Small Victories: Why We Should Be Celebrating Them

According to my drafts I actually started writing this post almost a year ago. So that must make this the longest I’ve ever worked on a post. If by longest I mean I wrote an intro, left it a year and came back to it…

Anyway…

Don’t you find that life is all about the ‘big?’ I’m 25 and at this age, it feels like if you’re not getting engaged, getting a mortgage or getting pregnant then you don’t really have much to celebrate. There’s so much focus and energy put into the ‘big’ celebrations that I wonder if we ever remember to celebrate the small victories.

I’m bad at being proud of myself most of the time, especially a few months down the line from something exciting happening. So I got a job. It’s all woohoo at the time but then I just start to wonder why I’m celebrating something that everyone does. Sorry if it’s all getting a bit Camus in here, but hopefully you understand where I’m coming from.

Think about how we commend children. Woo you went to the toilet without wetting yourself or yaaay you ate all your dinner. We don’t do it as adults and honestly, it makes me a bit sad. So I think we should start celebrating all our victories, but especially the small ones. Yesss I read a whole chapter today without being distracted by my phone a million times in between. Congratulations me for going to the supermarket when really I just wanted to stay in and watch another episode of Brooklyn 99.

Basically, I don’t want to get so caught up in reaching big milestones that I forget to celebrate the small stuff, or worse, belittle my successes once the initial excitement has died down.

I didn’t really manage a lot on my to-do list or make any incredible headway on life plans today, but I did make a great coffee, braided my hair reasonably well and wrote this blog post. I should be proud of that.

What small victories have you had lately? Let me know!

Rachel x-x-x

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Slowing The Pace

Recently I read a quote which said “Strange, what being forced to slow down could do to a person.” It’s from a Nicholas Sparks novel and I instantly agreed with the sentiment. I’ve just moved to a countryside town in Somerset, from Leeds and before that Sheffield. Although Sheffield is a city, a lot of people agree that it doesn’t really feel like one. It’s more like a friendly town with the juxtaposition of the gorgeous Peak District on the outskirts and a cute city centre. Leeds on the other hand feels like a ‘real’ city (Sorry, Sheffield) and I loved living their for the past three years.

I loved how it busy it was at any time of day, I loved being able to go shopping in an evening or going for a coffee date with friends after university, and I really loved that there were gig venues and exciting events at my fingertips. So you could say that moving to Somerset has been a bit of a shock.

The town I live in now is very similar to where I grew up, in Grimsby. It’s small, quiet, and other than some shops and a few nice parks, there’s very little to do. Although I’ve only been here almost two months I’ve started to feel a little stifled by it. For me, countryside towns have an ‘older’ feel. I want to be in the city, doing everything all the time. Everyone has told me that living in the countryside sounds idyllic, that it must be lovely living somewhere that doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Leeds but I’m definitely a city girl at heart.

However in the last few weeks I’ve been trying to change my mindset. It’s not that I don’t like Somerset, I really do. I love that Bristol is so close and I can get to the beach so quickly, something that I really missed living in Sheffield and Leeds, and coming from a seaside town. I’m trying to stop thinking about living in the countryside as a missed opportunity and think of it as a new opportunity in itself, by focusing on slowing my pace down.

One thing I’m really enjoying about Somerset is the number of cycle paths and parks and running trails. It’s good to be in a place where the air is fresh and where I don’t feel like I’m inhaling bad fumes whenever I go outside to exercise. There’s also a lot to be said for living in a quiet place, I’m certainly saving money because I’m not at food festivals and gigs all the time, but I still have the possibility of doing that if I visit Bristol.

There’s also a real community feel here. There are family friendly events all the time which I can’t say I ever really noticed living in a city and it’s nice to do something that I wouldn’t normally do. All in all, Somerset is allowing me the ability to notice life a little differently and to find new opportunities. And I’m learning that a slower pace of life is something to be cherished at any age.

Do you prefer living in the city or the countryside? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Berlin’s Best Coffee

My recent trip to Berlin, like my life, was coffee fuelled. I’d heard about how good the coffee scene is in Berlin so I was really excited to check out the local’s top picks and we found A LOT of amazing places that I want to share with you.

The Barn

Oh The Barn, I well and truly fell in love with you. As well as being situated across from an independent magazine shop (THE DREAM!), The Barn serves up some fantastic coffee as well as having a really lovely atmosphere, which may be in part thanks to its laptop-free areas. The Barn felt like it really had a feel of Monmouth Coffee by Borough Market in London.

When it comes to coffee, The Barn know what they’re doing and they do it well. They currently have 5 places across Berlin but we visited The Barn Cafe on Auguststrasse. It was the perfect place to enjoy reading our newly bought magazines and try out a beetroot flat white, an experience which I surprisingly would try again.

I’ve also recently found out that they do coffee subscriptions and my birthday is coming up soon if anyone is reading this…

Bonanza Coffee Roasters

Bonanza Coffee Roasters is the ‘cool kid’ of coffee shops, i.e. probably not the one for me. They currently have two coffee shops, Bonanza Coffee Heroes in Prenzlauer Berg and the coffee roasters in Kreuzberg. We visited the one in Kreuzberg, which is hidden away by the side of a petting zoo in a cute little courtyard. The interior is gorgeous, rather minimalist and also has the feel of a coffee shop in a museum, but in a good way.

The coffee was fantastic. My boyfriend gave it a solid 10/10 whereas it was a little citrusy for me, however I do know the taste of a good coffee when I err… taste it. This one just wasn’t my favourite. It’s an almost must for any coffee fans when visiting Berlin.

Röstätte 

We stumbled upon Röstätte completely by accident when we needed a break from all our wandering. We were almost ready to order our classic two flat whites when we spotted Coffee Negronis on the menu and knew we had to try them. We took them outside and sat in the sunshine sipping our cocktails, pondering life and how damn nice it was to be in the middle of Europe, enjoying every second.

After our visit I googled the coffee shop and found that it was a must-visit for coffee drinkers. A wonderful surprise find!

No Fire, No Glory

Potentially the most “German” of the coffee shops we visited was No Fire, No Glory. It had a slightly more European feel to it, rather than the coffee shops that I’m used to in England. The coffee was really good, possibly my favourite of the trip, but the menu was slightly lacking. This was mostly because their brunches weren’t super vegetarian friendly and I am rather picky so more my issue than theirs.

No Fire, No Glory is situated in Prenzlauer Berg and is worth the trip even if you’re the other side of the city.

Rachel x-x-x

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I Want To Talk About Shane Dawson

Firstly, let me tell you that I never thought I’d be writing a post about Shane Dawson. Until about six months ago he’d never featured on my radar although I knew little tidbits about him from watching other Youtubers back in the day.

Anyway, unless you’ve been living under a rock or living an actual life outside of the internet you’ll know that Shane is currently making a documentary about Jake Paul, an internet sensation known for making outlandish Youtube videos. We’re at the halfway point of the documentary videos so I feel that now is a good time to let out some of the feelings I’ve had whilst watching.

The documentary is a good watch. Shane knows how to keep people invested, he knows what he’s doing with the spooky music, the editing and the general hype around the videos. But what I’m not cool with is what I deem to be a total disregard for his responsibility as an “influencer.”

In some ways, what I’m writing here is totally futile, because I do believe that no one really has a responsibility for anyone and people can act however they want to. And by no means do I think that Shane is the only person lacking responsibility in the celebrity (can I call him that?) realm. But in this instance I’m particularly riled up. Shane has 17 million subscribers on Youtube, 6.9 million on Twitter and his first Jake Paul video has had an unbelievable 18 million views.

That’s 18 million people who saw Shane and Kati Morton (a qualified therapist) call Antisocial Personality Disorder “creepy” and “icky.” That’s 18 million people who are now at risk of contributing to stigma of an illness that is already so highly stigmatised. That’s 18 million people who could start self-diagnosing or diagnosing their family and friends as sociopaths. If you would like to read something real about ASPD then check out this story of someone with lived experience of ASPD.

I’ve noticed that since the first video went up, Shane has added a disclaimer to the start of his videos telling viewers not to diagnose others and he has also talked about the way he and Kati approached mental illness. I’m just not sure how sincere it is coming from someone whose livelihood comes from racking up those views.

For me, as a mental health professional, it’s important to use your influence responsibly but if I were an entertainer I don’t know if I’d feel the same. Although in theory I’m against the way the disorder is being portrayed, in practice, Shane is doing his job, hyping up the audience, and dramatising for the sake of the content. I’m truly torn between what is definitely a well curated piece of work and something that just doesn’t sit quite right with me as a professional.

Do you think influencers have a responsibility to be truthful and careful with what they put out into the world? Let me know!

Rachel x-x-x

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Embracing Autumn as an Anti-Autumner

I hate Autumn. I know that uttering those dirty words is akin to saying you’re not that bothered about Christmas or that you don’t like Mean Girls but hear me out for a sec, okay?

There are lots of things I do like about Autumn. Jumpers? Love ’em. Cosy nights in? Always. Stomping through leaves like I am 5 years old? You’d better believe I still do that. But then there’s THE DARK. It’s dark when I leave wake up, it’s still dark when I leave the house and you guessed it, it’s already got dark by the time I’m home again. Autumn is a just a pit of dreariness and on top of THE DARK, there is also THE COLD. When I was younger I always wondered why my Mum had a thousand jumpers or was constantly asking my Dad if he could put the heating on. Now I understand, because thanks to genetics I am also always cold. I recently learned that there is a Spanish word for a woman that’s always cold and it’s friolera so even if being cold all the time sucks, at least there’s a funky word for it. However, I did translate that back into English and apparently it means trifle, so maybe not one to use if you’re learning Spanish. The third and final reason for disliking Autumn so intensely is HALLOWEEN. It just isn’t my thing. I love love love Tim Burton and horror films and general spookiness but people dressed up with blood running down their faces? NO THANK YOU.

Anyway, the point of this post is that although I don’t like Autumn, this year I am trying to embrace it. You may be forgiven for thinking otherwise from the above paragraph.

How are you embracing it I hear you cry? Well, let me tell you.

Firstly I have pulled out the chunky knits and I am wearing them with gusto. I’m also learning to crochet so maybe later in the season I’ll be wearing my own creations (unlikely).

Secondly, I’m focusing on the things I do like about Autumn, rather than the things I don’t. My list so far is going pretty well and I’m adding to my bullet journal page daily: hot chocolate, walks in the cold air, crunchy leaves, beautiful sunsets, orange and red trees, stews, soup, pumpkin spice lattes, cosy film nights, boots, scarves, hats.

And finally, I’m trying to make the whole month of October that little bit more positive. My boyfriend and I aren’t always the most positive of people. Although we like to think our cynicism and misanthropy are cute character traits, somewhere deep inside, we know they’re not so we’ve started Postober. At the end of each day we ask each other 3 questions: What is something nice that happened today? What did you do for someone else today? And what are you looking forward to tomorrow? It might seem super simplistic but I’m finding that it’s a really nice way to bring a bit of positivity to a normally rubbish month.

Do you enjoy Autumn? What do you love about it? Let me know!

Rachel x-x-x

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