Radio Show Glasgow Adventure Time

Hey Hey Guys!!

Today has been a good day.

I had my first ever Radio Show, What’s Up With Gem?, on www.radiocaley.com, I got some life changing news and I saw (potentially) the love of my life. Yeah, y’all heard it! I’m making it  more than FBO; I’m taking that s**t to the BLOG!!

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

So today I have a lot to be thankful for. It all started this morning, early (too early for my student brain to get it’s tiny little temperament around, if I’m honest). My doctor gave me the news I’ve waited 106 days to hear. I literally skipped down the corridor from his office with glee that would make McKinley High School proud.

Then I got an email from Scotcampus (shout out, by the way!! Follow them dudes on twitter!!) saying that they would like to meet me for an interview for an internship! At a magazine! A real one, not just one that is online! I was about this excited last time this happened, with Source Magazine pity that one didn’t quite go as planned…

Then I had my first show on Radio Caley! Well wasn’t that something! Honestly, it was great. I’ve been on the radio before but I have never hosted my own show. Now, I have one every Tuesday! On my way to Uni (where the studio is) I passed by a girl busking. But she wasn’t just busking. Oh no, she was busking my first song!! FLEETWOOD MAC, GO YOUR OWN WAY!! This lovely lady was playing it 🙂

Lovely Busking Lady

Lovely Busking Lady

I saw a man playing a violin while on a tightrope… so that was a thing… (see above) Pretty standard practice on Buchannan Street, to be fair…

I bumped into an old friend on my way to the studio (which was lovely) then I got to present my show with one of my best friends as a guest, which was such a relief! He’s far more technically minded than me and fixed all my little (*ahem* potentially disastrous *ahem)* technical hitches without a thought. Which I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do without him. Because I am so technically challenged it’s legendary. ( The tech guys in uni won’t let me borrow equipment without a tutors’ say… I try, guys, I really do…)

On the show there was a major topic I wanted to discuss. For the past 4 years I’ve been heavily involved in the Mental Health services of Scotland, mainly as a patient, but also as a volunteer. It’s a subject close to my heart because it’s affected not only me, but my family and friends, as an extension. I’ve been going through what my dad describes as “a little blip”, but what my psychiatrist would probably call “the reason he has a job“.

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I’m not sure I’m 100% comfortable revealing exactly what I’ve been going through, but I’ve hinted at it in previous posts. My point is, though, that this is Mental Health Awareness Month an I am a survivor. I’ve been through the worst (twice) and now, look. I survived. I’m back at Uni. I’m (hopefully) going to be interning at a magazine. I’m on the radio. There were only 5 listeners but still! That’s 5 people who I hope have been enlightened a little bit, amused, heartened or even just mildly entertained. If one of those 5 got any kind of enjoyment or education from my heartfelt statistics, then I consider that, job done.

What could have, and with my luck might well have, been a catastrophic black hole of a day, was actually something rather wonderful. I’m cherishing this day because there are so few like it for me. There are so few days when things actually go relatively to plan. So often there is something that plagues me, that s**ts all over everything, no matter how hard I try. I neglect self care because if I don’t love myself, then I can’t be disappointed when I receive no love in return.

Keeping it real

Keeping it real

I don’t seek attention, I seek to attend to others. But now, maybe it’s my turn. Maybe I will get the chance to be happy. So I’m going to work hard to make that happen.

SSDD

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Why I Am Doing #Stoptober

Hey Hey Guys!!

So I’ve decided to partake of the #Stoptober. Yes, my grammar is fabulous.

Yeah, so I have decided to stop smoking. I was never a heavy smoker, at most, 8 a day and I was on really cheap tobacco. I’m talking £3 a pack and buying it once or twice a week. I’ve had numerous people ask me why I even bother smoking.

The truth is, I like smoking. I enjoy it. Or at least, I used to. A couple of weeks ago I had a roll up in my hand and I just thought, “I don’t want this. In fact, I don’t want any of these. Imma put this out and go back inside.” So I did.

Not the most inspiring tale, I’ll be the first to admit that, but you know what – screw you guys, we all have motivations behind our actions. At least I’m potentially maybe, sort of increasing my life span, or improving my health or the environment or something.

So if I don’t seem to care about the positive health implications, why am I quitting? Well, I’m glad you asked. (and if you didn’t, why not? It’s a perfectly logical follow up to my previous statement.)

Honestly, I just decided to give up. No shit. I have no deep, meaningful, touching reason, like I had a near death experience (I did, this summer, but that is a story for another time!!) or someone I love died because of smoking related illness, or even that I want to get healthier. I do, but that’s not why I’m quitting. I seriously just decided I don’t want to do it anymore.

Smoking, for me, is a strange one. I started smoking when I was 18 because I was stressed. I was on literally two a week. Then 2 a day. Then 5. And that was about it, to be honest. And I was smoking baby cigarettes! Like, tiny little, thin as a shoestring, roll ups. I was actually laughed at by other smokers when I went outside for a smoke. I often felt like a kid, thinking I was so cool, smoking, surrounded by adults, being an adult. I was party to all those interesting, intellectual conversations that were discussed while peering through a mysterious, grey cloud of lung disease, foul smelling to non-smokers, practically scentless to smokers.

There I’d be, puffing away as I walked down the street, smoking away my problems, using that little white tube as a coping mechanism for much greater problems. But now, I’ve found other, healthier ways to deal with those same stressors. I don’t need to smoke anymore. I have found other things to fill my life with that are feeding me better (you will know what I mean if you know me well).

For a while I have been smoking simply because I wanted to, not because I needed to. I wasn’t allowed to go outside for 2 months, this summer, for health reasons, and, as I was in hospital that whole time, I wasn’t allowed to smoke; and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I sometimes smelled it on other people and felt a craving but once they left, I didn’t care anymore. I realised in that time that smoking is nothing but a “bad” habit. And I do use ” ” for a reason. Because yes, I do know that smoking is bad for you, believe it or not, I am a relatively intelligent person. However! I don’t think anyone has the right to preach so I’m not going to tell anyone they need to quit. Smoking has done well for me as a stress reliever and sometimes, if a little indulgence into a bad habit is what you need to get through the day, then I say go for it! Whatever it takes to get you through the hard times, sometimes. I know; I;ve been there.

I am giving up for the same reason that I took it up in the first place –  because I want to.

I am saving very little money. £3 a week will go in a jar and I’ll use it for a night out at Christmas or something. But it’s really not the money that i care about, or even the potential health benefits. It’s simply that i am transitioning into another phase of my life, a new me being born into this world. And apparently the new me is a non-smoker.

So there you have it, my Stop Smoking Story. Do you have one? Are you quitting this month? If you need a little encouragement, message me on Twitter @gemc200 ! 😀

SSDD

The Yellow House By The Sea

Hey Hey Guys!!

Inverclyde Council have passed a motion to have a bright yellow house re-painted, citing it as being “too bold” for the local area.

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The Varese family have spent £3,000 painting the front of their house yellow, making it a ray of sunshine on an otherwise grey, waterfront street.

The decision to force the family to cover the yellow is based on an that is almost as archaic as the idea of paying for produce with buttons; an official statement in the initial planning report said:

The bright yellow and gold tones of the dwelling are not colours which would traditionally have been used on a house of this period style or have been found within this part of the Greenock West End Conservation Area.

“The colours form an intrusive feature within the streetscape and are therefore not appropriate.

“There is no objection to the use of colour on The Esplanade to add variety to the appearance.

“However, the shades would require to be derived from soft, pastel hues found in traditional limewashing which are appropriate to the period of the buildings.”

Basically, in keeping with traditionalism, the house shouldn’t be that colour.

Let us ask ourselves; who is this hurting? Laws have been passed recently that “break from tradition” as they have been seen as outdated and irrelevant – allowing gay people to legally marry, for instance, women being Bishops (because being a woman totally makes you less holy and connected to God, of course, because that makes perfect sense…)

If a mans home is his castle, why shouldn’t that castle be any colour you want it to be? Why should a persons vision of ideal and happiness be limited to the imagination of the few who dictate the norm?

Some people live in Mansions, others cottages. Yet, do the walls around them decide how satisfied the occupant is to live there? Does the colour on the outside reflect the worth of the dweller within?

Of course not. We all have the right to live where and how we wish. So the wall is yellow. So is the sun. So are buttercups. So are bananas. Are the council now going to pass a motion that nothing yellow can be seen for fear of being seemed too obnoxious?

So, the current occupants say they will not re-paint the house unless the council come in with a bull-dozer. Personally, I’m on their side. Lighten up, Inverclyde!

SSDD

Tess Holliday – Big, Bold, Beautiful. Plus Size Is On the Rise!

Hey Hey Guys!!

Tess Holliday

Tess Holliday

Big things are happening in the fashion industry. Tess Holliday is one of them.

The bootilicious beauty from Mississippi is making history as being the first size 22 model to be picked up by a major label, UK based company, Milk Model Management.

Tattooed, pierced and rocking a little more junk in the trunk than your bog standard clothes horse, Holliday is breaking all the rules and breaking onto the scene in a big way.

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“Bigger is better…”

This is certainly true for the humble, 29 year old mother of one from Mississippi. Not only is Holliday stunning, but the alternative model is making waves as a campaigner for change in the fashion industry and for beauty standards in general.

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In 2003 she created #effyourbeautystandards encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies and feel empowered by their individuality. It has gathered her an impressive 455,000 admirers on Instagram and almost 28,000 Twitter followers, where she posts behind the scenes shots of her on shoots, as well daily fashion snaps.

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Suicide Girls are an alternative models website and founder Selena Mooney rates Holliday’s future. “I’ve been following the #effyourbeautystandards movement for a while now, and I think it’s fantastic. Women have been put into boxes and made to feel ashamed if they don’t meet this specific cookie-cutter look that society dictates. Everyone is beautiful in their own way.  I’m just glad there are strong, intelligent, and gorgeous women like Ms. Holliday to influence and encourage society to break the mould and get people talking about female empowerment.”

After so long pandering to the obscene and regimented standards of most fashion houses, Holliday is presenting an alternative – a realistic, alternative.

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Critics have suggested that, far from being a positive representation of the female form, she is encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle with her size. But this is far from the truth, as Holliday works out with a trainer three times a week to maintain her glamorous curves.

With her flowing auburn hair, she looks reminiscent of a model from the Romantic period. Though her body confidence is something that has grown with time, much like the booty that is making her so worshipped now.

She told Look magazine, “I had to leave school at 17 because of bullying. I understand not everyone understands what I’m about. But to me it’s such a simple concept. It’s all about loving your body regardless of your size and chasing your dreams.”

Speaking to the Daily New York News she spoke of the struggles of her childhood. “I feel like I’m breaking ground. I never could have imagined that I could be here. It took a really long time to get over things that had happened to me during the vital years of my life. My mom always encouraged me, I’m always still that 13-year-old girl in Mississippi who people told I wasn’t good enough. I never could have imagined that I could be here.”

Tess is not only a great addition to the fashion industry as a model, but an inspiration as a role model. Real-world body types are grossly misrepresented in high fashion, television, advertising… Where is the variety? There is an increasing level of discourse between the pictures seen in magazines and the reality of life. An average UK woman is a size 16, yet models are generally an 8-10.

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It is becoming more and more difficult for females to accept themselves when being constantly told they are not “right”. For this reason, we need more pioneers, more strong minded, self-respecting role models to look up to.

The 5 foot 5″ babe is several inches smaller than the average plus size model, who generally stand at 5 foot 8″, making her yet more unique. Milk have been keeping quiet about what their plans are for their new star, but we can certainly expect to see those ruby locks a lot more in the near future.

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We aren’t all Victoria’s Secret models. Few of us can even afford to shop there and their gym bill must be more than rent in halls! But we can aspire to the mind-set of Holliday; live to make you happy. Screw what other people think and if they give you crap for it – show them one of Tess Hollidays’ super sexy, uber confident Instagram pics, with their sassy tags and F**k the haters mantras.

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SSDD

The World’s Largest Ball of Wool and Getting Crafty

Hey Hey Guys!

I took a little trip this afternoon with a friend of mine, her mum, gran and pup pup (miniature schnowzer, Kiwi; I hate dogs but that little thing is a darling). We just got in the car and said, “So, where do you want to go today?”

The fact that we just took off, drove in a direction with the vague intention of locating a coffee somewhere picturesque was so… freeing.

I’m usually that super uptight cretin that has to know exactly when we are meeting and exactly who will be there and exactly how close a blood relative of yours was dying that meant that you were 6 and a half minutes late… Sorry, friends… But it was a lazy Saturday. Sure it was grey outside but we had 4 wheels and a radio. The country roads of coastal Scotland are a heaven for those with itchy feet but no intention of really going anywhere. One of the things I love about where I live is that you can simply drive to the middle of nowhere, take in the scenery and call it being somewhere.

We ended up in a little pocket of creativity known as West Kilbride; a hub of arts and crafts and apparently Scotlands’s official craft town! Who knew! We’re all knitters and chrocheters, but now we have been inspired to take up peddaling and spinning yarn on looms and… pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or something… I dunno, but it was a lovely place anyway.

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

There was a gorgeous wool shop in town. We were drawn to it by the MASSIVE BALL OF COLOURED WOOL hanging outside the door. It was just… interesting, and a little bizarre. It tickled my funny bone so I took a pic and inside, was greeted with some of the softest wool I’ve ever felt, made from Alpaca! Can you say luxurious!? Clothing made out of that would be like getting stroked by… well, I’ll let you fill in the blank there 😉

Georgeous Antique clock

Georgeous Antique clock

Eventually we found our coffee and cakes in a cafe in Sea Mill. It seemed to literally pop up at the side of a road with nothing for miles in any direction. It simply seemed to be there and expect people to find it. Which they did. Considering we never passed any houses, the place was a pleasantly bustling little heaven from the biting cold wind blowing off the salty Clyde. Nothing like a crisp breeze and the lure of mediocre coffee to drive you off the road.

Well, that was my Saturday. Til next week! (When I am predicting I’m going to need a serious sleep coz it will be at the end of my first week back at Uni…)

Follow me in Instagram!

SSDD

Reconnecting With the People That Matter

Hey Hey Guys!

Travel is exciting. But it has a down side.

my parents and I

my parents and I in Barcelona

It’s been 4 months since I saw one of my best friends. Since I came home just over 2 weeks ago I have tried my best to get back in touch with all the people I’ve missed most since I left, which hasn’t been easy given, you know, people having lives and all that.

And one of my lovely ladies has been particularly elusive given that she works every hour of the day and never takes a break. But today, we had a wee lunch date! As soppy as it might sound, but when i say that 4 foot 10 little lady walking towards me, I really felt happy. I have felt this way another three times since I landed back in Scotland. The first time was when I saw my parents coming towards me as I waited in the airport lounge. Granted, my grin was likely to have been marred somewhat by the frigid air blowing in from outside, but the sentiment was the same.

The second time was when the knock, knock, knocking on my door, a week after I got home, announced the arrival of two of my other best friends. I was dressed in all my glamour, bobbin’ robin pyjama bottoms, no make-up and messy bun, of course. 😉 When you see friends like that, you cannot fake the grin that pastes itself on your face, nor the rosy glow that flushes your cheeks.

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The third was when my best friend at uni and I caught up. The first thing I did was laugh at how much I missed her Northern accent and, other when she broke the news that her radio show was being cut (R.I.P Fred McCauley show!!!!!) I didn’t stop laughing til I realised I wouldn’t be getting another hug from her til after the New year! Noooooooooo!! (Love you Lambie 😛 )

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So when I saw said friend today, it was much the same feeling. I knew she has been working hard, knew her beloved dog had been sick, yet here she was, with me, and it was lovely.

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Ew, whipped cream... dat Carrot Cake though!

Ew, whipped cream… dat Carrot Cake though!

Present exchanges and several hours of gabbing and puppy adoration later (her dog was sick but is back being a bundle of joy again! This coming from someone who hates dogs…) and we both had other places to be. Life is a pain sometimes.

But seeing her today made me realise something. That is me, now. I have seen everyone I care most about since my return home. I have reconnected with the people who have stayed in touch with me, despite the ocean of distance that separated us for so many months. Just in time for the new year.

I hope that this is a sign. I hope that this is a symbol that these are the people I am going to travel into 2015 with, hand in metaphorical hand, no matter whether we bring in the bells on Hogmanay together or apart. I’m not really one for the whole, new year, new me, business, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be a new year, same people to share it with, kind of deal.

I have made so many new friends this past few months and I hope that I will encounter many of them again in the future. But I have also missed the connection I have with those I left at home. I have been with my best friends since I was 5. They are a stirling group of gals and I wouldn’t replace them for the world.

We have seen each other through the elated highs and most proud successes. We have stressed over every exam and bitched about every teacher. We got drunk together for the first time and held back hair when the times that came after went a little too far. Boys had no secrets and every outfit for first dates was a group decision.

They held my hand when I literally thought I was going to die and we have no secrets. I want to share the rest of my life with them because they have saved me and brought me back from the brink when I was on the verge of my sanity. It’s a bigamist marriage, of sorts. Each one of them is a gem and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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Love you ladies.

SSDD

Studying in Barcelona – Part 1 – ANTICIPATION

SO I spent the past couple of months studying in BARCELONA – y’know, just casually, no big 😉

And I thought I would share my experiences here. I haven’t got a set number so I’m just going to be posting them as they come to me. This first one was actually published on the wonderful site of Soapbox Press, who kindly let me write a few articles about my travels. So here it is, the first post about my adventures in Spain – ENJOY!

Also, check out Soapbox Press! 😀 http://soapboxpress.co.uk/

This was 5 minutes from my flat. For real

This was 5 minutes from my flat. For real

Growing up and growing old come with a myriad of choices and expectations. And I  am going to be delivering you with a series of articles about how some of these choices have affected me.

Towards the end of high school you have to decide when to leave school; whether to go to University or college or just to get a job and work your way up; if you go on to further education, where and to study what; if you should move out; if that thing with that guy was just a party thing or if he’s actually the one… the new responsibilities are endless and the choices you make now can affect your entire life.

I am in my 3rd year of a Multimedia Journalism course at Glasgow Caledonian University. I decided to take a deviation of the academic route by going to University (the “academic” thing) but doing a degree that would allow me to be be creative as well as learn (the “artistic” route).

Since I was 15 years old, I was determined that I would make it to University. I had always been a hard worker and my grades were good. But I knew that the competition for a subject such as journalism was fierce, so I got my hand into as much freelance and work experience as I could and when crunch time came – I made the cut! From 800 applicants, I was one of the lucky 36 to be accepted.

A huge part of picking your University id working out if the options it offers are right for you. What services and opportunities will it provide to get you where you want to be, and if you are not sure yet (as so few 16-20 year olds do) then what can they suggest to you that might help guide you onto a path.

What attracted me to GCU was the chance to travel abroad in the third year. And, after five years hard graft, I am headed to Barcelona!

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. The process has not quite been everything I dreamed it would be.

My fanciful teenage mind had romanticised the whole process. Over the years of anticipating this event, I had not thought about the landmine of paperwork, red tape regarding funding, ‘I’s to be dotted, ‘t’s to be crossed, meetings and consultations to be had, more e-mails than the internet can surely handle, sent across two countries and endless arguing with faceless officials who’s job seems purely to put up as many road blocks as possible. Whew! It’s exhausting even to think about.

But as of Tuesday 9th of September, I am off to Barcelona. The flat is booked, the room mates and I are ready to move in and, on Friday 5th of September – I am still not packed. But I will be, when the time comes.

To conclude this first piece, my main comments are these.

It has been a long, hard road to get to this stage. I have had to work extremely hard to get to this point, overcoming personal struggles as well as fighting off competition to be able to get here. It will be fun, right?

I certainly hope so, because seeing as this is my first time with responsibility for my own place, and I have to live with two boys for the next four months, I am terrified!

SSDD