Why Sharing is (not always) Caring

I realised quite a while ago that I hate borrowing things to people. As most things do, it probably stems from my experience as a child in secondary school (high school, for the non-British folks).  

Back then I was always eagerly borrowing people my pens, pencils – and even money but rarely getting my items back. At the time I had just started getting into graphic novels; I was reading a fantastic graphic novel series of Manga-version Shakespeare novels which I had borrowed from my local library. After talking to a friend – let’s call her Janie – about the series, something possessed me to borrow her the book, no harm, right? So I thought. After all, I saw her everyday so receiving the book back should be a straight forward process. Janie was in the year below me but we always hung out in the library together since we loved books, they were the main building block of our bond. Days stretched out to weeks and each time I asked Janie about the book she always had an excuse. After buying herself a few months she eventually coming clean that she had lost the book. I remember feeling a sharp pang of disappointment, although it was basically a confirmation of what I had already suspected. 

Don’t lend what you can’t afford to lose 

Now, as a fully-fledged adult, you wouldn’t dare catch me borrow one of my books to someone – they’re prized possessions. Also, my secondary school experience taught me something – once you borrow someone an item of yours, you do so with the optimistic belief that they will treasure it like their own. Of course, this is hardly the case in my experience. A random experience that comes to mind is when I watched someone use my pen in class (which I had loaned to them) and they started biting it. BITING IT. It was probably an absent-minded gesture, something they do with every pen or in the throes of concentrating, but COME ON – biting takes the mick. 

Nowadays I try to control the variables when it comes to borrowing or giving – it has to be something low value, that I can deal with losing or that I have many of, and has to be to someone I trust to a certain degree. So, chocolates or sweets – yes. Books or a prized pen gifted for my birthday – No, absolutely not. Boundaries such as these, I’ve learnt are the key to stress-free borrowing (if such a thing exists.) 

One of the reasons I take this seriously is because – like it or not – not being able to trust someone with your things can negatively affect your relationship with them. You may have to start reassessing their character or the things you trust them with. Of course, there may be legitimate reason why something can’t be returned to you but if this is a frequent occurrence? Then, yes – questions may need to be asked. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Inspired by Kindness 

I think the slightly sad thing about my aversion to borrowing is that it sometimes makes it a lot harder to give – especially in circumstances where it counts and can actually be lifechanging. For example, tithing in church used to be a constant struggle (things have changed in that department though, thank God.) Or even donating to a homeless person – my heart will be moved to action but my mind will put up a road block by whispering ‘won’t you need that money later, Hannah?’ 

I remember going for a walk with a friend and as we passed an off license, we came across a homeless person sitting opposite the shop. Without hesitation she offered to buy him a drink and listened as he weighed out his options. As we went into the store and hunted for his final choice – orange juice – I was moved by her kindness and the readiness she possessed to give. 

Admittedly, I’m still working on being more giving (so I’m not in much of a position to give advice) but I’ll end with that scene because to this day it still makes me smile. 😊 

__________________________________________________________________

Have you had any bad experiences with borrowing people items or money? Comment below and let’s talk!

Follow me on Instagram @TheArtofChatter!

Behind #FreeBritney

I was watching the Framing Britney Spears documentary on a weekend two weeks ago and it got me thinking a lot, so I thought I would share some thoughts. In particular, it made me think of how sad a word we live in where people would start to capitalise of a person’s low points in life. For those unaware of the much talked about The New York Times documentary, its release comes at a time when the #FreeBritney movement is in full swing. Although I am aware of the rough purpose of the movement, I wanted to watch the documentary myself to learn about the wider context of how Britney Spears’ conservatorship came to be.

Conservatorships, from my understanding seem to be legally binding arrangements made when a person is deemed unfit to make decisions concerning their own welfare. The parties these arrangements concern are often mentally ill or elderly. Conservatorships cover different areas of a person’s wellbeing, in Britney’s case the documentary explains that her’s means she is no longer in control of her finances or medical care – theses are controlled by other people, which up until recently has mainly been her dad. This is where things get iffy and become quite speculative – we don’t completely know how Britney feels about the arrangement or what her dad’s intentions have been all of these years. However, the documentary does give some indication to these questions so it’s definitely worth a watch.

You want a piece of me?

People spent years taking photos of Britney Spears. But did they ever  actually look? | The Independent

“I’m Miss American Dream since I was seventeen
Don’t matter if I step on the scene
Or sneak away to the Philippines
They still gon’ put pictures of my derriere in the magazine”

– Piece of Me by Britney Spears (2007)

One magazine editor admitted that at the time of Britney’s well documented breakdown, paparazzi photos of her were going for $1 million apiece. Yes, you read that right. Can you imagine? Naturally, this has caused a frenzy over the years with blood thirsty paparazzi seeking to snap Britney in compromising positions. There were disheartening scenes of Britney’s breakdown being the question on a family game show – something I found highly shocking and distasteful.

It’s interesting that we seem to often detach the idea of personhood from celebrities which makes it easy to criticise and cuss them. They often feel so far removed from our lives that their feelings don’t seem to matter too much. We are living in a different time (supposedly) but I don’t think it would take much for this to occur again – another celebrity being hounded and pushed to breaking point by the media. We could shrug and argue that is the way the cookie crumbles but consumers are arguably the most important part of the media machine. Yes, tabloids create the horrendous content but we never fail to eat it up! They rely on us buying magazines and engaging with online content in order to create demand and make money. So, we may play a much larger part than we think in all of this…

Holding On to Hope

What does the future hold for Britney? Well, we don’t know. But I’ve been careful to not use the word ‘downfall’ since the connotations are of a point of no return. Yet, I feel that is far from where she is at the moment – she’s fighting her conservatorship and has a very loyal following behind her as she does. There’s been a recent victory in her legal battle as a professional co-conservator, Bessemer Trust has now been appointed by the courts, meaning Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, no longer has sole control over her estate. Not quite total freedom, but a small victory to celebrate in an on-going war.

FLAWED BUT BEAUTIFUL: A REVIEW OF MALCOLM AND MARIE

I finally watched Malcolm and Marie on Sunday to see what the fuss is about. The film – a Netflix original featuring the actors Zendaya and John David Washington – went live on the streaming platform in the UK on February 5th. It has entered most people’s radar because of the controversy surrounding the age gap between the two main actors – with Zendaya being 24 and John being 36. However, much of this discussion happened before the film had even become available – many have now said the age gap is hardly noticeable in the film and if anything, is quite common for those who work in the film industry, like the character Malcolm does.

The film starts off with a couple coming back home from the screening of Malcolm’s film – of which he’s ecstatic about since it seems to have gone well. However, Marie doesn’t seem as happy and he wants to know why.

Viewers are constantly on the outside during this film…something epitomised in the film’s shots at the start, where the camera lingers outside and lets us peek into what Malcolm and Malcolm are doing inside the house. That feeling of looking from the outside never really leaves though and this is because, even as we get familiar with both characters – they each struggle to let us (and each other) in fully.

The Characters

Interestingly, it is hard to pinpoint the two characters fully- however, here is what can be gauged quite easily from viewing the film. Malcolm is a college-educated man, and a deep thinker. He definitely has short fuse though, as is seen from the explosive scenes of chaos that pop up frequently within the film. Although aware of the greys that exist in the world, he seems to see the world through a simple lens of black and white. He also seems to have ego the size of America itself – much to Marie’s annoyance.

Marie, we discover had a bad drug habit at a young age and presumably a troublesome childhood. She models although she once had dreams of acting which she eventually abandoned. She has a dry sense of humour but is deeply internally troubled – trying to escape a past which she still thinks haunts her. Most of the time she seems to brood in silence – a personality which noticeably contrasts Malcolm’s, a man who seems to be very expressive, a wearer of his heart on his sleeve.

What we witness during the film is what can only be a build-up of troubles that have accumulated during the discourse of Malcolm and Marie’s relationship. Although Malcolm mentions them being together at 70, you do genuinely wonder – will they ever make that stage? Behind every layer of love you sense between the two partners, there also seems to be underlying resentment – and vice versa. The entanglement between the two feelings leaves us uncertain of the direction of the relationship right until the last few minutes of the film.

Keeping it Real

Many tweets I scrolled through applauded Malcolm & Marie for its nuanced and realistic portrayal of a relationship. I can see why; the film focuses entirely on the nitty-gritty parts of a romantic relationship – the type most films typically only spend 10-20 minutes on. The insecurities that lurk in your mind. The ‘What-ifs’ that make you doubt your choice of partner. The feeling of being seen but not properly heard by your partner. These are all aspects touched on that are likely very common in romantic relationships and grow the longer you’re in them. The film provides a subtle lesson in the importance of communication and the danger of complacency in any relationship.

This review wouldn’t be doing the film justice if I didn’t mention its beautiful cinematography which I have to applaud. Its 60s-esque black and white appearance gives it a simple and refreshing feel. This simplicity it creates is compounded by the use of only two characters and one setting for the entire film.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the film has many strengths going for it; strong cinematography, great songs and acting, for starters. Zendaya’s knife scene and monologue towards the end from her bed are definitely stand-out scenes, too. However, the film felt slightly dragged out to me and towards the middle, boredom was niggling at my brain. Some films with this format – limited characters and scenes – do work (I recommend American Son on Netflix). However, the ‘will they/ won’t they stay together?’ was not enough to keep me entertained throughout. There needs to be some sort of movement in the plot line towards the end and the characters need to be fleshed out enough to get us to care for them. Neither seems to be the case with Malcolm and Marie unfortunately.

Yet, with Oscar seasoning soon arriving, will the film be included in any award nominations? Well, we’ll have to wait and find out…

How to save a life: My Grey’s Anatomy journey so far

First Impressions

There’s something I love about getting to dig into a show – falling in love with the characters, getting immersed in their drama and making their home town/ hangout spots your second home. Currently, I am watching (for the first time) Grey’s Anatomy on Amazon Prime – which is making for quite an experience. I’ve heard a lot here and there about the show over the years but it started when I was quite young so it’s never really been on my radar as something to watch. I was slightly worried when I first started the show since I found Meredith Grey slightly annoying; someone who seems to be in head a lot, quite indecisive and a wallower in self-pity. However, over time she does seem to mature quite amazingly and become more bearable. Nearly reaching the end of season seven (of 15 available on Prime) so, this is a mid-point review; I may have more or very different thoughts to share by season 15.

Image result for grey's anatomy meredith
‘Dark and twisty’ Meredith Grey with best friend, Cristina

For most people, this show is how is the main way they were introduced to the Shonda Rhimes (or ‘Shondaland’ as her body of work is often nicknamed) but my main introduction to her work was through the more recent shows, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder – both which I admittedly never completed but was definitely hooked on at one point or the other. They were refreshing watches at the time due to both shows having no-nonsense, gets-things-done Black female leads. With Grey’s the character turnover is quite significant but you do slowly grow to care for newbies to the drama such as Lexie Grey, Teddy, Arizona and some of the Mercy West lot – Avery and April.

Series Development

Often, I’ve wondered how people have remained with the show for so long – this is because I usually tell those I talk to about shows that my rule is that more than five seasons of a show are typically unnecessary. With most shows, after a while you see character development and story arcs get increasingly sloppy and more unbelievable. As mentioned, I’m only on season seven of Grey’s but so far, I would categorise it as one of the exceptions to my hypothesis. I like how the show occasionally has episodes that experiment with formatting – In season 7, they have a musical episode where characters mix songs previously used in the drama with their script. Another episode in the season is in documentary format, as documentary makers come to the hospital to see how staff are doing post-shooting incident in season six.

Image result for grey's anatomy scenes issy and dennt
One of the series most memorable – and tragic – relationships; Izzie Stevens and Denny Duquette

The Characters

It’s probably fair to say that compared to comedy shows, dramas create a deeper sense of connection with their characters because they can’t constantly hide behind the smoke screen of humour. They’re hit on all sides by life, put in difficult situations (professionally and personally) and are forced to make difficult choices. For example, In Grey’s Callie at one point has to make the difficult decision to split with her girlfriend since they couldn’t agree on whether they wanted children or not. Or Mark Sloan suddenly finding out he has had a grown daughter all these years – and that she’s pregnant. Or Miranda’s marriage breaking down because of the demanding nature of her job meaning she’s spending less time with her husband, which was leaving him dissatisfied…and angry. The list could go on with Grey’s – the only thing that is probably a stretch is that despite all the personal drama, the doctors are able to put their lives on pause and actually do their jobs.

The Secret Life of Doctors

Image result for grey's anatomy alex kerev and babies
Hospital bad boy, Alex Karev takes an unexpected liking to paediatrics

Every time I get into a show, I usually tend to wonder what it would be like to be in the same profession as the main character(s). In this case that would mean removing appendixes, fixing dislocated bones or even delivering babies. I honestly, could not imagine myself doing any of it; it may not be entirely in line of the reality of doctors but it does give you a newfound appreciation for their skills and ability to endure gruelling 12-hour shifts. However, it does also make me worry slightly for medical professionals, especially for their physical and mental health. You see in Grey’s that the doctors because of the bonds they often form with patients, the doctors often struggle internally as they’re forced to watch those patients disintegrate – or even die. Additionally, hospitals and clinics are always stretched when it comes to resources and funding which can lead to very difficulty situations and choices that have to be made.

A prayer for frontline workers

I feel it’s only right to end with a small prayer for medical workers currently working on the frontline, in the UK and worldwide. This is undoubtedly a difficult time to be in the profession but they continue to press on and we’re thankful for that.

May God hold you in his loving arms

We know tide waves of hopelessness often threaten to make you stumble

And that calls for help seem to fall on deaf ears.

We pray that despite the overwhelming fear you feel each day

That he comforts you

building you up so you’re filled with strength

Ready to face the next challenge that comes through hospital doors.

For The Love of Blogging

I’ve really come to love blogging. My first post was nearly nine years ago now (shout out to that post) – my style has definitely changed as I’ve matured, evaluated my passions and thought more about the content I prefer to work on. I would describe it kind of like the process of breaking into a new pair of shoes; it starts of uneasy but overtime (depending on the shoes) you wear them all the time, the initial struggle becoming only a distant memory

I have so many blog posts in my drafts; ones that I have started having a giant lightbulb of an idea but never seen through to the end (sadly.) I often wonder what would have become of each incomplete article if I had persevered in my writing. But, at the end of the day the blog post topics that are the easiest to write (i.e. the writing just flows) are the ones I know are meant to be and the ones I will most likely post.

Blog writing is something that has a therapeutic effect. Some people knit or exercise, I will often write a post – sometimes it’s the only way to organise my thoughts or rather expel a negative feeling that has been recently consuming me. One post that comes to mind is this one (and this one) since I remember going through a tough time when writing it; one benefit was that it gave me a newfound appreciation for my blog – this outlet I have to freely express my thoughts.

I remember a friend of mine expressed wanting to start a blog and asked for advice since she didn’t know which direction she wanted to take. I’m honestly no expert but realistically, I would say, goals in life change and therefore so will your blog. For instance, with mine I started it as an eager, ambitious teenager hoping to break into the world of journalism (it wouldn’t be wrong to say I sold myself a lot of dreams!) Now? I guess my blog has taken on a life of its own! I’ve tried to keep my posts, relatable and real; the best way to describe them would be as public notes to myself.

I often lie in limbo between writing when I feel and forcing myself out of discipline to write more frequently. However, I’m wary of the latter option because I don’t want something I love, like writing, to turn into a chore. At the moment it remains a leisurely activity – I don’t proofread my things too heavily or fret over the content and structure as I did for university assignments. This year, I am challenging myself with my content – hoping to get more creative with my posts and write more frequently. Additionally, I want to explore the bloggersphere more and follow more amazing bloggers – something at the moment I am (admittedly) not great at! If that’s you let me know; please comment with what you blog about and one of your best posts that your recommend I read 😊

Why don’t you like me?

I think this dance we do through life for the approval of others is interesting. On the one hand you’re told to stop seeking such approval, all you need is your own validation. But does that really transfer to real world? Honestly, the answer is no. Every now and then in certain situations you’ll find yourself hiding or exaggerating parts of your personality in order to be liked or gain the approval of the people in your company. Job interviews? You hide your insecurities and fact you can easily get overwhelmed. Instead, you exaggerate your intellect and ability to work with others. In that very moment you want to be liked, even admired if you’re lucky.

Relatable? This doesn’t make you superficial, don’t worry. However, is does make my point that to some extent we are all walking shapeshifters; adapting our personalities or perceptions of self to gain likability to various social situations. It’s actually necessary for survival and to achieve life goals we have; without being likable to others, we most noticeably wouldn’t be able to inspire or influence others. Teachers and coaches giving pep talks wouldn’t inspire their pupils or team respectively without the recipients of the talk liking their teacher enough to listen, if not respect the words they’re saying.

I was thinking more about this human longing to be liked, to gain approval from peers as I binged watched the first few seasons of The Office US during the first lockdown. For those familiar with the show. you’ll know that Michael Scott, the show’s regional manager and protagonist yearns to be liked by his colleagues a little too much, despite being their superior. This leads to him often pushing the boundaries of his working relationships with them which makes for uncomfortable yet hilarious viewing. Despite how exaggerated the trait is in Michael, it is a relatable one nonetheless, particularly in this age of social media where everyone is a small business of one – hoping to get more views and more likes on their content.

Love me or Hate me

So, we’ve established that people long to be liked and care more about it than they would admit. Yet, it’s impossible to be liked everywhere by everyone, so how do we reconcile our fantasy with our actual reality; that more often than none, people will strongly dislike you for no (obvious) reason.

Two things should be noted here:

  1. In the face of hatred always remember the people that love you – they’re the ones that see something special in you, and will always be your biggest fans. You realise how rare such people are when you realise how unkind the world can be. Never neglect these people or take their appreciation of you for granted!
  2. Be open and willing to take criticism: Dare I say it; sometimes a person’s disliking of you may have valid roots. I remember being close to a friend at university; we would often have random banter or go to society events together. After a few months had gone by I realised we hadn’t met up in a while and messaged her because I missed her company.‘Hey, we haven’t met up in a while, I hope you’re okay… blah blah’

As we discussed how quiet it had been between us, she admitted honestly ‘you always bail out of things we arrange to do and it’s annoying’. At the time I was obviously a bit annoyed and met that response with a flurry of denial. But looking back, what If she was right and in pointing out my flakiness had highlighted a bad habit I had overlooked?

That last point in particular makes a case for importance of self-reflection – sometimes it can be the key to spotting not so obvious bad habits in us before others do.

Then again, self-reflection can be a double-edged sword sometimes, as I find with myself, if we do it too often, too deeply we may find ourselves annoyed about traits we don’t need to change or can’t change [easily] but feel pressured to do so anyway.

There are no simple solutions to staying out of these mental thought traps (unfortunately.) It is worth reimagining it as a tight rope balance between self-worth and likability. The former shouldn’t depend on the latter, it should be something unshakable at our core. Of course, the reality is much different from this ideal, but there’s no harm in keeping it as something we can aim towards, right?

One Month at a Time

Happy New Year!

2021 comes at a weird time – the current pandemic has officially been going on for more than a year and although vaccines have now been rolled out many people are still uncertain about what the future holds. Can I book holidays? Can I continue to plan my wedding? When will I next see my parents? Many questions like these plague people, with no guarantees of answers being close on the horizon.

Typically, at this time of year we plague our minds and journals with new year’s resolutions – some realistic, some not.  Reading more books. Eating healthier. Learning a new language etc. However. lots of our resolutions (without us realising ,perhaps) rely on a degree of certainty and the ability that provides to future plan. For example, if I want to travel more then it may depend on my ability to afford and easily access my destination of choice.

Of course, I’m not saying resolution making capabilities are no longer there, all I say is if you don’t have as many as last year (i.e. pre-COVID), then that is perfectly fine. It is understandable that even the simple act of resolution making would be drastically changed by COVID-19 (as it has also done so well with EVERYTHING else too.) I think we should not be afraid this year to approach it one month at a time. Like everyone else I was simultaneously a spectator to and participant of many of the crazy events of last year. This year I think the key to sanity and a steady joy for me will be to take things slowly and lower my expectations (ever so slightly.) Maybe I’ll get to eat out for brunch again in the summer with my friends. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, I won’t obsess over the details and allow the unknown probability of such events to eat away at my mind; and neither should you.

I do, of course, understand that this one-month-at-a-time approach is a privilege, after all I don’t have a wedding to plan or baby to have. These kind of life events don’t always make this approach an option for those experiencing them. You have to plan in advance for such things- i.e. mid-wife appoints, furnishing a nursery and general preparation for childbirth and nursing a months old infant. I could go on.

Anyway, regards of your plans and resolutions for this year, I hope it is going well so far and pray it will be an amazing one.

What were some of the New Year resolutions you made for this year?

—————————————

I’ve made an Instagram for my blog – follow me at @theartofchatter 😊

The Pursuit of Happiness

It’s funny how your laughter often sounds

Like the language my heart would speak

If with each beat it could scream

I love you.

I hope you had a good Christmas, all! 🙂

Would it really be Christmas season without the obligatory Christmas themed post? I think not, so here we are.

I think it’s really important this holiday season that we allow ourselves to be happy. I read a tweet, recently and the person who posted it said although it was her mum’s birthday all she could think about was the thousands of people who lost a parent to COVID-19 and were celebrating their first Christmas without them. The tweet was a saddening read but one that accurately reflects what most people have probably perceived to be the sentiment for this year, which has undoubtedly been a tough one. With all the loss and anxiety caused by the virus outbreak, it does almost feel quite like quite a distasteful move to allow ourselves to be happy, despite the occasion calling for it.

However, I think we must at least try, even if it just means finding happiness in the small things, whether that be from a random ad jingle, the sound of your knife and you butter your toast or the softness of your pillow as you lie to rest. The way finding happiness looks has been different this year – we’ve had to be more creative to find ways that help us relax, refresh or escape. For example, for me I often love to watch theatre productions or films in the cinema. This year has meant having to adapt; I’ve found pleasure in organising group Facetime calls or going for chilled afternoon walks with my neighbour. (And this is being said by someone who typically dislikes calls and feels no shame in taken the bus one or two stops is needed.)

There is a blessing in every minute we have, perhaps we should invest more of those minutes on being happy. In the moments where feeling happy possible it gladdens the heart and keeps us going which, let’s be honest, we’re going to need as we approach the new year.

What activities have you turned to for happiness this year? I would love to know!