Wednesday, 20 June 2018

My Bronze DofE Experience 2018


The 16th and 17th of June 2018 marked the weekend of my final bronze DofE expedition. I've been enrolled in the programme since the Autumn term, so around October/November time, which means that I've got a fair bit of knowledge surrounding the ins and outs of the award, as it's been well over half a year now!

For any of you that may not be aware of what I'm talking about, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is the world's leading youth achievement award, whereby any 14-24 year olds can undertake a few months of volunteering, physical activity and a skill, finishing off with an expedition in a rural area. Bronze is the first level available and then you will later get the opportunity to complete your silver and your gold, should you wish to do so. The teacher who runs it in my school gave an assembly to us new Year 12's back in September and I was 90% set from then on that I wanted to make the most out of this chance I was being offered. Having pretty much completed my bronze award now, except finishing my skills section and my final presentation, which is at the end of July, I thought I'd do this blog post just to talk about the whole experience in general and how I found it! I find that I benefit from reflecting on these sorts of things and some of you may find it useful or interesting too.

Before I had even started the programme, I knew that nobody in my friendship group, bare one girl was at all interested. There were a handful of people that were apparently going to take part and sign up for it, but as with most of these things, they all backed out when it came down to it, which is just typical teenage behaviour for you! That did make me slightly apprehensive, but eventually I did find 3 other people in my year (2 boys and 1 girl), who had signed up to do the award with me! You have to have a minimum of 4 people to each group anyway, so it did work out for the best after all.

In the beginning, we were given a training framework, which essentially highlighted everything that we had to get through from November to July this year. We participated in 2 sessions of first aid training, 2 training walks (it was originally meant to be 3, but one got cancelled due to the snow!), a 2 day, 2 night training camp and the 1 night, 2 day assessed expedition that I've returned from on Sunday evening. In between those practical sessions, we have also had weekly meetings at school on a Friday, ranging from discussions about route planning, navigation, kit packing and the 20 conditions that are set out in the DofE guidelines. I'm 99% sure I have attended every single session that my team have attended, but that just goes to show that dedication and commitment to these kind of things is key.

My volunteering began at the beginning of December and continued until around about the last week of May. I was in a local Marie Curie charity shop with some hard-working, kind-spirited local ladies and I'd go in every Friday for 2 and a half hours on average, which then turned into 1, but which I thoroughly enjoyed none-the-less. I've always wanted to contribute to wider society and make an impact on the lives of other people and this volunteering opportunity enabled me to do just that. My duties would typically include sorting out donations, tagging, labelling and hanging up clothes, organising displays, taking off and rotating stock, doing a bit of tidying here and there and generally trying to make the shop run a bit more smoothly during every afternoon that I went in! I value my time there and would encourage any of you to volunteer in any way that you can. It's such a valuable thing to do.

In addition, I started personal training in March with a lovely lady who offers sessions at the gym next to my Sixth Form. I've always wanted to get in shape and work on my body, as I'm sure most people say on a daily basis, but enrolling in the DofE gave me that extra push and bit of courage to just do it. I only do it on a 1-to-1, which is also something I was dreading prior to giving it a go, but now, I've started seeing her twice a week rather than just the once, because it's a really enjoyable hobby for me and I've seen the wealth of benefits that it's having on my life in just over 3 months!

For my skills section, I chose to learn more about Criminology, as one of the teachers who helps to run the DofE at my school taught it in previous years and offered to provide me with the textbook that I needed and assess me for it if that's what I wanted! It's the section which I chose to last me for 6 months, as I have a mini interview and exam paper on it at the end (we do take these things seriously!) and it's essentially like part of another subject, so time has to be invested in the learning aspect.

I naturally find the practical aspect of things a lot more difficult than the theoretical aspect. I've always been more into my writing and the explanation behind things (hence why I started a blog) rather than actually getting down and dirty, but that's just how I've been brought up. I wanted to get involved with the DofE, because it's something that I could do for myself. I've never done anything like it before and nobody around me really believed that I could do it either. I wanted to push myself physically and emotionally and I wanted to break the boundaries and go out of my comfort zone.

Looking back, it has proven to be a huge challenge for me, but it has also been a huge period of growth for me and a step in the right direction. I went out of my way to organise and stick to each of my different sections, I showed commitment and dedication by turning up to all of the compulsory sessions, I kept going until I reached the finish line and for the most part, I did it with a smile on my face and with a group of people and teachers that I didn't even really know that well.

The whole experience is a complete physical and emotional battle. Throughout it all, I did have moments where I wanted to give up, I did have a few tears on the final, I did have a few minor conflicts with the people I was surrounded by, but I also learnt a lot about myself and who I am as a person. I now know that if ever I want to do something, no matter how extraordinary it is, it's absolutely possible to do so and end with a smile on my face. It is absolutely possible to do things on  your own if you show the right personality traits, such as perseverance, determination and courage. It is absolutely possible to work with people that you wouldn't necessarily choose to be best friends with and it is absolutely possible to have a laugh, even in difficult situations.

Although I wouldn't necessarily go on to do silver or gold, I am very proud of myself for what I have achieved. I may not have necessarily brought much to the group in terms of my navigation, cooking or general survival skills, but I brought my personality, my strong attitude and my strength and I gave it all I physically could right up until the last moment that wiped me out.

Remember, anything is possible and experiences like this will make you realise that more so than ever.

Lots of love always,



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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Being Confident Within Your Own Skin*


Confidence is a tricky thing to master. In fact, do we ever really master it? I've never been one to love myself or feel empowered on a daily basis, but as I've gotten older, I've tried to play around and experiment a little bit more in an attempt to change that. 

The clothes that we wear will often have a huge impact on the way that we feel within our own skin - and sometimes, it has more of an impact than we care to realise. A fun fact for you all is that I actually used to want to be a fashion designer when I was little and I'd spend hours talking to my Grandma about different pairings and different styles, which I had quickly become fascinated by. 

My relationship with my own body has always been a strained one and as I got past the pre-teen stage, I got more into makeup than fashion, because I just felt 'too chubby' and as though I had 'too many curves'. I naturally have chubby thighs, wider hips and quite a full bottom, but the girls around me and women that I'd see in the media seemed to be the opposite of that. I've had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember and I was never one for competing in sports. Dance was more my thing, but that soon came to an end when a bully attempted to tear me apart. 

During that time of the month (ladies, you know what I'm talking about!), it's natural to become bloated and want to devour all the sweet treats in sight. I'm sure a lot of you can relate and then 5 days in, we end up feeling sorry for ourselves and regret all of our choices that lead to this state. 

As someone that has been menstruating since I was 10, I know all too well how much anxiety can arise from the minute you start until the moment you finish. I've gone through phases with my periods, where I haven't been able to walk home from school in the fear that I will leak or that I'll turn anything white a stained shade of red. 

However, this is where I have a tried and tested solution for you! Knixteen have come up with a new style of period-proof underwear, which will ensure that you no longer leak, whether you're partying in public or studying for six hours in school. They are made from super soft LYCRA SPORT fabric and carbon cotton with a seamless design, which contains a thin, built-in panty liner that can absorb 1-3 teaspoons of blood - equal to 2 tampons! In addition, the moisture lock sides will keep your stress at bay in knowing that leaks will no longer be noticeable and the no-stink technology will mean that you can be rest assured, because there won't be any nasty odours coming from your body. 

On their website, there are over 200 different reviews and this product has received an overall rating of 4 and a half out of 5 stars. If that doesn't show how reliable and revolutionary they are, then I don't know what does! They come in this bikini style or a boyshort style, depending on what you feel comfortable with and you can either order one on it's own, or a 2 or 5 pack. 
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Sunday, 3 June 2018

As Busy As A Bee


Lately, I've been going through a pretty weird transition in my life. I feel like I'm properly becoming who I'm supposed to become and I'm getting a better sense of what impact I want to have on the world. It may not seem that big of a deal to some people, considering I still am only 17, but believe me, everything I'm experiencing right now is a big deal to me - and that should be all that matters!

June is set to be a very hectic, but very exciting month for me and that's why I wanted to do this post to let you know what I've been up to during the half of the year just gone and what plans are set in stone for the coming months. There's no time to sit back and relax just yet, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing either!

As I'm sure you're aware by now if you have been reading my blog for a while, I started working for a local McDonalds. My shifts were all over the place at the start, but at the moment, I just work 5 hours after Sixth Form on a Tuesday and then I take on an extra 8 hours or a few more shifts in the school holidays if I am able to do so. The 8 hour ones are always a killer for me, but I get to challenge myself more and earn more money, so how could I possibly complain?! I'm usually placed on the drive-thru, so I just fill up the stock occasionally, make the drinks, make sure the orders are ready and then greet the customer, giving them any straws/napkins/condiments that they require! It can be such a challenge sometimes, but I'm getting more used to it after every shift and with more time and more practise, I'm sure I'll be a whizz on most of the stations (well, here's hoping!).

In addition to that, I'm still studying my first year of A-Levels and believe me, they're proving to be quite the challenge. I have copious amounts of coursework to complete and I'm also currently resiting my Maths GCSE, which is genuinely the bane of my life! I've never really been able to get my head around it, but now I'm completely losing interest. I just have 2 calculator papers to sit and then I'm crossing my fingers and toes that I can wave goodbye to Maths - for good!

On the education front, I'm starting to make post-18 plans for next year, which is super exciting and equally as stressful. I'm 99.9% sure that I want to study social work at a particular university, which I actually visit at the end of this month (!!!), but of course, not everything always goes to plan and I still have everything to sort out and evaluate. As cheesy as it sounds, I do just want a career where I can make a difference to people's lives and I do believe social work would help me to do that. Over the next few months, I'm visiting a number of different unis to help me select my top 5, so I'll keep you updated as the process develops.

Apart that, I don't really have any other plans! I started personal training back in March, as part of my DofE, which I have my final expedition for in a couple of weekends time and I want to try and shift a few more pounds, just for self-satisfaction before my holiday to Nice at the end of July! Although I went to Cornwall last year, I haven't been abroad since 2015, so it's a highly anticipated break away.

I hope you enjoyed reading this little update and I'll be sure to let you know what goes on with everything again soon! If you want to, you can leave a comment letting me know your latest aventures, as I'm always keen to hear from my readers.

Lots of love always,





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Sunday, 27 May 2018

My Signature Scent


Something that I've always been into is body sprays and perfumes. I just can't get enough of them and I'm forever buying more, even though I have at least 50+ already - and that's a slightly worrying thought as I'm only 17 and I probably don't even use half of them!

A year or so ago, my mum treated me to the Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy Eau de Parfum. Considering the fact that it was a present, receiving it obviously came as quite a shock to me at first because I never expected to be lucky enough to receive such a beautiful fragrance that I'd heard so much about over the years! She originally got me a smaller size due to it being the first time of her making this purchase but then once I had completely run out, she managed to get her hands on the 100ml size, which is actually really rare and a nightmare to find in England apparently!

Just from looking at the intricacy of the bottle, you can tell how luxurious and expensive the brand is, let alone this particular perfume. The bottle really is like a statement in itself and nothing compares to having it on your dressing table. It looks really elegant and girlie and I think that it would be perfect for if you were going on a date and you wanted to come across as flirtatious and irresistable! (I totally didn't steal those words off of the Boots website...). I'm terrible at describing scents, but it's said to 'combine delicious wild berries with creamy vanilla and bright jasmine'. Doesn't that just sound like a dream to any lady (or ladies man!) out there? It's very strong, so you only need a few spritzes here and there, but it lingers on my clothes and my skin for hours and it's now pretty much the only fragrance that I'll ever wear out, no matter what the occasion. Don't get me wrong, I do still play around with body sprays, but if I want to make a statement and ensure that everybody smells me, then this is without a doubt the best option.

I think perfume is one of those things that you do want to invest in, because they tend to last longer than most other beauty products and they are something that can make such a noticeable difference without being overpowering. You could say that they are effortless and I absolutely love that!

Now that we have been getting some promising weather (I say that after we had a horrendous storm last night...), I think it would be safe for you to invest in this fragrance for your upcoming holidays/festivals/days out/dates because it will be the best money you have ever spent on a perfume!

Do you own anything from Juicy Couture? Are you going to be making a cheeky purchase now?

Lots of love always,


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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

MHAW 2018: All About Stress


One of the most common emotions that all of us have to deal with throughout our lives is stress. It can be debilitating, exhausting and overwhelming at the best of times, but how we learn to cope is what we should be focusing our attention on.

I have personally always been a very anxious, panic-stricken individual and no matter what happens, I can't ever seem to remain calm for too long. Over the years, I have thankfully improved, but I still have a way to go and many more issues that I need to work on, which is completely understandable.

We all have different experiences of managing with the difficulties that everyday life throws at us and some of us manage better than others. Some people might find mundane tasks too much of a challenge, causing them to enter panic mode, whereas other people might only start having a meltdown when things have continuously been going downhill for a few months. We all have different tolerances and that's just how it is.

I'm currently in Year 12, which is my first year of Sixth Form for anyone who doesn't live in the UK and to be quite honest with you, I am finding it a struggle in regard to the amount of stress that I'm feeling. At the moment, I also work once a week at McDonalds, have coursework and other bits to complete, go to personal training once a week, volunteer at a charity shop once a week, have DofE meetings once a week, have blog posts to work on and schedule and I also have to make sure I relax, spend time on myself and get enough sleep too, so that I can keep going. These past 5 months have been the most productive and rewarding for me, but also the most challenging. When you feel stressed and isolated with all of the demands that your life entails, it can be hard to remain positive and help yourself, because you might think that other people don't understand your situation and they could just assume that you're making a fuss out of nothing.

However, we are now in 2018 and mental health is becoming much less of a taboo topic. We have occasions like Mental Health Awareness Week, so that we can speak up and encourage others to do the same, regardless of whether they are struggling or whether they just want to make a difference to the lives of those who are. Things may have become too much for you, but you don't have to let them take over your life and cause your mental health and wellbeing to get knocked down. There are always answers and solutions to even the stickiest of situations and there is always support available, whether it's professional or non-professional.

I thought it would be a good idea to use my time wisely and share with you all a short list of the tips and the techniques that I use for myself when I'm feeling stressed in the hope that one of them could be beneficial to you too:

MAKE THE MOST OF TIME MANAGEMENT
Something that is so important, but so often overlooked is managing your time and sticking to some sort of schedule, whether it's rough or super specific. I used to be awful at this and I'm still trying to work on it, but things will seem a lot less complicated if you use to-do lists to your advantage and actually focus on tasks one at a time. Keep track of your deadlines and work on whatever is due first. Once that's completed to the best of your ability, put 110% into the next thing on the list. Don't take on too much and if you feel yourself beginning to slip into that bad habit, just remember that your mental health and wellbeing comes first and you will only become unwell if you don't listen to the signals that your mind and your body are giving off when they are too tired. 

TAKE BREAKS AND TAKE THEM OFTEN
Breaks are needed in every aspect of life, but they aren't always implemented into our routine as much as they should be. We need to take breaks in school, at work, from people and above everything else, when we settle down for the night. It links on to the previous point, but overworking yourself is never fun and if you become too ill because of it, then you'll end up in a worse state and you will be completely unproductive anyway. Even if you just take 30 minutes to read a book or 15 to practise your breathing and have a cup of tea, you will be surprised how much it will benefit you. 

DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
Over the years, there has always been an attitude where we should be afraid to open up to others and ask for their help, especially when our mental health and wellbeing is concerned. It's thought that we will be seen as incapable, reliant or foolish, but that is so far from the case. A problem shared truly is a problem halved and people won't ever get anywhere in life if they are too afraid to confide in someone about what's on their mind. When I was going through what I refer to as my 'darkest time', I tried to talk to people about it, but I didn't feel like they understood or could empathise with me. Sometimes that will be the case and it can feel like a kick in the teeth, but it shouldn't put you off. If you are struggling to such an extent, you should keep persisting because even when it feels like 5 people don't get you on a deeper level like you wish for, there will always be someone that does. It may just take you a little longer to find them, but you will eventually if you keep searching and have patience. I have grown up to be an open-minded, straight-forward individual and since entering the latter part of my teens, I'll talk to anyone about anything. You may think that nobody in the world could possibly understand your current concern, but it's most likely more common than you think.

The point of this rambly post is to say that you shouldn't be ashamed if you are finding life tough right now. It is a challenge and nobody ever said it was going to be easy. You are here on this Earth for a reason and every single person has their own path to follow and their own purpose to discover. 
If you have nobody around you that you can talk to, you can always send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. My username is @simplyjadeyx on both of them and I will always aim to answer as soon as I can. Alternatively, you can write in a diary, draw your emotions, connect with song lyrics, get into a sport or a type of reflective dance or you can contact some helpful organisations which can provide you with more information should you need it.

Stress is such a normal thing but it can escalate if it isn't dealt with properly and quickly. If you need to do further research or find support, here are a list of different contact details for you:

Websites
https://www.childline.org.uk/
https://www.samaritans.org/
https://www.mind.org.uk/
https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Numbers
0800 1111
116 123 
0300 123 3393
020 8215 2356

I really hope you can take something away from this post. Just remember, you are not alone.

Lots of love always,




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