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My 2018 Review – The Busy Year filled with the Unexpected

By Friends & Family, Gigs & Shows, Happiness & Joy, Health, LifeNo Comments

In January my mum, brother, brother’s fiancee, nephew and I watched Peter Pan’s Musical Adventure in Blackpool. I went to Leeds to spend time with Robert and Neha. Robert & Neha are two of my most dear friends and favourite humans. Here are some photos:

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Blackpool Tower

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Mum feeding the 2p machines and feeding her habit at the same time.

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Left to Right: Me, Robert & Neha.

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Monopoly!

February started with a spring clean. I thought and wrote about The Cycle of Life. I shared some lessons I’ve learned from life.

In March I wrote about homelessness. I aided Steve, my housemate in his hunt for a cockatiel. Here is a photo of Steve’s cockatiel:

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Another photo of the extremely cute and chirpy Chakuro.

April began with my attempt to answer some of the most difficult questions in life. Steve and I visited Beeston Castle in Cheshire. I got creative and made a number of Pumpkin Spice Scented Candles:

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Me.

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The entrance to the main ruin (2). From the bridge was a sheer drop of at least thirty feet.

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My batch of handmade Pumpkin Spiced Scented Candles.

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One of my Pumpkin Spiced Scented candles. They just need some witchy charms tying to each jar.

For my birthday in May, my good friend Simon and I visited Warkworth Castle & Tynemouth Priory and Castle. See photos below. I published a blog post about how to support someone with mental illness.

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The most well preserved.

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Remains of Walkworth Castle (1).

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Tynemouth Priory and Castle remains (2).

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Simon (right) and me (left) in the stone coffins. I couldn’t believe that we both fitted perfectly.

Mum and I visited Harry Potter Studio Tour and London. Mum shared a story about St. James park:

When my mum was a little girl, she lived in London with her mum and dad (my grandma and granddad). Every Sunday, while her mum was making the Sunday dinner, her dad would take her to watch the changing of the Guard and then into St. James Park to feed the ducks.

From My Blog Post: Harry Potter Studio Tour and London with Mum.

In June I was fortunate to unexpectedly see A-Ha with my good friend Jayne. Endless things broke including my boiler, car, new laptop and washer dryer.

July saw Jayne and I visit Chester Zoo. Here are some photos:

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Butterfly (2).

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A close up of the baby elephant.

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My new lover! He’s the strong, wooden, silent type.

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This gorgeous beauty came to say hello and flirted with me (by winking with her big eye and long eyelashes) when I said ‘Hello Gorgeous.’ to her as she passed by.

I found myself disappointed. It was unexpected, but I managed to find the positive side to disappointment.

In July I continued working hard to improve my health. This included starting on FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System.

September was particularly busy. A good friend, her son, two of his friends and I got close to wild animals at Blackpool Zoo. Here are some photos:

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This photo of a penguin is most probably the best photo I’ve ever taken. The penguin was swimming at great speed, although you wouldn’t have guested. I looked at this photo when I got home and it looks like it was taken by a professional. A total fluke.

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Another of the beautiful tiger. Blackpool Zoo have two tigers from what we saw. The tiger is more than slightly moist because of the rain.

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This is how close we got to a Lion. Able to look in its eye and see the intelligence, along with the hunter instinct. He appeared to be eyeing us up as a snack. Blackpool Zoo had two male Lions living in the enclosure together from what I saw. They seemed pretty well bonded and one went and groomed the other while we watched.

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Quickly becoming my favourite animal, the giraffes. What I love about giraffes is that every time I’ve politely called over to one (in different Zoos I might add), they come over. They look at me with their big black eyes and some times, if I’m really lucky, they let me take a photo before they walk off.

Still in September I was unexpectedly (and lucky enough to be offered) a spare ticket to see the spectacular Shania Twain.

In October I self-published a poem Sometimes High, Sometimes Low:

sometimes-high-sometimes-low-by-Antony-Simpson

Click for Full Size Image.

My mum, Kelly, my mum’s friend, her daughter and myself saw Matilda.

In November I went to a wonderful wedding and I watched Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

In December I had a great Christmas, shared with loved ones.

Overall 2018 was a busy year filled with the unexpected. Hopefully 2019 will be less busy, but with many good times, shared with friends and family. I’d also like lots more creative output from myself.

Write soon,

Antony

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Themes from Dr Who (Series 11)

By Happiness & Joy, Thinking, TV, Online Streaming & FilmsNo Comments
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Image From & Copyright © BBC, 2018.

I’ve loved the most recent season of Dr Who. The lead role has been brilliantly played by Jodie Whittaker. There was some controversy about the role being played by a woman, to me I just thought: why is it even an issue?

There have been some fantastic themes through out the series. Here are the themes I’ve spotted in each episode:

Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell to Earth

  • Diversity – It should be recognised and celebrated. Whether diversity comes from race, learning difficulty or sexuality (mentioned in episode 2). Shown in character representation, characters universal acceptance and appreciation different others.
  • We’re stronger working together as a team, than we are as separate individuals.
  • Only idiots carry knifes – A direct quote from the Doctor, probably in direct response to the rise in knife crime in the capitol London.

Episode 2 – The Ghost Monument

  • A Leader reassures, motivates and has the backs of their team. Shown in how Dr Who treats members of her team.
  • Brains Beat Bullets – A direct quote from the Doctor. Prior to this Doctor states: You’ve got to outthink the enemy. and after the direct quote above another: Guns make things worse.

Episode 3 – Rosa

  • Standing up for Equality – The story of Rosa Parks (see The Story of Rosa Parks) is all about equality and civil rights.
  • How dangerous and stupid white supremacy views are, including the dehumanising affect they have.
  • How racism affects the victims. Shown through character conversation behind the bin.
  • How a single person can change the world and the universe forever.

Episode 4 – Arachnids in the UK

  • Is he Ed Sheeran? – A direct quote from the Doctor. Even the Doctor knows who Ed Sheeran is, even if she doesn’t know what he looks like.
  • Irresponsible businesses and their leaders that care about the bottom line – profit – rather than doing the right thing are bad for all. Their employees, citizens living close to the businesses and the community as a whole.
  • Guns are bad.
  • Cruelty is never necessary.
  • Treat all living things with dignity and respect.
  • Togetherness is better than loneliness.
  • Grief takes time, lots of time.
  • Team TARDIS – Friendship that is built on mutual respect and coming together in a crisis, is too valuable to let go of and should be cherished.

Episode 5 – The Tsuranga Conundrum

  • The Doctor doesn’t mind admitting when she’s wrong.
  • The Doctor see’s all problems as puzzles to be solved.
  • The Doctor loves anti-matter drives, the concept and the actuality.
  • Dad’s don’t have to be perfect. But they should be there for their child and involved in their life.

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Image From & Copyright © BBC, 2018.

Episode 6 – Demons of the Punjab

  • A fixed event in time can’t be stopped.
  • Things are not always what they seem.
  • There’s nothing worse than when ordinary people lose their minds.
  • The Doctor believes in love in all its forms. The Doctor thinks love is a form of hope – Direct quote from The Doctor.

Episode 7 – Kerblam!

  • Always answer a call for help. Observed by The Doctor always answering calls for help.
  • The best managers, the really good ones, value their staff, and know instinctively if someone’s in trouble or if they need help. A direct quote from The Doctor.
  • You should be worthy of the job or position you hold.
  • The Doctor doesn’t like bullies, conspiracies or danger, said to Yaz by The Doctor.

Episode 8 – The Witchfinders

  • History has sometimes been hard to women.
  • We’re all the same. We want certainty, security. We want to believe that people are either evil or heroic, but that’s not how people are. A Direct Quote from The Doctor.
  • True knowledge has to be earned.
  • Start with the mysteries of the heart.

Episode 9 – It Takes You Away

  • The Doctor loves her sonic.
  • Some people will sacrifice almost anything to see and be with dead loved ones.
  • The living must let go of the dead and continue to live their life. They can still remember them, it’s just not good to live in the past.
  • Friends help friends face up to the truth, not hide from it. A direct quote from the Doctor.
  • The sheep revolution is just over 100 years away :).

Episode 10 – The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

  • Doctor Who doesn’t like vengeful murder or the talk or the threatening of it.
  • The Doctor is fine destroying anything that can be rebuilt. Buildings and the like.
  • Following blind faith is wrong.
  • Rather than revenge, be the bigger man. It takes great strength to do this.

My Hopes for Series 12
More aliens and travel to other worlds. Essentially more Sci-Fi.

Write soon,

Antony

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5 Great Reasons to Come Out as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual

By GayNo Comments

Today (Wednesday 11th October 2017) is National Coming Out Day. Coming out is when a gay man or lesbian woman disclose that they are attracted to the same sex to someone. Coming out for a bisexual is when they disclose that they are attracted to both sexes to someone.

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National Coming Out Day – Wednesday 11th October 2017.

Coming out is a process, rather than a singular experience and is a life long one. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people come out in all areas of their lives including: to family, to friends, to work colleagues, to health & social care professionals, etc. Coming out is diverse, some are out to everyone, some are only out to some people in their lives and some aren’t out at all.

All gay, lesbian and bisexual people remember their first coming out experience and sometimes choose to share their intimate stories with one another. These shared experiences, along with associated emotions can create strong empathetic bonds.

Trans people also go through the process of coming out. I’m not Trans, so this article will only focus on coming out for gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

This article gives 5 great reasons to come out as gay, lesbian or bisexual. But only come out if you feel that it is safe to do so. Don’t put yourself at risk of harm in any way. If you live in a country that mistreats, or persecutes, or where homophobia and biphobia is evident it may be safer not to come out.

Here’s 5 great reasons to come out:

5. More Chance of Meeting Mr or Ms Right
Being out will switch on your gaydar. Suddenly you’ll start to notice attractive gay men, or lesbian women or both sexes everywhere. Being out and becoming part of the out world will lead to more opportunities to meet Mr or Ms Right.

4. A New Lease of Life
Coming out will give you a new lease of life. You’ll become part of the gay community, which is rich with its own unique culture and many sub-cultures. There’s something for everyone in the gay community. You’ll make new friends, lovers and partners.

3. Acceptance
Gay, lesbian and bisexual people going through a process of self-acceptance prior to coming out to others. Part of coming out to others is about gaining acceptance from those you hold dear. Acceptance and tolerance for difference is something that has always been a struggle for humans. But slowly, in more and more countries around the world, we are becoming more tolerant, inclusive and accepting.

LGB (Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual) people in some places gave gained more rights and protections. In some places they have been given truer equality, just think about the legal right marry their partners.

In history most LGB were not able to marry their partners because they were of the same sex. Yet straight people have always been able to marry their partners. By allowing all to marry their partners, irrespective of gender, is true equality. You can read more about The History of Marriage (in the UK) here.

2. Happier and Healthier
You’ll be happier not keeping the secret from people. Keeping your sexuality is a secret is a lot of work: watching what you say, watching what you do and watching how you behave.

Add to the above saying, doing and behaving like others would expect a straight person to. Analysing situations in your head for a long time after they’ve happened, wondering if your act was good enough?

You will be mentally healthier as well. Those who are not out are more at risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses due to feelings of isolation and the burden of keeping the secret.

1. Be Yourself
Coming out gives you the chance to be your whole self, without having to hide one of the most important aspects of yourself.

Are there any other great reasons to come out? Leave a comment below.

Blog soon,

Antony



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10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

By Health2 Comments

Today (Tuesday 10th October 2017) is World Mental Health Day. So here’s 10 easy ways to improve your mental health:

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Tuesday 10th October 2017 – World Mental Health Day

10. Regular Exercise
I don’t mean becoming a gym bunny or taking up running. Start walking. Walking is the easiest form of exercise. Take it slow and easy. Do it regularly, a couple of times a week. Gradually build up the distance. It’s even better if you can walk in places of natural beauty, as you’ll have the scenery to enjoy.

NHS Choices says:

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression…

(From: NHS Choices, last accessed: Thursday 28th September 2017)


9. A Better Diet
We could all do with eating a bit better right? Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet – aim for five a day. Cut down on the amount of sugar and salt in your food. Try to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid per day (roughly 1.2 litres). You can learn more about diet on the NHS Choices – Eatwell Guide website.

8. Go Smoke-Free
Despite many smokers saying that a cigarette reduces their stress levels, Nicotine is a stimulant which means it has the opposite effect. It increases anxiety and stress levels, especially when those nicotine receptors in the brain need feeding. Becoming smoke-free has loads of other benefits as well.

7. Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant drug and affects your brain chemistry. Drinking a small amount of alcohol decreases inhibitions and can make you feel happier. But drinking heavily can lead to a lowered mood. It’s also not a good idea to drink if you are angry or upset, as it can make you feel worse and do things that you wouldn’t do sober.

You don’t have to stop drinking alcohol, just cut down on the amount. A good tip is to buy less alcohol. If you buy less alcohol you’ll have less to drink.

6. Meditate
Meditation is about clearing your mind and focusing on the present or a particular thought or emotion. Research suggests that daily meditation for just 20 minutes per day has benefits to mental health after just five days. Benefits of meditation include: lower stress levels, feeling more positive, improved concentration, improves the ability to be in the moment and helps with clarity of thought.

Start slow with meditation. Set an alarm for a short period of time, say 5-10 minutes and gradually build up the time. Gradually build up the frequency of meditation sessions to, so start with a couple of times a week and work towards daily practice. Like anything, your ability to meditate will get better with practice. So don’t be surprised if you struggle with intruding thoughts initially and don’t let them discourage you.

5. Recognise the Signs of Stress
Recognise when your stressed and take steps to de-stress. You can do this by taking a deep breath, focusing on your body, mind and feelings and look for signs of stress. I call this checking-in with myself and try to do it a few times a day. Signs of stress include:

How you may feel emotionally

  • overwhelmed
  • irritable and “wound up”
  • anxious or fearful
  • lacking in self-esteem

How you may feel mentally

  • racing thoughts
  • constant worrying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty making decisions

How you may feel physically

  • headaches
  • muscle tension or pain
  • dizziness
  • sleep problems
  • feeling tired all the time
  • eating too much or too little

(From: NHS Choices, last accessed: Friday 29th September 2017)

4. It’s okay to say NO
When we think about saying no to people, we imagine the world will end. But the reality is nothing like our imagination. In fact, most of the time, people are okay about it. Remember that it is okay to say no and say it when you need to.

Sometimes it’s better to say no rather than say yes. Otherwise we risk over committing ourselves and spread our limited energy too thinly.

3. Sleep
Sleep is so important for good mental health. Sleep allows our bodies to rest and repair. The average adult needs eight hours of sleep. But children and teenagers need much more. But it’s not just about the amount of the sleep you get, it’s also about the quality. Poor quality sleep lowers resilience and increases the risk of physical and mental illness. Get your shut-eye in and try to have a good sleep routine.

2. Off-Load
We all need people to talk to and to off-load to at times. Some off-load to their families, their spouses, their friends or their therapists. Find some people in your life who you can off-load to.

Important characteristics in people you choose to off-load to: they should give you a feeling of trust, they should have the ability to actively listen to what you say, they should be non-judgemental, they should be empathetic and they should challenge you when needed.

1. Relaxation
Write a list of things that help you relax. Then do some of the things on the list on a regular basis. For example, reading really relaxes me. So every night before bed, I read, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

Write soon,

Antony

References
NHS Choices – Benefits of exercise
NHS Choices – Eatwell Guide
Smokefree NHS
Drink Aware – Alcohol and mental health
NHS Choices – Does meditation reduce stress?
NHS Choices – How to deal with stress
One You – Sleep

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