Feeling 22: a year in review

When I was 17, it was a very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights. When I was 21, it was a very good year for city girls who lived up the stair with all that perfumed hair.

Perhaps in the same way that you read a horoscope and bend its meaning so dramatically so it fits your situation, I can do the same with this Sinatra song. I was a small towner aged 17 (soft summer nights hardly applicable, though) and a city girl aged 21. And my bedroom’s at the top of a three-storey house, meaning I technically live up the stair with all that perfumed hair (or more accurate, the smell of Febreze coming from the top-floor bathroom).

21 has been good to me, though. My best friend painted me something as a gift last year, full of good luck charms such as a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover, and a fortune cookie.

fortune cookie 21.jpg

‘It will be the most wonderful year, 21.’ The symbols have served me well. Here are some things I’m really, really proud of doing this year.

1. I Spent My Last Birthday Living My Best Life

rome

I was in Rome on 9 May 2017, and had the most perfect pizza and limoncello (on the house! Buon compleanno!) with a picture postcard view of the Colosseum (look! It looks like a green screen!) This year, I’ll be in Zadar, Croatia, so it’s safe to say I’m feeling very lucky and grateful that I get to hop on a plane to celebrate the blessed day my mother went through hours of excruciating pain so I could come into the world and write unmissable online content.

2. I Turned It Around…Screenshot 2018-05-08 at 10.10.57 - Edited

I’m proud that I was able to turn a negative experience into something positive. I hope I contributed to the ongoing discussion around the decriminalisation of abortion and the use of the abortion pill at home through my Debrief investigation into abortion waiting times in England. I didn’t want to write about work stuff on this post, but taking up a good chunk of my year (four months all in all) this was a big project. Appearing on BBC radio to present my findings was also quite special.

3. …And Ran A Half Marathon!

marathon

It’s funny to reflect on this now, as I’ve been drinking for four days (Bank Holiday heatwave, holla) and tried to drag myself out for a run this morning but haven’t managed to yet. In November, six months ago, I ran 13 miles for the Royal College of Obs and Gyns and raised £300!

4. I Saw A Tribe Called Quest Perform Their Last Show

dando diddly

OK, perhaps they’ll be back, but the poignancy of an absent Phife Dawg and the greatness of their final album made this Bestival performance all the more legendary. In other hip-hop news, I made a major discovery for myself this year in the form of MF Doom. The above picture is an unrelated photo of us watching Soul II Soul last summer, because all the other points have pictures.

5. I Became Less Scared of Cats

white catr

I have always been near-terrified of cats and all the things they’re plotting against me, but my lovely flatmate welcomed two gorgeous feline things into our house earlier this year. Here is one of them: Really White Cat. Yes, that is her name. White Cat for short.

6. I Kept Up With This Blog! 

I started this blog more than five years ago when I was off sick from school, insanely bored, with no idea about what to write about or who I was writing for. I still have that problem. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading through it and dance along to some of the playlists I share on here.

Speaking of playlists, I made a 10-track playlist about turning 22! Send it to everyone you know who’s 22 already or who’s looking forward to the age of double trouble.

22

Click here to hear it.

I am running a half marathon in October. Here’s why – 3/8/17

Something quite unusual has happened in the past few months: I’ve started running. I ran my first 5km last week. When I told my friend this over dinner a few days after I’d hit that first mini milestone, he said: “Running? From what?”

Yes, I am yet another person who’s gone from hating running (and any sort of thing resembling exercise) to being secretly envious of runners when I’m walking home from work in an unsuitable shoe.

I’m struggling to run further than 6km at the moment, and I have to run just over 20km by October. But something I’ve learned from running three times a week for the past eight weeks is that it slowly becomes easier (the longer your running playlist gradually becomes. Btw, my running playlist started as my 21st birthday party playlist, so it has evolved and grown from a great place).

I’m running the Bournemouth Half Marathon on Sunday 8 October for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Hopefully I’ll be able to raise some money for what is a truly fantastic charity, perhaps I’ll get slightly fitter, but what I’ll definitely have done is learned how to spell obstetrician and gynaecologist, which is a life lesson well worth the sacrifice of blisters and decreased lung capacity.

The desire to begin running wasn’t there before I decided to do the half marathon, but once I was approved by the RCOOG (R-coog, from now on, its gangster moniker) it gave me a huuuge surge of motivation. Yuge, even. I’ll be running the half marathon alongside my darling friend Chloe’s Trayford’s huge, honking FULL marathon; both in Bournemouth, both probably going to get a huge Nando’s afterwards. She’s running 26.1 miles for Rethink Mental Illness, please, please, please help her out by donating to her page here. She’s a superstar and so very inspiring.

When I was scrolling through the list of charities I could opt to donate for, the decision seemed like a weighty one. Clearly, every charity that exists does something good for someone, somewhere, so it really was dealer’s choice. My first thought was to go for a similar charity to my friend, perhaps Mind or Rethink, but R-coog won out because, in an age of Trumps and DUPs, women’s healthcare is something that needs to be constantly fought for, funded, and its importance screamed about from the rooftops. (Mental healthcare does too, as does, well, every -care, but I only had the choice to pick one, so I gone and picked).

We are pretty lucky in England, Scotland and Wales to be able to get access to sexual health and family planning services, from contraception to abortion. While the implementation of these services is not always perfect – and there are things that can always be improved – we can go to our GP or local sexual health service and ask for help from someone who supposedly knows their stuff. Healthcare professionals can – and should – give us free, non-judgemental and informed advice, without telling our parents, or asking for our boyfriend’s approval. They will not report us to the police.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists train healthcare professionals in under-resourced countries to help women during pregnancy and labour.

Its training package Excellence in Obstetric Skills teaches healthcare workers about emergency obstetric skills, early warning symptoms, communication and referral and respectful care. The training package includes ‘train-the-trainers’ to embed skills locally. This video is great and you should at least watch a bit of it:

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Uganda from Mile 91 on Vimeo.

The newly-launched Excellence in Essential Gynaecological Skills package offers training for healthcare workers in 10 aspects of gynaecological health including cervical cancer, early pregnancy loss, abnormal uterine bleeding and contraception. This training package is currently in the development and piloting phase, and it’s the one that I’m specifically fundraising for. Let’s kickstart excellence in essential gynaecological skills, people!

So, those are some of the reasons why I’m running the half marathon for this great and important charity. Running is also making me feel good about having ownership over my own body, a personal freedom too often taken for granted.

I feel like Lenny Henry right now pleading you for your hard-earned wages, but please, please, any donation from your good self will help me reach me goal of raising £300!

Clicking this link will take you directly to my fundraising page.

Thank you!