A simple mantra

Cos love is free and life is cheap

As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep,

Clothes on my back and some food to eat

Well I can’t ask for anything more.

The lyrics from this gorgeous Frank Turner song have been buzzing around in my head for the past couple of days. As I get ever closer to the next stage in my life, I like to keep this positive, simple belief in my mind. Everything will be ok. People move home and get new jobs every single day, there is no valid reason why I should be any different. I just keep plugging away at all the tasks that need completing before the end of the month. It makes sense to be productive, and it makes perfect sense to be frugal throughout this transition period. I’m needing to pay out for travel and various fees so that I can apply for jobs and visit potential homes. This means spending in other areas needs to be tightly controlled. Any money that can be saved is a bonus.

I’ve actually earned money this past week by hamster-sitting for my sister. I made £50 and my sister even bought me this darling gift from the Guinness Factory in Dublin. The retro print is perfect!

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It’s the perfect mug for winter time; hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with marshmallows. I don’t know why that sumptuous image is in my head during a time of glorious heat. The weather is beautiful in Winchester today. The sun is high in the sky and a breeze is sweeping through. It makes it a lot easier to type up endless CVs when the weather is so grand. It’s the little things that lift my spirits and remind me what I’m working towards.

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Big mouth

I must admit, recently I’ve fallen out of love with blogging. I felt like I had nothing new to contribute to The Domestic Storyteller. My writing confidence was ebbing away. My ideas for articles seemed insignificant. My poor camera has been on its last legs and my heart wasn’t in posts with no pictures.

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But alas, there is a new dawn on the horizon, a new age approaching with a newcomer. Thanks to the marvellous Mr Argos, I am now the proud owner of this stunning camera. It’s the fanciest electrical item I’ve ever been lucky enough to own. I’m not one for the latest phone or other such gadgets, but not having a fully functional camera was like losing a limb. I would normally take so many photos, both for blog purposes and otherwise. I consider photos to be a real treasure, either kept electronically on a laptop, or printed out in a physical copy. It’s a joy to be able to indulge my passion for photography once more. I hope to show you the products of my new camera, as soon as the cable arrives to connect it with the laptop.

With my trusty sidekick, I feel more secure in posting to my blog. I find myself conjuring ideas about the various topics previously discussed, and some shiny new ones thrown in to boot. I’m entering such a transitional stage in my life that I would really like to record it in order to reminisce in the future. I want to get back into regular posting because ultimately, I’ve still got so much more to say.

And so we keep on writing

I have attended my last formal class at University. In truth, it was a tad disappointing. My lecturer was forced to cover another class, so we were permitted to leave after only half an hour. A shame, but I did spend the next couple of hours chatting with dear friends.

Although classes have finished, my University experience isn’t over yet. I have two assignments to be submitted after the Easter break. This period after Easter will also be filled with lots of social events. Graduation takes place in October, so it will be autumn by the time I close this particular chapter.

But, until then, I have plenty to be getting on with. Now we are on holidays, I can increase the intensity of my job search. I need to have the guarantee of secure employment before I can commit to a new home. I can admit, I’m very much looking forward to living by myself for awhile. As much as I adore my housemates, the thought of having an entire kitchen to myself can only be compared to paradise. I cannot comment on long term plans, as there are too many ifs and buts to contend with. As it stands currently, I’m seeking a suitable job and flat to allow me to remain close to the chap. Yes, moving to the parental home is the most lucrative option, financially. But I know in my heart of hearts that such living arrangements would make me miserable.

So I’m taking the difficult route, but this path isn’t foreign to me. I know I can take all of the knowledge I’ve gathered at University, academic and domestic, and employ it correctly during the next stage. The margins and budget might be smaller, but hopefully, my happiness should be greater. I plan on making the next chapter just as successful as its predecessor.

The other side of the world

Much of this week has been dedicated to intensive study. After two weeks in a work placement, I’ve had to pull my focus back to my University work. As I adore my degree course, this has prompted no hardship. But it has made me think.

One of my modules this year is Creative Visions. It looks at utopian and dystopian texts, as well as related issues in our world today. After going through the list of online resources that were made available, my mind was a whir. I’ve been forced to contemplate and reassess my view on many areas of life that were once a norm for me.

Like eating meat. I’ve been eating meat for as long as I have been able to. When I once asked my mother if I could become vegetarian, she refused, on the grounds that such a diet wouldn’t help me grow. I know which animals produce which meat, like we all do. But I’ve never been confronted with the sheer, unadulterated facts before. There were some truly horrendous sources about the meat industry. Some of them I couldn’t stand to watch the whole way through. After gathering knowledge, I am questioning the unsustainable meat industry for the first time. I am but one person, but this person will not be eating meat for the foreseeable future. I will not fund such irrational behaviour.

I already consider myself to be an environmentally friendly consumer, but this research has reinforced those values so much. To only purchase what I need. To cut down on waste. To constantly re-use and recycle. To use ethics as a guide when shopping, not greed.

Treading lightly on the earth has become my ultimate goal. It would be too easy to let anger overcome you, to lash out and rant about the unfairness of it all. But instead, my actions will become my words. I plan to focus on my own actions and strive to do everything I can to, at the very least, slow down the demise of the planet.

Mind blown.

It all started when I was browsing The Body Shop website. The sister had requested more body butter for Christmas and I was weighing up the options. Being a curious devil with time on my hands, I began reading their “About” tab. That led me on a journey of discovery into the realm of Fairtrade and ethical shopping.

As I followed the path, link after link, questions flew up in my mind. Why is this not the default option? Why is it not standard to pay the right cost for a product? Why is it unusual to run schemes to help poverty-stricken nations?

Do you know, I felt guilty. I felt truly guilty for having so much, or at least having access to so much. When you stop and think how your shopping habits can affect people, real people, not numbers or statistics, on the other side of the world, it opens your eyes.

Greed. That’s what forces us to get as much as we can for as little money as possible. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a wardrobe full of clothes, far exceeding the amount I need. Greed drives us towards the bargains, the offers, the deals, regardless of the cost of human life.

Apologies if I am conveying myself too strongly. I am no saint with regards to bargain hunting, indeed, the majority of this very blog is about making the most of money. But after feeding myself this information, I am feeling inclined to change. I do little clothes shopping anyways, but any further purchases I make will be second-hand, from charity shops preferably or eBay. Any garment I can save from landfill will be a step in the green direction.

Just having enough if what I need will help me to lead a more ethical life. We don’t need excess, we just think we do. I have much more to learn and more to engage with surrounding this topic. Food is another minefield of ethical questioning, but more on that in a later post. I hope you will follow my quest towards a sustainable lifestyle.

Defence is the best offence

How delightful it is to be able to return to my blog at long last. Other commitments have kept me away, but I return to you now with gusto!

Christmas preparations have been proceeding harmoniously. I have most of my presents sorted, as well as travel arrangements organised. Even New Year plans have started to take shape. Talking of shape, I’ve decided to take control of my own. This time of year is infamous for gluttony and overindulgence. Instead of waging war with temptation, I am opting for a defensive stance.

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In the run up to the festive season, I plan to be the epitome of health. I have removed any lingering junk food from my stores today, most of it being donated to fellow housemates. I still won’t tolerate waste on my path to health! From now until Christmas Day, I will be striving to eat no chocolate, sweets or processed sugar of any kind. I became reliant on the sweet stuff during my hectic assignment time and I truly need to cut back. This is not a declaration of never eating chocolate again (let’s not be silly), but rather taking control of the situation to a more sensible level.

The Christmas holidays have begun, so I now have more time to do more exercise. I have missed running regularly, and will soon establish an exercise routine.

By eating clean and exercising more, I’m hoping to lose a little weight, certainly. But more importantly, I want to adopt a healthier way of life and not crave wrong food as much as I do at the moment. That’s the plan anyways.

It’s all in your head

I have to offer my most grateful thanks to those who have left comments recently. I can’t tell you how much you have boosted my spirits. It was nice to be reminded that I’m not a big failure after all.

I have many challenges in my life, both academic and personal. But I am starting to realise that I also have many tools to tackle these challenges and overcome them. The most powerful tool I have is my mind.

It’s easy to say “mind over matter”, but when the matter seems daunting, it can be hard to remember. However, a little self-belief can go an awful long way. As soon as I decided that I was perfectly capable of finishing my assignments, the words started to flow. I thought I was a writer and that’s what I became. I am inching ever closer to my word count. It’s easier to put pen to paper now that the mental blockade has vanished.

The same is true on the domestic front too. Instead of worrying about the cost of the next food shop, I took a step back to survey what I already had. I told myself I was perfectly capable of making do with what I’ve got. I’ve made a veggie curry today, and there are plenty of vegetables left over. So I’ll avoid the supermarket for now and save my coins for another day.

It feels good to be in charge and in control. By reassuring myself that I am perfectly capable, I seem to be getting more done. Try it, or let me know what works for you when you’re suffering with a cloudy mind.