Ice Bucket Challenges- Why I love and dislike them!

So it can’t have escaped your notice that there’s a challenge going round. But incase you missed it the challenge consists of a person being nominated to donate money to an ALS charity and to throw a bucket of iced water over themselves. The challenges spread via social media and help to raise awareness of the condition. ALS is a motor neurone disease. There is no cure. There are very few treatments beyond those to alleviate the symptoms as the body’s motor neurons stop firing. This leads to the shutting down the muscles governing everything from walking to breathing leaving the person wheelchair bond and unable to look after themselves. It is a brutal condition and affects not only the person suffering from it but everyone around them.

I haven’t been been nominated for the challenge yet but will be tonight or tomorrow as my husband has just been nominated. I am all for raising awareness especially for charities that are already underfunded. However, I doubt most of the people who have taken the challenge and uploaded their video to social media have given their money. Even if they have then this leads to other problems too. Charities, especially underfunded ones, don’t always know what to do when they receive such huge amounts of money. Mark Zuckerberg donated a large sum of money to a charity last year and already the projects they put in place had to be reviewed as they failed within months, now almost all of the money has been spent but many people at the charity have said it could have been spent in much more effective ways.

I have had a few people who have been nominated and have donated to different charities, for me this is the right direction for these social media challenges.

Let people donate to whatever charity they decide, let them tell the world in their video which charity they are donating to so that awareness is raised and let them do a little good.

Here are a selection of underfunded charities in the UK. Maybe you would like to donate to one of them when your nomination comes along!

Refuge- for women and children effected by violence. http://refuge.org.uk

Alzheimer’s- helps to find preventions,
treatments and hopefully a cure for dementia. http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/alzheimers-research-uk/

Brain tumour research- helping to find research into brain tumours one of the worst funded types of cancer. http://www.braintumourresearch.org

Bliss- a charity that helps premature babies and their families. http://www.bliss.org.uk

Young minds- a charity committed to helping young people struggling with mental health problems. http://www.youngminds.org.uk

These are all charities I’ve heard of or have helped someone I know.
Feel free to find your own, comment or nominate them in your challenge.

(I have only put national charities here but there are many worthy and underfunded local projects. For example in my local area we support:
http://www.linehamfarm.co.uk
http://www.stgeorgescrypt.org.uk/charity/
http://www.candlelighters.org.uk
http://www.renewleeds.co.uk )

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Getting comfortable. Why it’s a mistake.

Does anyone else love that feeling if returning home? The smell that greets you as you walk through the door, the feel of your own carpet under your feet. It’s all “home” and there’s nothing like it. I get that most when I go to my childhood home. When I return for a visit I’m always struck with a nostalgia and sometimes I consider moving back to the area where I grew up. What would be more comforting than spending every day where I grew up, walking the same streets and seeing the people who helped turn me into the person I am today. It’s a lovely feeling and as I said, there’s nothing like the feeling, being comfortable and knowing im your home: But is it a good thing?

I know myself that at this point in time I’ve got comfortable. I’ve just got married, we have a nice flat in a nice area, a cat who makes me smile every morning and curse ever night, we watch tv program’s together and after each series is finished we wait eagerly for a year for he next one to start. If that’s not comfortable I don’t know what is?

I read recently that one of the biggest growth spurts out brains have is in our twenties, we change from teenagers to adults and our brains prepare for the next phase of our life- adulthood.

So our twenties are an extremely important time. I believe I’m very lucky. I’ve travelled, lived abroad, moved cities, got married and been fairly successful in my job so I’m probably well set up for the next stage of my life.
What I want to say is that even though I’ve done all these things I still feel comfortable, I don’t see where my next adventure is going to come from (unless I have children which isn’t on the cards for a good long while). This , for me, in unacceptable and I hope for many of you out there it is too. Mediocrity isn’t good enough, being comfortable might sound like the idealism your parents told you to aim for but is it really all that’s out there? Is that really the be all and end all? Is that really what the next 60 years of your life is going to be.

I think “comfortable” is the biggest mistake anyone in their twenties, and thirties, can make.
Go out, see the world, see the potential in yourself, make the most of your skills and enjoy life.

Loneliness

It seems silly that in the first three months of marriage you could be lonely. But I am. Fortunately I’m not lonely because we’re having problems or difficulties but because my husband has been sent away on a course for three weeks!
We have lived together for almost 5 years so three weeks on my own has been quite a test especially as I live in his home town near his family and mine are over 2 hours away. This would usually be fine as I get on with them really well but they have all gone on holiday too so I’ve been left looking after three cats and drinking wine!
He’s back this weekend and I’m sure he will be annoying me in his special way again within hours!

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So this is where it all begins…

So this is where it begins. My fumble through the first year of married life and beyond. Most people approach this time with excitement, I however have the excitement mixed with fear. Is it all going to change now? Will my husband treat me differently? Will society treat me differently? How will I fend off the questions about babies? What if we’ve made a mistake? Etc etc ect.

The first two months have been pretty good really. A three week honeymoon in Florida and a few weeks getting back to “normal” life. Work has been hectic, too much time spent apart because of shifts, lots of time spent with family, some time spent with friends catching up, a hospital visit, birthdays and too much time spent on the sofa. Then we received our wedding photos (which are incredible and I can’t recommend getting a good photographer enough!) and had to do all the visiting rounds again to show them off.

The biggest problem we have encountered so far is getting back to pre engagement/post wedding normality. We are both finding it very hard not to be doing something, making lists, sticking and cutting, sewing, researching and planning, designing, worrying every minute of our free time away with wedding preparations.
18 months of doing for 12 hours of enjoyment. It’s a lot and it’s worth it but once it’s gone filling time is hard to do.
My husband has always been interested in model trains (not in the geeky make a village kind of way but in a lets see how fast I can make it go way) so he has been focussing on that and I, who has never really had any lasting hobbies, have decided to finally learn the guitar and hone my photography skills. I love taking photos, capturing the special moments, the little looks, the love between two people but I’m just not that good at it. By some standards I’m very good but by mine I’m not and although ultimately I would love to run a photography business I don’t feel any where near ready for that adventure. So my next few months will be filled by strumming and editing.

Hopefully something to focus on will help the empty, lost feeling diminish over time.
I’m pretty sure this is why people have children so soon after getting married… A void needs filling and what better to take up your time than something you created together. It’s a beautiful thing but were just not ready for that yet.

So trains, guitars and photographs!

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The big day, a humbling event.

My impression has always been that the ceremony is for the couple and the reception for the guests. The couple spend an inordinate amount of money on the wedding day mostly to impress friends and make them feel included in the couples big day. I was so very wrong but it wasn’t until I experienced my own wedding that I really understood it.

After 18months of preparation, every single night spent making, listing, cutting, sticking and grooming, the day had finally arrived. I didn’t sleep at all the night before (as I hadn’t for around a week- damn false lashes) having even woken up my mother, future mother in law and future sister in law to search the house for my something borrowed and something gold at 3:30am I woke up surprisingly refreshed and bounded down the stairs to make tea for the bridal party in mugs I had had precisely designed for the day.

Next thing I knew the door bell was ringing, the hairdresser had arrived promptly at 6am and the organised chaos ensued. There was a huge amount of make up with my bridesmaid skilfully applied to each of us transforming from tired, hagged morning trolls (well that’s how I looked and felt anyway) to well manicured, beautiful wedding angels. Never have I experienced such a transformation from just a few strokes of a foundation brush!

From the moment my wonderful photographer arrived the day continued in a whirl wind of lace and chiffon.

My dad decided to surprise me with a vintage car to take me to the venue. An expense I had decided I didn’t need so had asked him to drive me in his car as we had done to so many occasions before. The surprise was more than welcome though, my dads face was radiating how proud he was and that was well worth however much it cost him to arrange.

Our first stop was the beach where my husband to be was waiting for me. We decided to have a “first look” before the ceremony. We are both quite emotional people and thought that seeing each other at the end of the aisle for the first time would be too much.

He waited about 40ft away from the stairs down to the sand which meant it took me about 3 minutes to make it to him with my heavy dress slung over my arm. Not the most flattering or lady like way for him to first see me however I managed to right myself just before he turned around to see me for the first time. His relief was palpable, I’m sure he had been praying the whole time I would actually turn up!

After plenty of beach photos it was time for the ceremony and after a quick hop across town, a shoe crisis and a lot of well wishers on the way we finally made it down the aisle and became Mrs and Mr.

The rest of the day was some of the happiest hours of my life. It took until the night time reception for me to truly appreciate that everyone who attended our wedding was there because they loved us. Never again will all these people be together in the same place celebrating the same event.

I can honestly say I have never been so humbled. These special, amazing, brave people had travelled from all I’ve the world to celebrate me and my husband signing a little strip of paper.
That’s really something special.
I learned that day that a wedding isn’t just about two people, it’s about a whole community coming together and remembering there are still happy events in life which need celebrating.

I will never forget the feeling from that day and I will always be in thankful to everyone to shared in it with us.

Image credit to Lissa Alexandra photography http://www.lissaalexandraphotography.com

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If you like it put a ring on it!

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Not being your usual conventional couple I knew Casey was going to propose and had pretty much worked out when and where. Having had commitment issues and a fairly rocky relationship before hand Casey and I had talked extensively about how we felt about marriage and what our expectations would be for our relationship. Thankfully we are pretty much on the same page for everything including children and how we should raise them, how we should approach our families and the way that we will deal with issues in our relationship (which I openly admit he is better at than I am!).

When we had first started dating Casey had promised to take me to Rome for Valentines day and his birthday but due to the change in his job we didn’t book it.

Three years later we still hadn’t made it so while we were planning what to do for our anniversary I decided to have a look at flights. I never thought they would be reasonably priced but it worked out less than we could have spent on petrol if we had stayed in the UK. I floated the idea to Casey and with one thought of pizza and Peroni he was sold! We booked the tickets and off we went to a destination I had only dreamed of.

After three days seeing the amazing sights and eating fabulous food it was the day of our third anniversary. We spent the day doing all the things we had wanted to do. We went to Castel Sant’angelo in the morning which had the most spectacular views of the Vatican City. Then walked down to watch the Pope hold his service and went up to St Peters Basillica. Casey had thought about proposing at the top but after the 320 steps and around 100 other people squeezed up there he decided against it.

After spending most of the day on our feet we decided to go back to the hotel room for a rest and to get ready for a lovely meal to celebrate our anniversary. We got all dressed up in our best clothes and Casey asked me to open a bottle of prosecco we had been given after a mix up with our room. We toasted three years together and Casey sat me down on the edge of the bed and started talking about how thankful he was and how much he had enjoyed the past three years. Before I knew it he was down on one knee asking me to marry him. I didn’t need to think about it the words just spilled out- “Of Course I Will”!

 

Be the best person you can be, and be together.

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If anyone has lived with their parents-in-law then I’m sure you can feel my pain! It’s not that we didn’t get on or had many issues but more that we had squeezed 5 grown adults into a 3 bed house and it was the first time Casey and I had been back together permanently. I started my new job and found that being at work was like having down time. I really enjoyed it and the people I worked with so all in all I was pretty happy now.

Casey on the other hand was not in the best place. He was still unemployed as nothing had come along that suited his skills. Unfortunately this meant he had a lot of time on his hands so he busied himself with D-I-Y which his parents were very happy about!

Eventually he did find a job about three months after I moved in, it wasn’t what he had been looking for and it wasn’t something that would stimulate him mentally (something he really needs). But it was a job, it would bring money in and allow us to move forward with our lives. Casey taking that job was one of my proudest moments- it showed he was committed to ‘us’ and was willing to make sacrifices for my happiness. It showed just how much he loved me.

Five months later we were able to rent our own place, a small two bed flat but it’s in a nice area and is where we still live now (although we are looking to move after our honeymoon).

The next 18 months where filled with lots of joy and happiness. Holidays, our first trip to Disney, new jobs, promotions, new cars, old cars, sickness, health, lots of poorly grandparents, family deaths, family feuds, too much drinking, a lot of films, many walks in the park, far too many coffees and lots of getting to know each other.

That first two years of your relationship can be challenging but they are so precious. We went through a lot together, we weren’t the best people we could have been but we came through it together and it has made us much stronger. When you find that person make sure you treasure that time, be the best you can for each other and build up a strong relationship. Being able to look back at those times will help you through the rest of your relationship no matter how far down the line you are.