2017 – A year of ups and downs.

So if you’ve read my most recent posts, you’ll know that life has been a bit mental this year. I was made redundant from a job, someone I respected passed away, my gran became really ill. More recently I found out I was being made redundant again and my gran passed away this weekend. All in all this year has been a bit of a shitter.

However many downs there have been I think it’s also important to remember the ups too. Good things have happened this year and whether they’re big or small, I think they’re worth mentioning. So after four days away seeing some amazing people in Newcastle, I’m trying to refocus and re-evaluate life. Before I start spilling my brain all over this blog though, here are some of the big and little things that I’m grateful for.

The Big Stuff:

My Friends

The fact that I know I could go to Newcastle and stay with two amazing people any time I need to is amazing. The fact that so many of my friends have been checking in with me and have been kind enough to offer me beer, food, a comforting ear, a day of singing and music or a conversation to take my mind off life is massively appreciated. One of my friends is even spending Christmas with me this year and will be flying over from Australia. Most importantly though, none of my friends have made me feel bad about skipping out on social things to take time for my brain and my family.

My Family

No one likes their family 100% of the time but I really think most people genuinely love their families. I really do love my family. I don’t always show it and I definitely could do more for my family. But if this year has shown me anything, it’s that my family is great (not that I didn’t know it before). Whether it’s the family a few doors down or family from across the world this year has made my family even tighter than before. I appreciate my family a lot.

My Job

Okay so I’m being made redundant but one thing I’m really grateful for is how flexible they’ve been with me. I’ve been allowed to work from home whenever I need it and leave at 5pm and finish the day at home. My colleagues have been amazingly understanding and I’m really grateful that I ended up in such a good team.

The Little Things:

Video Games

So the little things might seem trivial but I’m going to start with video games. I love video games. I play with people I’ve never met online and I play games that friends have recommended me and I talk to them about the game constantly. It might seem silly for a lot of people but for me, especially this year, videogames have been a fantastic escape for me into a fantasy world or twelve.

Internet

Okay so I’m not talking about social media or YouTube or anything. I’m talking about broadband and WiFi. I was paying a silly amount of money for internet that was barely working. But I changed WiFi provider and I now have super fast super reliable internet. So yeah it allows me to enjoy things like Netflix and YouTube which is another great escape.

My Camera

I’m not the most active on YouTube any more and I’m not the greatest film maker or photographer in the world but fuck me, taking the camera out for a day of shooting video or doing a photography tour is absolutely amazing fun.

Sidenote: If you’d like to come along on a photography tour of London with me for the amazing Project Parent come along to the event page here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/181144485778845/

So as I mentioned at the start, 2017 has been a bit of a shitter, but it’s not all been bad. Thanks to everyone who’s made my 2017 slightly more bearable and occasionally a whole lot of fun. Still though, fuck 2017.

Selflessness Revisited

So I had a really interesting day recently. I went to Creative Collisions. 9 of the biggest youth charities in the UK hosted a big ol’ conference. Lots of workshops and talks and panel discussions etc. which were great. No matter how useful (or not useful) the conference is for co-working and cross charity partnerships is one thing I gained from that day was a renewed sense that the world hasn’t completely gone to shit.

The people who attended the conference were fantastic. The young people in attendance were intelligent, active citizens who are working hard to deal with the hand that life (and previous generations) has dealt us. The youth workers, teachers, support workers who attended genuinely care about the future generations.

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In a time where racism is rampant, Islamophobia is intertwined in society, women still get treated like shit, politicians are liars, crooks, sex offenders and the internet is it’s usual double edged sword, it’s really important to remind yourself that there are still people out there fighting the good fight. Educating people. Spreading love, kindness and doing things for others who may not be able to do it themselves. Selflessness still exists. Sometimes you have to really search for signs of selflessness but it’s out there.

If you can’t find even the slightest trace of selflessness in the world, what are you waiting for? Get out there. Be the selfless one. We can all talk about how the world is going to shit and how horrible people are and how kindness doesn’t exist any more. But unless we get up off our arses and do something about it, we’re part of the problem.

Be kind, love, get shit done.

If you’re struggling to think of ways to do something selfless or to take action in any way, check out these videos by my beautiful friends Carl and Uzma who are putting together 60 second social actions. They’re amazing, hilarious and ridiculously kind. Make sure to subscribe to their channel and spread a little love.

A

Hostile Takeover to Hospitable Communities: Thank You!

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, this year we had a referendum on whether or not the UK should stay a member of the EU. Sadly, we as a nation, decided to leave the EU. In the wake of that, racist, religious and homophobic attacks (physical and verbal) has increased drastically.

One group who have taken a lot of the brunt of this has been the Muslim community. They’ve been taking shit from people for years and years and have always responded with respect, dignity and love, even to those who are cruel and abusive to them. I have always loved and admired the Muslim community for how unconditionally caring they are and tried to help raise awareness about and demystify Islam with the help of some friends. You can read about that here.

Time and time again, they’ve shown me compassion, love and friendship when I need it most and when I’m, quite frankly, a terrible friend. And it’s not just me either. (Side note: I shouldn’t have to say this, but that doesn’t mean my other friends from other faiths aren’t equally as nice.)

Recently, some friends of mine took over my Facebook and posted that I’d converted to Islam. And while that wasn’t true, it did, once again show just how wonderful the Muslim community is.

While lots of my friends thought this was true, I had loads of calls from my Muslim friends. Every single one of them was so happy to hear that I had converted to Islam. I had to disappoint them all one by one but the love and acceptance they showed me while they thought it was true was incredible. They offered me help, invited me to their mosques, invited me for food and offered to teach me about Islam. They welcomed me into their community with no questions, no judgments and with positivity and love.

Even when I did my Fast for a Friend thing, one of my friends bought me dinner for iftar all the way from Bury. I was invited by so many of my friends’ friends to iftar at their houses. They were willing to welcome a complete stranger who wasn’t even Muslim, to eat with them and pray with them and learn with them during Ramadan. I even got a few tweets from SuperSaf showing support (one of my favourite tech YouTubers).

I am constantly blown away by the Muslim community and their welcoming nature. I really hope that you can experience Islam the way I have, from an outside perspective but with the same love that I’ve seen.

Do NOT let mainstream media and pieces of shit horrible people like Trump convince you that Islam is evil. The greatest threat to the world isn’t Islam. It’s horrible, closed minded, racist, religiously discriminatory people. They’re the greatest threat to the world.

I’m so grateful to my Muslim friends. You all teach me how to be a better person and I do not know what I’d do without you all. I’m going to try to spread as much joy and goodness as all of you. Thank you!

A

Karma: A Beginners Guide

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Karma is a wonderful thing. I don’t believe it’s the universe rewarding good deeds with more good stuff. But I very much believe that you get what you give and it’s other people that give it back.

No one is perfect. Anyone that claims they are is wrong. No matter how wonderful I think my friends are, they’re not perfect. I’m far from it myself. Even Mary Poppins wasn’t perfect. Practically perfect but not perfect. It’s difficult to be perfect. Even the pursuit of perfection is hard and ultimately fruitless. But it’s easy to not be an arse. And when you’re not an arse, people will be nicer to you and opportunities will be easier to come by.

So here are my five top tips for Karma.

1. Be Genuine

When people can see that you’re genuinely trying to help they will appreciate it more. It’s so so obvious when you’re doing good things just to be praised. It’s cringeworthy to see people doing stuff and patting themselves on the back. If you’re going to help someone, make sure you want to do it. Half arsed help could potentially do more damage than good.

2. Be Humble

Following on nicely from being genuine, be humble. There’s literally nothing worse than people patting themselves on the back and thinking they’re hot shit because they shared a link on Facebook about some poorly sourced information that sounds like it should be true and progressive. Bill and Melinda Gates (along with tons of other people) helped to virtually eradicate polio. How often do you hear them going to talks and saying “Yeah, I basically eradicated polio, no biggie.”? You don’t. Humble is good. Humble brags aren’t.

3. Don’t Promise More Than You Can Do

Doing good is wonderful. Promising to do good is also good as long as you can do it. If you’re a graphic designer with no other talents, do not offer to build a wall in someones garden. If you can’t do something, don’t do it. I’m not saying just walk away and leave it at that. You can still support that person to find the help they need.

4. Take The Opportunity To Be Kind

If you see someone in need of support, offer that support. Simple really. If they accept your help, you’ll be able to do some good for someone. If they say no, wish them well and leave them to it. The gesture will have been appreciated. Sometimes you don’t even see that someone needs help. There is always an opportunity to be kind. Always.

5. Enjoy Being Kind

You should enjoy being kind to others. It’s a wonderful feeling for you and it’s a fantastic feeling for others. As mentioned in my post absolutely years ago, you can’t be selfless all the time. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes and it’s okay to enjoy what you do, even if it’s meant to be a selfless act. Also, the more you enjoy what you do, the more you’ll do it and in turn, the more people will want to be kind to you.

If you follow these top 5 tips to Karma, if you’re kind, genuine and humble, Karma and the people around you will be kind to you.

What are your top tips to make the most of the swings and roundabouts? 🙂

A