Gym – feel the fear and do it anyway

It’s funny. I have the “timehop” app on my phone where I can look back at my past Facebook and twitter posts. One popped up the other day and apparently 3 years ago I made a post saying “life’s too short to go to the gym.” I laugh now because I go to the gym 5 times a week, it’s such a huge part of my life and I love it.

A lot of people I speak to say that they’d like to join a gym but they feel too self conscious to do so. I was EXACTLY like that when I first started. Ok, I’ve never been overweight but I was weak. I mean REALLY weak. It’s ok if you’re just going there to run on the treadmill for an hour but I wanted to do weightlifting, serious weightlifting. I had absolutely zero in the way of physical strength and when I started I couldn’t even squat with any plates on the bar because it was too heavy.

I felt like an idiot on my second gym visit. The first one was ok – everyone gets a personal trainer on their first visit to show them the equipment and help them make a bit of a plan. But there were so many different exercises I wanted to try that we hadn’t covered them all and I was wandering around like an idiot, hoping I was doing it right.

In the end, I thought screw it. I walked up to someone and asked to be shown everything. It’s that simple. Honestly, most people will be happy to help you.

My gym is very male oriented and I’m one of an EXTREMELY limited female population who uses the weights area. I felt like an absolute tool at first in front of all these meat heads but after a while I stopped caring. And to be honest, no one is watching you work out anyway. Sure, there will be the occasional idiot who fancies themselves and likes to look down on people but fuck them. If you really want to give it a go don’t let anything hold you back. You can do it ☺

Book review’ A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

“Chick lit” is one of those guilty pleasure genres. OK, they’re normally incredibly predictable, they don’t require a lot of thinking and they’re pretty generic, but sometimes you need a light read and a happy ending.

I picked this book because I liked the cover. It was another book to tick off my reading challenge list – “a book with a beautiful cover.” (This is actually a matter of opinion but I think it is). The story is about Anna Browne, a London receptionist who suddenly begins to receive mysterious, life changing parcels from an unknown sender.

First of all. Anna is a Mary Sue, one of the biggest sins that a writer can commit. For those of you who don’t know, a Mary Sue is a “perfect” character. Everyone wants to be like them or be friends with them, they make no mistakes, and the people who don’t like them are usually just jealous of them or horrible people in general. 2D characters like that are really, really annoying and it grated on me to be honest. I felt like the author was over emphasising the flaws of all the other characters to say “why can’t they be more like perfect Anna.”

The plot was pretty much what I expected, with the standard happy ending romance. If it hadn’t been for the incredibly irritating main character I might have enjoyed it a bit more. As it is, I can really only rate this 3/5 stars.

“First world feminism”

I touched on the subject of feminism when I wrote the review for Gloria Steinem’s “My life on the road”. I didn’t really go into too much detail but something’s been bugging me for a while that I wanted to talk about, and I call it “first world feminism.”

I’ve noticed something about some people online. People can be sheep. People like to jump on bandwagons about certain issues. For example, when the bombings happened in Paris a lot of people changed their facebook profile picture to the French flag colours “to show support.” I didn’t do mine. I thought it was a stupid “bandwagon” idea that didn’t actually do anything to help. I don’t like following trends just because everyone else is doing it. Instead I made a donation to the French red cross who were helping the victims. I’d rather do something constructive and show solidarity in other ways.

“First world feminism” is another one of those “bandwagon” things that irritates me. It’s one of those things where people only care about minor issues that are happening in this country that directly affect them.

People are getting up in arms, making petitions, and going on protests about a damn TAMPON TAX. Boo flipping hoo. Women in third world countries are getting stoned to death for the shame of being raped but apparently, people are more concerned with a tampon tax of a few pence which, let’s face it, is hardly gonna make a dent in your bank account.

Sometimes we put too much energy into the wrong things. I believe in fighting for causes you care about, but sometimes I think people are just joining in to be one of the crowd. Women have come a seriously long way in Britain, even from just 100 years ago. I don’t care about a tampon tax. I care about women in third world countries having the same opportunities that we do.

Book review: Faces by Martina Cole

I wrote a post in December about my favourite books of the year and I included “The Jump” by Martina Cole. I loved it so much that I immediately added all her other books on my “to read” list and I bought this one a couple of weeks ago.

To say I was disappointed is a bit of an understatement. Maybe if I hadn’t enjoyed the other one so much I’d be a bit more forgiving but knowing how well she can write made it even worse for me. Faces is the story of Danny Cadogan, ruler of London’s underworld and all round nasty individual. The story starts with Danny’s wife, Mary, and her brother and Danny’s business partner Michael plotting to get rid of Danny and then jumps back to Danny’s childhood and how he became to be a “Face”.

Please. Let’s talk about the repetition for a second. How many times can we be told that Danny is violent, that’s he’s crazy, that he’s a “face”? We all know the golden rule of storytelling is show, don’t tell, and Martina Cole seems to forget that here. We get the picture, we don’t need to be reminded every 5 seconds. I’m sorry, but this completely ruined the book for me, it was overlong and if all the repetition had been cut out it would be PAGES shorter.

Only thing that redeemed it was I liked the character of Arnold. That was IT. I was so disappointed because I loved the first book I read of hers. I think I’ll leave it a while before I pick up another one. 2/5 stars.

V-day!

There’s definitely no escaping it. It’s valentine’s day, the day of spreading the love. Or not, depending on your outlook on the whole day.

Open up any social media today and you’ll be smacked in the face with soppy statuses, pictures of teddy bears, flowers and other gifts. People like to declare their love on social media for everyone to see, and why shouldn’t they? On the other end of the spectrum there are the singletons – the ones who hate this day and moan about all these public displays of affection. Valentine’s day really highlights the divide between people and it’s pretty interesting to see.

Sometimes I wonder how we became a nation of such cynics. Trust me, I’m the BIGGEST cynic out there but I don’t understand why people have such a problem with this day. OK, so you’re single, you think this day is just a big marketing ploy, blah blah… Who cares? I always find it bizarre that people think having a significant other is so important.

I’ve never really been fussed about valentine’s day. I’ve never really celebrated it – I get more excited about pancake day! (And with my current relationship status being a big fat “it’s complicated” I’m honestly even less inclined to do anything that usual. ;)) But I sure as hell am not going to complain about those that do. Let’s remember – it’s not a competition! Different things matter to different people. Whether you spend £100 or nothing at all, who the hell cares! Live and let live.

So, a little message for those who think being single on Valentine’s day is the so awful: there are worse things happening in the world. Focus on your own personal growth – it’s way more important. If it upsets you that much, stay off social media today. And if you’re in a really REALLY bad mood, wine and chocolate is always the answer. 😉

Fate

This is something I’ve been thinking about a LOT lately, even more so after reading “The Versions of Us”. Fate, this big crazy idea that our lives are mapped out for us, destined: that “everything happens for a reason.”

I’ve always hated the idea of fate. I don’t like the thought – some big invisible “unknown” is moving us all around like pieces on a chessboard; that it doesn’t matter what you do because your life is already planned out for you. I lived by the motto “choice not chance determines destiny.” I am my own person and MY decisions influence my life, not anyone else’s. I was always frustrated by people who just drift along in life, not taking any responsibility, just WAITING for things to happen.

But lately I’ve become more open to the idea of fate. A couple of things have happened in my life that have made me wonder if some things really are meant to be; that your path will always bring you back to the same place. For example, the university that gave me an unconditional offer was one I wasn’t even going to apply for in the first place because I thought I wouldn’t get in. I literally just put it in there to make up numbers. But the more I researched it, the more it made sense and I kind of feel like it was meant to be.

I’m not the kind of person that would be a complete slave to the idea of fate. I like to think I have a say in my own destiny. But I’m definitely starting to think that some things do happen for a reason. Maybe being a bit more laid back isn’t always such a bad thing. ☺

Book review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

I read a couple of reviews before I started this book where people said they found it hard to keep track of all the different characters in the different versions of the story, so I thought I’d struggle a bit but I actually found it fairly easy going!

So. This book was a choice for one of my book clubs. It tells the story of Eva and Jim, two Cambridge students who meet in the 1950s and spans the course of their lives from there. The book is told in three different versions, for three different series of events.

I found the concept of the book interesting and the big question – how much are our lives really ruled by “fate” – is explored in the three different stories. I can understand how the way the book is set out why people get confused – the three different versions are all a bit of a mish-mash, not necessarily one after the other. I’m glad the author only stuck to three versions as I think any more definitely would make it too difficult to read.

As for the plot, it was your fairly typical love story – the trials and tribulations of a married couple and their families. I liked the book even though it was a little slow at times, and it got me thinking a lot about the “what ifs” of life. 4/5 stars and I’d probably read other works by this author.

“Sorry.”

I’m someone who is very aware of my flaws as a person. I think it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses so you can work on yourself and understand your personality better.

One of my major flaws is my stubbornness. I absolutely hate saying sorry. I think one of the reasons for this is because I don’t take offence at a lot of things that other people might, so I’m not always aware if I’ve upset someone. Often I think other people are being too “sensitive” and why should I apologise for something silly.

The fact is though, everybody is different. Something that wouldn’t bother me might be actually quite upsetting to some people. I might not necessarily understand their reaction but I think sometimes I need to learn that I’m not always right.

Before, if I had a disagreement with someone I would wait for them to say sorry to me first. If they didn’t, then chances are we’d never speak again because I was way too stubborn to make the first move. Nowadays, when it comes to people I care about I don’t want to waste time holding grudges. I’d rather say I’m sorry, admit my wrongdoings and move past it all. I think it’s important to have pride but don’t ever let it ruin friendships or relationships that matter to you. Sometimes it’s about being the bigger person. ☺

Book review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

OK. I have a big problem with thrillers, in that I usually guess the ending pretty early in. Once you’ve eliminated the obvious suspects then it’s usually pretty clear. A lot of the time this means thrillers are ruined for me, although I still love reading them. With this one, I’d figured out who the killer was about a third of the way into the book.

The Bones of You tells the story of Rosie, a nice girl from a middle class family who is found stabbed to death in the middle of the woods. It’s the typical story – Rosie was well liked, had no enemies and was your average 18 year old. Who would want her dead?

The book is told through the eyes of Kate, another suburban mother with a daughter about Rosie’s age. We are introduced to Rosie’s neurotic mother, absent father and oddball sister and slowly we begin to get a picture of Rosie’s life and how it led up to her death.

When I say slowly, I mean slowly. I felt the story really dragged in the middle; like it was just padded out to try and make the book longer. Also, because I’d guessed the ending, it all seemed a little bit too predictable for my liking.

The book did have its positives – there were some beautiful haunting descriptive passages, and I enjoyed reading about Rosie’s life and the dark secrets that even the most perfect seeming families can be hiding. Unfortunately, I just found myself getting too frustrated with some of the characters and I didn’t particularly like any of them. I can only give this book 3/5 stars, which is a shame as from the blurb I really thought I’d love it.