Year 1 is over, finally

It’s been over a month since I last posted on this blog, and honestly, that’s because I’ve been at uni on the block placement part of my course. It was… hard. Physically and emotionally, it was hugely difficult. I nearly failed, actually, but managed to pull it back in the last week – I’m once again doubting whether or not I want to continue with the course, but given I’ve already used up my ‘second chance’, I’m going to have to see it through.

But that’s a post for another day, perhaps.

On a lighter, brighter, sunshiney-er note, I  have the whole summer ahead of me to relax, have fun, and honestly, feel like myself again! I have a couple of trips lined up – 2000 Trees festival in July is one I’m looking forward to immensely, as I get to be reunited with my lovely friends from college. We’ve all spread out a bit, now, so getting everyone together is going to be amazing. I also have a trip to St Ives planned in August – one of my favourite places in the world – and one to Liverpool in September for my 21st birthday.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 14.51.58Other than that, I plan on getting in lots of hula hooping and spending time outside. I really, really hope I get some people to hang out with this summer. The flow arts jam that runs on Tuesdays looks like a good place – I’ve already met some lovely people at the last ones.

It still doesn’t feel real that I suddenly have so much free time – but I’m so glad that I do, I really need the break. I love being able to wear the clothes that I want to wear, rather than my ‘teacher’ ones! Bracelets are back on my arms, my makeup is flashy again, and I have so much more freedom over ‘appropriate’ clothes to wear. I also got a new tattoo a couple of weeks ago – I’d show, but I don’t have any photos.

Oh – and I dyed my hair green!Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 14.54.54

I’m so glad I can write and post again. I hope everyone has a lovely summer!

Why I fell in love with the hippie lifestyle

Why am I a hippie?

Sometimes, I look back on the past four or so years, and wonder, out of all the aesthetics and lifestyles I experimented with, why was this the one that spoke to me the most? What separated this one from all the others? Why this, and not goth, or nerd, or art student?

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As a child, I never really fitted in, but in primary school, that doesn’t seem to matter. In primary school, or at least, when I was in primary school, kids enjoyed one another’s interests, no matter how strange, and celebrated them, in a sense. In secondary school, though, things were different. Not fitting in was a social death sentence. I had no idea about the ‘in’ clothes or music, and I was painfully, toe-curlingly shy. Not an ideal personality for that environment. So, for a while, I did my absolute best to fit in – I wore the same thing as everyone else, I tried to hide the things I enjoyed. Of course, it didn’t work, and I never magically became popular overnight.

At sixteen, I finally dyed my hair for the first time, I developed a personal style and stopped caring what people thought of it. The dark hair and the questionable anime t-shirts are long gone, but it was at that time that I discovered Pink Floyd – and I fell in love with classic rock on the whole soon after.

I joined Tumblr, and became a fairly recognised member of the ‘Classic Rock Fandom’, as we called it, by the time I was 17. I started learning about the 60s, and fashion, and the politics of the time. I made friends with some people who were hugely into vintage fashion and jewellery – two girls, who I sadly have all but lost contact with – and they very much influenced my fashion and makeup. I still own and regularly wear all the things they inspired me to buy.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.38.38

In the summer of 2014, I spent much of my time listening to classic rock (the albums I listened to the most are, I think, largely listed on this post), and watching movies set in, or made during, the 60s and 70s – think the Boat that RockedQuadrophenia, and A Hard Day’s Night. One in particular, which is still one of my favourite films, was Across the Universe, and it was really the one which introduced me to the ‘reality’ of the 60s, so to speak (I know, I know, it’s not exactly a proper representation). I studied the Vietnam War protests, and the flower children, and I joined CND – overall, I guess I started to see what it really stood for – why it all began.

That was the turning point, really. It was when I adapted the ‘hippie mindset’, so to speak. And, for me, seeing myself as a hippie, someone who loves the 60s aesthetic, gave me a sense of identity. It was something I was that other people weren’t. Now I’m out of a secondary school environment, I love standing out, and I love being true to the things I like.

I soon began to meet and encounter people who shared my interests – I now follow a range of people on social media who regularly inspire me with their clothes and their adventures. I discovered that I absolutely adore wearing colourful clothes, and clashing patterns, and lots and lots of accessories. Before I really discovered this style, I’d wear fairly dark clothes – as in, I wore blScreen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.39.01ack every day, pretty much. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s your thing, but I found that I was so much happier wearing lots of jingly bright things! I really don’t know why, but I always feel more confident when I’m wearing something colourful, or patterned, or just a bit different.

Furthermore, I’ve always had an interest in crystals, and that side of it. I’ve been collecting crystals since I was probably about ten, and I’d been interested in learning tarot for about six years before I actually bought myself a set. With hula hooping as well, I found that the hippie community was one which was welcoming, and full of love, and appreciated differences. I never got on with a lot of people at school, but I made friends quickly and easily when I became involved in the flow arts circle in particular. The hippie ideals allowed me to explore my interests, too – especially those which my mum deemed ‘nonsense’ (fair enough, but she refused to allow me to learn tarot because she thought it was a waste of time). And, surprisingly, I found that a lot of other people were actually impressed with the things that I’d learned to do. Finding myself this sense of identity allowed me to explore things I’d previously looked upon with admiration, and have a chance to take them up for myself.

Viewing myself as a hippie, and surrounding myself with the things influenced by this interest, has given me a sense of self which I’m so much more confident with. When I think about why it resonated with me, it makes so much sense. It gave me a chance to be myself, to meet new people, and to love the things I love. I finally found the person I wanted to be throughout my teens. I learned compassion, I became aware, and I discovered that the world has so much beauty if you look in the right places. I didn’t have to look a certain way to feel accepted, I didn’t have to keep my interests a secret. I could be the real me.

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And, to think, it all started when I listened to Pink Floyd’s Pulse one windy morning on the Welsh coast…

My Hoop Journey

I took up hula hooping in the middle of January 2016. As I’ve just passed my 1 year “hoopiversary”, I decided to detail my journey from ‘fairly useless individual in a sports bra with a massive hoop’ to ‘actually quite competent’. I initially didn’t mean to write it in this style; it just sort of happened.

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Once upon a time, a soon-to-be university dropout in a tiny room in Reading bought herself a purple, gold and black hula hoop.

She’d got to try out a friend’s hoop a few months before. Inspired by the fact she could keep it on her waist, thought she’d tryscreen-shot-2017-02-15-at-22-43-08 and pursue it herself, when she finally left university for good (unlike her halls, her parents had a nice-sized garden).

She soon realised that learning to hula hoop in the middle of January probably wasn’t going to be the most pleasant experience. It was very cold – very cold- especially since she needed the exposed skin to keep the hoop spinning.

The bruises… they were something else.

She learned using online tutorials, and, whenever she could, and run outside to try it, and try it, and try it until she got it vaguely right. Admittedly, she wasn’t exactly the most elegant, but she was determined that she would be, one day.

Her breakthrough came to her in the form of her friend, who recommended her a class which was starting in the nearby village. She signed up straight away, and soon she was just-about-spinning with a few other ambitious hoopers. For the life of her, she couldn’t neck hoop – something which became a bit demoralising when she realised everyone else could do it. In all fairness, though, she was one of the first to figure out lifting off the waist (although online classes had helped a bit with that one..).

And, she practiced. She practiced a lot – in the park, whenever she could, she’d drag her screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-22-57-17boyfriend and her hoop to somewhere fairly hidden, so passers-by wouldn’t see her mess something up, mainly. In mid-February, her boyfriend bought her a beautiful, iridescent polypro hoop – lighter, and faster, and it made all the things she needed to do with her arms a lot easier. She wasn’t getting tired in the classes, anymore, and really felt she was progressing. Going from a beginner hoop to a polypro definitely took a bit of getting used to!

Not long after, she bought her second hoop, from her hoop teacher – a neon pink, naked polypro this time, taped around the middle, making it much easier to spin around thescreen-shot-2017-02-16-at-00-21-27 waist. She still hadn’t quite grasped neck hooping, though…

When she got her job, she had much, much less time for hooping. She started to lag a bit in her lessons, having to miss several due to back pains from standing all day, or just staying late to get things done. Work was worth it, but she began to notice a lot of the other members of the class surpass her in skill – even the people who started the course weeks after she did.

Still, she loved to hoop, and she didn’t give it up. She took her pink polypros to Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham, and danced the weekend away with her friend – they finally had the chance to jam together, if just for a couple of days.

After watching the fire dancers at the Avebury Summer Solstice in awe, she decided to keep some of her paycheque back, and eventually managed to save enough to order a LED hoop from the USA, as summer was just around the corner. It would be the perfect weather for hooping at night, especially at future festivals.

(It turned out not to arrive until a week after Boomtown, though.)

Just as she’d finascreen-shot-2017-02-16-at-00-51-48lly, sort of, managed to grasp neck hooping, she came across her next, biggest hurdle: chest hooping. Notoriously difficult, she was no stranger to its challenge. No amount of pumping and awkward wriggling could get it working. It became an impossible goal, in a way.

Shoulder hooping was somewhat more achievable, with her first successful attempt being made at Secret Garden Party. The combination of intensive heat and an open-minded, loving, festival atmosphere, meant that cropped tops and swimwear – perfect hooping attire – were more than acceptable.

Coincidentally, this was also the same festival in which she hooped naked a couple of times… which led to her first, real success with hooping around the leg, coincidentally.

With chest hooping still a distant dream, and shoulder hooping not much closer (but her vortex getting incredible), she was given the opportunity to try fire hooping. Nerve-wracking, yes, but fun, definitely. The smell and the sound blew her away, and she knew she wanted to take it up, someday. Someday, in a few years, probably.

It was difficult to learn more techniques while travelling around festivals, but the one screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-01-15-29thing she definitely got to work on was her flow. There was music everywhere.

By the time she had her last hoop lesson, before she moved to her new home in Brighton in September, she’d still not mastered chest hooping or escalators. But, a beautiful, fully-taped polypro and some good luck followed, and she found a hoop class near to her new home, by Live Love Hoop.

The class consisted of six, hour-long blocks, and focused on upper-body hooping. After just the first session, she knew she’d made significant progress, and she couldn’t have been happier. Her posture was corrected, and neck hooping came naturally. Shortly after, followed proper shoulder hooping, neck hooping with an arm lifted, almost a chest roll and, finally, finally, proper chest hooping. Though admittedly completing more than five rotations proved a bit too ambitious, it was a breakthrough, and a huge personal achievement, to boot.

Something about mastering the one thing she felt was holding her back spurred her on to practice more and more. She signed up for another class, this time on lower body hooping, and, while she was back in her hometown, made sure to practice every day, weather permitting. Five rotations became seven, then ten, and then, sustained.

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-22-02-56Upon starting her leg hooping course, she was confident, and soon, by the end, more or less mastered a number of tricks on the legs. Eventually, she could work the hoop up and down her body, from her legs, to her chest, to her neck. She could keep up a flow, and even hoop on her foot without it flying off and hitting someone in the face. She definitely hit herself a couple of times, though…

As more and more assignments are handed in, she knows that she may not have as much time for hooping. However, as the days get warmer and longer, she promises herself that she will make the time for it. She has promised herself that she’ll perfect rolls and basic floor work before the year is done.

The progress has been huge, and she hopes she just keeps getting better.

Summer Solstice at Avebury

It was a bit of a last-minute decision to go to the Summer Solstice celebration, even though I’d always wanted to go. I’d toyed with the idea of going to Stonehenge for a bit, but quickly forgot about it, especially considering that Alex had work the next day anyway. It was only after someone in the pub convinced me, that I decided to go to Avebury. I called my friend down from Cardiff, and agreed that Alex would leave earlier in the night as he wasn’t allowed the day off. (It transpired that the three of us left together anyway, not camping was a bit short-sighted.)

I didn’t really know what to expect. When we got there, we went for a quick stroll around the area before going over to the pub, a little place called the Red Lion, to get a drink. Everyone seemed so chilled, and the vibes were good right from the start. As the sun began to set, we headed back inside, and came across a girl who made us free vegan wraps! They were huge, filled with chickpeas, quinoa, couscous, grated carrots, red cabbage, everything you could think of and they were wonderful, really filled us up!

After a little bit of hooping on my part, we snuck back to the pub, which was a lot busier. Given our drinks in takeaway cups which was great, since it meant we could do a bit more exploring!

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We’re just walking around the above field, with all the sheep, when we hear this huge drum beat, and people cheering, we go back to the first field, and everyone’s standing around the stones, some people with torches…

IMG_6134There’s a performance starting! All these wonderful things are going on, including some fantastic fire hooping! All the costumes are amazing, and the people themselves were so lovely and cheerful.

In all honesty, that might well have been the best thing about the Solstice celebration. Everyone was so friendly, approaching people was easy and we met so many wonderful souls that night. People would come over, say hi, sit down, have a chat, anything! I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. Even the festivals aren’t as open. Everyone was very much connected that night.

Oh! It was also a full moon, the first to land on the Solstice since 1967!

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You could see it, just above the hill. It’s a shame I didn’t have my proper camera with me, though…

After that, we wandered around a bit more, then went to relax on the grass. It had luckily dried up fine from the rain earlier that day. As it got darker, more and more people started fire dancing, all different bits of equipment coming together to look absolutely beautiful. Even a child was doing it, and he was brilliant! One of the fire hoopers came and sat with us, and she’d only been hooping for two years, she said. She was incredible, and her sister was into fire flow arts as well! She was another hooper, and had brought with her the LED hoops I got to have a go with later.

It’s a shame we didn’t get to stay until the end, really. We needed a bit more planning, I think. That being said, I don’t entirely regret it, as I’ve been tired throughout the entirety of Tuesday! I’m so glad I went, though. It was a truly unforgettable experience, I’ve never been anywhere where everyone was so in tune with each other. It was like we were all one big, summery, free-spirited family.

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a couple of the wonderful fire artists