Monthly Archives: January 2013

Run like the Wind

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BY JESS WRAY

Running. For me, this word brings about pain in my body just by thinking about it; an endless battle between my mind and my body. However, that is about to change. I have just officially purchased a new pair of Nikes and have assembled a “WORKOUT” playlist on my iPod, so I have absolutely NO more excuses holding me back from starting running. If you are one of those people who loves the idea of running but not so interested in the practical, you’re just like me but we might have to rethink that and understand just how much running can benefit our health as teenagers.

“Running benefits a teenage girl’s health and fitness in many ways, from the obvious to the more nuanced. A strong cardio base and experience in running can boost performance in many sports, including track and field, soccer, softball and basketball.” (Livestrong.com, 2011) Most teenage boys and girls begin running with a clear mind-set or physical goal to achieve weight loss, muscle gain or toning throughout the legs. These are definitely some potential benefits of running and can be achieved with a bit of hard work and determination. However there are so many other health benefits that come from running too.

Feeling the burn? Excellent, really, do carry on! Did you know that approximately 60% of runners start running to manage their weight? The reason being that running is one of the top burners of fat and burns plenty of calories and kilo joules that will keep us girls lean and mean. In fact, running (with the exception of cross-country skiing) burns more calories per minute, than any other form of cardiovascular exercise (RIRIAN PROJECT, 2012). Running has also proven to reduce the risk of stroke, breast cancer and childhood diabetes. Even though you may not love running, your heart definitely does! As regular running reduces the risk of heart attacks, by strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure. So that racing heart beat is not such a bad thing after all!

Through running, you can also maintain and/ or improve your general health by raising HDL or also known as “good” cholesterol, reducing your risk of blood clots and encourages your lungs to use the 50% of the organ that is usually unused. So when you are out for a run and you feel as if you can’t breathe, it’s just your mind, the unused 50% of your lungs is clearing out all the cob webs!

Apart from the many physical benefits that running has on your body, running is extremely beneficial in training the mind and encouraging mental improvement. With us humans only using a small percentage of our brains, I’m pretty sure there is plenty of room for improvement!  Jogging and running builds your confidence and self-esteem like few other individual sports can. It makes you feel such a sense of achievement when you have conquered that evil hill or ran that extra 2 km and with each victory we grow stronger and stronger both in our bodies and our minds. By making yourself overcome the nasty or nice obstacles that running brings your way, you learn to train your mind to focus and you feel determined. These skills will prove very important as you go all throughout life, by increasing focus and determination, so it is beneficial in the making and shaping of your actions and your attitude. “It provides a feeling of empowerment and freedom that comes with knowing that your legs and body are strong and capable.” (RIRIAN PROJECT, 2012) And for those who are trying or experiencing weight loss, you will start to feel more confident as your self-image and attitude towards yourself start to change.

With running, there is no more room for excuses such as: “I just broke up with my boyfriend” or “I’m too stressed with school” because running happens to relieve stress and is great for tearing away with that anger and aggression that you might be feeling towards your maths teacher. Think about it, whilst you run you are alone, your tension soon flies by and you are left to think about life, question what is going on and really focus all that emotion into a well-paced sprint that will allow you to clear your mind and have you feeling better in no time. Running is scientifically proven to make you happier, by releasing endorphins that can cause euphoria (runner’s high) or just a general sense of happiness! (Livestrong.com, 2011)

There are so many more benefits of running that I could just go on and on and on, but that would get rather boring, so I have summed up the most beneficial and most important ones that will leave you with no reason NOT to run. However it’s that silly mind of mine again, saying “It’s too hot” or “I am tired” but I know that running actually cools you down with the release of perspiration AND running gives you more energy. So I guess, a bad run is better than no run at all, right? Correct. So as Anthony Bailey once said, “Man imposes his own limitations, don’t set any”.

As Nike says too, “JUST DO IT.”

So See Ya Later Alligators! I am off to run, it is my first time in my new Nikes and my first time running in about 3 months. I know this will be a challenge. However I will overcome it, I WILL DO IT! I challenge you to make room for one run this week, that’s all, just one and see if you feel the difference!

So… RUN LIKE THE WIND.

Are you a runner? Do you enjoy running or do you prefer another sport? How does running affect or make you feel?

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Uh. Oh. I still have a teddy.

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BY ABBY MAC

It’s time for me to make a confession.  It may change the way you think of me.

I. Still. Sleep. With. A. Teddy. Bear.

I know, I know.  From the looks of other teen’s lives, I should have dropped this relationship when I was 10.  My teddy bear, Honey, and I have been together since I was one.  She has travelled across houses, states and watched me grow up.  She does come with me to my friend’s houses (when I stay the night) but that’s not because I can’t sleep without her.  I take her because I can.

Abby and Honey

Honey and I

Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t secretly hidden in a back-pack wherever I go, we have space.  I don’t play tea parties with her (not that that’s a problem), she isn’t dressed in different outfits every day and she is not in a relationship with another teddy.

She simply lays on bed during the day and when I go to bed, she is tucked underneath my arm and we sleep.  Is there something so wrong with that?  I don’t think so.  According to Parenting-Advice.net, teddy bears support the child and makes the child feel supported and accepted.  They can make the child feel loved and help with emotional distress.  Tick, tick and tick.  That’s what Honey is for me.  But I am no longer a child.

Honey

Honey is excited!

When I was about 10, I stopped bringing Honey away to friend’s houses with me, simply because at that age, people do judge you for it.  You are transitioning between child and tween.  And, at the time, it seemed uncool.  However, I think as a teen with friends who know me very well, I can take Honey to their house and they can bring their unicorn, bear or mouse to my house.  Having a teddy bear, or whatever animal you have, is now something that is funny and just accepted.

I don’t want to leave Honey anytime soon.  Please tell me you feel the same.

Do you have a teddy bear?  When did you stop sleeping with a teddy bear?  How does having a teddy bear make you feel?

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It’s Raining it’s Pouring…

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BY JESS WRAY

… The old Jess is snoring! Okay, I know, that’s not the original version but it’s pretty close. It’s rainy days like these where I feel like there is absolutely NOTHING to do and my mood seems to resemble the colour of the dull sky. After you have watched about a gazillion chick flicks and all the classics there isn’t much more to do, you might say. However I have come up with some ideas for things for you to do during this rainy time that will keep you entertained.

1. When you wake up: Freshen up for the morning and set the table so that it is fit for Kings and Queens (and princesses like us of course!). If you want you can make a little menu and decide what you will serve for breakfast. Pour everyone something to drink in wine glasses (minus the wine though, a bit early for that, if you’re under 18) and perhaps prepare scrambled, fried, poached or whatever eggs you prefer, alongside some tasty bacon, or if you are a vegetarian, some cooked mushrooms and cheese. Or if you’re like Abby, just sit down and enjoy a bowl of cereal. Now that you have your protein on your family and/or friend’s plate, decorate it with some fruits and/or veggies  you might even want to place some fresh natural yogurt in a small bowl next to the plates and chop up some delicious strawberries, blue berries and raspberries to go into it. Viola! Then once everyone is served, enjoy a very good breakfast that will keep you full until lunch and will keep you feeling energised throughout the wet, rainy day. Unfortunately after the brekkie, there is some cleaning up to do, but maybe it’s your brother or sister’s turn because I mean, you MADE the breakfast and set the table! Wink Wink.

2. Mid day : So you’ve just watched the Notebook, P.S I Love You, The Last Song and Bridget Jones’ diary and by now your emotions are pretty unbalanced and you are getting a serious case of cabin fever. No worries! Let’s find your inner self and relax with a bit of Home Yoga, so tie your hair back tightly, grab a yoga mat (or something similar), get into some comfy, workout clothes and find the quietest and most peaceful spot in your house near a window. If you have some aroma candles or even just candles, you can make yourself a Yoga sanctuary with a warm glow (however please don’t burn the house down). Put your laptop/ iPod/ iPhone near to where you want to do your Yoga. Now you’re halfway there, next thing you need to do is go onto YouTube and search for a Yoga Class, whether you’re a beginner, want a challenge or are an expert. Or you can visit http://www.yoga.com/yoga-workout-routine/ and accompany these workout poses with relaxing music provided by YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YCAcXiHEdk)  or your own Ipod! Then just follow the instructions and lose your body tension and try to relax. Also remember to hydrate!

3. Just after lunch : So your belly is once again full and now it’s time for something new… Have you or someone in your family got a sewing machine? If so, why don’t you bring out your creative side and get all the clothes in your cupboard that you don’t really like anymore or are SO last year! Think of a way that you could almost reinvent these clothes, to pieces that are more in fashion or resemble more of your current style. Or maybe if you have a little sister who loves to play with Barbies, you could make Ken and Barbie some fresh, new, fashionable clothes. Maybe you’re not a fashionista? Or not interested in clothing? That’s okay, what about making a really cute pillow that matches your room?

4. Don’t have a sewing Machine? If you have a computer, (visit our blog!) you can browse online shopping till you drop, or you could maybe design a virtual kitchen on IKEA? If you start to get bored, or perhaps if you’re already bored, try playing some addictive computer games, I know I love ‘Bubble Struggle 3’,  ‘Kindergarten’, ‘Penguin Diner’ and ‘Watergirl and Fireboy’ I bet you won’t beat my high scores!

5. Time to get outside, this cabin fever is just TOO severe now. I say yes. Playing in the rain practically brings back childhood memories of me watching Barnie, singing in the rain, the famous song that I believe goes something like this… “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, Oh what a joy it would be! Standing outside with my mouth open wide, A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A!” Get into your swimming suit, stick your tongue out and sing along! OR you could have a swim in your pool if you have one and as Abby suggests, do a hand stand and feel the raindrops on your feet because, “it feels funky!” she said.

6. After Dinner: watch another movie if you want, or round-up all the sweet treats in the house and play food poker and many other board games with the fam or a bunch of your friends and may the best poker face win!

So that’s a wrap on a rainy day, I hope this can help you with some ideas for activities to do and cure your case of cabin fever other than watch movies all day, although I am not saying that is any less fun – movie marathons all the way!

What do you do to keep busy on a rainy day?

I love my sisters. It doesn’t mean I get to see them.

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BY ABBY MAC

When I say sisters, they’re not my full sisters.   I sometimes say step-sisters or half.  Though, to me, it doesn’t matter whether we don’t share the same blood or family tree, they are still my sisters.

I dearly love my sisters and everyday I cherish the moments I did get to spend with them, however, just because I love them doesn’t mean I can see them.  Just like my dad, I haven’t seen my sisters for four years and that isn’t going to change in the near future.  The eldest of my two sisters is eight and the yougest is five.   My brother has had brief contact with my dad and he says that the eldest one remembers me and the youngest one doesn’t but she knows of me.

Every Christmas and birthday I receive a card from them and I rip open the envelope, shut the door to my bed room and sit and have a cry.  I sit and cry a mixture guilt, love and sadness.  I feel guity for not being with them, watching them grow and nurturing them.  I am sorry for not being the sister I should be.  I can only watch both grow through their handwriting skills, from just scribbles to carefully copied dotted lines and now legible writing that slides downwards.

The last letter I wrote to them I decided to add photos of my brother and I.  I know this may seem a minute step to most, but I never receive a reply to my letters where I ask a thousand questions.  The worst they could do is not reply and possibly stop talking to me forever, but I was willing to take the chance.  If they accepted this step, it would hopefully see the end to my unanswered question and a progression in our relationship.

I know that it is not their choice to not reply.  I understand that is my dad and his wife that limit the contact but it still hurts to never hear anything back from them.  When I decided to not see my dad anymore, it wasn’t a hard choice.  Part of our difficult relationship stemmed from his new family and he preferred to spend time with the girls than me.  For a long time I resented them over his choice and so when I left, I was definitely saddened that I couldn’t see them anymore because I did love them, but I did think that I could move on from whatever a one year old and ten year old could share.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

As I grew up, I found that I did not resent the girls, I resented his choice to priortise them over me.  I no longer resented my sisters but deeply missed them and felt a sense of guilt from choice to leave them.  Even now, I would still choose to not see my dad but I know the decision would be harder for me.  I know that if I stayed with my dad, I would have continued to become an angry and unhappy girl which is something that would be hard to undo however, I hope that I will one day rekindle a relationship with my sisters when they aren’t influenced my dad or his wife.

A part of me understands that there will come a time where we won’t talk.  I am predicting that my dad will try and persuade them to lose contact with me and he will tell his side to the long and complicated relationship we had.  Though, I do hope that they will want to one day find out for themselves what really went down.  That is something I have to accept.

Everyday I miss my sisters more and I will never stop caring and loving them.  I feel like I should be painting their nails and combing their hair.  Helping them with school work and talking about movies, friends and boys with them.  But I can’t do that.  I don’t know what school they go to, what type of clothes they like or want sport they both play.  I sometimes feel as though I have failed them.

For the first time yet, the girls have replied to my letter.  They sent back photos of themselves.  As usual, I cried.  I stuck the photos up in my room and I feel grateful for what I have now been granted.  I know that the youngest one has brown curly hair and the eldest likes tie dye clothing.  It’s minimal information, but it still feels like too much.  I can now compare how much they have grown from the images of the their baby faces in my mind, to their now grown-up ones.

Even though I love my girls to pieces, it doesn’t mean I get to see them.

From one the cards the eldest sister wrote to me:

‘…Dear Abby….I miss you so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much and I will love you forever.   I can’t wait until I can see you again…roses are red, violets are blue and I will never stop loving you.’

Accompanied by a beautiful drawing of the day we see each other again.

Have you been separated by a loved one by choice? Do you still keep in touch, if so, how?  How do you feel on this topic?

Pretty Little T.V Show Addicts

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(From Left to Right) Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Aria.Totally fabulous girls that make up PLL. Warning: ADDICTIVE.

(From Left to Right) Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Aria.
Totally fabulous girls that are the main characters of the show. Warning: ADDICTIVE.

BY JESS WRAY

Got a secret, can you keep it? Swear this one you’ll save, better lock it in your pocket, we’re taking this one to the grave. Okay, my secret is that I am addicted to the TV show called Pretty Little Liars! Shh. I’m sure most of you have watched it or either heard of it by now, but if you don’t know anything about it, beware because you will become obsessed and perhaps you might even show up to the next TVSAA (T.V Show Addicts Anonymous) meeting alongside me, in a couple of months time! My addiction began towards the end of 2011, when I was listening to a girl’s book review oral about a book series called Pretty Little Liars and soon after that many of my friends had recommended I watch it. So I asked my dad if he knew where we could find the TV series as it wasn’t airing in Australia at that time (however it is now on FOX8 here) and so we decided to buy Series one and see if I liked it. If only I had known! The first episode sucked and reeled me in like a mindless fish, I just wanted more and more AND more! For those of you who don’t know of this fab show, it’s about 4 teenage girls who mysteriously find out that one of their best friends, Alison has gone missing one night and then later find that she has been murdered. None of them knew who it was and why it happened. All the girls had history and many dark secrets that only their friend Alison knew about. However Queen Bee Alison was never an innocent girl, rather a very conniving and manipulative character back in her day. Days after Alison’s death, the 4 girls, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily, go out in search for answers. To find the truth, their hands get dirty, often literally, and the girls find out they have bitten off much more than they could chew when they come in contact with the faceless, nameless, mysterious, unknown ‘A’  who comes along and turns the girl’s (phones, laptops, computers and) lives upside down.

I won’t spoil it or go into much more detail as the plot gets quite complicated after a while but if you start from the beginning it’s a piece of cake to follow. It’s just hard when my brother watches Season 3 episode 2 with me and asks the questions like, who is he? Why is she in trouble? What’s going on? So I take a deep breath and try to explain but there is just TOO much that has happened that only Pretty Little Liar fans would begin to understand! Anyway, I have been watching all the seasons as they come and I am up to date with the latest ones now. This afternoon while it was bucketing down with rain and the grey sky seemed to blanket the whole of Brisbane, it was such a perfect setting to have a PLL (Pretty Little Liars) marathon! I watched about 5 episodes and the best thing about this show is that you are NEVER bored, I am not being bias when I say that, there are so many red herrins, plot twists, pretty clothing, romance, scary scenes, you name it; so you will almost always be entertained! I had a couple of moments when I got so shocked I almost screamed. Yes, I become very involved and engaged with this show, in fact, actually with many TV shows. I’m not a complete couch potato but I do love TV, and I’m sure you do too!

A couple of my other favorite TV shows would DEFINITELY have to be Modern Family, Glee, New Girl, Friends and Big Bang Theory; but that’s just naming a few! Ok, maybe I am a couch potato… I don’t know what it is but TV shows can make you feel like you belong to something as you follow the stories of all the different characters  and their lives and all the funny sayings and quotes along the way! I know my family and I all enjoy the Big Bang and regularly quote it, sometimes on a daily basis, when I find Matt sitting on MY spot on the couch, I instantly transform my self into Sheldon’s awkward, geeky character and quote, “You’re in my spot” with his accent of course! I’m sure if you were completely honest with yourself, I bet you do that or something similar too.

I will also admit, I am such a sucker for a lot of “reality” TV (although my dad calls it otherwise), it is yet another guilty pleasure of mine to cosy up and grab a glass of milo and enjoy trashy episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Dance Moms, Made in Chelsea… and unfortunately the list goes on! My mum and I absolutely love watching episodes of America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway on the weekends as a girl’s night treat! We watch and comment on all kinds of things, as if we are judges with highly important opinions and I always love supporting my favorite models and designers too, only the ones that are beautiful on the inside…as well as the out! Aren’t they a lucky bunch of girls. Another favorite is talk shows, they are more real and often quite informative and at times hilarious, I mean who doesn’t LOVE Ellen or a bit of Dr. Phil from time to time!

Two of my favorite people on Television! Ellen and Rebel Wilson!

Two of my favorite people on Television! Ellen and Rebel Wilson!

Anyway I would love to hear if any of you have any favorite TV shows, or if you are a bit of an addict like me? It’s just a bit of fun and laughs (and screams sometimes…) when it comes to TV shows, but I will cut down on some TV this year as a part of my new years resolution so I don’t turn into a mashed potato. If any of you are Pretty Little Liars fans I would love to chat with you about it too, discuss about who you think ‘A’ is (no spoilers though, looking it up on Google doesn’t count!) whose your fav character and all things inbetween!

Happy TV watching all!

Are you a PLL fan like Jess? Or are you addicted to another show? Any advice for Jess’ TV show addiction?

Back To School: Yay or Nay?

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BY JESS WRAY

Yes, that time of year has come back yet again. The time to open up and clean out your cob-webbed school bag and slip back into the busy, mind-numbing routine. However it’s not all bad I guess. I quite enjoy going back to school after a long holiday, getting to see all your friends and the familiar faces that appear here and there around the school. My favorite part of going back to school for a new year is definitely the shopping! I know many people may find that a trip out to Office Works is extremely boring and a waste of their time but I happen to find it very exciting. I love looking at all the new, fresh books and imagining myself writing in them. They look so clean now but I guarantee you that all my books will be scribbled and doodled on by Term 2, but who cares! I decided to pick mostly pink books this year as it’s my favorite colour and I figure, looking at a pretty, colourful book while studying Modern History or Study of Religion is far more pleasant than a plain, old grey book. I know you can’t judge a book by its cover (excuse the pun) but I do believe that a bit of colour can really make a difference to my mood!

Anyway getting back to the topic; back to school. When it comes to this time, holidays seem to rush by like the blink of an eye but I’m usually ready by this time to go back. However for some people it’s a completely different story. I have counted about 5 Instagram photos of people photographing their new text books and accompanying the photo with hash tags like #hateschool or #feellikecrying, you name it. Oh, of course I also can’t forget the numerous Facebook statuses along the lines of, “Omg, school in like a week. FML.” Rather annoying really and so unoriginal. I often wonder if most girls at my school actually do hate school, or if they are just saying that because they feel the need to say and do what is widely accepted as being “cool”. Am I weird for being excited to go back to school? Am I ‘normal’?

That’s where I come to the realisation that I will be surrounded by many of those “cool” girls once again and that’s often the ‘Nay’ part of going back to school. As well as the judgement, gossiping and bitching that goes alongside everything else at school. I am scared I will feel isolated again. At the end of last year I didn’t have a very good time. I had many problems in terms of group work, friendship problems and just overall cattiness and unfriendliness. I lost a friend of mine who had become so rude and horrible that eventually I was glad to see her go. So then there was two, once she left. Me and my friend Natalie have become a lot closer now but we both felt isolated and felt that many girls would look at us nastily or judgmentally because we were in such a small group. So we took safety in the library at lunch times. I know what you’re thinking, “NERD ALERT” and I probably am, but we had a really good time there, we didn’t hear the gossiping and there was no one looking at us funnily. We were free to just talk about everything under the sun, laugh about nothing and just enjoy each other’s company. Bliss. We loved to make fun of ourselves too, pretending to talk to the books and act as if they made up the rest of the ‘group’. We were and still are nutters but I think it’s refreshing to be different and to not just always try to fit the profile of “cool”. Nat used to get worried about if we were pathetic or loners and that made me even question myself at times but then I thought, I would rather be in a group of two with a friend that I really get a long with and like than be in a group of 10 filled with girls who gossip and dislike you if you are different to them. I know Abby has also had her fair share of problems at school too, but to be honest, who hasn’t? We have often talked about it and tried to help each other get through it and I hope you have or may one day find a friend in which you can trust.

This year for me is a daunting one. I’m starting senior school; the serious stuff. Two words; Semi Formal. Other than that I’m really nervous that I won’t be good enough for Grade 11 but then, I had the same feelings and thoughts last year and doubted myself for Grade 10, and apart from some social mishaps,  I survived. So I have a bit of faith in myself and I just hope I do well. I aim to study and prepare myself for exams earlier than last year (this is sounding like my new years resolution list) and I will try to not get so caught up in the drama and politics of friendships and other girls at my school. I really hope I get nice teachers this year, I had such lovely teachers last year so it would be nice to continue on with positive teachers. Hopefully this year everything will be alright, I hope to get to know some new people and continue to build on my existing friendships! I am also so grateful to have Abby as a friend outside of school, we haven’t known each other for long but I feel like we are so close already and I love being apart of this blog and I hope you enjoy what we post! I want to wish you all a wonderful first day of school for the year; whether you are starting a new school, returning to your current school or beginning homeschooling again, I hope you do your very best and achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Are you excited to be going back to school? What’s your school like, do you enjoy school? 

Dear Kitty – Entry 1

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Hello, Goeimidag and Bonjour Tous Le Monde! I’m so sorry I have not blogged in a while, I have been travelling and wasn’t able to have a good Internet connection until now! Hope everyone has been enjoying their new year and their holiday! I was writing in my diary about everyday whilst I was unable to write to you, so I will write them out again. Here it goes.

3/1/13

Dear Kitty,

i have had the most amazing past two days here in Holland! I survived the 20 hour travel journey here which really was the longest plane trip and I am still feeling like the ground is moving every so often! Anyway, yesterday we started our day with a delicious continental breakfast and then we took a taxi to Anne Frank’s house – I believe she’s a friend of yours? After we waited in line for a short while, we went into the museum and it was so interesting seeing the real deal as I have finished the book and what an incredible book it was! As we walked through the house and ventured beyond the original secret book case and into their ‘Secret Annexe’ which I know you know PLENTY about! I must admit I felt quite sad and the exhibit was very confronting. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit her “huis”.

Me at the Anne Frank house featuring the book!

Me at the Anne Frank house featuring the book!

After visiting the house, I was walking around Amsterdam in awe of the city’s stunning scenery and architecture that makes me feel like I am on set of a beautiful film! We decided to go for a walk to Kalver Straat and Dam Square. The massive olden-day church was breath-taking!

We browsed the shops and surfed through the crowd and many souvenir shops where I bought myself an “I Amsterdam” jumper, a clogg key ring and of course the iconic Amsterdam beanie! After we went shopping we went for a lovely ride on the canal, a small, luxurious boat took us and it was beautiful! I really LOVE Amsterdam and everything about this city; the scenery, people, culture and atmosphere! It’s very relaxed here Kitty, they even sell cannabis lollipops! I won’t even mention the sex shops and all that stuff as it is rated XXX!

I'm a shopaholic, yes, I confess.

I’m a shopaholic, yes, I confess.

We got off the boat merrily to go to the divine flower market where we saw many tulips and very bright-colored, beautiful flowers. We also saw that this one shop was even selling a “DIY start-up marijuana set”, I told you they were relaxed, however we stayed well away from that so don’t you worry! Then was feeling pretty dizzy and slightly nausias from jet lag and travel sickness so we sat down at a cute little restaurant and recovered by eating a delicious Dutch classic-hot chips in a cone with mayo sauce!! very good medicine indeed. Then we decided it was time to go back to our cosy little apartment. So off we went on the cobbled road. With lots of gorgeous photos of precious memories that I will keep forever, I had an amazing first day in Amsterdam and an even better sleep!!

YOURS,

Jess

She died. But I knew her.

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BY ABBY MAC

A few weeks ago, a girl I knew, got into the passenger seat of a car and went joy riding. She was 16 and the driver, also drunk, was 18. Then, at 3:30am the car they were driving slammed into a power pole and tore half the car apart leaving one half at the power pole and the other 10 metres further up the road. What followed was the most frightening. Silence. Those who lived on the road or close by didn’t hear screams for helps and the girls moaning in agony. It was totally silent.

Both the driver and passenger were killed which left police reporting it as a ‘horrific’ scene and one that is unforgettable. Unlike all the crashes broadcast upon televisions, newspapers and the internet, I knew that girl. I knew that girl, who I know was judged for being an out of control teen who couldn’t identify the fine line that ran between right and wrong. I knew that girl who left parents tutting and lead as a model to everything that the child shouldn’t be.

At the time of the accident, I was holidaying and so I wasn’t aware of the crash until three days ago. I was told by a friend that a girl from my previous school had died in a car accident but she didn’t know and so I was left to mull over taking second guesses and who it was.

I knew the girls were drunk and at a party so I quickly created a profile of what I thought the girl was like; untamed, popular and risky. At that stage, I didn’t know who had died but I judged her, nevertheless. As soon as I arrived home, I scoured the internet for anything on the two girls or the crash.

Then, I saw her face. I knew her. I knew that girl. I read story after story, describing what type of girl she was. The media painted her a profile that sickened me. They ensured parents would only feel more comfortable tutting her. By the way the media painted her, people think they know her. They know her type. But, they did not know her. Everyone was happy to accept that she was just another teen who got drunk, jumped in a car and crashed. Just like I have in the past, people think that there is only one type of teen that gets drunk and crashes a car. But there’s not.

I think that there is a naivety in how many teens did what that girl did. The naivety spread across other teens, parents and adults. Before I hit high school, I didn’t know that people in grade eight were getting drunk, smoking and having sex. Before I hit high school, I thought the law and common sense could stop this. I know girls who are loved and adored by parents and teachers, represent their school as a captain or leader and also the girls who get drunk Friday night, smoke pot and end by having sex.

I am not saying that all teenagers get drunk, smoke or have sex. Not at all. I don’t do that. But what I trying to stress is that there is not one type of teenager who does that. It is not necessarily the teen whose ear is decorated and earrings and runs the popular crowd nor can we rule out that it is the middle school captain who is adored by everyone in the community. Eventually, our naivety spreads to ignorance. We don’t want to believe that the good girl is also the bad one. Truthfully, it is easier to believe that it is the bad girl and feel safe knowing that your friend, son or daughter or pupil isn’t them.

The way the media portrayed this girl, she was the bad girl. But she really wasn’t. I didn’t know her very well, but she definitely left and imprint on me when I did talk to her. We both played hockey at school and since some trainings different teams trained together, I started to get to know her. I particularly dislike training with her team due to the criticism I would receive for being fitter, faster and more skilful than them. While I ran laps around (literally), her and all her friends, she was the only one that wouldn’t try to trip me as I ran or would yell different taunts at me as I ran. She was that girl who stuck up for me. However, the media failed to portray this side to her. Because it was easier if she was the troublesome girl.

For the sake of her privacy, I will call her Elizabeth. Elizabeth wasn’t troublesome, she was just troubled. Like everyone, she had multiple different faces and sides which only certain people would see certain sides. At school, with her friends, she was the one everyone liked. At home, she created trouble. For me, she was very kind and thoughtful.

A part of me feels wrong for grieving for her loss. I didn’t know her that long. I think that it isn’t my right to cry and feel a sense of loss for someone I only talked with weekly and eventually stopped because we no longer trained together. Though, sometimes I cry not just for her loss but for other things as well. I cry because of the way she has been portrayed in the media. I cry because she is now helpless to defend herself against the tuts and the stories her family are now telling the media. I cry because the last face being shown is the troublesome one.

I cry about death itself. I have never really experienced it and I don’t even know if this loss counts as an experience but death is inevitable. For me and everyone I know. Death is something that cannot be stopped yet we dance around the idea of dying. We place an age on death, when really death is not an age but the end to your story. For Elizabeth, death was an age and not the end to her story. Death was not a car slamming into a power pole at a high speed and the car being torn apart.

I still find it hard to get my head around this loss of life. Not life as in her heart stopping beating and her body no longer functioning but how her spirit and her essence is so easily taken from this world. How can that girl who once galloped around the hockey fields, limped to her semi-formal because her foot was broken and stood up for me now gone? Before Elizabeth died, I placed an age on death as well.

It’s not anyone’s fault that she and her friend died. If we blame someone for it, it is much the same as judging what Elizabeth was like. I wish from the bottom of my heart that what happened didn’t happen. I really do. But, that wish is impossible and I think the best I can do is learn from this event and portray Elizabeth in a light so many haven’t. I have decided to write her a letter.

Dear Elizabeth,

I hope you are feeling okay. I hope you don’t feel wrong that I am grieving for your death even though we haven’t talked for a while. I want you to know that what you did for me was really special and eased the pain of going to those trainings. I can’t really repay you now for what you do but I am doing my best. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re gone. That slamming into a pole could take away all of you. Your essence of life and kindness but that’s what death does.

I am sorry for assuming the type of person you were in that car. But I know now that you were so much more. I am sorry you didn’t even get to finish school and be proud of your achievement. I am so incredibly sorry for your death.

Your life and death has changed me.

Abby.

Credit Cards for Six Year-Olds?

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BY ABBY MAC

Is it wrong to be gob-smacked as I watch a seven-year old pass over their credit card for a drink, instead three gold coins? Am I wrong to be surprised when children in grade one answer their iPhone instead of a play phone?

Going to a high school which offers schooling from kindergarten upwards, it’s not unusual to see kids eight years younger than I am, donning the latest gadgets instead of the latest dolls or comic books. Even though I observe these scenes play out almost every day, I never can stop my jaw slamming to the ground every time.

Both the credit card and mobile phone are  items that I only saw as grown-up things when I was younger. It never came across my mind that the magic card that mummy swiped into a box and retrieved money from was something that I should have. I was more than happy with counting my gold coins and scavenging for some silver ones. Now, a credit card still doesn’t have a place in my purse. Mum has asked me if I wanted to have a debit or credit card, but each time I have rejected her offers. I can’t place an exact reason on my rejections apart from the fact that I happy with my cash and coins and don’t have an urging to get one. But I’m a teenager. I am not six.

Credit Card Kid

Really?

I liked the years of life where I wasn’t attached to a piece of technology due to school or work. A time where I could run and play and buy an ice-cream with my scavenged silver coins instead of whipping out a credit card. When I received my first phone, it wasn’t a new smart phone but something that I needed – purely because I was catching the bus to and from school and it was an item of security. I welcomed it as a privilege to be acknowledged as someone responsible enough to be trusted with a phone and not just another toy to be added to the list.

I don’t think I am being unreasonable. But seriously, how young is too young for a credit card, mobile phone and other gadgets?

When did you receive you first credit card or mobile phone? What do you think of the issue? Are you with Abby or think otherwise? Let us know!

Are There Heroes Out There?

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BY ABBY MAC

How do you define a hero? What is a hero? How can anyone pick and choose which people are heroes and which people are just very good?

Of course, I am not referring to heroes in a female or male sense, but instead someone who is defined as one with noble qualities, one who has courage and one who stands strong in the face of adversity. For every person, the word hero means something different to them. Different events and people shape the word hero for each individual person.

Currently, I am reading the book ‘Jasper Jones’ by Craig Silvey, where the main character Charlie and his friend Jeffrey have a heated discussion about who is the best superhero. Jeffrey argues that Super Man is the best hero because he is super human. He is the ultimate hero. He only has one true weakness considered to be Kryptonite, though Jeffrey also points out that his love for Lois Lane is another weakness. Thus, he is the best super hero.

Charlie argues that Batman is the best superhero because he has more to lose. He is not immortal and is threatened by many more things than Superman. Why should Superman worry about a bullet when only a green rock will affect him? Batman puts his own life at risk for society in the likely chance that he will lose it. To Charlie, and me, a hero is not someone who has no fear but someone who braves it.

The word hero is thrown around and placed on any person who does something good. But not every act is a heroic one. I don’t believe sport stars are heroes. I know I differ from a good part of society in that, but I don’t believe that people who play sport for a living are heroes. They are most certainly admirable people in their dedication to what they love and their ability; however they are not heroes for being sporting stars.

I believe there are only a select few who can be labelled heroes. I believe it is better to label heroic acts rather than heroes. Heroic acts happen every day by ordinary people whether that is due to their job or the time and place. One could say nurses, doctors, those in the army, navy and air force, police officers, paramedics and fire fighters are all heroes or act heroically. They commit to saving lives as their job, they commit to risking their lives. That is heroic. However, are they always heroes or is it their job that makes them one? Are they just as heroic as their job suggests?

I remember reading a story about a man who was presented with a bravery award for his heroic acts as a fire fighter. Yet, when he came home he beat his former partner until she almost died. He kicked her and she tried running from him but he ran after and kicked her down and kicked her pregnant stomach until she lost consciousness. He then took her ID, phone and money. His beatings meant she miscarried and was left blind in one eye. Apparently, he was a hero. Or had he just acted heroically, at some point in his life?

I don’t know if there are heroes in this world. I’d like to think there would be. I’d like to know that heroes come in all shapes and sizes and not just sports stars or super heroes. Or maybe you can just be your own hero.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Pudd’nhead – Mark Twain

How would define a hero? Have you acted heroically or encountered someone you think is a hero? Is anyone a hero or did they just act heroically?