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.
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.
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.
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.
As someone who seems to flit between being very much a city girl to very much a country girl, the idea of camping with the Brownies was both terrified and exciting for me. No one in my current pack has a going away with licence so when we were invited by another pack to join then on a summer camp, it was important to me that our girls be offered the opportunity. My Brown Owl is of the belief that camping should be saved for guides, however, was willing to let our girls go if I was willing to go with them. I was.
Preparing for this Brownie Camp was worrisome, having never done a Brownie Camp before I was worried about leaving something important behind. I must have checked my kit list 5 times before I accepted that I had everything I needed. Important things that were packed included Dill, my small teddy Armadillo and Haribo. Despite all the fuss, I managed to get myself packed completely with four hours to go before I needed to leave, giving me time to do the boring, non-Guiding things I had to do that day.
Once I arrived at the pickup point, I was picked up and we drove to the campsite. The plan was for the leaders to get there early and get the tents up before the girls arrived. I had been camping only once before this trip and knew little to nothing about the process of putting up tents. It was not an easy feat but we got there in the end, with the help of the pack leader’s three-year-old daughter and a couple of Brownies who arrived early.
The camp was greatly enjoyable and I remain completely pro-camp for Brownies. I believe there is a difference between camp for Guides and camp for Brownies and both should have the option to do so. This was only my second time sleeping in a tent and I got considerably less sleep than I would’ve liked [although, more than another pack holiday I’ve been on]. I shared with Izzy (now Snowy Owl) and Rabbit who were young leaders for the pack we were going with. I was glad to be able to make friends with people around my age who were also in Guiding because it seems such a rarity for me.
During the camp, the girls were working on the Circus Skills badge, which meant they got to do a number of fun activities like walking on skills, making juggling balls out of balloons and rice and learning to juggle with them and making balloon animals and flowers. This, of course, lead to a lot of popped balloons and leaders uncomfortable about the sounds.
One of the three girls from my pack, unfortunately, took ill and didn’t make it through all of the camp. It was worrying and sad to see her go from bubbly and excited to quiet and ill. I sat with her as we waited for her Mum and Nan to come get her though, and we spent the time talking about Youtube and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which I suffer from and her Mum had just been diagnosed with.
I had a lot of new experience at this camp, most of which were quintessentially camp experiences. I saw my first campfire and the difficulty that comes with trying to light one. Izzy and the other pack’s Barn Owl [yes that was confusing for the weekend] spend rather a long while trying to get it to light at all, but eventually, Barn Owl found a large branch and when that caught alight the fire continued for hours. Another new experience was camp fire songs which of course is a direct corrolation from the campfire itself.
The final quintessentially camp experience was rain. We were lucky that the rain didn’t come until the last night. But it came overnight and it poured and poured. The grass we were pitched on became saturated and the tent me, Izzy and Rabbit was not the only one to had leaked quick dramatically. Tired and grumpy girls, tired and grumpy leaders and pouring rain certainly is an interesting combination.
At this camp, I also learnt that mass making hot chocolate is done using a giant jug and that waking up to a Brownie bringing you tea is a delightful wake-up call.
Other things, I relearnt include that sleeping in a tent is really uncomfortable and that my sleeping bag is particularly loud when you move around a lot in the night. All in all, I would really love the opportunity to attend another Brownie Camp if I was invited.
A few summers back, when I was between years at university and didn’t have the energy both physically or mentally to hold down a job, I needed something to do with my free time, so I took up a voluntary job with Oxfam in my city centre. This allowed me to be a lot more flexible with my hours that a paid job would have done and turned out to be a wonderful experience for me.
During the summer, I worked two or three days a week, for between four and eight hours and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. In my city, Oxfam is split into three stores, one generic, one music and one for books and while I spent the majority of my time in the generic one, every so often I was ‘stolen’ by the music shop.
While working there, I met some fascinating people including a Dutch lady who spoke fluent English but would swear in Dutch when something went wrong and an older lady who had been to a David Bowie concert ‘back in the day’.
The work itself varied from work on the tills, sorting stock, redressing mannequins, cashing up and uploading information onto the online store. The most fun came in dressing the mannequins and being able to decide what they wore before they were placed back into the window for everyone to see, it certainly felt like I had a lot of power.
The charity itself was one that I knew only the basics about before I joined them. I knew they worked to help people in third world countries but I didn’t know a lot about what they did. During my summer there, I learnt a lot about specific projects of theirs, including the ‘Shwop’ deal they had with Marks and Spencer.
In a continuation of one of the activities in phase one, I wanted to talk more about Dartmoor and the time I have spent there. Dartmoor is one of my favourite places, a place I feel as though I really come alive. I have visited Dartmoor a few times over the last few years, each time different from the others.
My trip to Fingle Bridge with my friend Shawn was the first time I used my ‘Short Ish Walks on Dartmoor’ book. We parked the car by a pub and the bridge itself and then took a walk that eventually circled back and ended again at the car park. The walk took up along the river, up some hills, past a building that looked a lot like Hagrid’s hut and passed the back of Castle Drogo. Once we returned to the car, we had some well earnt doughnuts.
Once again with Shawn, only this time we went to Haytor. Haytor is one of the first tors you get to when driving to Dartmoor from Newton Abbot or Bovey Tracey and at the weekend or school holidays is always crazy busy. However, we were lucky when we went that it wasn’t particularly busy. We went exploring around the tor, finding what I called a geocache but was, in fact, part of letterboxing, we also stumbled across Haytor’s Quarry which neither of us knew about beforehand.
With my friend Tasha this time, we went to Hound Tor. We explored up and around the tor itself before wandering down a hill towards an old medieval village. We continued after the village, making friends with dogs along the route, playing pooh sticks at a stream and wandering off the path. All in all we walked around 4 miles around Hound Tor and had such a wonderful time.
I don’t have a video of the final area of Dartmoor that I want to talk about. Again with Shawn and this time we took the Short Ish Walks book with us and went to Belstone. This was an absolutely beautiful village and an amazing walk that I am torn between wanting to do again and not because it was difficult with the valleys and hills. Along the walk, we passed a viaduct, streams and a naked man. We felt ridiculously accomplished when we finally made it to the stone circle, although the circle itself was smaller than we expected. Back at the car it took a long longer than you would expect to get out of the car park because there were ponies on the road that were not wanting to get out of our way.
This doesn’t count as visiting a different place as it’s a place I have been to before. Shawn and I took our friend Laughing Owl to Hound Tor when she was down to visit a couple years ago. We actually climbed the tor this time which was a huge achievement for me as I had always been too scared to actually climb very far.
For the second phase of the independence octant, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I have moved house in 2015. Moving to a new flat meant having walls completely white, a blank canvas. Being now in my early to mid-20s, I wanted to move my bedroom away from what felt very teenage (posters lining the walls, etc) to something that I felt more represented who I now am. I mean no offence to anyone’s choice of decoration in their room, this was just where I felt mine needed to go.
I did not particularly have a plan for what I wanted to do with my bedroom but I had the idea that I wanted it to be something to do with travel. I am someone who is itching to travel but is currently unable to for one reason or another. One morning, I woke up with an idea and instantly picked up a pencil and wrote ‘Take me away’ on the main wall in bubble writing. I knew that even if I decided against what I had written, I could simply paint over it, it didn’t need to be permanent.
The next stage in this decoration was buying the paints. I knew I wouldn’t need an awful lot of paint for the words, so I just brought three ‘tester pots’ from Wilkinsons. After painting over the words, I wanted to do something more and found myself painting spirals around the outside of it.
Adding the postcards was a given. It showed how many places I have friends in and was able to show the world even if I was currently unable to get out there and explore it. However, I wanted to do something that showed what I had done as well. Inspired by the Taylor Swift album 1989, which came with polaroid style pictures of her life, I searched online to find a website where I could upload pictures and have them sent as polaroid printouts with captains on them. I used pictures of days out and holidays with friends and family added captains either of song lyrics or some funny comment on the day.
Then they finally arrived (the waiting did feel like rather a long time) I added them in and around the postcards finally getting the wall to a place where I was happy with it.
Elsewhere in my bedroom, I needed to get my books out of the boxes they had travelled in and organise them. My bedroom has a small closet in it, it didn’t have a shelf or rail so I wasn’t able to use it as a wardrobe, so instead I stuck all my bookshelves in is. It has become like my library. My books are organised in alphabetical order by author, classics and then everything else. I had to put some in front of others, and some under my bed as there was not enough shelf space for the amount of books I have.
As someone who is passionate about writing and blogging, I felt it important to have a desk area that I could work in. There was already a desk I could use, but I had to buy a desk chair to go with it, I also took advantage of it being ‘back to school’ time and brought a desk lamp and some new stationary cheap in Wilkinsons.
I also created a ‘Bronte Sister’ corner in my room, where I put up the print out of a quote that a friend got me for my birthday as well as the Bronte Family tree and some postcards of their books. My corkboard has an important place in my room and has some photos on it permanently while also every so often being added to with leaflets or information for activities I have on.
All in all, it was great to take on the project of making my bedroom my own. It appealled to the creative side of me and was a new experience. I like the way it turned out and feel more connected to my room than I did to the room just before we moved.