a simple thank you…

Both 2015 and 2017 were incredibly pivotal years in my life, and I’m relating the confidence that I gained through watching Strictly to the incredible changes that I made in those years. It can seem sort of silly how much a show can impact you, or the people on it, especially when there’s a chance that you’ll never meet them (time has since proven otherwise after 2015), but the idea is the same. So this is a blog post to thank two incredibly wonderful women for being who they are and inspiring me to do the same.

In the fall of 2015, I was struggling with feeling stuck in a job that no longer appreciated or respected the time that I had put into working with them. At the time of my departure from that job, I was the more senior staff members, even though I had taken a medical leave earlier that year. I had worked there for nearly four years, and suddenly, I was treated with very little respect when presenting my superiors with issues reporting my health. That job meant the world to me, and to this day, I still keep in touch with some of my coworkers and families from that centre, but leaving was the best thing that I ever did.

During that time at the centre though, I first discovered Strictly and after very little convincing from a close friend, discovered my support for Katie and Anton. From them on, I spent countless hours reflecting and reading over various interviews that Katie had given. I wont ramble on for hours about how much she means to me, because at this point, I’d hope that you all know just how important Katie is to me, but knowing her own strength inspired me to do something that – at the time – terrified me more than anything. I am forever grateful for the kindness she had shown me then, and continues to show to me as time goes on. She will always be one of my favorite inspirations and has played an important role in helping me become a more confident person. (K, you know how much you have helped and inspired me.)

2017 has been another pivotal year in my life – in September, just as Strictly began for the new year, I found myself living 3,000 miles away from the place that I had spent the rest of my life calling home and far away from almost everyone who I trusted and considered a friend. While I have been silent about it, and instead, focusing on my new life in university in England, there have been many moments when I have wondered if I have made the right choice in this move and missed the feeling of comfort and familiarity from back home.

But each weekend, to see Debbie and Giovanni on Strictly, and watch their partnership grow over the past three months has been incredible. I have found comfort in this year’s Strictly thanks to them, and while it doesn’t ease the feeling of being homesick, it has brought back memories of sitting back home, when I first fell in love with the show in 2015. Each week, Debbie has inspired me, not only as a dancer, but as a person. She never fails to let a bad week get to her and her positive, determined energy to give it her all reminds me of what I love so much about Strictly in the first place.

So thank you Strictly, for introducing me to two incredibly wonderful and inspiring women who have helped me through very difficult times in my life.

Debbie, no matter what happens this coming weekend, you will always be my Strictly 2017 winner, and thank you for bringing your heart and soul to the dance floor each week.

Katie, you already know how much you mean to me and I’m so thankful for your kindness and love. I am forever grateful for you, never stop being your incredible self.

(And PS: Thanks you both Giovanni and Anton for teaching two of my inspirations to become beautiful ballroom dancers.)

staying strong

“keep smiling darling, you have so many wonderful opportunities coming your way.”
– katie derham 

This is going to be a blog post of a different sorts, it has a topic, but instead of giving you the history first, I’m going to start with the positive. Because that’s what someone who struggles with mental health is told, isn’t it – don’t let your mental illness define you. So, this is me – attempting to not let my mental illness define me and talk about how it has shaped me into the person that I am today.

I’ll give you a little bit of context too, for anyone who hasn’t been here (which is a lot of you!), I’m currently sitting by the window in the Brighton LEON. Which, I hope you’ll all know how that specific location, and the people connected to it, have impacted my life. Because that’s another, very important part of mental illness – being able to talk about your struggles with the people who you trust.

Continue reading “staying strong”

Week One… 

Well, I’ve done it – week one in England is coming to a close. I’ve officially been in England just over a week now, and I figure that this blog would be another way to keep everyone updated on how its going. The past few weeks have been crazy, but I’ve finally gotten myself settled down enough to write this.

Also before I go on, I want to take note to the fact that yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and I want to dedicate this blog post to a few people – people who have helped me – and the people who have encouraged me to take this step. A lot of them already know their significance in my life, but it’s worth mentioning once again, so to Izzy, Becca, Niki, Liz & Katie – thank you, this one is for you all. Continue reading “Week One… “

Book Review; Can I Speak to Someone in Charge?

“Just image if we, the normal girls, stood united as an enormous, hysterical and proud army. We would be unstoppable.”
– Em Clarkson, author of Can I Speak to Someone in Charge?
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First things first, I have never been that much of a reader. Even in school, I struggled through the majority of the assigned reading material, and despite the fact that my mother is a school librarian herself, I never found much excitement in a new book. Some of that, mind you, could come from the fact that I am an avid writer, so if asked to either spend my down time writing or reading, I will always pick writing.

Secondly, I had absolutely no idea who Emily Clarkson was – or what her blog Pretty Normal Me was even about until this past summer. So, the irony in the fact that I would find so much joy and comfort in reading a book by someone who I knew very little about. I first heard about Em – and her blog – through a tweet from Louise (remember her? I met her when I was in London) about a podcast that the two of them would be doing. Naturally, I decided to see what the podcast was about – and in turn doing so – realized that I also wanted to get to know more of Em’s thoughts, and read about the issues she discussed in her blog.

When I discovered her book was coming out, I decided it would be a perfect belated birthday/getting my student visa accepted present to myself, and I preordered it! A part of me knew about some of the topics she had chosen to focus on because of various mentions she had given in weeks prior, along with the discussion of a few of the chapters from the book itself. I didn’t realize until I actually received the book itself on how much I would be able to find myself relating to it.

The format of the book itself is told is a series of letters; to friends, to companies, to some of her personal belongings, to her readers, to herself, to anyone who has had an influence on her life but most importantly – to any woman who feels like they might not exactly fit society’s definition of a “normal” girl. A few of the chapters stood out to me much more than others – I have struggled with my appearance, the pressures of society to “fit in”, at various points in my academic life, and with friends throughout my life. Those were the ones that I found myself trying to keep from laughing at the moments I related to, nodding along in agreement, or at some points even trying to force myself to pause to reflect on what I had just read.

While I could go on for hours about how deeply parts of Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? resounded with me, I’ll say this instead – buy the book. Especially if you’re a young woman looking for a purpose in the world, someone to reassure you that your choices are yours, or just something that will make you laugh when you need to unwind. The entire book is written to empower us women – as young women – that we can do anything, choose any path, and live out the life that we aspire to live. Our rules are our own, and the pressures that we put on ourselves are of no fault of our own, but instead, society’s. And if you so aspire to, you can follow your dreams, accept the life you’ve been given, and know that – just because you’re a woman – you’re worthy of being in this world as much as anyone else.

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Can I Speak to Someone in Charge can be bought through Amazon UK, and it ships worldwide!