Depression · Health · Mental Health

Suicide is Painless…?

…or so Mike Altman would have us believe. I’m not sure if I do…

I’ve had conversations with people about suicide before and in general people get very animated about it. I’ve heard a lot of negativity about people who choose suicide, words bandied about like ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’ and if I’m honest, I dislike it.

In terms of selfishness, I have two thoughts. Firstly, I don’t believe that you can apply rational emotions to someone who is so close to the end of their tether that they’d consider taking their own lives. Secondly, if you have got to that point and you can see no way out, you’re too tired to go on, surely its selfish of others to expect you to live a life against your wishes for the sake of them?

That’s a very base way of looking at it and I know people who are left behind have to deal with pain and suffering, I’m not trying to denigrate that in any way, I’m just making the point that people take it personally when it’s not about them.

In terms of cowardice, I don’t know about you but I think it probably takes a lot of courage to be able to take the steps to end your own life. I’ve been at a very low ebb on a few occasions in my life and although the thought of suicide has crossed my mind, I’d never have the guts to do it.

Is it guts? I don’t know, I guess I’m just lucky enough to have more reasons to live than die.

We were there.

Husband and I were discussing suicide today after we found out that an acquaintance of ours had taken his life and he put a perspective on it that I hadn’t thought of. I told him how sad I felt that the guy had been so low that he’d ended it all and he said that if suicide is a conscious decision (i.e. not drink or drug related) then it needn’t always be sad. Maybe some people just decide that enough is enough and that they don’t want to go on any further. I guess I can understand what he means, but I’m socially programmed to view suicide as an act of sadness and desperation.

All I know is, I’ve seen literally hundreds of Facebook statuses and conversations today that suggest that PB will be sorely missed and the fact that he made a mark on the world is something to be proud of.

I hope so many people miss me when my time comes.

Health · Money · Opinion · Review

Kärcher Window Vac – One Month On

Just for the record, the lovely Kärcher people haven’t asked me to do a follow-up to my original post, I’ve just found the device so useful that I wanted to show you how we’ve been using it over the last month.

1. Demisting the car

As much as I love our old car, it’s not all that efficient when it comes to demisting the windows on a cold day. In fact, if I put the blowers on too high and listen to the radio at the same time, it overloads the electrics and the immobiliser has a fit, making the car cut out completely, which is a bit scary when you’re on the brow of a hill on a busy road…but that’s another story! On these cold mornings, I’ve found the Window Vac absolutely invaluable when it comes to giving me visibility quickly. It’s saved me so much time as I don’t have to sit around waiting for the windows to clear before I go anywhere, I just vac all the windows inside and out and we’re ready to go. I can’t emphasise enough how much I love the Vac for this!

2. Sorting out our damp house

We live in a little bungalow which is damp at the best of times and even though we keep our bedroom cold, we still wake up with the windows running with condensation. I keep them open all day long but a quick going over with the vac first gets rid off the excess damp and gives us an overall healthier sleeping space.

3. Cleaning the bathroom

Let’s face it, cleaning the bathroom is a complete drag and although I keep the basin, bath and loo clean, I’m not so good at washing the walls down. However, today we stuck the shower on and built up a load of steam so that Sausage could get a bit of relief from her horrible cough and cold and after, the walls were absolutely soaked. I went over all of the tiles with the Window Vac and they came up a treat. An easy way to steam-clean the bathroom, and I love the fact that I haven’t had to use loads of caustic and expensive chemicals to give it a good clean.

4. Cleaning the patio set

Our patio set has a glass top to the table, which looks really nice but is an absolute pig to keep clean. There’s a rim around the edge which means no matter how much you wash and rinse, it’s impossible to wipe it properly. However, this time I washed the top with a soapy sponge, rinsed it with the hose and then gave it a good going over with the Window Vac and it came up a treat, streak free and completely clean.

I knew before we even got the Vac that I loved the idea of it, but as I said in my previous post, I had high-expectations for it to live up to and I can honestly say that it has more than surpassed them. The longer we have the Vac the more uses I find for it and considering they retail for less than £50 if you shop around, it’s worth every penny. If you’ve got one and know of any uses that I’ve missed, do let me know!

Education · Family · Opinion · Parenting · Review

My Jolly Phonics – A Review

Sometimes, I get given items to review that are so overwhelmingly brilliant that I don’t even know where to begin with reviewing them and this is the case with the My Jolly Phonics kit, so instead of procrastinating over it for ages and leaving it miles too long, I thought I’d just dive in and see where this takes me!

A Bit of Background

As you probably know, Sausage started school in September, which means learning to read and write. Husband and I have actually been teaching her for ages and she already knew her alphabet and could write certain words, such as her name, so she had a fairly good base-knowledge going on. Before she even started, I knew she’d be using the phonics system to learn and I started to make enquiries, but struggled to find resources that I thought Sausage would find really engaging.

The Kit

Once she got started at school, she came home with songs she’d been singing to learn her letters and a quick Google of “The snake is in the grass, the snake is in the grass…” and I found that the system she was doing was Jolly Phonics. I found their website and discovered that they actually offer a home learning kit to compliment everything the kids are doing at school. The kit includes 7 activity books, a DVD, a CD of songs, a CD-Rom of games for the computer, a story book, a poster and a set of three-sided pencils.

Our Opinion

I really cannot emphasise enough how brilliant this kit is. At a penny shy of £100, you may think it’s a bit pricey but I can unequivocally say that, had I not been sent the kit for review, I would happily have paid that. The songs are absolutely brilliant, all set to tunes that you’ll already know, such as ‘The Farmer’s in the Den’ and ‘Jingle Bells’, and are so catchy that Husband and I find ourselves singing them at random. Sausage and I also walk to and from school singing the songs, which is a fun thing to do whilst being sneakily educational!

We’ve got the poster up in our lounge and just having it there as a focal point helps Sausage to remember her letters, as well as prompting her to learn, even on a more subliminal level. The CD-Rom is absolutely brilliant, the games are simple yet engaging and Sausage absolutely adores them. Despite having spent all week at school, she actually asks to play the games at the weekend as they’re so enjoyable.

The CD is great fun, especially as it comes with a full song book, allowing us all to sing along and the songs are short and punchy so it never gets boring or feels like a chore. The story book is great too as it has stories to help Sausage learn her letters, as well as giving words for her to read herself and has enough pictures to remain visually engaging too.

With the DVD, I can stick it on for Sausage and happily leave it playing. I’ve noticed she kind of ‘dips’ in and out of it, paying attention to some of it and zoning out on other parts, but I figured she’s soaking it all in, one way or another, which can only be a good thing!

Verdict

Before Sausage started school, I was very much of the opinion that ‘systems’ for learning were pointless – until we started Jolly Phonics (a sentiment which her school teacher shared at our parents afternoon recently). Since we’ve started using the kits alongside Sausage’s schooling, we’ve seen huge improvements in our, already fairly advanced, child but more importantly she finds it fun and engaging enough that she wants to get involved and do the games and activities. The songs stick in her head and have definitely helped her to retain the information she needs.

The fact that Husband and I now understand what her teachers at school are teaching and the way they’re teaching means that we’re able to properly compliment her daily learning and stay abreast of her education in a way that we all enjoy. The kit is good from age 3+, which means you can start this system even before they start school if they’re ready and the exercise books take them all the way through until they’re reading independently.

The whole family can highly, highly recommend this kit!

Family · Humour · Music · Opinion

Why Gangnam Style is So Culturally Important

A few months ago, I heard Husband laughing heartily in his office, followed by a yell of “Hun, you HAVE to come and see this”, so I went in and watched what can only be described as  the video for one of the most sublime pop songs I’d ever heard. It had a catchy tune, a killer beat, (and this was the clincher for me) a dance that I could do to accompany it. Could I sing along to it? No, not without a few thousand hours of Korean lessons, but it didn’t matter. Over the next few weeks, we listened to Gangnam Style at least once a day, usually while Husband was trying to work and Sausage and I were horsing around his office, but it made us all laugh.

Then, Husband mentioned that he had Psy’s (the singer of Gangnam Style) album, which I started listening to while I was jogging. It’s a mixture of classic pop and funky R&B sounding tunes and it’s obvious that Psy has real talent. Of course he does, the bloke has released 7 albums and 18 singles. People have obviously responded, it’s become an enormous phenomenon all over the world, reaching Number One in the singles charts in approx. 23 countries and charting highly in dozens of others. It’s had almost half a billion views on YouTube, and that’s just the official version. As far as I’m aware, this is the first time a Korean-language song has even charted in a country outside of Korea, so the achievement is incredible.

The reason that I think this is so significant is that it seems to have opened the whole world up to something a bit new. Aside from the fact that we’re having fun and taking the mickey out of ourselves, just a little bit, we’re listening to music IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. It sounds ridiculous, but this is a huge  deal. England in particular seems to be full of people who don’t want to experience things outside of their scope of comprehension. If I had a pound for every time I’d heard someone say “Nah, I haven’t seen Amelie, it’s got subtitles, innit?” I’d have…well, a fair few quid. I want to scream and shout and strangle people because they, through wilful ignorance, don’t even know what they’re missing out on. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Because English is so widely spoken in the world, we seem to have this sense of linguistic entitlement and feel that people or other things are worthless if they don’t communicate in our language. I know someone who lives in a foreign country and has done for many years and when I asked if he was fluent in their native tongue he said “Well no, we only really talk to English people out there…” which really shocked me.

We’ve encouraged Sausage to be as broad minded as possible and I genuinely hope that something a simple as a slightly spoofy K-Pop song has got the ball rolling in opening more people up to other cultures and made some much needed reparations to peoples opinions of multiculturalism.

And to Psy – we thank you, for so many things. But most of all, for the dancing.

I’d love to know what you think of all of this. And more importantly….can you do that dance?!

Family · Happiness · Life

Something About Doors Closing and Windows Opening…

I can finally stop being cryptic.

That thing that I was feeling too superstitious to talk about? Well, it was a job. A great job. My dream job. And it involved moving home.

The position was as a Digital Editor for a new magazine with a major publishing company and it was based in the West Country. I didn’t know if I was suitable, but I applied for the job just for shits and giggles. But they must’ve liked me because I made it to the next stage and they asked me to do the second part of the application process, which was submitting a schedule for a weeks worth of content for the site and a full work-up of one day’s worth of posts and social media.

“This has got me written all over it”, I thought.

And I really bloody enjoyed it. It was stressful as I wanted it SO badly, but the creative process was amazing and I really got a kick out of it.

As I said, it would have also involved a relocation, so I spent hours perusing houses in Bath, imagining life in a new city, I even picked out a school for Sausage. In my head, I was there.

I sent it all off and waited. And waited…

When I started this process, Sausage was having a bad time at school and the thought of being able to whisk her off to somewhere new and change everything was really appealing. Then she started enjoying it, the tears dried up and she settled in and I started to have doubts about whether I could inflict this upheaval on her if it came to it. I concluded that no, I probably couldn’t.

I’d be asking so much of my family. Sure, Husband works for himself and could technically do it from everywhere but I’d be asking them both to move away from all of their family and friends, just for me. Not to mention that I’d be moving all this way, then working full time hours. It was too much.

Then, yesterday, I got this (this is an abridged version of the original email):

Dear Jayne

Thank you for your application for the role of Digital Editor. We apologise for the delay in contacting you with an update on your application and the outcome of your task. I am afraid that due to unforeseen circumstances this role has been withdrawn due to business reasons and we are no longer recruiting for this role.

We appreciate the time you have spent on your application and the task and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

We felt that you had good skills that would be suitable for a role with us and would be really keen to hear from you again for further Digital Editor roles or other positions that we may have in the future. 

Thank you for your interest and we wish you all the best in your employment search.

BEST. CASE. SCENARIO.

I didn’t get the job. But not because I’m not good enough, because there is no job. This means that I don’t have to ask my family to relocate, I don’t have to cause them upheaval and I don’t have to make the decision to NOT do these things either. It didn’t work out, but I don’t have to feel like my confidence has been knocked. It’s not me, it’s them. And I’m fine with that.

My Bath dream may be no more, but I’m happy. And what’s more important is that Sausage and Husband get to carry on being happy too. I also have an interview for a local job which is something totally different to anything I’ve done before but I’m excited about it and it would be great for our family.

(On a different note, as you can see, my skills for digital editing are clearly BRILLIANT, so if you know anyone who’s recruiting, do let me know!)