Retail Workers are People Too (a Rant)

And sometimes we have a degree, several qualifications, run a blog, write and do a multitude of other things behind the scenes that you don’t know about.

Working in retail customer service is not always a mindless job, it does not mean we are stupid or that we can’t get a ‘better job’.  A lot of the time, particularly in some of the most mundane retail jobs, people are working their way through university or college – these people may one day be teaching your children, or fighting your battles in a court of law, or even testing your eyesight. Alternatively, sometimes, retail workers think that their customers are the ones that are stupid, because they seriously say and do some truly ridiculous things. While this is true, it goes both ways, people are people and they all deserve respect, regardless of the job they do.

However, every now and again (a few times a day) we do get some seriously crazy, angry, and downright weird people. The angry ones are easy, you just oil up your feathers and let the water run down your back, but some of the others can really leave your head spinning. working in retail requires a delicate mix of particular personality traits if you want to not only survive, but be happy in your place of work. You need to be understanding, be able to listen and be kind – this allows you to give your customers the best service you can give, but you also need to be thick-skinned and not overly sensitive (or at least try your best to shake it off and get on with your day and cry about it all later). Customer service may be about serving the customer, but it does not make us servants, there is a fine line there that needs to be understood.

I think the ones that really boggle my mind are the ones that think they are more important than any other customer you have in your store. They march in thinking that they should be attended to immediately, regardless of whether all your staff are currently helping other customers or not. They seem to think that all the other people who had the good sense to call ahead and book an appointment count for naught, and that they should be ‘squeezed in’ right away. There’s always some kind of excuse too; ‘But I need to get back to work‘, ‘But I need to go and pick up my children‘, ‘But I just have a quick question‘, ‘But I’m here now‘…

That last one always grates on my nerves like a grater against a cold, hard carrot. It’s harsh and idiotic. I find it nothing short of entertaining when they are in a rush and seem to think that that makes them more important than all the others sitting in the waiting room, patiently and pleasantly. The reality is, if you have somewhere else to be or something else to do, call ahead and book and you will be more likely to get a time that suits you, simple as that.

And there’s always at least one who feels the need to make a scene and kick up a stink. They really neglect to understand that being mean and nasty and angry and frustrating doesn’t instil in anyone the desire to help; instead we really just want to slap them in the face and send them on their way and out of the store. We get that they’re frustrated, and we are going to try and help them, we have to, it’s our job; however we are going to be much nicer about it if they are nice to us in turn – simply logic, no? There is no need to yell, no need to stamp feet and no need to swear, at any of us, ever. 

There are always going to be the ones that feel the need to go out of their way to make a note of how angry or upset they are though – and sometimes it doesn’t even have anything to do with us. We once had a lady demand a refund on something she didn’t even buy from us. We’ve had people complain because we didn’t amuse their kids while they were browsing (we are NOT a day care and no, your child is not delightful – but that is a story for another time). When you write a bad review, give negative feedback or contact our head office, that doesn’t make you the bigger person, and you haven’t won, you’ve made yourself look like a whiney fool. We WANT to help you, that’s our job, but sometimes it takes understanding and communication on BOTH sides to find a solution. Please remember this next time you’re upset about something, it isn’t our fault personally, and we will try and empathise with you, understand you and your needs and fix the problem, if we can, but you make it really hard to want to help you when you are being a dick. Honestly.

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And while we are on the topic of temper tantrums, I’d also like to take this moment to apologise for not having any control over the set pricing of our products. I’m sorry that the huge savings you are already getting during our yearly sale aren’t enough for you, and I’m sorry that I can’t just change the rules for you, and discount everything just for you so you can pay the price you want (if we could do that, no one would pay for anything, ever). I wish I could, and maybe while I’m at it I might just rig the lottery and win a ridiculously huge amount of money so I can retire early. Very early. 

You can also take us turning everything off and beginning to close the doors as a sign that we are closing shortly and you should wrap up your browsing and go along on your merry way. We will gladly help you wrap up your shopping or any last enquiries, and we don’t often actually ask people to leave the store; but understand that we have lives and loved ones to get home to as well, we have worked all day and finally reached the moment that our shift is over and because of you we can’t leave. It’s frustrating. We aren’t getting paid anymore and yet we have to hang around and serve you, and while most of the time depending on the customer it isn’t all that bad and doesn’t take that long, sometimes it’s just downright disrespectful and rude, sometimes it really is just taking the piss. If your purchase or question isn’t urgent, surely you can pop back in another time, when we can actually take the time to help and serve you properly. 

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I’m not praising retail staff entirely either – this is not saying that they are the better people or worthy of praise at all. Some retail staff, or any one in customer service for that matter, are lovely people who go above and beyond for their customers, but some of them really are just ungrateful ratbags who shouldn’t be working with other people at all, period. Sometimes they may just be having a bad day, but the true sign of a good customer service representative is the ability to leave all their personal crap at the door, put on a smile and get on with it. Sometimes, though, it’s not just a bad day, I know first hand that there are some truly bad retail workers out there, and I sometime wonder HOW they ever got that job.

Working in retail isn’t always as easy as some people think, dealing with assholes is hard, but those rare customers; the kind, funny, sweet ones, make up for it all. Chill out and enjoy your shopping experience, and remember: a lack of organisation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. People need to remember that those of us that are lucky enough to work in retail are people too, we have feelings and we also have lives we enjoy living outside of the four walls you meet us in, and a little respect and kindness goes a long way in getting someone to help you. Most of us work in retail because we are good at it, we enjoy talking to people and helping people, and most likely have good knowledge about our particular field. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, I just wish that other people could love their life just as much and be happier, healthier people for it, instead of feeling the need to chuck tantrums, yell and degrade those they deem ‘lower’ than themselves, for whatever reason. Remember – treating others how you would like to be treated is all well and good, but treating all people with respect should just be standard. 

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At the end of the day, we all love to shop, and customer service plays a huge part in that. Your customer service experience can make or break your whole shopping experience, or even your day. It takes a particular type of person to be good at customer service, and I agree that not all people who work in that field are the right people, but next time you have an issue with someone, or something, or a product or a store, just remember – the customer service representative you are speaking to is a person too.

You can see more of Norman Fueti’s hilarious and spot on web comic ‘Retail’, HERE.

Images: hereherehere, here

Why Autumn (Fall) is my Favourite Season 

I love Autumn. I love the crispness of it. The humidity of summer is fading away and the air is cool, energetic, buzzing. Sweat doesn’t haunt every crevice of your body, your clothes aren’t damp after a long day at work.

Leaves crunch satisfyingly beneath your boots and you wake up on Sunday mornings to the sound of rain on the window pane, the sweet lull of the pitter-patter creating the perfect rhythm for a sleep in.

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The world changes, sure the weather gets colder, but the atmosphere feels different, the air has a different flow. There is a distinct shift. Autumn brings a translucency that isn’t present in any of the other seasons, the light is heavier, diffused over the landscape, orange and burning. The air is lighter, the denseness of summer faded, breathing comes more easily. There is a crackle about, where the cool, fresh, and invigorating breezes meet the flame of light that perches on the tip of a hill in the afternoon. Autumn is my favourite season because it is electric.

I think one of the main things I truly adore about autumn, is that coolness in the air; that relief from summers hot gaze.autumn outfitYou can wear jeans again, and light jumpers, cardigans, skirts and tights and boots. Beanies won’t cause you to break out in a sweat, and scarves are as functional as they are fashionable. You get to snuggle into blankets, spoon pillows and surrender to the warm and smothering caress of your favourite throw.

No more short shorts, singlets and other horrible, heat-preventing items of clothing that look great on a model, or Taylor Swift, but not on a short, chubby, extremely pale girl with very low self-esteem. I am much more comfortable in jeans, thank you very much, and that’s why I really love Autumn.

Images herehere and here

Ten Awesome Games that Shaped the Gamer I am Today

I love games, I have since I was a little kid and I got my first gameboy for my tenth birthday in 1995, followed by a Nintendo 64 the year after. RPGs were the first games I fell in love with, expansive worlds, heroic characters and cute little sidekicks. I was hopeless at finishing though, if something was too hard back then, I would usually just give up, and sadly left many games unfinished, until I got old and revisited them anyway. I think that is partially why these days I’m such a completionist.

 

After my initial love with consoles, handheld and otherwise, I dabbled in oone gaming for a while, I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t play WoW, but I discovered a few free online games (like Ragnarok Online)and fell in love with being part of something so much bigger than I was. And my love of the world wide gaming community commenced.

These days, I don’t get nearly as much time to play games as I would like, but my love for them is still as strong as ever. I own almost every console on the market (still saving for my PS4) and I still play when I can. For nostalgia’s sake though, here are ten games that have shaped my unconditional love of escaping reality, of visiting fantasy worlds and playing a hero. I love my RPGs, adventure games, games that challenge me and games that are just stunningly beautiful to look at. Here are ten of the games that shaped the awesome love of games I hold today.


1. Pokémon (Game Freak / Nintendo)

bulbasaur-charmander-and-squirtle-27427-1680x1050 (2)Pokémon will forever live in my heart. It was the first game I ever completed to the end, and one of the very first games I received and played on my original Gameboy. (which I still have in working condition with my Elite Four beating team still saved). I always buy the new games on release day and I am still on my quest to Catch ‘Em All. Pokemon started my love of adventure RPG games, and ignited in me my desire to ‘catch ’em all’ – the fire in me that seeks to explore every dungeon, and find every item.  Pokemon for me instilled a love of adventure, of team work and strategy, but also of completion as I still work to fill my ever expanding pokédex.

2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)

IMG_9248As an older gamer, my love of RPGs evolved when I first picked up a n Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind was probably my first, but Skyrim stole my heart. Probably the game that I have dedicated the most play time to (if you don’t combine my Pokemon totals), with over 1200 hours. This game is stunning. It is absorbing. It has the perfect balance of guided quests and free roaming. The open world is seamless and there are so many nooks and crannies and caves to explore that the completionist in me totally lapped this game up. It is simply a joy to play and a perfect escape from reality. But honestly, no description is going to do this game justice.

 

3. Kingdom Hearts (Square Enix)

kingdom_hearts_2_by_pooterkid-d5f5mu7The characters, as well as their immersion into a Disney-based universe simply took my breath away. I will never forget beating Xaldin on my first attempt, and how excited I was about it. Not to mention the epic Sephiroth battle in KH:II. Kingdom Hearts took my heart so violently I have the game’s icon permanently inked on my skin. I suppose Kingdom Hearts and final fantasy kind of fall into the same category of fantasy RPG, but Kingdom Hearts stands alone for two reasons, it’s connection with Disney is magical, seriously, the mash-up is stunning and the uniqueness of the worlds it presents is amazing, plus it tends to drag you back into your childhood and all the fils you watched growing up, but the concept is also unique, the keyblade is a symbol of hope, and these games are all intertwined ever-so-cleverly.

 

4. Mario Kart (Nintendo)

mario-kartWho doesn’t love hurling shells at their friends to blow them up while speeding down a track with a cool theme, avoiding obstacles? Mario Kart can make and break friendships, and I became best friends with my other half while bonding over Mario Kart 7 on DS. I was never very good at racing games, the controls were always so touchy, and I crashed, A LOT. But Mario Kart never seemed to present those problems to me, not anymore than they did anyone else anyway. Mario Kart, I think, taught me about myself in regards to competition, I was never an overly competitive person until I first played Mario Kart on N64. Since then, it has become one of my all-time favourites, and I pull it out whenever I get the chance. In fact, I bought a wii U just to play Mario Kart. (And Zelda of course…)

 

5. Legend of Zelda (Nintendo)

IMG_9246Zelda is one of those games that just absorbs you completely, taking you into a new world entirely. I remember not only playing these games, but reliving them in my mind while I was at school or at work, thinking about them all the time. Once I start playing a Zelda game – it owns me. And this isn’t a bad thing. Zelda games are beautiful, they are engaging and they are FUN. But once again, fantasy, adventure RPG, the difference with Zelda is the many puzzle-soling aspects throughout the game, they are challenging and kept me super engaged with the game, the story and the characters. Zelda games are smart, they are cunning and they kept me so as well.

 

6. Final Fantasy (Square Enix)

IMG_9249The Final Fantasy games must be some of my favourite games to play just for the sheer beauty of the landscapes and environments. Don’t get me wrong, the story lines and characters are equally beautiful and engaging, and most of the FF games are super fun to play. And if none of the above wins your heart, the soundtrack certainly will. It’s the strategy in this series that places this in the category as games that shaped my knowledge of the greater gaming world – until I played a final fantasy, I didn’t really think about strategy, not even when I played Pokémon, which I do now. Final Fantasy taught me that having a good strategy can be the difference between winning and losing.

 

7. Yoshi’s Story (Nintendo)

yoshis storyOne of the first platformers I actually finished, I owe my love of classic and new platformers to this game. Of course I’ve played Mario’s and Sonic’s, but Yoshi was the character I fell in love with, and I share his love of melons too (the fruit, let’s keep it clean). I spent hours of my younger years slaving away, completing chapter after chapter, saving all the Yoshi’s and collecting all the fruit. The OCD in me loved the tidiness of the side scrolling platformer, enjoying the compact selection of world on the screen, just enough to focus on the task at hand. Yoshi also became one of my favourite characters, and is always my go to selection in Mario Kart.

 

8. Tomb Raider (Feral Interactive, Square Enix)

IMG_9251Obviously a winner in my book because it has one of the most kick ass lead ladies in the business. But the thing about Tomb Raider games that sets it apart from any other action-adventure RPG I have played, is the game-play, the timed-jumps, flips, wall-climbs and ledge-crawls that create an amazing sense of tension. Obviously there are other games of this calibre that I could have chosen, such as Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted, but Lara won me over in these games, growing up I didn’t have an awful lot of strong female lead characters in games I was playing, and Lara was, let’s face it, the most kick-ass chick on the gaming market. Lara taught me that you don’t have to be a dude to be a hero, or a survivor, or to kick-ass, and the too young to understand feminist in me strongly appreciated the representation.

9. Portal (Valve)

Portal-2-PC-Game-10Games that challenge me are by far my favourites, and this RPG problem-solver was one of the best. The puzzles in this game could sometimes keep me occupied for days, scratching my head and frustrating myself to no end, but I loved it. This game, as a gamer, taught me patience, something up until this point I didn’t have much of, usually having purchased the user guide to try and finish the games to completion. But with Portal I didn’t want the guidebook, I didn’t want to google it, I didn’t want to cheat, I wanted to find the answers myself and feel the victory when I made it through each test, while GLaDOS (or Wheatley) taunted me. And it was oh-so-satisfying.

10. Crystal Caves (Apogee)

crystalcavesCrystal Caves is old. Like I had to install it with a floppy disk and load it in DOS old. But as old as it is, it is an amazing side-scrolling platformer and one of my all-time favourite games. Plus the ancient sound effects were uber-cool. This game taught me determination: I had no internet, I had no cheat books, It was just me and the game, and my little blaster gun. And it was hard. The graphics were simple, as was the story, but the puzzles were challenging and the gameplay was choppy at best, and even though it took me over a decade to finish this game (I finally downloaded and finished it in 2013), it was a huge part of the games of the 90s that pushed me to fall in love with gaming as a whole when I was just starting out in games. Our childhood memories and the games we still, after all this time, hold the most dear as some of our earliest gaming memories are the ones that make us GAMERS, instead of just people who play games.

I think it’s fair to say, that I am primarily, first and foremost, an RPG girl. I love a good fatasy or adventure RPG, and throw in an open world setting and I’m in heaven (CAN NOT wait for the new Zelda game this year). I love being challenged and I love finding ways to beat the boss battles that don’t necessarily involve me having to level-up or find better weapons. I love using my brain when I play games, but at the same time I enjoy gaming to escape and to be drawn in to an amazing story.

What kind of gamer are you?

 

You can find me on Xbox live as Felix Turtle, and on 3DS as Sami-Lee (friend code: 0877 – 2800 – 5289)

Images via herehere, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

The Girl with All the Gifts, Book Review

Author: M. R. Carey
Hachette UK, 14 Jan 2014 – Fiction – 416 pages

“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.”

Let’s face it, zombies are in right now. No, really, they are all the rage. I even find myself fantasising about how I would go about surviving a zombie apocalypse; what I would hoard, who I would align myself with, where we would secure a safe-house. Twisted I know. But The Walking Dead is one of my favourite Graphic novels and TV series. But this dark and twisted view of death and perhaps, some form of afterlife, are fitting for this book, being that it was born from a short story commission to the tune of an anthology of dark fantasy and horror with the theme of “school days”.

Aside from the overshadowing living dead and apocalyptic themes, it’s been a long time since I read a book I enjoyed as much as this, since I read a book I couldn’t put down and came home to, needing to know what happens. A book as completely engrossing as this one.

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Having said that, not all that much really happens throughout the book, but that is the glory of it. There is so much attention to detail, and none of it is overbearing or too much; none of it boring or arrogant. It doesn’t drag. It’s spot on. The depth of emotions from each character, and the construction of the world around them is spectacular; and yet the language and the story are beautiful and so easy to read. This book tackles the taboo parts of a zombie apocalypse, the questions that we don’t really want to ask while these things that used to be human are stalking us, and we are driven to kill against our will. It questions morals and social structure, it sheds a new light on society and psyche, and explores a different view-point. One that is very, very interesting and perplexingly explored in this novel.

I also really love the way Carey weaves realism into his story, like the links to modern science and the structure and subsequent fallout of the military. But I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, in fact, I don’t want to give away any of it. Every page is truly full of wonderful language, engrossing little pieces of story twinning together to create the overall tapestry of the world it creates, and the wonderful innocence of Melanie. I loved this book.

5stars
5 Stars

For more great reads, checkout the Goodreads list of Adult books of 2014.

Images via here, here

Five Shows to Watch when you’re Dealing with a Break-Up

Breaking up with someone is HARD. It hurts, and it’s messy and it’s never fun.

I know these things because I have had more than my fair share of break-ups. The three big ones were just before I turned 21, when I was 24, (a milder one at 27) and then a pretty devastating one two years ago when I was 28 that saw me leave him in another country (luckily the last one had a happy ending). And of course all the insignificant splits in-between. There were, of course, many coping mechanisms that I learnt over the years, and one of the great ones is the need to vent and mourn and get all the emotions out of the system. And my favourite of these is watching TV shows. Binge watching to be precise.

TV has so much to offer in regard to dredging up emotion, depending on what you need to feel. So, here are my top five TV shows for purging all negative emotions that come with a break-up.

1. Dawson’s Creek

dawsonscreekThis is my number one because it’s the show I can watch a hundred times, without getting sick of it, as annoying as all the characters can be. These are, for me, the TV characters I grew up alongside, and their life lessons were very seriously heeded. The key to Dawson’s being a great break-up show is that it is full of break-ups. It’s full of people being in love, too. And most people think that this is a bad thing when you’re trying to get over someone, however I beg to differ: watching something full of emotion, love, lust, fun and pain brings all your thoughts of the person you’re trying to move on from to the forefront, which, for most people, is something you need to do to get on top of everything, and eventually, move on. This is the show to watch if you need to cry.

2. Sex and the City

sex and the citySex and the City is a brilliant show to marathon while going through the first stages of a break-up, trust me, I’ve done it twice. The amazing thing about this show, is that Carrie is actually giving you advice about your love life, she is literally telling you how to deal with your break-up. It’s genius, and it makes you feel so much better remembering that there are hundreds of thousands of women who have gone through exactly the same thing you are currently going through. Plus it’s nice to see some real, successful women struggling with what you’re struggling with, reminding you that break-ups happen, and being upset about them does not make you weak. This show is a must to get your head into a space where you are prepared and ready to face the break-up head on.

3. Friends

friendsWhen you need to laugh, this is the one. I tend not to trust people who do not love this TV show. This is truly a classic, and most importantly, it’s funny, and laughing really is a great medicine, so do it, and often. Watching this show is also really good at making you feel a lot less alone, with six characters (perhaps even more) who are very relatable to, and very, very lovable. However, the best way to watch Friends during a painful break-up is with your own friends, and with chocolate (just make sure that it’s over before you go out and meet any new people, and not just on a break).

4. Girls

girlsGirls is just what it sounds like, a TV show about a bunch of girls. Of course, there are boys, and the odd man, but for the most part this show is about girls, and that’s what we need when we are hating on men (not like ‘angry crazy-feminist’ hating, but just ‘I hate you for hurting me’ hating). Our girlfriends, mothers, sisters are who we go to when something like a break-up strikes, but for those times when you do just want to be alone, it’s nice to still have some smart, witty, funny and awkward female company to help you start feeling better about yourself. This is the one to watch to laugh and forget about assholes for a while.

5. Chuck

chuckThis one is in the list as being one of my favourite TV shows, but also as being the show that re-teaches you that hope and determination sometimes pay off. That the happy endings are waiting for us somewhere out there, we just need to be patient. Plus the show is funny, geeky, and has a very absorbing story line. But really, I think the best thing about this show are the great characters, and their complex and almost real-worldly relationships (don’t we all wish we could be spies!). This is a fun show to watch, and it is worth investing in, and it makes your heart sing, and hurt and helps emotions flow. But mostly, Zachary Levi is awesome, and really, really cute.

So next time a guy has you down, when you’re eating way more ice-cream than you know you should, and your chest hurts from gasping for air, and your tear stained face looks like complete crap – flick on netflix or grab a DVD, and force yourself you get all the emotions out, and start to feel a little more free. You will cry, you need to, but you will feel better for it, I promise.

Images via herehere, here, here, here, and here.

Why I Keep Quitting the Gym

So I have done a lot of back and forth between being a gym goer, and not.

Most of the time, I quit the gym because it costs a lot of money. If you can’t find the time (and motivation) to go at least four times a week, then you probably aren’t getting as much value from all that money you’ve invested as you should be. Don’t get me wrong, the gym can be great. The gym that I was a member of had great, new equipment, a large variety of classes and a pool; so really, value for money was there to be had, if only one had the time and motivation to take it. I also liked going with my friends, but of course, it was hard to find the time, the classes are great, but when you work retail hours, late nights and weekends, it’s hard to find time to fit in a scheduled class, or to drag oneself out  of bed to be at class for a 6am start. run-inspiration-4But the main reason I find the gym somewhat offensive, is that it is demotivating. I find myself constantly comparing myself; comparing my lack of effort, body image, even the way I use the equipment compared to someone who is obviously super fit. This is toxic – we should NOT be comparing ourselves, or making ourselves feel worse. We need to LOVE our body, because if we don’t, we won’t get anywhere. So for me, this time – this is why I quit the gym. To stop the comparisons.

We all have busy schedules, we all manage to find excuses, but we all know (however deep down it may be), that we really should be active in some way or another. Personally, I find it easier, and less stressful to work out on my own, or with a friend, at home or at my local park, or even just around my local streets. I have only just recently decided to once again quit the gym, and go back to working out at home, mainly because I have stopped making progress and lost my motivation, I need to start working for myself again, and not for other people, and not in comparison. workoutequipmentSo I went out to my local rebel sport store and picked myself up some more gear to get myself motivated and FIT. I picked up a 5kg medicine ball, and a 6kg kettle bell. This adds to a skipping rope (jump-rope), yoga mat, 2 x 2kg dumbbells and 2 x 4kg dumbbells. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough to keep myself active, and help build up strength and get fitter.

fitnessboardThere are so many ways you can work out, at home, without paying crap loads of money. the great thing about buying your own fitness equipment, is that even though it costs a bit upfront, these purchases will pay themselves back quite quickly provided they get used. There are quite a few home workouts, fitness and health tips, recipes and more on my pinterest fitness board. In fact, they are all over the internet, you can find them everywhere. This thing I love the most about doing it yourself is that there is no schedule; you can workout whenever it suits you, and do whatever workout you feel like, the key is just making sure you do something as often as you can.

I tend to workout six times a week, for half an hour or more, and have one rest day. Of course there are always times that I don’t get as many workouts in as I want, when I’m not well, or I’m having a bad week. Of course, I will still, every now and again, make excuses, want to stay in bed, or just not feel like working out. I think on these days, it is most important to try and make yourself workout, it feels so much more rewarding. However, it shouldn’t feel like a chore, if you’re not enjoying your workouts, then it will be harder and harder to lose weight or get fit.

yogabunnyPicking activities that you enjoy is an absolute must. In my humble opinion, yoga is a must in any workout regime, not only is it really great for strength and flexibility, it is also brilliant for mindfulness. Yoga is also great for relaxation and getting on top of anxiety, which you can read more about here. Tara Stiles has some amazing videos and tips for Strala yoga, of which she is the founder. She has a website and youtube channel and her videos are not only very easy to follow, but they also encourage you to work at your own pace, which is why I think a lot of people tend to shy away from yoga.

I also really enjoy walking (with the occasional jog thrown in), it’s great cardio and just super easy. Get up, get dressed, grab some awesome tunes and just go. I usually walk around my local streets, and am done within an hour. It saves me time and I genuinely enjoy it. My other major activity is interval training, I use my equipment that I mentioned earlier, and I set myself a timer, 40 second intervals with 10 second recovery. I choose four to five exercises and do around three to four rounds. This is a really good way to fit a workout into a busy day. But the best part is being able to do this all in my own time, my own space and I can push myself as hard, or not, as I want. And there is absolutely ZERO judgement. Over the past couple of years, my weight has gone up and down, continually, and I usually find the best results happen when I am working at my own pace. Motivation, self belief and enjoyment are the way forward when it comes to fitness.

And that is why I keep quitting the gym. Now to work on my eating habits…

Magical Forests…

So this evening I stumbled across a post over on Bored Panda, and it contained some of the most stunning images of forests from around the world; honestly some of the most stunning photography I have seen in a while.

These photographs evoke a sense of adventure in me, a desire to be lost, to be alone in a surreal world to find myself. They are truly magical.

The post features gorgeous scenery from places such as Hallerbos, Belguim:
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Peak District, UK:
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And the Misty Forest:
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“Forests have an ancient and mysterious charm that keeps us all coming back, whether we’re photographers looking for the perfect shot or just travelers and weekenders. An expansive, natural and healthy forest is like a cathedral erected to the glory of nature, which is probably why we find these photos to be so stunning.”
Lina D

The photographs were too stunning not to share. This is a list that can be contributed to, so if you have any amazing photographs of forests in your home country, feel free to contribute!
You can see the full article at Bored Panda. .

New Social Media Outlet – Felixturtle.com on Facebook

Hey guys,

I have started up a Facebook page where I will be sharing my posts and other posts that I find interesting and relevant to my blog. Feel free to head on over and give it a like!
https://www.facebook.com/felixturtledotcom

The Ups and Downs and ‘Are you Okays?’ Of Bipolar

Mental illness is not an excuse. It’s not a scapegoat and it’s not a free ride. It’s hard and crushing and difficult, and it can break lives apart. Or you can do your best to live with it and make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt.

I was first diagnosed with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, when I went through a particularly hard break-up during my university years, I was 24 years old. It was scary and difficult and my friends at the time didn’t really understand it. To be honest, people around me now still don’t really understand it. There are only so many times you can answer ‘Are you Okay?’ with ‘There’s nothing wrong’ when people are poking and prodding and not have them believe you because they simply don’t understand.

The thing about bipolar is that there usually is no reason for the down periods. You are not just sad, you are not just having a bad day. You are depressed, and that is not something that you can’t just shake off and get over. It’s not that easy. I can manage my depression, I’m not suicidal, I haven’t taken medication in a few years and that’s something I’m usually quite proud of. But every now and again I have a bad day or a bad week and I’m just down. I’m not bubbly, or happy, or fun; I’m just down, with a side of irritability and anxiousness. Not many people can do anything to make me feel better (there are a small handful who can), and most people just seem to think that asking what is wrong and enticing me to talk is going to help. And to be honest, it doesn’t. It’s just more frustrating.

Most of the time I’m fine. It’s not something that I introduce myself to the world with – ‘Hi I’m Sam and I have Bipolar’. No, that is not a label that I tend to advertise to the world as easily as I do being a geek or a writer.

5bebe4e4a9faf853d301d917772b3f44Bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes extreme mood swings. I can be exceedingly happy and grateful and positive, and then other times you couldn’t get any lower, you just want to close the curtains and curl into a ball and cry, and cry, and cry. If you are genuinely interested in what bipolar is you can find out more at the hundreds of websites that have been set up in support of people with bipolar disorder, but here’s a handy infograph to make it easy.

I’m very lucky that I have a very supportive family, friends and boyfriend. But there are always the odd few who will never understand and make it their business to get all up in your business. Being anxious and over self-aware and judgemental, kinda miserable and very irritable leads to a not very positive response to the constant ‘Are you Okay?’s ‘What’s really wrong’s and persistent ‘Why are you so sad? Just be happy’s. I know most people think they mean well, but these comments are toxic. They drive you to believe that there must be something wrong with you, that you can’t just be you, that there’s a reason, there has to be a reason, and they desperately need to know what that reason is. I can’t tell you how sick I am of making excuses, of coming up with some reason or another as to why I’m not my ‘bubbly self’ this week. The truth is, that that ‘bubbly’ side isn’t really me either, that’s the up that shows such a harsh contrast to my more frequent down.

a93a931f6a60a535d76b44eee2d941e3Having said that, my bipolar is not an excuse either. When I am asked the question ‘What’s wrong’ and the answer is ‘nothing’, that is the truth. When I say it’s my bipolar, that is not an excuse, that is what is actually happening, it’s fact. And it’s not easy, I would LOVE for the answer to be something else, like having a fight with my boyfriend or getting a shitty fine. While shitty things influence my mood in general, I’m not saying they don’t, when it is bipolar, it’s not caused by anything, there is no catalyst. I don’t know what mood I’ll be in when I wake up in the morning, I can’t predict how I’ll feel. I don’t know what’s coming and unpredictability is really scary. People have left me in the past for less than a depressed week, they can’t handle the mood swings, the ups and downs, the snappiness, the unpredictability. This is partially why I had such a deep distrust of men, thinking they were constantly doing wrong by me, not knowing the whole time that I was, and not narcissistically, the problem.

I’ve found a place where, aside from the constant lack of understanding, I am able for the most part to manage my illness, and am actually leading a very normal, and boring, little life. I just wish that other people could leave me alone to do it in peace without needed to know what the catalyst is for every bad day – because sometimes, it’s you.

At the end of the day, it’s frustrating that there is such a lack of understanding and a huge amount of taboo still placed on mental illnesses. So many people don’t understand them, and that lack of understanding affects people with mental illnesses every day. So yeah, it’s nice to care, and it’s nice to have people who care, and asking someone who is sad if they are okay, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But an understanding of what that person is actually dealing with, what they are actually going through, would help them a whole lot more.

You can also read my essay: Stress and its effects as a result of Bipolar Disorder Including Interventions to Treating Stress for more information.

Wild, 2014 Review

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Cheryl Strayed and Nick Hornby
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern

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Every now and again, you see a film that really sinks in, deep down, and resonates with you. A film that pulls on heart strings and causes thoughts to swirl up into a dust storm in your head, fogging your vision. A film that captures you, and encapsulates you, and doesn’t let you go until long after you’ve finished watching it.

This is one of those films, for me.

This movie about a troubled girl who needs to get away from civilisation and heads into the desert and forrest to get away from her past to try and find herself, makes me think a lot about myself, particularly when life gets too hard and I try and retreat. I just wish I’d had a trick like this up my sleeve.
On a true adventure of self discovery, Cheryl Strayed hiked 1100 miles alone, in order to get over the severe hardships her life faced, that earns the woman some serious kudos points as far as I’m concerned. I’m all for camping a few days here and there, but we are talking over 90 days in the wilderness with a small tent, mush and very sore feet.

The film is stunningly shot, depicting gorgeous scenery and vast, yet confining landscapes; the overall tone certainly sits very well with that of the story being told. I have to admit, the imagery alone had me contemplating doing a small stretch of the hike myself. Starting out in the desert, as Cheryl hikes north, the landscape changes and becomes more lush, more mountainous, more inviting. And while very subtle, the camera work and cinematography are both very pleasant to watch.

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Then there’s Reese.
She was fabulous in the role, and it’s no wonder, as Cheryl herself sent a copy of the book to Reese 5 months before it was released, in anticipation that were it ever to be made into a film, Reese, and only Reese, should play her character. The emotion that she injects into Cheryl onscreen is just the right amount, the sex scenes have just the right amount of (tasteful) nudity and awkwardness, the drug scenes the right amount of pain, the aura of giving up and being lost.
The character was not a particularly easy role to play – it was severely emotionally charged, but above and beyond that, it was also very physically demanding. I was really impressed with Withersoon and her representation of the range of emotion and the constant pain, coupled with determination.

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For me, the film just struck a cord. I’ve been there, maybe not to the same extent, I’ve not done drugs, or yet lost someone more important or close to me than a grandparent or boyfriend; but just understanding that desire to wipe the slate clean, to start over and re-discover yourself. Maybe, one day, I’ll have the opportunity to do just that.

If you get an opportunity to see this film, I very highly recommend it. And am also very much looking forward to reading the book as well.
Also, it has foxes.

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