31 December 2016

Small great things by Jodi Picoult // review

This book was written by Jodi Picoult, author of 'My Sister's Keeper'. Like 'My Sister's Keeper', this story revolves around a trial which will change the hearts of everyone involved.

The themes of racism, power and privilege are portrayed through the eyes of White Supremacist Turk Bauer, lawyer Kennedy McQuarrie and Ruth Jefferson - African-American labour and delivery nurse at the Yale-New Haven hospital in  Connecticut.

Ruth is ordered to not touch the baby of Turk Bauer and his wife Brittany Bauer due to her skin colour, but is then left to care for the baby alone. She realises that the baby can't breathe and has to make the decision of whether or not she is supposed to help him or not touch him, unsure what she is supposed to do. After teams of nurses and doctors attempt to save the baby, he dies and this leads to a whirlwind of events where Ruth is blamed for the baby's death. Her lawyer, Kennedy, becomes very involved in Ruth's life and begins to see the world around her a little differently.

This book forces readers to confront their prejudice and privilege as Kennedy McQuarrie does as she begins to get more involved with Ruth. We see how skin colour is not seen by those who it does not affect, we see how Ruth is treated differently by ordinary people just because she isn't white, even in this day and age.

There are many twists and shocks throughout the story which keep us readers on the edge of our seat.

4/5 - mostly enjoyed it, really good!

// Jeani

18 December 2016

Being Blonde

Are people judged by how they look?
Have you ever noticed someone's perception of you changing because of a change in style, in makeup, in hair colour?  Undeniably, there have been many movies which have represented a girl with new-found confidence using a big reveal of her new look: suddenly she is sassy, witty and can get any guy she wants due to her eyeliner and straightened hair.  The previous, less confident, less popular version of herself did not wear makeup, wore knee-length skirts and glasses and was obviously a natural brunette - she just wasn't enough.  My point is: people, young girls especially, are heavily stereotyped by how they look and often negatively.  

My mum is a frequent hair changer. Almost monthly, she once again becomes anxious to change it, sometimes due to boredom, sometimes due to uncomfort or many other ridiculous reasons that not even I can comprehend. When I approached her about why she is constantly changing her hair-style she told me "hair is you", that your hair represents your identity, who you are underneath - it needs to be perfect. Evidently, the idea of perfection affects women of all generations as there has always been the idea of a direct connection between looks and personality.

I have been through several different phases of fashion myself: I dressed identically to Taylor Swift for months, I went through a stage when I was 12 of wearing black lipstick, my ever returning Anne Hathaway in Devil wears Prada, and finally the boho style vintage maxi skirts that I fell in love with summer this year.  I can assure you, through every different phase, the brain underneath continued to have the same thoughts and I remained the happy and motivated person that I am.  Now, I am blonde. Some may argue that the colour of someone's hair represents a choice they have made and that that choice correlates with either an aspect of or the entirety of their personality. I disagree. Perhaps, yes, someone made the choice to dye their hair a certain colour to make a statement about their teenage defiance, or bubblegum pink show that they are have fun personality, but you cannot then assume that every person with bubblegum pink hair has a fun personality. It is easy to assume that a colour represents the entire spectrum of someone's personality, but if the above theory of portrayal is true then said person is choosing one aspect of themselves that they want to display, therefore, there is much more to them than meets the eye. I believe we all see each other in black and white as it is very easy to generalise and assume things about a person. We see ourselves in bright, burning, shattering colour because we understand the multitude of things that have scarred our souls and lifted our hearts. We forget that others have these scars and rainbows of colour underneath and try to paint them one colour because it's easier for us to understand that way. 

Are Blondes Ditzy?
So, eventually, we get to the real point of this blog post. Recently, I redyed my hair blonde and I was asked (ironically) "do you feel more stupid yet?" and it made me consider the stereotype of the ditzy blonde. Across the media, blondes are represented as stupid, materialistic or bitchy. Take Taylor Swift: an incredibly talented writer who has been totally stripped down to being a bitter girl who only writes about her heartbreaks in order to destroy the man who broke up with her, when any Swift fan could give you a list of at least ten reasons why this is utterly incorrect. The idea that blondes are ditzy or bitchy is a result of hundreds of movies and TV shows representing girls in this way. A few examples: Karen Smith in Mean Girls was one of the dumbest girls in TV history, she couldn't even spell orange! Poppy Moore in Wild Child, originally portrayed as a vain, spoilt, materialistic bitch who thought she was above everyone else, it was only once she dyed her hair brown to look more "natural" that she reformed and became the loveable girl that we see in the end of the movie (sorry, spoilers!). Phoebe Buffay had a difficult background and although she was very street smart, witty and a loyal friend, she was also very slow and a little bit strange. The list could go on and on.

Obviously, this interpretation is wrong. As previously discussed, hair colour does not accurately represent who you are, there is so much more to a person than the outward appearance. There are many intelligent, professional women in the world who are blonde. Here are some examples: Hilary Clinton - previously an election candidate and former secretary of state, she is an incredible, motivated woman who has clearly achieved so much, despite being beaten by a sexist wotsit in the presidential race. Elle Woods proved everyone wrong in Legally Blonde (I understand that she is fictional but bear with me), she showed all girls that you can do anything you put your mind to and you can do it in heels too, she is a really big inspiration for me. Reese Witherspoon, who plays Elle Woods is a fabulous woman too, I watched a speech she made a few weeks ago and was very impressed by her attitude. Meryl Streep - an incredible actress who has aged with grace, she is very passionate and a brilliant woman. J.K. Rowling - author of Harry Potter, one of the most successful series of all time - despite facing rejection from seven different publishers, Rowling remains one of the most influential women of our generation. Karen Nyberg - medical engineer and NASA astronaut, she spent 180 days in space last year! Marissa Mayer - CEO for Yahoo, in fact, the first female CEO of any search engine! Other names include: Lisa Randall, Jane Goodall, Michaela Strachan, Taylor Swift, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Marilyn Monroe, Cameron Diaz...

So what's the problem with the ditzy blonde stereotype?
First of all, as proven by the Poppy Moore example that I previously mentioned, girls have to alter their hair colour to be taken seriously. Women are constantly having to alter their appearance to be taken more seriously - rapists are being excused because the victim was wearing a "provocative" short skirt, girls in schools are dismissed by their teachers because of their mascara, politicians are accused of using their sex appeal to persuade an audience when they have more than one button undone and even I have been ignored. For example, I once anxiously told my bus driver that there was a hornet on the back of the bus (because there was) and he totally demeaned me and said "what, you mean a bumble bee?" in a very sarcastic tone, which I did not take kindly too because this hornet was massive. I seem to have digressed. 

Like the example above, there are many incidents where women and girls are disregarded due to their gender and their appearance These people are simplifying girls who could potentially be very intelligent and very useful completely unnecessarily! Once again, women are dehumanised. A point not yet discussed: what's wrong with caring about how you look anyway? What's wrong with wanting to please a man? What's wrong with being a little materialistic? We are human! No one can be perfect and if these things are flaws then we all have them and it is silly to judge someone on them. On the other hand: what's wrong with being a little nerdy? What's wrong with never wearing a dress? What's wrong with people being different? With having different interests? With liking different things? When we segregate because of our appearance, we are missing out on creating unbreakable bonds and friendships that may never have existed without the different interests. 

 I have been a blonde, a brunette, I've had pink hair, slightly ginger hair and the truth is, the brain underneath all that hair remains the same no matter what colour dye I put on it.

// Jeani

2 December 2016

What kind of person do I want to be?

1) Positive and optimistic
2) Happy
3) Motivated
4) Inspirational
5) Organised and prepared
6) Confident
7) Someone who gives good advice
8) Determined
9) Hard-working
10) Honest
11) Open-minded
12) Understanding
13) Involved
14) Empathetic
15) Philosophical and deep
16) Intelligent
17) Respectful and polite
18) Advocate for education and school
19) Supporter of self-love
20) Friendly
21) Helpful
22) An active feminist

Once you have your basis of the kind of person you want to be, you can change your ways and live to be a better version of yourself.

// Jeani

30 November 2016

What defines a writer?

What defines a writer?

Is it a woman in her late 30's who wears glasses and works for a prestigious newspaper in the depths of New York? Or a balding middle-aged man sitting in a dark room with only a type-writer as company? Is it a son who dedicates his life travelling the world to find long forgotten family stories to write them up in an unpublished journal that will never see the stands? Is it a motivated university student who dreams of being the next J.K Rowling and spends her evenings in a far off imagined world where she can finally belong? Is it a 10 year old girl who finds she can only fit her imagination onto paper where the pen magically runs free as if it were writing by itself?  Is it an ageing English teacher who lectures about his passion but never really found the words to put onto paper? Or is it a 15 year old blogger with a dream?

Maybe you can't define a writer. 

// Jeani

28 November 2016

We Fear Nothing // Poem

We fear nothing
No. Not the absence of fear,
But the absence of absence,
The absence of any idea

We fear nothing
The lack of the click of a tongue
The eternal oblivion
Never hear a note being sung

We fear nothing
But we are cowardice in the purest of forms
The pursuit of vibrancy
With the knowledge we'll fall

We fear nothing
It's just a breath away
Lingering fingertips
Still fall when they may

We fear nothing
Not the winter claws of trees
But the cool, numbing sunshine
Broken by the nothing of sleep

We fear nothing
Not the pain. But the pain.
The pain of unfeeling
Of not feeling the pain

The curse of humanity
Desperate we cling to conspiracy

Yet we fear nothing
But clockwork and the pettiest of sins
We fear nothing of starvation
Or the loneliness of kin

How do we fear nothing
When our life is a chaotic vortex?
We are neighbours to poverty
To perversity, to a survival contest?

We fear nothing.
No. We are built on fear
Every cell and synapse
Every molecule and chemical survives on fear

We fear nothing.
We fear all.

20 November 2016

We Will Rock You

Sometimes in life, there are moments that are too perfect. As I stood in the wings for the last time, I felt all the work we have put in over the past few months come down to this one final moment, over so quickly and so finitely. It felt so beautiful to close my eyes and allow myself to feel my heart rise in my chest at the sentimentality of the moment, to feel the heat of the lights, to hear the wonderfully talented voices of my friends, to feel my costume clinging to my skin and the twinge of a smile on my lips. 

From the first time watching the show I knew I wanted to play Scaramouche, my heart latched onto the role from the moment I began to see myself in her, I was desperate, although I kept my cool publicly to not raise my hopes too high.  I loved her sarcasm, her quick wit and individuality, I loved the idea of quiet rebellion and found myself relating to her confident come-backs towards the people that tried to kick her down. She was an inspiration. Even without my attachment for Scaramouche, my mum is an enormous Queen fan so I found her pushing me even further towards this. 

When I went into my audition, my hands were shaking despite my unusual calm breath and clear head. I was of course prepared, after falling in love with Scaramouche's character I had watched the show 5 times and knew the words to all the songs off by heart. I walked in and sang "somebody to love" after an awkward misunderstanding before an acting audition for which I had memorised all the lines.  When I found out that I'd got the role, as anticipated by my teacher, I screamed and jumped up and down like an ecstatic child, not understanding then of the amount of work I was going to have to put in!

Rehearsals were fun but sometimes tedious, I found myself growing more anxious the closer we got to the show as there were many parts of the script that we had not finished or even covered and we all began to worry that there would not be time to finish. But on our last two days, we watched as the show pulled itself together from uncoordinated mess to something that actually resembled a show!

I found the performances going far too fast. Sitting backstage on first night left me shaking and extremely nervous but I found myself comforting others who were nervous to avoid the feeling of sickness. Kashoggi, policemen and I danced in the wings to "I want to break free" and suddenly I was singing on stage and loving every moment, almost accidentally smiling at my family in the crowd but singing my heart out. The rest of the show moved very quickly and before I knew it, it was Saturday evening and I was tearing up at the speeches before final performance. Suddenly, I was on stage for the last time and I felt my heart well up as I looked into the audience, sombre but proud. I smiled as I took my bow, savouring in the moment of having people clapping and screaming for me, who knows when I will ever feel that again? A final principles bow and I sneak a smile with the people who have shared this experience with me most of all over the past few months, before we all take our final bow.

The shows we do are amazing because the cast gains this sense of unity and suddenly everyone is supporting each other because all these unrelated people who would usually never say two words to each other are suddenly connected in this incredible thing, it is beautiful. The cast becomes a family for a little while and you share in each other's pride, nerves, joy, panic, stress, relief and excitement, when you stand on that stage together you become one. Your voices blend together and your heartbeats synchronise while you dance. What was once just a stage becomes our stage, our freedom, our connection. You lose the sense of segregation which dictates most school days, and suddenly age, gender, race, disagreements and all the petty reasons we usually stay apart are suddenly non-existent and we are just one movement with one vision ;)

When the final bows have been taken, suddenly all of that is suddenly broken and it is absolutely heartbreaking. But while it was there, it was amazing, it was beautiful and we all now share each other's memories of this wonderful production and that helped me through my tears last night.

It's a beautiful process and I feel so honoured to have played such a huge part in it. 

Now here we are. Our minds have finished collecting the memories and we replay them in our heads more like a slideshow than a movie and I feel sad that I don't have the full, smooth running of the production in my mind. It makes me sad how there are, even now, gaps in my memory. Maybe it's okay to let go.

It's a beautiful process and I feel so honoured to have played such a huge part in it. 

// Jeani

13 November 2016

Books I've Read Since September

Hey everyone!

Today I thought I would do a very simplistic post on all the books I have read since the beginning of this academic year:
1) My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

Made me cry, unexpected ending just blew me away, one of my favourite books of all time
I'm never totally keen on different points of view during a book, but I understand that in this case they were important to the story 

2) The Maze Runner Trilogy - James Dashner
Kept me hooked all the way through, I absolutely loved it as I always do with Dystopian novels
The deaths really broke me into little pieces

3) The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

Beautiful tale, I enjoyed it thoroughly, left me heartbroken but satisfied.
Slightly slow paced at times

4) The Girl On The Train - Paula Hawkins
Fantastic, kept me gripped all the way through. One of those books that you want to find out the ending for but you just don't want to end. 

5) Eeny Meeny - M. J. Arlidge

Brilliantly thrilling concept, satisfying ending and just kept me excited all the time

6) Hide - Lisa Gardner
Left me terrified but it was so amazing, I was gripped from the word go and there were so many twists that it was just like a roller coaster, the characters were in depth and mysterious, there were so many questions throughout that you were just desperate to know the answer to and the end most certainly did not disappoint

7) Now Is Good - Jenny Downham

I really loved this book, truly heartbreaking and it left me sobbing. Many important messages about life, living and love. A definite must read, truly inspiring. I read it in one day!

So many important morals in the story, it was captivating watching the change in both Ellie and Mikey, seeing them realise them realise what love is and the entire concept of the story sent me through so many emotions: anger, fear, happiness... It was really good
Slightly disappointing ending in my opinion as one section of the story is not resolved; however, perhaps it's best we never know what happened

Next: Atonement - Ian McEwan

// Jeani

12 November 2016

Mary Shelley // Verbal Spill

I wrote a blog post a few months ago called "I am my protagonist" which was inspired by an argument I had with someone and I realised that we both thought the other had terrible intentions when this was actually not the case. I just want to talk about that idea a little more today.

Mary Shelley was the author of Frankenstein, a 19 year old girl who changed the way of literature forever, this quote of hers perfectly sums up one of my core beliefs. I don't believe that anybody truly has evil intentions, I don't believe that anybody wants to inflict pain on someone else, I think that would be easy to believe perhaps, but it's far too simplistic.

Everybody believes that they are doing the right thing, either for them self, a friend, someone from their family, or someone that they believe is doing the right thing.  It's very easy to place blame and it's very easy to believe that their opponent's intentions are no more complex than "I want to do a terrible thing" when the reality is that they are only seeking happiness and they believe that the path they are going down is the way to find it

Everyone has hidden secrets, "no one knows anyone" (Jenny Downham ~ you against me). Everyone has their reasons for acting like an arse, not that that excuses terrible behaviour but some people really believe they are doing good in their own way. The only thing to do is explain that they're wrong and that there are better ways of living.

// Jeani

2 November 2016

Busy // Poem

I close my eyes as a dam
The flood rushes through my brain
A shaky breath into my lungs
A tap to reassure I am sane

I smile without any fear
Though the flood presses into my skull
I'm always aware that it's near
But somehow the realisation is dull

A tick of the clock one step nearer
The dam dares threaten to break
But I swallow the gulp in my throat
I focus on company's hate

I write till my hands cannot grip
The bleeding nib of the pen
The hand moves another tick closer
My heart dares to race then 

My future is just round the bend
But my car is surrounded by smog
Forever depends on this moment
But I can't see when I'm stuck in this fog

I crave just a breath of fresh air
But this paper is trapping me in
I love the feeling of learning
But the pressure is making me spin

I peek through the edge of my lashes
The flood's the forefront of my mind
A drop escapes from my eyelid
It's like I heard my heart breathe a sigh

The flood screams with joy as it runs
Down my chilled and rose-red cheeks
The balloon inside me releases
 I exhale, as it too is free

My mind soon remembers to focus
Without the shrill of the flood's strict dictation
So it seems the sobs and simple tears
Were the key to my liberation

A letter to my female peers // Verbal Spill

We are a small school, and yet there are people hypothetically reading this letter that I have never even said hello to in nearly five years. Hello.

When I came to this high school there was suddenly this whole new world where the concept of popularity could possibly exist, because we all watched Mean Girls, which seemed to make sense to us at the time. That was our bible. We did not realise at the time that the groups that we naturally spread into did not actually exist because god pushed certain people together or because they were pretty or intelligent and there certainly is not a social hierarchy in terms of any of those things. We are all students. We are all teenagers. We are all girls. In this year group, there is a definite divide in our heads between each other because we have all formed these ideas of what the other groups of people are like.

You do not have to conform to your stereotype. We are not divided by an American clique system, we are not split into "nerds", "plastics", "drama gays" or "try-hards". We do not need to look down on each other because we perceive the other person to be something that, in reality, they are not. Within my friendship group, I have come across many different perspectives on the other people that we go to lessons with every day. I have encountered envy, hatred, disapproval and awe, all on people that we don’t actually know, people that we converse with once every month, how can we possibly say we are justified in our opinions? How can we possibly say that we know someone when all we see are each-others masks? How can we possibly say we understand someone when we don’t know about the horrific secrets that they keep hidden and tear them up every day? Their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations, their happiest memories, their most painful heart break, the funerals they won’t forget or the songs they listen to when they cry? We do not know each other. But what I know is that we are the same.  We should certainly not feel threatened by each other and we should definitely not be making snap judgements on people that we don’t even know.

We are all female here. I know that I sometimes feel like I need to be one type of girl: a smart girl, a pretty girl, a tomboy, a hipster, a feminist. I’ve discovered something recently. Beyond the realms of television and pre-teen, Zoella-approved novels, us girls do not conform to the stereotypes. I spent my childhood aching to be the pretty girl, I would have given up my intelligence and opinion just to be pretty. I thought that I could not be both. I realise now that I was wrong. I realise now that we are merely people, endeavouring on a journey of self-discovery and gender should not come into that, the label of “female” should not dictate who we are because we are so much more complex than the stereotypes. I still see girls throwing away everything that makes them who they are on being someone that boys will find attractive, trying to fit into the unrealistic shape of a certain stereotype. I beg of all of you, don’t let that be what you aspire to. Aspire to be the journalists, the politicians, the activists, the mothers, the lawyers, the head teachers and the students of the future that make a difference to the world. Aspire to find the life you want, not the person that you think you need to be to find love, when the right boy comes around, he will love you for who you really are.

Furthermore, don’t allow yourself to be the girl that tears another girl down because she is pretty or smart and you don’t feel confident in yourself. Many studies show that successful and happy people do not place blame of their failures on others, they get up and they try again and then they pick the people up that fall behind them. Don’t allow yourself to be the girl that feels the need to push others down to reach the top. Let’s help each other up. As the brilliant Michelle Obama said “When they go low, we go high”.

Please, lets just support each other in our final year. I know that some of us don't get along and some of us have had our disagreements in the past, but lets unite from today on-wards as a team. We are all scared. So, let's link arms and face this together.

Thank you

30 October 2016

15 Things To Do In Your Free Time

1) Keep fit
Staying fit is really important, it keeps your body healthy and if you are doing exercise that you enjoy it can be really fun!

  • Yoga - this is calming, relaxing and makes you feel awake for the next day
  • Netball or another team sport - feels motivating as you get slightly competitive as well as building team skills 
  • Wii fit - I love to do this because I can work at my own pace and do whatever work outs I want at home where I can feel comfortable 
  • Run - this takes you outside where you can breathe in the fresh air, it feels really rewarding once you've finished 
  • Power walking - like running this takes you outside, but there is less pain and a lot more thinking time
2) Read
Reading is very important, whether you're into fiction or non-fiction books. It helps to expand vocabulary and become more knowledgeable as well as being whisked off to another world or another life

3) Blogging
Writing about something you're passionate about is really fun and if you want to be a writer it helps to train you how to write in short bursts, well. If you are already a blogger, here are some things you can do in your free time:
  • Create connections - reply to the comments on your blog, try and form connections with your readers because not only will your amount of followers increase but you will feel good about yourself because you are proving that your blog is a friendly environment
  • Read other people's blogs - your followers have some really great material of their own, you may learn a thing or two if you take the time to expand your own reading material and you may find some people that you really relate to
4) Tidy
Trust me, there is nothing more empowering than tidying up your space. A cluttered room = a cluttered mind so it's very important to keep everything in a rightful place.
  • Your bedroom - studies show that having mess around you before you go to sleep could make you restless or uncomfortable, keeping the place that you start and end your day tidy is very important for a healthy mind
  • Study area - you want to make sure that your mind is clear when you're studying and that you only have exactly what you need in front of you so that you can focus your mind
  • Folders and files - it's important to make sure that all your important documents can be easily located if needed
  • Computer files - I personally find it very useful to have all my folders clearly labelled and dated on my computer so that I can find whatever I need almost instantly
  • Emails - keeping a cluttered inbox makes it difficult to find the important emails amongst the spam so try to constantly keep your inbox tidy 
5) Clear out
Clearing out your space helps with the tidying that I just mentioned, make sure that everything you own either brings you joy or is necessary, keeping junk that you never use around can make your mind and space feel cluttered, it's really refreshing to go through your things and leave at the end of it with only the things that really matter to you.

6) Sort through or re-write notes
When you are at school, sometimes your notes are the best source of information and it's important to make sure they are easily readable and easy to find. Spend some time re-writing the notes that aren't very clear or nice to look at; as well as making your notes easy to read in the future, re-writing your notes is a really good way to revise as the information is being processed again and you are actively working with the information.

7) Intentions
Writing down intentions is a really good way to level out your brain, sometimes it gets a bit scrambled in there and putting down your thoughts and emotions onto paper is a really good way to clear out your mind and make sense of yourself. I like to write down on paper the kind of person I want to be, the things I want to do and what I believe makes a good person. 

8) Goals
A good way to get yourself motivated is writing down where you want to be at the end of the day, what are your aspiration, your dreams? Where are you headed in the future? Where do you want to be in ten years? Where do you want to be in a week? Where do you want to be at the end of today? This is a really good way to get yourself on track and motivate yourself.

9) Brainstorm ideas
Whatever you do: art, blogging, writing, poetry, essay writing, teaching, it's good to keep brainstorming new ideas because there will always be times where the brain shuts down on you and no ideas are coming so keep a notebook somewhere full of ideas for those days when you just have a meltdown!! Plus, it keeps the brain active.

10) Work on excel skills and keep track of your money
This is something I really want to do (despite the fact that I'm fifteen, have no job and the only income I get is the money from relatives at Christmas time) because these are valuable skills that I will need to use in the future when I get student loans or go to university/Samoa because I will need to learn how to budget and save any money that I get. It's always good to learn those valuable skills now than the future.

11) Learn an instrument
I know that most people feel that the only time you can take up an instrument is when you're five years old but trust me, it's completely untrue. I took piano lessons as a little girl for several years but it was never something that I could pick up, I could never learn music and I just could not pick it up. My family and I put it down to lack of musical genes, but then in high school my dad bought me a guitar on a whim, I picked it up and didn't stop playing the thing for five hours straight and by the end of it my fingers were bleeding but I could just about play the chords to "we are never ever getting back together" by Taylor Swift. I just fell in love with it. You never know if there is an instrument out there that is just made for you and you will never know if you never try! If you already play an instrument, dedicate those spare five minutes to having another practise of your scales or learn a new song that you really like!

12) Write in your diary
We've all been there. "I'm going to write in it everyday so that I have a record of all the important moments in my life.". As nice as the idea is, it's not exactly achievable and we all hate ourselves over the fact that we can't do it. Don't get worked up over it, try to write in your diary whenever you have a spare minute, just a few words or a few emotions will be appreciated by the future version of yourself and if you have time to write more that's great, but future you doesn't want a second-by-second manuscript of your life right now, just give yourself something.

13) Create art
Allowing your creative juices to flow free can sometimes be very rewarding, it allows you to come up with original ideas and "explore yourself" if you don't mind me being slightly poetic. 
  • Photography - it's always fun to work with angles and the real world,, making it into something that belongs to you
  • Drawing - giving yourself an hour to draw a picture of anything will really allow you to focus on something other than your problems and you might end up with something great at the end  of it
  • Painting
14) Write
Getting your emotions out is always relieving, whether it be in the form of a poem, a spider diagram or just a section of that bestseller novel that you're trying to write or your blog. Have fun with it.

15) Plan
Making sure that you're prepared for the future is very important. Keep your life organised so that you don't forget those pesky birthdays that creep up on you or ignore that exam that you're dreading. These things will happen so it's best to keep these events easy to track and prepare for. 
  • Academic planner - keep exam dates, due dates and open days all in the same place. Make sure to keep all your educational events in one place.
  • Homework timetable - find out when those due dates are to make sure you're finished in time, get all your homework done as soon as you get it so that you can perfect it and not rush it on the last evening.
  • Revision timetable - using your academic diary, find out how far away those exams are and plan your revision accordingly. You need to make sure that you do little bits at a time to keep the information fresh and instilled in the back of your mind. You are more likely to remember the information if it is already stored in your mind rather than cramming on the night before the test.

// Jeani

25 October 2016

Is school draining student imagination? // Verbal Spill

Hey everyone,

I noticed a couple of days ago that recently my capability of writing an interesting blog post was slowly disappearing. I have just started year 11 so the majority of my free time is dedicated to school work and revision so when I sit down to write I realise that all those strong emotions about events and people has been pushed to the back of my mind and there is really no inspiration there at all.

Is this what school does to us? I have always been a definite supporter of education and modern learning, when I hear people complain I have always been the one to step in and say "do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound? There are girls risking their lives every day for their education and here you are complaining because you're tired? Please." But perhaps all my cynical teenage peers have a point. Perhaps our high schools really are draining our imagination and the will to create or express our individuality.

When I was in primary school I was always encouraged to play games, to do creative writing, to pick up hobbies like bird watching, drawing or, baking, all we are encouraged to do now is 10 minutes of maths every evening on top of our homework and 2 hours of nightly revision. I understand that all this is for our own good, to help us settle nicely into comfortable careers, but I'm not sure life does depend on my ability to find the nth term of a quadratic sequence, we need to learn how to actually use our brains beyond the theory, how to apply that brilliant knowledge that our brains are capable of consuming. I believe we should still be encouraged to pursue those hobbies for ourselves, rather than for school. I refuse to join the netball club now because the only people who do it in year 11 are the ones who are doing a PE GCSE, despite the fact that I love the sport and would really enjoy playing it every week.

The school encourages us to get involved with extra curricular activities, but so that it looks good on our CVs and sixth form application, I wish that they would try to encourage having fun, laughing with your friends, to do the hobbies that really fill you with joy. But if your teachers won't then I will.

Please, make time for yourself. I don't mean sit on your sofa and watch PLL while idly scrolling through your Facebook feed, wishing that you were doing something else (I'm not judging, we all do it), I mean go on Pinterest and find a cake you want to bake, find a sewing pattern you can use, climb the trees in your local woods or collect the pretty flowers that you find. Take time to be your nine year old self, I know you are always wishing that you were that age again, let yourself be (no one has to know haha!)

Thank you for reading, good luck

// Jeani

22 October 2016

Alcohol // poem

The stars are spinning
My makeup is blurred
The ground is the sky
My speech sounds quite slurred

My mind's somewhere distant
Memories are not formed
I spit out vile laughter
At what, I'm not sure

Is this fun? I wonder
As I try to stand straight
I'm disgusted by my friends'
zombie-like state

They say that they're proud
Because I'm submitting to this
Were you not proud of me
When I held to what I believed in?

So I make the decision.
Exclusion's a risk
But I'm not sure it's worth it
Just to fit in.

// Jeani

11 October 2016

My Anger // Poem // Verbal Spill

A stop motion movie
A scream from my lips
Chaos unravels
With the clashing of hips

Blood starts to spread
It's all I can see
Please save his lips
For they're meant for me

A dirty surrounding
You call this a fair fight?
Man on man would be fair
You are not from the light

Like hyenas they swarmed
They punched and they kicked
He yelled at the cowards
For whom I felt sick

She screamed and she clawed
At his delicate neck
All I can see is the damage
What's before I forget

Poison fills through my veins
I spit at their feet
I've never felt anger
That I feel with this heat

What kills me inside
Is not the pain he went through
But the shame he will feel
When they lie through their clues

He's not even hurt
His skin didn't bruise
But they tried that's what matters
At least he didn't lose

I just want to see
One of their smug expressions
So I can rip it right off them
Before they have time to question

My anger.
 How can it boil so deep?
I wonder now if
I should go to sleep

// Jeani

28 September 2016

Bras // Verbal Spill

I was thinking about bras, and I suppose boobs as well. As a girl who has these (just), i can safely say they can be a pain in the arse.

There are many discussions I could have about boobs today, for example, the frustrating ridiculous expectations that girls have to live up to of big boobs and yet, generally, stores only cater for people of my chest size. Please, tell me the logic of this. We could also discuss the debate of whether boobs are sexual or whether society has made them appear that way. We could talk about breastfeeding, breast cancer, breast problems but I think I'm going to be slightly more philosophical.

So I pose the question:

"Is it better to feel comfortable and supported but trapped, than free and empowered but in pain?"

I sort of like the feeling of going bra-less, I've basically only ever done this a maximum of five times since developing boobs, but for some reason it's quite empowering when you just do it, when you can't be bothered to take the bra off. However, personally, I don't find bras particularly restrictive, they feel quite comfortable to me, but I am aware that this is not the case for everybody and a lot of people feel trapped in their bras. This inspired the above question. Now, stop thinking about boobs for a moment.  Ask yourself the question. What situations come to mind?

I think there are many situations in life where you feel comfortable and supported, but trapped. For example, living with your parents, not "coming-out" as gay, not identifying as a feminist, being in a secure friendship group that you don't really like anymore etc etc. Is it better to be in that situation than taking the plunge? I don't think so. Using the example above, you can't live with your parents forever, you just can't, and when you move out it's going to be difficult, it will be a shock, but you will grow as a person and become more independent, brave and strong.

It might feel like the right thing to do, to avoid the stress of the scary thing, but if you dare to identify as a feminist (for example) you will find parts of yourself that you never before knew existed and be able to see the strength that you have to deal with people who disagree with you, learn to accept other people's beliefs and respect the things that they say, learn new interpretations of the world to help to form what you believe. If you continue to not dare to have your own opinions, you will never know how you really feel or what you really think. You have got to put yourself out there and dare to try something new, because it might be painful...

But you will be free

// Jeani

25 September 2016

The girl in the cell // poem

She curled up in her cell
Her soul had gone completely numb
She stared at the brick wall
As she counted with her thumb

Her face had shrunken in
Her lips were bleeding like a ghost
Dirt was nesting in her hair
There were bruises on her throat

Her eyes were blind, glazed over
She didn't even want to blink
She could hear the distant voices
That craved to know how she did think

A bitter smile did creep upon her
As they stared through heavy glass
She was as still as trees in winter
She didn't even raise her heart

The keys hung on the inside
All she had to do was simply stand
But she left them anxious, waiting
While she steadied both her hands

All desire had left her body
She was almost just a shell
But that 'almost' dared to keep fighting
To try and relieve her of this cell

Decades they have kept her
Tried to break her like a window
She once seemed soft and fragile
But you can't just break a pillow

The keys hung on the door-frame
All she had to do was simply stand
She thought it was impossible
So I held her weary hand

Together we went forward
Tiny step to tiny step
When she tripped up I caught her falling
While her lost pride held up her head

Her fingertips lurched forward
The keys so close to her aching grasp
Her eyes wept tears for freedom
Her soul returning now at last

There was brightness in her eyes
There was longing in her moves
I smiled with guiltless joy
As she shows what she has to prove

She snatches up the keys
Then she twists them in the lock
She throws the door behind her
Her new soul aching for a flock

She stands in the broken door frame
Her breath catches in her throat
The world just steps away
Just a leap to Noah's boat

Her hand slips out of mine
And she balls it in a fist
Her tender foot steps forward
Into the hopeful, unsure mist

She walks onto the grass
She fills her lungs with air
A laugh escapes her lips
When the wind runs through her hair

Her body springs to life
She dances round with glee
The world is now her oyster
She can live so happily

She stops for just a moment
she turns and faces me
A look flashes across her
I know exactly what she means

I let myself hang back
I watch her newfound spirit leave
I hope that in her new journey
She spares a thought sometimes of me

// Jeani

16 September 2016

Rain // poem // Verbal Spill

Scratching pens and muffled silence
The mist lays low outside
The rain falls on the windows
Thunder cracks at every side

Our legs propel us forward
The rain stings our weary eyes
We're relieved when shelter finds us
We laugh it off to pass the time

Once brushed and sleek, smooth hair
Rebels and curls like a small child
Our cheeks are rosy red, Our eyes
Bright with excited smiles

By routine, vanity's king
It's subconscious in our minds
We never get that sense of freedom
Because we're too afraid to be alive

Mascara runs down our cheeks
Somehow we are free suddenly
A childish empowerment
That's joined by immodest glee

I pity those who run
From the thing that makes them want to hide
Because a downpour of this rain
Has made me see who I am inside

// Jeani

15 September 2016

Wander // poem

I perch on the edge of a cliff
My arms stretched above my head
I reach for the clouds suspended
By a single sewing thread

I see the blood red sunset
Drip upon the crawling mist
I feel the stone beneath me
Sing a deep and booming hymn

Rainbows bleed through cigarette smoke
The rain catches on my lips
My skin absorbs the sunshine
'Til it radiates within

I feel my voice escape me
Through my anticipating lips
It soothes my aching throat
As I breathe the notes I miss

I touch the morning dewdrops
As they spring from lemon grass
I taste the scent of fire
On his ever present laugh

I gaze down upon fields
From my safe and secure seat
I see the Earth pass me by
So many miles beneath my feet

My home feels so familiar
Although I expected it would not
My routine just falls in place
Like I was never really gone

Now I have tasted worlds of colour
Mine seems like only shades of grey
But I will not pine for more
For that would waste my time away

// Jeani

14 September 2016

Craving // poem

A craving in the fingertips
A licking of your lips
A smile across the classroom
I roll my eyes at this

Attentive and unsure
You kissed me like I was fire
But my warmth was less alarming
Than you saw from my attire

Responsible yet crazy
From this unrelenting lust
Respectful to a daisy
Just like you know you must

A kiss upon each eyelid
As I close them both to sleep
I imagine you are with me
Just to hold me while I weep

When you're not here I'm empty
Like my blood has simply gone
This love has truly ruined me
I'm dependant as a fawn

Every day is like the last one
I cherish every kiss
Just in case one day you are gone
And there's nothing left to miss

// Jeani

The inventor // poem

"Bloody instructions, which being taught, return to plague th'inventor" ~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth

The inventor's face looks absent
As his fingers rapidly create
He snarls in heated darkness
Like the fire he does make

The shadows light his features
As the fire burns his skin
He writes the method in his blood
Then hands it to his kin

The recipe is passed on
The dark fire starts to spread
It begins in people's stomachs
Before it rages in their heads

Power and desire
With a teaspoon of detest
The world begins to crack
As he overlooks his mess

What once was plagued insanity
Is now simply desperation
He hides in his dark corner
He accepts his long damnation

He slowly stands in terror,
His hands begin to shake
He walks into the flames
That he once was proud to make

// Jeani

Humming bird // poem

The yellow glow of summer
Like de-ja vu it flashes by
winter chills, a distant drummer
Seem far away although time flies

One love is caught, I hold it
Like a bird i feel its thrumming heart
But other heart beats drown it
I watch the others swoop and dart

Curiosity warms my lips 
as bright colours grab my attention
Security is a futile script
Until love is loudly mentioned

Bodies heat like boiling water
How can pain be felt so internally
I close my eyes and shake my head
As I remember what's mine eternally

// Jeani


I wrote this poem a few months ago about the self-hate culture that we have as a society

Amongst teenagers, 50% of girls and 30% of boys use unhealthy methods such as skipping meals, fasting and vomiting to control their weight, and 90% of teenagers are unhappy with their body shape. So why is this?

The media is easy to blame as magazines and social media obviously promote the unrealistic body standards that we all know too well: skinny, yet curvy, flawless, yet messy – an attempt at relatability yet still maintaining the Photoshop polished look. It’s easy to get caught up in these fake images, it’s easy to believe that they’re real, to believe that celebrities are naturally perfect, but the truth is it’s all an illusion.

But there are surprisingly many further reasons to why we teenagers are insecure about how we look. Conflicting ideologies about beauty, the growing anxiety trend and being judged on how much skin we show, to name a few.  We need to stop the belief that a girl’s worth is in how much makeup she wears or how short her skirt is.  We need to stop the belief that a boy’s worth is in his strength.

In my experience, we are our own worst enemies. Every day in this school, I see people making fun of each other for achieving, for being individuals and sometimes just for being. Research shows that we are happier when we boost each other up and more miserable when we tear people down and criticise unnecessarily.

I believe that as a society, we should promote a new way.  Instead of tearing each other down for what we wear, for how our hair looks, for our skin, for our body, for our personalities, for our intelligence, for our motivation, we should empower each other to do what makes us happy, encourage each other to do our own best. To not compete. To build with each other. To be the best people that we can be. Make a stand for yourself. Be proud of who you are. Don’t be afraid to do what makes you happy. Form a culture in this generation that encourages self-love not self-hate. Help me to acknowledge that we’re in a mess, for love to replace hate.