21 blog posts series know nineteen

21 blog posts series know nineteen

Nineteen: “Expecting the unexpected”

Now not to steal a line from the RSA, but not only does driving involve expecting the unexpected, in life we should remind ourselves to try and maintain that same mentality. We don’t know what might happen tomorrow or next month and so on, the unexpected is never too far away. Does that mean that we live in fear and refuse to go outside the door? I’d like to hope not. The unexpected occurrence doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, but for the most part – it can mean something that’ll change your lifestyle or how things were before this vital change of events.

Whatever your opinion is on fate or things happening for a reason, it’s impossible really to have complete control over what is going to happen in our lives. Not to scare the control freaks out there, but this is very true. You don’t know who you might meet, what you might see and what could stay with you in the form of a lasting memory or something having a lasting affect. I think these things often can give us an opportunity to reflect as well, which shouldn’t be knocked as I’ve said before somewhere.. (https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/the-first-of-21-blog-posts/).

What I can say is that life is going to shock you and leave you feeling a little insecure at times. But often, it’s a form of a test, if you want to look at it that way. Can you overcome a challenge, big or small or will you crumble in defeat before it? I think both reactions are respectable and understandable and it’s about having the support around you when these things happen in order to tackle the challenge knowing that you’re not alone. I don’t think that life waits for anyone and it’s up to us to keep up and keep going, constantly.

The unexpected things also teach us not to take things for granted in terms of the way they are simply. This is true of people as well. When someone falls ill unexpectedly, it’s really up to those close by to pick up the pieces and really play their role in the time of need. When someone of any age falls ill mentally, physically or even discovers a disease or disability – this presents a new changing challenge for the person and those around them. It means we all pull our weight a bit more to help and that we get on with it, living in hope that together it can something to overcome.

I think that this brings about something that’s universally understood: that this sort of unfairness that happens to people can happen to anyone. This challenges your sense of humanity and I think that’s when your humanity is challenged, in terms of whether you help or whether you turn your back to the reality someone else is facing, this is the real test of who you are. Our impressions of how people react to these situations also helps us to understand people at their core, individually. We don’t know how we’ll be in that sort of situation until we face it head on. I know it’s not something we desire to be in, but the reality is that we will have to face it in some shape or form.

These challenges change us and shape us and although often difficult, they should be embraced in some way, I suppose even in a process of reflection. I would recommend, holding on to your values as much as possible throughout these times. Whether it’s a loss or a gain you encounter, you must prove to yourself that one incident isn’t going to change who you are and what you value forever. Possibly easier said than done, but over time can be something to accept.

All photos are taken from my personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

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21 blog posts series ease eleven

21 blog posts series ease eleven

Eleven “Managing your money”

We’re always told about saving for that “rainy day” occurrence. It’s something that’s planted into our minds from an early age from pocket money to cashing in for brithdays or special events. I agree with saving for the rainy day and rightly considering that you might not have an influx of money in the near future. But sometimes, with the money demands that come with being a student, it can feel like it’s constantly overcast and the rainy day is happening constantly, just above our heads.

Never fear, these challenges can be tackled with a small bit of planning and some self control. Before I get into this I will say that it isn’t very good to live your life in fear of spending. What I’ve learned is that with each purchase or investment we make, we must decide on the how worthwhile the action is that we’re taking. Start with devising in your mind whether the thing is a want or a need, like a form of pro or con list. At the end of the day, every time we make a purchase we are making a choice whether something is worth it or not in terms of parting with your money.

However it is you get your income, money comes with responsibility attached. It can easily enough become something scarce when not handled or managed properly. A smart way to go about spending less is to get yourself well set up to deal with the unexpected. There are some great apps out there for money management which are worth a try for sure. But what I’ve found most useful is having two accounts to work off one as a spending and one as a saving account.

It’s not really that much of a hassle, it just divides your funds more fairly so you can attempt to stay on top of things, having something to fall back on if you really need it. I think there’s something built in us to love spending money, I don’t really know of anybody who doesn’t partake in the act. But I think surrounding yourself with people who you know may entice you to spend can sometimes be an act of harm. But this doesn’t have to be a thing you avoid if you put a bit of planning into it.

If you’ve arranged to meet a friend out somewhere, say a café or restaurant – familiarise yourself beforehand with the price range of the place. How much are you willing to spend here? What’s your budget? For me, budgets and weekly expenses can fluctuate. I’ll have more money in if I get more hours at work but I won’t if that doesn’t come together.

So what do I do? Lock myself away from the world if there isn’t a certain amount in my account? No. I would say, always do the thing if at all possible, but think ahead of what you might need to draw in on and make sure you keep your wits to do that. Plan out what the likely expenses will be and see if there are alternatives to these in the situation. This can be applied to any sort of social event when you really give it some thought.

Student life can bring with it huge pressures, from money to exams and really the balance is sometimes impossible to get right. Should you get more hours at work or in the library this week? It’s hard to know. So I’d say if you’re really stuck, don’t be afraid to go for the student loan option, be that from a bank or another source. We all place value on our degrees and if a loan is what you need to get that done, so be it. Grants are great things and should be thoroughly appreciated but when it’s a tough time financially, do what you have to do.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series find four

21 blog posts series find four

Four: “Avoiding the pitfalls of relationships”

Relationships are complex things. This is because, as I’ve come to realise, every single person on this planet is different. In reality, you aren’t going to find your perfect match, your perfect date or even perfect person to spend a chunk of your time with (not in the space of a day anyway).

So to tackle that challenge, I propose two pieces of advice:

  • Don’t be a settler
  • Don’t be a chaser

Now it may seem difficult to do both as surely one of the above would be compromised, but if you really try hard enough and value yourself highly enough – both can be avoided to result in your own happiness coming first and foremost when letting someone into your life in an intimate way.

You don’t want to half ass it. You’ll be sharing your inner most complex thoughts, your body, soul and mind with this individual. Would you like someone who lashes out and blatantly blabs all of your personal business about the place if you guys were to break up? To answer that for you, no you do not.

So with that, don’t settle. If you’re not 100% about a person, don’t push yourself into a situation that you aren’t fully comfortable with. Settling does not look good, I can tell you that much.

But neither does chasing. I guess in truth, it’s a form of desperation and need that may come across as a little bit over the top. I think chasing is nearly worse than settling as you just waste your own time, not being yourself and fitting in to someone else’s agenda (and they might not even realise that you’re going to such efforts).

I admit that this advice is coming from my own guilty conscience of having participated in both of these scenarios. Honestly, neither of the two makes you feel any way good about yourself. You aren’t be true to you or the other person involved and really that’s not fair to anyone. If this is happening, the reality of it is that both people could be off exploring other paths elsewhere, it’s a bit of a time wasting activity.

Now to take you to a metaphor.

I was on airplanes twice last week, going and coming home from the Netherlands. I realised that no matter where you sit on a plane, it’s impossible to see out from both windows at the side of the plane and once.

Now this does leave the passenger in a bit of a dilemma, where do they look? Which side will bring them more satisfaction in terms of the view? Or which side will they be disappointed to look at?

This comes back to the settling vs. chasing argument. If you’re too focused on the view from one side, you’ve settled for it and it is impossible now to see any of what’s happening on the other side.

When you focus too much on one person for too long, and in really being honest with yourself you see that the view isn’t changing – you’re missing out on the potential views from the other side.

This is the same of potential relationships. If you spend all your time chasing the one person, you could be just punishing yourself by missing what’s really going on around you in terms of the full picture.

So I would say, take a step back. Look away from the window. If it’s right and meant to be, the attention of the person should make its own way back to you, or even notice your absence as you take your focus away from them.

I admit that this is something challenging, but these things are sometimes truly impossible to control. Being kind to ourselves should be first and foremost.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

 

A message amidst madness series: Facing Challenges

 

By Cathy Lee

“Cancer”.

It’s a threatening word that faces us in modern day life, something that we can’t back down from.

The pronoun before the dreaded word is very important too. “You have, I have, your wife has, your friend has” and so on.

Cancer is a sickening challenge, like that one competitor in the game who’s a born dominant fighter that you have to rise above to have a chance at overcoming.

Not an easy thing either, I might add.

How people tackle the beast of the C word has always fascinated me. From those suffering with the outer skin types, the internal organs types, brain tumours and in my opinion the worst case, the blood.

One in three people in Ireland today are affected by Cancer directly, but think about how many families and friends are indirectly affected.

This probably sounds like it’s going to be a downer piece but trust me, it’s not.

I want to share with you an incredible story of friendship, innovation and generosity which I witnessed in my own home town recently.

Last week I came across a link called “Aaron’s fight” that friends from home were sharing online. The image attached to the link looked kind and familiar, like I recognised the kids in the photograph across the screen.

The online world is a hectic place. Things such as these are easy to scroll past or look at half-heartedly. But not this one.

I clicked in, thinking some young lad from home had gotten in a fight or something. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn’t the case.

“Aaron’s Fight” is a fundraising campaign for a young man, Aaron de Veerde, who has been fighting T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia for just over one year now.

Fighting is not strong enough of a term to describe this young man. From my reading and from talking to his best friend Blaine McKeever, who started this campaign, he’s an inspirational kid who has never wanted to give up.

Since his diagnoses, Aaron

has suffered the loss of sight in one eye and also missed out on the chance to finish secondary school with his classmates, a big step defining step in any adolescents life.

With this in mind, feeling inspired by his friend, Blaine came up with the innovative idea to use online means to secure Aaron a fighting chance at overcoming his cancer.

Blaine is a UCD student aged 19 and comes from Wicklow and is a long standing friend of Aaron. This campaign was a simple idea of telling Aaron’s story and appealing to the generosity of others in order to raise €10,000 for Aaron to travel to Florida to seek vital survival treatment.

This escalated over the last few days, with nearly 350 people donating to the cause online as well as directly to Blaine himself.

The €10k was collected in under a week from friends, neighbours and even those outside of the Wicklow catchment area.

The response was huge, as now there is even a charity concert being planned for early March with local bands who are friends of Aarons providing the entertainment.

“Aarons’ Fight” will go on until April, and the campaign continues today.

The extra donations past the now reached target are being used for family support and other donations such as to St. Vincents hospital, Dublin.

The support is huge and Blaine has been amazed by the ultimate generosity saying “It’s the people sharing and donating that deserve the thanks”.

What we can take from this story is that friendship is something extraordinary and any challenge, even one such as brutal as cancer, can be stepped up against with the strength and support in valuable numbers.

Daily, people complain about money constraints and their unwillingness to spend, yet this is such a different case. As the story grows and continues, I think the nature of giving will as well once this strong sense of dedication to friendship is recognised.

Check out the campaign here and I encourage you to donate to “Aaron’s Fight”. https://www.gofundme.com/aaronsfight