Category Archives: Lifestyle:MK

Revising Childhood

So it is that time of year, we are over the last year and all the trauma, we have either completely ignored or already forgotten our resolutions. We are realising the fresh new year is already nearing the end of it’s first month.

Have you noticed the nostalgic posts gathering steam? First FB photo versus current profile, memories, anniversaries of albums or lists of albums? I will freely admit I did a round of albums that meant something to me as a teenager. Which lead me to the following conclusion. I have really great taste in music. And I am old.

child2

You see, I totally understand looking back at what was, what might have been, could have been. And we are now far enough removed from 2016, but still close enough that we are reflective. We look at where we are, what we have managed to do, what have we changed in the last 12 months. Did you do anything we meant to do?

In our show this week (17th Jan) we were looking at age, and the question on what you would tell your teenage self. And what is age?

child3

One question that was asked on the show – perfect age. I mean you can totally over think this, look at your experiences at different ages or project where you wish or expect to be at a certain age. Me? 25 – I always default to being 25, I know, I know – you are all shocked to hear I am even that old. But why do I default to that age? Well to be perfectly fair it used to be 21, but I realised that I really couldn’t pull that off any more. I mean is there an age where you can honestly, hand on heart state that everything, EVERYTHING – and I mean the fucking planets aligned and angels sang a chorus, was perfect? Guessing the answer is no. But it isn’t really the question Audrey was asking. It wasn’t directed at our own experiences, but rather at the perceived age that we need to or want to be to gain what we need/want. So yes, I still stand by 25. Because it is long enough to get an education, and have experience. Although when I reflect at being back in a minimum wage job, I wonder at my life choices.

child6

Now when we look at what we would have liked to have known as a teenager, what life, experience, wisdom, age and reflection has taught us? Well.. nope. I wouldn’t. I may well be in the minority in this. But as much as there are several missed opportunities in my life, both work and love. I have moments, I am sure we all do, where we think about what might have been. But that is a fantasy and not reality. Because… and my not so inner hippy coming out now – life if a journey. The person we are today is a product of everything we have been through up to this point. So to change even one thing, will have a massive consequence. It sounds simple enough to say ‘be more confident’ ‘you will do the thing’ ‘don’t go out drinking instead of studying’ but actually… that all leads you to the person you are today. And by dwelling on what might have been, or what you should have done, you are missing a very important point. You are the only person who is responsible for your journey. And you need to realise, accept and understand this.

child4

Now something that I want to round this out with, perceived age, what you needed to or should have done, and actually dating. For me to say I will date someone younger than me. at my age? Not an issue. I have got to an age now that I would say that there are much more important things than age when looking at a partner. When you are say, 20 the issue is slightly more … obvious. So while we could white wash age, and state it is just a number, I think the point that we miss is that we need to have LIVED to be able to do that, and no amount of soul search, reflection or wishful thinking will help that. With age comes wisdom. We are able to make informed choices, we are basing them on experience not just our own, but experiences our peers have gone through and that we are able to critically analyse.

child1

What I am slowly getting at, in a way so round about you probably didn’t see it coming is that we need to stop assigning such importance to age. Age, like maturity, is not something easily assigned. There is no right time, no end time, no cut off point.Equally there is no point in looking back and wishing. All we can do is be flexible in our approach to all things and know that we are the architect of our destiny and journey. Blame can be placed no where else.

With that in mind – be at peace with what has been. It is in the past and has become part of the person you are today. But you can do nothing to change the past. You are though, in control of your future – ENJOY!

child5

Advertisements

Fighting Fit part 5

So after an extended break from Combat Training, I went back last week (8th Jan 2017) and I can be totally honest…. I was terrified. I had been pushing myself at the gym but am finding it difficult without a P.T or gym buddy. However, recently I have found that I wanted to go to the gym. I have been honest in that I enjoy working out but often when you work long hours, over several different projects – the need or desire to just have down time can be a difficult call to ignore.

But I digress – Combat training. I had tried to up my cardio because I had felt after the last session that this was letting me down. More so than the strength. My stamina, and endurance was going to hobble my ability to continue. So I made a real effort to work harder and faster. And hoped it would make a real difference.

20161210_153329

Well… I should not have been surprised when I found this was just not the case at the first session of 2017. You see, at the Combat Academy, they sessions are never alike. There is never a real indication before the day of what will happen, or who in fact will be there. I have managed to avoid classic self defence classes prior to this. I had had some martial arts training (see Fighting Fit part 4 ) and done enough boxing to be relatively confident that a self defence class would hold no interest. The stereotypes around them do nothing to help my feelings toward them.

ff

So of course, there I was thinking that it would be lots of cardio, jumping up from the floor, running, jumping, changes of position. No. Well. Now really i should have seen this coming. In my last session it was made very clear (more so than in previous sessions) that old habits would be broken down, and I would become .. I want to launch into some speil about fighting machines which says as much as the type of movie I watch as anything else. But what we are looking for is breakthroughs and confidence. Where I will laugh or giggle to deflect from my short comings, real or imagined – this needs to stop as it hinders training and pushes back the breakthrough.

ca3

Last week, well last week we went back to basics, we concentrated on grapples, on distance and what to do either to bridge the distance and to gain space. We also were reminded of Mohammed Ali – you know… float like a butterfly? Lots of dips, weaves and avoiding. We also worked on kicks or knees. What did I learn? First to change the knee and placement because all that happens is that you end up with a massive cumulative bruise on your knee. And that I needed to work on back strengthening exercises. Ironically i had started doing yoga  as part of my workouts so this was a simple fit. Once I could actually move again.

ff5

Something that again was addressed was that killer instinct. I guess I am wording it wrong, I don’t mean the will or want to kill or end a life. But the ability to engage in the moment and put aside any feelings of self consciousness, or girliness, embarrassment. That worrying about what you look like, sound like, what others think… it is not something that should be on or in your mind at that moment. The point is that in combat training it is a safe space and place in which to practise real life scenarios. And if you can’t get into the correct mindset there and then… what is the possibility that you will be mentally prepared to do so if you happen to find yourself in such a situation.

self-defence1

That is as simple as it gets, when I am being shouted at, pressure tested, when I am getting punched on the nose because I dropped my block. It isn’t because I am being belittled, or berated, or payback. It simple is to try and make sure that in a situation where it might we be do or die, I don’t black out, breakdown or freeze.

So I really do encourage your all to hunt out your local Combar Academy, and get down there to try it out. It isn’t a case of people being mean to you or trying to change you fundamentally. It is teaching real life skills in order to protect you.

self-defence

Fighting Fit part 4

Well, since I have a couple of weeks off from training, I am being more than a little reflective about what the Combat Training means to me, personally and generally.

da4

You see, as I briefly looked at in my last blog in the series, self defence is to a greater degree, different depending on your sex. Men will find themselves in a protecting situation either protecting their friends, family or pride. Women often defend themselves against predators, against sexual assault or domestic abuse.

Now, in my formative years, leaving teenage years and becoming an adult, I spent a lot of time with a group of guys who were all very interested in martial arts. They trained with me, it was interesting and they wanted me to be able to protect myself. It often involved jumping out of stairwells at me or having a foot land on my head at random intervals (although let us be fair, I don’t think there will be a real life situation where this will happen) and at no point did they suggest I couldn’t do something based on my gender. Although equally they were very protective when we were all out.

da3

That said, I remember them coming home more than once having been attacked on the way home, and I don’t think, on reflection, that their years of martial arts training helped them. Not that they would ever admit it. But their ego and confidence rubbed off on me, I am a fast talker and have often found myself in situations where I have engaged my mouth before engaging my brain. False bravado. But, as close as I have got, and my absolute refusal to back down if I know that I am right… I have never, ever been in a fight with a complete stranger. Nope. Never been attacked. I have got close, and even jumped into a taxi in broad daylight when I realised that I was being followed, and that the direction I was going would lead me to a very quiet part of town.

But I digress, like i have just said, I have never been attacked by a stranger. Most women are attacked in domestic situations. That, is to say, I have been a victim of domestic violence. I grew up in a household that suffered heavily with domestic violence. So you could say, I should have seen the signs. But no, there were really no signs. Or none that I was prepared to notice.

da1

It was one of the men that I had known for years, it was one of the men that had protected me on nights out, who had taught me to defend myself, correct form, how to punch. It was the same man that I had had a relationship with, who I trusted.

I honestly don’t really think about it often, I compartmentalise. And it was only on thinking about my last training session, and how broken I felt following it. I was thinking about something that was said, about training my reactions so I am able to react in a positive way if I ever find myself in a situation that I have to protect myself.

And what happened when I was attacked? Well, let us be frank. It was not a slap, it was no a shove, and lets remember, I had trained with this man before. I still have a pain in my breast bone from when he hyper extended a punch directing it to my spine. Training. So, it wasn’t just a tap. It was a full on punch, that I was no prepared for, or expecting. It wasn’t during an argument or an exchange.

I shut down. I totally, and utterly shut down. I had no response, I lacked the tools to be able to deal with it. I didn’t train for this, because this was done out of maliciousness and not in a safe spce.

da2

This is why self defence training, combat training in ‘real life’ situations is important. It is why I will keep going. I will keep pushing myself. It is why I am working hard at the gym so that I am able to participate more fully in the sessions. Because what happened to me, that attack? That was exactly what the training is talking about. It isn’t about same spaces, with comfortable mats on the floor, with a referee and people cheering you on. With a bell to announce the start of the round.

The Combat Academy will continue to challenge me, it will probably break me, I will try, I will keep training in the gym to work on my fitness. And I will do this, so I know, so I am prepared. So if I do find myself in a situation I have no control over, I am able to react.

As always, if you want more information CLICK HERE

A conversation of masculinity

So, it is something I have mentioned, and blogged about before. But it is something that deserved a wider conversation. Men, and the idea of masculinity what that means.

mh4

We are almost through ‘Movember’ which is an effort to get men involved in both charity, but also to help raise awareness. The tag line is ‘stopping men dying too young’ and initially started as an idea in Australia. It was initially created to raise awareness of testicular cancer but has now grown to include prostrate cancer and mental health/suicide prevention. Because something we don’t talk about is men’s health.

Why is that? In this weeks show we did try and explore this – I will apologise for repeatedly suggesting that men ‘woman up’ – taken out of context I sound heartless. But I really only mean that the idea of ‘man flu’ is frustrating to most of the population. But that is detracting from the real issue here.

mh5

Men are dying young. Young men are the highest statistic for suicides. Men still dying, dying young, from entirely preventable situations. At the end of the day, it is because we are not talking. Because men still need to prove something, they are still held responsible for being the strong one, the one that doesn’t give up or give in. In the next blog in my #Fighting Fight series looks at ways that this personality archetype can manifest.

Men, men are suffering. It can be as simple as the ideals that are put upon them in the working world, and expectations of even what they were to work and the double standards – I explored this in a previous blog Addressing Equality. Of course this may sound vain and shallow but it is merely a symptom of a larger problem.

mh

Men have not be allowed to change, evolve, roll with the punches. As women, as a feminist – I, we shout for equality. We shout to be heard. We want visibility. But men, men’s roles remain unchanged. How often are men looked at with a queer eye if they work with children, are the nurse and not the doctor, stay at home to look after the children. Men are expected to be strong, to provide, to protect. 

And another quirk is that men also do not like to be easily, goaded into things… nagging I think is the colloquial term. Never a truer quote – you can lead a horse to water. I am not going to change any minds with this blog. I don’t even know if anyone will read this blog. But I just want to get this out there. Men are important. Men’s health both physical and mental is important. 

mh3

Men get stressed, work can be hard, challenging, men can have as much trouble, work loads, time pressure, colleagues, bullying, commutes, poor relationships with coworkers, financial worries, not having much time to relax, to wind down, not sleeping well. Stress. And not talking, not talking because they don’t know who to talk to, don’t want to be a burden, would rather brush it away because talking doesn’t help. Does it. Does talking help, or is it better to come to a logical conclusion to the problem. Because that is the practical solution. 

Does it sound like I have gone around in circles from ‘we aren’t talking’ and then suggesting men don’t want to talk. Well the thing is, men also have a lot of pressure on them. They feel that they need hold themselves up to impossible standards – although who is setting those standards will be a difficult thing to untangle. 

mh2

We all need to make sure that men feel that they are in and have an environment that they can open up. That if something is troubling them, be it mental health or physical health, they know where to get the information and they know where to go to get help. They need to know that it is okay to not be perfect, that the macho ideal is anything but. That men can let their guard down.

With that, there are some numbers that you might want to use yourself or play forward in case someone you know has a need for them at some stage : 

doesn’t appear on phone bills : http://www.samaritans.org/news/samaritans-launches-new-free-helpline-number-uk

Mind UK with links for support and urgent care : http://www.mind.org.uk/

And CALM which is a charity dedicated to reducing suicide in young men who are the largest single group in the UK at risk : https://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/contact-us/

Fighting Fit part 2

Well, as you may recall in the first in this series of blog posts, I was unwillingly dragged to a combat training taster session by my co host and partner in crime. If you want a refresher on what happened and my initial thoughts you can read the first blog post here : Fighting Fit.

I have since been back for what should have been 5 sessions, although on my fourth session I had to take a step back as I was knocked sideways with a bad cold. But I did feel it was important to still go – rather than stay cooped up indoors. And it meant I got to snag some great photos and video.

20161113_120912

Now, I am feeling reflective over what I have learnt over the last few weeks – you see no week is ever the same. The second session took place in the wooded area and was more conditioning and muscle memory, working with different instructors and basically drilling what we had learnt in the first session. It was good to do it in another environment as it stops you being able to get used to a terrain. Because frankly this is about defending yourself, so you won’t be picking your environment. Prior to this was going over the basics of the psychology and getting to know the people we were training with and their motivation for training. Because at the end of the day, what we are doing required a degree of trust. We need to know the people we are working with and against to be able to do it. We need to have some empathy and understanding of their journey and background. What led them to this place. Okay, so that might sound a little … ‘touchy feely’ for a combat environment but honestly, it works. And you do need it, you need to be able to trust the person throwing punches at you, to trust the person dropping you to the floor. It also gives you a little extra confidence – you need that to get out of the chair and walk into the field or woods.

20161113_122349

Now the third session, that session killed me. I guess the honeymoon period was well and truly over by this point. Kid gloves off and we were thrown into a beasting session which involved a 10 min warm up. Which damned near killed me. I don’t consider myself unfit. But there are different types and levels. And I just was not keeping up. Which made me kick myself. The session was more drilling and concentrating on the basics – but if you think for a moment that when I say drilling it was the same as the previous session, or the first? Not at all. For example I have had different instructors each time, and even rotated instructors while in training. And the same lesson can be taught in different ways. At no point are you allowed to get comfortable. Because, just in case between paragraphs you have forgotten, this is combat training. We are training so that we are able to defend, protect and remove ourselves from violent situations.

20161113_115735

I will also admit something here, I went out on the previous evening, and may have stayed out a lot longer than intended, and drank more than intended. So I did think that I was struggling because of this, and was also very glad I didn’t throw up. However, it was very, cold, windy a little wet and I wore just a t shirt after the warm up did a very good job. I spent the following week sick as a dog which led to last weeks having to sit out the session as I could barely breathe, or stand. So my advice, do not drink the night before, and wear a base layer to protect from the elements.

Like I said, last week, I missed out on training but I was able to see as a spectator what you are put through, and actually something that surprised me, most encounters from engaging to floor are about 30 seconds. There are longer encounters. And I am certain that as we progress we will be challenged more. But that most encounters will be over or rather, can be over so quickly is something to bare in mind. It is also surreal because I know that when you are drilling aspects, it feels like minutes because you are trying to remember what to do, what position to get into, how to safely get to the floor and what to do when you are on the floor – how to have the upper hand, how to do it all without expending too much energy and avoiding damage.

20161113_115749

Now, onto yesterdays training session. Well… it was actually grading for one of the instructors – in that it was the end of her instructor training so was being graded to see if she was at a level to become a full instructor. It was brutal. The day was brutal. I only experienced a small portion of what she went through but I was done. I was finished. My comfortzone was in a different time zone. I was spent, I was finished, I was left holding onto the fence at one point because I wasn’t sure  that I trusted my own body to hold me up.

Every part of me was soaked through, I spent more time on the floor than I every expected to – I wrested, bucked, pulled and pushed people of varying sizes around, dropped them, was straddled, gift wrapped them. I found that my body was not physically able to keep working at the pace required of me. Again, I don’t consider myself unfit, I know I am far from where I should be, and know I rely on a quick recovery time to get me through. But yesterday showed me that I need to up my game. I need to be much more physically fit. At no point was I told that I am unfit, not up to the challenge, that I should train more, or harder or that I was letting anyone down.

20161106_150400

I want to make that perfectly clear – the distress and upset is all me, I am letting down myself, and also the instructors who give up time and put a lot of energy and effort in to the sessions. You do need to be relatively fit to do these sessions, this is just common sense, these are not 45 mins in a sports hall. These are a couple of hours outside, running, punching, throwing down. It is very intense – and I wanted to go back to what I was saying about trust. You will get screamed at, you will get shouted at. It isn’t pleasant, you won’t like it, you might cry (hands up, I did) but this is why it is so important to have trust in your instructors. You need to understand why they are doing it, and where it is coming from. That they are not picking on you, they don’t dislike you, they aren’t judging you. They just need to make the situation as real as possible, to make you understand what it might be like, that being cute, or giggling won’t help you.

I am just getting ready to go to the gym, I have bruises all over my legs, my thighs are agony. But I am glad I went, I am glad I am going, I am happy and proud to say that I am training to become an instructor and cannot wait to see where that journey will take me. I am going to make sure that I increase my cardio (clearly walking everywhere isn’t cutting it!).

20161113_131650

But I cannot express how supportive the instructors, and everyone else at the Combat Academy are – as much as the military aspect of the training is hard, and so against my own personality, it is necessary. But at the end of the day training is a small part of it, the psychology and theory is as important and helps you put everything in place. And the general support you get, your confidence grows with every hour you spend there. Every instructor having varying techniques. It is not standardised and this means that you are getting a much more rounded session each time. You are learning why people think a certain way, what leads them to a certain answer, it helps you make your own educated decisions and gives a broader understanding outside your own life experience. Every instructor is a different body type, height, training level  you name it – it means that you really don’t know what to expect and this again adds to the realism. And frankly I think the fact that everyone is so open, and caring makes the training much easier.

I will keep you updated on my journey – if you want to check out the academy here is their website : Click Here

20161113_132336

Moths and Glitter

So a couple of weeks ago on the show, I had the beautiful MothQueen Makeup speak to us – give a little background, and generally shed a little light into her life. This was not, I will be the first to admit, entirely altruistic. I am a massive fan of her work and have followed her on various platforms for some time. I was so happy when she agreed to start a You Tube channel – her tutorial on how to do the perfect smokey eye, for me just sealed the deal.

If you would like to hear what a MothQueen sounds like, and to get a little background on her – have a listen Lifestyle:MK Halloween special ft Mothqueen Makeup

mqm

MothQueen Makeup is entirely relatable in a way that many artists on You Tube aren’t – she is polished, poised, her editing is fantastic. But she still manages to explain things, she is approachable and it is like listening to a friend walk you through makeup application. And of course, she uses products that are easy for most of to get our hands on.

mqm7

Now most of that shouldn’t be news to you – I have blogged about MQM before now – but I have got some updates for you – since we last spoken MQM has not only competed in the NYX UK Face Awards (and did amazingly well!) but she also represented ManicPanic UK at the recent Salon International convention in London. So she is getting her face out there – her skills are being recognised.

mqm2

But another… name that you will be familiar with if you follow this blog, and or any of my other social media outlets…. Oh My Glitter. Now the lady behind this company is working for and by herself currently and it is always exciting to see what she comes up with – I did a review on her products a couple of months a go and honest she has blow me away in the 3 months since that review!

mqm5

By I digress, and there is a reason that I am writing about these lovely ladies in the same blog – they make an amazing team! MQM did a fantastic bunch of videos for Halloween, and I based my halloween makeup on her Unicorn – although modified as I was going to be playing with a headset the entire time! And she extensively used OMG products to achieve her look. In fact if you take a look at her recent videos – including a stunning and rather gothic mermaid – OMG is all over her face!

mqm6

This isn’t a collaboration in the traditional sense, and like any of the times that I review or promote products, it is based on the product and not some sort of endorsement deal. The products are so good that they can easily be used for day wear, night wear and special effects. There aren’t many products that translate so well. Of course, I do love using drugstore products for SFX makeup. But they miss that… something… GLITTER. Of course there are other brands with glitter, pressed, loose, gel. But there are few options for an eyeshadow that is frankly just so versatile and so hardwearing. And that is why it works so well for MQM. It is a match made in heaven and I am so happy! (because it makes recreating or using her looks as inspo so much easier when I can use the same product!).

mqm4

So in a bid to help make this easier for you – here are some links so you can see what is making me all fangirly and giggly!

Moth Queen Makeup You Tube

MothQueen Makeup FB page

Oh My Glitter FB Page

Oh My Glitter website

Read, Read, DEAD

Couple of weeks ago I have the pleasure of having, internationally renowned author – Mr T W Brown talk to the radio show. It was a bit of a big deal for me as I love his work. I first came accross TW Brown’s work as part of an anthology. I am a voracious reader, and after all the Publishers Clearing shops closed locally, I was  really finding it a very expensive hobby to keep up with. But I received a Kindle as a gift – there were initial reservations over owning one. I like, I love books. I love the gorgeous books with illustrations and pretty finishes. I love notes inside the cover. I adore picking up a book and having all the memories attached flood back.

Not a picture of me but pretty close :

books2

A kindle is like a tabloid paper, disposable, quick, easy, requiring minimal effort, and I honestly was concerned that authors would be missing out on earnings. So what I am about to say is probably shocking. There are a great deal of anthologies available on the Kindle for either nothing, or around 99pence. The idea of these anthologies, I gather, is that you discover an author and the first in a series of books that he has written. Once you do this, your end of the bargain (for say getting 10 books for 10 pence each) is that you follow up this relationship and buy the rest of the books in the series at full price.

Which seems like a fair exchange when you think about it – and it worked out well for me in this case. I won’t lie, there are a lot of books you will wish you never had the misfortune of reading. But there are going to be gems. 

books

TW Brown has a few different series, all in the ‘horror’ genre for want of a better word. The first series that I read was the ‘Zomblog’ chronicles which are exactly what they sound like – they are a series of books written in a diary style depicting the end of the world as we know it. Once I came to the end of the series, I desperately started looking around for something to fill the void. What what do I find? Well the lovely TW Brown has obliged his legion of fans with another zombie filled, post apocalyptic work in which to dive into. The DEAD series is again, captivating. You get sucked in, and every chapter focuses on another individual (and by extension group) and how they are managing to survive and yes, if you are thinking George RR Martin, you are correct. Once I (thought) I had got to the end of that series – I am exhausted just recounting this – he has a further series which is a somewhat different change of pace. This series – That Ghoul Ava which is more, Tom Holt in its consideration. It is a perfectly normal and relatable world – it just also includes the Supernatural fraternity. It is very enjoyable, seeing creatures that you have always suspected exist coming to life. 

aomblog1

Now as you may recall, I recently did  review on Simon Bestwick and one of his zombie lit books in  A fresh Undead. I wanted to clear something up before I go any further. Simon is a clear voice amongst the dredge in the zombie lit genre. As is TW Brown. They have very different writing styles and it works well. There really is no comparison between the authors. Simon for example, if one of the few British authors that I enjoy. I am not sure what it is about British authors, writing about a place that I know. Maybe that is the problem, I know it too well and I don’t know what I see, or maybe it isn’t what I expected. When I read a book based in a foreign country (planet etc) then it adds a layer of escapism? I don’t know what it is, and really.. does it matter ? Go pick up a book and find out how you find it! 

zomblog4

Now, TW Brown chatted to us about his work for our halloween show, if you want to see me fangirling over it there is a video on the show FB page (link at bottom), and we got to know  him a little better and his process. Simon chatted to us about reviews and how important they are. I am currently reading DEAD:Onset so I will do a review on this book in the hope that you have picked up one of his books before I finish.

zomblog5

What I hope you take away from this blog is that – authors are people as well, they can be awesome people. In fact they often are. But like us all, they have an ego and need to be reassured that they are doing a good job. So for that reason, once you have read on of their books (both TW Brown and S Bestwick have a great back catalogue), I know they would appreciate you leaving a review so that others are able to see how much you enjoyed the books but that the authors themselves are able to gauge how good a job they are doing entertaining us. 

I do have something special for those of you that prefer to listen to audio books – if you would like some more information please do not hesitate to drop me a message 🙂 

Here are some important likes for you all :

LifeStyle:MK Halloween special ft TW Brown

LifeStyle:MK Reviewing the Situation ft Simon Bestwick

TW Brown Amazon profile

Simon Bestwick’s Amazon profile

LifeStyle:MK facebook page

Read, read, Undead

Couple of weeks ago I have the pleasure of having, internationally renowned author – Mr T W Brown talk to the radio show. It was a bit of a big deal for me as I love his work. I first came accross TW Brown’s work as part of an anthology. I am a voracious reader, and after all the Publishers Clearing shops closed locally, I was  really finding it a very expensive hobby to keep up with. But I received a Kindle as a gift – there were initial reservations over owning one. I like, I love books. I love the gorgeous books with illustrations and pretty finishes. I love notes inside the cover. I adore picking up a book and having all the memories attached flood back.

Not a picture of me but pretty close :

books2

A kindle is like a tabloid paper, disposable, quick, easy, requiring minimal effort, and I honestly was concerned that authors would be missing out on earnings. So what I am about to say is probably shocking. There are a great deal of anthologies available on the Kindle for either nothing, or around 99pence. The idea of these anthologies, I gather, is that you discover an author and the first in a series of books that he has written. Once you do this, your end of the bargain (for say getting 10 books for 10 pence each) is that you follow up this relationship and buy the rest of the books in the series at full price.

Which seems like a fair exchange when you think about it – and it worked out well for me in this case. I won’t lie, there are a lot of books you will wish you never had the misfortune of reading. But there are going to be gems. 

books

TW Brown has a few different series, all in the ‘horror’ genre for want of a better word. The first series that I read was the ‘Zomblog’ chronicles which are exactly what they sound like – they are a series of books written in a diary style depicting the end of the world as we know it. Once I came to the end of the series, I desperately started looking around for something to fill the void. What what do I find? Well the lovely TW Brown has obliged his legion of fans with another zombie filled, post apocalyptic work in which to dive into. The DEAD series is again, captivating. You get sucked in, and every chapter focuses on another individual (and by extension group) and how they are managing to survive and yes, if you are thinking George RR Martin, you are correct. Once I (thought) I had got to the end of that series – I am exhausted just recounting this – he has a further series which is a somewhat different change of pace. This series – That Ghoul Ava which is more, Tom Holt in its consideration. It is a perfectly normal and relatable world – it just also includes the Supernatural fraternity. It is very enjoyable, seeing creatures that you have always suspected exist coming to life. 

aomblog1

Now as you may recall, I recently did  review on Simon Bestwick and one of his zombie lit books in  A fresh Undead. I wanted to clear something up before I go any further. Simon is a clear voice amongst the dredge in the zombie lit genre. As is TW Brown. They have very different writing styles and it works well. There really is no comparison between the authors. Simon for example, if one of the few British authors that I enjoy. I am not sure what it is about British authors, writing about a place that I know. Maybe that is the problem, I know it too well and I don’t know what I see, or maybe it isn’t what I expected. When I read a book based in a foreign country (planet etc) then it adds a layer of escapism? I don’t know what it is, and really.. does it matter ? Go pick up a book and find out how you find it! 

zomblog4

Now, TW Brown chatted to us about his work for our halloween show, if you want to see me fangirling over it there is a video on the show FB page (link at bottom), and we got to know  him a little better and his process. Simon chatted to us about reviews and how important they are. I am currently reading DEAD:Onset so I will do a review on this book in the hope that you have picked up one of his books before I finish.

zomblog5

What I hope you take away from this blog is that – authors are people as well, they can be awesome people. In fact they often are. But like us all, they have an ego and need to be reassured that they are doing a good job. So for that reason, once you have read on of their books (both TW Brown and S Bestwick have a great back catalogue), I know they would appreciate you leaving a review so that others are able to see how much you enjoyed the books but that the authors themselves are able to gauge how good a job they are doing entertaining us. 

I do have something special for those of you that prefer to listen to audio books – if you would like some more information please do not hesitate to drop me a message 🙂 

Here are some important likes for you all :

LifeStyle:MK Halloween special ft TW Brown

LifeStyle:MK Reviewing the Situation ft Simon Bestwick

TW Brown Amazon profile

Simon Bestwick’s Amazon profile

LifeStyle:MK facebook page

Learn by watching

So this week on the show we are looking at You Tube and of course I look at makeup tutorials for inspiration and direction from time to time. But what actually prompted this blog was a ‘light bulb’ moment. I am going to be doing a blog on eye brow products – mostly inspired by my own mother. And then I realised, there has been a monumental shift in how we learn about makeup.

yt4

Years ago, really people of my generation and above, will say that they remember how their mother applied their lipstick, watching her getting ready for work, or to go out in the evening. Often our first makeup was ‘borrowing’ our mothers products. So our first, hesitant steps into the work of face paint would be whatever our female relatives have at hand. Obviously if you were lucky enough to have an older sister it would broaden your experience.

yt3

We would learn what products are ‘normal’ to use, and probably be guided in colours by our mother. When we first go out into the world to pick up makeup, we would go with what is safe. Although shopping with girlfriends would involve glitter EVERYTHING and hair mascara.

Recently I was at an Urban Decay event (which I am going to be writing up) and we had 3 different age groups, and it was funny that the uni student commenting on how on point the school leavers are, and they in turn saying that the year 7’s are even more on point with makeup. Year 7’s in makeup? I am not even sure how to process it. But you will have to forgive me, I grew up in the Eighties, so that was not exactly a great decade for makeup inspiration… nor were the Nineties if we are going to be honest. However, things really have changed.

yt8

Are we not all guilty of utilising You Tube to learn new skills? I don’t know about you but I spend plenty of time on You Tube researching makeup, seeing new ideas, learning new skills. So really the only difference is that girls first learning about makeup are using the tools available to them, no different from anyone else. It is just that when they are first experimenting with makeup they are being exposed to trends, and brands and their expectation is different. And let’s be honest, the make up market has exploded in recent years. There is a lot more choice, both drug store level, high end but many more independent brands to choose from.

yt6

You Tube gives people, of all ages, background, ability a platform – a platform free of big advertising and marketing budgets. It is honest, it is personal. There are so many things that you can find on You Tube. I spend as much time looking at makeup as I do listening to music. You Tube is my tool for procrastination. Because you have so many awesome suggestions to go check out. And often (in my experience) it doesn’t matter what you started off looking for … you end up looking at entirely unrelated videos – just ask Robb who in last weeks show explained that while he might start off looking at workout videos… somehow he finds cat videos.

yt7

And it offers skills, for me, there are numerous videos showing different makeup techniques, hints, tricks, dupes, a fabulous resource that will help you nail the look you are trying to polish. And what is really great about these videos is that you will find one that clicks. You will watch countless that while very well done, and easy to follow… it doesn’t quite gel. Now for tomorrows show, I am going to be following a video uploaded by Moth Queen Makeup (go find her on You Tube and Facebook – tell her I sent you!) for the radio show. To make things interesting, I will not be doing a trial run, and will try and cobble together a video myself. I have followed MQM for a while and find her videos really easy to follow and she uses a mix of products often finding products that are a lot kinder on the wallet. So… I will see how that goes and do a write up following the show!

yt5

You Tube is a fantastic resource, you will find help for almost anything. But please, please sure a little common sense when copying anything you have learnt. If it feels wrong, makes you uncomfortable, or you just aren’t sure… don’t do it. Keep looking and see if there is another video that might offer a better solution. And one more thing – while I may be older than a lot of people watching makeup videos, and am learning tips, and tricks that many a 14 yr old will do without thinking – do not for a moment think you are too old. I see so many comments on various makeup themed groups asking if people are too old for a certain look (always discouraging when the person asking is younger!). What I love about makeup is that like any other art, it is constantly evolving and changing and we have access to so many tutorials now be it You Tube, Facebook, or any other number of social media platforms. We are no longer beholden to the makeup of our mothers, we are able to make choices, find new brands, new ways of using the makeup we already own, different looks, the possibilities are endless, and best of all – you can do it all in the comfort of your own home! 

Fighting Fit

So, last weekend I went to Combat Academy, I was invited along with my Lifestyle:MK co-host Audrey who had met the brains, and brawn behind the enterprise earlier that week on a T.V show. On a Sunday morning, in a unassuming part of Leighton Buzzard which on the drive there led me up the garden path quite literally. To find out more – please CLICK HERE

We finally realised that we had arrived when we spotted people standing around in camo fatigues – is that even the right word? Berets were also employed. It all looked very serious. And I am not a serious person (despite all the ranting blogs I throw around!) so I was genuinely worried that I would immediately find a clash of personalities. There were smiles and warm welcomes from everyone, we were then ushered into the porta-cabin that serves at the head quarters. It was open with plenty of room, and the people already in the room were again welcoming. Not long after we sat down, we had another group of girls join us – who were also invited, including the utterly inspiring Rozana McGrattan who has been through so much growing up on the streets in Sao Paulo – she has released a book titled Street Girl which you can pick up easily on Amazon by CLICKING HERE (although I am sure other booksellers carry it).

ca4

It was a lovely environment, we all talked about ourselves, that is, everyone in the room, staff, senior members, and of course, those of us hoping for a spa day (thanks Aud) and it was a really relaxed atmosphere. We felt a little closer to each other, breaking the ice. Once that was over, we had a little training session discussing common mistakes, issues and how to avoid, and what to do in certain situations. This was laying down the theory behind both predictor and prey and putting things into context before the laying of hands.

ca3

Now, given the choice, I would have stayed out of the physical part of the day. I didn’t think I would be fit enough, that I would catch on, I was worried about my shape (I am squishy). Would I be able to do any of these things, would my leggings stay up? (the last is a legitimate concern!) And of course I didn’t want to make a complete prat out of myself in front of strangers, and worse, professionals who no doubt would be judging me.

ca7

It got worse, after warming up, being show some simple moves, instead of being split into small groups, we would be going out in front of the rest of the group? KILL ME NOW! But the atmosphere was wholly supportive, cheers and clapping. And while you are in the moment, you actually do forget everything. It was fun, the first part of the training was about distance and how to keep the distance between you and your aggressor. Which reminded me of the boxing training I did all that time ago.

ca6

As the training progressed, it got progressively harder, punches coming, remembering to block, and block well. Looking for openings and grappling with people who were making it harder and harder. Oh and did I mention that we also had to drop and pin someone? I am sure I am not using the correct terminology. But for those seconds (felt like hours) I wasn’t worried about what I looked like, I wasn’t pulling at my t shirt, shifting my weight, avoiding peoples stares. I was in the moment, I was doing my best, I was learning skills that I genuinely could use.

ca5

During the time we were outside, there was a real sense of family, we cheered each other one, we congratulated each other. It felt like a group of friends, not people who to a degree had never met each other. We felt elated when we did well, we were not looking for our team mates to do badly, we were watching their techniques and cheering when they nailed it. At no point did it feel like we were being judged for anything other than how we implemented what we had learnt.

ca2

Toward the end the session, we got to watch the instructors and regulars pitch against each other, it was interesting to see how simple techniques and ideas could be used in different ways. And inspiring, very inspiring! The day was finished off by a debrief where we all had a chance to chat and go over what we had learnt and how we felt about the day. Even though I initially had reservations about the boot camp, and given the choice, there are many, many things I would have chosen to do? I really, really enjoyed it! Four hours flew by, all preconceptions that I had when I first arrived were quickly, and thoroughly dispelled. There was no macho, regimented, army atmosphere.

ca1

What you will find, and what I found, is a safe, supportive environment. You will learn a lot about yourself, about habits you have, what you may want to change. The thinking is based in fact, and practised. You come away with a lot to think about, and have the understanding of why, and not just how. And you feel like you made friends, and that everyone there wants to help, and support you, and for you to succeed. And you don’t get to go before a round of hugs. All barriers that may have been in place, any nerves, any apprehensions that you had when you first get out of your car…. all completely gone by that last hug.

And I am going back tomorrow for another round – wish me luck!