Social media and why can't people just be themselves!

I recently watched an episode of the show Black Mirror on Netflix for the second time. It's called Nosedive and it takes place in the future, where people can vote each other's popularity out of 5 stars.  The higher people's ranking, the more things they have available to them even including friends or acquaintances.  It's actually a really sad episode and it made me think lots about how there's so much emphasis on social media these days being like an online popularity contest and how many likes people can get for stuff.  I find it really quite sad and it actually makes me worry about my daughter's future.

I grew up with a phone that was connected by a wire to the wall and a TV that you had to walk over to when you wanted to change channels! Social media wasn't a thing back then (I'm not that ancient either!) and I really worry about (young) people today when I see what sort of stuff they post and also how on so many pictures you see, people aren't smiling.  They are more often than no doing the (duck!) pout and the peace sign thing or sticking their tongues out. I mean why can't people just smile and look natural? It seems to have become the norm to do it; but why? That's without all the filters available at the push of a button which make people almost unrecognisable.  What happened to natural beauty and when did these ridiculous poses become the in thing?  I much prefer seeing photos of people smiling, fresh faced and not in the slightest bit staged. I prefer those sort of pictures of myself too but I seem to find it hard to do a natural smile and always seem to do a really fake one if someone shoves a camera in my face, but at least I've tried!

I see so many pictures of (often young) people looking quite frankly ridiculous if you think about it. Girls seem to be a lot worse too.  If I want to take a photo of my daughter and she does a silly pose, I cringe.  I am not sure she understands why I ask her not to do it but I really don't like it.  She knows I hate it and sometimes will do it to wind me up and will laugh at my reaction before smiling! She's not even 8 yet and I want her to look like a little girl.  I'm not saying children don't look like children on such photos but I think it does spoil it a bit when they automatically do it.  Surely if someone points a camera at you, you should smile? I love looking back at photos from over the years and I wouldn't want them all to be like that. They obviously can't be smiling on every photo and I love nothing more than taking one when she doesn't know I have done, but I just find it so frustrating that every time I put the internet on, it's full of people looking the same! This is just my opinion though and I know not everyone will agree!!

Social media is such a funny one.  You can paint a picture of the perfect life when the reality is often nothing like that.  Think of someone you know and the life they portray themselves as having compared to the life you know they actually have.  An illusion of perfection is often far from the reality,  yet people can't help it.  Some people also seem to thrive on comments from others telling them they look amazing or they are "goals" which I absolutely hate!!  Goals is one of those cringeworthy things like when people say "bae". Judder!

The photos I share on Instagram are like an online album of memories for me and I love looking back at them. I like to take a nice photo and will try to make sure I have nothing in the background that I would prefer not to be seen (I mean no-one wants to see a random bra or a dirty plate lurking!) but I never post stuff that isn't real and if I've not been well enough to do something, I won't pretend I have.  I know some people feel they have to post amazing photos all the time which must have taken ages setting up to look just right, when actually behind the scenes it's nothing like the caption may suggest. I don't understand why someone would go to the effort of doing it.  If I don't have anything to post, I don't put pressure on myself to post.  I certainly don't waste energy I don't have setting up a photo for the sake of social media. It really shouldn't matter what people think but it does matter to so many.  Some people feel they have to post stuff to look good, to get a certain number of likes.  Who actually cares though? I also know of young people who feel they have to fit in with what their friends or peers are doing despite not actually wanting to and if they don't do it they will be alienated. It really makes me sad.  Does it really matter? It 100% shouldn't but today's society is a scary place to be growing up in.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I just wish people would be themselves and not feel they have to comply with what they think is expected of them or to please other people.  The episode of Black Mirror I mentioned is very thought provoking. In fact, the majority of episodes are and I definitely recommend watching if you can.

Would love to hear what other people think about this!



M.E anniversary

Recently I've been feeling a little bit sad; which happens sometimes given all that life throws at me! However I've noticed I just haven't been feeling right and couldn't put my finger on it... until it dawned on me that it was March back in 2003 when I was diagnosed with M.E and I always seem to get sad each year at this time. 2003 is a long time ago and you would think I'd be used to it after so long but it appears not! 14 years is a long time to have been poorly. To have had "normal" life taken away from you.  To suffer each time you do anything remotely normal and to not remember how it feels to feel well. To not remember what it's like to wake up and feel refreshed.. oh that would be amazing! To actually be able to fall asleep in the first place (oh insomnia you are evil).  To feel trapped. To want to scream so loud (but not having the energy. Oh the irony!). The list goes on...

Today was a rough one.  After a rubbish night's sleep yet again, I woke up in a horrible mood and just felt really sad.  M.E is bad enough even without throwing insomnia into the mix and I never had problems sleeping until I became ill.  I was angry at my illness, frustrated at knowing it was another bad day before it had even begun (it's a bad one when I can tell before I've even got up!), upset at all the years I've been ill, wound up at everything all at once and the tears just flowed.

Sometimes it's good to have a cry no matter how draining it is.  I don't seem to cry too often these days which I'm surprised at really, but today I couldn't stop it.  My little girl then suddenly appeared and I tried to hide it but she knew.  She climbed up on to the bed and cuddled me.  Of course that just made me cry even more!  She asked why I was crying and I said I wasn't feeling too good and that it makes me sad sometimes. She gave me a pep talk!  She told me that I'm poorly and that it's ok and I needed to rest today. She said she's lucky I'm her mummy (more tears).  She wiped my tears and had me laughing within minutes. How crazy is that... that my almost 8 year old is often the one who changes my whole perspective on things. She really is amazing that girl.

The tears tricked me and had obviously decided they hadn't quite had enough and they came again later on. I luckily had the house to myself as I felt like I wanted to be on my own. Then my mum said she was on her way round and I realised how much I needed a mummy cuddle!  I burst into tears on her and she was just there when I needed her. We chatted and I felt so much better for talking to her. Plus she bought me daffodils and a This Works deep sleep stress less rollerball thing. It's not just my little girl who thinks she's lucky with her mummy :-)

I think I definitely needed to get it all out of my system.  I felt much better for it and spent the rest of the day chilling out. Listening to relaxation stuff, watching back to back episodes of the show I'm currently obsessed with and just feeling nice and calm.  As you know if you know me, I try to be positive a lot and I'll carry on being but it's ok to be sad. It's cathartic to cry.  A friend of mine said to me today "You spend so much time caring for and kindness for others despite being ill, I know you often forget you".  It made me stop and think and perhaps I don't spend enough time on looking after me.  Self care is important and I'm going to make sure I do it more.

I won't focus on the negative anymore as I feel I've dealt with it now.  I will be back to focusing on the happy stuff and the things I have to look forward to this year (did I mention I'm going to Disneyland Paris?!!!!!). Little Miss is 8 in a few weeks so I'll be spending some time thinking about how lucky I am to have her.  Because I really really am.

Ali xx


Stockeld Park - where magic is made and adventures begin!

The chances are if you live in Yorkshire, you have been to Stockeld Park* or at the very least heard of it! It's a magical seasonal attraction nestled amongst stunning woodland and is the perfect place for a family day out.  Despite only living about 20 minutes away, we have not actually been since October 2015. I blogged back then about our visit HERE it you fancy a read.  We were definitely due a trip there and Stockeld very kindly gave us some tickets, so off we went!

We had also seen that they were doing a Mad Science week and were having a visit from Sublime Science, who were once winners on BBC's Dragon Den.  They were going to be doing educational and fun activities which sounded great.  When we arrived, my girlie and her friend spotted a 'mad scientist' who told us what time it was on and where it was being held.  The girls were really excited!  

We had enough time to let them do some ice skating (or attempt to!) before the science stuff began so they donned their skates and went to the rink.  I sat it out this time and enjoyed watching instead!

My daughter fell almost straight away and I could tell she wasn't as amused as I was!! One of the ladies working there luckily appeared and was on hand to show her the ropes.

They lasted about 10 minutes and then we had a quick snack before heading over for some Mad Science.  The girls were the first ones there but it filled up quickly and the room was soon full.

They did various experiments and I was impressed,  never mind the girls!  It lasted an hour and it really was very good.  They left with a pot of slime that they had made and a certificate, full of smiles and pride!

We decided to go around the Enchanted Forest next.  When they say enchanted, they really do mean enchanted.  It's fantastic and full of magical, mystical creatures.  In the Winter over Halloween and Christmas, it is all lit up and looks amazing.  We must try and get there this year as I imagine it must be breathtaking.  I should also say that I took my mobility scooter which managed pretty much fine on the ground.

There are four large play areas spread out through the forest, so plenty of places for children to run off steam!  Climbing frames, slides, sandpits and zip wires galore. They loved it.

My personal favourite is the mermaid! In fact the girls had run slightly ahead and ran back to tell me I just HAD to see what they had seen.  I love mermaids and there was proof right there that they are real!!

There are various interactive things along the way and even a talking tree. It feels like being in a chapter of an Enid Blyton book.. just really special.

The girls had also made a game up and were pretending that I was a witch (yeah yeah, I know!) who had stolen crystals from them so their mission was to find them.  Each play area they went to they went to 'look for the crystals' and they apparently found them dotted around the forest. I just love childrens' imaginations!

Once we came out of the forest they were asking if we could go in the Maze.  I am not a huge fan of mazes (truth is I'm a big baby and I get scared!), however someone had told us a trick how to cheat a maze which we decided to follow, so in we went.

There are over two miles of paths in the eight foot high Tree Maze (gulp) and there are various surprises in it.  Guess what though.. the trick worked!! We made it out in about ten minutes.  I've never been so happy to see the end of a hedge.  I won't share how to cheat a maze as it will spoil it for those of you who do in fact enjoy being lost in them!!

Other than all the outdoor activities, they have a cafĂ© and an indoor play area.  It was nice to sit and chill for a bit with a drink and a snack while the girls bounced on the inflatable jumping pillow.  The forecast had been slightly optimistic and it was a bit colder than anticipated!

We had a quick look in the gift shop and the girls each chose a little something. My daughter chose a pink squishy poo emoji thing which she was delighted with. The whole conversation they had in the car on the journey home was about pink poo. Lovely! 

They said they had had 'the best day' and we had all really enjoyed it.  My friend sent me a message later that evening saying how happy her little girl was and that she had been telling her all about it at bedtime. So sweet! My daughter wrote a page in her diary about it and kept her wristband to stick in it too.  Priceless :-)

I can't recommend Stockeld Park enough for a family day out. Ticket prices vary so it's best to check online and there is lots of information on their website about what's going on there too.  Thank you Stockeld for a fab day out!



Random Acts of Kindness day!

If you follow my blog you will already know how much I love random acts of kindness! I've posted before about doing them and how much of a difference they can make to someone.  One kind word really can change a person's entire day. What is it they (whoever they are!) say, that an act of kindness no matter how small is never wasted.  It's so true.

Today is National Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) Day and the purpose of it is to urge people to be kind to each other, especially those they don't know, without any specific reason. I actually think that it should be every day as kindness costs nothing and it's so easy to do, but I do love how there is a day especially for it!

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An act of Kindness can boost happiness,  release feel good chemicals,  decrease stress and generally give an all round fuzzy feeling to those involved.

There are so many ways you can do a RAOK but a couple of examples are to pay someone a compliment.. don't just think it, say it, leave a happy note somewhere unexpected (I've done this with library books before), send a surprise card or gift, smile at a stranger, bake someone a cake or buy an extra coffee for someone when you're buying one for yourself.  I remember when my daughter was about 3 and we were on holiday. We were in a shop and I was going to buy her a Spanish dress but was 1 Euro short, so I told the shopkeeper I'd be back when I'd got the rest of the money from the hotel.  A lady in the shop overheard and insisted on paying the extra for me. She wouldn't take no for an answer and it was such a lovely thing for her to do.

I decided I wanted to send someone a surprise parcel today so I have a post on my Facebook blog page and I have asked people to tell me something kind that someone has done for them.  If you would like to join in, my daughter will be picking a number tonight before she goes to bed and all you need to do is leave a comment under my post here HERE.

Someone who really inspires kindness is Emily Coxhead who runs  The Happy Newspaper and her posts always make me smile! You can follow her on Instagram HERE. She's such a ray of sunshine!

Let me know if you have done, or been on the receiving end of, any RAOKs today :-)


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