Uncategorized

How to stay on budget this Christmas

I think most people would agree that Christmas time is probably one of the most stressful times of the year, when in reality it should be one of the best times of year. So, why isn’t it? I suppose there are a whole range of answers to that question but the one I think most people would say that the stress is mainly caused by the amount of money that is spent at this time of year.

If you’re wondering why I am posting this in October there is a simple reason; people have already started to plan and shop for the upcoming festive event! Over the last few weeks I have not only seen shops start to stock presents, decorations and chocolate that are all dedicated to the holiday, I have also seen people fill their trollies with the Christmas goodies like advent calendars, Christmas scented candles and all the Christmas chocolate one can find. And to add to that, I cannot deny that I have also bought a few of those candles recently! I am trying my best to resist the urge to fill my trolly with everything Christmas related but I am going to try and see Halloween through first!

The reason I wanted to make this blog post was because for the first time I have to set a strict budget this Christmas now I have moved out, and it came to my attention after some research that many other people feel the same scary worry that Christmas expenses face me this year. Research shows that the UK as a whole spends billions at Christmas time every year with families spending at least £500 more in December than any other month in the year. Some people say they spend most on their children, teenagers and spouses and with 46% of people spending between £200 – £300 on everything else but food like food, drinks, decorations, parties and clothes you can see how Christmas is a billion pound industry. Why are we spending so much on Christmas? Well of course that depends on the person you ask but people have sited a whole range of things for the reason they spend so much at this time of year including wanting to please the children, being pressured by family and friends (parties and presents etc), and the idea that Christmas should be like it is in the movies that we see in movies and on TV.

The question that I have asked myself and I’m sure many others have asked themselves is ‘ How can I have an amazing Christmas but stay on budget?!’ I pondered the question for a while, worrying that I either wouldn’t have enough money to have the magical Christmas I wanted with my family or I would have to go over my budget to achieve that magical Christmas. After doing some research and taking what I already know about saving money and budgeting, I sat down and made a plan and I think maybe those ideas I had to help me stay on budget but still have an amazing Christmas may be able to help others who are worried about the Christmas season that is fast approaching.

Before you even begin to bring your budget together you need to work out how many days your holiday lasts. What I mean by this is you need to work out whether you only celebrate the 12 days leading up to Christmas, or whether the whole month is full of festive events which can include: going to the grotto, family parties, work nights out, going to your towns annual Christmas light switch on etc. These things often get over looked when setting your budget because people only think of presents, food and decorations when thinking of how much they have to spend, but all the extras cost money as well. That is not to say you shouldn’t do these things, as in my opinion these festive events are what make the Christmas time so special, but just make sure you consider them when setting your budget. Once you have decided whether your budget needs to cover the whole month or just the days leading up to Christmas you can sit down and begin to set your budget. I personally class the whole month as Christmas (1st Dec-1st Jan) and set my budget to cover the whole month.

My advice for setting your budget is to sit down with a notepad, your calendar/dairy for December and access to the internet (for quick price searches for an estimated prices). Now, you need to write a brief list of everything that is going to cost you money, don’t worry about the prices right now, just jot down the things that may cost something. You don’t need to go into great detail here, just write your child’s name, not every present they want. I normally section my budget into categories, making sure to leave enough space to pencil in a price limit for each item later.

Big or small, write it down. Think about everything in December that could possibly cost you. When budgeting people often miscalculate how much will be spent in this month because they do not take into account all of the other expenses that this festive time brings. Think about the parties and how much you’ll need to spend on outfits, gifts and drinks while there. Think about the events leading up to Christmas that require money; Christmas tree lighting, Christmas festivals and going out for meals and cosy cafe trips for hot chocolate. All these things add up without you even thinking about it, but if you budget with these expenses in mind, you’ll have a better chance of staying on budget this Christmas.

One of the best ways to stay on budget is one of the most simple concepts out there – stick to the list! I know, I know, its easier said than done. It’s something we all think will keep us on budget but most of the time we end up adding more to the trolly then what is on the list. Or even if we do keep to what is on the list, we end up spending over our budget because items end up costing more than we think. My advice to try and combat this is not by just writing a list but jotting down the most you are willing to spend on something, if the item ends up being more, skip it or try and find a cheaper alternative.

The last piece of advice I have is not directly related to budgeting but will help you with keeping the lost low this year. Going to 20 different shops in two weeks can be stressful. So websites like Amazon are amazing for keeping it simple. However, they aren’t always the most cost effective place to shop for all of your Christmas needs. Browse your local shops in advance to find the best deals and write them down. You could buy it now and save it for Christmas or come back closer to the date. If you normally shop at places that may be a little more expensive, try discount stores to see if you can snag any deals. Shops like Home Bargains and B&M are good for decorations and additional food items like sauces and tinned vegetables. Shops like TK MAX are great for getting a deal on name brand items like makeup and clothes, in fact they even do amazing deals on home ware items. Shopping at stores that offer a lot of deals could save you at least a hundred pound which could really benefit your budget, and of course your bank account.

Christmas can be a magical and exciting time, not just for the children but for you as well. A little planning and budgeting can help you relax and can take a lot of the worry away, so you can wake up on Christmas day and feel excited just like the kids. I have to admit that this time of year can cause a lot of stress, but since getting the hang on how and where I spend my money, I have been able to enjoy the holidays much more.

 

 

 

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MyStorys, Uncategorized

Bringing back the death penalty?!

The question ‘Do you believe in the death penalty?’ is one that leaves people divided across the globe. For that reason, I will be talking about my opinion on the death penalty while respecting other peoples opinions on the subject.

The last execution in the UK was actually in my hometown, Liverpool. Peter Anthony Allen was executed on the in August 1964 at Walton Prison. His partner was also executed this day a little up north at Strangeways Prison in Manchester. They were sentenced to the death penalty for the murder of John Alan West earlier that year in April. Capital punishment was abolished 15 months after these last two executions in 1965.

Although by the 1900’s the death penalty was given to criminals that committed a serious felony, that wasn’t always the way. Between the years 1770 and 1830 an estimated 35,000 death sentences were handed down in England and Wales, 7,000 of which were carried out. Back in those times you could get the death sentence for small crimes that wouldn’t be considered felonies these day. Shoplifting and stealing cattle are just two crimes that would get you the death sentence back in 1770. The death penalty was however abolished for theft in 1832. Samuel Romily was quoted to say ‘English law was notorious for prescribing the death penalty for a vast range of offenses as slight as the theft of goods valued at 12 pence’ In 1808 Romily removed the death penalty for pickpockets and lesser offences, starting a process of reform that continued over the next 50 years. The death penalty was mandatory but was often commuted by the government, until the Judgement of Death Act 1823 gave judges the powder to commute the death penalty except for treason and murder.  The Children Act 1908 banned the execution of juveniles under the age of 16, and in 1933 the minimum age for capital punishment was raised to 18 under the new act  ‘Children and Young Persons Act 1933’.

So, what is my opinion on the death penalty? Do I think it should be brought back?

My answer to that question isn’t as simple as yes or no. I cannot sit here and say yes it should be brought back and leave it at that, because my answer is a lot more complex than a yes or no answer would give.

Do I believe the death penalty is a cruel punishment for a crime? Dependant on the crime, no I do not believe it is a cruel punishment for a crime. It was called capital punishment for a reason, to offer the maximum amount of punishment for ‘capital’ crimes such as felony crimes like murder. That being said, I do believe there should be terms and conditions to the death penalty, it should only be given out at the judges discretion and only criminals who have committed felonies should be given the death penalty sentence. I think old age England did give unfair treatment to criminals for crimes they committed, but that was a different era and other the centuries we saw the reform of the death penalty offer some rights to criminals that did not commit felony crimes.

Why do I believe we should bring back the death penalty? That’s not a simple question and I don’t have a straightforward answer. Like I said earlier, I do believe the death penalty should be brought back for crimes that are a felony. No, I don’t think someone should be executed for selling drugs, possession of drugs, shoplifting, fraud, robbery, manslaughter, computer crime, drunk driving (unless the drunk driving causes death of another person), extortion, embezzlement, identity theft or harassment. These crimes are unacceptable and I would not want to these people to walk free. I would want them to go to prison and stay there for as long as the judge sees fit for their crime. Do I believe their crime is that severe that they should be sentenced to death for it? No, no I don’t. Yes, I think someone who purposely takes the life or rights away from another person or multiple people should be punished, they’re sentence should be capital punishment. People may think I am heartless and don’t care about the rights of humans because I do think that some criminals deserve the death penalty but I am not heartless, I just tend to side with the victim in most situations. Why? Because at the end of the day, unless the ‘victim’ wasn’t really a victim, and was the criminal who committed felonies themselves, they don’t deserve to have their rights taken away.

Tell me, since when is the criminal entitled to more rights then the victim. The girl who was raped, tortured and killed isn’t here anymore, but her rapist and murder is and he is sitting in prison, heart beating, eating, drinking, sleeping, seeing his family, and possibly making friends. He’s LIVING AND BREATHING, while she is not living her life, like she would be, had he not taken that from her. Why does he now deserve rights? Where were her rights when he took what he wants from her, validated her body and took her life away.

I am not heartless, I am not mean. I am not out there seeking revenge. I just simply think justice isn’t being served. We are so unbelievably lenient on criminals. Punishments in this country DO NOT meet the crime and 80% of brits agree that we are ‘TOO SOFT’ on crime.

It isn’t just a question of ethics, it isn’t just about what you believe is right and wrong. In my opinion, it’s also about the stats. Had the stats been in favour of the death penalty being abolished I’d probably have a different opinion. But, like I said this country is so unbelievably lenient of criminals, and the criminals know that. In fact 47% of convicts reoffended in the first year of release from prison. Many people worry DAILY about being a victim of a crime. If criminals had longer sentences for non-felony crimes maybe they’d deter from committing a crime again, knowing how long they’d spend in prison. Criminals that commit a felony should stay in prison for life. And by ‘life’ I don’t mean 15 years with the possibility of parole. I mean LIFE. Their whole life, without a possibility of parole!

Jack Straw, who was Labour’s Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001,  argued that criminals should serve longer sentences, to allow more time to help offenders give up crime through ­rehabilitation schemes.

“The fact there is a high reoffending rate for people who come out is not an argument for not putting them in prison,” he added.
“If they are in for a short time there is not much chance of rehabilitation. A long time can straighten their brain out.” – Jack Straw

It is honestly quite daunting to check out the crime stats for this country as for the most part the crime rates have done nothing but constantly rise. Now, some crime stats do look like they’ve dropped in recent years but as far as I know, none of dropped past the crime stats recorded for the years before 1965. So, in short, crime has been higher in the 30 years then it was pre 60s. Scary thought. In 1965, the death penalty was abolished and the number of homicides was 325 throughout the year. In 2001/2002 the number of homicides in a year rose to 897. Now, I don’t know for certain that if the death penalty was brought back for felony crimes that the homicide rate would fall, but considering the stats since the abolishment of the death penalty, I would say that the reason crime has risen has a little something to do with the death penalty not being around anymore.

Personally, I believe this country needs stricter punishments for criminals, especially those who commit felony crimes like; Rape, murder, paedophilia and terrorism. Maybe the death penalty doesn’t need to come back for crime stats to fall, maybe we just need longer, stricter sentences for the criminals who commit these crimes. Harder sentences may make people think twice before committing a crime, or reoffending. And for the criminals that we know cannot change, give them life imprisonment.

My opinion is my own and I do believe the death penalty has its benefits. I, of course think it also has its disadvantages and I am more than aware many innocent people died due to being found guilty of a crime they did not commit. But, in a day and age that is full of technology and science, I am sure if forensic evidence can prove someone committed a crime, they’re most likely guilty. I think there should be elements to the death penalty conviction if it came back. For instance there should be forensic evidence, multiple witnesses, CCTV footage (of the crime, of them leaving the crime-scene, of them disposing of evidence or of them buying the weapon used), police evidence and proof of intention to harm the person(whether by taking their life or raping them etc). If some of this evidence is missing, but they’re still found guilty and there is enough evidence to prove they did it but not enough for the death penalty, give them life in prison with no possibility of parole.

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Corner

Important things you should do before getting a Kitten

Getting a new pet can be an exciting time. But, a lot of people overlook some of the most important pieces of information about the animal they’re going to get. Which can lead to a stressful transition for both you and your new pet. There is quite a lot you need to know before owning any kind of animal, but one animal I want to talk to about today that is one of Britain’s most popular pets, with around 49% of British adults owning a cat, it is safe to say that they’re well liked all around the country. I have owned pets for most of my life and I have recently become a cat owner since moving into my new flat. Since getting my new little kitten Ramsay, I have learnt a lot of new things. Here is my list of most important things you should consider and do before getting your first kitten or cat.

 Do your research

One of the most important pieces of advice I would give someone who was thinking about getting a kitten or cat to add to their family, would be to research. Hundreds of animals end up homeless or in rescues because people bought a pet on impulse without doing the proper research. Not doing your research before getting a new pet is so damaging to the animal. There are a lot of sites online, as well as books you can buy in pet stores that can help you educate yourself on all the needs of the pet you are looking at getting. You don’t need to spend lots of money while doing your research, there are a lot of sites that offer free advice to prospective owners. Just spend a few hours doing your research, not only on what the cat needs, but also on his behavior, how to train him, the correct weight for his age, how he should be developing, and what the correct food to feed him is. I also watched a few YouTube channels to prepare myself, including Kitten Lady. Although she mainly focuses on Neonatal kittens, her channel has helped me prepare for Ramsay before I went and picked him up. The more research you do, the more you are prepared for your new pet.

A good article to look at is this one published by the Blue Cross  – https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/caring-your-kitten

Another good website to look for advice would be PetMD – https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/kitten/nutrition/evr_ct_kitten_feeding_schedule

Set up a schedule

 litter cleaning, feeding, preventative medicine treatment and weight watching

During your kittens first year, as they’re growing into adult cats, you should be keeping an eye on their food intake, as well as their weight. How I do this is by following a guideline set online for food weight. Right now Ramsay eats half a sachet of kitten meat and 25g-30g of dry kitten food each day. He also has a few treats during the day, normally given as a reward for good behavior. Keeping an eye on your cats weight is extremely important as you do not want them to gain too much weight or lose too much weight. A good way to keep track of your kittens weight and how much they should be eating is to set up a few schedules beforehand. I just bought a cheap little notebook to keep all this information in, but you can of course use scrap paper or even your computer to keep this information logged.-You can find a lot of helpful information online to help you set up your schedule. You can also ask your local vet for some guidelines or use the side of the food box to help you. I log my kittens weight weekly right now, making sure he is progressing the way he should be, but a monthly weigh in would be just as okay. These schedules help you stay prepared as your kitten grows up. Cats hate a dirty litter tray, so setting up a schedule for cleaning the litter tray could also be beneficial if you want your new pet to continue using the litter tray instead of your carpet or floors. It is important to flea and worm your kitten and cat. Fleaing should be done once a month and you should start worming a kitten before they reach 12 weeks. If you need more advice on this, you can contact your local vet. Keep a log on when you last gave your kitten these treatments so you know when he is due his next dose.  How many schedules you make and how detailed you make them of course is up to you.

If you live in the UK, you can get your fleaing and worming treatments from you vet or from pets stores like Pets At Home. Here is some more helpful information on ticks, fleas and worms –  http://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/pet-talk/pet-care-dog-health-fleas-ticks-worms

Check out this article by Pets4Homes if you want a little more information about why it is important to have your kitten or cat on a feeding schedule  https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/cat-food-calories-and-how-much-to-feed.html

 

Be Prepared 

Get everything you need BEFORE you pick up your new family member

Being prepared an getting everything you need beforehand can help your new pet settle in a lot faster and prevents a lot of stress. There are hundreds of articles online, all with lots of information as to what you should buy before getting a kitten or cat, so I will just briefly go over what I think is important to have before you go collect your new kitten.

  • Litter Tray – get a litter tray with low walls so your kitten can jump in and out easily
  • Litter – I use wood pellet litter, its better for the environment.
  • Food Bowls  – Get two separate bowls, as cats don’t like the double bowls.
  • Collar – Get a kitten collar to start with and when he is bigger, upgrade to a cat collar
  • Kitten Food – It is important you get food for kittens as it has all the nutrients their growing bodies require. Most people suggest getting wet food to start with as it contains a lot of water, which help prevents bladder issues for kittens.
  • Goats Milk – Of course you can give them kitten milk, but goats milk is cheaper. Do not give them cows milk as they are unable to digest it and it can make them sick.
  • Scratching Post- to keep your new kitten from scratching your furniture, get a post. You can get them quite cheap online these days.
  • Toys – Kittens love to play, so get them a whole range of toys to play with, balls that rattle, fake mouses and tunnels are some of my kittens favourite toys. You don’t have to spend lots of money, get creative and make your own toys, just make sure you use pet safe materials.
  • Grooming supplies – I use a grooming glove which I got online for a couple pound.
  • Cat Bed  – Cats often decide where they want to sleep, mine sleeps on the bed with us, you can also buy them a bed or just cut a box up and place a blanket in there for comfort.
  • Fleaing and Worming treatments – you can buy these monthly or in bulk.
  • Treats – treats are great for rewarding good behaviour in your kitten. As they are learning, they will pick up on what to do and what not to do by how you train them.

Get all these things above and you will be well prepared for your new arrival. Another thing I suggest is to get everything out and ready for when he arrives. You don’t want to scrabble around setting up the litter tray and toys when your new kitten has just arrived. I got all of Ramsay’s stuff ready the night before we went and collected him.

Get the Kitten registered at the Vet

When you get your new pet, look for a local vet that has good ratings. Most places simply require you to call or email them to register your new pet with them. Once registered, you should get them booked in for their first and second vaccinations. Once they have been vaccinated, you should think about getting them neutered. Neutering your cat is extremely important, not only to prevent your cat from getting pregnant, or getting another cat pregnant, but to also help prevent diseases and illnesses like Cancer.

If you need help with costs of neutering, Cat Protection and the PDSA can help you with those costs. Check out the Cat Protection site for more information on why it is important to get your cat neutered and how they can help with the costs   https://www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering

Set aside some time

Kittens, much like babies need attention. Although they don’t need attention 24/7 as they are able to feed themselves, go the litter tray and keep themselves entertained. They still need you to implicate many things in their lives so they can grow up to be a well behaved cat. A kitten has fed of his mother for the first 8 weeks of his life, now he’s not got his mothers milk, he needs to eat solid food. Sometimes you may need to show your kitten where his food is and place him near his water and food bowls to remind him. He may well be litter trained, however there is no harm showing him his litter tray every few hours as he may forget where he needs to go and wee on our carpet… or bed. Reminding him to use the litter tray is really important his first few weeks with you. Playing with your kitten is really important. You can do this by getting a mouse on a string – this way your kitten is getting the necessary exercise, playing and spending time with you. You don’t need to be with your new kitten all of the time, but taking some time out of your day to spend time with him may be beneficial to your relationship with him and his development. If you need to go out, decide on an area in which you feel most comfortable leaving him. An area with no wires or carpet is your best bet. We put out kitten in the bathroom when we are out. This way he has the whole bathroom to roam around in and things to jump up on and watch his surroundings. I just make sure the toilet seat is down and the window is closed. I make sure there is nothing he can chock on like bobbles or clips. I put his water and food bowl, his tunnel, his batting game, his favourite toys, his litter tray and a blanket in the bathroom to keep his happy and comfortable.

One piece of advice that I would give to anyone looking to get a kitten, cat, puppy, dog or any other pet is Adopt Don’t Shop! So many animals out there are in need of a home, give them a second chance! I think adopted animals are the ones with the most love to give.

Other than that, enjoy your new addition to the family, and tag me in some pictures on Instagram or twitter with the tag @lifeasshanx 

 

 

reviews, TV Shows and Movies

TV Networks are digging their own graves.

It’s no secret that traditional TV networks are on the decline. In an age in which online screaming networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime, TV networks are struggling to keep ratings up.

Why do people prefer to watch their TV shows from platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime? Well I would say the top reason is ease. It is so easy to simply download an app, pay monthly for a subscription and claim all the benefits not available to you when purchasing TV packages along with your broadband.

The top three reasons I use online streaming platforms is because they work out cheaper these days, the selection is better and you have the benefit of not having to view ads. Now, I wouldn’t solely blame TV networks for their own decline. We evolve and change, just like the ‘walkman’ turned into the ‘cd player’, the ‘mp3 player’ and most recently Ipod. Radio isn’t as popular now because of these music streaming platforms like Spotify. Radio still exists of course, it just isn’t as popular as it was 20 years ago, so I don’t believe TV networks will go extinct – not any time soon anyway. That being said, most are killing their remaining viewers with shit content which has been brought onto the network to try and boost ratings and therefore bring in more money. But that’s where they’re killing their own networks. They’re hanging the noose around the already battered network.

You ask people all around the world why they watch TV and most will say ‘for entertainment purposes’. Some people watch TV for a thrill, for a laugh, for a cry. They watch for an escape. An escape from reality and the world we live in. And, lets face it, we live in a time in which an hour escape each day would be of benefit. The reason I personally feel so strongly about this subject is because I have been there. I used TV shows as a vise. A fictional world in which my problems didn’t exist and I could lose myself in a story. Growing up watching fictional characters like Olivia Benson have shaped who I am today and those characters are IMPORTANT. They’re so fucking important.

So, why are TV networks like CBS and Fox cancelling shows that have a massive fan-base and tell important stories? Money. It all comes down to money. I know how the world works, the world wouldn’t function without money. But why are already *filthy* rich networks cancelling shows with amazing content and actors for reality tv? More money. What they do not realize is that they’re digging their own graves by cancelling these shows for more reality TV. Why? Well, because we already have dozens of reality shows across all the networks. Another reality show is just going to flop in an already busy current genre type.

Simply, networks are cancelling shows from Drama, Scifi, Crime, Fantasy, Comedy and Action because they aren’t getting the rating for them anymore, which is probably because of the online streaming services that are taking over – this isn’t the networks fault though. They’re replacing these shows with reality TV with the hopes that it will get their ratings back up, meaning money, money, money.Which, is their fault. But, why can’t they see it is this very action that is causing the decline of their network? Cancelling shows and replacing them with reality shows that WILL flop is a massively stupid move to take, and they’re all slowly doing it. They’re all making the same mistake and soon TV will only be good for one thing – reruns.

I wrote a post a few months ago when FOX decided to cancel Brooklyn Nine Nine even though it was still reeling in a good amount of views each week. Why did they cancel a show that clearly has a HUGE passionate fan base? Well, to make space for more of the same that will flop after a few seasons. They had a solid show with Brooklyn Nine Nine, the show was doing everything right. The cast was right, the characters represented important people and the story-lines were enjoyable every week. It was a great 20 minute comedic escape. Thankfully for us fans and probably to the regret of FOX in a year or so, NBC picked it up for another season.

NBC is a network I still very much respect in terms of their ability to understand the importance of a good TV show. NBC brought us shows like Friends, The Fresh Prince, the Chicago One franchise (med, fire and pd) and the Law and Order franchise, including the impressively long aired spin off Law and Order Special Victims Unit which is about to go into its 20th season this coming September.

This blog post was wrote after I found out about the cancellation of a newly found show I have come to love – Code Black. There are a lot of medical dramas out there right now, but Code Black did it different. They didn’t add all the unnecessary love drama that most medical dramas include these days *cough* Grey’s Anatomy *cough*. I know, it’s shocking right… a medical drama that included no sex in the hospital! Instead, it was loved for its fast paced, intense view of what a hospital looks like when it is in ‘CODE BLACK’, which is described as ‘an infux of patients so great, there aren’t enough resources to treat them’. But, of course CBS cancelled the show – prematurely. The show was made great by the actors and stories. It was a medical drama that was more medicine and less drama and I liked the change of pace that this show offered. I am kind of pissed it was cancelled to be honest.

I used to have a list longer then my arm of shows that I watched on daytime and evening tv but now – except reruns, its very rare I will actually watch tv anymore. I have now got to put all my hope on online screaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime with shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to bring me good quality content in future.

moving out, MyStorys

A Goodbye Letter To My Home Town

I’ve lived in Liverpool my whole life. 20 years of memories, mistakes and lessons learnt. I fell in love for the first time here, had my heartbroken for the first time here. I’ve grown up here, matured here. It’s my home – it was my home.

I am not ashamed of being from Liverpool. A lot of people see Liverpool as a bad place. But, for me at least, Liverpool was never a bad place. In fact Liverpool is a place full of personality and history. It’s simply the terrible memories and bad people I can no longer ignore. I will always remember my days out with my dad – he would take me everywhere. He was proud of Liverpool. I remember the friends I have made here, the ones I have lost and the ones whom are still in my life today. I remember the people who changed my life. The ones that shaped who I am today. The ones who got me here today.

Regardless of the good memories I have in this place, it is forever tinted with the bad stench of the many sad and painful things that have happened to me here. Sadness is an emotion I am more then familiar with. Pain is a feeling I have felt most of my life.

I have tried to ‘turn over a new leaf’ here in Liverpool many times. It took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t failing at that task because I was failure but because it is impossible to start over in a place that pain follows you around. I take a bus somewhere and I pass places I once smiled in, places I once cried in. These places make my stomach turn and my eyes water. They bring me actual pain. A place and a memory is causing me pain. Like a sinking in my heart. I have had enough of that feeling.

My mental illness is something I have been coming to terms with for a few years now. I have good days and bad days. But, I am here. That has to count for something. I took the medication. I went to the therapy and yet my pain hasn’t gone. ‘It takes time’ they tell me. ‘You’ll get better soon’ they said. ‘You’ll get back on your feet one day’ they promised. When those things didn’t happen within the months and years of hearing the words, I started to wonder why nothing was changing for me. Why wasn’t I getting better? Was this it for me? Forever the girl who is known for her depressive episodes and dark thoughts. I started to realise that part of my depression was demolished whenever I stepped outside of Liverpool. Leaving Liverpool was like a massive wake up call for me, every time I left. It was like the air was different, clean of the misery I felt back home. It was like the concrete had been lifted from my body and I could breathe and move again. I was happier, I was me. I was free. I felt so free. It was around this time I made the decision that moving was the best thing for me. For my health and for my sanity.

I close my eyes and I see my life in flashes. The smiling, the joking, the laughing, the crying and the screaming. I see the people I care about leave, being hurt or dying. I see myself hurting, wanting to leave, wanting to die. I see my friends and my family confused and worried for my well being. I think about my future in Liverpool and I see nothing – I literally see nothing. A massive black hole. I see nothing, I hear nothing. The thought of not being able to see a future here ate me alive. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to see a future for self and I couldn’t. It almost broke me.

When I met Ben and we started making plans that went past a life in Liverpool, I started seeing a future. A light came through the darkness in that black hole of nothingness. I realised that I could be someone, I realised that I didn’t need to live my life out in a black hole. I could leave and get better. I could smile and laugh again and have it be a real smile and real laughter. We made plans and I felt like I was going to make it out of this.

I love Liverpool. My accent will always be with me. I will always be proud of my home town and its history. Most people in the UK know about Liverpool, its history and most importantly our accent! And, I am proud of that. I love my mum will all my heart and she brought me up here, I went to school here. I have too many memories here to just forget them. Liverpool will always be the place I was born, the place I grew up, it will always be the place I come from. And, I hope my accent and fast talking stays with me because I don’t want to loose what this place gave me. It’s just time to move on. Start fresh. Begin again. It’s time to enter my 20s somewhere new and end this part of my life here.

Goodbye Liverpool.

Shannon x

moving out, MyStorys

Moving Month!!

So, today is the first of May, which marks the beginning of a big change for me. For the past 5 months, a move has been in the works for me and my boyfriend. I have spent the past few months looking at properties and beginning to pack for our move. We had a lot of different places set in mind for the move and a lot of criteria to met, so it hasn’t been an easy search.

We have never lived without our parents before. I am 19 and my boyfriend is 23 so this is all new to us. Where we moved too was important for both of us, so we looked for places that were quite, but not to secluded as we still needed to close to a town centre. We needed to be within walking distance from a train station and ideally no further than 30 minutes by train to work for Ben. We capped our limit for monthly rent at £450, as this is a first apartment and we aren’t willing to spend more than that on our first places as we will have other expenses, like electric and water bills, broadband bills, and food/household items to buy.

We found a property we liked on Rightmove and we booked a viewing. The property was small, but we was still willing to put a deposit down as it was super close to the station and was in a lovely area, right by the canal. However, due to issues with the property being best suited for a single person and other people interested, we didn’t end up filling in an application form. We instead moved on to other properties. The very next weekend we viewed another property. The property was a little further from the station, but still close enough to walk each day. It was in a lovely little area, right by a big park as well. The actual flat had one bedroom and a massive living room. Oh, and the kitchen was so nice! ( this is important for me!) The flat had recently been redecorated and was decorated in a neutral colour all over. I was very happy with this property and we decided to put in an application form for the property.

It is now Wednesday and we are now half way through the application process. One thing I have to say is that it’s the most stressful thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. I am looking forward to the day that this process is done. I have my fingers crossed and I’m just doing as the letting agents are directing me to do each day of the process.

I currently have boxes in every available inch of my house. My mum’s cupboards are piled high with boxes and bags, all packed and ready to go. Under my bed are boxes full of kitchen essentials like my knife set, pots and frying pans, dinner set, cups, mugs, and my food processor. Each corner of my room is also filled with boxes, filled with books, DVDs and bathroom essentials! I’m not going to lie, I am getting slightly fed up with looking at boxes 24/7.

I am currently in a stressful state. But I do get moments of excitement and nervousness run through me as well. Of course, I am excited for this new adventure. A step up in adulthood. The next step for me. I am looking forward to this, but at the same time, I am a little nervous. I know that’s normal. I’ve always had a safety net under me while living with my mum. I didn’t have to worry about falling as much as I knew that net was there to catch me. Now it won’t be. I am also quite sad. I’m going to miss my mum a lot, she’s been my rock for so many years and now I won’t see her everyday, that makes me tear up thinking about to be honest. I’ll also miss my dogs. Our family dogs are really important to me and I know I’ll struggle saying goodbye to them. That being said, I know that our new home is only a 25-minute train ride away or a half an hour car ride away. If I do get homesick (which I probably will) I can always jump a train to see my mum and dogs. This move is necessary for me. Its what I need. I know these feelings are normal, I just have to let them be and I will get used to not being in my family home once I make a new home for me and Ben in our new flat.

Right now, its all a waiting game. We are crossing our fingers and hoping for our applications to be accepted.

Shannon x

TV Shows and Movies

Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw are leaving Grey’s Anatomy.

Anyone who hasn’t seen or heard of Grey’s Anatomy will probably be very confused about this blog post. I have done blog posts about TV shows before, and today I wanted to talk about Shonda Rhime’s decision to get rid of two of her most beloved characters, April and Arizona.

A month or so ago, it was announced that Sarah Drew (April Kepner) and Jessica Chapshaw (Arizona Robbins) wouldn’t be returning for season 15 of the medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy. Fans of the pair weren’t happy to hear this news, including myself. A lot of them speculated as to why these two were let go by the company owned by Shonda Rhimes called ‘Shondaland’. Some thought maybe they were being fired because they could no longer afford to keep them on. That caused people to take it out on Ellen Pompeo, claiming that the reason they can’t afford to keep the pair on was because Ellen (Meredith Grey) was getting a massive pay rise. Ellen Pompeo went on the record to clean up the rumours on twitter, tweeting “I’m a big girl @DEADLINE can take shots at me if they want but to the fans please don’t fall into that trap. This is above my pay grade,” and “Its unfortunate that @DEADLINE chooses to try to pit women against each other on #InternationalWomensDay #ShameOnYouNotMe,”.

sarah_drew_und_jessica_capshaw_verlassen_gresy_anatomy_180309_fp6k2pnl8h

I do believe Ellen, I do believe that this is WAY above her pay grade. I cannot imagine her going to her producers and telling them she wanted a pay rise. Even if she did, it’s her boss’s job to say ‘we cannot do that’. I highly doubt that Ellen knew or had anything to do with Jessica and Sarah’s exit from the show. I do think it is the fault of the producers and writers though. An inside source stated “Ellen Pompeo was given a pay raise to recognize her incredible contributions to the success of the show. She more than earned the producing role, and frankly, it was long overdue. There was this incredible mad dash to try and find Ellen a male co-star after Patrick Dempsey left. What the network quickly learned, was that Ellen didn’t need another McDreamy.”  That same source stated “Sarah and Jessica’s story lines had just run their course, and the decision was made to not renew their contracts,” That is of course something I do not understand. They can keep finding stories for Owen Hunt – the man that married two women who don’t want children and then cheated on them because he isn’t getting his own way? Let’s get rid of him, Amelia can do better and Christina deserved better.  But, they can’t find more stories for the only gay character left on the show and the only devout Christian character on the show? Ya, right. I don’t know the full ins and outs of the logic behind the departure for these girls leaving, I just believe they have made a MASSIVE mistake in firing these women.

April has been on the show for 9 seasons, Arizona for 10 seasons. They represented people that are hardly represented on TV. Arizona being a gay woman and April a devout Christian. April has had some amazing storylines. She has lost her son, Samuel, gone to a war zone and battled with the disbelief of her religion. Like April, Arizona has also has some great storylines. Being in a plane crash, losing her leg, the crumble of her marriage and dealing with being a co-parent. She has lost many people. The only thing I never agreed on was when she cheated on Callie. Both women have become close friends in recent years, having had both gone through a divorce and having to co-parent their children.

I don’t know how they’re going to ‘get rid of’ these characters. It could go either way, Grey’s Anatomy aren’t strangers to giving people dramatic ‘send offs’. Killing George O’Malley – via bus, when T.R Knight wanted to leave the show. Killing Derek Shepard – via truck, when Patrick Dempsey wanted to leave the show. Killing Lexie Grey – via plane crash, and Mark Sloan – via aftermath of plane crash. Izzie, Preston, Christina, Callie, Steph, and Nathan weren’t killed off (shockingly). Their characters left to start new lives in new places. Christina went on to run her own hospital, Callie moved away with her new girlfriend, Steph didn’t want to spend any longer in hospital after the fire, and Izzie left after having survived cancer, leaving behind divorce papers for husband Alex Karev. The actor who played Preston Burke was sent away because his character was rumoured to have said homophobic comments targeted at T.R Knight (whom is gay).

I have some ideas on how they will send off these characters. I have a suspicion they will kill off April. Like a lot of people have stated, April would never leave her daughter, which leads me to believe they kill her off. There are two options to April’s departure in my opinion. Either, they’ll kill her off or they will do what they did with Callie, send her off to a new place and she will co-parent her daughter with Jackson like Arizona and Callie have done for years now. Somehow, I don’t believe they’ll do the same thing twice though, I hope they do though, as there would be hope for a return in the future for April. As for Arizona, I don’t think they’ll kill her off. I believe they’ll send her and Sofia to wherever Callie is living now. Having watched last weeks episode of Grey’s, it is apparent Sofia is probably sad because she misses Callie. Arizona will probably leave for another hospital so Sofia can be close to both parents. But, we will find out in a few weeks as we are currently in the last leg of the season 14 of Grey’s Anatomy. 

I am very upset that we are losing these two women, I am. But, there is nothing we can do now. The decision was made, the episodes have been filmed and now we just have to wait and see the exit that has been planned for these women. I just hope that they give these girls a good send off. I will continue watching the show, because I do love Meredith, Bailey, Alex, Jackson and Jo. I just don’t see this show lasting much longer. It has been renewed through season 16, however I don’t know how their ratings are going to go come season 15, so it could go either way. It could remain the same, or decline. We will see I guess.

What are you views on Sarah and Jessica’s departure from the show? 

Shannon x

MyStorys, Uncategorized

My Unpopular Opinions

I have a lot of opinions. Most people who read my blog are probably thinking ‘you could say that’. The reason I started my blog in the first place was to openly talk about my opinions. I enjoy doing just that. My opinions aren’t always ones a lot of people agree with. In fact, some of my own friends completely disagree with my opinions on some things. I have spoke about my opinions on social issues just recently and today felt like talking about some of my unpopular opinions that are more mine than a universal opinion. I do know some people who agree with opinions on this list, but I know some who don’t as well. Either way, these are just my opinions and I would love to hear some of your unpopular opinions down below.

Starbucks is overrated

I think I would lose track if I was to go on Youtube and try count all the times YouTubers have gone on and on about how much they love Starbucks. I’ve been to Starbucks, I’ve ordered some fancy sounding drink, I’ve handed over my money, and I’ve drank that drink. What did I learn? That I was buying the logo on the cup, more than what was actually in the cup. Yes, they’re drinks are good, better than McDonalds or any other chain that doesn’t specialize in just drinks. But, are they as good as other competitors like Costa? The answer from me is no. In my opinion, I could have gotten the same quality drink from Costa for cheaper. Starbucks is overrated. Personally, people think they’re all trendy by buying a drink from there, and that’s where the problem lies.

Coffee tastes like crap.

I love Gilmore Girls, but Rory and Lorelei’s love for coffee has always gone over my head. Rory’s love for books? I’m the same. Lorelei’s witt? I’m all there. But, their daily coffee fixes will never make sense to me. I’m with Alexis Bledel on this one, no coffee for me.

Beyonce isn’t all that special

Is she a strong, black woman in media? Yes. Is she a good singer? That’s a personal opinion. But is she so special that she deserves the title of ‘queen’?! I mean, personally I’d go around calling Sophia Bush queen, because in my opinion, she is. But that’s a matter of opinion. Some people take the opinion of Beyonce being a queen to whole new levels. Insisting she is infact a “queen”. I never saw the hype with Beyonce, but then again, the only hype I have towards modern artists is for Ed Sheeran. But, going back to what I was saying, Beyonce doesn’t warrant the title Queen. She too is overrated. Yes, she’s a strong, black female in the medias eyes, she’s someone for people to look at, and say ‘she’s like me’. It’s amazing to see people of different races and genders out there taken the world by storm but I personally think there are more powerful women of colour out there that we should be calling a queen.

I don’t believe in the practices of religion

Quite a controversial subject, but my opinions normally are just that. I don’t believe in any faith. I grew up in a religion free home and I am so glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, I respect peoples views. I just think that in this day and age, the words of the Bible and other forms of it, are outdated and need to hit the bin. We grow, we age, we learn. So, why haven’t some religions decided it time to modernise the bible. The Bible (and other forms of it) where written by men, in a time when we let a small group of people decide what was right and what was wrong. It’s controlling behaviour, telling people how to, and how not to live their lives (especially women). Making people live by their idea of what a perfect family was, their idea of what a “right” marriage consists of, their idea of the “correct” way in which a woman should handle herself. It’s bullshit to say the least. Update your “rules” and maybe I won’t be as angry about how this book treats anyone who isn’t a straight, white person with no flaws. People are all different. We believe in different things, we like different things. We are different races and sizes. We are sexually attracted to different people, we choose to identify as someone we want to be. We wear different clothes and we talk in different languages but we are all human. No one deserves to be made to feel bad about what they do with their life (unless they’re hurting someone). No one should be judged for what they wear, or what lifestyle they lead. No one is going to hell for who they are, and an outdated book and old fashioned people of faith should open their eyes, and see that they aren’t perfect. In fact, they need to step off their high horse and realise that by judging, bullying and preaching their nonsense, they’re the worst kind of people. Not the people who have sex before marriage, or get divorced, or are sexually attracted to the same sex.

I believe the Death Penalty should be legal again in the UK

Yes, I’ve heard the stories. Yes, I do realise some innocent people were killed. No, I do not think that every criminal should receive this level of punishment. I do however believe this kind of punishment is the ONLY way we can bring peace of mind to victims of brutal attacks and the family of those victims whom lost their lives because someone took it from them. Manslaughter, accidents, drug charges, and other charges like such shouldn’t be considered a case for the death penalty. But, serial killers, spree killers, pedophiles, and rapists should get capital punishment. They do deserve to die. I don’t care about their “rights”. Did they care about the rights of that young girl they raped? No, they took her rights away. Did they care about the rights of the children they shot dead in their classroom? No, they took their rights away. Did they care about the life they took away when they murdered that boy in cold blood? No, they took his rights away. These kind of criminals don’t deserve rights. A correctional facility isn’t going to cure a rapist or a killer. They’re just going to wash away the governments money (our money) to keep then in a building, where they are fed, where they can earn money, where they get clothes and can take classes. These kind of criminals can’t be cured, they’re wired wrong. They think having sex with a child is okay, it turns them on. They think going into a school with a gun and shooting children is okay, they deserved it, they’ll say. These criminals deserve death. Save prisons for criminals we can actually try and rehabilitate. Give them the classes and their work ethic back. Don’t waste resources on those that will get out and strike again. Don’t allow them that.

Do you have any questions for me? Write them below.

Shann x

MyStorys, Q&AS, Women; It's safe here.

My Opinions on Social Issues.

Everyone has a voice. Everyone’s voice matters. Over the last century we have worked so hard to give people the right to control their own mind and body. And, because a rich, white man who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and old world views is now president, all of the control we have gained in our lives could be gone very soon. I think it’s important we speak up, tell people your opinions. Just because you’re young, or a women or seen as a minority (or just simply not a middle aged white male), you have the right to your opinion. Don’t let anyone tear you down or make you feel like you’re not smart enough, old enough or educated enough to have those views. So, copy and paste these questions, use this Q and A as a template and fill in your answers on your blog, on your twitter, on your Facebook. Let people know you have a voice and that your opinions matter as well. Don’t be silenced by society. Tell them your opinions.

Here are the questions and here are my answers. I plan on doing many more of these for different issues in our current world.

Should terminally ill patients be allowed to end their lives via assisted suicide?

Yes, but only after a psychological examination to show that they fully understand their choice.

What is your stance on abortion?

Pro-Choice. I believe life starts at birth and that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her body.

Do you support the legalization of same sex marriage?

Yes!! Of course. Someone’s sexual preference shouldn’t matter when it comes to marriage. As long as it is two consenting adults, it doesn’t matter whether they are sexually attracted to women or men.

Should health insurance providers be required to offer free birth control?

Yes, health insurance providers give out Viagra for free, they should be giving out birth control as the only use for Viagra is for men to get an erection. Whereas the pill offers women piece of mind when having sex, as well help with period pains and some illnesses. There is no justiciable reason as to why birth control isn’t free, but Viagra is.

Do you support the death penalty?

Yes, but only for cases that are horrific and have undeniable evidence attached. Like, rape, and murder.

Should a business be able to deny service to a customer if the request conflicts with the owner’s religious beliefs?

No, someone’s religion shouldn’t prevent them from getting the same service as someone else would get.

Should businesses be required to have women on their board of directors?

Yes. I think it is only equal to have both women and men on their board of directors. Just like a jury has 6 women and 6 men.

Should the government continue to fund Planned Parenthood?

Yes. Planned Parenthood is a much needed charity, it has helped millions of people since it opened. Planned Parenthood not only offers Abortions – like most pro lifers will have you believe. They also offer free contraceptives, breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatments, LGBT services, men’s health services, pregnancy testing, vaccines, and more. Planned Parenthood has been advocating and educating for over a 100 years. Only 3% of Planned Parenthoods services carried out are abortions.

Should the military allow women to serve in combat roles?

Yes. Women have been proving that they’re just as strong as men for many years now. There is no reason why women cannot serve in combat roles.

Should “gender identity” be added to anti-discrimination laws?

Yes. Whether a person decides to identity as a man, woman, or other, they deserve the same rights as someone who identifies as the gender in which they were born with. They shouldn’t be treated any differently. So, to protect them we should add these laws to the anti-discrimination laws.

Should marital rape be classified and punished as severely as non-marital rape?

Yes. It doesn’t matter if someone is married, the penalty for rape should be classified as the same kind as non-marital rape. Marriage doesn’t give someone a free pass to rape someone, they aren’t someone’s property just because they’re married.

Should gay couples have the same adoption rights as straight couples?

Yes. Gay couples can make amazing parents, just like straight couples can. There is no reason they should discriminated against.

Do you have any other social issue questions to ask? Comment below and ill answer.

Shannon x

Cooking With Shan, MyStorys

Why I’m NOT Vegan

Over the last few years more and more people have been opting for a plant based diet – known as being ‘vegan’. Now, I understand that a lot of people choose this kind of lifestyle because it is a meat free and dairy free diet. If you’re allergic to dairy, it’s an amazing diet to be on. Going vegan does have a lot of benefits, including lowering your blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and increasing your antioxidant levels. However being vegan does also have its disadvantages, like the loss of essential vitamins and minerals, the potential interference with existing medical conditions, and unrealistic expectations.

A lot of people believe that by going vegan, they are somehow choosing a healthier lifestyle because they’re cutting out meat products and dairy products. That isn’t always the case however, because when most people go vegan they aren’t doing it the right way and end up becoming ill because they aren’t getting the correct amount of essential nutrients that dairy products will supply them. I completely support going veggie, as you can still get all of the nutrients you need from other items except meat. For instance; protein from eggs.

I think what puts me off vegans is that SOME, not all, but some can be quite patronising. I respect that people choose to be vegan for health reasons. As long as they know what they’re doing in terms of making sure they intake enough protein, there isn’t anything bad about that. I respect that some people will want to be vegan because they believe it is beneficial to animals. That’s what I don’t get. Yes animals produce eggs and milk, but I DO NOT think it harms the animals to consume their produce. Those chickens are still going to lay those eggs, whether we choose to eat them or not, same goes with milk. In this day and age, wasting eggs and milk because you believe it hurts the animal is a massive reason why we waste so much.

I am personally NOT vegan because I do not believe that we are harming animals by consuming their produce. I think there are too many health benefits from eating animal produce to cut them out completely. I have cut my intake of dairy down since last year however, only consuming either 30g cheese each day or 250ml of semi skinned milk – to cut down on fat intake. I eat a lot of eggs and beans however, to keep up my protein levels as I do have a Vitamin B12 deficiency. I know a couple vegan people and most of them don’t constantly try and make me feel bad, and like I am a bad person for eating what an animal produces. I do however know a few who think they’re right for being vegan. What I have to say to those people is ‘good for you, what you put in your body is up to you but don’t try and preach that your lifestyle is better than the one I choose to live’. I believe that people at least need dairy products – especially if they aren’t getting any nutrients because they don’t eat meat.

Becoming a vegetarian is something I may consider in the future, as I do believe we don’t need meat to gather all the nutrients we need each day. And, I do like meat supplements, like Quern.

All in all, I have nothing bad to say about people who choose to be vegan, but, just like religion – I don’t need it shoved in my face. I will choose what goes into my body and I choose to NOT be vegan.

Shannon x