Mental health and me: bringing back my power.

Part Two

“It’s interesting to note that the most kind and courageous souls you meet in life tend to be those who’ve faced the most cruelty and conflict. This vicious world might sharpen us like a blade, but whether we use that power to protect people or cause them pain is always our choice.”  

Beau Taplin

I’ve always been quite aware of my thoughts, feelings and actions. I think about everything, I analyse all situations and I pick apart everything I come across. Sometimes this is a curse, but mostly I’m thankful AF for this mind. I read, I research, I feel and I’m present. But a month ago, I tripped and my mind took a turn and fell into a black hole. I was not present. I read only bad things, tortured myself with negative thoughts and filled my days with unhealthy behaviour. Not good times.

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I read this blog that expressed how anxiety, depression and self-esteem was all an effect of the sick people in our infected society. It said how depression is not a fault of the individual. That probably, and more possibly, it was “all the crap and ideas I’d internalised from other people” which has most definitely been built up over a long period of time. That this didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t just over the last guy who left me in disappointment. But instead this was a build-up of years and heaps of moments of multiple disappointments and sadness and hurt and negativity from my experiences and those around me. I found myself thinking over situations that happened three months ago, and thirteen years ago. Which kinda made sense.

It’s quite possible that although we’re talking about mental health more than ever, it’s also a huge sign that something is going wrong with our lifestyles, the way we live and the kind of people we are becoming.  

“We do not come alone to the idea of being worthless, useless, and that we deserve to suffer…It’s a thing about mental health that needs saying and saying again. Most of us do not fall apart on our own. We fall apart for reasons that are outside our heads. Trying to find a personal solution to this is often futile. If environments are sick, the people in them will become and remain sick. Where people exploit each other, treat each other as worthless, expendable, or mock visible suffering, things only get worse.” – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/anxiety-depression-and-self-esteem/ 

 

However, there is another side to this. And although we do not fall apart on our own, we do decide how long we stay in pieces, we decide what kind of people we want to be and we decide whether we want make our lives and this world a worse or better place. Yes, maybe if people were kinder to each other than we wouldn’t ever feel so worthless. If people acted with more love and understanding rather than their selfishness and ego then perhaps the world would work differently.

But, unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. People are selfish and unforgivable at times. People are not afraid to cause pain if it’s for their own benefit. The world is filled with good people, and absolute horrors. What should be done? We can blame, we can attack or we can understand that although their behaviour is like a poison, they’re minds are probably full of anger, hurt and lack of love, life and empathy. And that’s actually more of a representation on society. And that’s actually quite sad.

Will people disappoint? Yes, it’s bound to happen over and over again. Is this fair? No, of course not, but does the behaviour say more about them than you? Yes, of course.  So, how will my situation change? By myself.

Nikita Gill

I cannot change the way people behave. I cannot change what’s happened in the past. And I cannot change how sick the people in these unfortunate environments may be. But I can change my impact. I can change how I react to these behaviours. I can learn from my past. I can remove myself from these people and I can change my environment.

Two months ago, my mind played on repeat all the times that I felt hurt, along with all the people who caused me even the slightest bit of pain, but now my thoughts have changed to how grateful I am that I am able to see and be different to them. Something went so wrong in their lives (and not always by fault of their own), that they’ve forgotten parts of their humanity and now think it’s somewhat acceptable to treat another human being in an immoral way. I’m grateful that the pain in my life has filled my heart with flowers and not stone, unlike them. Since, my last blog ‘Mental health and me‘, I feel all sorts of power. I see a tunnel which is filled with light, hope and love.

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“Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns gets passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.” – I love this.

Although our environments may be filled with sick people, and life won’t always seem fair, we can ultimately choose two sides. To be like them, or to be better. I choose love. I choose kindness and I choose to be nothing like them. Our hearts and minds are different, and I choose to bring more good to this world than bad. How can this world possibly have more bad in it?! It’s easy to hate, and it’s easy to feel full of hate. It’s not so easy to work on peace every single day, but it’s possible. Fight for that everyday. We can decide who we want to be. We can be the good in our environments and impact this world and our lives in ways that some will never be able to. And this has helped my mental health. And this brings me back my purpose and peace. And this brings me back my power.  

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Let’s choose to be the kinder ones, the more understanding and the more loving. A mantra that still applies.

Vanisha

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Life beyond Misión México

Preparing young adults for life beyond Misión Mexico…

Our #1 goal at Misión Mexico is to provide the option of shelter and on-going education for all of the children that walk through our doors. We aim to help break the cycle of poverty that exists for 21.2 million children and adolescents in Mexico, by providing opportunity, chances and choices for our young people, which includes our final program, YTP. Our Youth Transition Program (YTP) focuses on supporting our young people at Misión Mexico through the transition into adulthood, independent living and higher education.

The focus is to empower these young people in a bid to break the cycle of poverty and abuse, and further create confident, competent young adults and positive role models who can successfully live independently.” – Luke, YTP Coordinator

A History of YTP

  1. Rewind back to 2014 when YTP was first piloted with our first female transition house! Four of our young ladies, aged 19-22 years old, moved into the house with our full-time YTP coordinator and mentor. With the support of the coordinator, our young adults develop skills such as independent and practical living, health and nutrition, positive role modelling, financial planning and budgeting, and practical support sourcing employment. Personal development is also a critical element of the program which aims to improve confidence, interpersonal and negotiation skills, and self-motivation.
  2. The next exciting branch of YTP was our youth cooking program and girls’ youth groups, which were implemented for our children aged 13 years and over. At this age, we begin the preparation phase which helps identify the strategies and actions necessary to develop their independent and life skills, whilst residing at our main refuge.
  3. 18 months later, the program extended to include our first male transition house and boys’ youth groups!
  4. After four years, 9 of our young adults have moved through our two transition houses and into independent living with 7 more currently living in our YTP today!

Why is YTP so important?

YTP brings opportunity and support for those first tricky years of adulthood as they leave our main family home at 18 years old. Some of you may be thinking that it’s kind of unnecessary and comparing it to your own lives, however life in Tapachula is extremely different and difficult, and our young adults would not have as many opportunities or choices if it wasn’t for Misión Mexico and programs such as YTP. YTP enables our young adults to have the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential, transitioning them to independent living whilst allowing them to continue with their higher education and offering multiple avenues and choices for their futures.

  • In developing, low-income countries, like Mexico, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.
  • 6 million Mexican children and adolescents dropped out of school in 2012, to join the second largest child labour force in Latin America. These young people probably had very limed choices. This labour force includes children who have traded classrooms and pencils for their families, farming and crime. This labour force included some of our own children at Misión Mexico.
  • In 2012, 21.2 million children and adolescents in Mexico were living in poverty, with more than six million children aged 3-17 out of school. The lack of formal education in childhood often limits the available opportunities and choices in adulthood, which in turn continues the cycle of poverty and crime.

Where are they now?

We have seen some great successes with our young adults who have transitioned through YTP and into independent living! We’re excited to say that we’ve had our first ever female university graduate who quickly secured full-time employment and recently received her first promotion (amazing)! Whilst four are living independently whilst continuing with their higher education and university degrees. We’ve celebrated marriages, first homes, full-time employment, and a number of our YTP young adults are even putting their life skills to use whilst exploring the big wide world outside of Tapachula! YTP has truly been life-changing.

The Future of YTP

There are currently 20 young people living in the main Misión Mexico house in addition to the 6 young adults living in our two gendered transition houses. Over 70% of Misión Mexico youth are involved in some aspect of the YTP as our program starts from 13 years old. At this age, we begin the preparation phase which helps identify the strategies and actions necessary to develop their independent skills through cooking and small group classes. Currently 23% of the current household are over 18 years old and within the next three years, 58% of them will be over 18 years old which means that YTP is essential and growing rapidly!

Our goal at Misión México is to provide support, love, options and choice to all the children that come into our home. Not all our young adults choose the root of university, higher education or even YTP living, and instead choose to follow other paths beyond their lives at Mision Mexico. But, that’s what this is ultimately all about; choice.

YTP is one of our most vital and ever-expanding programs, and we wouldn’t be anywhere without your help. We are so grateful for the years of support, love and hope that you’ve shown to us and can’t wait to continue the journey for our next bunch of YTP-ers over the coming years!

Make some small choices today!

  • For as little as $10 per month you can become one of our Youth Transition Program Sponsors and help our young adults become the best they can be! You can email events@lovelifehope.com if you’re interested in becoming a YTP sponsors
  • Volunteer! We’re currently recruiting for April 2018 and onwards. So, if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact us via social media or apply at volunteer@lovelifehope.com!
  • Share this blog and our #YTPWednesdays campaigns via below…
  • You can follow and support our social media by clicking these links…
  • https://www.instagram.com/misionmexico/
  • https://twitter.com/mision_mexico
  • https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren

We can’t wait to meet you all!

Vanisha

With big help from Luke Owen, Melissa Biggerstaff and Founder, Pamela Skuse

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Reads and resources:

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/kids-at-work-there-are-3-6-million-in-mexico/

http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2016/01/mexico-child-labour-perils-lost-education-160127055528295.html

https://probdes.iiec.unam.mx/en/revistas/v45n178/body/v45n178a5_1.php

The Aziz Ansari Case: Sex, consent and common misbehaviour.

CONSENT.

What does that mean to you?

The Aziz Ansari case is why I’m up late writing today. Moving away from the poorly written exposé (click for the original here) and whether the account was true or not, I want to focus on why this story really matters. I want to focus on the root of the problem and how our society is failing women and men, all of which is evident in the reactions of this story. I am so sick of people missing the root of the problem. The whole bloody point is CONSENT (or lack of!) along with the normality and ignorance of common misbehaviour.

And it’s funny because so many people are reading her side of the story and wondering what all the fuss about. People cannot believe that he might be losing shows over something so bloody trivial like a ‘date gone wrong’. So, what if he seemed a bit eager, a bit too aggressive? They’d had a few drinks at his house, she stuck around, she coulda called a cab earlier? A scenario so common that it’s almost too easy to brush it aside because behaviour that is so common, a scenario that so many of us can relate to, is the whole reason that this story highlights how big of an issue consent, sexual assault and the misuse of power is. Something so serious should not be so common.

Life is not a porno. There is no situation where you can sneak into someone’s room, insert yourself in their body while they sleep, and not be violating their human rights. There is no situation where it would be okay if a girl starts by saying ‘no’, but you brush that aside, cos she might not be serious right? and tempt her into sex anyway. There is no situation where if you slide your hand up a girl’s skirt on the dancefloor and assume she’s gonna love it. Why are we still going so wrong in society? Where our behaviour is mirroring what we see on the TV and there are people who think it’s acceptable to be treated like that in 2018 without a full, clear, enthusiastic, big fat given consent?

The New York Times have just released an article headlined “Aziz Ansari is guilty. Of not being a mind reader”. Because when you’re in a situation where someone is forcing themselves on you, celebrity status or not, it’s kinda hard to scream out NO. Because we live in culture where men use sex as their power while women are still not fully heard in life, yet alone in the bedroom. Because the obvious, foundation and bottom line of consensual and therefore enjoyable sex, like asking “you sure you cool with this?” and hearing an enthusiastic “YES give it to me”, is non-existent in this scenario and many others.

I’m actually appalled at Bari Weiss and The New York Times for releasing the shameful article (which you can read here). Let me share one of Weiss’s thoughts that she had whilst reading the story, so you can understand why we still have a disgustingly huge problem in 2018…

“If he pressures you to do something you don’t want to do, use a four-letter word, stand up on your two legs and walk out his door” – Bari Weiss, letting down humanity at The New York Times

Thanks for that tip hun. I’ll take that into consideration for next time…

  1. “If he pressures you to do something you don’t want to do?!” WHY is he pressuring me into doing something that I don’t want to do?! What is going wrong in his and her way of thinking that we’re even starting the sentence off with that scenario?
  2. That if played back on CCTV, we could see more clearly where the lines may be crossed but, men are so apparently unaware of their actions that they’re unable to read basic body language and use their own ears?? Should men be excused from reading social cues or do we need to work on their ability to be able to read another human beings body?
  3. Bari Weiss, have you ever been in a situation where you are not in control? When your whole body shuts down because you can’t believe this could be happening, so you physically can’t walk out his front door? Where your ideas of this person being someone that you liked, someone that is respected, someone who you thought liked and respected you too, were completely wrong and now he’s violating that trust with your own body? Where you are not strong and confident enough to shut a man down? When it’s 4am and dark outside, and you feel obligated and under more pressure to stay. Not because you want to, but because you’re there now, and it’s 4 am and it’s dark outside and society tells you not to be “one of them girls” and you’ll be leading him on, giving him mixed messages, when actually, an invitation to his house does not mean an invitation to my body.

Another one that made my whole soul ache was ‘The humiliation of Aziz Ansari” by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic. She writes…

“Eventually, overcome by her emotions at the way the night was going, she told him, “You guys are all the fucking same,” and left crying. I thought it was the most significant line in the story: This has happened to her many times before. What led her to believe that this time would be different?

  1. Haha well Flanagan obviously has no hope in mankind, the one thing we have in common. Because we should just expect men to treat us like that? Because it’s happened to her before, so she should behave better? Because we should give up all hope now and assume that every story will lead to an ending where we are not in control of our own bodies and rights? Because he’s not to blame and she should have known? And that makes it all okay?

Flanagan ends her article with…

“I thought it would take a little longer for the hit squad of privileged young white women to open fire on brown-skinned men.”

  1. I’m not a privileged young white woman hun.
  2. And you’re a fool to turn this important conversation around to race. This is not about race. The colour of your skin does not define whether you can mistreat, abuse or assault another human being. It’s not his skin colour that is problematic in this situation and he is not being called up on it because he is brown-skinned. He’s being called upon his actions because he supposedly forced her hand on his dick 5-7 times, whilst she expressed her discomfort and cried all the way home as a result of her whole experience.

Women should not carry the burden of getting ourselves out of dangerous situations. There should not be any dangerous situations in the first place. Men need to start taking full responsibility for their actions. And questioning whether their partner said ‘YES’, and whether she is in a fit and able situation where she feels comfortable or bloody conscious enough to say ‘YES’. There should be no ‘if he pressures you’ or ‘if you’re in a situation like this’ because otherwise we are failing to address the safety of women and the bottom line of his actions and CONSENT. And I’m fully aware that I’m talking as a female and that men do suffer sometimes too, but the reality is that women suffer so much more. Whether you want to hear it or not, women are usually the victims and men are usually the perpetrators. And this needs to change.

Even if Ansari’s alleged actions are not criminally wrong, the story suggest that our society is a mess when it comes to sex. Thanks to porn, clubbing culture, music videos, college culture and machismo culture, boys are taught to treat girls with disrespect, like toys to play with, like objects where a ‘no’ is taken as a challenge. Whilst girls are still unsure whether they can speak up, we sit and take it, wondering if it’s the right time to say no, scared of feeling frigid, and concerned about whether he’ll call you back otherwise. This is not normal or okay behaviour on both parts. We must break these damaging and heartbreaking social norms.

When will it end? Do we need paper consent forms before we have sex? Do we need to challenge our every thoughts and actions? This story, the #metoo movement and all our other smaller stories are so important and a great start, but it is 2018 and it is still not enough. We need conversation, we need justice, we need support and we need change more than ever.

What are your thoughts? As someone who has experienced loving, consensual sex, one-night stands and an experience worse than Grace’s alleged story, it’s the reactions and words of others that have come as a result of hearing her side that have hit hardest with me. It’s a tough subject with many grey areas but there’s something seriously wrong with the fact that so many women can raise their hands and say #metoo

You can check out my related blogs about sex and the hook-up culture here:-

Physically turned on, emotionally switched off. A little look at hook-ups…

Man Up? Man Down

Vanisha

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Instagram and twitter: @vanishamay

The dangers of fashion

Documentary watch: The True Cost and Minimalism (find them on Netflix now)

Got a new date? Buy a new dress. Feeling down? Hit the shops. Hole in your socks? Bin em. Don’t like that tee? Charity bag. Hate spending? Get bored quickly? Want cheap clothes and a tonne of option? It all sounds pretty harmless but the true cost of our shopping is literally damaging our planet and failing to protect the lives of millions around the world. Where are we going so wrong and how can we do better?

It’s funny how as you walk into a store like Topshop, you feel fully ready to splash the cash and treat yo’self (for the third time that week), whilst in a land not-so-far away, people are suffering because we just can’t help ourselves. We live in a world where we want, spend, buy, and chuck at the most alarming rates, whilst separating ourselves from the production and side-effects. The average American is currently consuming 4x more than what our planet can sustainably supply, and we brits are next in line. Altogether, we are consuming 400% more than we were twenty-years ago with the consumption of 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. Doesn’t sound so fun now right?

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Consumerism is a fairly new definition which is why there’s no surprise that people are A) unaware of the word in general and B) think it’s a joke similar to global warming. Well actually, it’s very real and very damaging and the way we are consuming is in fact the biggest joke.

Now this is not a lecture or a blog to tell you to stop waking into H&M, but a conversation with information about how we can create a better lifestyles for ourselves and others by changing our behaviours and thoughts before it’s really too late…

 The People

  • “Without my wardrobe, people would have no work” – It’s true that 97% of our clothing is made abroad, however our consumption is not only causing inhumane working conditions for the workers (that are mostly women), but is also putting people out of work too. For instance, giving all your leftovers and unwanted stuff to charity is not always the best idea. In fact only 10% of clothing gets sold in charity stores and the rest ends up in dumpsites and stores in developing countries which is then cutting out their local industries and filling their landfills with pollution and more issues thanks to the us in the west.
  • 1 in 6 people in the world work in the fashion industry. Most of these are women who are earning less than $3 a day and working in extreme conditions. From Beyonce’s big Ivy Park scandal to the deaths of over a thousand workers at Rana Plaza, people are suffering directly as a result of our mindlessness materialism.

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The Environment

  • So the 90% of clothes that don’t get sold in charity shops is boxed up and packaged to countries like Haiti and Mexico where they sit in empty shops, landfills and pollute the land and water because it’s not bio-degradable and the people in these countries don’t have the right tools and knowledge to deal with all our mess.
  • Cotton is in such high-demand that it’s now genetically modified and grown. But at a huge cost. Studies suggest that there’s almost a 20-50% chance for cotton farmers to develop cancer and other related diseases as a result of exposure. The True Cost documentary also highlights how over 250,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves due to debt related pressure from cotton farming.

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How you can make a difference:

  • Watch the documentaries ‘The True Cost’ and ‘Minimalism’ which can both be found on Netflix and will both make you question what on earth we’re doing! I’ve watched both a bunch of times and they’ve really inspired me.
  • Send your old coats to http://care4calais.org/winter-coats-needed/ and https://wrapuplondon.org.uk/
  • Stop sending all your old sh*t to charity shops. Use Depop, eBay, car boot sales and sell them on! You’ll make some money and your clothes will go to a new home, instead of a landfill like the ones damaging Haiti. Winner winner.
  • Give directly to the people that might need them and cut out the middle man of charity shops.
  • Re-vamp them, give the old stuff some love and get creative with your clothes.
  • Be a conscience shopper. Know the difference between want and need. Find things that you really love and invest rather than buying endless amounts of throwaway clothes. Slow down, think and re-wear. If you don’t love it that much, then don’t buy it. Isn’t it funny that our parents have clothes from 30 years ago in their wardrobes and I struggle to find anything older than 5 years?

Fashion can be fun, but fashion should never be the cause of someone’s death and livelihood. That’s not fun. Time to turn it around! We have a responsibility to our planet and the people in them. Let’s change the future

Thanks for reading you beautiful bunch!

Vanisha

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Follow my twitter and instagram @vanishamay

Resources

http://clothesaid.co.uk/where-do-your-clothes-go/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30227025

https://truecostmovie.com/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/beyonces-ivy-park-sportswear-line-denies-claims-its-clothes-were-produced-by-sweatshop-workers-a7035926.html

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17569-consumerism-is-eating-the-future/

https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/5-crazy-facts-new-fashion-documentary-true-cost/

10 steps to the best year yet!

YAY! It’s finally 2018. Which usually means nothing to me. I’m not one to shout around “new year, new me” but this new year is an exception. This new year has come at a time where I’ve needed change and a reason to change more than ever before. This new year, I’m all about new focuses, new hopes, and perhaps not a new me but, a bolder, fiercer and better me. And I can’t bloody wait for it all. So, in line with a ‘new year, new me’ comes my New Year resolutions. Here are my 10 goals/resolutions/guidelines for 2018 which I hope may spark some inspiration and oomph for all of you who may need it too 😊

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  1. Do good for your own good

I recently read that being kinder was one of the most life-changing New Year resolutions for anybody to practice. One small deed a day could change a life, including your own. Go out of your way to do something positive in the world like helping a stranger or volunteering. Not only will you be doing good, but you’ll automatically feel good too.

My goals:

  • One deed a day.

Tips: Buy flowers for someone, cook for your family, plant a tree, volunteer, smile at a stranger, campaign more.

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  1. Healthy body

This year I vow to try it all. Yoga, karate, gym, eating less meat, and getting my 5-a-day. Living a healthy life isn’t just about losing weight, but also about being physically fit, and giving lots of love to your body, plus it’s all better for the planet.Last year, I climbed Machu Picchu mountain and it was bloody hard! This year, I want to climb a mountain with less struggle. And it’s also true, a healthy body brings a healthy mind and life, hence resolution #3…

My goals:

  • Join the gym (which I done today, yay)
  • By the end of the year: to feel physically better, lose extra rolls, gain body confidence
  • Climb a mountain

Tips: Join the local gym, make a food plan, walk more, try a new class, buy fresher food.

  1. Healthy mind

My mental health took a bit of a bash in last year, so, this year I vow to do all that I can to move away from that place and into a better, healthier and more positive mindset. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body and a healthy life. You’d be a fool not to invest so much into your own self and mind.

I’m going to measure this by –

  • breaking unhealthy habits and placing them with good habits like nail biting (caused by stress and is abso rank) –> Reading, painting, writing (de-stress, get clever, get creative, keep the hands busy).
  • De-cluttering my life, selling old clothes, and living more minimally (check out the documentary on Netflix – Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, it will change your life!). I’ve recently wiped my iTunes too and started fresh with the music and things I listen to everyday. It feels so good to start fresh and get rid.

Tips: Cut down alcohol intake, adapt a better sleep pattern, regulate the time that you spend on social media, write a diary, exercise.

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  1. Know your worth

The tough times from 2017 left me feeling like I was not worthy of being loved, like I didn’t deserve the truth and that people thought it was okay to treat me like sh*t. The lessons I learnt from this? Some people lie, cheat, and will find all sorts of ways to hurt you. That’s life, and that’s them. It’s not a reflection on you. It does not mean that you are not enough, or unworthy or are undeserving of ever being treated well. Not everyone has the same heart as you, and the way people treat you reflects them, not you. YOU ARE A QUEEN. Or a King. And you’ve done incredible things, and you’re an amazing person, and probably achieved a lot more than these people ever will. So, forget them, treat yourself well, find peace, give yourself a break and trust yourself so much that you can erase anyone who thinks it’s ever okay to break any part of you (pep talk to myself right there!).

Tips: This is obviously hard to measure but I’ve just bought a book called You can heal your life by Louise Hay which is dedicated to helping you find your own self-worth, love and acceptance. I’ll let you know how it goes… and if in 6 months time you find yourself erased from my life, sorry not sorry.

  1. Give, give, give! But not to them…

My career and life are both spent giving, which is fine considering I volunteer and have dreams of being in the humanitarian sector. But, does that mean everyone deserves all that I have to give? Ha-ha no. One of the toughest life lessons is knowing when to stop giving. Know the difference between someone who needs, deserves and cherishes the time, attention and love that you give, to someone who is fully taking advantage of you. In 2017, people drained me from all that I had to give until I felt empty. This year, I’m taking all of that back and giving it all to myself and the people who truly appreciate it all, whilst laughing in 2017’s face.

Tips: volunteer, spend time with my loved ones, spend time with myself

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  1. Be bold, be brave and never stop dreaming

The path to achieve my dream job is a long and messy one. It requires years of unpaid volunteer work, which means years of savings to back me up. Hello 2018, my year of money making and saving (made challenging due to my needs of being far away). So, I’ve made the bold and brave decision to move to China, I’ve signed a year-long contract and will be leaving soon to start the next chapter of my life. It doesn’t always have to be so extreme, but never stop chasing your passions. There’s endless amounts of discovery and ways to achieve your dreams.

My goals:

  • Move to a new country
  • Save money to volunteer

Tips: JUST GO FOR IT. Life is too short. Be brave. Go for it all. And realistically, create a savings account, do some research, plan your steps.

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  1. Try new things

Ever seen Jim Carrey in Yes Man? My goal is to be him this year. Obviously not literally, and only to a certain extent, but I want my year to be filled with “oh wells” and “why not’s?” rather than “what ifs”. I want to try everything. And I won’t be scared to fail, which is a lesson I learnt thanks to my great pal, 2017. But, to keep it realistic, my goal is 10 new things. From saying yes to a new food to visiting a new country to trying a new gym class.

My goals:

  1. Joined a gym!                          6.
  2. New job in China                   7.
  3.                                                    8.
  4.                                                    9.
  5.                                                  10.

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  1. Feed the brain

This year, I also vow to keep learning. I want to read more books, I plan to re-start my mandarin, I’d like to blog more, and I want to fill my brain with new things from all over the world. Educate, learn, be productive and stuff the brain. It’s all possible and easier than ever. You’re never too old, or too young, and it’s never too late.

My goals:

  • Update my website and blog more
  • Buy new books to read
  • Cut down Netflix and learn Chinese </3

Tips: Make lists of things you’d like to achieve for daily, weekly and even yearly. Find a book genre that you’re in to, or even watch more documentaries! Research things and never stop asking questions.

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  1. Stay motivated

It’s so hard to stay on track and be inspired when you’re stuck in a rut and life seems to be going wrong on every level. BUT, it’s so important. In 2017, I lost so much focus and inspo that it completely messed me up. Until I found it again. I started reading again, making my lists, getting organised and finding ways to motivate myself again. And now I feel on top form. But just in case…

My goals:

  • Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you
  • Make lists (like this one) to track progress and give reminders

Tips: Make a power playlist that makes you want to run the world every time you listen to it, remind yourself how phenomenal you are, think about all the greatness you’ve yet to achieve.

  1. LOVE YOURSELF

If you didn’t get the jist already, my 2018 priority is me. I’ve grown, and I’ve changed, and I fully choose myself. All the love, happiness and kindness that I so freely gave out before, I’m giving to myself. Why? Because self-love is the most important kind of love. Because I am going to smash 2018. Because I deserve it all.

And if you’re reading this, you probably deserve it too! Love yourself and love your life HARD. Make some goals, get inspired and make 2018 a wonderful year for you. I am too excited for it all.

Cheers! Here’s to me, you and 2018 🎉

Vanisha

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Follow my twitter and instagram @vanishamay

Mental health and me.

Part One

Love me when i least deserve it, because that’s when i need it the most – unknown

It’s taken me months to come to terms with my life and who I am right now, and it’s taken weeks to write this in a way that I’m okay with.

Topics, awareness and conversation about mental illness and mental health have been slowly, but more positively, making its way into our minds, out of our mouths and spreading through the veins of our society. But growing up knowing words like ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ didn’t always mean they were fully understood. Although it seems we are now surrounded by our friends, family, strangers and celebs all fighting daily battles with their mental health, the battle can be easily misunderstood and still feel confusing. My experience with mental health has been messy, dark, confusing and not always something I wanted to accept. And that wasn’t even my own mental health. It’s hard to understand something that hurts, and with mental health you can hurt, and other people can hurt as a cause of your hurt. Now, as I battle my own issues, I’m understanding it more than ever.

Six months ago, I was extremely happy with myself, I was acing university, following my passion, keeping fit and healthy, living independently, working hard, and I had exciting plans and hopes for my future. Everything was great. I was the best I had ever been in my life in every way possible. Until one day, I just wasn’t.

I used to think happiness and positivity and depression and negativity were like a switch that you could turn on and off. And the use of the switch would depend on how hard you wanted it and how hard you tried. With mental health, I’ve found that it’s partly true. Except the switch is one of them stupid ones that flick back on as you leave the room and you have to go back to turn it off again but it’s constant and lasts through the night and into some days and you have no control over the stupid damaged switch. Life becomes a constant battle with the switch that never used to even cross my mind before because it was never an issue and would almost always be on happy positivity mode.

Some days feel the same as six months ago. I can still fill my days with positivity and people comment on how much I smile and brighten their day. Some days I see hope for my future and am inspired by all the good in the world, and all the good left for me to make. Some days I feel happiness because I know that one day I’ll be exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I love with someone who loves me just as much as I love them. And I won’t question or doubt anything about myself or my life because everything will be good enough.

But some days it’s hard to even fake a smile. Some days I feel so far from who I even used to be, yet alone from where I hope I’ll ever be. Some days I can’t believe how much pain has been in my life and how people keep finding new ways to hurt me. Yet alone all those hurting other people, all those other people suffering. Some days I can’t imagine working with people in crisis because how can life and the people in our world be so cruel to ever put another human in that point of crisis in the first place? Some days my brain drives me crazy. I lose complete focus, worth and love for myself and the world. Nothing ever seems good enough.

I’ve read articles after blogs after websites about how to cope, what to do, what not to do and what depression and anxiety even are. There’s poetry and quotes and helplines and chatrooms. People tell you to exercise, get out the house, talk to someone, get a good night sleep. Lol. And for those who know me and follow my IG and blogs on the reg, you’ll be laughing along with me. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other. Here I am, little miss positivity, spreading sunshine and love around the world and trying to save the planet, feeling the most negative ever and trying hard not to hate everything around me.

And it’s funny when people comment how you’re coping so well, like you could never tell that I was even remotely low, like how my IG looks like life goals and how it appears I’m the same person from six months ago. Because mental illness isn’t visible through a photo unless you post a picture of yourself crying in bed with the caption ‘btw i’m depressed’. And it goes to show how you never know what battle someone might be fighting.

 

My “choose happiness” and “be a seeker of everyday magic” mantra is just not so relevant right now. Sure, if you’re having a bad day it might help. But depression doesn’t seem like a bad day because depression doesn’t seem to leave. Instead, you might have good moments in your bad day. Or your day might not be particularly awful, but there are no feelings of happiness like you knew it before.

I know things will get better. And like everything in life, this is temporary. But for now, I’m learning and finding my own ways to cope through it. I’m trying to find peace, worth and love for myself. I am healing from the pain, trauma and sadness in my life. For the first time in months, I’m starting to accept these feelings and thoughts. And that it’s normal. And that it’s okay. I’m very slowly remembering the things that make me happy and trying to remind myself who I am. And even writing this, I feel relief to be talking about it. And although I’m quite used to blogging and being honest and open with what I write about, mental illness is a new topic for me. Today I’m raising awareness about my newest fight in life; mental health.

Know that mental illness is serious and varies and has tonnes of different symptoms and effects for different lengths of time and on different scales of severity. It’s a huge problem in our society with millions of sufferers. It is always important to talk about it. Self-love and self-care are important too. And realising you’re not alone and that you can recover from this is important to remember also. If you don’t have it, you’ll know someone that has it, or you’ll soon have it, or you have had it.

 

Let’s be kinder, more understanding and more loving. A mantra that can always be applied.

Vanisha

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IG: https://www.instagram.com/vanishamay/?hl=en

Making a difference made easy.

So, as Christmas gets closer and we’re all in giving mode, I want to shed light on a super important cause and how you could do something different this year at Christmas time.  Not sure what to get your family for Christmas this year? Want to make an impact and do something positive for the world? Let me tell you all about Mision Mexico and how your effort could help…

Who are Mision Mexico?

Pamela and Alan Skuse visited Tapachula, Chiapas in 2000 to help care for 7 children. Passionate about making a difference and wanting to do more, the couple have spent the last 17 years caring for over 250 children.

Thanks to donations and dedicated people like you, Pam and Alan were able to build a home for their new family as well as their recent project in the poorer community of Puerto Chiapas; Mision Surf. Every school lesson, every pair of shoes, every bed, and every single achievement has been made possible thanks to you.

There are so many ways to get involved, and we’d love you to join to help us carry on with our Mexican mission!

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It’s about making a difference” – Kathy Calvin

So, how can you make a difference today?

1. Sponsor our teens big volcano climb!

This Christmas, our teens are climbing Central America’s 2nd largest volcano in order to raise funds for a new van which will help transport all of our children with more ease (and more seats so we’re not all sitting on each other’s laps!). This is our main Christmas fundraising event and one of our most exciting as the kids get involved themselves.

You can start the giving by clicking this link if you’re in Australia… https://misionmexico-gdg-j731n.raisely.com/volcano2017 

Or this link if you’re giving from the UK… https://mydonate.bt.com/events/volcano2017

If you are giving from Australia, you will receive a tax deductible receipt for all donations over $2. If you are giving from the UK and are a UK tax payer, you can opt into the Gift Aid scheme and increase the value of your donation by 25% – at no extra cost to you.

2. Create your own fundraiser!

Fundraising is a fantastic way to help raise large amounts of money from multiple people for a special cause like Mision Mexico. But if you’re unsure about what to do, or where to start, or how you can make your fundraiser as fun as possible, then look no further. This is all about how we can help you to help us!

Below are my fave top 10 ideas for starting your own fundraiser today!

  1. Skydive, white water raft, bungee jump – this is for all the adrenaline junkies out there! Why not go absolutely crazy and tick off your bucket list whilst raising for charity?!
  2. A cake sale. It’s simple, quick and yummy.
  3. Sponsored sports. You could run a marathon, swim the local river or even hold a trampolining event!
  4. For all of them bad habits, and one of the hardest to do in my opinion(!) – give up something you love. Like, alcohol, chocolate, smoking, biting your nails, or you could even give up your voice!
  5. Go carol singing!
  6. Hold an event at your workplace, church or in your community. We recently had an wonderful donation from Tango Embrace’s Day of the Dead Milonga event. Food, dance and a fundraiser all in one event. Amazing!
  7. You could get creative and host a ‘Come dine with me’ night, or even break a world record!
  8. Of course, the hairy ideas made it to my top ten just for comical/bravery reasons. Shave your hair off? Grow your beard out? Have a full body wax? Just throwing it out there guys…
  9. Get ya pets involved. Start dog walking, do a dog jog,
  10. Do a year of good deeds. This one was my favourite and one that I’d never heard of before. You, along with your friends and family can spend a year or as long as you like doing good deeds and sharing them! Feeding the homeless, helping the elderly, reading at the local library, there’s definitely a heap of good to do whilst raising money for something good!

3. Got a talent or skill to share? Get involved!

We accept volunteers all year round but we’re especially looking for people who have special skills or talents and wouldn’t mind sharing them in a workshop for our children. Yoga, surfing, dance, calligraphy, vetting, chefs, footballers, you name it, we want it! Our kids have an array of interests and passions, so we’d love you to come stay with us and help to explore, enhance and expand on their abilities.

 4. Follow, share and donate

Last but not least, you can always donate a one-off or monthly donation by visiting this link… and helping us raise awareness by telling your friends about us, sharing our social media and liking our posts. We heavily rely on you guys for donations, and even more so on our social media for even reaching you guys in the first place! Click this link to make a donation today… http://lovelifehope.com/donate/

See something you like? Got a different idea? Want to get involved? For further enquiries, applications and questions please message us via facebook, instagram, twitter or email at volunteer@lovelifehope.com.

Mision Mexico wouldn’t be where it is today without your suppport and donations. We’re forever grateful to all our past, present and future supporters. Let’s make this a Christmas to remember and start the new year full of love, life and hope. We can’t wait to hear from you all!

Gracias and Feliz Navidad!

Vanisha

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Instagram: @vanishamay and @misionmexico
Twitter: @misionmexico
Follow us on Facebook too! https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/
http://www.lovelifehope.com