Things I’ve (not) learned: Coping with news and social media

I really need to stop reading the news.

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I need to stop reading the news.

It’s a thought I’d been toying with for a while but in the last couple of months it became obvious that something needed to change. And so I tried to stop but as it turns out, news is a constant, all-encompassing thing. Vile, awful, terrifying news from all over the world constantly streaming into my everyday, darkening my thoughts and crushing my spirit. To escape the ugliness, more effort is needed.

Even when I stopped having my breakfast with a side of “let’s see what horrible things happened while I was sleeping” on TV, I’d see posts by likeminded people on Twitter or narrowminded monsters on Facebook, or I’d click through from funny cat posts on Buzzfeed. In the past few weeks I’ve really fallen off the wagon. Whenever I take a break, or I’m procrastinating, or I’m at the grocery store, I’m reading bad news.

I do think it’s important, perhaps now more than ever, to stay informed, to not live in a bubble. So, no matter how awful it is, I believe it’s vital that I am aware of what’s going on in the world. But after the first few tweets and news articles, it no longer is about being informed, is it? There’s a rather disturbing tendency to revel in the misery in a way. To keep reading opinion pieces and people’s comments on them, or to fall down the rabbit hole of hashtags, or to read the headlines of hateful publications, or, and this is the worst I think, to have arguments on Facebook. These things only ever work to make me even more upset, sad, and anxious.

My plan is to go back to my peaceful, TV-free mornings, focusing isntead on more positive little rituals to start my day. I’ll also limit the time I spend online every day, no more endless scrolling just to pass the time. I will focus on having more genuine conversations with my friends on social media instead of just retweeting and clicking through to article after article. After all, retweeting isn’t going to change the things that upset me, so instead I will spend my energy actually doing what I can to contribute to causes I believe in and I’ll do something positive for the world.

I know a lot of people are having similar thoughts, and I’d love to hear about how you cope with all the bad news and awfulness in the world.

The little things II

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Pretty light
Kicking leaves Bonfire night 2016

{1} & {2} Autumn colours. The leaves fell like confetti on our front steps and made them really colourful. The ivy that climbs up the front of our house is at its prettiest now.

{3} Beautiful light. I’ve been working from home quite a bit this week and have really been cherishing the beautiful autumnal light that bathes our kitchen in the afternoon.

{4} Kicking leaves. A favourite autumn pastime. I was so happy I captured this action shot of my boyfriend.

{5} Bonfire night. We went to a local celebration of Guy Fawkes night yesterday. The children scampered up this tree to watch the bonfire being lit.

What little things have been giving you joy this week?

A weekend in the New Forest

Autumn in the New Forest 2

A few weeks ago we discovered a magical land.

A picture perfect cottage surrounded by fields, pastures, and woods. There were chickens in the garden, cats snoozing on armchairs, and a dog who demanded belly rubs every day. We woke up every morning to the rooster’s crow, and from the window I could see the horse in the stable across the garden impatiently waiting for his breakfast.

Walking in the New Forest
Autumn in the New Forest

We walked miles and miles in foggy woodland. The autumnal colours and the fog made the forest feel enchanted. A stag crossed our path. We stood still; there was something very regal about his posture as he inspected us from a distance. As if we could ever get close to him. He only stopped for a few seconds, a minute at most, and then just like that he leaped and disappeared through the ferns.

New Forest ponies
New Forest pony

Then we saw the ponies. I had heard that they were freely roaming the New Forest but I don’t think I really believed it. Truly, wild horses were wandering this beautiful countryside. They were so serene and completely disinterested in us; we just stared and marvelled at their grace and beauty. It felt like a very special privilege to see these creatures.

Meeting some New Forest donkeys.

The New Forest donkeys, with their long eyelashes and big ears, captured my heart. I made friends with one of them. She let me stroke her soft-like-velvet ears for a while.

Walking in the New Forest 2

We returned home dazed, completely charmed, and already dreaming of our return to this fairyland.

Have you been to the New Forest?
I also made a short little film of our time there, have a look here if you’d like to see.

The little things

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{1} Cosy morning yoga. I had fallen out of this habit but the mornings are getting darker and this makes me want to slow down, light some candles, and start my day with a good stretch.

{2} Our garden shed. It reminds me of when I cut my -curly- hair really short. Do you see it?

{3} The loveliness of leaves. Our neighbours might be thinking we need to get a rake, but oh these leaves bring me so much joy!

{4} Woodstock. We went on a walk in the countryside yesterday, starting and ending in Woodstock which looked so stunning all dressed up in its autumnal finery.

What little things have been giving you joy this week?

A state of constant amazement

“Living here must be like living in a fairytale!” said the little girl.

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It was a golden summer’s day in Oxford, one of those dreamy ones when the light breeze doesn’t take away the sun’s warmth and everything seems so alive and happy. After a short walk around the Christ Church meadows my boyfriend and I stopped at the pub for a drink. At the table next to ours, an American family of tourists were resting after a day of sightseeing when I overheard that snippet of their conversation.

It’s funny to hear how someone else sees your reality, how they view the stage set in which you live your everyday life. It certainly made me stop and think. For sure, I love living in Oxford and I never tire of taking pictures or its beautiful sights. However, I had to admit that, just like in any long-term relationship, the spark had been fading and I had been focusing on the negative. I was complaining about the ugly buildings spoiling the views from Port Meadow, the throngs of tourists getting in my way whilst cycling, the expensive house prices. And this was killing the magic.

I had these thoughts in the back of my mind a few weeks later when we took a spontaneous weekend trip to Cambridge. The other place. Determined to find everything to be lovely but just slightly lacking when compared to Oxford. As it was, we spent a day sightseeing, walking around and taking it all in, our eyes wide with awe and commenting “How nice it is!” every few minutes.

Objectively, both cities are stunning and very similar to each other. Medieval colleges, narrow cobblestone alleys, punts on the river. They are very special places of so much beauty and charm. In Cambridge I didn’t notice the ugly buildings from the 60’s, or potholes, or anything ugly. Not because they weren’t there, but because I made a choice to see only the good and beautiful in my short time there.

I came back determined to keep the same attitude in my daily life in Oxford. Why waste energy being grumpy about the ugly, the inconvenient, or the annoying? I’d rather focus on beauty, be amazed by the marvellous architecture, discover new and exciting loveliness in the place I call home.

Naturally, after writing this rambling post I found a quote that says everything I wanted to say much more eloquently and succinctly. So I will leave you with this:

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
– William Butler Yeats