Another day, another year

“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot


Last year, I shared my slight hatred for New Year's Eve.  This year, I feel the same.

Last year, my New Year's resolutions were...
  1. Buy a van - done
  2. Begin the conversion- done
  3. Finish my Cognitive Psychology module without going insane - done...I think!
In reality, these are what I would call cheating resolutions though.  They aren't things that I wouldn't otherwise have done, they are just my plans for the year.

I could easily pick resolutions for this year like finish the van, finish my degree and leave the UK, but they would be cheating resolutions too.
So I'm choosing something which wouldn't "just happen", something which will be hard every day, something which I believe will make my life better if I can achieve it.

I resolve to find something I am grateful for every single day.  It will be my first thought every morning. 

I want to be so excited at the sight of each new day, to be filled with happiness and gratitude from the moment I wake up.  This is the first step.

What's your favourite Christmas song?

This is mine - I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake.  It is the only Christmas song which I can listen to on repeat without going insane, the only which gives me goosebumps when I hear it for the first time each year.  The perfect mix of heartache, hope and sleigh bells.

Words to live by


These are the words which sing to me.  They push me to do more in good times and calm my sobs in bad times.  

Sometimes I wish I could pay someone to follow me around and say this to me every time I need to hear it.  Because whenever I need reminding of it most, it always seems to slip my mind.  Oh the irony.

Happy Christmas World.  You are beautiful, I just know it.

John Rylands Library

 
If you ever find yourself in Manchester, make sure to visit the John Rylands Library.  

"A library? Why would I want to visit a library?" you might ask...well just trust me on this one, it is stunning.
From the hundreds of unique carved stone gargoyles to the enormous ancient leather bound books that line the walls, it is simply beautiful.  By far the most incredible building I have visited in a long time.

As I wasn't expecting it to be quite so special, I didn't take my camera along - so apologies for the poor quality phone pics.
 






I will certainly be revisiting this library on every future trip I make to Manchester for the forseeable future.  

I'm not sure I could be much more in love with a building than I am with this place!
 

Missing you

How long can you miss someone for before the person you miss disappears?

How many years does it take before the person you miss has changed so much that they are no longer who you miss any more?

How long does it take for the bad moments to be erased from memory, and the good moments to be changed into perfect ones?

For the memories you hold so dear to change and distort until who you are missing is not even the person they once were?

 

I'm not the kind of girl who looks at a horse and immediately sees a unicorn... but every day I wait for you.  Every day I miss you.  How long does it take before the unicorn is all that is left in view?

On being needed

 
My friend, the one who used to call me up when all he wanted to do was slit his wrists, the one who held me while I cried my way through my mother's cancer fight, has just had a baby with his fiancee.  I didn't even know she was pregnant.

Another friend, the one who I have travelled thousands of miles with, the one who guided me down the path to finding my faith, has just had major surgery.  I didn't even know she was sick.

Ouch.  How could these people, who mean so much to me, not share their darkest and their brightest moments with me any more?  Do I mean nothing to them any more?
 
Once my initial reactions of anger subsided, I changed perspective and changed my mind.  These two people didn't tell, not because I mean nothing to them, but because they now have people in their lives who simply mean more.  They both have partners who support them through their highs and their lows, so they don't need to look elsewhere for their fulfillment any more.  They don't need me.  This shouldn't make me angry with them, it should make me happy that the person they have chosen to spend their lives with is sufficient for their needs.  They are happy.
 
More worrying though, was that because they no longer need me, I instantly assumed they no longer loved me.

Why do I have to feel needed in order to feel loved?  
 
I tell myself that I want someone who is my equal, who inspires me to do more, who is always one step ahead of me.  
 
So why is there still some malfunctional ridiculous part of me which has to be depended upon in order to feel loved

Laser eye surgery review

In November I had LASIK laser eye surgery with Optimax in Manchester.  I can absolutely 100% recommend it...already I cannot believe how I managed with how bad my eyesight was before I had it done.

Here are my top 10 tips and advice...

  1. Go to your own optician for advice before you consider going to a clinic.  You then get the peace of mind that you have some advice from an impartial person who you can be sure hasn't been told to try and sell you the procedure.
  2. In my opinion, there isn't much difference between the "Big Three" clinics - Optimax, Utralase and Optical Express.  They all offer free lifetime aftercare, similar procedures with similar equipment.  They also all offer free consultations - go and see them, ask questions, get quotes and make up your own mind!
  3. Optimax Manchester are excellent.  I felt relaxed, valued and didn't feel like I was being sold to.  The aftercare they gave me was great.  The only slight negative of my experience was that no-one really talked me through the procedure to the extent that I expected from previous hospital experiences.  I did receive sufficient information that I felt confident in my surgeon's experience though so this was more an issue based on personal preference than a genuine problem.
  4. If you are getting both eyes done...don't go to the clinic alone.  Yes you probably would be able to see just about well enough to get home on your own, but if you are anything like me you just won't feel like making the effort.  I only had one eye done so thought I would be fine alone, but honestly the 10 minute walk afterwards was pretty torturous.
  5. It doesn't hurt.  The procedure isn't particularly comfortable, but there is no pain.  And it is so quick.  Like amazingly, worryingly quick.  Brilliant.
  6. You might want to consider carefully when you schedule getting it done.  I felt really drained for about a week afterwards, my eyes were very light-sensitive and focussing on a computer screen was really difficult.  Also my eye has a rather un-photogenic red mark on it which still hasn't completely faded 3 weeks later.
  7. You might not feel quite like yourself for a while afterwards.  By about 3 pm each day, I was more than ready to lie in a quiet dark room for half an hour.  I think I found it harder to adjust because I only had one eye done, my brain had to un-learn 23 years of right eye dominance.  Considering this took one week, this is pretty amazing.  But for the first week, it was hard.  The world was so bright and fast I literally could not keep up with it.  It's very difficult to describe but I felt like I had to re-learn how to see.
  8. Despite the side effects, these cons do not outweigh the pros in any way.  They are not reasons not to have it done, just reasons to consider carefully the timing of when you do it.
  9. It is nowhere near as big a deal as people make it out to be.  Too expensive Cheaper than decades of glasses and opticians appointments.  Won't work?  The statistics say otherwise.  Not safe?  Yes, there are risks.  Read about them, understand them, but realise that risk is inherent in life and some risks are worth taking. 
  10. It works.  Not only does it work, it works immediately.  Immediately.  Just wow.
So yes, I am officially in the laser eye surgery club.  Best choice in a long time!

Also...I have 2 x £500 off vouchers for Optimax treatments, if you are interested hit me up with your contact details at annapearce5683@gmail.com (UK only please)

How to make Canal Art

Step One - find a suitable canal-like item! My mum was given a stupid watering can flower arrangement thingy, and she asked me to decorate the can for her once the flowers had died.

Step Two - use squared paper to find out the area you have to play with, and prepare a rough design.  There are some good canal art websites around and trusty Google images to point you in the right style directions.  I just pulled some elements I liked from various pieces in order to create my design.

Step Three - base coat.  Start with the items which you want to have at the back overlapped by other items...like the leaves.  Top tip - use acrylic paint and not oil paint - I used oils and it didnt dry on the metal at all so I had to take it all off and start again.  Nail remover gets paint off the metal nicely though so is also great for tidying up at the end!


Step Four - middle coat.  Bases for roses, swirly bits etc.  I used this awesome helping tip from good old Google...

http://www.chestercanalheritagetrust.co.uk/Canalart.htm

Step Five - top coat.  Top layer of the roses and leaves as shown above...and some nice dainty decorative spots.

And ta dah!

Happy Christmas Mum :)

Things I used to be ok with

Me in the distance at Castlerigg Stone Circle, Cumbria
I seem to be entering a time of change.  I don't know whether this is me subconsciously preparing myself to get ready to leave on my travels, or if new events have led me into a state of flux, but I do know that things that used to seem ok are suddenly not ok...

Like being alone.  I used to be able to be alone in a sea of couples, friendship groups, families and think to myself "Look at me so independent and capable of handling this situation by myself!".  

But that was last year.  When I sat in the waiting room at the laser eye surgery clinic before my treatment, I looked around at the other people in the room.  Everyone else was there with a family member.  

Every single person.  

People who were quietly whispering to them, reassuringly touching them, silently supporting them.  

And I didn't think "Look at me so independent...".  

No.  

All I could think was "Look at them...so loved."

Manchester Christmas Markets

I have been spending far too much time in Manchester recently for my aftercare appointments for my laser eye surgery (total success by the way - more to come soon!), and I can definitely recommend that if you are ever in the area from late November onwards then the Christmas Markets are definitely worth checking out.

You can find more info on the Council website here, but essentially its street after street of the sweetest temporary wooden chalets filled with all the Christmassy goodness imaginable!


From Christmas decs to jewellery, cards to wooden toys, there is a nice mix of stuff to see.  Personally I thought it was quite pricey so maybe not the place to find some Christmas present deals, but it made for a nice hours wander and exploration.

And the food! Oh the food...cheeses and cocktails and schnitzel and pancakes and waffles and sweets and fudge and macaroons and mulled wine and stew and ohhhhhhhhh so much yummy food (plus there are free tasters...which I greatly approve of).


Add to all the amazingly delicious smells the sound of buskers playing Christmas carols, and this experience definitely got me in the mood for Christmas!  And given I usually find all the Christmas stuff which appears in November annoying at best, this is quite an achievement.

So congrats Manchester, your Christmas markets rock!

Odds Are, You Probably Don't Exist

My mind likes this...a lot :)

Author Ali Binazir calculates the odds that you exist, as you are, today. Surprisingly, the answer is basically 0. Click here to enlarge.


Source: My Boyfriend That Really Likes Statistics

Places dripping with people

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
Ask someone to name their favourite places in the world and they will probably happily name you a few.

I would pick Miami and Istanbul.

Ask them to explain why they love these places and they will probably give some reasons about the weather, the sights, the food, the nightlife, the landscape etc.

I love Miami because the weather is perfect, the beach is awesome and it is in the middle of the most perfect tropical paradise imaginable.  I love Istanbul because it is the most incredible blend of Eastern and Western culture, the Islamic architecture and history is simply stunning.

But if you ask them to tell you what they did there, sure you will get the sightseeing or the nights out that relate back to the reasons why they love it.  More often than not though, they will tell you about the people they were there with.  

I went to Miami with my ex.  I was young and completely in love.  I look back on that time as the high point in our relationship.

Like it or not, the most perfect sunshine and beautiful buildings and fabulous things to do are not what makes us love a place.  Not what makes us choose it as our favourite place in the world.  It is the people, the interactions, the relationships that make the memories.

When places are tied to people, going back can be a strange experience.  The streets are the same, the sights the sounds the smells are all familiar, but somehow... everything is different.  The silence of missing voices hangs in the warm summer air, thoughts of lost loves and old friends drip from the buildings themselves.  Nothing is the same.

Every time I return to Manchester, I cannot shake the thoughts of an old friend who used to live there.  Every street, every building brings back echoes of his voice, memories of his face.  I dread going to Manchester simply because of the heartache it brings.  Manchester itself did nothing to deserve that. 

I would love to go back to Miami, but I don't know if I ever will, no matter how many chances are offered to me.  Relationships may come and go, but I couldn't bear to fall out of love with that city.

Brownie pudding

This is the recipe that dreams are made of, it is absolutely my favourite thing to cook, and I have yet to meet anyone who does not instantly adore it.  And...it is super easy to make!


Pudding Ingredients

7 oz / 200 g self raising flour
7 oz / 200 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 oz / 60 g melted margarine

Sauce Ingredients

1 mug caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 mugs boiling water

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 180°
2. Find a very large casserole dish (I use one which is 22cm wide and 10cm deep, if you do not have a big enough dish you will get molten chocolate sauce all your oven...sad times) 
3. Place the flour, sugar and cocoa in the casserole
4. Add the melted marg and mix
5. Mix enough milk into the pudding to make a stiff paste.  It needs to be stiffer than normal cake mix.
6. Spread the mixture so it is flat in the bottom of the casserole
7. Mix the mug of sugar and cocoa and sprinkle evenly over the top
8. Pour on the water.  Do not mix.
9. Bake for around 45 minutes until the cake part of the pudding is cooked.  A knife into the cake should come out clean

And enjoy!

National Geographic's Visions of Earth

Prettiness from My Modern Met ... this affirms my plan so so deeply to me.  This world blows me away.  Every single time.  It begs me to explore  This is why.


Who doesn't love seeing spectacular shots of our earth? Our partners over at National Geographic just sent word about their latest new book that's filled with eye-popping imagery. Inspired by its magazine’s feature by the same name, Visions of Earth: Beauty, Majesty and Wonder collects some of the best photos taken by the National Geographic Society’s famed photographers, world-renowned photographers and even regular people who submitted their personal photographs through National Geographic's community engagement feature, “My Shot.”

Each chapter is divided into themes based on the shapes of the photographs inside, including surfaces, radiance, parallels and more new ways to look at photography that you might not have thought of before. Interesting facts, such as the level of electricity produced by an electric eel or the most populous bird species on the planet, are interspersed throughout the book to stimulate the mind as well as the eyes.

They kindly sent us these preview pictures so that you can get a sense of what you'll find in the book. You can also watch an inspiring and informative video that accompanies the book here.

Above: Norway | The aurora borealis casts ethereal shapes in the night sky of northern Norway. Such magnificent displays occur as electrons, driven by the solar wind, hit the particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Photo by Ole Christian Salomonsen. ©2011 National Geographic


Indonesia | On the first day of Ramadan, in a mosque filled with whiterobed women, one child stands up and stands out. During the monthlong holiday, Muslims seeking spiritual purification fast from dawn till dusk. Photo by Sigit Pamungkas. ©2011 National Geographic


Namibia | In a scene stolen from a dream, a house succumbs to sand in Kolmanskop, once a thriving settlement for diamond miners. Winds have helped desert dunes reclaim the site, abandoned for more than 50 years. Photo by Marsel Van Oosten. ©2011 National Geographic


Kansas, United States | The Ferris wheel at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson mimics a giant Lite-Brite toy. Long lines can form at popular midway rides, but in this long exposure all the stress melts away. Photo by Joel Sartore. ©2011 National Geographic


Indonesia | See dusk in the Dampier Strait through a half-submerged lens and glimpse two distinct worlds. Under a cloud-slung sky, fishermen work on wooden boats. Beneath a mirror-calm surface, waters flash with baitfish. Photo by David Doubilet. ©2011 National Geographic


Tibet | Two yaks, wispy clouds and the grand vista of the Tibetan Plateau create a study in timelessness on Lake Nam Co. The salt lake, located at 15,400 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level, is the second largest in China. Photo by Felix Torkar. ©2011 National Geographic


Pennsylvania, United States | Showing off its iridescent eyespots, this Indian peafowl, Pavo cristatus, will molt and lose its elaborate plumage each year. It’s the tail, though, that encouraged Charles Darwin to formulate his theory of sexual selection. Photo by Lynn Luck. ©2011 National Geographic


Georgia, United States | A nearly translucent green gem of a grasshopper climbs on a flower petal. North American grasshoppers range in size from the minuscule to the largest, which can measure three inches (eight centimeters) long. Photo by Burent Erel. ©2011 National Geographic


Visions of Earth: Beauty, Majesty and Wonder can be found at their store. The perfect gift for your photo enthusiast friend!

How to define Love


Deep in the recesses of my past, a boy once told me that he loved me.  And what was my response?

"You are not in love with me. Either that or we have very different definitions of what it means to be in love..."

This answer still haunts me.  I criticised someone for having a different perspective to me.  Not only this, but I was criticising them without even knowing how to define love myself.

So in my typical "lets overanalyse every single little thing" fashion, I have been working for some time on how to define love.

The dictionary tells us that love is

"A strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone."

This doesn't even come close to defining how I see love.  I need a definition which includes friendship, lust, intimacy and trust, and yet isn't based solely on any of them.  A definition which spans time and space without excluding any type of relationship.  A definition which reflects that the desire for love is independent from the other person, yet utterly dependent on them for its fulfillment. And this is my conclusion...

Love is when the desire to both know and be known by the other person is so all-consuming that nothing less than the rest of a lifetime is sufficient to satisfy.

The difference between true love and other kinds of love is then easy to see.  

For example, the love of a parent for a child is based on the desire for the parent to know the child but being known by them to the same extent is not necessary for satisfaction.  Love which is based on lust is satisfied in far less than a lifetime.  Love for a friend is not so consumptive that it requires intimacy to the same intensity in order to satisfy.

I am happy with my definition of love, but I have a suspicion that there may be as many definitions of love as there are relationships.  Or worse still, as many definitions as there are lovers.

Which means my definition is only correct for me, for how I love, for how I want to be loved.  It is after all my definition.

What if real love is the ability to give someone that which they need most of all while retaining the capacity to receive that which you yourself desire?

No wonder it gets so complicated.  All I know is that I should never deny someone else's experience of love again, regardless of whether or not it matches my own.  

Because Autumn is beautiful...


...who needs words?

Offering What We Are

Red Vineyards at Arles

Oh, the places we would pour ourselves over,
pushing into the meager surfaces
all the impulses of our heart, our desire, our need.
To whom in the end do we offer ourselves?

To the stranger, who misunderstands us,
to the other, whom we never found,
to the servant, who could not free us,
to the winds of spring, which we could not hold,
and to silence, so easy to lose.

Uncollected Poems

Kitchen update

Update on progress since my last post about my van kitchen ...


As you can see, the doors have now gone in and the hinged top is now on.  And inside...
The area for the cooker has been divided from the rest of the top section, the inside will be fully lined with lino to make it easy to keep clean.

The melamine coating for the top worksurface is also yet to be added, then it's just the shelves at the right hand end and a bit more painting...and I will have a kitchen!

Grandad...you were right

It is almost one year since my Grandad died.  I still hear his voice.

Some of my main memories of him from when I was younger involve his, as I perceived them, somewhat ridiculous eccentricities.  This was a man who used to write dates on cheques like this...

Friday 28th October 2011 A.D.

Seriously.  "A.D." !!! Like the bank cashier might look at his cheque and think..."Hmm, I wonder if this cheque is from over 2000 years ago, how can I possibly tell if it doesn't say A.D. or B.C. on it?" 

He was also an epic complainer.  I remember him sitting at the living room table, writing letters of complaint on his big old typewriter.  I don't know who they were to, anyone who would listen I suspect.  He taught me how to use the typewriter, I still love the romance of even the thought of the clicking letters and the ink blots.  So much beauty is lost in the functionality of modern technology.

If I ever asked him what the letters were about, he would launch into some huge rambling explanation about the topic, in far too much depth for my young mind to understand.  My Mum would roll her eyes and try and make him stop.  One of the things he used to complain about most was the Euro.  There was debate about whether or not the UK should join the Euro, and he was passionately against it.

He would stick anti-Euro stickers on every letter he posted.  It wouldn't surprise me if he stuck quite a few on me!  At the time, I didn't understand.  I thought "Why would governments suggest something that wasn't for the best?".  I was young.  I was naive.

Now I see he was right.  Eccentric maybe, but right.  At least on that one issue.  He taught me to always stand up for what you believe in, even when you feel like no-one else is on your side.  Even when your input is almost certainly irrelevant.  Even if you may be wrong.  You, and only you, have to be able to live with yourself.

Thank you Grandad.

I'm never writing "A.D." on a cheque though....



A Design So Vast


I am not a fan of mommy blogs.  This is no reflection on mothers, it is a reflection on me.  Their issues, concerns and joys are not mine.  So their writing interests me less than that of other blogs out there.  But there are exceptions.  

A Design So Vast  is one of them.  Lindsey is a mother, and she writes beautifully.  She sees the beauty and the splendour in the twisted pain and the mundane dust of this world.  And she has red hair, so I automatically like her.  Check out her blog, it will not disappoint!  And she posts daily...she has my admiration for that alone...

from http://www.adesignsovast.com/about/

Her post today caught my eye.

"The challenge, for me, is to incorporate my understanding of this most mysterious aspect of life into my experience without being utterly paralyzed by it.  The question is how to find peace despite this yawning abyss.  Is it possible, though, that life is full of grandeur, beauty, and blinding pain not despite but because of this black hole?"

I share Lindsey's opinion.  I think that the ability to comprehend the triviality of our momentary mortal existence is what makes us human.  It is difficult to embrace this without drowning in the enormity of it, but it is possible and perhaps it represents one of the truest sources of satisfaction in this life.

Yet again, it seems Buddhism already has the answer.



The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know, or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation published by HarperONE, San Francisco, 1999 All rights reserved 

It's not often that I read something on the internet and don't conclude I would need to mentally re-write sections  in order for to me feel as if it fits me.  Maybe I am just tired.  The exam is done. It went well, but I feel kind of shell-shocked. Crazy right...

Life like the movies

Some days I just wish that life was a little more like the movies.

And also that all doors looked like this!


That the moment when you hit rock bottom would be the moment someone who loves you knocks on the door.

That no matter how hard you fall there would always be the perfect friend waiting to pick up the pieces.

That it is OK to completely screw up with the man of your dreams, because one day, someday, somewhere, there would always be a second chance.

That if it isn't ok yet, that just means it isn't the end.
 


This world is beautiful, but some days I wish the edges were a little softer.  That there were more second chances.  That we could be less alone.

And some days?  Well some days I waste my time crying over bad films because life is not a movie, it's just life.

And one day?  One day I hope that bad movies will no longer make me cry, because life is better. 

How to revise well

Exams have always been something I am good at.  Is it because I am super-crazily-intelligent and don't have to work hard for it? No.  In fact I have often done better than people who are more intelligent than me and appear to have worked at least as hard if not harder.  Why?  Because I was better at revising than them.  Simple as that.

So what are my oh-so-special secrets?  Well unfortunately, the biggest secret is hard work.  Boo hiss that is not what I want to have to say, and I am sure it is not what anyone wants to hear.  But lets dig a little deeper.

  1. Do you get the results you need?  The results you want? If the answer is yes, then do not change how you revise.  No matter how many people lecture you on the latest technique or revision guide or make one of those "If only you would listen to me..." sighs, have the conviction to do it your way.  Because it works for you.
  2. If you do not get the results you want or need, take all the advice you can get.  There are great techniques and knowledgeable people out there, try new stuff out.  There will be a way which works for you.
  3. Make a decision then commit.  Do you want or need to do well...or not?  If the answer is yes, work hard from the start, do not pretend things will be ok if you wait until the night before the exam to start revising.  If the answer is no, do not do less work and then panic last minute because you suddenly decided you wanted to get that A*.  It is your choice.  Choose.  And commit.
  4. One hour of good quality revision is better than three hours of poor quality revision.  If you are in the right mood to revise, make it really good quality revision.  Just because you are in such a workaholic mood that you can cope with watching Scrubs while revising, doesn't mean you should.  Put yourself into the environment in which you revise best.
  5. One hour of poor quality revision is better than no revision at all.  If you are in that mood which means that being in your best revision environment is intolerable, do revise while watching Scrubs.  That distraction from your poor work ethic will enable you to remain partially on task.
  6. Accept that during your revision period, you will have to change your normal routine.  Normally spend all weekend with friends?  Two hours a day in the gym?  Only sleep for five hours a night?  It's not going to happen.  Something has to give.  It is not forever, and you committed to this exam, so it is ok to let something else slide.  Explain and apologise to those around you who are affected,they want you to do well and they will understand.
  7. Accept that during your revision period, you are going to change.  You are under a lot of pressure, your normal routine has changed, you will be tired, and this is going to impact on your mood.  Again, this is not going to be forever, observe it, accept it and cut yourself some slack.  Explain and apologise to those around you who are affected, they still love you, still want you to do well and...you guessed it...they will still understand.
  8. On exam day, have confidence in yourself.  And (controversially), enjoy it.  You have worked for this and this is the culmination of your efforts, so be present and remember just how soon it will be over.  Enjoy writing.  I am sure that those exam markers much prefer marking a paper which has been written with passion than one that has been written by a terrified angry nervous wreck.  And I like to think that if they like it, they will probably mark it more favourably.  They are only human after all.
 So how do I implement these seven principles?


  1.    I get the results I want.  I cannot count the number of times I have ignored well-meaning and great advice, simply because I know what works for me already.  Arrogance? Sure.  Do I care? No...because I get the grades I want.
  2. Not applicable because I answered yes to item 1.  So what do I actually do?  Well the photo above shows how I manage my materials, and then basically all I do is write out my A3 sheets and lists of studies...until I know them.  I always run through the sheets in the same order and I make sure everything is divided into small titled sections so each section acts as a trigger to remembering the next section.  I like to use A3 paper because I also remember where things are positioned in relation to each other.
  3. I choose to do well.  I like to start revision about five weeks before an exam.  I spend approximately two hours a day revising.  I am typically studying for one 3-hour exam in which I will have to write essays on three different topics, but I also work full time.  I would alter my revision schedule accordingly based on the number of exams and the amount of other commitments there are in my life.
  4. My best revision environment is sitting on the couch or lying on the floor, listening to the radio.  I find it hard to focus in complete silence.  My radio station preference is Chill because there are no adverts, no DJ talk, few lyrics to tempt me into singing and a beat which is uptempo enough to keep me awake while relaxed enough to keep me calm.  I typically revise for up to an hour, then take a quarter of an hour break, then start again.  As a maximum I would do three hours in an evening, or five hours across a whole day.
  5. When I am feeling too irritated by revising to submit to it fully, I cannot focus with only the radio to keep me on-task.  So I revise with the TV on.  Something mindless that doesnt have to be watched 100% in order to be understood - like Simpsons, Friends, Scrubs etc.  I take slightly longer breaks, maybe half an hour.
  6. I'm not going to lie, I hate changing my routine.  But I do.  I go to bed an hour earlier.  I'm not so strict with myself about what I eat and I double the amount of coffee I drink.  I only have a single night a week revision-free, whereas when I'm not in revision mode I typically have two nights a week when I dont study.
  7. I am a nightmare to live with when I am preparing for an exam.  I am really irritable and completely disorganised and forgetful, characteristics which are completely out of character for me.  I am mindful of this difference and try and keep myself present in the negative emotion so that it doesn't become too consuming.  But to an extent, I just go with it.
  8. On exam day, I always make an effort.  I dress nicely, I put makeup on.  It is tempting to spend every last second revising, but if I feel like I cant look anyone in the eye in that exam room, that lack of confidence has the potential to impact my performance.  I enjoy writing as many pages as I possibly can, and that agonising hand-ache at the end?  To me, that means it was a job well done.

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