Living with 8 people

For the past year I have lived in a shared house with 8 other students. It has been…testing, but also a great learning experience that has given us some hilarious memories and lifelong friends. I wanted to take some time to reflect on this experience and tell you all about it!

When I first heard about the idea, I was anxious to say the least. I was a shy introvert who was terrified of social situations. But my boyfriend calmed me down (as usual, thanks Leon😜) and we moved in. From the very first day there were disagreements to deal with, but we all became quite close very quickly. We spent the first two weeks hardly leaving the house, just taking the time to properly get to know each other; as we were all of from a few different groups of friends previously. It was an amazing but weird experience, because it almost felt like Groundhog Day for two weeks straight. I’m really glad we did it because it meant that we got comfortable around each other pretty quickly.

It took me a little while to feel less anxious, but after about a month it felt like a home. I got used to how many people were around, and through practice became much more comfortable socially. This is the thing I am most grateful for surrounding this year. I have completely transformed from someone who was extremely socially anxious, to a much more adaptable, confident gal who loves to be around her friends. Before we moved in I genuinely couldn’t see a world where I didn’t feel awful going into social situations. And this year has truly shown me that I should try to push through anxieties; because it is definitely possible. Being more sociable has helped me professionally and academically- I even managed to achieve 95% for my presentation skills in university!

Of course, having nine different personalities under one roof has had its testing times. But once again it has taught us all so much. I feel like I have learned more about people than ever before (although the psychology degree might have helped that along😜). It has opened my mind to always consider others’ perspectives, and made me think so much more about how my actions may be perceived by others. Before this year I was petrified of any kind of disagreement; conflict felt like my worst enemy. But after working through the many small disagreements that have occurred this year; we all understand each other so much more and I feel like I have learned how to more calmly get my point across.

This has also led to a huge plethora of philosophical, existential conversations in which I have learned so much. It feels as though there’s nothing we haven’t discussed; and yet simultaneously like the topic possibilities are endless. There have been so many times where two of us have had completely opposite ideas, but through discussion and listening have come up with new ideas even better than what we all originally thought. Once again another mind opening experience, that has happened almost daily since we moved in.

Learning about myself and others has been an interesting ride throughout this year, but the best parts about it are the friendships and memories we have made along the way. I have laughed more than ever- at my boyfriend spilling perinaise all over himself, at our multiple cinema hosts bringing ridiculously huge posters home, at the stress ball being flung off all four walls of the room and then landing in a shoe, at the boys scaring each other to death chasing each other around the house, and even playing hide and seek in every nook and cranny we could find.

It’s been an amazing time, thank you pals…

p.s. who left their welly boot there?

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most memorable weekend

We love you Liverpool, we do! And the 750,000 reds who lined the city’s streets this Sunday really proved that. This weekend just gone has been one of my most favourite, and memorable weekends in the 20 years I have been living. Here’s why…

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timesdaily.com

It started with the build up. As soon as we woke up, my boyfriend and I stuck LFCTV on and got more and more excited for the game. The coverage by this channel was particularly outstanding all weekend in my opinion; as we got to hear from Liverpool players new and old. What better way to get excited than listening to the true legends of LFC and how excited they are!? Then after a few hours of that we travelled away from Manchester and into Liverpool for a family BBQ. Seeing my most favourite person surrounded by people he loves, embracing his culture and everything natural to him, made it a very special afternoon that I’ll never forget- and that’s before the game had even started!

We were treated to some beautiful flamenco guitar and fire building with the family. Moments I’ll always hold dearly in my heart.

As the day went on I’m ashamed to admit I started to feel uncharacteristically nervous. After last year in Kiev I just couldn’t face defeat, but my belief that we would win stayed true, especially with the help of my mum’s constant belief ‘We’re going to win this, I promise’ texts from her holiday in Cyprus throughout the day. Soaking up all of the social media highlights is one of my favourite parts- especially the footage of the Fan Park in Madrid. I think Jamie Webster is incredible and have watched him build his career with pride. Seeing him cry on stage in awe of the 50,000 Liverpool fans stood in front of him set me off. The noise of so many scousers singing songs for our players and our club, a sea of red passion, was incredible. More than enough to wipe the nerves away.

When the kick off whistle blew, none of us expected to be screaming ‘PENALTY’ within the first 20 seconds. But that’s exactly what happened. Exclamations of ‘yessssss’ rang around the living room whilst my hands came together at my heart and I whispered ‘come on Salah, you can do it, please’ repeatedly. Deep down, I really did believe that he would score. As you can imagine, the room erupted when the ball hit the back of the net. Without thinking I stood up on the couch screaming and then jumped off it to bear hug my boyfriend, still screaming. (I later apologised for standing on his family’s couch… woops :P). The exhilaration felt wonderful, and then we realised we had 88 minutes of football to keep a lead and win the Champions League.

The rest of the first half was… weird? To say the least. Neither team seemed like they knew what to do with such an early goal, and there were some really frustrating sloppy passes being played. But when that half time whistle went I knew Klopp would have a stern talk with them and they would come back out fighting. Alisson made some incredible saves in the second half and kept our nerves at bay. Every time it happened we all clapped and screamed ‘Yesss, you’re not getting past the best goal keeper in the world!’ About two minutes before the substitutions, I told my boyfriend that I thought Klopp should bring Origi on for Firmino, as he didn’t look fully fit. I wasn’t expecting Klopp to react so quickly but was very pleased to see both Milner and Origi come on. I couldn’t resist shouting ‘DIVOCK ORIGI’ as Big Man Div strolled on, confident as ever.

When he superbly slotted that second goal in, it felt like the happiest time of my life. I made noises I didn’t know were possible and jumped around the room once more. This time I turned to ‘Abuelo’ the grandad of the family, and as we met eyes and cheered, I couldn’t resist giving him a big hug of celebration. His beaming smiles said it all and once again, these are moments I will never forget. It felt like smooth sailing from then on, and I felt high on life until the final whistle. After a quick scream of celebration I rang my mum immediately, and we cried happy tears and shouts of ‘I can’t believe it, we did it!’ down the phone to each other until I realised how much it was probably costing me to call her in Cyprus. I also rang my dad, who lost his phone in the happy madness of celebrating his most favourite thing in the world.

Watching our Rock, Virgil Van Dijk, give in to the tears as soon as the whistle blew was a heart warming addition to the madness of full-time. I love all of the Liverpool players because they have given us so much joy, but even more than that I love them as people. Each and every one of them are so down to earth; such genuinely wonderful men, it’s impossible not to adore them. The redemption for Henderson was beautiful to watch, and the same goes for Klopp. It’s all down to him, and the legacy he has brought back to place this club back where it belongs- on top of the world. I for once found myself too elated even to happy-cry, and instead sat there beaming for hours after the match. Liverpool Football Club, Champions of Europe, for the SIXTH time!

Liverpool defeat Spurs, win sixth Champions League trophy ...

dailytrust.com

The Parade the next day was nothing short of magical. I couldn’t stop crying as we drove into the city, as we encountered so many fans to cheer with and so many houses covered in that glorious red. The sense of community and belonging is something that I strive for constantly, and this day is the most I have ever felt it. There was only a slight tinge of sadness in that I wasn’t with my mum and dad- the reasons I support the club in the first place. But I was in communication with them all day which made it much easier.

We held our flags and scarves and sang our hearts out. The comradarie with all of the other fans rang true to scouse form- as there was laughter, kindness and love shown everywhere we turned. There were tiny babies and elderly grandparents around us- and  it made it feel so special that EVERYONE wanted to be there. As the bus drove towards us, good old Milner started a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Allez Allez Allez’ and we sang at the tops of our voices, flags and scarves held high and proud. The tears were streaming down my face as the players passed us, it felt so good to sing ‘AND WE COME FROM LIVERPOOL’ to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was closest to us on the bus. He actually looked quite overwhelmed himself, with a dreamy look in his eyes. His is one of my favourite stories; as he’s a true LFC fan himself, and I can’t imagine how good it must feel to play such an important part in making us all so happy, at such a young age. It was a beautiful experience… and then there was a treat at the end.

The man, the legend, Jurgen Klopp, was sat at the back of the bus. My boyfriend noticed and we all turned to him. As I stood there with both arms raised, crying my eyes out, singing ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ, Jurgen looked into my eyes, saw how much it all meant, and gave me a grateful nod, a cheeky smile, and a little wave! I screamed ‘THANK YOU KLOPP’ for bringing this team back to glory, and we continued to cheer as they drove further into the city centre. My boyfriend even got the whole thing recorded on his phone!

The amount of Liverpool fans that streamed the streets of our beautiful city is one of the greatest displays of culture I have seen for a long time. I knew I had to get a picture like this one above, as there is one very similar to it of a really young Kiayah at the 2005 parade, waving the flag just like this one. It is my dad’s most prized possession, and now I can give him another one! I feel so lucky to have already been to two Champions League Parade Days in my short 20 years of life, and I can only imagine how many more the future holds.

To all of the players, staff, and fans- thank you. Thank you for one of the best 24 hours of my life. For being accepting, loving, kind-hearted, genuine, passionate. For everything the club stands for- peace, justice, love, equality. For NEVER giving up. We, are Liverpool. THIS. MEANS. MORE.

And with this many fans, all over the world. We can truly say- YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE. 

 

 

Avengers, Assemble.

Ahh, change. It scares me. Everytime. But lately I’m trying to cope with big changes more effectively so that I don’t have to deal with long periods of anxiety outbursts.

It’s understandable; it’s built into us as humans to be guarded when things change. And it is normal to be a little bit fearful of it. But I have experienced enough instances of small changes that have caused me heightened anxiety to know that I need to do something about it. A wise man once told me that you have to subvert your own expectations.

SPOILER ALERT, AVENGERS:ENDGAME

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You know when Thor finally goes for the head and we all thought the movie was over in the first ten minutes? Impressive, right? You have to do this to yourself. If you are a naturally fearful or anxious person you are likely to believe that the worst case scenario will happen each and every time. But the thing to remember is- there’s just as much chance that the best case scenario could be the outcome. It can fall anywhere in between.

Wouldn’t you rather just accept that you can’t know? And until the change happens, you might as well enjoy right now. Worrying about it will NOT change anything. That we can be certain of. Remind yourself that whatever life throws at you, you can deal with it. And with that piece of magic sitting in the back pocket of your brain you can confidently enjoy the build up to your change!

And, let’s be honest, you’re very unlikely to end up entangled in the mess of the worst case scenario. Not when you have pym particles and portals on your side.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Tomorrow isn’t Promised

I never met my Nana Bernie, but her legacy has been passed down through the stories and actions of the wonderful children she had who were my role models growing up. Specifically my mamma, in the way she makes the best of everything she has, the way her house and heart are open to everyone, and the way she throws the BEST parties. It’s great that these things can be passed down, but there’s another lesson we can all learn from this story. My Nana died young, unexpectedly. This could happen to any of us.

So please, try to live everyday to the fullest. Be grateful for each day, each spot of sunshine, each hug, each time you laugh. If you haven’t spoken to someone you love for a while, take this opportunity to ring them and ask about how they are. I know it’s easier said than done, and I know life can seem hard, but try to remind yourself to smile. Hope you’re having a good party up there Nana, love you.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

carry on

Just a short post this week. It’s been a hard one to get through. But we have to carry on.

Carry on for-

the feeling of the sun on your face

to cuddle your dog again

to hear your favourite songs again

to laugh with your friends

to reread your favourite book

to adventure to new places

to feel the comfort of bed again after a long day

to taste your favourite meal again

to hug your loved ones

to hear the waves of the sea crash onto the sand

to feel the heat as you step off a plane in a new country

to see a stranger smile back at you.

There are so many reasons to carry on. Sometimes it really doesn’t feel worth it. But it is. Keep going, I believe in you.

Sending hugs, (so many hugs), Kiayah xxx

fingertips

Fingertips. It’s all about the fingertips. Pulsing through my body and to the very edge of my being. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, perfection. Hair, make up, costume, shoes, not a strand out of place; enough to hide the blemishes, but not too much; perfectly fitted to every part of my body; broken in, laced around my legs in perfect symphony. 2 minutes. Enough time for a brief run through in my head, then my good luck ritual. Eyes closed, feet in 1st, head back, breathe. Breathe in for 4, out for 6, 3 times. I am worthy. I am strong. I am beautiful.

My feet are leading the way. 8 steps, light as a feather, quick. As I turn to face the wonderous faces, the familiar feelings of amazement, excitement, and passion whirl together in my heart and wait to be released.  The music quickens, time for the fun. Arms alternating, sweeping through the air as the rest of my body follows my feet once more. Right foot up en pointe, and turn, and step. This is the only time I feel truly satisfied. Each movement satisfies something deep within my heart, this is when I am living my truth, my authenticity. Every part of my body feels truly alive, tingling with love and pride. Especially during the parts where I get to fly. Soaring through the air my entire being is transformed into a beautiful swan, and I am free. This is when joy steps up. Bursts from my stomach and ripples from within me, outwards, to settle upon the faces of those who can see.

More slowly now, returning to the centre. Standing in 3rd, arms rising perfectly in time to the music, slowly making their way above me. Finally, settling. Intertwined slightly, strong but supple, my final statement of the love that surges through me. Fingertips.

You Review

Spoiler Alert: I’ll be talking about parts of the whole series so don’t read if you haven’t finished it yet.

I loved this show. It got me hooked and I made my way through it pretty quickly. The characters of Joe and Beck were intriguing and I always wanted to see more. But what I want to discuss in this post is Joe.

He is toxic, of course. He is violent, manipulative, and deceitful throughout the whole show. He has a dark mind and lack of remorse which is frankly psychopathic. And yet, some of us, like Beck, fell for him…but why?

Because people like Joe are very good at making you think that the terrible things that they do are for you. And therefore transform them into good acts of care and kindness. This can have an extremely bad effect on you if you then hold yourself responsible, as so many people in Beck’s case would do. But what I love about the way Netflix made this show is that they didn’t hide from it. They showed her falling for him and his pretence, and then implied at the end that he killed her. This is so amazing because it proves that he is still dangerous, even if he ‘loves’ you. If someone is an inherently bad person, you’re unlikely to be able to change them and it DOESN’T matter if you think they love you.

This show highlights the red flags that should be looked for so that less people can end up in toxic, abusive relationships. It once again doesn’t shy away when portraying the storyline of Claudia and Ron. It sheds light on why she feels she can’t get out of the relationship, and the things that can happen once someone is trapped in such a way. Again this can be used to help people look out for the warning signs; whether that be in your own life or in looking out for and reaching out to a friend.

Personally I really enjoyed this show and I’m grateful that it was made in the way that it is. Let me know your opinions on it too!

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

#HomlessButStillHuman

Every year around Christmas time, my mum and the rest of our family had out gifts to the homeless people in Liverpool town center. This year I decided to pass that tradition on and mentioned this idea to the mother of the children I work with. She loved the idea so much that she cried, and so we all gathered as much as we could to give to those who need it.

We collected as much as we could think of- scarves, hats, gloves, socks, jumpers, blankets, even spare duvets. My friend and I also baked gingerbread cookies to give out. The generous family that we work with emptied their cupboards to give chocolates, and even baby wipes for them to keep clean. It was so heartwarming to see the young children want to give so much of their own belongings away. We evened out everything we had and made up carrier bags that each had roughly one of each item in. And then we added our final special touch- books. We all went through our own book collections and picked out the ones we can do without. I think occupying the minds of people who have to simply sit and beg all day must be extremely relieving for them, so I really loved giving out the books.

The smiles, thanks, and conversations that came from doing this were priceless. We were able to give them a bag of gifts, cookies and then show them a selection of books so that they were able to have a look through them and choose which one they would prefer to read most. Each and every person was so grateful and kind to us, it really confirmed my feelings that all homeless people aren’t just ‘scum’. Watching the children grow more confident and begin to hand the homeless people things themselves and speak to them was lovely, and I truly think that their family will now also carry on this tradition for years to come.

You cannot know someone’s circumstances. My friend and I stayed out later than the family, and the very last man that we gave gifts to was special. His name is Tony, and he is genuinely one of the most positive people I have ever met. Tony worked for 25 years, had a normal life and contributed to society just like you and I. Until his son, mother, father and sister all died in a very short space of time. Tony struggled to deal with this much loss at once, and turned to drink and drugs to get through it. This is how he ended up homeless, but with so much time to think he has completely turned himself around and has been sober for a year now. He sat and spoke to us for about an hour and his outlook on life truly astounded me. ‘If I go to Church and give 10p, and the guy next to me gives £10, he is no better than me. We have both given everything we have. For that reason if someone puts a penny in this cup I would say thank you, and if you put 100 pounds in this cup I would say thank you. If you cut us open we all bleed the same. We are all just trying our best. There are more good people in this world than bad, and there’s no other choice than to focus on the good.’ Those were just some of the things he said that really touched me and have stayed with me.

He confirmed that even if you have nothing to give, giving your time and speaking to people like Tony is the best gift you can give. He appreciated being spoken to like an actual human; that we weren’t too scared or too disgusted to sit with him. I tried my absolute best to show him that I genuinely care about him and wish that I could do so much more. He appreciated us so much and said ‘I can’t thank you enough girls, Merry Christmas, go and have a great one.’ I will remember the smile on his face forever.

Please, try to remember that not all homeless people are bad, and it’s not all their fault. If you see any homeless people before Christmas, maybe say hello and see where it takes you. Treat them with kindness and respect- they are human too. And if you have anything to give- it is FREEZING out there. I was only outside for about two hours in woolly clothes and a coat and I was shaking and in pain. If you are throwing away any kind of warm clothes (or books) this year please please consider going out and giving it to those who really need it.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Nana Tess

Today, it has been 6 months since we lost this beautiful, funny woman. Without knowing that it had been 6 months, I recently looked through one of my journals and found a quote in it that I had written down, said by Nana Tess. It read ‘everyday I wake up with new pain, but I’m still here kid, I’m still here.’

At first glance I read this and felt sad that she is no longer here. But then I realised, she always will be. At the time when she said this to me, I wrote her quote down because I was in pain myself and needed inspiration to get through one of the lowest points of my life. Her words helped to me get through it, and taught me to fight through the low times to reach the highs. In this way, her ethos will always stay with me, and she will always stay with me.

When we lose people it is deeply saddening and their physical presence is gone. But if they loved you and affected your life, they will always be present in the way you live your own life. I will one day teach my children the same ethos and it will hopefully spread down my generations of our lovely family. That way, Nana will live on forever.

I miss your hugs, Nana. But your words will always stay with me.

Sending love, Kiayah xxx

The Brink, Second Chances

‘The Brink is the best example of how amazing the city of Liverpool is.’ Independent Liverpool.

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Today I want to talk about second chances. It’s contextual, but most people deserve them. The Brink is a ‘dry’ café in the heart of Liverpool City Centre (Parr St), which depicts exactly why second chances should be given. It has an enjoyable, friendly atmosphere, delicious and reasonably priced food, and even a piano and board games like chess inside. I particularly enjoy the pancakes and a smoothie! And the most special part of this café is that its a recovery social enterprise. This means that their profits are used to help local people recover from addictions, particularly alcoholism. As well as this, the staff team is made up of ex-offenders- given a second chance.

Having interacted with the staff many times myself, I can honestly say that they are a group of lovely, kind, friendly people. If it weren’t for The Brink, they would struggle to find employment. But some people deserve second chances. Addiction is an illness, which can lead to mistakes. But if you can be truly remorseful, and learn from those mistakes, you deserve a second chance. There is a whole life ahead of these people; a life that can be used for good and lived happily. The employees at Brink are using their lives to help others who are going through similar struggles to them. They would not be able to do this if it weren’t for second chances.

We all make mistakes. Imagine falling out with someone every time they made a mistake. I wouldn’t have any friends left. People are far from perfect, and everyone has a different life story that has lead them to where they end up. Try not to judge people before you know their story. If you live in Liverpool, try out The Brink for somewhere different. As the quote above says, it really represents the good qualities of Liverpool. We may be branded as robbers, but once you get to know us, and our city, you realise that there is a common bond- a love shared between scousers and the people who come to live here, that runs deep. A love that means we want to help each other, look out for each other, have each other’s backs. This is what The Brink is doing.

If there’s anyone in your life who you cut out because of one mistake, think about whether you could forgive them and reform the relationship. Don’t lose hope with people who suffer with addiction, and try not to take it personally when they made need more than one second chance.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

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