New Year, Fresh Start

Introduction
Irony can be quite harsh! I initially wrote this article at the very start of the new year, but, thanks to a huge influx of personal problems, I am only now posting it, which is precisely what the topic is about: my New Year’s Resolution to balance my personal life and my professional efforts.

So, it would appear that thus far, I am not succeeding very well in my task, but, here is my article, finished, and published. A start, though a delayed one, is better than no start at all.

Thank you all for your patience.

Article

NEW YEAR, FRESH START
a history lesson and a fresh perspective on new year’s resolutions

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When I initially started this Blog in March 2012, I had made a decision to pursue my dream of becoming a professional journalist and photographer. I was determined that my move to Margate, a fresh start in and of itself, would be the push in the right direction that I needed. A new place, new people and plenty to write about and photograph.

Whilst those first few months were relatively productive, I found that my personal life was holding me back. My suffering poor health and having family and friends in turmoil, my writing and photography was taken almost to an utter halt, made a secondary priority, essentially, to life. But, the longer I went without posting, the more I realised how much I truly missed it, how much I truly needed it.

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Having thought long and hard about this dilemma, of the “pros and cons” of attempting to balance journalism and photography with a stress-filled personal life and poor health, I have now, ironically in the month of January which is considered worldwide as the beginning of a new year and a fresh start, decided that it is of the utmost importance that I return to my passions, to start anew what I began last year.

So, with the timing of my fresh start falling on the New Year, you would not be mistaken if you considered it to be a form of New Year’s Resolution, one that aims for me to have a healthy balance between my personal and professional lives, and begins with me spending days of researching facts and figures on the history of this worldwide tradition to inspire me, and my readers, to embrace it..

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New Year is a tradition dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years which originates from dozens of cultures and historical civilisations. It is believed that it was Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire who first suggested that the year begin on January 1st, in honour of the Roman God Janus, after which the month was named. This was all the way back in 46 BC, but it was not until 1752 AD that the Britons adopted the Gregorian Calendar, with its twelve month cycle ending in December and beginning in January. Prior to this, we actually celebrated our New Year as “Lady Day”, believed to be the day when Mary, Jesus’ mother, was informed of her son’s coming birth, on March 25th.

The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions can also be traced back just as far, if not further, although what was considered the start of each year was different. The ancient Babylonians and the Romans began their calendar year by making promises to their Gods, and the Knights of the Mediaeval era took “The Peacock Vow” at the end of Christmas each year to re-affirm their commitment to their code of chivalry, to name but a few examples. It is unknown as to when or how the modern, international tradition of New Year’s Resolutions came to happen, however.

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Interestingly enough, New Year’s Day is quite possibly the only global Public Holiday, even though many countries have their own unique calendars for their national faith or heritage. This fact literally brings the world together, breaking down all boundaries of skin colour, sex, country of residence, religion, or culture, and that is a truly beautiful thing.

So, why is it that the majority of people fail to succeed in the goal that they set upon themselves? In recent surveys it has been discovered that eighty-eight percent of UK residents that were questioned had failed in their prior year’s goal. Surveyed Americans fared even worse. With these negative statistics, many people would not be blamed for taking a “why bother?” stance on the concept. I, however, prefer to have a “glass half full” perspective.

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These same studies show that, though many failed, there were very valid reasons as to why. They set themselves unrealistic, almost unachievable goals, or far too broad ones. “Lose weight”, “get fit”, “get a job”, these are all achievable, but more difficult to reach because of the lack of specifics or their long term nature. One is far more likely to succeed in one’s goal by setting smaller, more realistic tasks, or step-by-step lifestyle changes to achieve it, such as losing a certain amount of weight each month, or changing ones diet. This should, in theory, create a regular, positive feeling of achievement in the person, compared to the dragging negativity that results from many months of supposed failure.

Further examination of studies into New Year’s Resolutions shows us that there are also distinct differences between how each sex succeeds in their tasks. Men are more successful when they broke down their resolution into smaller, more achievable goals, whereas women found more success when they made their goals public and drew on the support of friends and family.

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I have decided, for my New Year’s Resolution to succeed, it needs to combine everything that I have learned. My resolution must be clear and concise, broken down over the year into smaller, more achievable goals, and shared with my friends and family so that I can gander support and advice throughout my efforts.

So, my overall resolution for the year, though originally something such as “pursue journalism professionally” or “Blog more”, has moulded itself into “earn money from my journalism and photography”, through smaller weekly or monthly goals such as “reach 200 Likes on my FaceBook Page” and “send Portfolio to magazines to consider for publication”, the progress for which I will be sharing through social networking.

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The facts and theories are sound. Whether, however, they work in practice, remains to be seen. Perhaps, this time next year, I shall be writing a follow-up article of my personal experiences and conclusions on the topic. Only time shall tell…

In the meanwhile, I leave you all with my findings, and hopefully, the inspiration to take them in your own stride and embrace this new perspective on a very old tradition. Will you, as I have, set yourself a New Year’s Resolution this year, and try to see it through? Comment and discuss…

Further Reading
The Mental Health Foundation’s guide to New Year’s Resolutions
Wiki-How’s guide to succeeding in New Year’s Resolutions
US New Year’s Resolutions statistics, updated in December of 2012
An interesting article on the history of New Year’s Resolutions
The History Channel’s history of New Year’s Resolutions

Feedback
It is important that I receive feedback from my readers. I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me. Posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.

Coming Soon…

I have been busy the last few days helping a friend, and during this period, I was not able to type, but gosh, did I click! My camera has been a busy girl, flashing some beautiful shots of nature. Nothing journalistic, of course, more just contributions to my more personal Portfolio, but it has been many weeks since I last took a snap, so I am quite please that I am “back in the game” of photography to say the least.

That excitement and happiness that I felt when I was behind that lens, I missed it very much. I have been sitting affront my computer screen for so long, typing away for hours on end about all manner of subjects, but there is just something more passionate and meaningful to capturing moments on film – allbeit digital.

I have decided that I am going to be looking for local events to attend and photograph, perhaps even report on, pairing my two passions together at last. Doing that would be a big step for me.

So, I am finishing (and Posting) the articles that I have so far on the film and television industry which are very much picture-less, but hopefully still an enjoyable read, and then I am going to try something more journalistic and factual, as apposed to opinion-based.

Wish me luck!

Margate Is My Home Now

Introduction
Below you will find my first ever article that I have written and decided to publish. It has taken two weeks for me to deem it finished. It is perhaps longer than my usual, but there was a lot of ground to cover. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to provide feedback. Constructive critique is of course encouraged. Thank you.

Article

MARGATE IS MY HOME NOW
the story of a disabled citizen making a new start in one of the most “run down” cities in the country

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One month ago I signed my life away. A week later I was the center of attention on my road as my nosey new neighbors peaked earily out of the corner of their window curtains at the rucous of the moving van and the awkward sight of a woman on a walking stick actually attempting to move bags and boxes. That disabled woman was me, and yes, I am that stubborn.

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Moving here was never the plan. I had never visited the coast in my life, London and Dartford were all I knew as home, and I certainly had no intention of leaving my small circle of friends and what little family that I had left. I liked my life, enclosed though it was, and I had no intention of changing it.

But life is full of surprises – some good, some bad – and a few months later three of my oldest friendships had fallen apart, my parents had decided to move halfway across the country, and when my (then) boyfriend drops a bomb on me saying “let’s move to the coast and make a fresh start” I – for the first time in my life – took a chance on change, and replied with an enthused “yes”.

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As I said before, I had never seen the coast in my life, and I can tell you, when we arrived in Margate for the first time I was fast asleep in my uncle’s car, but I awoke when I smelt it… that fresh, wonderful sea air. And then I saw it. It was everything that I thought that it would be, and more. I was like a child discovering cookies for the first time, it filled me with this almost unexplainable happiness, it was so beautiful. A tear fell from my eye as we pulled up to the estate agents and I said “hello” to the possibilities this world could bring me.

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It was many weeks of going back and forth from our residencies in London (myself) and Dartford (then boyfriend) and several estate agents later before we finally found it: a three bedroom double glazed Cliftonville split-level flat. I insisted it looked more like half a house, so we came to know it as our “flouse”, the best of both worlds. He fell in love with it straight away, contrary to my want to continue looking, but love does conquer all, including my stubborness, so once again I found myself agreeing with him and we decided to put down our holding fee and “seal the deal”.

But, sealing the deal is harder than it looks and there was much to be done. It was almost a month – and we nearly lost our flouse – before we got the “okay” to come down and sign our tenancy agreements. Sadly and ironically, my partner and I broke up only one week prior to the signing, and we had many talks about whether we still wanted to do it, but we both needed that “fresh start”, even if it was just as friends, and rough though the transition has been, we neither of us regret it.

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It was cold and dark the night that we moved. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong, and it probably did. A car broke down, belongings were damaged, furniture would not fit… but “positive thinking leads to positive results” as an old friend of mine used to say, and that day we proved her right because we triumpthed over all that would delay us and that night we slept in our seperate bedrooms in our new flouse. A flouse that, in time, we would come to know as home.

The following morning we were exhausted and we truly wanted to stay in bed, but we were far too excited. We insisted on exploring the area, even just a little, not as “tourists” but as residents. We had a mini argument (which delayed the bus, much to our embarrassment) about whether to get a Return ticket to Westwood X for supplies or a Free Rider to explore some more. But, it was late on a Sunday afternoon, so a Return seemed the obvious choice, as in true British fashion, “everywhere would be closing soon”. The irony is that apparently a Free Rider would have only been seventy pence extra each, which we were shocked to discover as in London and Dartford the fairs are higher to say the least. That was our first sign that moving here was a good decision.

Our second sign were the welcoming smiles of two gentleman who own a small burger stand in Westwood X, opposite Marks & Spencer. I had read mention of them on the website for the shopping center* but as an Ethitarian – someone who tries to live life ethically, supporting local businesses, eating only free range meats, etc – I was expecting to have nothing on their menu that I could eat, as that is what I was accustomed to. But here on the coast, things are very, very different. When asked about their meats, we were informed that most were from local farm(s) and completely free range. Some produce were even from a farm that allows deaf children to raise hens, supporting local charity The Royal School For Deaf Children Margate. All this news made me more than happy, but tasting that burger made me ecstatic. It really was amazing – and so was the conversation. They gave us a wonderful welcome, and we really look forward to seeing them and eating their foods again.

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Not everything has been that easy, though. I am not just physically disabled, I also have agoraphobia, a mental health concern which means that I am scared of leaving home without someone accompanying me. I have had my fair share of scary encounters in London and that led to a fear of future occurances. The hope was that moving to the coast, I would feel safer and more at home; that I might even be able to leave the “flouse” unaccompanied, in time.

Cliftonville (Margate) may not seem like the safest or most welcoming place in the world, but we have introduced ourselves to some of our neighbors and some of the local businesses, and I think that in time, this place could really grow on me. Him, on the other hand? He goes out at any chance that he gets and is probably already becoming a “regular” at some of the local cafes and shops, so he has settled in just fine.

There is also the small matter of the fact that we still have thirty years (for him) and twenty-four years (for me) worth of boxed “bits and bobs” to sort through. I imagine most of it will be going to charity, but this is still no small task to complete.

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One week passed and whilst I decided to cut and dye my hair, he was already making his mark on the area, placing in a Tournament at the first convention of its kind, GEEK 2012**, coming home with a medal and some geeky goodies. “A fresh start” was what we agreed upon, and we were well on our way.

We were travelling back again to collect some final items, swap contact details with neighbors we did not want to lose touch with, etc, and although we were sad to be leaving for the final time, when our friends and family passed comments about how “different” we seemed – not just in appearance – we knew that we had made the right choice. There was no looking back, only forward, to our futures.

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“And what does the future hold for you?”, you might be asking. Well, he may have had to leave his job in Bluewater Shopping Center when he moved, but he has had some interest for job postings already, he is volunteering to work at a local charity shop, and with my support he is even considering furthing his education here at the Kent Adult Education Center and possibly Thanet College.

Myself? I am finally working my way through my “Living List”, a list of things I want to do with my life, from “write and publish a novel” to “lie on the grass and stare at the stars”, checking more of them off each day. I felt so contrained in London, but I do not know whether it is the fresh sea air or the people or the dust from all of those old book stores and antiques shops getting to my head and my heart and my soul, but I finally feel like I am making something of myself, like my life is worth living and I truly want to live it.

This is my home now, and so far, I never want to leave.

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*Since updated to no longer include the aforementioned burger stand, sadly.
**Now known as the Game Expo East Kent (hence “GEEK”).

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External Links
Westwood X Shopping Center
Royal School For Deaf Children Margate
Geek 2012

Feedback
As this is my first ever (internet) published article, it is important that I receive feedback from my readers.

I have created a multiple-choice (three at maximum) Poll for you to provide your opinion regarding my first attempt at becoming a professional journalist. Please take a few moments of your time to answer it. Alternatively, you can of course post in the Comments section.

I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me, be it answering my Poll, posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.

Article Progress – March 2012

This month might be the beginning of my journalistic journey, but I have been a busy bee every day. I have lots of ideas, and some are coming along into fruition quite nicely.

  • Margate Is My Home Nowthe story of a disabled citizen making a new start in one of the most “run down” cities in the country
        – A personal account of my move from London – where I have spent almost the entirety of my life – to Margate, one of the most “run down” towns in the country.
        – This was the first article that I penned after my move. I had been suffering writer’s block for quite some time in my old residency, so it seemed only natural when I was inspired by the change in surroundings and lifestyle that I write an article about it.
      – I am almost finished redrafting; adding finer details, shortening some of the longer paragraphs that seemed to upset the pacing. I hope to have this posted in the coming days.
  • Keeping Up Appearances : why having a brilliant successful television program is no excuse for poor production value
        -A discussion of how much of television seems obsessed with the highly budgeted series finale, and less bothered by overall production value, and how this effects the fans.
      – I have finished my first draft, but there seems to be something missing. I think this article needs a quote or two, so I am going to be “asking around” for fan opinions, and, if I feel bold enough, I may even send a few emails and ask for more “official” quotes from television studios.
  • Three Is The Magic Numberwhy series three is where good television becomes brilliant
        – A discussion of a theoretical “pattern” in television production where series three denotes bigger budget, “Special Guest Stars”, better writers, etc.
      – I have almost finished the first draft of this, though I lack a conclusive section for my article. I appear to have hit a brick wall in terms of where I want the article to actually lead, but I am determined to have it finished.

If any of my readers have any questions, creative contributions, comments of encouragement or general suggestions, please feel free to Comment. Thank you.