Change and ‘The Power’

I’ve been feeling pretty rotten over the last couple of days. Had episodes of probably what is vertigo, essentially, dizziness and that run down- bleurgh feeling. Feeling sea-sick as I woke up at 6:45 and as I tried to get out of bed the, ‘why am i doing this?’ question came to me and I got back in and emailed to say I wasn’t coming in. I have spent most of the day reading ‘Power’ by Naomi Alderman. I finished it. And i’m quite confused by how I feel about it.

I’ve had a look at other reviews of the book to get some other insights.

It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and I gorged on the first 100 pages or so because of how inventive it was . I think as the story developed it did lose some of it’s realistic appeal to me. Yes, the story is pretty fantastical but I feel it wasn’t supposed to be just that.

I really enjoyed the first 100 pages because I really felt a lot of aspects were covered by Alderman. It felt like there was a lot of clear messages to be taken from it. How different people coped and reacted to the changes that happened. I think it wasn’t what I thought because it wasn’t actually as nice and successful as I’d hoped. I think the idea that women are more powerful than men, to me, would mean that greater, fairer things would happen. This wasn’t the case and my naivety has been put to shame!  It isn’t power over another that is successful… Ever. It’s not dominance and submission (oi oi) but being on the same level and this is what this book shows. Too much power in any hands can be a bad thing.

The particularly poignant part in the book is quite early on and it is when women start rioting and cannot be controlled and are feared because of their power. There’s a dialect something like “what do we do?”,  “we kill them.”,  “But we can’t kill all the women in the world”

At this point it very is man vs woman. Which actually is totally pointless because both need each other.

And  it makes you think about other riots and wars. And you think, this is pointless too? We are at war against each other. It’s pointless. It’s power not wanting to be lost. But what are we actually fighting for? Those at the top already, what are they actually defending that’s worth defending anymore? Are we asking to be heard or asking to take over and be in charge?

Most minorities just want to be heard and to have fair treatment. That’s what the women’s marches, the LGBT marches that i’ve been on have been about. They were for me anyway.  How can humans be so anti-eachother? Just seems like such a daft concept when you take a step back and look and what we’re doing now and what we’ve done for ridiculous numbers of years. And for what?

I dunno, all I want is to achieve a couple of things that I’ve always wanted to achieve. Do good where I can and use what I have. Power has never been something I have been after so I wouldn’t know! #simplebutcompletelife 

I lost the flow of the book by the end. I don’t think I quite caught the point of some of the character’s stories, maybe I haven’t digested it well enough yet. I thought the book was very honest and fair. There wasn’t an agenda to the book I think apart from a look into power and where we are at the moment. I think I wanted Alderman to talk more about the injustice in parts of the world but she didn’t go into too much detail. Having read a book recently which I reviewed a lot of the countries talk about – India in particularly the reactions really resonated.

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So I’m moving out this weekend back home for the year. I’m on placements all over the UK and in other countries come next week so I’m pretty much going to be living out my car, Betty.

I’ve been in this little room for two years and It hasn’t dawned on me that I’m saying goodbye to it yet. I was reading and it’s been raining all day and with my cup of tea I saw a photo opportunity. My phone never sees what I see but it got close enough.

I’m half packed. It’s going to take a couple of trips. You can see the magazines i’ve yet to read and leaflets about jobs and careers on the side. You can see flowers that Rosie bought me. They’re probably past their best now but i’m not ready to let them go. There’s a half empty box for packing, my keyboard which was fun to play for the four weeks that it fitted in with my routine. My wooden post from one of the marches I went on. I intend to use it again at some point.. It did have a poster on it..

I do and don’t like the idea that I don’t know where I’ll be in a years time. I think I am naturally a home maker and I do want a home or nest of my own. My own nook. Makes travelling all the more special because you have something special to come back to. 

 I suppose I have just been in so many places that I’m just looking forward to not having too much upheaval for a short time. Until I get bored and a wandering eye ;).. 

Rebecca x 

 

 

 

Plastic Free Month: 5 days left!!

I have 5 days left! Although I think I’m so used to what I’ve changed and started doing that I’m going to stick with a lot of it.

I had a big test this weekend that’s just past. It was a vet conference up in Lancaster. Loads of lectures on how /where/when to get your first job etc. Bloody overwhelming but it was really good.

We stopped a couple of times for coffee and I brought my reusable cup which wasn’t an issue and brought snacks to stop me wanting to buy anything!

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I meant to take a photo of all the freebies and plastic stuff that was out and available but totally forgot. But I’m sure you can picture what it was like. There were loads of stalls of companies with leaflets and freebies and sweets everywhere. I was pretty good at not picking anything up! It was so hard though! But it’s crazy how much plastic was there and as a freebie probably used a couple times and then thrown away or forgotten about!

Fortunately we always had normal mugs and plates so I didn’t have to worry about much other than that!

I also found these in Waitrose! Binliners have been an issue this month. But as I’m not throwing a huge amount a way these little paper bins are pretty ideal!

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I got a voucher for doing some bits at uni. AND WENT SHOPPING. Swoonnn

I was hoping I would be able to avoid, magically, my period this month. But that didn’t happen and actually it’s been a pretty grim one. I get really bad stomach pains and back ache. Usually for the first 24hrs which is usually well managed with ibuprofen and heat packs. I’ve had to take the odd day off sometimes just because of how bad it is. Not only the pain, but the emotional ups and down and actually how knackering it is. Bit of a mess basically!

Fortunately being on research I could take it slow. This time the pain wasn’t as bad as it could be but it lasted for three days -_-  and ibuprofen just didn’t really seem to cut it. So this was me in the library… haha. ..

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I’ve eaten so much chocolate.

God I begrudge periods so much. Ugh. Because I know that I’m fine and that if it wasn’t for the mood swings and the pain I’d be really productive and this happens monthly. ugh. At least everyone gets colds so you take it when it’s your turn to have one! Not just 50% of us. ugh! But I think I’ll need to write another blog to rant this one out! 😉

I did take some ibuprofen this week which was cheating as it was in plastic. I spose i didn’t actually buy it, i already had it and tried to take as few as possible?? but ultimately i cheated on being plastic free.

With regards to what products I use. I have used a mooncup for years and have reusable sanitary towels too. Love both!  https://ecofemme.org/ … This company sells them and for everyone you buy they donate to girls in other countries where they haven’t got access to them! Definitely recommend.

And on that note! 😉

Rebecca  x

 

 

To the older me 

Rebecca,

Lots of aspects of your life will change in the next few years. You have no idea what you will see, do and where you will end up. But the way you think now feels right and fair but still you have so much to learn and figure out.

Remember that you will never be able to second guess someone else’s story. Before you go to judge and put them into one your ingrained default stereotypes talk to them, learn about them. Realise how similar and different you are.

Remember where you grew up and what you saw. Remember the people you met and the situation.

At the end of each month, ask yourself if you’ve helped anyone, volunteered or donated your time or skills or donated money. If not, why?

Remember how you still want to change the world and still think it’s possible. Remember that you can still be settled and curious and explorative. Remember that if you are not happy with something you can change it.

Remember that you can’t just look out for yourself, you need to be able to see the bigger picture. Not everyone is in your position. Remember to practise being in other people’s shoes.

Remember that the world is not finite and that you simply can’t have everything you want. Compromise is good and healthy.

Remember to do the things you love and inspire it in others. Remember that you don’t have to be pushy or competitive. Grow at your own pace and don’t over do it. Take breaks and analyse.

Remember to be the best person you can be, because then your time will never be wasted.

Rebecca x

Plastic Free Month: 4 days in!

Cor Blimey.

It’s been an odd one!

I’ve not eaten anything naughty at all. literally nothing. I have had a decent amount of gin and cider though.. But that’s been necessary… because of the weather.

Cleaning

I’ve been cleaning my dishes, the table tops and my bathroom with the vinegar, bicarb and hot water concoction. They feel clean, they look clean and doesn’t feel like I’m polishing a turd. But it’s going to take a little more convincing before I would definitely switch. I’ve been making sure to use hot water too, which sometimes I don’t with washing up liquid. It’s probably just that there’s no bubbles and there’s nothing much to see.. making me think that nothing is happening. But I am loving the easiness of it all. I haven’t had to clean anything super gross or difficult yet so we shall see how it stands up to it.

Clothes washing –  I have used Soapnuts for the last couple of years anyway and I really like them. They aren’t great at cleaning the really dirty stuff ( boiler suits, scrub tops … ) however so I usually have a bottle of something else that I use when it’s needed. But for normal clothes they’re great!

Eating

Fruit and veggies sorted! Great! Easy!

I just need more flavour! With my spices hidden away I went in search of fresh ones or dried ones that I can bulk buy. But no luck. All in plastic. I have stuck with pastes in glass jars for the mean time which are good but it feels like cheating.. and I like adding a little extra sometimes which I can’t do! AH! haha. But even some of the pastes had plastic over the lid! I get why it’s done but really! ugh. I was all over the satay peanut sauce but the lid had plastic over it 😦

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So I went to Whole Foods this morning. And the whole place smelled like Bread and cheese. It was cruel.  BUT! I chatted to some of the staff and they’re happy to put meat, cheese, legumes etc into your own tupperware if you bring it along! I didn’t do it today, they had paper bags (some had plastic film in and others didn’t!) so went with those. The peanut butter though ❤

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I bought some tahini and chickpeas to attempt to make some hummus. I sound very middle class. But I cannot go a month without hummus. I’ll keep you updated on the process!

I do love Whole Foods. Some of the food is so ridiculously expensive it’s laughable but it does stock incredible things and I feel that you do get what you pay for.. most of the time. I didn’t buy any fresh stuff here, the market that I go to locally is as good and more likely to be locally produced fruit and vegetables. If it wasn’t for the fact that I remembered that this store has a bulk buy area I wouldn’t have felt the need to go today. There other smaller stores don’t have it. It was just so great to be able to pick up currants, oats, lentils, chickpeas and coffee beans without any packaging. I think it’s definitely worth supporting a shop that has that option and encouraging it in general. It all came to a really reasonable price too! I was pleasantly surprised!

I am missing milk/milk alternatives already and most of my teabags come in some kind of packaging so this is also pretty difficult and sad. I have made oat milk, but it’s not great, fine in porridge but not for drinking as is. Will possibly try more recipes out.

Meanwhile I have just been offered biscuits and chocolate and can’t eat any of it. Think I’ll have an apple.

I’ve also had a bit social life this week! (I know!) It’s been surprisingly easy to drink alcohol. bottles and cans! Boom. I did almost give the barman a heart attack when I burst out asking him to not give me the plastic cup or straw he was reaching for. Poor chap haha, I did explain. However, I also successfully managed to make my companions feel awkward and bad with their plastic cups and straws. Ha. Meh, you can’t have everything. Nice bit of guilt tripping occasionally.

Toiletries

I am loving how simple this is. I literally do not have to make a decision whether to wear or not wear make up. I can’t. End of. I do get the odd spell of dry skin which will be a problem. Might give coconut oil a go..

I have shampoo, conditioner and soap bars from Lush. I really like the shampoo bar, it feels like it’s working and smells really nice and my hair is good! But I can’t get to grips with the conditioner at all. It’s so hard and doesn’t lather at all but it seems to be going onto my hair. I don’t think they do as great a job as some of the bottled shampoos that I use. But I can’t really be surprised by that when you look at the difference in ingredients. The soap bar is great, nothing more to it!

My ‘truthpaste’ and bamboo toothbrush are okay. The paste is pretty bitter and grim but it’s growing on me. The toothbrush is great but softer than I’m used to.

Health wise, I got a blister from my flip-flips the other day and all I could think of was creating an elastic band and tissue gadget. Couldn’t be bothered to try it but it made me realise how drugs and plasters are out too.  Hayfever isn’t too bad at the moment.. and  I’m not surrounded by many cats .. so perfect! #catallergywhere?! #Nothere..

Vet life

It has been impossible to remove plastic from the research that I’m doing this month. My plastic tubes, syringes all plastic and come in plastic packaging. Made to be convenient and sterile but only for one use! Being in practise is just as bad too.

On the whole, everything is going well! haha. Just going to take some time to get used to it. Still finding hints and tips online.  Most people seem to understand what I’m doing and accept it straight up which is great (even if they think i’m weird). When I used to decline things because I was vegan/vegetarian, I always got so much grief in comparison!

All the best,

Rebecca xx

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Plastic Free Month: Day One

First day has gone relatively well!

I’ve started a block at uni that is purely for research and so today has been filled with meetings and discussions about what I need to do and all the stuff i need etc. So my first slip up was needing to use a pen!…Just the once, for like one sentence! Otherwise i’ve been using pencils! It is also my brothers birthday today and we went out for meal at lunchtime. I had orange juice that of course would have come out of a container so slip up 2.. plus it would be amazing if the the whole meal came without plastic somewhere but lets hope! Lesson learned!

But apart from that, I’ve been okay so far. I had to drive to a local grocers to pick up the fruit and vegetables for a couple of days, I’ve even baked a loaf of bread and made oat milk!

I have put all of my plastic things in the corner of my room so that I can’t use them. There were quite a few things that I hadn’t thought of like my spices! Ah! But I’ll will try and find a way to work around it! It’s so tempting when they’re simply there watching you all the time. Literally calling out “use me!”

I have already started to realise how much simpler everything is. No makeup, no creams… although no suntan lotion which is a bit worrying..

 

 

I have plastic bottles in the fridge that i’m using to have constant cold water, i’m also using all the plastic Tupperware that I have. I wont be buying any new ones but I bought these with the intention that they would last. Guess it’s opinion whether I’m being naughty or not! But i feel like there’s no point me buying new non-plastic ones when i have what I need anyway!  We shall see!

I’ve been washing up with the vinegar, bicarb, soap crystal concoction and not formed an opinion yet but the vinegar smell will take some getting used to!

My flatmate bought me some plastic free toilet roll which is amazing! I don’t have to totally rely on the flannels now. I know i’m bound to catch myself out and run out at some point so these are perfect!

Rebecca xx

Veterinary Medicine

I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon from about the age of 14. A bit older than a lot of the students I’m studying with. I wanted to be a field archaeologist up until then. What drew me to both careers was the discovery and logic needed to solve cases. Not knowing what I was going to find and having to go on my knowledge and problem solving ability.

When I realized it was what I wanted to do I worked so much harder at school. I’d always done pretty well, usually in top handful of achievers in school and it carried on until a-levels. But a-levels was a really really tough two years for me. I had a lot going on in and out of school and struggled to stay positive and keep on track. I flunked my first year, spent the summer cramming for resits, got the pieces of myself a bit back together and somewhere I found motivation and determination. None of my teachers believed in what I was doing. Immediately I was fighting a battle but I think it made me fight harder.

I applied to university, but I knew I’d get nowhere on the predicted grades that I had except the gateway course at RVC, London. I’d been planning on my application and interview for essentially years. I remember being 15/16 and looking up how to get into vet school,  I had all the books too.  I remember lying in bed at night and coming up with possible interview questions and how I would answer them.

I applied and got the interview! This stunned my teachers, suddenly they were all over me and asked if i needed help with preparation. I spent so long preparing for my interview, the possible questions, what I thought, what i had learned from all the experience i had had to get and how I wanted to come across.

I look back on my interview now and I’m genuinely so impressed and proud of how I did. My nights imagining the interviewers questions seemed to pay off!  I got a conditional offer a couple of months later. I even then managed to beat my predicted grades by two.

They say getting into vet school is the hard bit. It is indeed very hard. I was lucky in being able to apply for the gateway course. I don’t think the application system is particularly fair, but I’m not going to talk about something I don’t know much about!

The gateway course is essentially for anyone from a less privileged background who is less likely to achieve the high grades and get all the experience needed. You spend an extra year doing Veterinary Bioscience which is a way of trying to build up general science knowledge before moving into the five year VetMed course. It was an extra year but entirely worth it. It was a small group of us so we got to know each other really well, the stuff we learned I was really interested in and I wish I could go back to studying the hours I did then now.!

I did really well in my first year, but saw a steady decline in my grades over the years. I met people and started enjoying more of social life in the first year of the VetMed course. I was also commuting to university every day and living at home. The commute was fine once I was used to it. My third year at university was probably the hardest year. Mentally I was struggling to cope again. The workload and hours was huge and intense. I missed doing other things, being a student and felt really isolated. I have never really been great at the work-life balance. Living at home was beginning to take it’s toll too so things were hard. I did the worst that year regarding grades, I was knackered.

Looking back, those years were hard because there was so little to look forward to. We still had three years of education and I would go months without seeing a living animal. It sounds funny but most of us are in our happiest place around animals. Being in London on a 9-5 course + the hours of studying in the evening, there was nothing to remind us of what we doing there and trying to achieve.

Fourth and fifth year, we moved up to the second campus which is a bit more green. I moved into halls on site. A lot of aspects of my life greatly improved, the lack of commuting gave me more hours, it was more sociable and I got more involved in university stuff. I did resent university a lot though. I still had two and three years ahead of me, still in masses of debt and nothing to show for it. We were starting however to learn about how to actually save and treat and help animals rather than the body systems and physiology.

I put my heart and soul into my last set of exams just before christmas 2016.  It’s such a balancing act knowing how much to do and when to take a break. But I was determined not to stress too much. I kept telling myself that If i was on track to covering all the material, then why stress? It’s definitely expectations and reality that need balancing. I was able to take the odd night off and go to a concert with Rosie or something. Something to totally break away for a few hours, a good sleep and then start fresh in the morning. This absolutely worked. I boosted my grade by 10% from the previous exam. So on that I’m hoping to increase my grades by another 10% at finals. I think my fear is qualifying and literally not knowing enough.

But veterinary is a career where you are always learning and you can’t know everything. .. even if you want to. We’re definitely a group of perfectionists in a job where we will never be perfect. Lose-lose really!

So I have now been at university for five years and am nearing the end of my fourth year of the VetMed course. In a years time I will have sat my final exams and will be waiting to see if I can qualify and graduate as a veterinary surgeon.

The next year consists of usually two week placements in different environments picking up skills and improving knowledge.

When I first started university I hadn’t really thought about the type of animals that I wanted to work with. I liked farm animals but didn’t really know much about farming so I guess I assumed pet animals.

I’m now pretty keen to do a bit of everything when I qualify. I’m hoping to find a truly mixed animal practice somewhere in Britain. Right now, I don’t know if it’s a job that i’ll stick with forever. I can’t wait to have my own clients and regular routine and have emergencies in the middle of the night. The idea of doing a morning of consults before heading out to farm to check on some calves sounds perfect to me.  But there are a huge amount of downsides to being a vet. There is a huge suicide rate amongst us. Probably put simply because we set out to do the best we can but doesn’t always happen and can’t happen.

Meeting Rosie was such a fantastic idea of mine (haha lol) .. We have such different careers and jobs that I’m able to release myself from the veterinary grip and explore elsewhere. I definitely got stuck in the rut of only learning vet related things and not making sure that I had other interests elsewhere. Exercise is absolutely important, even though I’m feeling like a flump today as I haven’t done anything significant in quite a while.  Jumping from air-bnb to hostels doesn’t fill me with the energy to run every evening.  I am pushing myself to read more, and take the odd 30-60mins out to read for fun. I’m trying to learn a bit more French, I’ve started a blog! And i love drawing when the mood takes me too.  With Rosie, i think about new things, meet new people and learn about different worlds. I once assumed my life would be all veterinary.. I’d have a vet husband and vet children and I’d work all hours saving animals. It can’t be done. I will still save animals, still lead a veterinary life but we have to remember to take time out. It’s not plain sailing when suddenly you have a difficult owner on the phone, you’re thirty minutes behind on consults and have a ton of paper work to finish before you leave.

I must say, alcohol has been a close friend to me in these past years and I have no intention of breaking off ties. 😉  Ha. A glass of wine after a couple of long and knackering shifts is one of the most beautiful offerings. not. even. joking.

But actually, this career is an amazing one, I’m really excited to get going. I could end up anywhere. I’ve had endless strange encounters with vets, clients and farmers and i’m sure they’ll continue to happen. I don’t regret at all where I am but it has been difficult. I’m in the stage now where I’m close to being treated like a vet by many and so it’s becoming so much more enjoyable with an end in sight!

You can see by my post how easy it is to get caught up in the negative and difficult times but looking through my pictures and writing this piece has made me realise how amazing my journey so far has been and how amazing it could be. I just have to take the odd step back and think – is this right for me?

Look out for yourself sometimes.

Rebecca x

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