When a friend of mine approached me with an idea of his that he wanted my help with, it was something I knew I had to jump up. My friend suffers from schizoaffective disorder; which he describes as being “the worse of Bipolar and schizophrenia” and he told me he wanted to make a semi-autobiographic short film on this subject. My friend asked for my help in this project due to me having a passion for writing, and having done my degree in that.
At this point, the project is still in the writing stage but it is getting towards the end of that stage. We have around 15 pages of a script so far and are hoping to get it to between 20 and 30 because as a general rule a page of script is roughly a minute of screen time and that is how long we would like it to be.
Before we were able to start the writing process we spent a lot of time discussing and researching. As I don’t suffer from the illness that he does, I put in a lot of research into schizoaffective disorder as well as bipolar and schizophrenia as individual illnesses. It was important to me as a writer on a project that will be existing to raise awareness and understand that I have a clear understanding myself. I got a lot of information from the NHS websites and forums with people’s personal experiences, as well as discussing with my friend his personal experience with the disorder.
My friend had a very clear basic idea for a storyline for the film, however, he lacked the confidence to write it out and needed help filling in the gaps and fleshing out some minor scenes that he had in mind. I took some of his vague scene ideas and fleshed them out, turning him into a character called Adam who, while shared some similarities with my friend, was a character in his own rights.
In the next few months, my friend and I will be finalising the writing stage of the film, something I am excited to see come together as a whole. This is definitely something I am proud to be a part of and something I am proud to have written. Once we have the completed script, we will move to the next stage wherein we will be discussing actors; filming locations; and borrowing or renting a camera from someone.
In recent months there has been a push by a number of famous people, including the Princes Harry and William for some of the stigma against mental health illness and people with them to be lost so that people are able to talk more openly and freely about the way they are suffering. This is a positive step forward; however in the media their tends to be a focus on anxiety and depression and while these are both serious and terrible disorders (both of which I suffer from), I am glad to be involved in this project because it means that I can work towards raising awareness for another mental health condition that doesn’t get as much attention.
One of the big things that come with living alone; which I have now experienced twice in my life at different universities, is needing to be able to provide for yourself. Although I was able to cook long before I moved to university, it was only then that I really began to use that skill. When I was in my fresher’s year of university I did not utilise my cooking skills well; I was not comfortable around the people I shared my halls with and therefore wanted to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. Because of this, my main meals included super-noodles very often and my snack meals were often just tea and toast.
This was not a healthy and sustainable diet and I felt unhealthy because of it. I lost weight at a rate that wasn’t healthy and despite the fact that I wasn’t trying to and I was aware that I needed to do something about it. During my second and third years I was cooking more often and more varied stuff, however, that is not necessarily to say that I was cooking better stuff. One of my housemates and I had a habit of making homemade fries or wedges and having a chip shop around the corner was not helpful to this. That’s not to say that I never ate healthily but my diet was not what it could have been or what I would’ve liked it to be.
When I returned to university a few years later and found myself somewhat maturer and more prepared to be an adult in the world (sometimes, no one can adult all the time, right?) I found myself wanting to make better meals. This is something I am still working on but something I already feel that I have begun to achieve. As someone who likes to have meals in the freezer for ease of making; it was important for me to make things that I would be able to make things that could be reheated. My go to at university the first time around was pasta and it is still something I love making because you can do so many different things with it. Below is an example of a batch of pasta bakes that I made when I first moved to uni.
To stop myself from becoming fed up of Pasta bake or stagnating in a rut of the same meals, I also made a variety of other meals. Another regular thing is rice based meals. Rice and pasta are great because it is easy to make a well-rounded meal, all mixed together that can be frozen in one piece. I vary what I add to my rice but my favourite is chicken or egg, with peas and sweetcorn. I was very happy when I was able to find that I could make rice well so that it was light and fluffy.
Although I prefer to I don’t always make meals to freeze, sometimes I just make a single portion. This is something I like to do if it is my first time trying something and I’m not sure if I like it. One very successful time I did this was when I tried out a recipe for ham wrapped leek in cheese sauce. I had never had leek before and it turned out that I loved it.
Other recipes I have tried include sweet and sour, Mexican, chili, and others. I am planning to continue making more new and healthy meals when I return for my second semester in a couple of weeks.
Before I was properly working on my Adult Leadership Qualification, when I was at university and had only been helping at a Brownie Pack for a couple of months, the Brown Owl of the pack did something absolutely terrifying. She put me in charge of running a badge. This is something I could do now without panicking but at the time it was a really big deal for me.
I can’t find the information booklet relating to this badge as it was a challenge badge rather than one from the Brownie Book, but it was called The World On Our Doorstep. For the badge, the girls had to do different activities relating to different countries around the world but also to different counties around the county. I was in charge of organising each country and counties activity, based on the ideas within the booklet and my own ideas as well as explaining to the girls what the badge was about and what it meant we would be doing.
This was the time I first learnt what was meant by the running joke that Guiding is ‘Just an hour and a half each week’ (said sarcastically, of course). I also learnt in this time how fun guiding is and why so many leaders stick around for so long, despite having so many other commitments.
During this time I learnt to trust my ideas, something that has been an important part of my guiding journey. I started the badge by talking to the Brown Owl about every thought I had and finished it with a newfound confidence that I could come up with ideas without having to get them approved every five minutes. Although this was a stressful time for me, as I didn’t believe I had what it took to be a helper, let alone run activities, it has proven to be invaluable to my experience of Guiding and was a large stepping stone to where I am now as a confident, trained leader.
Surprisingly, to myself, I managed to get through my final meeting with this Brownie pack without crying. For the most part, I just felt strange, like I couldn’t quick believe it was real that I wouldn’t be coming back. There were a few moments that were tough when Girl N commented that I shouldn’t have drawn a smiley face, I should’ve drawn a sad face because I’m leaving was one. Another was when I said I would visit at Christmas and Girl Z said: “Everyone says that and no one ever does.” I definitely intend to if I am back before they break for Christmas, which I should be.
The night was a good one. At the beginning of the evening, we did the present giving. This included me giving the girls the Owl plushies I had made them and the other presents I had got for the leaders. We also gave the Six prizes to the Gnomes who got the most points this term. And I was given some presents from Brown Owl to say thank you and goodbye. I was somewhat overwhelmed by how thoughtful the presents were. There was a book giftcard to help towards my reading list; a small Brownies notebook; a keyring with pictures of my city on them and a BeanieBoos Owl. There was also a card with owls on it that everyone signed. I really will treasure them.
With Eagle Owl’s assistance, we make concertina butterflies. The girls seemed to love this activity, even if they did spend some time insisting they look like JoJo Bows rather than butterflies. They were a really cute activity and I have to admit I had fun making one myself.
The minister from the church was with us for the evening, joining in with activities. He brought with him a giant parachute that we played games with. As we’re only a small pack and this parachute was huge, we did have some issues making it go up and down, but we got there and it was certainly a lot of fun. Once we were done playing with the parachute, we made a den using chairs and the parachute.
With the den made, the girls were given cookies and milk which they took into the den to eat. There were a few complaints about the roof hitting their heads but for the most part, they really seemed to enjoy the novelty of it and they did help to make it so that it pretty awesome. At the end of the meeting, the minister took some pictures from me, of all the girls and the leaders. There was one girl away which was a shame but I’m glad to have a few pictures with most of the girls and all of the leaders.
I’m definitely going to miss this pack and really hope I am able to visit it. I’m so excited to see what my pack in my uni city will be like. It’ll be my first time going into a pack already having my ALQ and I can’t wait to get stuck in with new ideas and new girls. For now, it’ll be a summer of working on finishing my Look Wider.
Now that I have my blog up to date with the most interesting activities we have done this term – or at least the most interesting activities I was there for – I can talk about the sad thing that is occurring this week. Due to me returning to Uni in September a good 250 miles away from where I currently live, I am having to leave this Brownie Pack.
This is a really emotional time for me. I have been with this pack since just before I graduated from University the first time around. I joined in September of 2014 when the Brown Owl was also completely new and the pack was at risk of closure due to only having three girls. It’s been a long and wonderful journey being a leader at this pack. While it was not the pack that begun my guiding journey, I thoroughly believe it is the pack that turned me into a Brownie Guider.
My first pack was wonderful but there was somewhat of a rush to get my ALQ completed and I had at least one argument with the Brown Owl of the pack, which added to Uni stress did not make for a confident leader in me. Joining the pack I am currently at changed everything. Although the pack is old, it felt brand new because the Brown Owl and I had to build it up. Rather than being in a pack that had 20-odd girls and 5 leaders and didn’t really need me, I was now a part of a desperate pack that needed all the help it can get.
The Brown Owl at this pack has been wonderfully supportive. We may not necessarily have agreed on every single issue but we always found a way to compromise to find the best thing for the girls involved. We saw the pack grow from three girls up to twelve and drop back to nine. We’ve seen the pack gain a better connection with the church we meet in and we’ve seen girl after girl grow in confidence and as a person through the activities they do and the friends they made. The Brown Owl here helped me to better understand the Adult Leadership Qualification and work through it at my own pace rather than just trying to get everything signed off. Although this meant it took over two years, I was able to say within myself that I was a competent and confident leader by the time I had finished it. This Brown Owl also encouraged me to do all four modules, rather than just 1-3 which is definitely what I wanted to do.
From this pack, I have seen a number of great leaders and young leaders; Brown Owl, Snowy Owl, Ladybird, Squirrel, Fluffy Owl, Rainbow Owl, Cutie Owl, Eagle Owl and Curly Owl. Many have come and gone due to university, work or school but Fluffy Owl, Curly Owl and Eagle Owl will be remaining with Brown Owl.
Fluffy Owl is 16 now, she was 14 when she joined us and has been working on her DofE and is now working on her Young Leadership Qualification. I’m sad that I’m not going to be there to see her complete it but I have all the confidence that she will do so. In her two years with us, I think she has become more confident working with the girls and coming up with the activities and she is bound to go so far with her Guiding journey.
Eagle Owl is a PhD student who somehow finds time in all of that to also be a Brownie Guider. She came to us already having her qualification and like me is firmly set into her Guiding journey. Her time with us has been short, she joined not long after Thinking Day, but she has slotted into the pack perfectly, having some wonderful and fun ideas for activities. She is no doubt going to continue to be a brilliant leader.
Curly Owl has only been with us a couple weeks and I’ve not really had the chance to get to know her, but she is new to guiding from what I do know and she seems very enthusiastic and is definitely really good with the girls and that’s what is important. It’ll be a shame not to see where her guiding journey takes her and I really hope she starts her ALQ soon because she is bound to be a wonderful leader.
The girls we have seen come and go have varied from the incredibly shy to the type that makes you wonder if the teenage gene came a bit early but there is not one of them that has not left an impression on me. Girl R who hit her head hard on the floor when she dropped dramatically. Girl P who did not like me shortening her name. Girl M who got very attached to me and tried to teach me some Polish word. Girl T who started very shy but slowly came out of her shell. Girl M2 who’s Mum had the same illness as me. Girl R2 who’s sister was Squirrel. Girl A who was clearly bored of Brownies by the time she was 9. Girl C who could be a nightmare or the sweetest girl you meet. Girl N who’s currently very attached to me. Girl Z who wouldn’t stop talking about her first communion. And so on and so on. I would be here all day if I were to mention them all. They have helped me grow and I like to think that I have helped them grow in return.
Since joining this pack, though, it’s been so much more than this pack. I have become a part of a proper Guiding community. While the district is a bit of a mess, with changing boundaries and irregular meetings and packs that are difficult to get hold of, I can honestly say I have made some firm guiding connections and there are a number of people I am sincerely grateful to have shared this experience with. It is other packs as well, packs I have helped out on holidays with, girls who I maybe only saw for a couple of days but remember me and still call out their silly nickname for me if they see me even though they are in guides now.
It’s also the place where I learnt about Senior Section and Rangers. The place where I was able to do badges once again and study within myself what it meant to be a young woman and a member of girlguiding. I have made a lot of progress on my Look Wider and I desperately hope to finish it before I leave in September. Wish me luck.
Joining this pack, joining this community has made be who I am as a guider and while three years may not seem long for many people, it’s the majority of my guiding journey so far and it is something I will always be grateful for and will remain sad to have to step away from.
That being said I am excited to be able to move on. While I wish I could take the pack with me, I am glad to be moving away from my home city, my home county and taking myself on the next step of my life’s journey. I’m going to study a Master’s in English Literature and no I don’t have a clue what I want to do after it. Who knows where I’ll be in a year or what I’ll be doing. But I know for sure I will still be a Brownie Guider.
When it came to taking the girls to the quay this summer term, I knew I wanted to organise the trip. The quay in my city is a really beautiful area that I love to spend time at. I created three pages of activity sheets for the girls to complete as we went for our walk around. I ended up spending quite a lot of time on this, involving me going to the
I ended up spending quite a lot of time on this, involving me going to the quay a couple of times. Page one was what needed the most work, at the quay I took some pictures from obscure angles for them to work out what was, and answer questions relating to. Page two was a checklist to tick off if they have seen things such as a paddleboat, a black dog, a person with a buggy, etc and tagged onto the bottom of that was random questions such as ‘name three types of birds you have seen’. Page three was a free for all, it was split into four sections titled “three different shape leaves”, “ice cream”, “a bird”, and “a bridge” which they had to draw.
The evening ended up being a lot of fun. There were some disputes from the girls, such as “But I’ve seen a dog surely it counts,” / “it says a black dog, that dog is white” and “Why would there be an umbrella in the sun?” / “Look over the tables” but they seemed to enjoy the scavenger hunt of different activities.
I want to take a moment to talk about how proud I am of one of my Brownies. Earlier this term she was due to do her Promise but she suffers from anxiety pretty badly. Now, I can relate to this and it breaks my heart to think of a child only 7 or 8 going through that sort of hell. She was scared about doing her promise in front of everyone and a lot of discussion went on between her parents and Brown Owl to try and find what was best for her. We even suggested that she could do her promise once all the Brownies had gone just in front of Brown Owl.
In the end she came to the meeting, albeit scared and upset, and her Dad spent some time in the meeting with her, and some time waiting outside of the meeting room while she joined in with the activities. In the end, she agreed to do her promise in front of everyone as long as she could whisper it. She did so, with us all there and her Dad watching from the doorway.
Once she had finished the promise and the law, without any prompting from the leaders, the girls started clapping. They were clearly so happy for her that she had been able to overcome that fear and do it anyway, and I was just so proud of all of them for supporting her in such a way.
Surprisingly finding things for the Personal Values section, especially the phase three section. However, it hit me that I am already doing something that relates to my personal values. This blog. I have been keeping this blog for a couple of years now and updating it with the important things I have been doing along my guiding journey.
This blog has been used for organising my notes for Look Wider, meaning that I can share with other people what I am doing for each octant and how I have found it. The blog has always helped me to find other guiding blogs and have helped me with finding and sharing ideas for activities and logging.
I have written on this blog talk of activities at Brownies, my personal thoughts relating to Girl Guiding topics, of the time I tried out as a Rainbow leader, of the camps and holidays, everything I have done as a ranger and my ALQ journey.
This blog is an opportunity to get my thoughts towards, share my excitement and in years to come look back and see where my journey have come from and how I got wherever I am.
This week, rather than meeting at the church hall, we took our girls to the local fire station. The Dad of girl R is a fireman so it had been relatively easy for Brown Owl to organise this trip to make finishing the Fire Safety badge more interesting. I figured the girls would enjoy the trip but I was surprised by just how much they seemed to love it. There was a point were girls J and C were bouncing up and down and telling us that this was the best trip ever.
During the evening, the girls were shown the firefighters uniform and the man leading the evening explained why they were so heavy and hot to wear. During this part of the evening, Brown Owl and I had the opportunity to try out the uniform. Putting them on in the middle of a heatwave was not ideal as everything is so large and heavy. Of course, this is completely necessary as it is to protect them from the smoke and fire. I found it almost impossible to even take a step with the boots on and they walk as though they are just normal boots. I already respected firefighters but I definitely gained a new level of respect seeing and learning everything up close.
The girls were given the opportunity to see the different parts of a Fire Engine and were taught all about why they are there and what they are used for. They even got the opportunity to get up into the Fire Engine and learn about how the firefighters act when they have to go to a call out.
Towards the end of the evening, we all got the opportunity to have a go with the hoses on the fire engine. This was great fun for Brownies and leaders alike. We were shown how to make the water faster or slower and we were aiming for a turned over rubbish bin and saw how the force of the water made it move.
This was a wonderful night and it was so great to see the girls really enjoying themselves as they learnt about it all and completed their Fire Safety badge. Honestly something I would recommend to all Brownie packs.
In the summer of 2013, after joking with a friend that ‘walking is too slow’, I brought myself a pair of Roller Skates and regularly skating for a couple of miles along the canal in my city. This resulted in a lot of bruises but a lot more fun.
Two: Begin Couch to 5K.
Couch to Five K is a fitness programme, designed to take people who do little or no exercise and over a period of 9 weeks get them to a place where they are able to run 5K. This was something I really enjoyed working towards. While I managed to finish several weeks, I was unable to continue it or finish it due to my M.E/CFS.
Three: Walk to work regularly
While I was doing agency work towards the end of 2014, I was working 2 miles from my home and due to the placing, it would’ve taken two buses in order to get myself there. For simplicity purposes, I walked to and from word most days while I was there.