Summer, Summer, Summertime

 (RIP Drew Heavey, who used to blast this from a boombox in the summers of my youth )

 Its the Summer Holidays. Across the country teachers have gleefully been updating statuses about their freedom from pupils, marking and their new found readiness to party/ go on holiday and so on. Several have gone on holiday already- and I’ve only been off for one day! I have 6 weeks of freedom ahead of me and in the absence of a great deal of money or a get away abroad- quite frankly this scares me quite a lot. I can’t remember what I did in those breaks and I had them for a good amount of time stretching into my mid twenties! What did our parents do with us everyday for 6 weeks?!
Like a student, I need a summer job. One that gets me out of the house and in an ideal world somewhere nice and hot;  in a perfect world, one where I can earn enough money to finance all the weddings, hen parties and birthday’s arising from September onwards. I have been applying for temp jobs/ volunteering so please keep your fingers crossed or even better hook me up! 🙂
With all the free time I have, the moral value of work has been cropping up in my thoughts quite a lot recently- I think we are conditioned to believe that if we work, particularly if our work is tiring/ boring, that we deserve to treat ourselves. This could be in the form of drinks after work, going out to the cinema, socialising with friends and so on. However, as I now work less, I find myself feeling guilty for going out as much as I did when I was in full time work. This guilt is not only about spending money that I can ill afford, there is also a guilt about whether I deserve to go. I am a very social person and I dislike feeling this conflict and wonder how I became so indoctrinated with the protestant work ethic.
I know some of you will be wishing you had the amount of time off I have and probably think ‘Michelle, quit whinging, start enjoying your time off’. You’re right and so please send me your ideas about what you would do, I’ll happily accept the inspiration. The remainder of this post is what I am going to do whilst I am searching for work – like being on holiday I am going to embrace the freedom to do new things and in my research here are a few things (ie an itinerary) I came up with:
Mon 23rd: Workshop on The Mechanism of Speaking Chinese-  in the N4 Library
Wed 25th: Visit the Estorick Collection and hear a talk on abstract art
Thurs 26th: Visit the Freud Museum (free Thurs 26th July)
Friday 27th: Visit the contemporary London Street Photography atKing’s Cross Station
And here are some ideas of what else I can do:

Visit the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition (until 19th Aug)

Admire the contrast between Norway and Morocco in Sandra Jordan’s photos at 10GS
Hear some new music at Camden Acoustic on Tuesdays (Clapham North)
Or some jazz at the Canary Wharf Jazz festival.

Send me your ideas!

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A letter to my 19 year old self

Dear Michelle,
How are you? I am you but 10 years later. You look pretty much the same and you live in the borough you were born with. It may surprise you but you are going to live in Durham and enjoy it; move to Mile End which you’ll look back at with slight tinges of regret (more about that later) and live in Walthamstow for 2 years and quite enjoy that too. You always said you were going to move to East and you did!
I know you are angry and very sad at the moment and these feelings will partially shape you when you go to university. You will start to love it there and you are going to make some great friends.  These friends will support you through some of the most trying points in your life so don’t give up. You will never be truly alone. The garage and grime music you love will lead you to DJ regularly at university and have a radio show. After university you will write a music column on the back of this DJ-ing and inherit some of Dad’s records. You still love dancing though you are less of a raver these days.
You are going to get the degree you wanted and go to the university you wanted to go to for your Masters. Your Masters year will be one of great significance to you- you’ll meet a boy, fall in love and have your heart broken.  The pain of this breakup will shadow you for a long time but eventually you will gain perspective. Your masters has its own financial debt, one that you still have not totally finished paying off, but you have a kind friend that will support you with this. You are not rich but you manage to survive. And you are surrounded by people that will look after you if needs be.
You are going to have more lot of ups and downs with your family, but ultimately you will gain greater acceptance of who they are. It will take a long time but you will step back from your relationship with Mum and she will be less able to hurt you. Be patient and have your own life! All of your Yorke siblings are going to suddenly grow up very quickly and this will be difficult at times. You will be very sad for your brothers when Drew unexpectedly dies and their lives take divergent paths. The path T ends on when he is 19 will make you write this. More positively you have a great relationship with your dad- yes, you do, and become very close to your sister Simone. Believe or not, the sibling you will be closest to is Harmonie.You are going to have a new brother in 5 years time…
You are going to do lots of different jobs and meet lots of new people, some of whom become really good friends. You will struggle with the times you are unemployed, but you always end up with a new job and surviving. You will at times be in conflict with your ideas about what you should be doing and earning and the reality of what you are doing. Be more honest with yourself and have more confidence! You will work at a charity, yes a charity, for several years and your Durham and LSE educated self will be buffed to a very professional standard. You will train as a life coach through this work and this will be incredibly transformational for you. You will be clearer on who you are and what you have to give. You will also meet a person that will introduce you to international charity work, this leads you to go to Africa and volunteer. Yes Africa, and yes you will volunteer. And you will absolutely love it.
Travel gradually becomes more important to you. Whilst living with Dad, you will visit Paris, Rome and Barcelona, and in the following years visit Sardinia, Egypt and Morocco and discover a love of Spain. You will visit friends all over the UK and enjoy getting out of your beloved London. Your love of Kandinsky will not dim and 10 years later you will be very moved when you see his work at an exhibition. You are quite cultured these days but lazy. Make an effort to do the things you love. By the way- you love baking cakes, taking photos and fantasy novels. The latter you indulge yourself in and read into the early hours.
I have to break it to you- you are not in a relationship. You will have lots of temporary boyfriends but your fear of getting hurt will lead you to hide more and more. This fear will be compounded by a tragic event in your mid twenties. Your ideas of a relationship will change quite a lot over time and friendship and having similar intellectual values will become more important to you. My advice would be- be yourself, don’t pander to others and remember just because the love of your life (there will be several!) does X, Y or Z, that does not mean you are a bad, unlovable person. ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’.
Well that is all I have to say for now. You are stronger than you think and will always survive those dark days. You have friends and family that love you and you are working towards being the person you want to be. Your love of self help is an asset here. Your interest in education and equality will not wane and will define who are you. Stay strong.

Love,

Michelle xxx

This post is dedicated to my brother Tiar’nan Heavey (19) who inspired this post and my sister Simone Mangal (18).

How to be happy…

It has been an interesting week this- I discovered the cathartic nature of karaoke; started at my new school on Thursday; and had my official goodbye at work. Its been an amazing and scary time full of change, change, and more change.
I received so many lovely messages about my new job and even more on my leaving PP,  I feel very loved and respected and I am glad that I have brought feminism, interesting debates and support to so many of my colleagues. Having cried my eyes out yesterday when giving my good bye speech, I suspect there might be a few tears on my last day next week….
On another note, I seem to be thinking more and more about happiness- what makes me happy; how happy do I feel; what can I do to feel more happy and so on. I have set myself a little project, obviously entitled the ‘Happiness Project’, where I have to do three of my happy things a week. 
My happy things include
– Going to an art gallery/ museum
– Going to an interesting talk
– Spending time with my VIPs (Very Inspirational People)
– Cooking on a Sunday
– Getting out of London
– Reading interesting books, especially fantasy novels
– Baking cakes
– Spending time with my family
– Taking photos in and around London
– Going to the cinema
I started off fantastically going to the Hajj exhibition with one of my VIPs, this was followed by going to see the Hunger Games with friends and I spent Sunday going for a lovely walk around Hackney Marshes with my Dad (photo’s here http://www.flickr.com/photos/364daysoflove/). I had a fantastic time at karaoke (my rendition of let’s talk about sex is hilarious apparently lol), saw my sister and Dad this week and am going to do something cultural soon. And yet, I still question… 

What makes you happy? Send me your inspiration!

Things I have been pondering this week

I recently had a conversation with some colleagues about whether they believe there is one person out there just for them. To my dismay, several of my colleagues all answered along the lines of they believe that there is not just one person that is right for them, dependent on your age and experiences, there could be several people that could be the ‘one’ and right for you at that time of your life.
This upset my romantic sensibilities. I want to believe that there will be one person that will be my other half and who will be worth all the waiting for. In fact I have been waiting for that person for a while now, rationalising that when I do find them, I wont have to look again as it will be forever. Well that’s what I’d like anyway! The ‘person who is right for now’ approach made me realise that I might have been wasting a lot of time- if there are multiple people that potentially are right for you, I might as well start dating lots of people now. It does take the pressure off of individuals- if multiple people are right for you, it could lessen the sting of relationships not working out as there is someone that will be right for you at each stage of your life. This is a new way of thinking for me, seeped in romantic novels as I am and as the reactive child of serial monogamists.
And then of course I met a man.
And my thoughts went along the lines of ‘Well if this person was my person that was right for this time in my life, I’d be quite happy!’. So maybe I will have to embrace a new romantic ideal.
I have been also thinking about hope recently. Until you are given some, you don’t realise how empty you felt without it. I’d like to give everyone a stash of hope that they could draw upon when needed, it really does make you feel differently. Feeling more hopeful led me to realise that I had been neglecting the everyday thankfulness and positivity that this blog originated with and I’m not sure if its my stress levels but I have noticed that I feel less positive when I am not consciously trying to find things that I am thankful for.
So this week I am thankful for :
  • the continued suggestions for temp agencies from Sophie and Rachael;
  • a great conversation that made me think about seeing the bigger picture; 
  • two evenings out with friends; 
  • the kindness and generosity that my housemates show me on a daily basis; 
  • and finally that I have a free ticket to see the Hajj exhibition and I get to see it with my lovely friends Livia and Hattie.
Just on another note- what makes you feel excited?
Lots of people have been asking me if I feel excited about my new job and I honestly have to say ‘No’. I know this might seem negative but whilst I can acknowledge that I am moving on to a new role that is going to challenge me and is completely different to my current role; and that I have had the courage to change something in my life that I wasn’t happy with. On the whole I feel nervous about my finances and sad to be leaving my colleague and my carnival project. Is this just part of the transition phase or am I just being not positive enough about this change?

I thought back to Gambia and how I wouldn’t let myself be excited before I went which now seems crazy! But I was terrified about doing something so different and it was a defense mechanism. I guess that is what I am doing right now, protecting myself just in case everything doesn’t go to plan. And as I have now realised this, just through writing this blog, I am going to have to be a lot more positive about the exciting new things that are coming to my life!

The Art of Forgetting…

How many times has a friend or colleague asked you ‘What did you do at the weekend?’ and you find your mind has gone completely blank? It happens quite regularly to me if I have not wrote anything down. I wanted to write about what I was thankful for but as I have not noted these down on my calendar, I am left with what my feeble brain can recollect over the course of this week.

Firstly, what has stood out for me the most is the reaction to a text that I sent to multiple friends and acquaintances asking for recommendations of temping agencies. I touchingly received several phone calls, two of which were from friends I had not spoken to in a while, and received a text reply from everyone else. There was slight consternation at my leaving full time work for a part time work – a feeling that I entirely reciprocate, however there was lots of support and suggestions which I am acting on- thanks!

If my happiness is in my own hands I have to make the decision to create change and in this case, it is time to move on. I envy those people that know what they want to do with their lives or are content in their careers. I occasionally feel angry that the universe has not revealed to me my greater purpose
in life but I am gradually realising that for some of us happiness and true understanding of ourselves has to be worked at, possibly as much as others who try to lose a great deal of weight or run a marathon. Slowly training and moderating our thought processes and behaviours for a long term greater gain. Boring, frustrating and annoying but true.
On another note but related to new thought processes- I was thinking a great deal this morning, particularly about my past and stressing myself out far too much when suddenly a thought popped into my head ‘Let it go’. And again ‘Let it go’.

This is an unusual thought process for me- I am uptight and a bit of a control freak and certainly not into letting things go. But as I felt myself let go of those thoughts, my mood brightened and I felt full of purpose- so I quickly got up and cleaned my room whilst I was feeling so productive!

There is so much I would like to forget- but If I do will I change who I am?
 

Making time to write a note each day…

As some of you may know, this blog started as a means for me to appreciate more in my life. To do this, I am to write a blog post about what I am thankful for each day; and/ or three things things that have gone well during the day. I have been pretty good at this, however recently I have been on an emotional roller coaster and have not been as diligent with my online posts. However, I have recognised that good things happen everyday and have been noting them on my bedroom calendar. I want to share with you the good things that have been happening in my life here:

Taking the time each day, even for a few minutes to record what has been positive is a good move forward for me. I am a hoarder and really like the idea of keeping this calendar as a physical record of my 364 days of love! 
 
One of the new things that has made me thankful is my wonderful new camera. I have been out and about taking pictures such as the below (taken in Nottingham &work kitchen) and love being able to capture small moments. I have the C4 New Year Revolution to thank, as one of my daily challenges was to document my life for a day. I did this and really enjoyed it and also realised that photos were the best way to show my Gambian friends what my life is like in the UK. You can check out my photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/364daysoflove/

Today is a good day.

Thought I’d write while I am excited and pleased- I have finally got the date finalised for the next Urban Mashup, which is my big fundraiser for B.A.C.E (Gambia). The last one was a huge success with me exceeding my fundraising target so I am aiming high this year. Get the 7th of April in the diary! Thank you Dece at the Rhum Jungle!
Also a friend just sent me an email introducing me to someone that might be able to help me set up a project at a local 6th form. And Ed is cooking me tea. And my lovelife may not be as desolate as I think. Mere conjecture at this point but its enough to make me feel good!

Is this what happiness feels like?