THE 14TH FEBRUARY

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I love it when people say that they dislike Valentine’s Day. Except I don’t love it. I hate it. Particularly when the same people scrutinising its sentiment also celebrate Christmas, Easter, a Friday or even their uncle’s Bah Mitzvah in the only way they know how: with presents, alcohol and too much food.

So what’s the problem with celebrating love in much the same way?

They complain about shop windows, overpriced goods and the pressure to buy. But the same humans, come December 1st, turn into elves themselves, donning Christmas jumpers, drinking too much whiskey and tucking into overpriced Christmas cheese. And I’m pretty sure they ain’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday. They just enjoy the time of year. They like investing time in family – until Uncle Toby drinks too much wine and tells you about that time he and Aunt Sheila did the dirty in the back of your family car – and they get stuck in.

But they come to a halt on love day.

They grimace, they denounce their involvement and shy away from card buying and gift giving.

But why?

The ‘I show you every day’ sentiment doesn’t wash with me. That’s nice and all and I really appreciate being spooned to the point I think I might suffocate on a nightly basis, but why is it such a hardship for you to show me just that little bit more on one day of the year? Yes, card shops relish in this time of year. But they also exploit our warm hearts at many other times throughout the calendar months; so what’s new? You know as well as I do that we’re exploited by big retailers on pretty much a daily basis, but if you really want to roll with that excuse? Then use your hands and make a card, squeeze them extra tightly or cook them a nice meal. Nobody ever said you had to actually buy something.

I think that hating on Valentine’s Day is a little ‘on trend’ but the question I’m asking is: when did love go out of fashion? In a world that can be bleak and a little bit scary, why wouldn’t we take any opportunity we can to celebrate something positive and tell those who we love that we don’t know where we’d be without them and spoil those who most deserve it?

Basically, I don’t care if it’s not really your thing. In fact, let it glide past you for all I care. But don’t shout your mouth off about how much you hate it, because Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. Make a crappy card, treat them to a homemade red velvet, sit on the sofa with snacks and a good film or just don’t fart on their leg for the next 24hrs. Whatever love is to you, celebrate that in the best way you can.

The 14th February might not mean much to you, but to someone who needs a little loving (i.e. everybody at one point or other), it can mean a heck of a lot.

Have a good one love bunnies.

SMALL VICTORIES – FEBRUARY

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It’s ten days into the month and I have only just realised that I haven’t laid out any of my goals for February. I guess thats what happens when life moves at 100mph and you find Valentine’s Day on your doorstep before you’ve even had time to digest your Christmas turkey.

But less of me sounding old and talking about time flying and down to the nitty gritty. What would I like to achieve over the next few weeks?

Here goes:

1. Read

I have a pile of books that I’ve acquired of late – from gifted reads to downloaded suggestions – that I am yet to even open. It’s my aim to find the time to enjoy just one of them (probably ‘Big Magic’) before the month is out.

2. Meditate

I’ve been reading all about ‘Mindfulness’ recently and OH HOT DAMN I had no idea that it was a) so complicated and b) required so much of my time and attention. Mindfulness isn’t just about feeling calm, it’s a way of life that allows you to manipulate your consciousness to live more in the moment. I think you’ll agree that we could all do with practising this a little more. I’ll let you know how I get on.

3. Sort

I will be moving out soon and my wardrobes are overflowing (yes, I am addicted to buying boots and coats, so sue me), but there is no point in lugging the tat along with me into my new chapter. I think I’ll use the time I have off work next week to sort through clothes and work out which items to chuck, keep or give to charity. Hopefully, that way, I can actually see what I have to wear and avoid that pre-night out floordrobe from developing…

4. Bang

No, not that kind of bang. I’ve been thinking of cutting in some bangs (aka, a fringe) again for a while now. The truth is, I much prefer my face-piece when my forehead is covered, but it’s just so difficult to maintain- particularly in rainy old England. Although it might not seem like a huge decision to many of you, those who have suffered from #fringepains in the past – from needing regular trims to hiding hat hair – will know why this is a big enough decision to be in my small victories post.

And that’s it. The theme of this month’s aims seems to be both practical and calming. And I’m cool with that.

So what are you going to try and achieve this month?

Whatever you set your sights on, go get it, tiger.

THE BIRTHDAY

large (12)It’s that wonderful time of year again where I gain a wrinkle, four grey hairs and have a crisis of age.

I love birthdays.

Obviously the cards, presents and celebratory food cushion the blow, but why do I always panic when I realise that I’m another year older despite understanding – since the tender age of five – the simple concept of time?

Despite this blind, undying ignorance, birthdays aren’t all bad. Because mine happens to fall in the spring time – the season best known for new beginnings, bunny rabbits and general pinterest-worthy joyousness – I always treat them like a second New Year. I pledge vows to myself and set targets for the year ahead by reflecting on the things I’d have done differently, and of course, I rarely stick to my promises. So I thought, why break the habit of a life time?

Because I’m older, and a little wiser now. That’s why.

It’s essential to think about improvement, but it’s equally as important to realise how far you’ve come. So I will start by thinking about the things that I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Here goes:

One. Things take time. This includes everything from projects, to love.

Don’t. Rush. Anything.

Two. Most people deserve a second chance. Rarely do people deserve a third.

Three. Do not, under any circumstances, fad diet. Just maybe cut down on the Kit Kats.

Four. Yoga is a whole lot more than stretching in tight pants. The older you get, the more you’ll realise this.

And five. Having fewer good friends is better than having lots of shit ones.

I could go on and on, as 25 years is actually quite a long time, but the gist is this: things will always be okay. Yes, I have had my heartbroken, but it’s fixed now. Of course, I have failed at things, but I’ve succeeded in so many others. And, much like you, I cut my own hair once. Badly. But it’s grown out now. What I’m trying to say is, despite living with these goddamn freckles and a butt the size of Narnia my entire life, there are plenty of people who would kill to be you or I. So instead of trying to better ourselves each year, why not give ourselves a pat on the back, just for making it this far? Because life isn’t always a lemon sorbet at the seaside, if you know what I mean? And we’re probably doing alright, considering.

Behind a haze of pollution and astonishing drink prices, it’s really rather easy to forget why you’re alive, but when your birthday swings round, and people come together just to celebrate the simple fact that you were born, it all, very suddenly, becomes oh so clear.

Always be thankful for what you have. And I’m not talking about that new camera.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE NOD

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Charles Bukowski once said that, “the problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

Although I might have tried to say it with a little more tact, I wholeheartedly agree: the more knowledge you have, the more aware you are of what could go wrong. However, what I will say, is that knowledge doesn’t even slightly compare with the value of experience; hence why we go to our elders for advice, rather than those our junior.

Experience allows you to know what to expect of each challenge that is to follow. It gives you the benefit of hindsight and practical sense. You begin to realise that the things you panic about are a rarity, and that when they do go wrong, it’s generally no biggie. It’s how you deal with the problems you face- that’s the real test.

Or is it?

Some people find actually saying YES to things in the first place the hardest thing to do. It can vary from changing their coffee order from a cappuccino to a latte, to a drastic career change. It can be taking on more responsibility at work that scares you, or saying YES to a proposal you’ve been waiting five years for. Sometimes, we fear things because they are the unknown, and others because we hold such high expectations for them. Either way, if you want something (and it doesn’t hurt anybody else), then take the leap.

It’s so easy to let time tick by on the mundane clock. Work, home, eat, sleep. But with that, time slips through your fingers like sand, and before you know it, five years have passed you by on the 7.46 to Waterloo.

At work, people used to ask me why I didn’t sit still. They couldn’t understand why I was always busy in the evenings and why I didn’t want to just sink into my duvet on a weeknight. I could never give them a reason, except for “why not?” and I always felt that that wasn’t enough to justify my hectic lifestyle.

Now, with hindsight, I realised that was the perfect answer. I was curious, never complacent and rarely bored. Nowadays, particularly in this cold, February climate, I love getting snuggled up with Netflix and snacks. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but every night? Maybe it has something to do with me being 25 but – seeing as that isn’t even old – I think it’s just because I say no to things more often.

My parents would tell me at this point to shut up. They would say that I’m still always on the move and rarely sit down, but I’ve seen a change in how much I get up to and I need to get my curiosity back.

Going through a break up is prime time for people to say no to things. You feel like you need to spend time alone, but when you challenge yourself to head out with your mates, you know you’ll laugh at least once- and that’s once more than if you sat in bed alone eating too much pizza. Sometimes, when you’re offered an opportunity at work that’s a little out of your comfort zone, you’ll say no for fear of getting it wrong. Did anyone ever shout at you for not knowing your times tables on arrival at nursery? Didn’t think so. Everything is a challenge when it’s new, so embrace it and do your best- that’s all anyone wants. And dating someone new? Totally terrifying. But you aren’t handcuffed to the seat, so make your excuses and leave; this ain’t no fifty shades situation (unless you want it to be).

I want you now to think about all the things you have said YES to in the course of your life – focus only on sober choices please or else it will have been a wasted exercise – and think about how much better you are for seizing all of those opportunities. Some of them might have turned out to be a disaster and others might have been a spectacular success. Either way, you will have learned something.

I used to love exploring the world and now I find it tedious. Even the thought of having to navigate Glastonbury is overshadowing all the fun that I’ll be having at the moment. It’s time to get off my butt and get excited about things again, the way that a child does on Christmas morning. My surroundings haven’t grown tired, they’re still moving and changing all around me, I’m just ignoring them.

So now to top up my Oyster, ask who’s free and say YES to things.

Who needs a holiday?