25 February 2013

Frankly: Decision made

Completely irrelevant, but this entire photostream is gorgeous. 

First off I apologise for this post being all over the place. I always write these 'Frankly' pieces as a stream of consciousness and I apologise for random changes in direction or spelling mistakes ;) These past few weeks have been full of thinking for me, about the direction I want my life to take & the decisions I need to make (or not make) in order to get there. I've been getting really stressed about the fact that I don't have everything  'planned out', and although a lot of this is self induced, I also feel like there's a lot of pressure on young people to have their futures completely mapped out. For a long while, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do - so this sudden uncertainty has been pretty hard for me to deal with.

When I was 17 I applied to study for a degree in Environmental Science at 5 different Universities in the UK. I felt like I knew where my life was going. I'd done a lot of research into  the career opportunities that different degree programmes would give me and I decided that ES would be the best way forward. I was accepted onto a MEnvSci at Sheffield,  planned to graduate in 2014 and then look for work as an Environmental Consultant. If I'm being honest, this career plan was heavily financially motivated - I wanted to study something that (a) I was interested in and would enjoy, but (b) would lead me into a 'good' career (i.e. one that was highly paid).  At that point in my life, 'successful' to me equated with a job that was highly paid - and that was pretty much it. Right up until the start of my third year this was the plan.

I'm not entirely sure when I began to question whether it was really what I wanted - but by the time Christmas came around it was really playing on my mind. Sleepless nights and confused conversations with my Mum were a regular occurrence and it began to really get me down. For the record, yes I do talk though every major decision with my Mum, because she's awesome (Hi Mum!) I tried to convince myself that I was okay with not knowing, that I'd just figure it out later - but it never really worked. Its not that I have to plan my life out down to the last little detail - but there's a real difference between taking some time to consider your options, and deliberately postponing decisions because you don't really want to think about things. At this point I had 4 options:

1) Continue with the course I'm currently studying - I was accepted onto an Undergraduate Masters course when I applied to Uni. This basically entails studying for 4 years and graduating with a Masters degree at the end of it - no Bachelors degree and you complete your Masters course in 9 months.

2) Switch onto the BSc, graduate & do a Masters degree elsewhere.

3) Switch onto the BSc, graduate and attempt to find a job...

4) Apply for PhD programmes. My personal tutor surprised the hell out of me by calling me into his office and giving me details of a fully funded, salaried, 3.5 year PhD programme he was running that he wanted me to apply for.

My biggest problem was that all of these options were good. I was so fortunate to be in this position and I felt bad for making such a big deal out of it (which didn't exactly help...!). By the end of the Christmas holidays I'd discounted the PhD - it was highly unlikely that I'd be accepted anyway, but after finishing my research project I realised that I really wouldn't want to spend 3.5 years of my life studying the associations between soil fungus and potatoes. I just don't think research is my thing.

Fast forward several weeks & I've finally made my mind up. I think in my heart of hearts I knew all along which path would be best for me, but sometimes its really hard to just go with your gut - especially when logically you're not sure its the right decision. Right now, I'm not sure a Masters programme is the best thing for me - in fact, I know it isn't the best thing for me. I've loved studying for my degree and I've loved the experience of University, but the thought of spending another year decoding scientific journals, writing essays, designing experiments, measuring 240 plants 3x a week with a ruler & studying for exams just... doesn't appeal to me. At all. In fact, I sort of hate the idea.

So in 4 months time, I'll be finished. The exam period officially ends on the 8th June, so sometime around then I'll be packing everything into boxes and rucksacks, leaving this house & saying goodbye to this city. I won't be going to graduation because I'm in Costa Rica, so that'll pretty much be it. Weirdly, this is the decision with the most uncertainty - but I'm happy & kind of excited. More and more I'm realising that I could never do something I hated just because the money was good - some people can, and in a strange way I admire that - but its not me.

Same photostream... Mark Twain was a very wise man.
Call me young, naive and idealistic (but don't, I'll get upset) - but I want a bit more out of life than getting out of bed every morning and dreading going to work. Experience has taught me that life is far too short, and far too precious to settle for that. So maybe this isn't what I planned when I was 17, maybe its not what other people think I should be doing, maybe it'll turn out to be a mistake (hope not). But it feels right, and that's good enough for me 

To anyone that made it to the end...I appreciate you x (and if you just happen to have my perfect job going spare... then y'know, email me)

This is part of Frankly: a series where I write about stuff that I think + don't really proofread. You can find other Frankly posts here

21 February 2013

Guest Post: Melissa Eileen Padilla

Hi guys! Something a bit different today. Last week I was contacted by aspiring author Melissa Eileen  Padilla who was wondering if she could write a Valentines Day piece. I thought it sounded brilliant, but unfortunately her next email went straight through to my junk folder (oops!). I was clearing out my email over the weekend & found it, so I got back in touch with her to see if she still wanted to run the piece. So here it is, a week after Valentines day! 

"My name is Melissa and I am currently living in San Diego, California. My psuedo/alter-ego nick-name is: Rubymariejane and you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram to get an inside look into all things me."

“Happily Never After?”
By: Melissa Eileen Padilla

What if all fairytales are wrong and essentially every tale ever told was a lie? Every Cinderella, every Sleeping Beauty – all the glitter and hope of true love, the holy grail of being awoken from a coma by an evil witch with just one kiss – happily ever after is really the opposite…happily Never after.

This is my story. Well, not really my story – it’s every girls story who is about to turn 25, who at some point experienced a long-term, somewhat loving relationship with an emphasis on marriage, only to find themselves alone days before and after D-Day or V-Day alone. I mean, happily Never after must exist or there would be no need for Danielle Steele novels, on-line dating, or any romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

It’s a strange concept but it does exist. Don’t get me wrong, in this sentence,  I am not knocking love or all the disgustingly cute couples of the world, strolling the aisles at Walgreens looking for the perfect, quintessential card for their significant other to receive and smile about as they later post a picture of it on Instagram – I’m simply stating that with the average rates of divorce, maybe happily ever after does not exist. Is happily ever after similar to Eve taking a bite of the forbidden fruit? Are we set up for failure at the hands of Disney and their perfectly, pixilated, chiseled, handsome, chivalrous (need I go on?) men who give the girl who is also perfect in every way their happily ever after.

I think there is a reason why these movies only last 90 minutes because it wouldn’t be a film or happily ever after to see what we all know is coming, dare I say the words – happily Never after. I have several favorite films and one of them I watched the other day and I loved it. “Blue Valentine,” starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling gives and honest, inside look to love. The film got me thinking – maybe instead of searching for happily ever after I should search for happily, hopefully at least 5 years of happy but maybe not so much the ever after. If I ever do decide to get married, I will change the vows to reflect this:

“I promise to honor and love thee until the happy runs out or death comes first.”

I love the feeling of love and I love falling in love. I am not afraid of love. I don’t have any walls up – I just simply don’t have the mindset of Charlotte from Sex and The City when she said, “I’ve been dating since I was 15, I’m tired, where is he already?” I feel like I have this massive strength running through my veins and I could make a Lance Armstrong joke here but I am taking the high road – kind of like he did. Get it, high? Okay, so I’m sure there are other girls in my position who feel similar to me and I think we V for Vendetta Valentine’s Day(including every day after) and take it back for us. Instead of dreading this day, I say we embrace it and take a look at all the happily ever after’s around us. Think about what makes you truly happy and do it. My day was be filled with snuggling with my cat, Molly (I asked her to be my Valentine already and she said YES!I got her on lock!), dancing like Michael Scott from, “The Office,” to all my ridiculous music that I hide from boyfriends but makes me super happy, and calling my friends and family because regardless of a man giving me my happily ever after – my friends and family already do. If anything, this past Valentine’s day made me realize with or without a man – how truly blessed I am.


What do you think, is there such thing as a happy ever after? I do think that movies can be a very unrealistic portrayal of relationships - they take hard work and compromise & things aren't always easy. But then, many people watch movies for light entertainment - not to see their own lives hashed out on the screen! 

18 February 2013

Watching the sun go down.

Its probably not a secret that I really love watching the sun go down (and come up). I think 90% of my Instagram feed is of the sky...oops! Lately we've been having some stunning sunsets around here & I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to try out time-lapse photography. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, time-lapse photography is when you take a bunch of images taken at regular (or semi-regular) intervals and stitch them together into a video so you get the appearance of time being 'sped up'.

I spent some time Sunday afternoon googling how best to approach it, but a lot of the websites talked about special software & camera kit - which I didn't have. So I figured that it couldn't be TOO difficult to figure out & I packed my camera up and headed out to the park. I set my tripod up overlooking the valley about an hour before the sun was due to set. I always use this site to figure out sunrise/sunset times & golden hour, its dead easy to use and I find it really handy so I don't miss the best light. I knew that I wanted to try and get the final video to be as 'smooth' as possible so I started shooting every 5 seconds & dropped down to every 7 when it looked like I might run out of space! I used my remote shutter so I could move around a bit, and also to avoid moving the camera. If you look carefully you'll notice I have a couple of nice shots of my hand where I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing... I shot in RAW but if I do it again I'll probably just shoot  medium-quality JPEG so I can fit more pictures on my memory card.

It was the perfect evening to try this. The sunset was gorgeous and it wasn't (too) cold standing around for an hour and 3/4. I got a few funny looks, but what the hey?! I tried a couple of the freeware programmes to stitch everything together, but in the end I just gave up and used Lightroom. I'm so pleased with how it turned out - I'm pretty excited to try it out again with a few different subjects! R took a couple of shots while we were out - it was magic to be out for the entire sunset. Crazy how it happens every single day and we hardly ever stop to notice how beautiful it can be.

Both pictures courtesy of Rich

Have you ever tried time-lapse photography? I'd love to see if you have!! I think I'm a bit obsessed now... 

17 February 2013

Moments squared II

Still loving the phone-cam. This week has been a good one. I've figured out a uni/life balance that works for me and the Walking Dead is back on t.v. We spent Monday huddled around my laptop watching the newest episode. So life is good. The weather has been all kinds of crazy this week, Wednesday it snowed like mad and was absolutely freezing, then yesterday was so mild that coats weren't really necessary. Clearly the weather gods are confused. Me and Hazel celebrated Valentines with a couple of bottles of wine take out Pizza. We got some deal which made a giant pizza super-cheap but they sent us a large AND a medium instead. So we ate pizza on Friday night too. Then we ate at Rev's (again) on Saturday night. The discount cards just make it rude not to...

1/ Learning something new 
2/ Waking up to a snow-covered skylight 
3/ Walking home from Uni - the hill was deadly and the wind got so bad in places that I was unable to walk forwards. Fun stuff!
4/ Little bit obsessed now...
5/ Reading & notes at my desk in the afternoons
6/ I love running just after the sun has come up 
7/ I saw my first Ice Hockey game at the winter varsity yesterday! We lost (per usual apparently) but only on penalties and I absolutely loved it. I found it really tense, but its a great sport to watch. 
8/ Productive mornings accompanied by green tea
9/ The view this evening as I was shooting a sunset. I'm having a go at my very first time-lapse so we'll see how that turns out! 

14 February 2013

Blog love on V-day

In case you didn't know... today is Valentines day. I could write for a long time about how awesome the people I love are (because, they really, really are), but instead I wanted to spread some blog love. I've seen a lot of lists around recently of peoples favourite blogs... but I can never narrow it down to a reasonable number. I read different blogs for different reasons - so its hard to pick 'favourites'. I can however pick my favourite bloggers... 

I read all of these blogs for the person behind them as much as the content. Some of them I know quite (or very) well, whereas others I've only exchanged a couple of emails with. It really stands out to me when someone has obviously taken the time to respond to you when you get in touch with them - be that via email, twitter or a blog comment. So without further ado, here are my favourites:

1. Michelle from On The Adventure // M is awesome (even if sometimes she totally spams my inbox). We've agreed that we were probably separated at birth & her blog is a pretty sweet place to hang out. I highly recommend it. 

2. Heather from A Hopeless Notebook // I find Heather a really inspiring person, she's not afraid to have big dreams or to be honest about them and I find that really refreshing. 

3. Freya from Nishaantishu  // Freya has a knack for taking amazing pictures of little moments in her life & has a brilliant taste in music. I will be forever in her debt for introducing me to First Aid Kit. 

4. Allie at Between Dreams // This girl is awesome. I'm a big fan of motivational writing, but I tend to get a bit frustrated at the fact that the authors always seem to be 100% perfect. Allie writes about her life in a way that's incredibly positive but still honest - I love it. I don't think I've every left a comment on her blog that hasn't received a really thoughtful reply. 

5. Jasmine at Curlicue // I just find this chick hilarious. Okay? That's pretty much it. I'm not going to tell you how awesome she is... because she'll tell you herself ;) 

6. Meggie at So It Goes //Okay, so this may be cheating a tiny bit, because Meggie is a real-life friend. But she's still awesome & she has mad photography skillz (I promise to never say that again...maybe). Go say hi to her! 

7. Kellene at This Lovely Little Day //Kellene is a pretty new find for me but she's already a firm favourite! She's so positive about everything and I'm convinced that hanging out with her would be awesome. 

I really hope you go and say hi to these ladies - you won't regret it!!

PS: I find it really weird to publish posts without pictures. But nothing really seemed appropriate...

13 February 2013

Bored of pancakes...

Yesterday evening R, Hazel & I made pancakes (surprise, surprise). For some reason I decided to make double so "I could have them for breakfast the next morning". This turned out to be a really bad plan and as well as having them for breakfast this morning, tonights dinner consisted of baked beans, MORE pancakes, and a fried egg. It worked better than I expected it to.

The pictures came out a bit rubbish (something about our kitchen is TERRIBLE for pictures). I had the ISO waaaay up & shot at about 4.0 but for some reason they still came out super-dark and/or really blurry. Carrying a tripod down 2 flights of stairs just to photograph pancakes seemed a tiny bit extreme, so I gave up and just stuffed my face instead. I'd been on an unsuccessful mission earlier in the day to locate chocolate spread and I'd resigned myself to lemon juice and sugar when Hazel turned up with After Eights. After Eights. In pancakes. So, so, unbelievably good.

What did you do for pancake day, anything special? 

11 February 2013

Monday Motivation: What we are

"You are the big bang, the original force of the universe... coming along as whoever you are" -  Alan Watts

10 February 2013

Moments Squared I

Last week my Mum kindly donated her old phone to the 'Vic needs a working phone' trust. One of the things I've been most excited about is having a phone with a fairly decent camera. I love my SLR to pieces but its not always practical to carry it around with me & its nice to be able to snap the little moments as they happen. I'm on Instagram but I don't always want to upload everything so I've been using the regular phone camera for most things. I love being able to look back on these random little pictures - they're the perfect way to remember things I'd probably forget otherwise.

1/ My favourite place
2/ Early morning reading - I'm reading Stillness Speaks at the moment and its really powerful stuff
3&4/ Sunsets around here have been stunning lately
5/ At the bus station last Sunday ready for the NW bloggers meet up
6/ Tea @ Spout Coffee shop in Leek
7/ I love the fact that our university buildings are so old
8/ Snow & rain in black and white - the view from my desk
9/ So.Much.Reading.
10&11/ More sunsets
12/ Tea & crochet in bed
13/ A random elephant that appeared outside the Students Union one day
14/ Journalling
15&16// Hannah came to stay this weekend and we had a gorgeous dinner out yesterday. So yummy.

06 February 2013

Goals: February

This is February. Taking care of myself, continuing to simplify and encouraging creativity. Bring it on.

PS: I'm now on Instagram! Are you? Let me know! And if you have any recommendations for people to follow I'd love to hear them!

04 February 2013

Monday motivation: You can't go wrong

Music probably has a bigger influence on my life than it should have. What I listen to can literally determine my mood. Does anyone else find that? Weirdly, the same songs can elicit different feelings depending on my mood when I start listening to it. Its very strange (a bit like me...). I stumbled across this song last week, in a magical part of youtube where everything I listened to was absolutely amazing. Love it when that happens.

Sometimes when I listen to music I get really strong feelings about it. Anything by Ben Howard immediately takes me back to the camping holidays we went on when I was younger. Bon Iver makes me want to live in the woods at the bottom of a mountain and Avalanche City gives me a really strong urge to pack whatever I can fit in a rucksack and take off somewhere. Is this making sense?

This song puts me in the best mood, but more than that - its 100% true. I've talked too much a lot about how I'm struggling to make decisions at the moment. In my heart of hearts though, I know that whatever I choose will work out fine. Remembering where you're from isn't about points on a map, or a building on a street. Its about the people who love you & knowing that they'll be right behind you regardless of what path you choose to take.

This song manages to capture all of that for me, and to be honest? Its pretty awesome.

Does music have such a big effect on you? What are the songs that really move you or make you think? 

Motivation Mondays is a series where I share images, quotes, videos or whatever else I find that really gets my brain going and/or my creative juices flowing. Being on a motivation/inspiration high is such a beautiful feeling and I want to really push myself to discover it every. single. week.  Ideally every day, but no-one's that positive, right?! 

03 February 2013

Sunsets & bus rides

February Sunset
Yesterday evening I just happened to look out of my window at all kinds of magic going on in the sky. This house may be falling apart, damp and crappy but the view from this window when the sun goes down makes it entirely worth it. I've become a little bit obsessed with panoramas recently, and whilst sunsets may be one of the most cliched things to shoot this way... I think it really needed it. If you click through it should take you to flickr and its a bit bigger on there.

Today I hopped on a bus (or 3) for the North West Blogger meet. This was a lot more stressful than it sounds because of my complete inability to use public transport. For a while I wasn't sure I'd even make it... but it turns out that reading the bus timetable right is really helpful. Who knew? R met me at the bus station to  show me where the cafe was (knowing a local is always helpful) but we had to make a slight detour due to me leaving all my SD cards at home. Well played Vic. 

Turns out R's camera and mine take different memory cards, but -  to be fair I'm not sure I'd have taken that many pictures anyway. The whole shebang was organised by A Girl I Know and she did such an amazing job. It was really awesome to hang out with other bloggers & be able to chat about things without having to explain them! A lot of the girls there were fashion/beauty bloggers, which isn't really my thing - but everyone was super-friendly and it was a pretty good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. I caught a lift back with R & Holly and have spent the rest of the evening in my pyjamas. I wish it was socially acceptable to wear pyjamas all the time, I would literally be the happiest person alive.

Have you ever been to a blog meet up? What was it like? 
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