An Inspirational Woman

There are a lot of women in my life who inspire me ever day. Like my mum, a very lovable Belfast bred woman who isn’t afraid to share her opinions. Which is something that I admire about her. She is witty, creative, kind and just a well-rounded woman and mother.

As much as my mum is an inspiration to me, it isn’t who this blog is about.

The Past

Born on 21st August 1932 and adopted by Elizabeth and James (Jimmy). Jimmy a former solider in the Horse Regiment during the war, who later in life took on shipyard work to make a living for his family and Elizabeth who became an invalid during an accident in her late 20’s. The pair lived in Bruce Street sandwiched between the Dublin Road and Great Victoria Street.

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They also had two biological daughters Grace, who moved to England and Annie who went to Scotland because their parents couldn’t look after them. Years later Jimmy and Elizabeth adopted 4 girls. Margaret (Maisy), Elizabeth (Lilly), Annette (Netta) and Pearl.

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The woman in the photo above is the woman who brought my mum up to be the person she is today. My Granny Pearly. Who met my grandad Gerry when she was 14 in a video arcade in Belfast. From the night they met my granny says that she never looked at another man again.

Pearl and Gerry decided to keep their relationship as secret as possible from their parents because of their different religious backgrounds, Pearl being a Protestant and Gerry being a Catholic. One-night Pearl fell off the back of her friends motorbike on her way home and had to go to hospital to get her wrist checked. A couple who had seen the incident drove Pearl to the hospital while her friend told Gerry what happened, who she was meant to meet up with later that night to tell him what had happened to Pearl.

Pearl left the hospital with her sister Lilly who took her home to find that in the kitchen her father and Gerry where sitting together in the same room and talking! After a nervous Pearl left the kitchen to walk Gerry out, they thought they had gotten away with her father not knowing that Gerry was a Catholic. However, Jimmy knew from the moment he met Gerry that indeed he was a Catholic and didn’t try to separate the two as he got on with Gerry and knew he would be good to his daughter and that she loved him.

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Pearl and Gerry married on the 27th May 1949 in Great Victoria Street Baptist Church. Pearl aged 18 and Gerry 22 at the time…Pearl had worked in a handkerchief factory in Belfast… Pearl and Gerry went on to have kids…. Gerry’s father disowned him…2 sons and 3 daughters… on Sunday 8th August 1971, they were put out of their house…the house had been ransacked…. the family moved to Lisburn…

As you can see, I’m still trying to piece together the information about my granny’s life. So much happened to her and my family throughout World War Two and the Troubles in Belfast.

The Present

Pearl recently fell in her house trying to mop the floor and ended up breaking her pelvis. After a couple of weeks in Hospital and a few more weeks in a rehabilitation home she could go home. The family did what they could to make her life at home easier for her, but it was obvious that she wasn’t happy and kept telling us how her memories were being ruined because of all the changes to her house.

To help the family out I would go to her house and cook dinner for the two of us. I then thought… I know nothing about my granny and her life. I started asking her questions, ‘Where did you meet Granda?’ ‘How many siblings did you have?’ ‘where have you worked?’ simple questions that expanded into story after story about her life.

I decided to write this blog about my granny, as I do think she is an amazing and inspirational woman. She is witty, intelligent, kind, and caring but I also want to let people know that its okay to ask questions.

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Get to know your grandparents, you parents, aunties and uncles, anyone. Because what you hear and find could surprise you. Asking questions can:

  • Help us to acquire knowledge
  • Help us to eliminate confusion
  • Help to allow someone else to feel special/important
  • Help to strengthen a relationship

If you take anything from this blog post, I hope that it is to help encourage you to ask the people around you about their life and be inspired to listen and take on the stories they tell you. to remember what their stories for them and to pass on their legacy which is exactly what I tend to do with my Granny’s stories.

Aimee Orr is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn: aimee-orr Twitter: @aimeeorr13

 

 

 

The things I learned from 13 year olds

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by St. Mary’s College, Derry to come to their school during Global Entrepreneurship week and talk to year 9 students about myself. As you can imagine, I was feeling a mixture of emotions which included genuine shock and horror of what they would think of me, and why would they want to hear me ramble on for an hour?

I think that’s what our problem is, many of us are so over whelmed with self-doubt that we don’t enjoy things that push us out of our comfort zone. I pondered over the e-mail for around an hour before just impulsively replying saying ‘yes, ill do it!’. At the time I didn’t know if my impulse answer was a blessing or a curse.

The entire journey up to Derry I felt ill. I wanted to e-mail the school and tell them I’d accidently ditched my car, or fell off the face of a cliff through no fault of my own, but I’m too scared of karma/ going to hell so I thought, ‘better not’.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I survived the journey, and arrived at the school – which by the way is stunning! And wandered on in introducing myself to the receptionist, who pretended to know who I was, but actually had no idea what I was doing there. I was met by Claire who had been emailing me throughout the weeks previous to this day and she guided me to an assembly hall closed off by two solid doors. She opened the door and 100 odd tiny faces turned to look at me.

I handed over my USB to the technician guy and the teacher at the time introduced me as ‘young entrepreneur Olivia McVeigh’. At the sound of my own name I was near sick all over their tired looking heads, but you’ll be glad to know I wasn’t.

I began my talk and I chatted to them about how, I was only a makeup artist, I didn’t start an app or invent a machine that washes your ma’s windows. But I make a living for myself using my own two hands. I proceeded through my talk, telling them about my school life, chatting about how terrible UCAS is and how scary it was starting university on your own. I told them about how I promoted my business through social media, like every other john, dick and harry online and the dangers of our social media lives today. I finally got to the part where I had inserted an ‘activity’ as a contingency plan in the case I forgot all my words and would have time to gather my thoughts.

I walked off the stage and went down to chat to the girls sitting in front of me, they told me they were only 13 and they all wanted to be makeup artists like me. I told them that I was nervous to come and talk to them this morning and they said “why? Sure its only us?” which I had a good laugh at. I found it hilarious that they put me at ease just like that, and this whole time I had nothing to worry about. I asked them did I bore them too much and their reply was “we get out of class for an hour to listen to you talking about makeup, we’re loving life” which I also had a good laugh at. Their ideas were so simple, that I wished I could go back to their age.

At the end of my talk I asked them did they have any questions for me, I was shocked at how creative their little minds were, and how brave they were to ask out in a big crowd. I answered questions about how I dealt with stress, hate and people judging what  do. A young girl also asked did I know her cousin as he also lived in Tyrone, which I also thought was funny.

However, what shocked me the most about these young girls was when asked would any of them want to start their own business, the whole room of students put up their hands. I was amazed at how far we’ve come from when I was back in year 9, granted it might not be that long ago, but if someone had asked my year group that question, I’m not completely sure how many of us would have answered. These girls were so motivated to learn and better themselves, and it was so inspiring!

When I arrived home later that day I was surprisingly inundated with messages from the students, telling me about their experiences and thanking me for coming to talk to them. I found it shocking (in a good way) that they felt they were able to chat to me and tell me about how they felt online, which I suppose shows one of the advantages to our socially connected online lives in this day and age.

What I learned from these group of girls was that, they are braved than I ever was at that age, and maybe even now, they were brave enough to admit they were scared, yet brave enough to say they would still take the jump and become their own bosses, which I’m all for!

Olivia McVeigh is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @oliviamcveigh_ ; Linkedin – Olivia McVeigh ; WordPress – https://oliviamcveigh.wordpress.com/blog/ ; Twitter – @McveighOlivia

How to stay organised and manage your time effectively – as an influencer, student and full time employee 

One of the things I do well is managing my time. I work 40 hours a week, in full-time education, I have a 16 hours a week internship and I am an influencer – which means I have to produce content daily! I also sew, go to the gym, cook, look after my cats and all the normal day to day stuff that comes in between. So, how do I manage my time and stay organised? This is a good question! Well, forget about all those booooring time management courses you had to watch or thought about watching because I am going to quickly outline for you, the 5 things you need to do to stay on top of things and manage your time effectively.

  1. Write a to-do list

I know this one might seem a bit obvious but honestly it can help so much! Try to be as specific as possible, so for example, if you have a meeting don’t just write “meeting” write “meeting today at 3pm with x”. This will give you and your head good clarity. If you’re meeting with a photographer for example (I know us influencers love to dab into photographer meetings) then you write a more in-depth list (see picture for example). In terms of time management, if you have to prepare some outfits for this meeting then its  probably best to prepare the night before. If you know you are meeting at 3 and you have to prepare some outfits and you know it takes you 2 hours to get ready but you also need to have breakfast, feed the cats, send some emails then this is what your list might look like…

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As you can see I’ve used an online program to make my lists, it’s called Trello. You can get the app version as well so if you are out and about and need a quick peek at your list it’s only a finger swipe away.  As you can see preparing stuff the night before can really help in saving you some time the next day, also writing down the times will help measure how long you have to do each activity which will help you stay on track. Always prepare your lists the night before or the day before, this will give you clarity of what needs to be done and give you some headspace.

2. Don’t be lazy when it comes to creating

Easier said then done I know but being able to manage all of these means action, action, action. There is no time to sit down and binge on your favourite Netflix series. Think of it this way. While you’re sitting watching the next episode of YOU there is someone else out there doing! Doing and getting ahead of the game.  Influencing is becoming a very competitive market and every day a new influencer is raising the bar. If you want to become successful you need to produce content. With that said always ensure your content is authentic and you are actually enjoying what you are producing as this is meant to be a fun industry that provides you with freedom by being your own boss.

3. Split your week with set times – set a routine

Always have set times for each activity you have to do, that way you get into a routine/habit of doing things and you don’t fall off track. For example, every Tuesday, I focus on university for the first few hours of the morning, in the afternoon allow some time for my internship (I normally work from the office) and later that evening go to work. Because I work a late shift on Tuesday it means on Wednesday I’m either off or on a late again which means Wednesdays are my days of creating content because I have the full day with no interruptions to do so. As you can see this gives structure and routine. To me this is the best form of organisation and a great way to manage my time this is because I know what to expect which means I am always one step ahead.

4. Make use of the night before

I touched on this earlier but let me go into more detail. Okay, so, giving yourself 1 to 2 hours every evening to prepare for the next day will help you with managing your time, it also will give you clarity and some headspace. Sometimes if I have a lot to do – or I think I have a lot to do – I write my list, prepare everything the night before and I realise that whilst in my head there’s a lot going on, in reality there isn’t much to do. This allows me and my brain to rest which means I can have a good night sleep – if the anxiety doesn’t kick in – and the next day I feel more prepared to attack the day.  Here’s a list of things you can prepare the night before to save you some time in the morning …

  • Breakfast (I like overnight oats)
  • Lunch (Make this the night before to avoid worrying about it the next day and saves you money)
  • Prepare you’re outfit/what you’re going to wear
  • Prepare a bag (I do this when I’m going to uni or the gym)
  • Write a list for the next day
  • If you’re going for a shoot – prepare everything the day before
  • Iron your clothes etc…

 

5. Give yourself study weeks

As I mentioned previously I am also in full time education. Right now I am in my second semester of my MSc degree in Communication and PR at Ulster Uni. Guys, this is a FULL ON COURSE, it’s hard! But by managing my time and keeping organised I am able to do it. Other than putting time aside each week for reading, researching and planning etc… I create ‘study weeks’. In these weeks I will focus on nothing but university. I will ensure I have some stock content for Insta so all I need to do is upload but wouldn’t do it as often as in my normal weeks. I will ensure I am not overloaded in work or stressed and I will focus all my time and energy towards uni. I do these sporadically across the semester but intensify nearer to deadlines. I will do nothing but assignments, I will be at one with my assignments and I will be, the assignment. Basically I will put everything that I do on normal days as 0 priority and focus everything on planning and completing assignments to get the best results. This worked really well for me in the first semester which means I will definitely be doing this again.

6.  Lastly, don’t forget to take a break!

I highly recommend holidays! Rest is very important especially if you are juggling so many things at once. You can either schedule time in the day or take a week off. For me, I go to the gym. It helps me clear my mind by focusing on my body and soul. Yoga would be great too. For others, maybe reading a few pages out of a book, going for a drink with a friend, watching an episode of YOU. Whatever it may be, make sure you get some ‘me time’. However, linking back to point two don’t forget doing ‘too much resting’ can turn into a routine and eventually become your habit.

Do you have any tips? something I missed? I would love to hear from you as well… drop me a comment below.

India Reed is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – indialee_reed ; YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCujm8EoQQuxyAjf2Z1wJYQ ; and Twitter – @indialee_reed. India is also on WordPress at https://indialeereed.blog/ – check out her most recent post A Guide to Belfast Charity Shops

 

Final Semester. Final Year. Final Stresses

The first semester of final year was a frantic, challenging yet worthwhile semester. For me it was a bumpy, bendy road fraught with many surprises and many late nights in the library with pressure levels heightened due to the fact that this really is our last chance at achieving the status quo in society “A degree”. Now in final semester, we can see university life ending and working life beginning. I’m starting to understand that stress is customary in final year; they go hand in hand like strawberries and chocolate. However, stress is necessary, if you weren’t stressing then you really should be asking yourself do I even really care? I decided for this blog to write about how I can plan to manage my stress over the next 3 months that involves just the simple things.

Here are three steps that I plan to implement in 2019 , in the hope that this will help my fellow final year student’s in putting an end their toxic relationship with Mr/Mrs Stress.

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Numero Uno:

Laugh.

So laugh, laugh, and laugh – no not in the library like some crazy lunatic if that’s what some of you are thinking and secondly no not in the lecturers face.  I mean laugh with friends, laugh on your own or laugh at some random funny videos on your phone. For me personally my go to app to really get me laughing is YouTube, from epic fails to the funniest news bloopers.  Laughing is by far the quickest and best stress reliever. It really is a workout, one study I found particularly interesting when I was scouring the internet found that laughing hard for one minute is the equivalent to the cardiovascular workout of running a mile- yes it does actually burn calories, unfortunately it won’t do anything for that beer belly! So next time you’re stressed out and someone tries to make you laugh don’t say “don’t make me laugh” just laugh and crack a smile.

Image result for laugh and stressNumero Dos:

Coffee.

Rarely will you see the words “drink more coffee” on a list of techniques for reducing stress. I know you’re wondering coffee why would I drink coffee if I want to relax?  I’m not saying drink loads of it. I’m saying drink it in moderation, like anything in our diet and lifestyle it’s all about moderation. I myself never believed in coffee, I was an anti-coffee evangelist, but it wasn’t long until I was converted and seen the light. Having one cup before or during studying, I found that it kept me alert and drastically reduced my feelings of stress, reading up on how coffee affected stress levels I found that studies show it can also affect neurotransmitters in the brain to help you fight of symptoms of stress.

Numero Tres:

Exercise.

Think about the last time you were stressed after a long day studying or working on coursework – did you exercise that day? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out. From my experience after spending the majority of my day in the library or in university completing work, I try to always go to the gym or fit in some form of exercise even if it is just 30 minutes. Fortunately for me I have housemates who motivate me to go and they too see the benefits of this. We learn and see about the physical benefits of exercise, but we rarely are told about the mental benefits of it. It is one of the best things you can do to develop a healthier brain and reduce stress levels. If you feel regularly stressed like most final year students (Unless your Einstein) and aren’t frequently exercising, a bit of physical activity might be just what you need. So in this final semester when coursework deadlines, exams and final dissertation drafts are approaching take one or two hours of your day to do a physical activity which you enjoy, because I know I will.

Don’t skip a chance to exercise; you’ll be doing yourself a favour.

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Travis Kelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/travis-kelly-509007150/

Hamilton Not Throwing Away Their Shot …

When writing this blog, I had many ideas in mind.  After sitting thinking about which idea would be interesting for people to read, I decided to write about something that I am huge fan of, and that is the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Anyone that knows me will know that there is nothing that I love more than Broadway musicals. One of the biggest musicals of the last decade has been Hamilton.  This is a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution and it has broken records that no one could have even imagined. Since Hamilton opened on Broadway in August 2015, in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, it has received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations (The Oscars of musical theatre), winning 11 including one for best musical.

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So how does a Broadway Musical become so successful? How has it been able to attract millions of people to go to see a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution?  How has Hamilton been able to attract people through their doors, from members of the British Royal Family to the everyday theatre-goer? Well, it’s simple – they have been able to use public relations and marketing to make Hamilton one of the most sought-after shows on Broadway.

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Hamiltion was created by Lin Manuel Miranda and it is based on the biography of Alexandra Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Lin Manuel Miranda is one of the main factors forHamilton’s success. Having already achieved success with shows like In the Heights, he had a huge fan base amongst musical theatre fans. He was also able to use his social media profile to attract attention for his new show, even before it opened. Once the show opened on Broadway, it soon became a huge success attracting many A – list stars such as Beyoncé and Oprah, to name a few. These stars would then post photos of themselves on social media, thus creating a desire for other people to go see the show.

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With the buzz of the show, and the amount of people trying to secure tickets, the show soon made headlines. People where literally willing to pay someone to stand in line at the theatre to try and secure a set of tickets. Trying to get tickets for Hamilton soon became impossible, with tickets selling for up to $1,150. The high price of tickets caused negative headlines for Hamilton, implying that it was impossible to get tickets unless you could afford the huge prices. To manage this crisis, and wanting to make Hamilton affordable for everyone, the Ham4Ham lottery was started where you could enter to win tickets for the show. In addition, the cast would often perform for crowds of people who were waiting outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre to see if they were lucky enough to win tickets. The #Ham4Ham would often be used by people at the show gaining extra social media attention for Hamilton.

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With Hamilton gaining so much attention, and not everyone being able to make their way to New York to see it or pay the huge ticket price, there was soon a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise. In this small way, you could get a taste of Hamilton even if you could not make it to the show. Marketing Hamilton means it is more than simply a Broadway show. Hamilton’s soundtrack was charting so well in the iTunes charts that they released a mixtape of the soundtrack, with songs being covered by popular artists such as Sia, Chance the Rapper and many more. There was such a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise that there is even a store in New York to keep up with the demand from Hamilton fans.  MH12

Hamilton was soon becoming a cultural phenomenon and was being used to talk about current social issues that were happening in the United States of America.  For example, Hamilton was being used when talking about politics, with the cast even performing for the Obamas at the White House. After Trump was elected President, and with protests breaking out around the country about the policies that he was introducing, many people were seen with posters at the protests that had lyrics from the musical on them such as, “History has its eyes on you” and “Immigrants – We get the job done”. During one of the shows when Vice President Pence was in the audience, the actor who played Aaron Burr, Brandon Dixon, asked Mike Pence after the show finished, and while he was still in the audience, to respect the diversity that the cast represents.  This got widespread media attention as was caught on camera by members of the audience.  Although it received negative reactions from people, including President Trump, many others applauded the cast for speaking out about social issues that were affecting the country and using their platform to educate people about politics.Image result for hamilton musical

I believe that Hamilton has made Broadway more popular than ever and has succeeded in bringing in a whole new generation of theatre fans.  Hamilton created such a buzz about Broadway musicals that there was even a Broadway Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, which not only included Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamiltion, but other big Broadway stars such as Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski. This has led to the success of many new Broadway musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen, which has achieved similar success to Hamilton.  Hamilton has also helped to change the world of Musical Theatre, attracting new fans and showing that it is okay to break down barriers and change the norm.

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Muriosa Houston is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MuriosaHouston ; Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/muriosa-houston-32b41413b

We Want Change

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m in for a 10 minute snore-fest on how things need to change with the uncertainty of Brexit”.  I’m afraid that’s not exactly what I mean. I mean that I am one of the many people within the country that actually want change. Literally change. I want your 50p’s. Give them to me.

From no age I have been an avid coin collector. My journey kicked off early as I was making my communion, I received an envelope and found that there seemed to be a coin rattling around the bottom of one of my cards. As I gritted my teeth in utter disbelief, not knowing that the content of this card would give me a life long hobby,  I tore opened the card anticipating another pound coin. There was something different in this one, a special coin, a £5 coin.

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This coin grabbed my attention immediately, it was the weight of it and how it felt, nothing to do with the value of it. I had something that nobody else had. As of that I began to pay more attention to the face of coins, I started to notice that they weren’t all the same and there are numerous different faces to collect. I became hooked. I had an unnatural obsession with coins and had every Tom, Dick and Harry on the hunt for me.

As much as I loved collecting all different types of coins I developed an obsession with 50p’s. Beatrix Potters, Isle of Man, Kew Gardens, 2012 Olympics, you name it I have them. There was something about the shape of the coin and the look of them that grabbed my attention over all the other coins I had. I took all my 50p’s from the ugly mug which I stored my coins and put them into a fresh velvet 50p holder to show their superiority. I disregarded my other coins and went on my quest to have every 50p there is. Its hard to believe its been going on for over 10 years.

 

(These images display the 2012 Olympics 50 pence pieces and the 2016 Beatrix Potter collection)

The ultimate goal for all 50p collector is to get your hands on a “Kew Gardens”. It comes from the 2009 collection and is worth quite a bit of money. Averaging £140 on Ebay it is a much sough after coin. I couldn’t live knowing that the least circulated 50p wasn’t in my possession and got it for Christmas. (Try explaining to your parents you want them to spend 300 times the worth of a 50 pence piece on one.) As you could imagine, it didn’t go down too well, but being the supportive beings that they are they pulled through and now my baby rests in the velvet cradle beside some of the most iconic 50p’s in my possession.

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To be honest acquiring coins on the internet isn’t something I do but for a Kew Gardens I had to make an exception. I have all my friends tortured who handle cash in their day-to-day jobs – but this is the exciting bit. As they say the chase is always the best part! On a daily basis I receive snap-chats from my friends with 50ps, “Have you got this one” often to get my response, “I have it keep looking”, and it may seem monotonous but I cant get enough of it.  Its far more satisfying finding them in your change and your friends change than purchasing them online which I find boring.

10 years and 63 50p’s later I am still as hooked as ever and don’t plan on giving up my quest to complete every collection there is.

 

David Hughes is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on: Twitter – @DavidHughes34 ; LInkedIn – linkedin.com/in/david-hughes-2a9117172.

My personal guide to living (your best life)

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a quote from Roald Dahl, concerning the importance of being an enthusiast in life, and chasing your interests at full speed. He advised to embrace your interests with both arms, hug them, love them and above all become passionate about them.

Try something every week that scares you, whether it be a new flavour of Nespresso pod (typical me) or wearing a piece of clothing somewhat outside of your comfort zone. I try to surround myself with the dreamers, the believers, the inspirers, and most importantly, my home team; the people who see the best in me when at times I may not be able to see it myself.

My life is in no way perfect (nobody’s is, not even Beyoncé’s…) but I like to think of myself as someone who will always try to see the good in a situation, and aspire to find a solution to every problem (unless it concerns the printer in work, we just don’t get along).

 

Buy the over-priced coffee

Yes, many will say £2.60 is a lot for a single cup of coffee, but if spending that on the way to work every morning allows you to kick start your day with a happy attitude then you do you. It’s your money, and you have every right to spend it in however way you feel fit. You could even go for a short walk while drinking your coffee, ticking two things off the self-care checklist.

I seem to have established a reputation in my workplace for ‘refusing to use the kettle’ as they put it; I don’t believe anything can beat a good Soy Latte (yes I’m one of those people) from Caffe Nero. However, there’s worse things in the world that I could be spending my money on, and I genuinely feel my work day goes a lot better post-Nero. This could well have reached the placebo effect stage, but I’m quite content with my routine and don’t plan on rebranding my coffee-addict-self anytime soon.

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Choose your company wisely

Whether you have kids yourself, you’re an auntie/uncle, or a close friend is a parent, fit in time for children when at all possible (unless you’re one of those people who simply cannot figure out how to get along with small children, that’s ok, you can be excused from this step). I cannot emphasise enough just how helpful a couple of hours with a child can be when you’re feeling down or stressed.

I have two little cousins, four and five years old, who I absolutely adore and would go as far as branding my favourite people in the world. There is no doubt that even 10 minutes with them will completely brighten my day. The happiness and innocence expressed by children is absolutely incredible, and will be sure to add a little sparkle to your outlook. Children remind me of little rays of light, brightening the world around them one laugh at a time (when they’re not crying over the shape of their toast of course). View the world through the eyes of a toddler sometime, it’s pretty amazing.

 

Quit Competing

Not meant in the literal sense of course – if you are a devoted member of a competitive sports team or dance school, give it your all and take home the gold. (This type of competition is great – I was a competitive dancer for the majority of my childhood and I can honestly say these were the best days of my life and the experiences, friendships and achievements have shaped me as a person set to tackle adulthood.)

In a workplace, educational, or social context, remember that your only competition should be the person you were yesterday. Why compete with those around you when you can simply be the best version of yourself; originality is key, and in itself is an advantage. If striving for a promotion, for example, put full focus into a clear demonstration of why you are fit for the role, rather than worrying about a fellow candidate’s attempt to succeed.

The popular saying ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ is quite important for a multitude of reasons. Work on building your friends and colleagues up, don’t waste your own valuable time trying to plan the approach to an aimless goal of making yourself better than those around you. Life requires a bit of (healthy) competition, but knowing where to draw the line is the vital piece in the puzzle. Supporting others’ successes won’t ever dampen your own.

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“No” is a recognised word in the English language

…and it’s totally OK to use it. Nothing in life is more important than your mental health, happiness and overall well-being. If you don’t want to do something for whatever reason (honestly believe me, a 2-hour social event doesn’t warrant an excuse complete with references and bibliography), never feel guilty about politely declining.

A true friend or family member will never take it personally (unless you’ve committed to being someone’s bridesmaid, you might have to follow that one through). You don’t need to lie, make up silly excuses, or over-explain yourself; honesty is the best policy. Spend less time worrying about what others think, the best day of your life will be the one on which you decide that your life is your own.

 

Go to Disneyland

I’m serious, I went to Disneyland Paris last September with my bestfriend, and it was the best 5 days EVER. We went on all the rides, ate Mickey Mouse shaped macaroons costing €5 each (totally justifiable because they were Mickey Mouse shaped) and relived our entire childhood. Ok so, realistically you can go anywhere in the world, it doesn’t have to be Disneyland (although I would highly recommend). Travel outside of your home country, see what the world has to offer, sample new food and enjoy new experiences. Take in unfamiliar cultures and enjoy warmer climates. Travel is education for living.

Take photos! Anyone who knows me at all will be aware of my profound love for capturing life through my camera lens; I am in no way a professional by any means, I use my iPhone, and the same 3 filters that I have grown to love will re-appear with every picture I post. I have always loved the idea of capturing memories. My Dad was a keen videographer, confirmed by the endless clips of trips to the park and lengthy insights into 2-year-old Nora’s early music career. He knew he was making memories, but not that those memories would be so invaluable to his family in just a matter of months’ time. My Dad passed away suddenly in June 2000, two days before a family holiday and just two months before I started Nursery School. These videos are all I will ever need, and have inspired me to continue documenting the moments in life that are worth reliving.

NB16

Eat the chocolate

Personally, I am an avid gym-goer and have been for a couple of years now. I work-out a couple of times a week, eat healthily and take care of my body (apart from consistently continuing to consume dairy when I am, in fact, intolerant).

An unhealthy relationship with food and body-image is where it goes wrong. Love your body for what it is, and if it tells you it would like a treat on a Friday night, then allow it exactly that. After all, your body has sat through your 9-5 week, it has attended your lectures, carried the weekly shop home from Sainsburys, and called into Starbucks for the office coffee run; give it a little weekend pick me up, it’s what it deserves. Eating a bar of chocolate will not ruin your fitness regime, a glass of wine won’t lead to a disappearing act from your calf-muscle, and the dress you have planned to wear out next weekend will still fit. My mum once told me to enjoy ‘everything in moderation’ and I pretty much live by that. If you don’t enjoy the finer things in life, nobody else is going to do it for you. I guarantee Simone Biles has a share bar of Dairy Milk in her kitchen cupboard.

 

Finally, just be nice to people

Inner battles are not always publicised through Facebook status’, sometimes it can be the people who seem the happiest who are struggling the most behind the scenes. Be a positive presence, a friendly smile, a listening ear. Just knowing that someone is in your corner can have a massive influence on the mind. Try not to take everything in life so personally (I am soooo guilty of this), and do not listen to that little voice in your head who drops by from time to time to tell you that you aren’t good enough.

In whatever way you choose to spend your days, take time to ensure you are living for YOU. Stop dreaming about success and go out and build it. The secret to having it all is believing that you already do, what comes next is simply dependent on your choice to ‘just do you’. The world will continue to spin, and Mondays are (unfortunately) here to stay. Trust your instinct, remember who you are, and the game will change.  You don’t need to wait until ‘next week’ to start living your best life.

P.S. Buy the £2.60 coffee.

Nora xx

 

Nora Brennan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – @noraellenb / Twitter – @noraellenb / LinkedIn- Nora Ellen Brennan.