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- 02/03/19--01:01: _My Odd Job: The fir...
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- 02/04/19--04:17: _Can you damage your...
- 02/04/19--04:37: _Woman who was marri...
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- 02/04/19--04:48: _Artist and designer...
- 02/02/19--08:36: How to stay safe when dating
- 02/02/19--09:49: A 3D puzzle cabin in Norway offers respite for worn-out hikers
- 02/03/19--03:44: Pea milk is apparently the next dairy-free drink trend
- 02/04/19--04:00: I won’t take the iPad off my toddler, it’s a great parenting tool
- 02/04/19--04:17: Can you damage your balls if you run in the wrong underwear?
I am sitting cross-legged on a battered tarpaulin in Fiji among palm trees, watching a skinny dog worry chickens as the sun goes down.
Across from me, by a church, a group of men perform a traditional kava ceremony for the tourist group I’ve arrived with.
Kava is a bitter root, ground down to a powder and mixed with water. The resulting drink (which I had a sip of) tastes earthy and apparently if you drink enough of it it gives you a buzz, then wipes you out the next day.
It’s supposed to signify the village welcoming people ashore, but I wonder how the villagers feel about this steady stream of strangers from around the globe incessantly turning up, so I chatted to some, with the help of a translator.
Semisi Vunibola is a ninth generation chief – a 54-year-old dad of six, granddad of 11 and leader of the 300 people in Gunu village.
The former butcher became chief six years ago, when his father died, and he tells me it’s his job to look after the welfare and development of his village.
He attends village meetings every month and district meetings every six, and is proud to have overseen the introduction of solar panels and better drinking water tanks.
‘I want to set a good example with my leadership. I want to set a good example for people to respect one another and look after one another. In our culture there’s a lot of respect for the elders but in modern times it’s really going away,’ he says.
The biggest challenge his clan faces today, he says, is the high cost of living, which affects every family. ‘The cost of living is high but the income is low. We try to balance it by planting for our own subsistence,’ he says, adding that developments to create jobs would be welcome.
When I ask how he feels about his clan performing traditional dances and ceremonies to tourists he says: ‘It’s a source of income and the money that comes from it helps with the maintenance of the things that are used by the villagers, like the community hall. We bank the money and when there’s a big function where the whole village is involved this money pays for it.’
He also explains that tourists are expected to present themselves, with an offering of kava on arrival, as a mark of respect.
‘Everyone who comes to the village has to come and see us,’ he says.
‘When they come they have to present their sevusevu (offering) for arriving into this land. That’s the culture in every village.’
While we chatted we were joined by Jovesa Seuseu, who is in charge when he’s away.
I also meet his 27-year-old son Eseroma Vunibola, 30-year-old daughter-in-law Resina, and grandchildren Maria, seven, and baby Sakiusa (seven months).
When I ask about women’s role in the clan, Resina replies: ‘In our community women are hardly recognised. We always say that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. So every decision made in the community is done by men. We are only there to assist them.
‘In urban areas women’s voices can be heard, but in our traditional communities women’s voices are hardly heard. Women’s rights hardly apply in Fijian communities – only in working areas they can fight for their rights but when it comes to communal things women can’t fight for their rights. They are left unspoken. Only men can speak up.
‘At times it’s really difficult. Most of the women are better educated than men but most of the women’s ideas are not taken, it’s just the men.’
She explains that often, when there’s a clan meeting, men will go home, discuss things with their wives then take those ideas back.
‘But women can’t speak directly to the elders. It’s a big taboo,’ she adds.
While there are a few female chiefs in Fiji it’s by no means the norm. In this village, for instance, their laws forbid it. This was tested when Semisi’s dad was chief and his aunt challenged him to the role.
Later in my trip to Fiji I have the most incredible experiences – I swim in hidden caves, bask on palm-lined shores, paddle board and eat delicious food.
But I can’t forget my chat with Resina.
Elsewhere, I talk to a group of Fijian women and, as well as identifying with her experience, they tell me kava can become a problem for men in some communities – it’s drunk to excess, rendering them useless and leaving women to do all the work.
Fiji is a beautiful series of islands, with an incredibly friendly welcome, but it seems even paradise isn’t perfect.
It’s a visually stunning, kind-hearted but slightly baffling mix of archaic customs and modern technology – of men in grass skirts worn for the tourists pulling peace signs for Instagram.
Women don’t have a say but even the remotest islands have mobiles.
At the end of our chat Eseroma pulls out a smart phone. ‘Are you on Facebook?’ he asks.
Unmissable Fiji activities
Swim in the Sawa-i-Lau caves
Water babies will love this place. With a guide’s help you can swim under some rocks to access a series of dark caves said to be inhabited by a 10-headed sea snake (not that I saw him). We visited on an excursion from our Captain Cook Cruise.
Paddle board at the Blue Lagoon beach
Fans of Brook Shields will recognise this attractive spot. If you’ve never heard of her or The Blue Lagoon you’ll still enjoy a day here.
Snorkel around Castaway island
The Tom Hanks film was filmed here, on small but perfectly formed Mondriki. A Sea Spray Day Adventure from Mana, which includes a trip to Yanuya to take part in a kava ceremony and lunch costs £78 (219 Fiji dollars).
This is an ingenious way to see Fijian countryside – via a unique set up of electric bikes on repaired train tracks.
A half day tour, which includes a beach stop and time for swimming, costs £48 ((129 Fiji dollars).
For more ideas on what to do, go to the Visit Fiji website.
Where to stay and how to get there
You can stay at an Air BnB in Gunu on the island of Yasawa.
Amele’s Secret Getaway Homestay includes breakfast and costs from £8 per night.
The former had more of a couples’ feel, with plunge pools and cosy basket seats on your patio, while the latter had a to die for pasta restaurant, high quality breakfasts and seemed best for families.
Rooms at The Sheraton Tokoriki Island Resort costs from £110 per night based on a minimum three-night stay.
A night at The Shangri-La Resort & Spa costs from £100 per night.
Another option is a Captain Cook Cruise. The staff on my ship were outstanding and it was a great way to get around the islands.
A three-night cruise costs from £628.
British Airways flies from Heathrow to Nadi in Fiji via Hong Kong, with onward connections on Fiji Airways. Flights cost from £1,183 return travelling in economy class.
Alternatively you can fly via Los Angeles, which costs from £1,165.
While dating can be fun, exhilarating and awkward, there’s one thing it should never be: unsafe.
Unfortunately, thanks to the ingrained British tradition of remaining courteous and well-mannered at all times, we tend to sometimes forget that it’s completely acceptable to leave a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable or afraid.
A recent report compiled by dating app Plenty of Fish and cyber security expert and former undercover police officer, Danni Brooke, revealed some alarming facts around dating safety, including how 49% of those surveyed feel compelled to be polite and remain on a date, despite feeling uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, 24% have been concerned for their safety within the last 12 months, and 25% don’t feel they know enough about how to stay safe when dating.
It’s one of the dangers surrounding internet dating in particular, where often daters are left with nothing more than basic facts about the person they will potentially meet up with.
With Valentine’s Day less than two weeks away – and a surge in activity expected on the dating app market – Brooke provides her top tips on dating safely.
Do background checks on your date
Be your own detective.
Social media has its benefits when it comes to dating. Before meeting up with your date, have a look at their social profiles – if their Facebook page or Instagram account looks brand new, be cautious. A brief look through their friends list could also be helpful – do these accounts look real?
If you’re struggling to find them through a regular search, you can also use a tool called Pipl, which allows you to search a name, phone number, user name or email address. You could also do an image reverse search through Google, if you want to dig deeper.
Do bare in mind that your future date could be the type of person who is inactive or doesn’t use social media, but if you’ve got a nagging feeling, do your research.
Listen to your gut instinct
Does something just not feel right? That’s OK; you’re not impolite or rude if you decide to end the date.
Just tell the date you need to leave, and order a taxi home or to another place where you feel safe. It’s also a good idea to message or call a friend or family member, and ask them to meet you or stay on the phone to them, if you prefer.
Always tell someone where you’re going, and with who
Don’t go on a first date with someone you’ve never met without telling someone about it.
Send a friend, housemate or family member a quick text with the name and address of the location you’re headed to, the name of the person you’re meeting up with and the time of your date.
Unsurprisingly, according to the report, men are much less likely to share their plans but it’s recommended to do it, regardless of which gender you are.
Have the date at a known public place
Almost 23% of those surveyed had met up with a date in private.
With people having wider access to casual relationships or purely sexual encounters, it might be tempting to tell your date to come straight to your house (or heading straight to theirs).
Even if it’s just for sex, which is absolutely fine, put your safety first and meet in a public place. You have several advantages with this option – there are other people around and if you’re in a bar or pub, they’ll have CCTV cameras operating.
Plus, should you change your mind, your date won’t have your address.
If you aren’t 100% comfortable – leave. Don’t stay to be polite
You are never obligated to stay on a date if you don’t want to be there.
It doesn’t matter if it comes off as offensive to the other person, you have a right to leave if you don’t feel comfortable.
Make sure you have battery life on your phone
Charge your phone before the date and invest in a portable charger.
If you’re in a public venue and your battery runs out, you can always ask the manager if they’re able to lend you a charger (or put it on charge in their office). Alternatively, if it’s urgent, you could explain the situation and ask to borrow a phone.
Set up a coded call with your friend, even if you’re ok
It’s a cliché for a reason. Ask your friend to call and have a code word ready to use if you need their help.
Don’t worry about potentially offending your date by taking the call. If he or she is a good date, they’ll understand.
Get to the date location early
If you can, plan to arrive early.
This way, you can scope out the place you’re meeting up in and choose seats with a good vantage point.
Set up Find my Friends on your phone
The Find My Friends app is free, and it only takes a few minutes to download and set up. This will provide a live feed of your location.
If you don’t have access to this type of tool, you can also post your location on social media (and keep doing so if you move on to a different venue).
Arrange your transport to and from the date ahead of time
Don’t leave your transport options to chance.
If you’re getting a taxi, make sure you’ve charged your phone (if it’s an Uber) or that you have some spare cash on you for a black cab or minicab.
If you’re getting public transport, check the timings so you know how often the service is running (and when it stops).
Want to read the full report on how to be safe when dating? You can find it here.
If you’re in immediate danger, call 999. Don’t have a phone? Alert security staff at the venue you’re at or tell a team member (preferable a manager) that you need urgent assistance.
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Hikers headed to Hammerfest, the northernmost town in Norway, are in for a treat.
The mezmerising landscape is a sight to behold, but its terrain can be difficult to trek through, which is why a local group from the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) have built a quirky cabin where worn-out hikers can recharge.
Created by Norwegian architectural firm Spinn Arkitekter, the cabin resembles a 3D puzzle and consists of 77 wood timber shapes that have been slotted together.
The design has been specifically made to blend in with the natural environment, and is the first of two cabins planned for this area.
Hikers can take advantage of the warmth, with a wood burning stove and seating inside, and the back section of the cabin also features a large window with unparalleled views of beautiful sunrises, sunsets and, during the right season, the Northern Lights.
The difficulty in designing this type of cabin is adapting it to the harsh conditions it’s placed in – the final design was tested with the help of simulated storms.
The project was crowdfunded, with local businesses also offering support, and materials for the outer shell donated by a US wood supplier known as Kebony.
It took several volunteers four days to put together the main structure, cladding and outer panels, based on designs provided by Spinn Arkitekter.
If you find yourself wandering about Hammerfest in Norway, keep your eyes out for the cabin.
Bring a snack or pour yourself a cuppa from your thermos, as you refresh your mind and body with a moment’s solitude, far away from any distractions.
SEI_49183443-d55eSEI_49183443-d55eallieabgarianCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Tor Even Mathisen supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Format Engineers supplied to metro.co.ukCabin for weary travellers Picture: SPINN Arkitekter / Format Engineers supplied to metro.co.uk
My job literally involves locking people in a room and seeing if they can escape…
It’s worth mentioning at this point that this is all done with their permission! I am an escape room and immersive puzzle designer.
Simply put, I create real-life experiences where ‘players’ work together to solve puzzles against a time-limit. If you have ever watched the Crystal Maze or played a video game then you’ll have a good idea what this is like.
There are all kinds of escape rooms, and the business has become huge internationally. Some escape rooms are tiny handmade projects in people’s garages whilst others are like big-budget movie sets with animatronics and character actors.
I think their popularity represents a shift in people’s interests; more and more people want to spend their money on ‘memorable experiences’ rather than on buying more ‘things’.
A good escape room offers you and your friends the opportunity to become immersed in a fantastical world (from the distant past, to a 50’s spy thriller, all the way to bizarre sci-fi worlds) and for one hour you must solve fiendish puzzles to escape.
I got into designing and building escape rooms over the past five years. Initially it began when I went to my first escape room in London, ‘Hint Hunt’ by Euston Station, and it blew my mind! Almost immediately I desperately wanted to build my own.
The very first escape room I built was for my friends, I locked them in my shed for one hour on my 30th birthday without telling them what was happening. It’s remarkable I still have any friends left!
From then I began developing escape rooms for a number of museums. I am now freelancing full-time as an escape room designer and have built experiences for the V&A’s recent video game exhibition ‘Design/Play/Disrupt’ and am developing an exciting dinosaur themed project for a museum in Birmingham.
So how do you build an escape room?
Well to be honest there is no formal method so you more or less make it up as you go along; I would imagine every escape room designer has their own style.
For me it starts with a conversation with the person or organisation commissioning me. The most important question for me is. ‘what is the story you want to tell?’.
Once I have an idea of the theme, setting and style you can really go to town creating a story that will ground everything you do. This helps with developing the puzzles.
If you are building a medieval themed room then you won’t be using an iPad, or if you do you will need to make it look like something from the time period.
Also at this point you have to work out the limitations of the space your working with, like can you nail things to walls and pull up the floors? You then start brainstorming as many puzzles as possible and then whittle them down.
Personally, I love puzzles that are physical and require you to use an object in a surprising way. For example hiding a magnet in something that you will need to use to grab a key.
When building the escape room for the V&A I had a number of tricky requirements. The room would only last one day and the theme was video games but it had to challenge people’s preconceptions.
The escape room I built was called ‘It is dangerous to go alone’ based on a quote from the Legend of Zelda series of games. In it I got the teams to take on the role of princesses locked in a video game dungeon who would need to save themselves.
Most of the props and puzzles for this were also handmade and painted by me, some out of cardboard! In the case of a low-fi escape room it is really important that you get people to fill in the gaps with their imagination.
The biggest excitement and challenge with escape rooms is that you constantly have to think inside other people’s heads. If you build something that could break or go wrong then I guarantee it will break or go wrong. These are the things that keep me awake at night!
My worse escape room experience was when I used a combination lock briefcase that hid the final riddle and a member of a team broke into it using brute force after only five minutes. This ruined the game for them whilst also upending the experience for the next three teams!
In the end it is all worthwhile The buzz I get when I see people enjoying the rooms I build, laughing and shrieking with joy when they solve a puzzle and progress, is incredible. I wouldn’t give it up for the world, even if people think what I do is nuts!
Sacha’s most recent escape room took place as part of the V&A’s Friday Late programme.
How to get involved with My odd job:
My odd job is a new weekly series from Metro.co.uk, published every Sunday.
If you have an unusual job and want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Odd Job Escape room designerMy Odd Job Escape room designerjessrubyaustinSacha Coward, My Odd Job, Escape room designerSacha Coward, My Odd Job, Escape room designerSacha Coward, My Odd Job, Escape room designerSacha Coward, My Odd Job, Escape room designer
Three people die every day due to a shortage of organ donors and only 35 per cent of the UK population have signed up to donate their organs, so the news that people will be signed up as soon as they reach adulthood is a hugely positive prospect for all of us who are awaiting transplants, our families, friends, doctors and nurses.
My health case is extremely complex and so I hope that one day I will be able to receive a heart transplant if more become available in light of the law change.
I’ve lived with heart problems all my life and have had an internal heart pump for four years now.
A transplant would see the end to my unorthodox method of survival at present. I rely on a Left Ventricular Assisted Device (LVAD), which is an electromechanical device that helps with cardiac blood circulation.
I know that a new heart could provide me so much more freedom, physically and psychologically. I’m at an age where I want to progress in many ways and there is no doubt that a new heart could help me with that.
With ‘opt-out’ my main hope is that those waiting alongside myself for an organ transplant will be able to live longer, less restricted lives.
There are many people now being fitted with technology similar to myself and this legislation move could provide greater hope to all those awaiting transplant.
As of 2015, of the 6,856 people on the list for a transplant, nearly 500 of the them had waited for more than five years.
I appreciate that many people could have concerns over this proposed system change, from those who don’t want to be signed up to the register, to those who simply think it won’t be as effective as ‘opt-in’.
Personally, I predict that the new system will be introduced ‘softly,’ which means that families can have the final say regarding whether their loved one’s organs are donated if and when that decision is necessary, even if they have not opted-out (this same option is given to families with the ‘opt-in’ system too).
My main concern with this ‘soft’ option is that some families may not have discussed their respective donation wishes, leading to organs not being available for transplant if a loved one is unsure.
As a result, it is vital that people are made more aware of having ‘the conversation’ with their loved ones about this matter.
I understand it can often be a fragile, taboo subject to open up about, but many would advocate that this is no different to discussing a will, for example.
I hope that this law change will spark further conversation about organ donation amongst families, paired with my own efforts with the Save9Lives campaign. The cause champions the NHS’ often unknown message that one organ donor can save or enhance up to nine lives through transplant of organs and tissue.
Education of all ages, ethnicities and religions is vital going into this time of legislation change.
NHS Blood and Transport are making many efforts to heighten awareness, including the introduction of the MyFaithMatters cards that ensures that a faith representative is consulted prior to organ donation, if a potential donor requests this.
In the meantime, it is essential to practically clarify your organ donation decision via existing methods such as registering for a donor card, or processing your choice online.
There is also the chance, with the move to ‘opt-out’ more people will research organ donation and sign up before the change comes in, which is predicted to be by 2020.
With ‘opt-out’ my main hope is that those waiting alongside myself for an organ transplant will be able to live longer, less restricted lives.
Jim 9-36cdJim 9-36cdjessrubyaustinopt-out organ donation, opt-out, organ donation
Married couple Nicole and Matthew Ziesemer were excited to become first-time parents and had prepared for the arrival of a new baby whose gender they didn’t know.
But they had another surprise when doctors went to stitch Nicole, 31, up post-birth and realised she was still in labour after spotting a ‘second head’. And 59 minutes later, a little boy was born who they decided to call Cade.
The couple, from Michigan, U.S, had a ‘natural pregnancy’, and only had one scan – the day she went into labour – but it’s thought Cade was ‘hiding’ behind his sister Bekeley, so wasn’t spotted.
The decision to have a natural pregnancy meant no painkillers, scans, and even a home birth which Nicole and Mathew weren’t able to follow through as she went into labour earlier than expected.
After being in labour for over 45 hours the expectant mum decided to forgo her natural plans and asked for an epidural and a suction.
But doctors grew worried as instead of the pain subsiding, Nicole was still in agony after the delivery.
They were due to stitch Nicole’s vagina up, but realised that something else was in there so ordered an emergency ultrasound which confirmed their suspicions that there was another baby in there.
Nicole, who works in insurance said: ‘It was crazy. We were over the moon but in utter shock.
‘There were really no signs that I was carrying more than one baby, in fact people said how small I was.
‘We thought the biggest surprise was going to be the sex of the baby, little did we know!
‘It was really scary when they said that something else was inside me. And when they told us that it was another baby I literally asked her if she was lying.
‘I just couldn’t take it all in and was still in so much pain that it was almost impossible to process.
‘But I really can’t imagine having just one baby now. It’s like they were meant to be. I love the thought that they’ll always have each other.’
Soon after the birth Cade was having breathing problems and had to be separated from his mum and sister.
‘Over the next few days, my husband was primarily with Cade while my daughter and I stayed in for observations.
‘We were still reeling from the shock and just trying to get our heads around it all.
‘But primarily all we wanted was for them both to be strong and healthy.’
Nicole and Mathew, a chirporacter, said twins and triplets run in their families so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that they had them too.
The couple ended up ordering another version of all the things they ordered for Berkeley to accommodate their surprise son Cade.
When asked whether they’d have another natural pregnancy, they said they would do it all over again.
‘People do ask us if we were to have another baby would we have scans this time? but I honestly don’t think we would.
‘Unless there were any clear medical red flags, I’d do it just the same all over again.’
SEC_50432189-79a5SEC_50432189-79a5faimabakar1Twins Blakeley and Cade. Nicole Zisemer,31, had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour. Grand Haven, Michigan, USA. .See SWNS story SWOC surprise.A first time mum who had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour.New parents Nicole, 31, and Matthew Zisemer, 34, were over the moon to be introduced to their baby daughter, Blakeley, when medics, who had already begun to stitch her vagina back up, announced that they could ???see a second head???.Nicole, from Grand Haven, Michigan, USA, had opted for a natural pregnancy without scans then gave birth to a baby boy - after having had no idea that they were expecting twins.Nicole, who worked in insurance before becoming a full-time mum, said: "It was crazy, we were over the moon but it utter shock!Twins Blakeley and Cade. Nicole Zisemer,31, had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour. Grand Haven, Michigan, USA. .See SWNS story SWOC surprise.A first time mum who had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour.New parents Nicole, 31, and Matthew Zisemer, 34, were over the moon to be introduced to their baby daughter, Blakeley, when medics, who had already begun to stitch her vagina back up, announced that they could ?see a second head?.Nicole, from Grand Haven, Michigan, USA, had opted for a natural pregnancy without scans then gave birth to a baby boy - after having had no idea that they were expecting twins.Nicole, who worked in insurance before becoming a full-time mum, said: "It was crazy, we were over the moon but it utter shock!Nicole Zisemer,31, with twins Blakeley and Cade. Nicole had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour. Grand Haven, Michigan, USA. .See SWNS story SWOC surprise.A first time mum who had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour.New parents Nicole, 31, and Matthew Zisemer, 34, were over the moon to be introduced to their baby daughter, Blakeley, when medics, who had already begun to stitch her vagina back up, announced that they could ?see a second head?.Nicole, from Grand Haven, Michigan, USA, had opted for a natural pregnancy without scans then gave birth to a baby boy - after having had no idea that they were expecting twins.Nicole, who worked in insurance before becoming a full-time mum, said: "It was crazy, we were over the moon but it utter shock!Twins Blakeley and Cade. Nicole Zisemer,31, had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour. Grand Haven, Michigan, USA. .See SWNS story SWOC surprise.A first time mum who had been expecting to give birth to just one baby was staggered when she gave birth to TWINS - after a gruelling 47-hour labour.New parents Nicole, 31, and Matthew Zisemer, 34, were over the moon to be introduced to their baby daughter, Blakeley, when medics, who had already begun to stitch her vagina back up, announced that they could ?see a second head?.Nicole, from Grand Haven, Michigan, USA, had opted for a natural pregnancy without scans then gave birth to a baby boy - after having had no idea that they were expecting twins.Nicole, who worked in insurance before becoming a full-time mum, said: "It was crazy, we were over the moon but it utter shock!
Last spring, I stood in a hotel conference room in front of a man I’d never met before, as he reached out to prod and stroke my face.
He explained that he had a few ideas about how to make my face look more feminine, then began to detail exactly which surgical procedures and techniques could help eliminate my gender dysphoria.
Often dysphoria is described as the sense of disconnect trans people feel between the reality of their bodies and what their mind expects.
In actuality, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Those of us who struggle with gender dysphoria feel its effects in different ways and from different triggers. The only common factor is how excruciating and isolating it is to experience.
A hellish blend of anxiety and intense self-loathing, my own dysphoria is always focused on my face – a small handful of those endearing features that hint at my trans identity suddenly feel uniquely grotesque.
A year later, after months of conflicted feelings and anxiety over whether it would be okay to ask for help, I’m now trying to crowdfund surgical procedures from friends, followers and kind strangers, over on GoFundMe.
This certainly isn’t something I’m taking lightly.
Over the last few years I’ve used my social media platform to share thoughts and experiences from a positive trans perspective, to try and help fellow transgender people who might need a boost or a bit of advice.
At first, the thought of using that same platform to ask for help to change my face, felt like a betrayal of my beliefs.
Logically I know there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with my face, just like there’s nothing wrong with any trans person. But it isn’t logic or beliefs that drive my desire for surgery, it’s gender dysphoria.
When dysphoric, I become obsessed with how ‘wrong’ some of my facial features look, while my sense of self-worth shatters.
I’m then left convinced that I don’t deserve to claw my way out of this miserable mood, or that I ever will.
Of course, life doesn’t stop when dysphoria hits.
Dozens of times I’ve been crying into my pillow, but had to force myself to shamble into work, where I arrive feeling disconnected and lost in my own mind.
On those days I have to summon every scrap of willpower just to keep myself together until I can finally retreat back home, where I inevitably collapse back into tears.
Those days are the reason I’m seeking surgery.
Dysphoria returns persistently and at random, but on the days where it’s silent, I’m able to truly enjoy my life.
After a lot of personal growth and hard work I’ve learnt to love who I am, but dysphoria sabotages that every single time. Any achievements or sense of safety I find are worthless next to how consuming and destructive it is.
Knowing that it’s always lurking and poised to spring back into my life is exhausting.
I don’t want facial surgery to be ‘pretty’ or to look like a cisgender person. I want it because I’m tired. Because I need it to get on with my life, and I’m scared of who those bolts of dysphoria turn me into.
The idea of potentially having surgery to change those triggers, so I’m finally free of attacks on my mental health, is staggering.
It would change my life.
Although I think it’s unlikely, if the surgery goes ahead but my dysphoria remains exactly as it is now, I’ll still be glad that I did it, and grateful that I was lucky enough to receive the best treatment possible aimed at reducing it.
Despite dysphoria, I’ve still built a life I’m proud of, with friends, jobs, hobbies and more. I’ll continue to do my best to help people and try live my happiest life possible, regardless.
And even if the crowdfund fails, the money raised so far is being set aside just for surgery and I’ll do my best to keep adding to it on my own.
As I support both myself and my disabled partner on one paycheck, which already gets stretched to its limits, the chances of finishing any percentage of the funding on my own is practically zero.
But that isn’t going to stop me from trying – because there’s nothing I want more than this.
To donate to Mia’s surgery, you can visit her GoFundMe page here.
sei_50013517-5c0fsei_50013517-5c0fallieabgariangender dysphoria, Mia Violet -START- Last Spring I stood in a hotel conference room in front of a man I???d never met before, as he reached out to prod and stroke my face. I never thought I???d agree to something like this, but after months of agonising over whether to do this or not I had caved in. Once he sat back down, he explained that he had a few ideas about how to make my face look more feminine, then he began to detail exactly which surgical procedures and techniques could help eliminate my gender dysphoria. A year later, after months of conflicted feelings and anxiety over whether it would be okay to ask for help, I???m now trying to crowdfund those procedures from friends, followers, and kind strangers, over on GoFundMe. This certainly isn???t something I???m doing lightly. Over the last few years I???ve used my social media platform to share thoughts and experiences from a positive trans perspective, to try and help fellow transgender people who might need a boost or a bit of advice. The thought of using that same platform to ask for help to change my face, felt like a betrayal of my beliefs. Logically I knew there was nothing ???wrong??? with my face just like there???s nothing wrong with any trans person. But it wasn???t logic or beliefs that was driving my desire for surgery, it was gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is often described as the sense of disconnect trans people feel between the reality of their bodies and what their mind expects. In actuality, it???s a lot more complicated than that. Those who struggle with gender dysphoria feel its effects in different ways and from different triggers. The only common factor is how excruciating and isolating it is to experience. A hellish blend of anxiety and intense self-loathing, my own dysphoria is always focused on my face. A small handful of those endearing features that hint at my trans identity suddenly feel uniquely grotesque. I become obsessed with how ???wrong??? they look while my sense
A few years ago, vegans or anyone who followed a dairy-free diet, didn’t have much choice when it came to milk.
But now we’ve expanded far beyond just regular soya milk – there’s nut milks, coconut milk and oat milk.
According to Whole Foods though, the next big milk trend is pea milk.
It might not sound appetising and might conjure up images of green liquid but pea milk is actually made from yellow split peas so it’s creamy in colour.
Apparently, pea milk contains the same amount of protein as cow’s milk but half the sugar, a third of the saturated fat and 50% more calcium.
One glass has around 8g of calcium, which is eight times that in Almond milk.
As it is made from peas, it is obviously completely free of dairy but also from nuts and soy, which is great for anyone who is also unable to eat those ingredients.
It also takes 100 times more water to farm almonds than peas and 25 times more water to farm dairy so it is better for the environment in that sense.
The pea milk was listed on the Whole Foods trends for 2019 and they are about to launch the first range of pea milks in the UK.
Pea milk launched in the U.S. a few years ago but this is the first time it will be available here.
The store will sell the Might Society pea milk range – available in original, vanilla, chocolate and unsweetened.
Pea milk is the next big food trendPea milk is the next big food trendlauraabernethy6
If you’re meeting bae’s parents for the first time, you’re likely to butter them up a little bit, saying things like ‘I can see where X gets their looks from’ and so on.
But chances are, your in-laws will probably take it as shameless flattery to get them on side so they don’t hate the person their child is dating.
One mother-in-law (MiL), however, took it all too personally. After developing an ‘unfortunate crush’ on her son-in-law, she didn’t try to cover up her feelings.
Instead of keeping her unfortunate feelings to herself, the mother-in-law decided to steal nude pictures of her daughter’s husband, barely covering up the evidence.
When asked why she would do something like that, she also said she couldn’t see what was wrong with it as it had been ‘just a picture’.
The son-in-law in question detailed the whole awkward situation on Reddit saying he was ‘f*cking pissed’.
The high school teacher from South Africa explained how he’d resisted all of the advances from his wife’s mum but she had persisted and that stealing the risque pictures of him was the final straw.
‘I’m feeling really violated right now. Wife and I have been together for a few years now. We’ve been in the habit of sending each other dirty photos since we were dating. It’s just a thing.
‘MiL has had the hots for me since she met me. It’s creepy. I’ve spoken to her about being uncomfortable and so has my wife. It seemed to have died down and we put it down to an unfortunate crush. She’s been creepy and flirty but we chalked that up to her personality since she’s flirty with everyone.’
However, the situation escalated when his wife and her mother were spending an afternoon together and once the daughter went to the restroom, the mum went through her phone.
Finding the gallery with intimate pictures of the husband, the mother-in-law decided to send them to herself. But the daughter noticed her phone had been moved and files had been sent and ‘blew her top’.
But the mother was barely remorseful and refused to delete the pictures. The husband was particularly worried about the nature of the pictures too.
‘It’s f*cking awful. My wife and I have a few weird fetishes and so some of the photos I took that are for her eyes only are really humiliating if seen by people who aren’t my wife.
‘My wife is really on my side and supporting me but MiL sent her a message asking why she’s cross about it. ‘It’s just a picture’. I’m so mad.
‘We’re supposed to have her over for dinner this weekend because my wife’s brother and his wife are in town and I’ve disinvited her but now she’s telling people we’re alienating her. And because the issue is so embarrassing, I don’t want to tell people the real reason.’
Let’s hope the couple is able to sort out the awkward situation ASAP.
Senior woman takes SelfieSenior woman takes Selfiefaimabakar1
We might be used to seeing some confusion over DNA tests on Jeremy Kyle but these potential guests are a bit different.
Organutan Maja gave birth to Padama last August and keepers thought Budi, the male Maja lived with was her dad.
But a routine test revealed that the baby daddy was not who they expected.
The test showed that the father is Vendel, the male in a neighbouring enclosure.
It seems Vendel and Maja had some secret encounters by the fence, and they didn’t let it stop them conceiving their daughter.
The zoo explained: ‘Until now, these tests have not thrown up any surprises.
‘But there is a first time for everything: Padma’s father turned out to be Vendel (18), who Maja sometimes meets at the fence, and not Budi (14), who lives with Maja.
‘From a biological perspective, this is less surprising. As the only male at Basel Zoo with cheek pads, Vendel is very easy to spot.
‘He is also the dominant male of the three male orangutans at the zoo.
‘In the wild, female orangutans similarly tend to look for – and pair up with – males with cheek pads when they are in heat. Non-dominant males also like to try their luck with females, usually with great success.
‘However, it seems that the females simply cannot resist a male with cheek pads.’
Switzerland Basel ZooSwitzerland Basel Zoolauraabernethy6In this undated photo, released Thursday Jan. 31, 2019, by Zoo Basel, zoo keepers routinely take DNA samples from female orangutan cub Padma to determine her paternity at the Basel Zoo. ( Zoo Basel via AP)In this undated photo, released Thursday Jan. 31, 2019, by Zoo Basel, zoo keepers routinely take DNA samples from female orangutan Maya to determine the paternity of her daughter Padma at the Basel Zoo. ( Zoo Basel via AP)
It’s Sunday and if you work a 9-5 job, you probably aren’t looking forward to work tomorrow.
But no matter how bad those Sunday evening blues get – it could be worse.
This mum claims that her job is the worst in the world.
Mercedes Hoblin, cleans and extracts ‘beans’ – a dried waxy substance including dirt and dead skin cells – from male horses’ genitalia.
The former carer quit her job after realising she was the only person with a strong enough stomach to take on the task at her local stables, where she keeps two horses of her own, and now she earns up to £400 a week.
Now, the mum insists her bizarre line of work has surprising benefits – as she’s been able to become self-employed and even saves on childcare as her eldest daughter Evee-Mae, eight, loves to visit the horses with her.
Mercedes said: ‘I was a community carer for the elderly for three years but I was passionate about horses.
‘I have two of my own, and I knew I was good at caring for them.
‘As a horse owner, you know there’s always going to be unpleasant bits to do to keep your horse healthy, but I have a strong stomach, and I know that I’m good at what I do.
‘I’d been going to the same stables for four years with friends and my friends were reluctant to clean that area of their horses.
‘Friends would ask me to help with theirs, and soon I realised I was the only one who would do it.
‘It was a niche in the market, and if I was paid to do it, I would be able to spend more time with my horses.
‘To extract the beans, I first put on a cleaning gel, leave it for two or three minutes and then use hot water and a sponge.
‘Sometimes to push these beans out, I have to put my finger on the end of the penis, sometimes putting it all the way in and put pressure on them.
‘I was lucky, I have a knack of doing it, and now, it’s my profession.’
Mercedes, who has owned horses Romeo and Pumpkin for a year but has had horses for most of her life, said she’s well aware of the jokes that often come with her profession but has learned to take them all in her stride.
The beans, as Mercedes titles them, are a build-up of smegma which often has to be expelled in solid lumps as the animals cannot remove them themselves – with some even ending up in a jar in a museum of oddities.
Mercedes doesn’t use anaesthetic or sedation on the horse, but instead works with them.
She first makes them comfortable by feeding them treats, and begins the process by touching the area gently, finding out what the horse likes and dislikes.
Mercedes said: ‘It doesn’t smell nice, it’s the worst part of the job.
‘It’s like a sweaty, sticky smell – it’s the worst kind of dirt, with maggots sometimes living up there.
‘But there’s only two horses that I haven’t been able to do – some will kick and won’t like it, but I just need to get a horse used to me.
‘If a horse doesn’t like something, I go back to the last step where the horse was comfortable and work up again.
‘If they still really don’t like it, I sometimes ask the owner to hold one of their legs up as it makes it difficult for a horse to kick out on only three legs.
‘I believe it’s a necessary job – we’ve domesticated these animals and put them in stables so it’s something they can’t do for themselves.
‘I’ve seen horse getting behaviour alterations, or having trouble going to the toilet, in obvious discomfort.’
Mercedes believes all horse owners should make sure their horses have their ‘beans’ removed.
She charges £25 per horse, and £20 if there are four horses in the same stable yard.
To date, the mum has found some beans bigger than four inches in length, and takes images of her best discoveries next to coins for reference.
She said: ‘This is as important as getting your horse’s teeth cleaned – but don’t attempt to do it yourself.
‘My husband Jamie is a tattoo artist, and he initially said what goes on at the stable stays at the stable.
‘But now he’s just as interested as me, to see what size beans I get, and if they beat the ones before.
‘It is a running joke with him and his friends now.’
SEC_50441071-ec04SEC_50441071-ec04lauraabernethy6PIC FROM Simon Jacobs/Caters - (PICTURED: Mercedes Hoblin, from Essex, cleaning a horses penis) - A mum-of-two dubbed the Sheath Queen has won the award for the worst job in the world cleaning male horses genitalia. Mercedes Hoblin, from Essex, earns 25 per horse extracting beans a dried waxy substance including dirt and dead skin cells from geldings private parts.The former carer quit her job after realising she was the only person with a strong enough stomach to take on the task at her local stables, where she keeps two horses of her own.SEE CATERS COPYPIC FROM Caters - (PICTURED: Mercedes Hoblin holding one of the beans a dried waxy substance including dirt and dead skin cells from geldings private parts of the horses) - A mum-of-two dubbed the Sheath Queen has won the award for the worst job in the world cleaning male horses genitalia. Mercedes Hoblin, from Essex, earns 25 per horse extracting beans a dried waxy substance including dirt and dead skin cells from geldings private parts.The former carer quit her job after realising she was the only person with a strong enough stomach to take on the task at her local stables, where she keeps two horses of her own.SEE CATERS COPYPIC FROM Simon Jacobs/Caters - (PICTURED: Mercedes Hoblin, from Essex) - A mum-of-two dubbed the Sheath Queen has won the award for the worst job in the world cleaning male horses genitalia. Mercedes Hoblin, from Essex, earns 25 per horse extracting beans a dried waxy substance including dirt and dead skin cells from geldings private parts.The former carer quit her job after realising she was the only person with a strong enough stomach to take on the task at her local stables, where she keeps two horses of her own.SEE CATERS COPY
The world is a small place, as proved by the intensive care nurse who found out her colleague was a baby she treated 28 years ago.
And we’ve seen stories of couples at the right place at the right time, being photographed as children, years before they met.
But saving a future boyfriend or girlfriend’s life seems like the stuff of movies. And yet it happened in real life to Taiwanese women Lin Xiaofen who had a car accident 11 years ago.
After the horrific crash, Lin was in a critical condition and doctors had to pump her with 10 pints of blood and two isolated platelets. She eventually recovered but was left with a disorder which meant she was in need of further blood donations.
But 11 years later after the accident when she told her now boyfriend Lian Zhicheng, a regular blood donor, about the incident he joked whether it was his blood she was given.
A quick few tests later, and the couple learned that in fact, Lian was one of the blood donors who had saved her.
Now that’s one bloody good love story.
After Lin’s accident, she was left with a bleeding disorder which meant she had to take in blood donations to survive.
Nine years ago when she was in desperate need of some of the vital fluids, she was given blood from another donor – and it turns out, that was Lian.
But the couple didn’t meet until six years later when Lin moved to Hsinchu in north-west Taiwan.
The pair got along well and decided to get together, saying they felt an instant connection.
Talking about the accident which occured in 2008 and how she needed subsequent donations a few years later, Lian joked he was giving his blood at the time and whether she’d been given his.Boris Johnson reveals his thoughts on Brexit by binning them at petrol station
So they checked the donor’s ID number with the staff at the station which took in the donation and confirmed that it was Lian.
‘When they told me it was a Mr. Lian from Hsinchu, I felt surprised,’ she told Pear Video.
Lian also commented, asking the public to donate blood. ‘You might have a chance to save your future wife,’ he joked.
Users on social media joked that it was all Lian’s ploy to get with her, orchestrating the accident, giving her the blood and then feeling an instant connection with her.
Clearly people have been watching too many stalker thrillers on Netflix.
Woman Discovers That The Blood Donor Who Saved Her Life After AWoman Discovers That The Blood Donor Who Saved Her Life After Afaimabakar1Picture: MetroGrab, taken without permission Woman Discovers That The Blood Donor Who Saved Her Life After A Car Crash 11 Years Ago Apparently Is Her Boyfriend https://www.chinatimes.com/cn/realtimenews/20170116003864-260402?ref=9gagPicture: MetroGrab, taken without permission Woman Discovers That The Blood Donor Who Saved Her Life After A Car Crash 11 Years Ago Apparently Is Her Boyfriend https://www.chinatimes.com/cn/realtimenews/20170116003864-260402?ref=9gag
Lowri Moore – who has worn glasses since she was a year old – has written a letter to Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger asking to see more characters who look like her.
The nine-year-old, from Nottingham, said it wasn’t fair that all the princesses never wore spectacles, making her feel like she wasn’t ‘beautiful enough’.
So the youngster decided to put pen to paper and asked why only the ‘geeks’ wore them in Disney films and cartoons. As a result, Lowri said she learned to play princesses without her glasses, even though it meant she couldn’t see while she role played with her sisters.
She has now learned to accept herself and doesn’t need the validation from the media giants but wants representation for other girls.
‘I wanted to write the letter to make a difference, I don’t want other girls to think the way I did,’ she said.
‘When I was younger, I would take my glasses off to play princesses with my sisters, even though I really can’t see without them.
‘I am now old enough to know that I am beautiful with glasses, but now I feel sorry for younger girls who may not realise yet.’
‘My favourite Disney princess is Belle, I think she would look great with a pair on.’
Parents Cyrilyn Brad are founders of children’s charity Operation Orphan and are bursting with pride at their daughter’s idea and say they had no input other than helping her post it.
‘Lowri has said in the past she wishes she didn’t have to wear them so I wasn’t shocked by the letter,’ said Cyrilyn.
‘We have always made sure she knows she is beautiful inside and out and that glasses make no difference to her appearance.
‘She is so kind and cares about everyone which is why she hopes the letter doesn’t go unnoticed for all the other little girls.’
Dear Mr Robert Iger,
My name is Lowri and I am nine years old. I have worn glasses since I was a baby.
I’ve grown up watching Disney princess and I’ve always admired them and thought they were beautiful. Unfortunately, none of them wear glasses and that made me feel like I wasn’t beautiful enough.
So I hope that you understand and please may you make a Disney princess who has glasses. I feel like there are lots of little girls who wear glasses and I don’t want them to feel like I did. Sadly, most of the characters who wear glasses are called geeks and I don’t think that’s fair.
I think that by creating a princess that wears glasses and is not called a geek, it would help people to know they are beautiful no matter what.
Lowri is now waiting for the company to reply to her letter and better yet, create more diverse characters that represent real-life girls and boys.
Let’s hope they follow through with her request.
SEC_50457846-5dc2SEC_50457846-5dc2faimabakar1PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED:Lowri-Moore when she was 2 years old) - A nine-year-old has written a heartfelt letter to Disney bosses to request that they create princess characters who wear glasses. Lowri-Moore who has worn glasses since she was one-years-old wrote the note to Disneys CEO, Robert Iger, on January 19, in a bid to help others who also wear specs.In heartfelt letter, she says: None of the princesses wear glasses and that made me feel like I wasnt beautiful enough.SEE CATERS COPY
Over two fifths of hospitals do not supply tampons or sanitary towels to their patients.
And doctors want hospital trusts to do more.
The British Medical Association (BMA) submitted Freedom of Information requests to all trusts and health boards across the UK (223) and they found that of the 187 who responded, 42% said they don’t supply sanitary products at all or would only give them out in the case of an emergency.
Some said sanitary products are available on maternity and gynaecology wards but patients who have their period when they are in hospital for another reason are expected to supply their own.
But at 27 trusts (14%), there is nowhere to buy sanitary products, meaning patients who were unexpectedly admitted to hospital and who then started their periods, could be left without anything.
The full results
Does the trust/health board supply sanitary products?
Yes – 104 (56%)
Yes, small amounts/emergency only – 54 (29%)
No – 25 (13%)
Unclear – 4 (2%)
Total – 187
Are sanitary products available to purchase in the trust/health board?
Yes, but not all sites – 48 (26%)
Yes, but likely to be restricted at times – 47 (25%)
Yes, readily available – 28 (15%)
No – 27 (14%)
Total – 187
Some trusts and health boards supply razors and shaving foam to patients throughout their entire stay in hospital but they only supply sanitary products in an emergency and some do not have any towels or tampons available at all.
For those trusts and health boards that readily supplied products, the average spend was just £0.71 per bed per year.
Now, the BMA is writing to the Chief Executive of NHS England to ask for this to be changed.
In a letter, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, Chair, BMA Board of Science, said: ‘Patients must not be deterred from undergoing necessary treatment, or hindered in their recovery, because they are unable to access, or embarrassed to request, sanitary products.
‘With patient experience and quality of care being such a clear priority for the NHS, sanitary products, which are relatively inexpensive, should be provided for free and readily available to all inpatients at hospital.
‘I do hope you will be available to meet me and my team to discuss our findings further, and the role that NHS England could play to implement the BMA’s recommendations to address this issue.’
Pantyliner, packed sanitary pad and tampon, close up.Pantyliner, packed sanitary pad and tampon, close up.lauraabernethy625012729.tifSanitary Pads And Tampons - studio shot
A woman has been called ‘toxic’ and ‘vile’ after writing a letter detailing her demands for a potential partner and posting it through strangers’ doors.
The woman, who lives in Australia, wrote a bizarre list of requirements for a future boyfriend, turning to pen and paper because she was so exasperated by dating apps.
In the letter, the woman not only specifies her preferred age and appearance for her future beau, but also that she wants someone with good mental health, explaining, ‘I’m not your therapist’.
It was the assertion that mental health problems make a relationship ‘unsexy’ that lead to criticism after a picture of the letter was shared on Reddit.
‘Calling poor mental health “unsexy” is potentially the most vile commentary I’ve ever heard,’ wrote one critic.
Another commented, ‘wants a committed long-term relationship but also refuses to be part of a partner’s mental health.
‘Yeah this sounds like one toxic individual.’
‘Are you single and between the age of 26 and 34? Read on,’ the letter begins.
‘What this is all about is wanting to cut out the superficiality of dating apps and meet a man who has similar interests to me, so I thought I’d go to the source as I love spending time outside.
‘I’m 26 and those I chat to around my age who are both single and in a relationship agree it is hard to/would be hard to meet single people aside from using dating apps,’ she explained.
After fruitless attempts to find love through dating apps, she claims she wanted to try something different – more direct.
‘I don’t really drink much these days, so I think that creates a bit of a barrier to meeting people.
‘It’d be refreshing to get to know someone who doesn’t need to go out and get trashed with friends every weekend.’
Critics have been quick to argue that the list is to prescriptive and unrealistic when it comes to love. But regardless of your opinion, the woman who wrote the letter is certainly clear about what she wants.
‘No, I don’t do one night stands, so you can f*** off elsewhere. Genuine people only please.
‘I’m female and I’m straight.
‘You live in Geelong/Melbourne area.
‘You are between 25 and 34.
‘You live a life without reliance on drinking and drugs.
‘You keep fit, without being obsessed about it.
‘Please, no gym photos, no cliche photos. It’s all been done. Be a bit different.
‘If we meet it will be in a cafe or a restaurant. Got to keep it safe.
‘I am looking for a relationship, not a f*** buddy.’
Some people on Reddit have come to her defense and don’t see her demands as unreasonable.
‘Is it necessarily wrong to look for good mental health in a romantic partner?’ said one user.
While another wrote, ‘she’s just a human trying her best, trying something different.’
Whatever you think of her demands, it’s clear that the exasperating world of modern dating can be draining.
Maybe posting letters through the doors of strangers will be 2019’s answer to Tinder.
Woman's letter for potential boyfriendsWoman's letter for potential boyfriendsnataliemorris88METRO GRAB - no permission Woman's letter for potential boyfriends https://www.reddit.com/r/melbourne/comments/akbzob/looking_for_love_in_the_you_yangs/ Credit: Reddit
When I read the headlines, the first thing I did was groan.
Here we go again, another study providing yet more results that can be used as a stick to beat parents with. As the father of two small children, every week brings something new in the press to tell me what a bad job I’m doing.
What was it now?
Screen time, it would seem (whether it be TV, tablet computers or other devices), is a bad thing for our young kids – leading to their performing badly in developmental tests.
Brilliant. Yet more ‘evidence’ that modern parents are listless wasters, taking every short cut possible in order to ensure their kids don’t interfere with their Snapchat habit.
This (worryingly pervasive) view of contemporary mums and dads is (of course) utter nonsense.
Parents today are, as they always have been, over-stretched, over-tired and over-come with the unceasing desire do the very best for their children.
Of course, in an ideal world, screen time wouldn’t be necessary at all. But please, take a look out your window, turn on your screens and read the news – it’s far from an ideal world.
So, can we all stop with this parent-shaming please?
Remember, if we ban tots from accessing these devices, who is going to teach you how to work your new computer/TV/ tablet/microwave, if there’s not a tech savvy three-year-old to hand?
Obviously too much of anything is a bad thing. But that’s not news, is it? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard members of the older generation passive-aggressively announce how terrible it is that my two-and-a-half-year-old child is being placated (for a short time, in public) with an episode of Peppa Pig.
Sadly these are often the same folk who tut and glare when my son makes a (perfectly natural and traditional) racket if his favourite porcine friend isn’t present to distract.
As parents, you really can’t win!
The truth is, in the vast majority of cases, parents only allow screen time to be the WD40 of their day – it oils the wheels during periods where other essential activities are taking place – distracting mum or dads attention.
Yes, in the past there were no screens, I get that. But the past wasn’t always as ideal as some people choose to remember – it was also a place where unattended babies in buggies were dumped outside shops and tots were left to ‘cry it out’ in their prams out of earshot (at the bottom of the garden).
The world’s changed – not all of it for the worst.
Parents simply cannot be Mary Poppins all day (it’s impossible), yet the truth is parenting has never been that way.
If parents of the past were so perfect, Poppins (a character who teaches mums and dads to break with contemporary convention and engage with their own offspring) would never have been created.
Looking behind the headlines we soon find that everything is not as black and white as it may seem. Other experts suggest that, family income, whether they are read to and how well they sleep, are all factors which significantly bigger impact on a tot than any negative effects of screen time. Which is all common sense, really, isn’t it?
Yes, screen time must, be part of a varied diet of stimuli for our little ones. Parents understand that. So please, those who wish to criticise parents (like me) – when an iPad is produced in a coffee shop to keep my tot happy for 10 minutes – need to remember this is just part of a hugely varied day; a smorgasbord that strangers (thankfully) aren’t party to.
And, as a last (terrifying) thought: remember, if we ban tots from accessing these devices, who is going to teach you how to work your new computer/TV/tablet/microwave, if there’s not a tech savvy three-year-old to hand?
Now there’s something to worry about.
2 year old boy using a digital tablet2 year old boy using a digital tabletjessrubyaustinscreen time, children screen time
Most women know how important it is to have a good, supportive bra for running or playing sport.
The intense bouncing and jiggling is painful, distracting and can even cause damage to the breasts.
So what about men? Is the same true of balls? And is running without the right support putting you at risk of damaging your testicles?
If you’re one of those men who likes to let it all hang loose when you go running, you might want to reconsider.
As well as traumatising passers by with the unmistakable, jiggling outline of your tackle, you might also be inadvertently damaging your bits – and it could be making you a worse runner.
First of all, the constant bouncing can cause mild, moderate or even severe testicle pain, which can become chronic.
A man has a natural ability to keep the testicles drawn up close to the body, called the cremasteric reflex, but this isn’t enough if you’re running for long distances or fairly frequently. And the recurring ache caused by bouncing balls can become a real problem.
Also, one in seven men has varicoceles, a genetic condition where valves in the veins leading into the testicles fail and blood backs up; just like varicose veins in the legs. It’s generally a harmless condition, but it can cause aching when you run because of the increased blood flow during exercise and the effect of gravity.
Because of where the testicles are on the body, they’re really vulnerable, highly sensitive and prone to injury.
Any kind of direct blow or force to the area can cause testicular trauma, which can lead to bruising, swelling, and, in rare cases, the blood supply to the testicle can get blocked. This can lead to the loss of the testicle.
Obviously nobody want this.
The best way to limit your risk and to protect your low-hanging fruit is to wear suitably supportive underwear – to limit jiggling, keep your testicles as close to your body as possible and reduce the risk of injury.
Personal trainer, Dean Coulson, says it’s not just about comfort and safety, having the right support can actually help you perform better.
‘For me, comfort means I can concentrate on the run and not bouncing about, so I pick underwear that is wicking and well fitting,’ Dean tells Metro.co.uk.
‘However it’s also from a “safe” perspective. The brain continuously looks for threats to its safety and survival, and a guy’s tackle is high in the list. Any thoughts of discomfort is seen as a danger and the brain can and will slow you down physiologically to protect itself.
‘It happens from any threat. If muscles are imbalanced or weak, then the body with tighten other muscles to stop the action taking place. Same with joints, if you have joint problems the brain will down regulate the muscles around it to prevent further injury.’
So if your brain is too busy focusing on protecting your balls, you won’t be able to run as fast and the PB you’re aiming for goes out the window.
Dominic runs three times a week, lifts weights in the gym and also plays football. He employs a “three-layer system” to help protect his balls.
‘Ball support is key – if you don’t have it you do get a bit of bounce and it can genuinely be painful,’ Dominic explains.
‘There is a fear that if you don’t have them in place, you could squash them between your legs.
‘The three-layer system is simple – small under shorts that put them in place, then undershorts that are more for my hamstrings but also give a bit of extra support, and then of course normal shorts on top.’
So three pairs of shorts is one way to get around it – but it seems slightly excessive.
Rich Edmonds is the co-founder of Runderwear, a company that specialises in performance underwear for running. He believes that it’s not just support that’s an issue, but also chafing.
For Rich, having the right underwear is a key component for performing at your best.
‘It’s so important to keep your jiggly bits from, well, jiggling,’ explains Rich.
‘You need sports performance underwear that is ergonomically designed to keep everything in place, no seams to dig in and cause irritation, sweat wicking to maximise comfort and ensure smooth movement with every step. Simply put, less jiggling means less chafing.
‘Chafing and discomfort down below can be a key reason for the disappointment of not completing a race or workout. The solution here is sports underwear that’s ergonomically designed to keep everything firmly in place.
‘In the same way that women rely on a good sports bra to provide support and prevent damage to soft tissue, men should benefit from the support offered by well-fitting support briefs.
‘In fact, doctors suggest that the pain felt in the testicles by some runners post-run can be avoided by wearing underwear with just the right amount of support.’
It’s worth noting that too much support can also cause problems. If your underwear is too tight or provides too much compression, it can restrict blood flow to your groin, which could also lead to testicle pain.
So it’s about getting the balance right. It seems that the best way to reduce pain, damage and risk of injury is through support and making sure your clothing isn’t chaffing.
Try out a few different options and work out what you find comfortable. The less you have to think about your balls while you’re running, the better.
Low Section Of Man Bending Leg In ParkLow Section Of Man Bending Leg In Parknataliemorris88
Lauren Easton thought she would never heard her husband’s voice again.
Her childhood sweetheart died on 23 January, just 48 days after they married, from cystic fibrosis, a condition she also has.
But a mutual friend gave her a special gift that spoke with his voice so she would never forget him.
Lauren, 24, a hairdresser, who married mechanic Darren Easton on 6 December, 2018, in Harefield Hospital, Hillingdon, Greater London, where he passed away, said: ‘Just after Darren died a friend of ours, Sarah Cherryman, came over and gave me a huge teddy bear.
‘I was still very upset and didn’t really understand, but she said, “Give it a squeeze,” and when I did it was Darren’s voice saying, ‘Hi baby, just saying I love you and I miss you. You’ll be my world forever and always.’
‘It was so thoughtful of him to have done that for me, because I was worried about forgetting the sound of his voice and now I never will.
‘The teddy sits in Darren’s place on the sofa at home and I squeeze him whenever I want to hear him again.’
Lauren fell in love with Darren after they met at 16 as patients at Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea, west London.
Both suffering with CF, a lifelong inherited condition causing sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system, they became a couple on New Year’s Eve 2015 whilst watching fireworks from their hospital window – getting engaged three months later, after Darren’s condition worsened, forcing him to have a lung transplant.
‘We both knew that we wouldn’t live long lives and we’ll always be unwell,’ Darren said in December 2018. ‘But we thought, “What’s the point of being unwell and unhappy apart when we could be unwell together?”‘
And when doctors told Darren on November 27 2018 that he had just weeks to live, the couple, who could not afford to get married, launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding page – meaning strangers, touched by their love story, helped pay for their dream wedding.
Darren’s last wish was fulfilled, when he made Lauren his bride at a ceremony held in the hospital on December 6.
Although his health was failing rapidly, amazingly, Darren far exceeded the few weeks doctors had predicted – going on to welcome in another year with his beloved wife.
‘I wasn’t surprised at all,’ said Lauren. ‘If there’s one thing I know about Darren it’s that he’s stubborn. He wasn’t just going to slip away when they told him to.
‘He spent his whole life fighting this illness and would fight it right until the end.’
Despite being unable to walk and struggling greatly with his breathing, he also ticked off some of his final wishes – going to see The Lion King on-stage at the Lyceum Theatre in London, with Lauren, thanks to the charity Willow Tree, which arranged seating for him in his wheelchair.
And on Christmas Day, the hospital let him go home to the flat the couple shared in Watford, Hertfordshire, so they could enjoy the day together with their dog Princess.
Lauren recalled: ‘I spent the whole time with a big smile on my face, because I was almost able to imagine that nothing was wrong and it was just like old times.
‘I bought Darren a Chelsea football shirt with his nickname Boysie on the back and we had roast beef for lunch, which he enjoyed so much that he asked me to make it again on Boxing Day, just before he went back to the hospital.
‘It was just lovely having him home, if only for a little while.’
But when Darren returned to Harefield, his health continued to deteriorate. Sleeping for longer each day, he needed nursing around the clock to ease his pain.
Lauren recalled times when she was given cruel glimmers of hope, when he improved momentarily, saying: ‘Sometimes, on a good day, I’d think to myself that he could go on and on and last forever.
‘But even during the worst times he was always positive and always joking, never giving in to the sadness of it all.’
Positive until the end, Darren remained bright even when he was in extreme pain from bowel congestion – a common symptom of CF that would eventually cause his death.
‘Before we went to sleep that night we said that we loved each other,’ Lauren said.
Darren passed away the following morning at 7.20AM, dying peacefully in his sleep as Lauren watched over him.
The news spread quickly among the nurses and hospital staff, who had grown so attached to Darren that Lauren recalled thinking almost immediately after his death about how she was going to break the news to the nurses who have been so good to him and done so much for them.
What is cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. This causes lung infections and problems with digesting food.
In the UK, most cases of cystic fibrosis are picked up at birth using the newborn screening heel prick test.
Symptoms usually start in early childhood and vary from child to child, but the condition gets slowly worse over time, with the lungs and digestive system becoming increasingly damaged.
Treatments are available to help reduce the problems caused by the condition and make it easier to live with, but sadly life expectancy is shortened.
With a funeral planned for 12 February at St Mary’s Church in Harefield, Lauren is busy making sure everything is just right for her sweetheart’s final send off.
Despite the enormous pain of her grief, she is working tirelessly to make the funeral perfect, saying she is ‘doing it for Darren’.
‘Everything is a bit of a blur, but I am keeping myself busy with the plans,’ said Lauren.
‘He loved motorbikes, so we are going to have a bike hearse and I’m insisting that everyone wears either blue or a Chelsea shirt.
‘He wouldn’t want anyone in black and being sad – that wasn’t him at all, that wasn’t the Darren I knew and loved.’
Lauren Darren EastonLauren Darren Eastonlauraabernethy6Darren's teddy bear gift from beyond the grave (Collect/PA Real Life )Darren and Lauren on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Maria Ashby-Giles Photography)
A woman who plans to marry her duvet has revealed she got cold feet after becoming known as the ‘duvet lady’.
49-year-old Pascale Sellick went viral last month when she announced plans to marry her duvet, as it was the ‘most intimate and reliable relationship’ she had ever had.
But the artist, from Exeter, Devon, was shocked by becoming an internet celebrity and now has doubts about the unusual ceremony.
But for now plans are still going ahead, and Pascale and her duvet are due to be wed on Sunday, 10 February, at 2pm.
She said: ‘Everything happened so fast; it was like a whirlwind.
‘It was completely unexpected that’s for sure. It all started with an idea from Anna Fitzgerald, who is also an artist, to promote self-care and self-worth on Valentine’s Day as it can be a bit of a tricky time.
‘People think you need to be in a relationship to be happy.
‘It doesn’t matter if you’re single on Valentine’s Day as you can enjoy just having a duvet day; that was the original idea.
‘It was suggested I was the perfect person for playing the role of the bride because apparently I’m outgoing and have the right personality for it.
‘I kind of agreed not knowing what was really involved.’
The ceremony will be held at Rougemont Gardens in Exeter, and Pascale is keeping what cover the duvet will be wearing as a surprise.
Pascale added: ‘I never expected it to go global; we just wanted a bit of local publicity to advertise the event.
‘I know very little about the media and the next thing I knew the story had thousands of shares, clicks and comments. That was a bit overwhelming.
‘Some of the comments were positive but some were not.
‘It’s a new world to have people commenting about me when they know nothing about me and I am acting the role of a bride.’
Pascale has had loads of friend requests on Facebook and messages from all over the world.
She has even been asked to participate in an interview on This Morning.
She added: ‘I got the call on a Thursday and I was just like, ‘wow’. I was not expecting that.
‘After the shock of getting the call I decided I was going to go, but I didn’t think I really wanted to. Anna said I should do it so I went along with it.
‘I travelled with Anna up to London on the Sunday evening and then boom, I was on live television the next morning.
‘Before I went on I was a nervous wreck. The experience wasn’t terrible but I was glad when it was over.
‘I think they twisted the story to make it into a joke which I was not happy about, but I expected they wanted some TV drama as they want a good story.’
During the interview, Phillip was particularly interested in the ‘sexual’ nature in the relationship between Pascale and her duvet, and wanted to know all about their bedroom action.
She later received an apology from the TV host which was too late for Pascale.
She said: ‘I think he knew what he was doing. By the time he apologised the damage was done.
‘I think I’m done with the media. The story gets more and more twisted as time goes on. It has changed and has lost some of what I was hoping to achieve.’
Despite her doubts, Pascale is still going ahead with the wedding.
She said: ‘I’m the sort of woman who if I say I’ll do something I will do it.
‘I am completely committed, as are the whole team of us behind it, and they have been very supportive. But deep down I wish I had never started it.
‘I’m really looking forward to the wedding. I’ll be taking it for what it is; a bit of fun as that was the whole original idea.’
SEI_50453144-b0f3SEI_50453144-b0f3hattiegladwellmetroPascale Sellick from Exeter, Devon, with her duvet which she plans to marry next month. See SWNS story SWPLduvet; A woman who plans to marry her duvet has revealed she got cold feet after becoming known as the 'duvet lady'. Pascale Sellick, 49, went viral last month when she announced plans to marry her duvet, as it was the "most intimate and reliable relationship" she had ever had. But the artist, from Exeter, Devon, was shocked by becoming an internet celebrity and now has doubts about the unusual ceremony. But for now plans are still going ahead, and Pascale and her duvet are due to be wed on Sunday, February 10, at 2pm.Pascale Sellick from Exeter, Devon, with her duvet which she plans to marry next month. See SWNS story SWPLduvet; A woman who plans to marry her duvet has revealed she got cold feet after becoming known as the 'duvet lady'. Pascale Sellick, 49, went viral last month when she announced plans to marry her duvet, as it was the "most intimate and reliable relationship" she had ever had. But the artist, from Exeter, Devon, was shocked by becoming an internet celebrity and now has doubts about the unusual ceremony. But for now plans are still going ahead, and Pascale and her duvet are due to be wed on Sunday, February 10, at 2pm.Pascale Sellick from Exeter, Devon, with her duvet which she plans to marry next month. See SWNS story SWPLduvet; A woman who plans to marry her duvet has revealed she got cold feet after becoming known as the 'duvet lady'. Pascale Sellick, 49, went viral last month when she announced plans to marry her duvet, as it was the "most intimate and reliable relationship" she had ever had. But the artist, from Exeter, Devon, was shocked by becoming an internet celebrity and now has doubts about the unusual ceremony. But for now plans are still going ahead, and Pascale and her duvet are due to be wed on Sunday, February 10, at 2pm.
When Westerners go to foreign countries which are poorer than their homeland, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the culture.
And when we millennials come across culture, the first thing we want to do is take a picture of it.
No matter how thrilled we are to take the shot though, we should be mindful of the surroundings; is it a good idea to take pictures with vulnerable children, poor people and their homes?
One Canadian-Indian creative, who has her own clothing line, has come under fire for her glamorous photo shoot with working class people at a fish market in Mumbai, India.
Blogger Babbu The Poet was accused of using poor people as ‘props’ to further her stylistic image and called out for reducing their lives to mere ‘art’.
In the images, Babbu can be seen wearing a vibrant yellow outfit the designer made, centered around a group of men at work/shopping in the area.
In the second image, she is with an older woman in traditional Indian attire saluting to the camera.
But many of her 61,000-strong followers pointed out that the shoot may have been insensitive, especially using dark-skinned poor individuals as aesthetics.
As a designer who displays the outfits she sells, Babbu was questioned over advertising herself and her clothes and therefore profiting off it, and whether the people in the shoot were compensated.
‘I wonder if any of these people were compensated for being in your pictures when you so very clearly profit off shoots like this. Maybe if you have someone wondering about the ethics of doing something like this you should pause and ask yourself “did I maybe make the wrong creative choice?”’ asked one user.
Another person wrote: ‘Loved you and your work for ages. But a little uncomfortable with the way you’re using working class, darker skinned people as a literal background for yourself?
‘It just comes off as insensitive, colourist and I wonder why, as a feminist, you haven’t engaged with people in this thread who have pointed this out?’
Babbu then replied to the comment saying: ‘Cool. Unfollow me. As my follower, you should know I’m all about my people and I wouldn’t do anything to exploit my people. And if at any point you believe that, hit that blue button. I’m not explaining myself.’
‘Me kicking it in India at the fish market with the homies is not a prop for a photo shoot.’
Followers were further outraged by her response which they felt was tone-deaf and missed the point of the criticisms.
The fact that she referred to the subjects in her picture as her ‘homies’ was also considered salt to the would considering her unequal power dynamics with them, being a light skin diaspora Indian from Canada and therefore more privileged.
Alluding to this, one user wrote: ‘Her artwork is centered around her various presentations of self, and this intentional branding is what allows her to make money. The relationship between caste and social privilege in India is so prominent it’s hard to ignore. So it’s not simple reconnection or exploration, or “just a picture”, there is a motive towards profit. They’re not kin. They’re in the background. She’s the center of the photos.’
We’ve contacted Babbu for a comment and will update the article once she replies.
Blogger criticised for using poor indian people as 'props' for glamorous photoshootBlogger criticised for using poor indian people as 'props' for glamorous photoshootfaimabakar1