2017: the plan.

2016 has been such a whirlwind for me, I have grown and changed and had such a blast, it was difficult at times and I have had some struggles. I still enjoyed my 2016 a lot, watching myself grow and change has been a huge achievement. I go to the gym-regularly- I have two jobs that I enjoy, I’m doing well-ish at university and I have a relationship that is going great.

I am totally and unapologetically happy with myself and where I am in life, I can always improve which will be my aim in 2017. I am planning to make small but important improvements to myself and my life. 2017 will see me turn 21, my baby brother turn 4 and the end of my third year at university and start of my final year- which I do not feel old enough for at all. It will be an important year no matter what happens but I plan on making it more so.

My resolutions are extremely important to me this year as they are all extremely achievable however it just takes some hard work on my end- which could be tough with how lazy I can be! They are as follows

  • Start my driving lessons in February
  • Get a car by September
  • Go to the gym three times a week no matter what
  • Start a saving plan and stick to it (spend less)
  • Take criticism in a more positive way and always try to improve

All of these are important to me due to the negative patterns I’ve found myself stuck in. I plan on becoming a better person this year, learning to drive is for an easier way to get home to see my family, meaning that if I want to see them and I finish work at 10pm then I can drive home to see them easier. I have always wanted a car by the age of 21 and as I am 21 this year I would like to see myself accomplish this goal.

Going to the gym is not to lose weight but more to feel happier in myself and to be healthier, currently I can’t get up more than two flights of stairs without getting slightly out of breath, last year I promised I would love myself more and I definitely have which has been helped a lot by going to the gym. Plus it gives me an outlet for my emotions and so when I am upset I prefer to go to the gym instead of wallowing in my emotions.

Saving has never been a strong point of mine however spending is something I have a real passion for. But that does need to change, I need to start saving my money for better things, like a car or a house in the future, I would also prefer not to live from pay check to pay check and instead have money saved in case of emergency. I would also like to start putting money away for my little brother to have when he’s older as it can help my parents to worry about things less.

Criticism is something I find difficult even if its constructive as I always strive to be the best I can so when I fail after putting my all in, it is difficult for me to accept that. This year I will begin to take criticism as a way to get better instead of a personal attack which will hopefully help me to become a better person.

All of my plans for 2017 are somewhat uninteresting however I do plan on travelling more also if I can find the time or finances, but this year I am focussing on bettering myself and my life for my future.

What are your new years resolutions or plans for the new year?

Missing everything

Being a big sister is one thing I am insanely proud of. My little brother Alistair is my world and everything I do is done for him. However, living away from home, being at university and having two jobs leaves me with little to no time to go home.

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This sadly means that I miss a lot of things I should be there for; first bonfire, first day at nursery, first steps and most recently, first nativity. I work extremely hard to give him the things that I want him to have, however it is heartbreaking to miss experiencing his firsts with him.

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Trying to balance all those stresses of being a big sister has made me so much more grateful for my mum, who balanced all of this whilst being a single mother. I know buying him every toy and all the clothes he could ever possibly need wont replace time spent together and in 2017 spending time with Alistair will be a number one priority.

At only three years old he probably wont remember most of this part of his life, however I will and I want lots of cute memories with him for when he’s older. Plus I do plan on being extremely embarrassing when he does get older and try to impress his friends and girls.

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I am extremely lucky to have him in my life and I would hate him to ever think I took him for granted, plus he is my best little buddy ever so it would be pretty heart breaking if he wasn’t constantly reminded every year he grew up.

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Feminism redefining the F word

From the days of the suffragettes to our modern day feminism of tweets, posts and political talks from the most powerful women in the western world, feminism has changed drastically in its aims, so an obvious question to arrive at would be, what is modern day feminism?

Following a blog post I wrote about Justin Trudeau in which I mentioned his open feminism and 50/50 cabinet being a very swift movement towards feminist goals I received a barrage of abuse after only one sentence highlighted my own personal feminism. To me this proved that feminism has in fact become a dirty word.

As a very passionate feminist, it is extraordinary to watch multiple women reject the call to feminism, due to the political use of the term. The fact that in America, women are openly supporting a man who is set to appear in court over claims of raping a 13-year-old girl astounds me. With his history of sexual abuse towards women being openly documented with his own comments to the media, to women on camera and about women in interviews.

It is not irregular for women to receive rape threats from journalists to athletes to women who have taken men to court on rape allegations, following the pathetic sentencing of Brock Turner it is clear that feminism is very much still needed in modern society. With media outlets calling him a “Stanford Swimmer” rather than the rapist he is, after serving only three months in prison it highlights the problem media have with supporting women publicly. His victim was awarded ‘Woman of the Year’ by Glamour magazine in an attempt to highlight this horrible injustice to not just this woman, but also other women who do not come forward for fear of getting abuse, of their rapists/abusers getting only a summer break length of prison time or getting a not guilty verdict.

The main issue with modern feminism is its lack of leadership; it is easy to find famous feminists, people who have spoken about feminism, however there is no one particular group or leader who is showing the aims of modern day feminism. To add to this there have been break away factions, black feminism, white feminism and to a certain degree misandry (dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men).

Many women have pushed away from the term feminism confusing it for misandry; a number of others feel that women in the west do not have the same issues as those in other countries and choose to ignore this and focus on problems facing them. This came to the forefront recently with the burkini ban in France as Muslim women were forced to undress in public, however to a lot of Muslim women western feminists did little to address the issue.

A main issue for feminists is the control of women’s’ bodies whether it be sexual harassment and the use of clothing choice cited as a reason for rape, or the use of women’s bodies for male approval. The ban on burkini’s highlighted another way in which female bodies were being policed, it did however cause uproar as it was alleged that women wearing burkini’s (which bare a huge resemblance to wet suits) were somehow connected to terrorism.

Malala Yousafzai quickly rose to notoriety within both feminism and the wider society as on her way to school in Pakistan the Taliban shot her simply for being a female going to school. She is now a figurehead for women’s rights and the push for education for women across the world. She has gone on to give talks at the UN, written an autobiography and been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“For Muslim girls and women around the world, however, the story is more than just a tale of survival. In Malala’s frank prose is proof that feminism, or the desire for equality through education and empowerment, is not the terrain of any one culture or faith.” This quote comes from Rafia Zakaria and it highlights the importance of Malala’s imput to feminism in the western world, she is a human reminder that despite feminism being branded as a white western ideology, equal rights is engrained in every woman, no matter her race or religion.

Feminism has always been controversial within society as many claims that it ignores the issues that men also face, however as Chunn et al stated, “it is time, therefore, to restore balance by attending to other casualties of social change (that is, white men) who have been denied or ignored because of the disproportionate attention feminism has demanded and received for “women’s issues.”” Despite this being written in 2007, some nine years ago, this rhetoric is continued throughout media, social media and societal ideologies toward the social movement.

According to the Guardian, the most likely journalists to be abused were women and men of colour, even more so when women wrote in their sports section, despite being the minority in this section of the newspaper, they received more abuse than their male counterparts. To add to this, articles on rape, written by women, attracted huge levels of blocked comments often being the highest every year- as did feminism, which regularly came in third on topic classification.

You can’t argue with the statistics when stating that feminism is good for everyone, “Goldman Sachs calculates that, leaving all other things equal, increasing women’s participation in the labour market to male levels will boost GDP by 21% in Italy, 19% in Spain, 16% in Japan, 9% in America, France and Germany and 8% in Britain.” However, according to news outlet Fox News, feminism is a national security threat.

So despite the facts and statistics, feminism aiming to push equal rights and diminish that of gender roles-on both sides- calling yourself a feminist is still vilified, with only 7% of Britons would call themselves feminist. With a quarter saying the first word they thought of when thinking of feminism was “bitchy,” this is due to media portrayal of the movement and what it is perceived to stand for.

(Late) Back to School Giveaway

The best part of going to university is the stationary shop and being closer to a Nando’s for me. I imagine this is similar for most students across the United Kingdom as it is such a therapeutic experience to get rid of all your old jotters that are filled with (now unnecessary) notes from your previous year at university.

Another thing I love is choosing my diary for the next year too, I love big, bright diaries that pop in your bag and are easy to find. I have decided to pick 5 items that I think are extremely necessary for the next year at university to giveaway; a big bright pink and blue 18 month planner, three jotters with cute messages, a weekly planner set to help plan your life around your university schedule, a set of sticky notes with ‘whatever’ for the annoying flatmates you might have and a set of coloured pens to brighten up your study notes.

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I am also giving away a £30 Nando’s card to another winner to help you enjoy a meal or two on me, which always helps with the money spent too! I love Nando’s and get the same thing every single time but I do find it so addictive and I love that it is still healthy too so you don’t get the guilty feeling after. As a current third year I know how difficult it can be to stay healthy-ish when away from home because it is so much effort to make food for just yourself so it is handy that you can order Nando’s from the app and go pick it up, even better when its free!

If you click here you can head over to the giveaway with plenty of opportunity to enter with this competition. The terms and conditions are as follows;

Entrants must be 16 or over and from the United Kingdom
There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
Closing date for entry will be 21/10/2016. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
Winners will be chosen: at random by myself
The winner will be notified by email within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network or company.

If there are anymore questions feel free to contact me at sophiamiddleton@live.com

Good luck to everyone!

My University Stationary Stash

Going back to university is always a little bittersweet for all the the stationary addicts, the excitement of being able to buy stationary and not feeling guilty about it but the looming fear of essays, exams and lectures begins.

I love stationary and I am constantly thinking of what to add to my little collection, I never have a colour collection in mind, I just love something that stands out and speaks to me. Most of my friends and family know that stationary is my guilty pleasure and as such my birthday presents were mostly stationary giving me a whole new stash of stationary to show off.

1- My AMAZING Wonder Woman mug

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My flatmates and best friends know me too well and know how much I love Wonder Woman and how I don’t have anywhere to put all my new pens and pencils for university. They also know I recently got the new Wonder Woman Funko and as such I received the Funko Wonder Woman mug and I am in love. It now houses all my pens and takes pride of place next to my Funko and book I got from them for christmas.

2- My beautiful Swarovski pens

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For my birthday I got given the rose gold Swarovski pen from my boyfriend (following the list I gave him) since my birthday it has gained me many compliments at university lectures and classes. Not soon after my work colleague and close friend give me the limited edition Elsa Swarovski pen for my birthday which combined my two loves, sparkles and Frozen. Both are my new go-to’s for lectures and studying as I honestly love them so much.

3- My week planner

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This is something I genuinely couldn’t live without now, with two jobs currently and university (and personal time) to juggle, this is my go to book for when anyone asks if I’m available, I also use it to plan out my meals and my work outs. I genuinely am addicted to planning, I love having everything planned out and prepared and so I honestly live off this little booklet.

4- My inspirational quote folders

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These are probably not completely necessary for university but they are so cute and colourful, plus when I cannot be bothered doing university work, it really boosts my morale. I also hate that most university rooms are grey and boring and dull so I try to bring a little colour with me to every class.

Slight self-indulgence here

5- Colouring books and pencils

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This honestly de-stresses me so much, especially because the ones I have I love, the Star Wars and Superhero colouring books honestly let me calm down and just enjoy my own space. This is something that I now prioritise for myself as I can often get very stressed about little things if I don’t get time to myself each week. I love doing creative things to take me away and just let me go to my own little place.

University always gives everyone a reason to shop for stationary whether this is exciting or exhausting for students. I have an addiction to TK Maxx stationary section with Sainsbury’s and Paperchase coming close behind.