Charity · Uncategorized

Should You Work In The Charity Sector?

I’ve now been working in the charity world for nearly three years in a variety of different roles and levels of fundraising, so it is cautiously but with enthusiasm that I consider myself initiated into the sector. I am by no means an expert, as I am still quite young with lots to learn, but I’ve chosen it as a career, and I’m happy with that.

Having realised my passion for fundraising whilst doing door to door in the months after my graduation, I’ve now worked for four different charities, and am currently at my fifth. What I have learned in these many roles, is that working in a charity, even having a passion for a charity, is something that most people seem to just fall into.

In fact currently, charities are facing a crisis, with regulation changes and the frequent feeling from the general public that organisations aren’t always to be trusted, due to recent negative stories in mainstream media.

My feelings on that aside for now, what struck me most is that nobody plans on working for a charity exactly. However once you are in it, it is a wonderful place to develop skills, use your talents, and most importantly, to make a lasting and positive impact on the world.

With this in mind, I’ve thought to myself often that it would be useful for newbies to learn a little more about fundraising, or indeed the sector as a whole. I wish I’d had someone my own age to talk to and discuss this career path with when I was first starting out. It would have helped me to understand much quicker where it is I fit in, and what challenges I may face.

So, I introduce you a series of blog posts about what I am most passionate about – charity work, fundraising, and philanthropy. This first post, which is probably a little longer than I intended, is simple. Three reasons why you should work in fundraising.

  1. You have always liked to help, you care about a cause and you want to help in any way you can.
  2. You are a story teller who likes to communicate with people, build relationships with them, and inspire them to act.
  3. You are talented at what you do and want to work in a driven, motivating environment that still cares for you and your development.

In the next few weeks I will begin to expand on these three reasons, so to finish off, here’s my last thought. If you want to try out working for a charity, but you aren’t sure if you’d like it, then volunteer or intern first. Charities need all sorts of people and all sorts of talents to keep on running, so if you have a skill, then offer it up. It’s the best way to see if a charity fits you.

Au revoir.

xxx

Books · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

5 Reasons Why NaNoWriMo Is Great For Creativity

Right now, I am supposed to be writing my novel for National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s more frequently referred to, NaNoWriMo.

If you haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo yet, it is the international challenge, every year for the month of November, where participants commit themselves to writing 50,000 words of a novel, without going back to edit anything. No rewrites, no deleting words, just writing. Solidly. For the whole month.

I have only ever reached 40,000 words, and that was last year, when practically all I was doing was writing my squishy butt off. In the mornings, on breaks and lunch at work, in the evenings. I don’t really remember much of November last year, because honestly I was mostly spending it holed up in my room trying to write (and save money for my trip to Australia).

However, I must have done some social things, because if I hadn’t, I would have reached 50,000 words and would have completed NaNoWriMo for the first time ever.

This year I am already severely behind, and it is tempting, as a previous participant who knows the drill, to be upset about this. But this is not a post to lecture you about how important it is to not fall behind. I’m not going to give you tips on how to keep on writing your squishy butt off until you hit that coveted word count.

20161123_133807

This post – which is as much procrastination for me as it is for anyone reading it – is about how NaNoWriMo, even if we don’t win it, is a fantastic thing to do anyway, because it inspires in all who take part the daily need to be creative. How? Well:

  1. The aim of the challenge is to write as many words as possible in quite a small time frame. Now, one could argue that this means writers churn out a lot of crap, and that is often true – apparently publishers will automatically scorn any novel where the writer claims to have written it during NaNoWriMo. However, someone once said that to be great at something, you first have to be good at something, and to be good at something, you first have to be bad at something, and to be bad at something, you need to do the thing in the first place. You could be writing word after word of useless crap, but what you’re doing is practicing a craft. Even if you think it’s rubbish now, at least you are doing something, and working towards eventually writing something amazing.
  2. It gives you the opportunity to explore that idea that you have been thinking about for ages but never had the confidence to start. Nobody is going to read it unless you force them to. The beauty of writing about such an idea for NaNoWriMo is that it’s allowed to be rubbish, because it is merely an exploration of an idea you’ve never written about before. This gives you a fresh start, a fresh perspective, and if it turns out to not be your strongest work, well, you got to give it a go, whereas you might never have done so before.
  3. It makes you competitive, but only with yourself. Throughout the month you are constantly chasing a word count, and trying your best to beat what you did yesterday. A little bit of competitiveness does wonders for creatives, as long as you don’t get too stressed about it. Sometimes, thinking of it as a game can mean your ideas flow even more. Think Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein to be the best horror / sci-fi writer out of her friends. Yeah.
  4. You get to create something every. Single. Day. Do you know how great that is? There’s no actual pressure other than the one you put on yourself. Getting the opportunity – or rather, making the opportunity – to create every day is something that so many successful people do, and it is so so special to have an actual excuse to do that. Writing at work? Who cares, it’s for NaNoWriMo! (Don’t actually write when you should be working though…)
  5. Throughout NaNoWriMo, you are given endless support from all the other people taking part. There’s the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter, there are endless forums and meet ups, and because everybody is in the same boat as you, everyone is happy to swap and change and talk about their stories. It is totally inspiring to hear other people doing something so similar to you, but with completely different results! And it is even more inspiring to get pep-talks and encouragement from some of the best authors out there.

Anyway, I’m done gushing. Probably should get back to writing. Even if I don’t hit the word count, I’m still going to push myself to write a little every day.

Does this count?

I wish it did.

Au revoir

xxx

Uncategorized

Moving To The City

I’ve been MIA for a while. Missing in action in many senses of the words, actually. Some stuff has happened with people who I thought were my friends that has left me questioning who actually cares about my well-being or not. Past emotions have come back to haunt me at the most inconvenient of times and I have struggled to act carefree when all I wanted to do is hole up in my bed and cry my eyes out. It’s hard to explain, when your current relationship is going well, why the tatters of your last one still hurt so much. But I’m honest about it, and that’s all I can do to stay sane, really.

Then there’s the whole thing with losing my job, trying to find another one, going backwards and forwards to endless interviews and internships and volunteer weeks until I thought I was going to go crazy from having no job and no money and no guarantee of anything in the future. It’s hard to write anything when I’m worried about stuff like that. Instead, I spent time with my friends, boyfriend and family, and tried to make the most of the accidental two month summer holiday.

ANYWAY, it’s okay, because I’m back, and I’m doing better than I’ve been doing for a long time, because finally, FINALLY, I’ve made it.
I’m living in London.
I’m living with two awesome people in a lovely flat.
I have a full time job at a larger men’s health charity.
I’ve had a rise in pay AND in responsibility.
There’s way more room for career progression and the chance to actually study fundraising.
My commute to work is only 20 minutes long.
And my relationship is still happy, fun and beautiful.

I want to say that the past year has been good. I suppose looking at it from the outside, it really has. But life doesn’t work like that, emotions don’t work like that. Things can appear to be going really well but that doesn’t stop feeling like your an impostor.

I’m trying really hard, from now on, to feel like I’ve earned my very lucky position in life.

Oh also, I saw the Cursed Child. It was pretty cool.

This is just a little update, I will hopefully be blogging once a week, every Tuesday. Yep, I’m setting myself a new schedule.

Good luck me.

Au revoir.
xxx

Travel · Uncategorized

Paris: Sassy Lady Friendship Time

One of my best friends Amy just came back from living in Paris for four months as part of her Master’s degree, so just before she came back, I flew out to stay with her for a few days. This was part of one of my New Year’s resolutions to visit at least two different countries this year, a resolution which is now complete thanks to going to Ireland and Paris. I’ve been to Paris before, but it was several years ago on a school trip, and we spent the majority of the time in museums or at Disneyland. It was nice to go back as an adult and soak up some of the Parisian culture in such a relaxed way, and we did a few amazing things that have been on my bucket list for a while.

I decided to fly in rather than get the Eurostar because booking the Eurostar at the time I went was expensive and would have ended up more than the flight anyway if I included the cost of the train from where I live into London. I love airports and I like flying alone, and as the flight was only an hour it gave me some time to just relax, listen to music, and not worry about work or anyone else for once! Landing in Paris, it was raining (typical) but my out-of-practice French helped me to identify which bus I needed, and I bought a ticket at the machine. The bus and metro tickets are so tiny!

I arrived in the evening, so Amy and I didn’t do much, just caught up with some wine (of course) and hid from the rain with her lovely Parisian flat mates. We started our adventures the next day by going to the amazing book shop Shakespeare and Company, exploring its beautiful interior and having coffee in its cute little café.

13007367_10207790300228962_7385872996277420645_n

Then we went over the river to go to Notre Dame. I’d forgotten just how beautiful Notre Dame is. All the churches and cathedrals in Paris are stunning, and Notre Dame’s stained glass is so perfect, I could have stayed staring at it forever. But Amy and I had bigger things planned.

13001330_10207790310269213_6761179735697438660_n

12512233_10207790301949005_233387958677508793_n

If you are between the ages of 18 and 25 and are a European Citizen, then a lot of the historical landmarks and tourist attractions in Paris are free to you. You don’t have to pay the extortionate prices, you just have to queue and wait. Once Amy had told me this, it seemed obvious that we would do something I have always wanted to do, which is to go and see the actual bells and climb right to the top of Notre Dame! It’s not the highest point in Paris but it is still just as beautiful and you get panoramic views right the way around. We were lucky enough to go up whilst it was cloudy in the sky but clear below, and it was cool enough that climbing all those stairs (seriously, there’s a lot) didn’t heat us up too much.12938220_10207790305589096_5137912144553543711_n

We also went to Saint Chapelle, which has even more gorgeous and older stain glass windows, only just around the corner from Notre Dame. It is beautiful, although nothing compares to the Notre Dame gargoyles and grotesques.

For dinner we went to Hank, which is a vegan burger joint. Amy has been vegan for quite a while now, so I ate the same as her on my visit, as I have been trying to cut back on my animal product intake anyway. Hank’s burgers are quite possibly the best burgers I have ever tasted. They are so saucy and delicious with intense, interesting flavors, and yet the texture is perfect, not trying to be meat, but still feeling that burger craving hole. I wish Hank was in the UK.

On the Friday, we went to the catacombs. Before I went to Paris, I looked up interesting things to do, as I wasn’t keen on going to every single art gallery or tourist place, but the catacombs came up in my research and I thought that Amy, as a history nerd, would really enjoy them (luckily she hadn’t got round to doing it yet). We queued for ages in the cold, but once we got in, seeing the necropolis that lives under the city was amazing, and a little bit creepy. My main concern is, whose job was it to stack all those skulls up like that?! Worst job ever.

13006537_10207790313909304_284421026708618121_n

In the evening, Amy and her course mates had an end-of-year celebration planned, and were kind enough to invite me along. Along with a couple of their course leaders, they had organized a dinner trip on a boat down the Seine. I’d been along the Seine last time I visited Paris, but this entire boat trip was amazing. Canapés and champagne on arrival, and a three course meal that made me never want to stop eating, all with relaxing music, awesome French waiters, and French wine bought for us by the course leader. It was such a warm evening that we could go out on deck and not feel like we were being swept away, and we went right past the Eiffel Tower as it started to sparkle. It was beautiful and I think it made everyone on the course grateful that they were living in Paris even more than they already were.

13006720_10207790324629572_1497049544977922265_n12512248_10207790373870803_4778986221865505996_n

The next morning, after adjusting to dry land once more, Amy decided she needed to do some studying (fair enough), so one of her flat mates, who is American, took me for a walk along to the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. Montmartre was one of the places I have been dying to revisit for years and years. It is so fascinating and busy and just makes me think of Paris bohemia and freedom. Sacre Coeur, too, is my favorite religious site that I have ever been to. That ceiling?! So worth it. Even if you aren’t allowed to take pictures, which hurts my little social-media soul.

After we wondered around the Sacre Coeur, discussing religion (sorry Coco, probably quite a heavy topic!), we went for crepes in Montmartre. I had mine stuffed full of Nutella and bananas, because why would you not? Crepes are the food of the gods. Also, it meant that the artists stopped coming up asking to draw us, when we had mouths full of crepe and chocolate around our faces.

12718203_10207790331669748_6104810234337580938_n

We also walked back down the hill to get the metro from the stop near the Moulin Rouge, just so I could see it. We were hoping to find Van Gogh’s house, but got distracted by the adorable Parisian flats, so seeing the Moulin Rouge was good enough!

13012617_10207790332309764_5146650239878866213_n

Saturday was definitely a treat day, because I also tried tofu for the first time with Amy for dinner in the evening (kind of bland but delicious when she cooked it), and we also took a trip to a vegan bakery that she loves called Vegan Follies, and we bought all of the cake ever. We had vegan brownie and vegan cheese cake, which honestly, although the texture is weird, tastes like sugary, cakey goodness. No wonder she is so good at being vegan in Paris when she has all these options!

Sunday was my last day with Amy, my flight home being in the evening, and so we got up early specifically so we could go to the Palace of Versailles. I have never been anywhere so beautifully indulgent and rich in my life. It’s like a frosted wedding cake, only instead of sugar, its iced in gold, and instead of filling, it’s got paintings and statues and endless perfect gardens. We didn’t pay to go into the gardens, as we were running low on time (and funds), but the inside of the palace was worth the trip out of Paris, worth even my flight over in the first place. Seeing that much grandeur makes you realise just how rich the French royal family were. And how talented artists and architects were.

12932912_10207790362030507_4223343635948448104_n12974510_10207790358750425_6959851837239079739_n

It was the perfect end to my trip, and I got back on the plane feeling content with life. Seeing Amy after so many months was good for our friendship and also made me miss living with her!

Now she’s off to Glasgow, so maybe I should use that as an excuse to visit Scotland!!

Au revoir.
xxx

Health and Fitness · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Deal With It

I took an accidental month long break from writing blogs because of several reasons. Reason number one was that I spent some time in Paris with my lovely friend Amy, which I will blog about soon. Reason number two is that I’ve been quite busy at work and in my social life that I just haven’t had the time.

And reason number three is that I was told last week that the charity I work for cannot afford to keep me past June, and that basically I need to find a new job by that point, which probably won’t be in my home town, where I live currently. I guess you could say I’ve been panicking, and writing a blog has been the least of my worries.

It’s not really fixed, as I haven’t found a replacement job yet, but I’ve come to terms with it, and the way I’ve found helps me deal with it is by continuing doing all the things I usually do when I’m not working, which includes this blog. I enjoy creating little snippets of my life, whether it’s about what I’m reading or where I’ve been. I think it should also be about how I’m feeling too.

I’ve called this post ‘Deal With It’ because that’s exactly what I intend to do. As a child I never recognized in myself what I would definitely now call anxiety. Afraid to put my hand up in class, afraid to answer the register, worried constantly about what my class mates and my teacher thought of me. It is only as several of my friends have been diagnosed, and told me how they felt, and through research of my own, that I see I had that, a lot, and that it effects me still now. The only difference is that now, I know what makes me anxious, and I deal with it as it comes.

Public transport going wrong, or getting lost, or making a mistake in my car makes me anxious. Being excluded from events makes me anxious. Being included in events where I don’t know anyone makes me anxious. Not having a hair brush on me at all times makes me anxious.Hot crowds of strangers, arriving at places late or alone, asking for something to be changed or improved at restaurants or returning something at shops, all these things make me feel sick and panicked and make my hands shake, my chest and face go red, and my speech go. Because of this, public speaking is nearly impossible to me. Which is rubbish, because I really, really wish I could be better at it.

But I know all this now, I recognize when it’s happening, and most of the time I can even calm myself before it does happen, and deal with it like a normal human being. All of these things I feel anxiety about, and quash it before anybody else notices. And then I fix it, and move on.

I think that this has meant that the things I should be panicked about, I don’t worry about half so much. Which is good and bad in equal measures. But I’d rather not be panicked enough then panic too much. Feeling anxious to me is the worst feeling in the world. I know it is to a lot of people, too. For me, I always feel ridiculous when I do stupid things like cry over missing my train, or begging my friends to bring a hair brush to things just in case I accidentally lose mine. Everyone feels anxious for different reasons. But it’s hard to realise that when you become so wrapped up in your own anxieties.

Anyway, I’ve learned to deal with it, and I’m dealing with not having a job lined up at the moment, even though it is stressful and sad and quite frankly, annoying. Everybody struggles at some point in my life.

It’s just taking all of my sensibility to hold me back and not just run off and live in Australia.

Au revoir.
xxx

Books

What I’m Reading: The Vagina Monologues By Eve Ensler

The second book to read for the Banging Book Club was The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. As an English graduate I had heard of this collection of performance monologues before, but until I read the introduction I didn’t know that Eve Ensler interviewed so many women about their vaginas, or even what kind of stories about vaginas were included. Although short – it took me like a day to finish – it covers a lot of topics and, at times, can be quite difficult to read. Personally, I find it difficult to read about abortions and violence towards the vagina, like FGM, and some violence and blood is talked about in detail. However I powered through, because I know that it is important to talk about these issues.

My initial response was that if I had read this earlier on in my life, then it would be much more useful to me. I only started learning about feminism properly when I was eighteen or nineteen, whilst in my first year of university. This brand of feminism would have been more enlightening at that point, when I wasn’t as aware of my body as I am now. At twenty two, I now feel that although I have a lot more to learn, I am comfortable with my sexuality, with my vagina, and with talking about it. So the lessons in The Vagina Monologues, although important, are ones I have already learnt.

This does not mean it was not worth the read. On the contrary, I think it was amazing to me to learn that there are women out there who have never looked at their vagina, or who never talked about it with another woman before. My group of friends are open about this subject, and so its weird to me to think that there are people in other generations who aren’t. Learning how Ensler coaxed women into talking about it and her methods of dedicating the stories to these women was extremely interesting and, in itself, I found the monologues incredibly powerful.

What impresses me most about The Vagina Monologues is it’s legacy, the impact it has had on feminism across the world and how people still study and perform these monologues. It has effected an entire generation of women and has, almost in itself, changed the way we talk about our vaginas. I think its amazing that Ensler has developed the text to include transgender people and what the vagina means to them. I would love to actually see these monologues performed, now that I have read it, because I would understand better how Ensler meant the stories to be consumed.

Boy, I’ve said vagina a lot in this blog.

I’d love to read more feminist performance literature, recommend some if you know of any.

Au revoir.

Travel

Dublin: Shite In A Swing Swong

The evening before travelling to Ireland together, my friends and I decided to Google some Irish slang to use whilst we were there.

775263_10153485596537921_1383026569988865379_o

Feeling like a shite in a swing swong means, apparently, having a hangover. Despite not actually having too bad a hangover at all over the three days we were there, I feel like this phrase best describes my little mini break in Dublin. Most of our time was spent eating and drinking, after all.

If you’ve never been to Dublin before – which I hadn’t – then think of it as a prettier London, only wetter, with better beer, and more of the Irish accent.

It definitely helps if you like Guinness, too. Because it is literally everywhere. And often cheaper than anything else available to drink. It’s a shame I don’t drink beer at all. I’m much more of a wine or whiskey person.

12733625_10207312186996430_8331193235368888714_n

Visiting the Guinness Storehouse though was a lot of fun. I don’t think I realized quite how much it has shaped Dublin, or even Ireland itself, and how much work goes into the creation, quality and taste of the drink. The Storehouse itself is massive and is part show-and-tell, part museum, part shop and part tasting experience. You learn everything from how Guinness is made to how to correctly drink it and appreciate it’s flavor, and the price of entry I feel is quite fair, especially seeing as you get a pint of Guinness at the end. Even I managed to drink my whole pint whilst we were in the Gravity Bar, which is the glass bar at the top of the Storehouse, boasting a view of the whole of Dublin. Something about relaxing above the city, realizing the work that goes into the drink, makes it much more enjoyable.

12745726_10207312186196410_3614688299795938033_n

Still the only whole pint of it I’ve drank though.

12744174_10207312186356414_57079019022061712_n

We spent a lot of time in Temple Bar, which is a must-visit place, experiencing the live music that you can find (and attempting to find the ‘original’ Temple Bar), but the pub we spent the most time in, and the one we found first, is a little place called The Celt just around the corner from our hotel near O’Connell Street, which felt like the most stereotypically authentic Irish pub in the whole of Dublin. It’s here that we had Traditional Irish Stew with Guinness Bread, which I have the recipe of, and will hopefully be attempting to make soon!

12715211_10207312189476492_3867118496271027532_n

12745619_10207312162635821_956722551770076500_n

Finally, on our last day, my friends allowed me a brief nerdy moment, and came with me to see the Book of Kells, which is a super old religious text, the oldest in Ireland at least, residing in the gorgeous Trinity College, underneath an even more impressive library. After this, we went to St Stephen’s Green, and the boys pretended to be T-Rexes in each others photographs.

12742782_10207312191876552_4031190445568730847_n

There’s no avoiding this, unfortunately.

12744205_10207312197756699_3466412496638265664_n

If I go back to Ireland, I think I’d like to do a driving tour around the more rural parts of Ireland, and have a few more days spent just relaxing, not walking around bars so much. If I was to go back to Dublin, I’d love to see more of the iconic literary places, by doing the Ulysses walk, for example, as I studied Irish literature during my degree and would have loved to see where some of the books I have read were created.

12741932_10207312175796150_8805902062646409977_n

It was so nice to escape to somewhere I’ve never been before with a group of friends who are so easy going and open to doing anything. I can’t wait for more group holidays and mini breaks!

Au revoir.
xxx