess of quotes, books to read and things that (looking at them now) make no sense to me.

Upgraded system: OneNote. The idea of this was perfect; a note, but with different ‘tabs’, so within my subject notes I could have different sections. But this really didn’t work. The work I had to do wasn’t all in one place, which meant that things were forgotten. Aka unnecessary last minute stress. No thanks.

And so, welcome to my final system: a bullet journal (which I use alongside the note on my phone). I really love how versatile this is; depending on my mood, my bullet journal can be a creative outlet, somewhere to write or just a place to list jobs. I find that having what I need to do written out in front of me is really calming; most of the time, any anxiety or stress I feel around deadlines or school is due to my brain over exaggerating, and making things much more daunting than they really are.

I have too much to say about this, so I think I’m going to write another post entirely dedicated to bullet journaling (yes, I know I keep saying that about other topics, but I actually will this time!). Meanwhile, here’s a pic of the start of this week, I think I’m really getting the hang of the whole bullet journal layout/idea :))

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‘First love can break you. But it can also save you’ – Katie Khan, Hold Back The Stars

My morning routine

The thing is, I like sleep.

Problem: I stay up very very late, and have to get up relatively early.

So my alarm first goes off at 6:45am. Ew. How is this legal?? Anyway, my usual response is to turn it off, and go back to sleep.

It goes off again at 6:55, and yet again at 7:00. And do I get up? Nahhhhh.

In fact, I usually lie in my nice burrito of warmth until at least 7:15.

Bad, verrrry bad. I’m supposed to leave at 8!

So once I’ve dragged myself from my cozy cocoon, I put on my dressing gown and go to the bathroom to clean my teeth. There’s no point trying to talk to me at this stage, I’m effectively mute. Then I stumble back to my room, strip off my fuzzy dressing gown and pull on the clothes I’ve chosen the night before. Being in a casual sixth form, I can come in wearing (within reason) whatever I want; usually jeans. (I really hate it, but I think I’ll write a whole post on that) I always choose my outfit the night before, it saves sooo much time and means I don’t have to engage my brain before caffeine has taken its effect.

Then I do my makeup; foundation, contour, concealer, brows and mascara. This usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes, and I listen to music or a podcast in a desperate attempt to wake myself up a bit more. At the moment, I’m loving the podcast ‘Dear Hank and John’, a comedy podcast about death (as they say), hosted by Hank and John Green. I’ve binged about 40 episodes in the past few weeks, oops! After my makeup, I’ll spray some volumizing hairspray into my hair; a semi hopeless effort to add thickness to my hair and quickly run a brush through it.

When I look slightly more alive (all thanks to the makeup), I go downstairs and have breakfast. My ‘go-to’ is quakers golden syrup porridge; it takes 2 minutes in the microwave, and isn’t tooooo bad for you. If I have slightly more time (ha, as if), I’ll make myself beans on toast, which I’ve only recently become fond of.

After I’ve eaten (or as much as I have time for before I realise that I really have to leave), I rush back upstairs to floss and use mouthwash. Then I’ll make sure I have the necessities in my school bag (a black Animal rucksack from the sale); notepad, pencil case, purse and keys, and then I go downstairs to grab my lunch, fill up my water bottle and pick up my travel cup – green tea or black coffee, depending on how tired I am.

At this point, it’s usually 8:05ish, and I have 6 minutes to get to the bus stop. Eeeeekk. Luckily the stop is very close to my house, and I can walk there in about 3 minutes. (I know it’s tight, okkkkk. I’m trying to get up earlier!). From there, it’s about a 10 minute ride to school, and when we arrive I go to the special sixth form study room with my friends. Primarily because there’s a radiator there, it’s still too early to do actual work. Then the bell goes off, and we reluctantly move away from the nice warm radiator and go to class.

Aaaand that’s my routine! It’s usually different at the weekend, although I’m currently working two jobs (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) so I actually have to get up and do school work. Ugh.

This is a new kind of post for me, I hope you liked it! If anyone has any suggestions for future posts, please leave them in the comments :)) I know I haven’t posted much recently, I may or may not go into the reasons behind that. Ehhh, who knows.

 ‘There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.’- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Body image… bla bla bla

My hair is too fine.

The skin under my eyes is wrinkly, even though I’m only 17.

I’m too pale, so any foundation makes me look orange.

My tummy sticks out.

My thighs are wobbly.

I think, if you picked any part of my body, I could reel off at least three reasons why I dislike it. Hello… brain? That’s not good.

I’ve always understood that models are unrealistically skinny, and are photo shopped to appear even more ‘beautiful’. I’ve always known that it’s not healthy. But I didn’t think it affected me.

But I’m coming to the realisation that I’m wrong. I’ve always been insecure about my body, even from the age of 10 or 11, when I realised my stomach wasn’t flat. I’ll always remember my mum pointing to about 11 year old Abi’s stomach as it pressed against the tshirt and saying ‘ohh, we need to watch that’. She definitely didn’t mean to lodge that thought in my brain, but I remember it so, so clearly.

The message about people just being happy with the body they have… I disagree.

I mean, the idea that people shouldn’t feel ashamed or self conscious I completely support. I don’t think that something as trivial as shape should make people feel embarrassed or self conscious (although I truly understand it does), and I hate that it’s what society has come to.

But at the same time, if someone is unhappy with their body then they can work hard and change it. You don’t need an expensive gym membership, or a big garden or fancy equipment; there’s plenty of home workouts on youtube and pintrest. I’ve even managed to find bed workouts!

I find that many people develop a defeatist attitude; rather than accepting their body is attractive or deciding to change, they just accept that they look ‘bad’.

In many ways, this is  me.

One of my goals for 2017 is to sort out my body, both mentally and physically. I know that my body is ok, but I want it to be better. I want to grow my confidence in my body, because I think it’ll have a knock on effect and make me feel better in other ways, too.

And maybe by publishing this, it’ll motivate me to become a better version of myself (cheese cheese cheese ew no). Mentally, I need to learn to love myself, and physically I need to lose that little bit of weight, to tone up my stomach. And I can do it.

‘Hope is the thing with feathers’- Emily Dickinson.

This is definitely my favourite poem, I love how it’s so positive and calming, so unusual for Victorian Britain.

For my grandma

When it comes to expressing emotion, gratitude and thanks, I find myself at a complete loss of words. Not that I have no thoughts, for I have plenty, but these thoughts do not form literate sentences between my head and my mouth. So I’m using the words of Oscar Wilde to help me.

‘Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation’

And this is true. My grandma was skilled at the art of conversation; she was kind and friendly and welcoming, and made everyone feel special and important. And, looking round at everyone here, it’s clear she formed magnificent friendships with many, many people.

In today’s society, it’s difficult to form true, sincere friendships. But my grandma was an exception, and it’s evident she was really loved.

Again, in the words of Oscar Wilde:

‘The aim of love is to love, no more, and no less.’ And Grandma was loved. That’s evident. And she will most certainly be missed.

From your favourite granddaughter, love you Grandma. I’ll miss you.

The importance of conversation

So this is going to make me sound completely insane, but recently I’ve started talking to myself. Out loud. Proper conversations.

Like, I’ll look in the mirror, and pretend someone has asked me a question. And then I’ll answer it.

I think, being an only child, never really having to say much or debate with other people outside of school kind of leaves me at a disadvantage, especially in discussion based subjects like English. I mean, even one on one I actually find myself unable to talk things through, the jumbled thoughts in my brain (which form sentences and proper strings of logical words on paper, no problem) just don’t translate.

Which is why, for me, this is actually really helpful.

Whilst having these conversations, I’ve taught myself how to just talk. No plan, no aim. Just talk, in an understandable, logical way. For example, I worked out the reason I hate full, thick faces of makeup. I think they’re deceitful, fake, dishonest. I think they’re a waste of time. But I realised more than that. I came to the realisation that I’m disgusted that we have come to this; that teenagers and young adults feel the need to paint a thick mask onto their skin, to completely rework their face (in some cases). Yes, I’m a part of this. I do not have the confidence to leave the house without mascara, eyebrows, foundation. Even though I know the foundation looks orange on my skin, I know the mascara makes my eyelashes clumpy and dark. But I will never leave the house without it.

It shouldn’t be that way. It isn’t for boys, so why has this become such a great problem for girls. It’s honestly scary… we are a generation so fearful of hate and judgement that we spend money and time to change how we look. That’s not right.

Anyway, back to topic. Speaking.

I’m by no means confident about speaking. Not yet, it’s still one of my worst nightmares to have to read something in front of other people, but we’re getting there.

I realise this makes it sound like I’m physically unable to talk, which isn’t true. I’m told that I talk very well to other people, and I do think that’s true… when it’s about things I’m confident with. I can talk about my subjects, the books I’m reading, what I’m planning to do for uni just fine. But the moment it’s a topic that’s new to me, or something I’m very uncertain in that ability goes. Boomph.

It’s made me realise the importance of challenging children. Not to a point where it upsets them, or makes them doubt themselves, but to a point that makes them think. I believe that I’ve never really had to think, that where my brain gives out everything else i need has been handed to me. And whilst that’s easy at the time, it’s going to make sixth form and uni a whole lot harder. Ohhhhh great.

‘Conversation is one of the loveliest of the arts’- Oscar Wilde. Fitting, I think, haha