LIFE, DREAMS AND HOW TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT

31 October 2016

In recent weeks I am becoming more and more aware of how impatient I am with life, and when reflecting back I can see I have been for the majority of it! If you’re someone with big dreams and visions, it can be hard sometimes to not compare yourself with others. ‘Well he’s there, why aren’t I?’ It's something I used to find myself saying nearly every day. Comparison and jealousy are things that can really ruin our motivation, and even our well being.

Being a musician, back when I wanted to be ‘the worlds biggest star’, I repeatedly found myself in a foul, angry and jealous mood. Constantly spewing jealousy about the whereabouts of another band or artist. Things such as ‘they’re only where they are because they come from a rich family’ or other sayings would be part of my daily routine. I was unable to accept where I was. Always wanting to be in the future, always wanted to be doing something else, because I some how thought that the future was going to be such a better place!
Except the grass was never greener.


In a bid to achieve the stardom I craved so much, I travelled far and wide, because everywhere else would have been ‘the place to be’, spending all my money and trying so hard to get the dream. But in every place I went to, I was even more unhappy than when I was at home. When I was away from home, I started to realise that where I lived and performed wasn’t that bad, so I’d spend more money and travel home, only to find that I wasn’t happy again because I would have found a new place to be. 

For a long, long time, I couldn’t work out why I was so unhappy.
I blamed myself for being so unlucky. I was nowhere. At 19 years old, I considered myself a failure. At 15, I thought I was wasting my life! I was always so frustrated with everything, for not getting what I wanted. But then I realised why I was so unhappy.

I wasn’t actually ever living in the moment!

There are a lot of misconceptions about what ‘living in the moment is’.
Some think it is about making random split second decisions, like I thought it was. It is so much more than this! Living in the moment, or the now, means to truly be at peace with whatever you are doing right at this moment. Notice your thought patterns whilst reading this. Notice where your mind is taking you. To the past? was there something you could have handled differently that you regret? was there something that you wished had or hadn’t happened, because it would have made your life better in some way? or is it taking you to the future? Is there some other place you wish to be right now? some where busier, more exciting? If your mind is taking you on a walk, just gently bring it back to what you are doing now. Sometimes It can be extremely hard to do so, but with practice you can make the gap between your thoughts longer, and therefore, you can be more present! There are a number of ways to do this:

1. Focus on your breathing.
 Turn your focus towards your breath and start to notice how you are breathing. Don’t try to change it, just notice. Maybe switch your focus point to wherever it is easiest for you to notice, such as the nostrils, chest or the rise and fall of the stomach.

2. Notice the sounds and sights around you in detail 
Really take in your surroundings. Can you hear the wind through the trees in the distance? can you notice the detail of the object closest to you by truly looking? turn off any distractions, the TV, music, and just listen. Can you go further? can you notice the dead silence that’s behind the sounds?

3. Be aware of where your body meets the surface 
Weather you are sat on a chair, your bed, the floor. Notice where every part of your body meets the ground. By doing this, you feel more grounded in where you are and don’t fly away with the thoughts of your mind as easy.

 Once you get into the regular practice of these grounding tips, you can sometimes find yourself feeling a sense of euphoria, as if a heavy weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
It’s an awesome feeling!

If you really think about it, we only ever have this moment. We need to make it the best one we can! Whilst we can plan for the future, we need to maintain a sense of practicality about what we’re planning. As long as we don’t live in our plans for the future, we can begin to feel the true happiness of just being! Losing the guilt of feeling we should be somewhere else, because essentially, you are always where you are supposed to be!

Although, It’s not something you realise and then all the negative thoughts leave you forever. I still struggle with it now! You are always going to have times where your mind over powers you. It’s natural. But when you feel the overwhelming negativity returning, the tips mentioned above can really help return yourself to the now.

So I guess to answer the question ‘how soon is now?’.
Well, it’s as soon as you want it to be!


Take good care of yourselves.

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Written by Harry Westall
for Daily Focal

FINDING A WORK LIFE BALANCE

30 October 2016

Are you feeling like the workload before Christmas is all a bit too much?
With the added stress of present buying on top of the workload and family life… It isn't surprising that most people feel overwhelmed and let their quality time for themselves dwindle down to nothing!

Balance your life with these simple tips.
This is a great time to practice a good work life balance. 
Here are my 5 top tips to de stressing and managing a busy lifestyle:

1. Plan, plan, plan
I find my mind eases when the diary is up to date and set for the week. To do lists are ready and I am prepared. Even food in lunch boxes ready in the freezer!

2. Take your time
It is so easy to look at the list and panic, but don’t, just take a breather, it well get done in time!

3. Schedule a little time for you each day
Whether it be a 10 minute walk at lunch or reading your book before bed. Turn the phone off, make sure you are away form the laptop!

4. Positivity
Smile and wake up with a positive attitude! A positive start to the day can do wonders for your mental health.


5. Exercise
If you can fit in a short exercise routine a day this will help relieve stress.

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Written by Lauren Smedley
for Daily Focal


#FILMOFTHEMONTH | MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

29 October 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a series of Young Adult fantasy books by Ransom Riggs that can be read by an audience of both young or old. The magical, supernatural world of the Peculiars is fascinating as we get to jump through history and experience it second-hand through Riggs' marvellous detail.

As you can probably tell, I am a massive fan of the books and I marathoned all three of them in four days. You can read my review of the first book here. I eagerly anticipated the day when the adaptation came out and when the 29th September came around, I dragged my best friend to the first showing. 


What did you think? | Photo source: From the South Blog Link: goo.gl/nzrn4X
The film is two hours long and it's easy to say that the first hour is spectacular. The script and acting were bumpy to begin with but it soon found it's footing and showed us a world that was extraordinary with amazing visual effects and gorgeous cinematography. 

The film follows sixteen-year-old Jacob as he - following his Grandfather's wishes - travels to Wales, UK to find Miss Peregrine and her home full of the peculiar children that Jacob's Grandfather used to tell him so much about.

There's excitement, adventure, villains and peculiar abilities such as a boy filled with bees, a girl who can float, a boy who can bring things back to life and a girl with a second mouth at the back of her head. 

It's after the first hour that the film starts to disappoint. The plot becomes messy and ridiculous. There's a scene where there are skeletons fighting and accompanying the scene is music that is upbeat and consists of slight drum and bass characteristics. It felt wrong, cheesy and everything that I didn't want in the book to movie adaptation. 

If you haven't read the books, then you will absolutely love this film from start to finish (maybe not the skeleton scene but…) and if you have read all of the books then just be weary. It's not the best film that Tim Burton has done and it's not the worst.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a good film. I just wish that the last 45 minutes were different and that they had stuck to the book a bit more. 

Kirsty's Film Review Ranking:
6/10

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Written by Kirsty Hanson
for Daily Focal

TOP UK GIN LOCATIONS TO VISIT

28 October 2016

Gin is everyones new favourite drink - and mine!
Whether you have yours with a lime, lemon, cucumber or maybe with whole peppercorns. There's so many way to serve your favourite beverage and so many gins to choose from. Well, if you truly love gin then you'll be desperate to visit these Top UK Bars and Restaurants with a fabulous gin offering.


Nestled in the Lancashire countryside is The Old Bell and its Gin Emporium which its owner, Philip Whiteman has just broken the Guinness World Record for 'The Largest Number of Gins Commercially Available', The Old Bell's Gin Emporium displays over 600 gins!
On the Thursday of every month The Old Bell's Gin Emporium holds a Gin Masterclass showcasing the perfect G&T while experimenting with different garnishes and mixers.

Whether you're after a distillery tour, gin tasting, finding out about the evolution of gin or even a gin lab experience, it's all there at City of London Distillery. But if you just fancy a tipple, then you can head over to their Bar on Bride Lane, London and test all their unique gins from No.1 to No.5.

With Glasgow's largest selection of gins from around the world, - there is apparently too many to choose from- in fact there is 71 on the menu.
Weekly their staff pick out something special from limited edition gins or new additions to the menu.
You can view all Gin71's offerings on their menu which is available to download from their website.

Winner of Best Gin Bar from the Independent 2016, Merchant house has one of the largest selections of gin and rum in the world and their basement bar is said to be London's 'worst kep secret'.
With over 300 bottles of gin and rum this is clearly the place to be in London if gin is your thing!

This quirky laid back bar is 'an eclectic home-from-home' with cafe style decor and unique interiors.
With over 100 gins at The Old House and they also hold a Monthly Gin School - they know their stuff!

With a choice of 270 of the finest gins tucked in Soho, London, The London Gin Club aims to give the best gin drinking experience and prides themselves on offering the best G&T's which are served in a copa glass, over cracked ice with a fresh garnish chosen to compliment.

This unique Gin Parlour is described as a relaxed but sophisticated mezzanine bar dedicated to consuming gins from around the world. The Gin Parlour explores the 'forgotten contemporary classics' to the golden era of cocktails.

The Gin Garden at The New Ellington Hotel is the 'ultimate in pioneering bars' with over 300 different gins, you can unwind and relaxed in their stylish bar with luxurious decor and furniture.
The Gin Garden are confident that even the most experienced gin connoisseurs are likely to discover something new at The Gin Garden.

One Square has over 70 different gins on offer with their expert gin concierge who's passionate about his craft, One Square also have their own gin made with only the finest botanicals, mediteranice liquorice and orris root with notes of lemon, line and anise combined to make this easy-drinking gin from One Square in Edinburgh.

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Do you have a favourite gin drinking location that you visit?
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Written by Charlie Pallett
for Daily Focal

THE PILL FOR MEN - WOULD YOU TAKE IT?

27 October 2016

In the last few weeks I've seen a few articles focused on 'The Male Pill'. This is apparently a generalised term now. As the articles I have read have been on different male contraceptives.
Would you take it? As mentioned on BBC here
 The first thing to say is I think investigating this is a great thing. I find the idea of taking a pill or similar a very scary thing to consider. Having to take medication on a regular basis is something I have become familiar with. But I wouldn't say that makes me any more comfortable with the idea of taking something else. The idea of an injection to the groin, penis or testicles doesn't sound great either. Although the more reliable media seems to suggest the penis and testicles injection is a bit of media hype - But still!

Yet, is this not what most women are seen as having to do? Is there a time when a women thinks 'do I want to do this'? Or is it assumed that they will and their only decision is when to start, not whether.

If you are in a loving relationship (lucky you) then this could provide added protection, or an alternative to the expectation and pressure on one side. I'm not sure I see the benefit as much to single people, but I'll come to that (excuse the pun). One of the problems that some of my female friends have mentioned is the unreliability of the pill for women around the time of menstruation, this then is surely another reason why men taking the pill could be a better option for couples.

For a single person this could still be helpful, given you are potentially sleeping with people you don't know as well. So I'm guessing your not trying to put a baby in her just yet.

The reason why I'm a little less positive here is the pill is to help with birth control. Not sexually transmitted diseases / infections. Which again are much more likely to be an issue for a single person. To be clear, the pill will not stop any STI's. This may all be old hat for women, but it could be a strange new world for men and let's be honest who hasn't had to tell him (or been told) "no, put it on!".

It is important to be clear that this 'pill' is not going to stop you needing to put your rain mac on - that's a condom for anyone that didn't attend the sexual health class I had at uni. Men, I think, often take a back seat with the health side of sex. Carrying a condom is about the most you can hope for from many men. Personally I think this is down to one reason - education.

Do you remember your sex ed at school? No, I struggle to too. But what I do remember is boys and girls being split. This is where it starts. Girls need to know about penis' and boys need to know about vaginas. Both should be taught about puberty, menstruation, STD/Is, birth control, contraception and consent(!). I should probably have warned you I think 'sex ed' should be taught in Primary School. Obviously not 'what are your top sex tips', but rather relationships, communication, trust and respect.

Honestly I think this is some that is not taught at any school level (speaking as someone who's worked in most stages of education). It's like teaching someone to drive, but not how anything in the car works. So you can do it, but you don't know how or why something happens, you can't fix anything and you don't know how yours is similar or different to anyone else's, so you assume either they are all the same or mine is weirdly different.

Thus, my thoughts and feelings are that more education and discussion is needed around sex and relationships.

Back to the pill. The facts - well, as they are reported in mainstream media. 
Vasalgel (the new / current product getting attention) is injected into the male groin under local anaesthetic. It blocks sperm and lasts for 4 years. It can also be reversed with another injection if desired. One of the 'selling points' is that while blocking sperm other fluids can pass through. I take this to mean to can still ejaculate - thank god! 

Vasalgel is currently in testing and if successful could be on shelves between 2018 and 2020. However there are other alternatives that are little bit nearer to trial completion dates. With those focusing on stopping sperm from being able to fertilise an egg or stopping them from swimming. However Vasalgel seems to be the pill getting the coverage and sounds more reliable in terms of what it's trying to do. 

The articles I have read state or at least imply that 'The Male Pill' will be non-hormonal. Again I'm not sciency, but I take this to mean we (men) would experience less side affects. I find this particularly interesting having seen another article today (The pill is linked to depression – and doctors can no longer ignore it - read more here) that stated the pill increases mental health problems for women, particularly teens and those in their early twenties. This article does mention a statistic that I don't agree with, that women are twice as likely to be effected by mental health illnesses than men. My disagreement with this is because of the reporting and data collection - this is a little off point and possibly relevant to 'The Male Pill' but does highlight the importance to correctly understand medication, what it's for, why we take it and the side affects.

At this moment in time we (men) maybe apprehensive about a needle or a pill and so we should be if we know nothing about it. However I ask you, do you know about you wife's/girlfriend's /friend's/sister's experience with the pill, or other birth control? It comes back to those sex ed classes. Girls talk to girls, boys talk to boys. To me that's all wrong. 

As you can probably tell my main hesitation with 'The Male Pill' is probably educational. I would want to know more, which I guess we will when 'The Male Pill' is available in pharmacies. I think I would take a pill. If however it was an injection, which seems more likely. I'm not sure. Even if it's not the penis or testicles, I'm just not sure about an injection into my groin or scrotum or wherever it needs to be. That sounds more serious and scary!

I do think it is an interesting topic for conversation. As a male would you take a pill or have an injection for birth control? As a female would you want men to be able to? Does that help you, mean the responsibility is shared, or are they/we trying to take something away from you?

It may sound strange but I have seen comments (though not articles) with mention of feminism and men trying to take over. I personally don't think many people think that, but maybe they do? 

We'd love to know...
Would you (or your partner) take the pill?
Do you think it's something that could be a big change in contraception?
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Written by Mike Douglas
for Daily Focal

BREASTFEEDING - WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

26 October 2016

It amazes me that in this day and age (and yes I'm aware that I sound about 200 years old and should be wearing a multi coloured mohair sweater) why breastfeeding is still a bone of contention.

Possibly one of the most natural things in the world, why is it still a problem?
It's perfectly acceptable for celebrities and wannabes to wear next to nothing on a daily basis and post nude selfies. In fact not a day goes by when there isn't a half naked woman on some sort of social media.

Get your boobs out to feed your baby however and you open yourself up to all kinds of potential abuse. 

They're just boobs people....Get over it!

I recently read a blog by a fellow breastfeeding mother, Kate of Blog 'Claim Your Mumjo' who, when feeding her hungry child in public was not only verbally abused by none other than another mother but was also called a slut by another woman's teenage daughter!
*Jaw....meet....floor*

What?!

I genuinely could not believe what I was reading and am outraged on this other breastfeeding mothers behalf.

Is there an 'appropriate' time and place to breastfeed your baby? Of course there is - Whenever and wherever your baby is hungry! It's that simple! 

No, I would not rather go and 'do it' in the toilet where nobody can see as was once suggested to me.
Do these ignorant boob-o-phobes have no idea what some of us go through just to feed our babies? I for one did not have an easy ride it was exhausting, it was extremely painful at points and it was very nearing soul shattering! 

I absolutely fully support the choice of any and every mother when it comes to breastfeeding - if it's for you great, if it's not, great! Same goes for how long people choose to feed for - I stopped at 6 months with both of mine because they were biters and I'm sorry but that was not ok with my nipples! But if you feed your kid till 6 years old it's your choice and nobody else's business.

Each to their own, but come on people! We're all on the same team here!

So to all the 'haters' out there, next time you see a mother breastfeeding her baby in public, instead of turning your nose up or looking the other way, why not take get over yourself and take a minute to tell her what an amazing job she's doing instead - you never know you may even make her day.

Mothers everywhere I salute you - except for the one who felt it was 'appropriate' to bring another mother down. Who felt it was 'appropriate' to let her teenage daughter verbally abuse another woman. That mother should be ashamed of herself.
That mother clearly wasn't breastfed.


We'd love to know...
Did you breast feed and have snide comments or were made to feel uncomfortable feeding your child in public? Or have you had a positive breastfeeding experience?
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Written by Laura Nicholson-Simpson

16 UNUSUAL BABY NAMES YOU'LL LOVE

25 October 2016

With no children myself personally - yet, I always on the look out for for a name that sticks and I instantly fall in love with, just for when the time comes!
I find until you actually look, there are so many stunning boys and girls names out there we've never even heard of, that could just be the most perfect name for your new little bundle.

In a name pickle? Here's a list that's bound to help you out, with 16 of the most beautiful unusual names for your baby boy or girl.
Names found on nameberry.com

Unusual names might not be everyones cup of tea, but there are some stunning names that aren't so common.

BOYS

Basil
Gender: M Meaning of Basil: "regal" Origin of Basil: Greek
Although Greek in origin--in the fourth century, a bishop by that name established the principles of the Greek Orthodox Church--Basil for years took on the aura of aquiline-nosed upper-class Britishness of Sherlock Holmes portrayer Basil Rathbone, then spiced with the fragrant aroma of the herb that entered with the Pesto generation. 
Information found on nameberry.com

Conan
Gender: M Meaning of Conan: "little wolf" Origin of Conan: Irish
The fierce image of the Barbarian made a complete turnaround thanks to amiable talk show host O'Brien, making Conan one of the newly desirable Irish choices, a perfect alternative to Conor/Connor
Information found on nameberry.com

Gray
Gender: M Origin of Gray: Color name, also diminutive of Grayson
The girls have Violet and Scarlet and Ruby and Rose, but for the boys there's a much more limited palette of color names. Gray (or Grey), is one exception, which could make for a soft and evocative--if slightly somber-- choice, especially in the middle. Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney recently named their son Leo Grey
Information found on nameberry.com

Ira
Gender: M Meaning of Ira: "watchful one" Origin of Ira: Hebrew
Ira is one of the shortest, non-biblical sounding Old Testament names, belonging to one of King David's thirty 'mighty warriors.' It was widely used in the US from the 1880s to the early 1930s (it was Number 57 on the Social Security list in 1881), but fell off completely in 1993. Now Ira is likely to be considered more retirement-account acronym than proper name. A musical namesake is lyricist Ira Gershwin, a literary one is Ira Levin.
Information found on nameberry.com

Roscoe
Gender: M Meaning of Roscoe: "deer forest" Origin of Roscoe: Norse
Originally a place and surname, Roscoe had its glory days in the 1880s, when it reached as high as Number 138, then gradually declined, possibly damaged by the scandals surrounding silent star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and then the hillbilly image it acquired thanks to Sheriff Coltrane on The Dukes of HazzardRoscoe has been out of the Top 1000 since 1978.
Information found on nameberry.com

Lake
Gender: M Origin of Lake: Nature name
Evocative modern unisex choice brought into the spotlight by actress Lake Bell.
Information found on nameberry.com

Marlowe
Gender: M Meaning of Marlowe: "driftwood"Origin of Marlowe: English

With Marlo and Marlowe used recently for high-profile celebrity baby girls, we'd say this English surname, however it's spelled, is losing its muscle for boys -- especially as it sounds exactly like the all-girl Marlo. The similar-sounding Marley, inspired by the dog, has been another recent hit name for girls.
Information found on nameberry.com

Rohan
Gender: M Meaning of Rohan: "sandalwood"Origin of Rohan: Hindi
From India, but feels like an Irish surname (and can in fact be a variation of Rowan), so a possible cross-cultural choice.
Information found on nameberry.com


GIRLS

River
Gender: F Origin of River: Nature name River's Popularity in 2015: #350
Most of the notable Rivers have been male, but this nature name certainly flows as well for a girl. More than a third of the babies named River are now girls, and this fraction may increase. It was on the rise for both sexes the past few years, jumping more than 300 spots on the girls' side of the list since 2012.  Kelly Clarkson's choice of River for her newborn daughter further raised the profile of the name for girls.
Information found on nameberry.com

Peony
Gender: F Meaning of Peony: "healing" Origin of Peony: Flower name; Latin
One of the rarest of the floral names, though not without some teasing potential. Peony is a historical 1948 novel by Pearl S. Buck.
Information found on nameberry.com

Ava
Gender: F Meaning of Ava: "life" Origin of Ava: Latin, related to birds
Ava was given a huge popularity boost -- Ava's currently at Number 4 -- when dozens of high-profile stars such as Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman chose Ava for their daughters. This Glamour Girl name via Hollywood beauty Ava Gardner is attractive but epidemically popular! 
Information found on nameberry.com

Idony
Gender: F Meaning of Idony: "renewal" Origin of Idony: Norse
Idony was the Norse goddess of spring and eternal youth, and variants of her obscure name could come under consideration with the rest of the fashionable I pack.
Information found on nameberry.com

Poesy
Gender: F Meaning of Poesy: "poetry" Origin of Poesy: Word name
This old-fashioned word for poetry has some antiquated charm but doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
Information found on nameberry.com

Annora
Gender: F Meaning of Annora: "honor" Origin of Annora: Latin
Annora is a noble name, a distinctive twist on its most essential form: Honor. Other variations to explore include Honora and Nora.
Information found on nameberry.com

Eden
Gender: F Meaning of Eden: "place of pleasure, delight" Origin of Eden: Hebrew
Eden is an attractive, serene name with obvious intimations of Paradise, one of several place names drawn fromthe Bible by the Puritans in the seventeenth century. 
Information found on nameberry.com

Ola
Gender: F Meaning of Ola: "ancestor's relic"Origin of Ola: Scandinavian
Simple, friendly, distinctive name heard in several cultures. In Scandinavia, Ola is a male variant of Olaf.
Information found on nameberry.com



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Would you name your child something unusual?
Or are there any unique names that you love?
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Written by Charlie Pallett
for Daily Focal

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