Iridescence

My name is Emma. I am nineteen years of age, and I have recently moved across England to Cornwall to study English Literature and Geography at University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. I am an aspiring travel writer.

This is the story of my Universe day by day – how I grow up, how I see the world, and how each detail affects me. Maybe I’ll make you smile, maybe I’ll teach you something you never knew – or maybe I’ll teach you something you’ve known all along.

Why we need to focus on environmental issues as well as human issues (hint: they’re related)

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‘It would make my life so much easier if I could say that those animals are thriving in captivity, living happy and enriched lives. Unfortunately, after all the years of experience that I had, I saw the psychological and physical trauma that results from captivity. A massive corporate entity is exploiting the hell out of the whales and the trainers. You are nothing more than a number on a sheet, and if the moment arises, you will be thrown under the bus and even blamed for your own death.’

… ‘It’s shameful that as a species we are so arrogant to believe that we can do whatever we want to any animal.’

                Simon Worrall quoting John Hargrove, Former Trainer Slams SeaWorld for Cruel Treatment of Orcas 

One of the most profound things I took from the Blackfish documentary was the idea that in the future people will look back on parks like SeaWorld as I think many of us now look at ‘old-school’ circuses – generations in the future will look at the crowds of SeaWorld, at the videos of crowds watching trainers die, and they will say ‘How barbaric – how could anyone think that was okay?’. Well the future has to begin at some point, and I for one am taking that stance today. A really great article that raises awareness of an important issue. These animals are so much happier and better in the wild and I can only hope to see one in its natural habitat someday.

If anyone cares in the slightest about dolphins, whales or the fishing industry please watch ‘The Cove’ (accessible from Box of Broadcasts for most University students or Youtube / the internet somewhere if not), ‘The End of the Line’ (same) and ‘Blackfish’ (Netflix) – they’re so important and basically just open your eyes to everything you should know about captivity, vile slaughter and overfishing. I was already pretty interested in this but it’s always horrifically shocking to see how wonderful these animals are and how wrong humans can be sometimes. There’s a lot of bad in the world but the best thing to do is just be aware of it and do your best to change it or at least help to make others aware of it.

World change comes from individual awareness and desire to do good and these documentaries prove that change is possible. No matter how many causes you root for and try to help, they’re all important and this is one that’s overlooked a fair bit. Have space in your mind for an abundance of issues, and rise to the challenge to change them.

A Night of Adventure: The Doorstep Mile

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What’s stopping you?

Within the past week I have come back from where I’ve been studying for around three months in a South Western cornish village university to home life back in a large, busy, brownish-grey South Eastern town. On Tuesday I went back to London and it was pretty disorienting. The tubes were packed, the museums were mostly empty and the streets were rainy and push-and-shove as always and you know what? I loved it. I love all of it. I love the hot air that circulates on tube lines even though it disturbs me more than a bit, I love spending hours reading the museum signs and pretending I work there, I love the feel of dashing through double doors before they slam shut and I love the count-downs on road crossings.

This city is another adventure for me – I’ve had a fair few but I want so much more.

That’s why I went to A Night of Adventure. This is a great annual event that’s been running for 5 years now. It was set up by a few ‘normal’ people and given first to a ‘rowdy’ South London pub to try to rouse wanderlust. Now it’s pretty huge, and this year worked with various companies including Wanderlust and Adventure Travel Film Festival. The charity underlying this event is the Hope and Homes For Children, and money raised funds their campaign to replace orphanages and institutes with more personal and caring family-oriented homes for children and help to get orphaned young adults started.

You should go. Even if you’re like Bilbo Baggins in his Hobbit-hole grumbling ‘No, no adventures today Gandalf’, you’ll find your rainboots and sense of adventure. Just like Bilbo you’ll come back and write all about it, tap into your memories and think how wonderful it all was, really. Bilbo Baggins was basically a travel writer is what I’m saying here.

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TIPS FOR ASPIRING TRAVEL WRITERS

This is a shot in the dark, perhaps. Does anybody have any tips for aspiring travel writers? I’ve seen some lovely blogs and I would just like to gather some opinions on how to make travel writing innovative and ‘personalised’. I like the idea of really capturing the essence of a place and infusing writing about ‘normal’ places with a sense of discovery and adventure – how would you say this is achieved?

Comment below, even if you’re not a travel writer and you just have ideas!

Thank you!

A Brief Climb

The revolver clicks; turns once more and fires the only bullet.
I wait, expecting my mind to explode and something to end but it just
keeps
turning.

I’m falling down a yellow slide. I am five years old.
It would be fun to try to run down it instead but I fall
jump
grab hold of the arm of a tree above me
The wood cracks, the branch snaps and I fall further than I would have before I jumped.

I am eight years old. I slip on skates, hit ice harder than concrete and my arm snaps in two.

Breath in, feel the cogs come loose.
Breath out, surge forward
keep spinning.
Scream.

‘We will start our descent shortly after a brief climb. Please return to your seats.’

(I’m not usually morbid. I don’t know what happened. I’m studying Keats in English Lit at the moment and my lecturers become very morbid. I blame them. But I’m perfectly happy and content so it’s all good!)

To be or not to be, to do or not to do?

TheUniverseAndEmma:

A really great piece on the need for interacting with the world, and bringing harmony to the outer as well as the inner.

Originally posted on the naked human:

This is a post about how to live.

The ancient oracle at Delphi advised those who entered to “Know Thyself”, and this is the aim of Yoga, which is all I know anything about and the basis of my blogging.

Yoga brings us to understanding of ourselves as consciousness, understanding of life as consciousness. Consciousness is life, everything in life is basically an event in consciousness (This subject is dealt with at great length in Robert Lanza’s book “Biocentrism“). Essentially consciousness is the unchanging state from which all change is known. It/Us in essence does not change, and must be differentiated from all that does change, including Mind. You are not your mind, not your thoughts/emotions/experiences, you are that which thinks/feels/experiences. This has to be understood clearly, and that is the task of yoga. This is what it means “Know Thyself” , it is the distinction between being and…

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Getting through the Darker Days with S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

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Around September time, SAD usually begins to take its toll on me. I don’t know why, but it happens. I don’t actually know how long it’s been going on for and I haven’t seen anybody about it (yet) because I am stubborn, basically, and when the dark moments come I feel like I know how to deal with it eventually, even if it takes a day or two. I am very lucky and very grateful that I am able to feel the impacts as mildly as I do, and that I am able to help these as easy as I do.

However, I started University in September this year, and with that came a move to Cornwall in the most westerly part of the South West of England (I’m from the most easterly part of the South East) and I thought it would be best to start really tackling this issue actively, as it’s become a lot more noticeable. The best way to do that for me, I figure, is to talk about it. Plain and simple.

Part of feeling down a lot may be due to stress, maybe due to isolation, maybe it’s just the weather. I have my boyfriend of almost 2 years with me and my flatmates are all lovely and really supportive, kind, great people and I try to keep in contact with my friends and family who are as lovely and kind but I live in my own room now and my own space feels great but very daunting sometimes. I am also an empath – a quality that I don’t particularly understand very well, but other people’s emotions tend to sort of ‘leak’ into my own and I almost always forget to put up a wall to that because feeling is one of the things I cherish most about humans.

Anyway, whatever it is it’s a real nuisance and I just want to get on with life and with University how I intended to; with a quadruple whammy of kickass, ambition, motivation and happiness.

Everybody has dark days and so many people experience stress, grief, anxiety or even depression at one time or another in their lives. I really do genuinely care about people’s states of mind because it’s one of the most important things to nurture properly, and appropriately. I believe that one of the kindest things a friend or anyone can do is to try to help someone in any way you can when they’re clearly reaching out to you. Sometimes it may be someone you love, someone you would have never expected because they seem like the happiest person in the world, someone you dislike, someone you don’t even know. Anybody deserves this attention. Just listening to them, offering them a shoulder to cry on, helping to sort through their anxieties, just sitting with them can help. I value times where I can help people, and as somebody who often reaches out to people for help with my own mindset, I can say that it really does help, and it’s one the most appreciated thing when somebody is feeling low.

Take today, for example. I had a stress dream about my food all being mouldy, woken up at 1am, had been unable to sleep for another hour and a half, woken up feeling sick to my stomach and exhausted, realised I had nothing for breakfast, ate soggy toast, had to be in a lecture for 9am to write an essay in 50 minutes, had coffee (big mistake) went to a workshop on archives that I spent most of feeling irritable, exhausted, dizzy and miserable, and then went to sort out my modules for next term. All before 13:45pm. My morning was sort of stressful (obviously I appreciate that this will seem like nothing to others, but those people deserve a thousand gold stars and chocolatey treats) and I was feeling very under the weather.

I went to go collect my post last, and had a random rectangular package that said ‘M&S’ on it. I thought it was a job application form I’d applied for and forgotten about, but it was actually a card from my family with 2 of the bigger bars of Galaxy in it. I actually cried of happiness on the way back to my flat because I just felt so blessed to have that sort of support in my life. I really liked the pure gratitude I experienced in that one moment from somebody comforting me. Chocolate and love. That is what I craved, and it was like my family just knew. I am so lucky to have people around me that care about me and that I feel like I can reach out to.

Reaching out to people really does help, and I promise you there are people out there who love you and want to help you – the first step is just to get out of your room, or get off your computer or gameboy (whatever the latest thing is these days, but gameboys are way cooler) and just go seek help at feeling better in any way you can. I promise you that people out there want to help because I want to help. There’s no greater feeling than helping somebody feeling better and seeing the improvement in their mindset, even if it just lasts a little while – that improvement FEELS noticeable, and it can always be done again. Reach out for opportunities to engage with people who will have a positive impact on your mindset, and I promise you it will be rewarded.

I tend to get a little hysterical with my emotions at this time of the year – my anxieties and insecurities flare about the smallest things, and I find myself getting irritable, restless, paranoid, emotional, and just generally feel slightly to very crappy. Personally, I do not ever get to a stage where I have remotely suicidal or self-destructive feelings, but if you do please do not be afraid and please try not to feel you are facing your feelings alone because you are not. Ever. I would suggest talking to somebody (please just anybody you want to that you feel will help because they will) or call:

Bipolar UK: phone: 020 7931 6480 / website:  www.bipolaruk.org.uk

Depression Alliance: phone: 0845 123 232 / email: information@depressionalliance.org  / website: www.depressionalliance.org

Get Connected: phone: 0808 808 4994 / website: www.getconnected.org.uk

SAD Association: website:  www.sada.org.uk

Mood Swings: Phone: 0161 832 3736 / website: www.moodswings.org.uk

These people genuinely help and if you’re feeling that low it is really worth giving them a call or even just assuring yourself that there are people out there that want to help you. Not just anybody: you. You call them, you will matter to them – assured. Even if it’s just to get more information or to try to understand how to go in a positive direction from the point you’re at.

The most important thing to remember to get through the darker days is that there ARE lighter days, there are lovely places, lovely feelings, lovely things to do and there are lovely people everywhere that care about you – whether they know it or not they do. You matter, you have potential and you can do this. Kickass every day because days deserve to have their asses kicked. Royally. It does get better and you can pull through – I address short term sadness and low points in my video ‘One of Those Days’ (here) and I hope it will make you feel good if you feel bad, because sometimes it really helps me : )

Here’s some things I do to help any negative feelings whatsoever:

  • Paint
  • Draw
  • Exercise (Jillian Michaels’ videos are great. The 20 minute things are especially good because they leave you enough of your day to go be motivated)
  • Go see friends / talk to friends / facetime or talk to family members / reach out online
  • Eat chocolate (oldest trick in the book, and J.K Rowling knows it – she revealed that in Harry Potter, Dementors are actually inspired by her experience of depression / people with depression, and chocolate, as Lupin portrays, was her favourite way of dealing with the negativity)
  • Sleep. Sometimes (more often than not) it’s sleep deprivation that keeps the cycle of badness going. Insomniacs: get yourself to the GP to seek help because sleep is important (camomile tea or reading a (boring, if it helps) book helps me fall asleep)
  • Inspirational quotes / Rhonda Byrne ‘The Secret: Daily Teachings‘ – it’s like one of those fancy rip-the-previous-day-off square block calendar of motivational quotes and it’s so awesomely helpful at the start/middle/end of the day.
  • Retail therapy. I’m a sucker for cute 99p rings with free postage on Ebay… Sometimes it’s just nice to expect post.

I hope you feel lovely, and if not – and if you experience any particularly bad/recurrently negative feelings –  then I hope you feel lovely soon and that you have somebody to speak to. If not then I am here (I genuinely just love people and will talk about anything) or the numbers/websites/emails above I stated are there and just try to feel as good as you possibly can and just cosy yourself up in your favourite ways.

‘With SAD it really is like the weather. You can’t just tell it to be sunny… It will get better in its own time. So what you can do is give someone an umbrella and a warm drink and gloves and that’s how you combat bad weather. With warm drinks and laughs and distractions is how you combat seasonal depression.’

– Accurate description of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and some of the loveliest cures offered by lovely people:  Joel Crofts, 2014.

Sexual objectification, equality and ‘normality’

I feel the ‘moral’ pornographer would ask why, in the modern day, pornography cannot be appreciated like nudity in art, why a sculpture should be more appreciated than watching real bodies act in a ‘natural’ way. Why getting enjoyment from watching modern porn is any less worthwhile than appreciating static art.

Well, why can’t we use modern technology to enhance the appreciation of the naked, the natural, the ‘exposed’? I believe the answer to be this:

In the modern day we have a warped society, where the music industry is generating sex icons, where porn addicts are becoming isolated from any concept of a ‘real’ relationship due to their virtual obsession, where the body and its functions are exploited by pleasure-seekers, and this has become easily available – no longer shunned, hidden and kept behind the bars of society.

HURRAH! The body is free to express itself! It’s no longer hidden and given the label ‘private’! EMPOWERMENT!

Except… no.

In the same society, the body’s image is becoming less and less realistic. The subjects of porn videos, for example, are most commonly ‘shaved’ as this is seen as more respectable, and to be ‘unshaved’ is a quality that seems rare, is pointed out in the titles as ‘UNSHAVED WHORE GETTING LAID’, as out of the ordinary in representations of the human body in front of a sexual partner. Society has come to a point where the body is shunned for having qualities that ALL humans naturally grow to gain, unless there’s some sort of pubic-hair growing disorder. Come to think of it, those people would probably be considered ‘lucky’ in today’s society. Gone are the days where puberty is celebrated. Obviously we’re all meant to be craving the baldness of a baby, which is strange, don’t you think? (Nod because it is. Hair grows, blood flows. Nature. Deal with it).

Airbrushing and photo-shopping furthers this ‘iconic’ image of the body. Okay, Henry VIII (and probably MOST subjects of historical art when Instagram filters weren’t available to cover up their inhibitions) may have told his portrait artist guy to, you know, big him up a little, but he meant getting rid of his chins (this was ignored in most cases) and ignoring the odd blemish because he thought that was the more ‘attractive’ him. Poor Henry.

It seems these inhibitions have been noticed more and more and collected into a list so they can become more of a problem one by one.

Nowadays celebrities are REQUIRED to be tall, have perfect round breasts practically anorexic, be on some sort of personal diet and training regime, have four stone cut off by photoshop and their blemishes and pale skin covered by artificial toning and airbrushing after the photo has been taken.

What is the point in all this effort? Why send out these messages that THAT is what is required to be accepted as ‘good looking’? Why paste that over the minds of society and claim that type of body to be humanity’s goal? Why refuse to show plus-sized mannequins because that’s ‘unrealistic’? Why, when a celebrity requires little editing after a photoshoot, is this marvelled at and celebrated? Why not just accept that being a size 12, a size 14, 18 and not having a six-pack and a penis the length of an extremely expensive and large champagne bottle is most definitely capable of being perfectly healthy, appreciated and normal? Why label skinny as ‘beauty’, as ‘healthy’, as ‘attractive’?

That’s asking for trouble. Social media has made it more obvious that amongst young people there is a SERIOUS issue with anorexia, drinking problems, drugs, self-harm and depression. All because society has made them think that they are not good enough. That them being normal is not enough. That they MUST conform to be appreciated. Sexual objectification is appreciated. ‘Blurred Lines’ was a hit, and the higher popularity of the explicit version as oppose to the ‘clean’ version of the music video says it’s not JUST the catchy beat behind the rapey words that attracts people to the song.

Objectification is a NOW problem. The red lights are flashing THIS second. The body is exploited as prey to desire, to pleasure-seekers, to fetishising objectifiers who crave to see what their mental image of a body and a person is the instant they crave it. To experience ‘sexy’ if and when they want it.

The music industry has increased this issue, promoting the idea of the body – a complex, wonderful and appreciative work of art – as a gyrating, exposed, warped unreality that is hidden behind sexually objectifying lyrics (as in ‘Blurred Lines’) and the cravings of society to have their desires for exposure and sexual objectification to be met. It’s no longer a case of appreciating the body, the natural and empowerment of these through sexual power. It’s a case of being made a thing to be had, not appreciated. A body to be coveted, not worshipped. A toy to be played with and used, not a human to be learned and wondered at.

The modelling industry creates a similar issue. Young, tall, slim people are worshipped and seen as ‘the best/top model’, and ‘plus-sized models’ given their own category, as if they’re something different, something that cannot be enjoyed or deemed as worthy as what society wants to be natural.

We need to ground ourselves and go look back at old art, to how the body was depicted in historical times when there was no modern technology, when a little ‘flab’ on the stomach and an ‘unflattering’ pose was seen as beautiful just because it was human and worthy of being hand painted.

Today’s society is NOT a development, this is a degradation. This is a degrading of humanity in its lowest form. This is objectification. This is what feminism seeks to put an end to, to change and to put right.

No, I’m not saying that males and females are not more equal in a hundred different ways. Women get to vote, women get paid more, women women women equality yadayadayada. MEN ARE NOT BEING DEGRADED IN THIS. WHAT PART OF THE WORD ‘EQUALITY’ SUGGESTS MEN SHOULD BE ANY LESS THAN THEY ARE NOW? It’s a development. It’s change, it’s realising we are people and we are capable of seeing each other as such, not as dolls to be played with and perfected with each new edition. It’s women realising they can be themselves and men can too. It’s men realising they can be themselves too, and that women can also. We are natural and should be celebrated for acting that way.

So applaud the one who says no to changing, to wearing a T-shirt on the beach because people complain that they can see their size 14 stomach, their saggy breasts, their ‘camel toe’ or their ‘moobs’. Is it normal to objectify people this way, with this sexually degrading language? Is their being REALLY affecting you? You don’t want to look like that? I have news for you; you are NOT that person. You are you, so start minding your own business and being your own person. Who cares what diet celebrities have been on to lose weight? You want that cake? EAT IT. YOU DONT NEED TO BE A SIZE 8 IF YOUR BODY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO. THE CAKE IS GOOD FOR YOU IF YOUR LIFE IS NOT IN ACTUAL DANGER. Will you possibly die if you eat the cake? No? Eat it. Cake. Is. Good. Shun the fool who lives by the motto ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’. Who cares? If your partner cares you went up from a size 10 to a size 12 and tells you you’re a fat-arse, tell them to shove it because your body can be a size 12 if it wants to and is happy. Accept, appreciate and be grateful you HAVE a body. It’s yours, you don’t need to play up to expectation.

Wake up from this hypnosis, this sleepwalk society has put you under. Look around. Is size zero normal? Is pornography ACTUALLY moral? Is rape-culture an issue? Is gyrating the best way to get around?

Here’s the biggest, easiest question, and I’ll give you a hint at the answer: Is feminism important?

Of course it is.