29 December 2018

Why I Refuse To Make A New Years Resolution



I don't believe in making resolutions at New Year.  I don't see the point.  Change, if it is something that you really want, comes in its own time and at the right moment.  It cannot be forced.   

What I am doing this year and what I think we all should do, is look back over the past year and look at the positives in it.  Look at the happy moments, look at the things that you have learnt throughout the year, be it about yourself, about others or more about what interests you.

I don't see the point in putting pressure on yourself to lose weight, change your personality, change your love life status, change who you are.  Change, if you wish change at all, has to be organic, natural and must come from the heart.  That is where happiness starts.

What is the point is ending a year telling yourself that you are not good enough?  That you need to change?  Work on yourself and change (if you want it) will happen.  You are always good enough.

There have been changes in me in the past year.  All have taken time, all have come organically through learning, self reflection and thought.  I know myself so much better at the end of this year than at the start of the last.  

These changes in my outlook, personality and life came slowly.   None were planned and as is so important in change, I only realised the difference in myself after the journey.

  
So looking back at the past year, have I changed?  Absolutely.  I have learned things, I have worked on my soul and my mental health.  I am happier.

This is my positivity list for this year.

  • I swept away previous bad experiences with online dating and found the courage to try again, being wholly me this time (I had feminist in my description instead of just the usual "friendly, happy, sometimes funny" rubbish).
  • I have (with the help of inspiration and motivation of a certain gentleman), embraced the body that I have.  I have explored my sexuality and become a more confident person because of that.
  • I have had less and less anxiety and depression issues as the year has progressed because I have looked inward at the causes, the triggers and talked more when the episodes have happened; instead of hiding them away.
  • I have debated and talked about my thoughts and stances with others and in some cases, changed what I thought as a result, through learning.  I have grown.  See my post on non platforming
  • Though I will always support women, support causes and talk about change and effect for women, I no longer identify as a feminist.  Something I never thought I would say.  This is an ongoing change which may well be reversed in time.  But as it stands, conversation has to be open, not regulated and regimented.
  • I am going back to my roots.  I am writing, slowly, more opinion pieces of what I really think.  It is what makes my happy, feeds my soul and helps me to collect my thoughts, my ideals and what I believe.

None of the above could been achieved with a New Year's resolution.  They came through learning, through reflection and through my heart.  

So instead this year, instead of vowing to join a gym, find a boyfriend or change your personality; celebrate you.  Celebrate your achievements, however small, throughout the year. All this "New Year, New You" rubbish is just that, rubbish.  It brings you down, not raises you up.

The most important journey of your life is to learn who you are.  Learn what makes you happy.  That is the best and most significant thing you will ever do.

xxx 

16 December 2018

Battlefield V - When Inclusivity Goes Wrong


Photo Credit
I am not a gamer.  I think that the last game I played was Mortal Kombat back in the 90s which mainly consisted of hitting a lot of buttons with no idea what I was doing.  (Worked for me though, I had a good success rate!)

The guy I am dating is a gamer.  I was interested to see how games have progressed over the years, in terms of graphics, how realistic etc etc.  My first introduction was the new Spiderman game and I was amazed at how far games have come along.  You could literally learn your way around New York just playing the game.

My next viewing was Battlefield V.   I wasn't sure a first person shooter game was going to be something that interested me, so he showed me the promo video as a taster and I was shocked to see that one of the first people I saw was a woman.  On the front line, in a WW2 game.

Women were not on the front line in WW2.

The Russians, I agree, had women in active duty, such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the famous Soviet  sniper.  But were there American and British women on the front lines of battle in hand to hand combat against the Nazis?  No.  

Featuring women on the promo posters and showing them predominantly in the game for me, is an insult to both the men who actually served on the front, but also, the women who contributed to the war effort, many dying in the process.



Have we reached a place where inclusivity prevails over historical accuracy? 

Now in 2018 women can serve in any branch of the military as a man.   If you can pass the same physical tests that men undergo, there is no reason to stop a woman who wishes to serve her country and be at the front line of battle.  Women are already doing this now and have died doing so.

But in WW2 this was not on the case.  Not in battle.  This is where EA DICE have fundamentally screwed up.  Including women in this game is completely historically incorrect and to me, is so wrong.

While women were not subject to the draft and were not called to the front, women did contribute to the war effort, some sacrificing their lives in the process.  They worked in munition factories.  They drove ambulances.  Ferried planes.  Nurses joined the war effort in their thousands, stationed close to the front and helping wounded soldiers.  Some died in the process.

Women were recruited for and joined the resistance, became spies and operatives; risking their lives to share information and derail the Nazis.  They fought.  They shot and just like the men who they fought along side, some were captured, tortured and died.  

Women like Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who saved over 2500 Jewish children from the Nazis in Warsaw.  She was captured, tortured to the extent that her legs and feet were broken, yet she refused to provide information.


American Virginia Hall, called "the most dangerous of the Allied spies" by the Nazis.  Despite only having one leg, she helped to train the French resistance and caused chaos for the Nazis with cutting supply lines and gathering vital information, all the while being hunted by the SS/

New Zealander Nancy Wake aka "the white mouse" as she was called by the Germans who on occasion, killed Nazis with her bare hands.

Violette Szabo, who worked as a British operative and resistance fighter and fought against the Nazis.  She was ultimately captured and despite several escape attempts from the concentration camp, was ultimately executed.  She was the second woman to ever be awarded posthumously the George Cross. 

There are so many more.

My point?   EA DICE did not need to pander to inclusivity by including women in the game, featured in places where they did not fight.  Because although not at the front lines, women served their countries in many ways, dying in the process.

You want to include women in WW2 in a game?  Make a game about the resistance, about spies in WW2, where women served alongside men.  Don't just include them in a game to appease gender equality.  Women played their own, active and vital part too.


11 December 2018

The Snowflake Generation

What is a snowflake? 

A snowflake is a unique.  No snowflake is ever alike.   Depending on the temperature it can either melt on impact; or join other snowflakes and create snow.   Snow that can be moved and coerced into a different shape, or frozen so hard that it can sink the Titanic. 

Why am I talking about snowflakes today?  Someone posed a question recently that has been whirling around in my head.  

Why is this generation called "Generation Snowflake" when in fact, it is the older generations that just can't handle confrontation and question of their thoughts?  

But the thing is, it isn't just the older generation that uses the term.



Where is the age line drawn and is it an age line at all?  I am 39 and am regularly called a snowflake; usually for calling out a behaviour or rhetoric that I didn't believe in or found offensive.  Yet I have been called a snowflake by both people in their 50s and 60s and by people in their early 20s.

So the line isn't an age thing.  It is a believe system, borne as a result of how and what you educate yourself in, the family you are born into and what they believe, the circles you move in and your own moral code and beliefs.

For me, it comes down to fear and insecurity.  

In terms of misogyny and sexism, it also comes down to entitlement.  In the 50s and 60s you could get away with slapping the bottom of your secretary or paying women less than men for the same job.  Men grew up for centuries believing that women were (in decreasing terms over the years, slowly) property, second class citizens, objects.   The fact that women now can demand the same wages, control of their own bodies and the right to touch them is something that generations of men are not used to, whether in lived experience or what they have grown up to expect.

I see many articles now after the #metoo movement of men saying that you cannot brush past a woman without being accused of sexual assault and that rape accusations are mostly "regret of actions".  Yet we have rape trials in 2018 where what type of underwear a woman was wearing is called into question.  Where her past sexual experiences is somehow relevant.   Where a man can be given 90 days house arrest for the rape of a child, yet a woman killing someone she was "given to" at 16 to rape at will, in order to escape, is given a 51 year sentence.



If you are truly scared that a woman is going to accuse you of sexual assault for brushing past her, then I am truly scared of you, because it reveals what you truly think you are entitled to.

When it comes to racism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia; this is when it turns to fear and insecurity.  

Not that long ago you could listen to that man, or woman, in the pub spouting off about how they thought that being gay should still be illegal, that black people were (somehow, I don't understand it, will never understand it) worth less than white people, how transgender people were "looking for attention".  

People would nod, smile and agree with this person in public, while at home, completely disagree with their views.  No one would question the rhetoric.  Thinking that their views are disgusting but showing support/compliance in public but disagreeing in private.  So who is scared exactly?

The so called "Generation Snowflake", which actually compromises all ages, is not afraid to call people out on antiquated beliefs and thoughts.  They question, argue, reason, debate.  Yet we are called the weak generation for daring to rock the boat that believes that Christian straight, white men (and the women who follow them) should and do rule the world.

I truly believe that people should be able to say what they want, with the exception of inciting violence.  Let them stand on their pulpits and shout their views to the world, let us see just how small, how scared and insecure they really are.

If I call you out for something that you have said, asking you to defend your statement and all you retort back is "snowflake" and "are you triggered?" then you have no platform based on anything other than lack of education, hate and bigotry.  

If you are so scared of being argued with, are you the true snowflake?

5 December 2018

5 Secrets to Whiter and Healthier Teeth




We all want to have a beautiful smile that dazzles everyone we meet. Whether it is a coworker you run into in the elevator or an old friend you happen to meet at a wedding, the way you smile affects the rest of the interaction.

You must not forget that the beauty of your smile depends a lot on the health of your teeth. Brushing your teeth every day isn’t enough to keep dental problems from creeping in. To maintain the beauty and health of your teeth, there are a few extra things you need to do.

Watch What You Eat

Watching what you eat can help prevent dental issues from ruining your smile. Some food items and drinks can stain your teeth and take away some of their beauty. Some of these food items are easy to avoid. Others – like red wine or tea – are food and drinks we consume every day.

The simplest approach to this challenge is brushing your teeth after every meal. You can also use a straw to prevent drinks like coffee from leaving a stain on the front of your teeth.



Try Flossing

As mentioned before, brushing your teeth alone isn’t enough. Use a mouthwash after brushing your teeth and try flossing more regularly. Flossing is really not as bad or as cumbersome as it seems once you are used to it as part of a routine.
Alternatively, you can chew sugar-free gum that contains fluoride and xylitol to help reduce bacterial growth inside the mouth. The gum also helps increase the production of saliva, which is also good for your teeth and mouth.

Regular Treatments

It is also highly recommended to see a dentist every three to six months for regular checks and treatments. When your teeth are maintained properly, a visit to the dentist is more fun than you think. You can even start exploring the possibilities of using treatments like teeth whitening.

Dr. Sarika Heggannavar, the lead dentist at the famous dental care facility Orlando Smile, recommends regular teeth cleaning and scaling every three months. The latter helps eliminate tartar buildup and prevent black plaque stains from appearing.

Drink More Water

Water is good for the teeth. It keeps the mouth moist and limits bacterial buildup. Besides, water is also good for your skin and your body, so drinking more water more frequently is highly recommended.

What you want to avoid are soda and other high-sugar beverages. Even when you brush your teeth after drinking soda, you can still end up with a lot of sticky, sugary substance in the tiny gaps between your teeth. That sticky substance is exactly what bacteria needs to grow rapidly.

The Right Mouthwash

Lastly, make sure you use the right mouthwash. Avoid products that make your mouth dry or ones that contain high levels of alcohol. What you want is a gentle mouthwash that kills bacteria while keeping your mouth fresh and moist.

These tips will help you maintain the beauty and health of your teeth. When your teeth are white, stain-free, and beautiful, you will have the confidence to smile more.   


*collaborative piece