Sunday, 27 September 2015

Searching for a Cause to Support: The Reasons Why

As I like to plan and have something to work on I thought I would take a look through my 30 before 30 list and see what I could make a start on. Something I enjoy and that is important to me is supporting charitable work. This has taken a bit of a back seat in the last few years as other things have had to be a priority. Things such as supporting my Mum to care for my Grandad, university work and my student placements.

Now that I have finished university and am beginning to settle into my new job (although I still have moments of panic and feeling that I don't know what I'm doing), I am thinking about my time outside of work and how I want to fill it. I still help support my Mum and Grandad but this is now more likely to be over the weekend so that my parents can have some time together away from their caring responsibilities. I have noticed that if I don't have plans for my evenings I am not strict with myself about leaving work on time and can stay until 6pm or later, by the time I get home my evening appears to disappear in a blur of tv.

In my 30 before 30 list I have said that I would like to do some volunteering and support a cause. I think these two things can be the same as well as being different. Obviously by volunteering for an organisation you are supporting their cause but I would also like to be involved in campaigning for a cause and support change in policy and legislation. I enjoy volunteering because I see this more as working with the individuals you are supporting, although this does not always have to be the case.

Some people ask me why I give to charity, either financially or through volunteering.

The simple answer is that I want to make a difference.

However, is it really that simple?

Volunteering as well as my paid job gives purpose to my life, what I do is part of my identity, part of who I am. The part of me that is the type of person I want to be (there are other areas of myself that I want to work on). It  makes me feel worthwhile.

Being involved in supporting charitable work has also given me a lot of other things too. It helps and reminds me to be appreciative of my life, to value what and who I have rather than focusing on what I don't. Volunteering has aided my understanding and challenged my perspective on a number of issues such as addiction and homelessness and allowed me to grow as a person. My 30 before 30 also included meeting new people and making more friends, volunteering is a good opportunity for this.

Other reasons to volunteer

Health benefits: a study by United Healthcare found that 94% of people who volunteered in the last 12 months say that volunteering improves their mood, 96% says volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life, 78% says that volunteering lowers their stress levels*

Employment: the study above also found that 49% of people said that volunteering has helped with their career in the paid job market and 87% felt that it had developed their people and teamwork skills. I think that you can also learn about an area of work through volunteering and gain valuable experience and understanding before applying for a paid position. It can also allow you the time to see whether the role is for you or not.

Have you volunteered before? What were your experiences?

Images from Pinterest

*study included in picture found on Pinterest. Full study at

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Turning Twenty Five

As you can probably guess from the post title, I turned twenty five this week. For some reason I feel that twenty five is an important birthday, much the same as a persons eighteenth, twenty first or thirtieth. Is it because it's half way to fifty? That to me is a scary thought because these twenty five years have past so quickly.

Images from Pinterest
I also think it's a great time to reflect, now mid twenties, if there is something you are not happy with or somewhere else you would like to be by the time you are thirty, you can start making changes now. I recently watched a TED talk by Meg Jay, she spoke about using your twenties wisely, to experiment and learn in a productive way, to gain valuable experiences. When I was watching and listening I thought that I had done quite well, I have gained different experiences through paid and voluntary work, university and travel (holidays with friends and family any my little solo road trip not a few months or years travelling around the world). Then I stopped and thought, I'm only twenty five what now? I still have another five years of being in my twenties and as we are always told, we are always learning.

I decided to have a look at a few 'what you should know by the time you're 25', '25 things to do before you turn 25' and '30 before 30' posts to help me reflect on what I had achieved and give me some inspiration on what I could still work on.

So here's my Thirty Before Thirty

1. Study, get a degree and graduate
2. Find a hobby, one that I will enjoy and stick with
3. Make new friends
4. Be healthier
5. Do some charity/volunteer work

6. Do something that scares me
7. Travel to Africa
8. Take a trip to Budapest
9. Take a trip to Scotland
10. Live in a different county or county for a year

11. Travel alone
12. Travel with friends
13. Travel with a group of people I do not know
14. Watch more documentaries, learn more about people and places
15. Get involved and be part of a campaign. Support a cause

16. Learn how to take good photographs
17. Make a short video
18. Be more creative
19. Do a piece of research
20. Read a 'classic' novel

21. Find a faith
22. Meditate
23. Practice yoga
24. Be kinder to myself
25. Be kinder to others

26. Be more spontaneous
27. Be aware of and value the little every day moments
28. Enjoy life's simple pleasures
29. Sleep under the stars
30. Go on a retreat

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A Birthday Treat: Afternoon Tea in Aldeburgh

I spent this afternoon with two of my closest friends celebrating my birthday. My birthday isn't for another week but due to my friends shift patterns this was closest date we could find. We arranged to meet in Aldeburgh at 1pm in the car park near the Scallop sculpture.

Image from Google
We were really lucky with the weather, the sun was out and I felt it was warm enough to wear jeans and a floral shirt. We arranged to meet an hour and a half before our afternoon tea was booked to have time to wander around. We walked along the promenade to the other side of the town, the beach is scattered with wooden huts selling freshly caught fish and boats. The beach was also populated with individuals savouring the popular fish and chips.

On our way back towards the White Lion, where we were to sit and enjoy our afternoon tea, we chose to walk through the town and do a little window shopping. Aldeburgh has a mix of branded and independent shops, cafes and restaurants and the cutest buildings! It's a place that I would love to go back to and take lots of photos.

When we arrived at the White Lion, we were greeted at the door and asked whether we would prefer to sit on the sofas or in the main restaurant. We initially chose the sofas but soon realised that they would not be very easy to eat at. The staff were very friendly and accommodating and allowed us to change our minds and find a new place to sit. We were served tea and coffee a short while before the food. After the drinks were poured it was time to open presents. I really value the gifts I receive from friends and family, especially the thought that has gone into what they choose. This year was no different.

And then the food was served...

Photo borrowed from C
The sandwich fillings included; tuna, egg, cheese and pickle and ham. They could be described as simple fillings but that's fine by me and I like them all.

The sweet treats included; fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, chocolate and nut brownies, cookies, meringue and rose flavoured marshmallows.

It was a lovely afternoon catching up with my friends, eating good food and drinking too much tea and coffee. We all left feeling very full! The short walk back to the car was needed before we all headed home