We all have in our heads a general idea of what we want from life – some people want to raise a family, others want to be successful in their chosen careers; whilst some are quite happy journeying through and making decisions as they go along. Each “path” is completely valid, and no one choice is superior to another. However, we do happen across obstacles that make us question our choices – and these obstacles can come in varying forms: individuals and their actions, situations that force us to change our priorities, and even events taking place that cause us to naturally change our opinions and mindsets to that which is the complete opposite of what we originally believed in.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and try to understand why we are put in these positions – whether that is to learn something about ourselves, relate to others, or simply experience it so that we can gage similar situations we find ourselves in later on in life.

One thing you must always keep in mind when going through such ‘ordeals’ as this, is that you should never lose yourself, your values, your beliefs. By all means adapt and take on differing stances from what you are used to, but at your core, never lose yourself.
This in itself is exceptionally easy to say out loud, but not quite so easy to implement in your day to day activities; for example, if we truly like a person, we (well, I know I do) naturally start altering things about ourselves in a way we feel that person would prefer – even if we always muse the “I will not change anything about myself for a person, they either like me for me, or they can take a hike!” It is a subconscious act that we are shyly aware of, yet cannot help but allow to happen, as we cannot help what our hearts desire.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is always a difficult task to implement, but once you understand yourself, you can quite acutely look at situations and other people and know how to approach them in a way that has the most opportune outcome.
Take me for instance, I have recently come to the conclusion that alcohol brings out the worst in me (of course, alcohol, in any large quantity, brings out a side in people that we would sooner not have to deal with), but to the extent it may seriously start damaging my character, my own mental wellbeing and my relationships; therefore I am taking the steps to no longer indulge in such behaviour, as I am very aware that my mental health is severely compromised under the influence of alcohol – my outlook on various things is blurred beyond reason and I make stupid decisions.
A clear mind is forever the best way to fully understand your choices in life.

But whilst it is relatively easy to make a poor decision, realise, dwell and question EVERYTHING surrounding that decision – why you did it, how you did it, how it will affect those around you as well as yourself – you also have to understand that it happened.
There is a saying:

“Live life with no regrets.”

And whilst that is all well and good in theory, there are so many things we do in life that we regret and wish we had never done – the way to move forward is acceptance. It happened, you can only make further choices to either make amends if you feel it is necessary, or acknowledge it happened and allow that experience to make your character stronger.
The worst thing you can do in that situation is to continually worry about what has happened and bring it up with those involved – it will only add stress to yourself and potentially push those you are trying to win over away.
Accept.

Naturally, we want the best for ourselves and those around us, but that is not so easily come by without hard work and patience.
[Insert Oprah analogy here]

Just know in yourself who you are as a person, what you wish from life, and to, ultimately, understand not everything is what it seems.

’til next time.

A couple of weeks ago, Stuart Milk (Harvey Milk’s nephew, and founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation) opened a series of talks in my city of Liverpool, and I got the opportunity to have a little chat with him for TheGuideLiverpool.com.

I was incredibly nervous.
I was incredibly excited.

But I think I did okay…

Take a look!

My stomach has just twisted reading and watching this – and it is not the first of its kind to circulate online.

I really can’t fathom the thought processes that people believe justifies them this self made authority to decide how a person should live their life, and if they don’t like it, they are fodder for others to implement their desire to hurt, maim and kill.

Humanity has some disgustingly dark areas – and i still think it will take decades, maybe hundreds of years still, for society to grow up and see its failings to its fellow “man”.

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/03/07/trans-woman-pleads-for-her-life-before-being-beaten-to-death/

Emma Miller-McCaffrey (formerly Baldry) is a pinnacle within the LGBT+ community, largely within Liverpool and the North West, but also nationally through her many contacts, workshops, and projects. I had a little chat about a few of said projects, such as her work with Greater Manchester Police!

Subscribe on iTunes.

For the past 4 years, my friend Calum McSwiggan and the Terence Higgins Trust conduct a campaign all about the importance of knowing your HIV status, and to regularly get checked for sexually transmitted infections, aside from HIV.

I unknowingly got their attention with a video I made a few years back which was quite… to the point, shall we say? I pretty much slated the sexual practices of todays gay youth, who do so in sheer ignorance of the pandemic that has gone before.

And ever since I have been part of this movement, this week of awareness, though it should never be restricted to one week – HIV testing should become a regular occurrence in everyone’s life, be you gay or straight, man or woman, non-binary or every other identity within the spectrum. HIV is NOT a ‘gay disease’, and is equally as susceptible  within heterosexual relationships as homosexual; not to mention through sharing intravenous equipment amongst drug users. It is not as discriminatory as those who once labelled it the “gay cancer”, and will act exactly the same way, regardless of who you are… if you contract the virus.

This year, I want to keep it simple – no gimmicks, no silliness in a video to further a point; just THE point.

Go get tested.

Not just for HIV, but a, what I like to call, full MOT – a full sexual health check up. This is the fundamental problem, particularly within the gay community, due to progression with treatments and other preventative drugs; people believe they can have unprotected sex simply because they are on PrEP, or are HIV+ but on the correct treatment and are the desired “undetectable” status. This may be okay (though not 100% safe) for HIV, but there are plenty of other STI’s that, if left untested, undiagnosed and untreated, can cause very severe problems in the long term.

Don’t fall into the group that are naive enough to think they are untouchable due to a pill, or that “it won’t happen to me”, as I can tell you now… EVERYONE thinks that.

The test for HIV is so simple – rapid tests are simply a finger prick which can take 20 minutes to get a result.
Or you can get a full blood test which will test for things like Syphilis, as well as HIV.
It’s worth it for a full MOT that takes 10 minutes.

Don’t be caught out…

’til next time.

As many of you who follow me on social media will know (I’m sure I say that far too often in videos, which is increasingly presumptuous that anyone watching/reading actually cares past the 3-5min video and however long it takes to read a blog post…)
DIGRESSION.
Anyway, where was I… Oh! I have recently became a puppy parent, more specifically to a loveably black Pug – who my mum veto-ed naming Theo!

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And whilst he is absolutely adorable, he is a handful – something Pugs are renowned for.

It is a strange feeling, having had a dog, a cocker spaniel, for 11 1/2 years before we, sadly, had to let him go due to illness, to then, seven months later, make the decision to adopt another. Simply because they are entirely different breeds, entirely different personalities, and in some respects, entirely different positions within the family.
What I mean by that is: we adopted Archie when I was 14 years old, and he passed away when I was 25, he was one of the most amazing dogs in terms of his temperament and his general demeanour around the house – there was never an issue regarding toilet training, chewing, biting, etc; and we knew that we were spoilt with his behaviour. As mentioned in a previous post, Archie was my best friend, and I was utterly heart broken when the decision was made to put him to sleep to put a halt to his suffering… But something has not been right in the house in the months following that event.

Have you had that feeling that something was missing in your life? A person, an object, a feeling? One of those unexplainable phenomenons that you just can’t put your finger on, but then suddenly it hits you?

The sound of paws on the laminate floor.
Someone greeting you every time you walked through the front door.
Just that unconditional love that you share between an animal and a human… (Does that sound too cringe? Meh, it’s true.)

The house was just too excruciatingly empty – I know there is four of us, but anyone who has a dog will know exactly what I mean. There is just something that is brought to the household when there is a canine critter creeping about; and Theo has definitely filled that void.

People seem to forget that animals are like humans in different respects, they all act differently, have their own personalities and characteristics, and are never the same; which makes it incredibly difficult not to compare when you have more than one, or like me have adopted a second time after losing a dog after so many years. They truly become a member of the family, and one of the closest friends you’ll have in the short time they are with you.

Theo is only 12 weeks old, and already we are seeing elements of his personality, and he is hilarious: still a puppy, so he has those crazy moments where he thinks everything is a chew toy, but is very loving and aiming to please.. Even if he still needs a little pull every so often when out for a walk.
It is odd though, I have found myself looking at Archie’s picture and thinking about him more than ever since Theo got home, trying so hard not to compare the two; and that was something I never used to do – I thought about him of course, but so much more since…

*Sigh*

Here’s to many years with Theo by my side, partner in crime, being that companion that no guy seems able to be. (Lol)

’til next time.

“It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!” – Winifred Sanderson

That time of year has come around again, and whilst so many people thrive on it, I simply can’t abide it. Not in a “kill joy” type of way, I would never belittle those who love the ‘holiday’ that is Halloween, it is a magical time of year (not in the same sense as Christmas, which is more commonly described as ‘magical’) due to the fact that so many people come out of their shows and, potentially, reveal their true selves – I am just exceptionally lazy and can never be bothered dressing up.

Is that a bit deep? Maybe, but it’s true. Some people truly take to halloween like a duck to water – allowing a creature of utter art and beauty (obviously, depending on what your idea of ‘beauty’ is) to rise up, and out, for this one night a year.
Seriously though, the work some people put in for this special occasion is absolute insanity (again, in a good way), as people don’t feel like they have to adhere to a set stereotype, or look – it is simply no holds barred; and that is such a good thing.

In this day and age, we as a society feel as if we have to succumb to what is expected of us – of course, this is being challenged every day, particularly within the LGBT+ community, but even still; we believe we have to look and come across a particular way when we are out in public, for what is acceptable – Halloween makes a complete and utter mockery of this well established norm.

From something that “is thought to have originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts” (History.com) to this amazing community, child and adult alike friendly, that celebrates being different and being something, or someone, that you are not; is actually quite astounding when you think about it.

And we go all out…

I guess, maybe that is one reason why I don’t indulge overly in Halloween dress up – the amount of effort some people in, I don’t have the patience, or the visual eye for such a thing, and I commend anyone who does – as that stuff takes time, patience and perseverance.
My friend, Meg (the Zombie, skeleton thing in the images) stood for 7 hours doing several other people’s make up looks, as well as her own before that!
Click her name to go to her Instagram account to see what I mean!

But as we carry on with time, we move from Halloween and we start preparing for the Christmas season, shocking I know, it’s quite scary how quickly time is passing. But it just shows how the close of the year is one of the most celebrated and, dare I say it again, magical times of the year – we just go a bit crazy for ourselves and for others.

I blame the clocks going back.

’til next time.

It has been a very long time since I sat down to reflect and write my thoughts down in a blog post, and, if I’m honest, I have missed it – it’s nice to put things into words to openly observe from a distance after you have written them down – especially when I have a lot more time on my hands.

As many of you who follow my various social media know, I recently took the plunge in deciding to leave my semi permanent job at Hollyoaks (“semi permanent”, as I was freelance, but was there pretty much full time) so I can focus on Youtube and other social media / videography.
To be severely honest with you, I was, and remain to be, terrified at the entire situation; I have left a paid job to focus on something that I have a passion for, but does not pay at all right now; which to some is a really stupid thing to do as how will I pay my bills and for how long?
Believe me, these are questions I have asked myself, and what have given me pause in the past to do what I want to do… But, everyone has seen the memes, the images, the videos, the words of motivation, and inspiration, stating that life is short and we, as individuals, should live our lives how we wish to live them – pursuing our dreams and not settling down for less.

Now I am not naive enough to assume that everything will turn out hunky dory and I will be successful in what I choose to do, as such a thing is nigh on impossible without incredibly hard work – but neither do I wish to live in a forever state of “What if?

As everyone knows, Youtube is an extremely difficult nut to crack – it is the internet, and the entire world (figuratively speaking) engages with it, as well as steps being taken in various major cities in the world, e.g. London and LA were Spaces have been set up, to mould online content creators’ talent. But therein lies the frustration – it is as though only those who engage with these Spaces have the opportunities to build and grow their channel with the aid of Youtube itself as a platform, whilst others push and push with no aid whatsoever.

N.B. Youtube Space holds weekly events for creators under the 10,000 Subscriber threshold – Calum McSwiggan

It is a simple frustration, as it is an online platform; something on which, in days gone by, people would find success from their bedrooms on a webcam. Not in a purposefully built studio with a full crew, which only caters to those who have a big enough audience, and leaves the rest of us feeling inadequate. My point simply being: it should be the content, not who we know that can further share it, that does the talking.

We now live in a time were if you engage in online social media, worth is simply based on online influence – New creator? Good luck in your attempts to associate with more popular creators as most simply believe you are only engaging with them to further your own career, as opposed to actually wanting to socialise, learn and grow.
It truly is a type of Mean Girls “You can’t sit with us” mentality, and you see it.. a lot. For example, I saw a few posts made following my ‘announcement’ to leave work and focus on videography / Youtube, that basically questioned why I was doing it as I only had 6,000+ subscribers on Youtube, which is most certainly not a viewership which many would class as an allowance to ‘go full-time’ on the platform; which continued into . Again, the social network freedom of speech trolling which allows anyone to vocalise an opinion openly to disregard others.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that this may come across as me being bitter, as I CHOOSE to remain in Liverpool and do not wish to relocate to London, a choice many would see as me not “doing what I need to do to be successful”, but like I say, I also CHOOSE to follow a passion which is solely situated on the internet; a passion which is demonstrated by my own skills as opposed to someone else’s.

As Youtube grows, it seems more evident that Youtubers are moving away from what made the platform so personal and different to mainstream media – preferring high end production values that someone else can take responsibility for, whilst they just focus on the actual ‘content’ – what is said, how it comes across – reminding me more of a director.
Don’t get me wrong, this can be a good thing, but the beauty of Youtube, for me anyway, was that every creator had the incredible talent to make all their content, from pre-production through to sharing the final product, themselves (and I do know that some creators who use the Space, simply use it for the sets and equipment, whilst continuing to produce everything else themselves).

But hey, that’s just my viewpoint at this current moment in time…

I will continue to make content on my channel, whilst taking on freelance videography work for others (something which I have already begun), and hopefully will begin to see changes in technique and content ideas.

’til next time.