Keeping it simple

Like loads of people I know, I have a LOT of interests. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in whatever’s new and interesting. I love discovering new things and like to collect ‘stuff to do’.

It was in the months before I ‘returned to Earth’, moved back to Lincoln and decided to start from the beginning again that I made a pact with myself. I said “Ollie, you’re a writer now. That’s what you are.”

Mostly, it was an attempt to stop myself from being distracted whilst shopping. I’d already bought myself some coloured pencils, and received various colouring books to help ‘relax’ with. I felt that this wasn’t such a bad thing. It’s therapeutic and I would give it a go, but I had to draw the line.

Wanting to better myself in other crafts was only going to weigh me down, and drawing my focus away from what I wanted to be really good at was a sure-fire way to make me feel miserable in the long run. So I ditched the desire to learn how to draw, I decided I didn’t need to try making greetings cards again. I’m not a jewellery maker and I didn’t want to start any kind of needlecraft!

Writing it was!

Of course, it could never just be writing. After the purchase of my first DSLR and the not so careful documentation of the animals I encountered on my travels it made sense to me that photography could come a close second to writing. I love taking photos, and I love writing.

I thought, in the beginning, that I’d find it hard to stick to these two things. There are plenty of days when I wander down the ‘crafts’ aisle in The Range however, and don’t feel a pang of need to make exciting purchases (even when they have exciting Iron Man card making sets!!!). I’m a writer. I don’t need cute buttons and stamps, I need notebooks.

Notebooks, I can forgive. Eventually they find themselves being used for something, and certainly I think that the sheer number of notebooks I have for various things is important to the way that I’ve organised my life. A book for my Morning Pages writing, a notebook for thoughts relating to BPD, a book to track my day-to-day accomplishments, a book for a diary that I write in before bed, one of those cool three-year one-sentence-a-day books, a positivity notebook, a notebook for new word discoveries (which is quite full now, thank you Stephen King).

Limiting the things I want, and accepting that I’m allowed to make purchases if I’m going to make use of the things I buy was actually pretty liberating. My most recent purchase was with photography in mind.

I bought a little carry bag for my camera waaaaay back when I first bought it. It was practical at the time. I needed something to keep it in, and knew that with all my other luggage it would have to be portable. Things had changed a LOT when I got back home. I had a rucksack that I was using every day – as it’s always been, really. Something I could carry my laptop in, the shopping, a drink, NOTEBOOKS. What I found though, was that I was going out on day trips and seeing fun things but my camera was nowhere to be seen. BECAUSE, of course it was at home. Tucked away nicely in its bag. Useless.

I found this on amazon, and it arrived on Monday!

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It is perfect. There’s enough space to stick my laptop in the main part of the bag if I want. The top space is big enough for my wonderful A5 notebooks!! The outside compartments are big enough to hold my re-useable Starbucks cup and a brolly. The inside has it’s one zip up compartments and then of course, as you can see – space for my camera!! (Also, very importantly. The zips are all key chain friendly! You can see, right? Look at where Mr Kangaroo is hanging from.)

It’s been great, and it’s given me so much joy and most of all it means I’ve been taking photos.

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The Importance of Recording

One of the most useful things that I do now, is to keep a record of my daily ‘accomplishments’.

Right back in the beginning it was something that I attempted, but found that it was demotivating when all I did – day in, day out was sit and watch Netflix or play video games. Since then I’ve been able to learn to forgive myself, be kind to myself and show the same patience I’m capable of offering complete strangers.

Now, it feels like my most valuable tool.

For a long time I focused on working through a Bullet Journal to record and motivate myself on a day-to-day basis, and although I absolutely adore the concept and the work and fun that goes into keeping a journal like this, I found that a very different approach was important to help me to put together the foundations for my recovery.

A Bullet Journal actually created a wall between myself and my goals. When I would start a day with a beautifully thought out spread and only one goal to mark off I found it difficult to be attached to it, and equally difficult to go through the process of writing that same, single task over and over for days on end.

Giving up just wasn’t an option, so I chose instead to re-think my approach to keeping a daily account of my life.

My therapist was the first person to suggest that I keep a log of my daily activities. On a simple A4 gridded sheet of paper, with two boxes for morning, afternoon and evening I vaguely accounted for the ‘major’ things that I did every day. At first, they were incredibly basic. I ate food, I watched TV, I played video games. I met with a friend, I went for a walk.

It was the first time I’d recorded my day-to-day life as retroactively, and there were a few days when I completely forgot to write about what I’d done and therefore entire days were forgotten. I’m pretty sure that usually there was nothing significant about the things that I’d done, until I walked back into therapy and re-counted my week. Little things that seemed important when I’d done them, and then insignificant when I came to write down the last few days of activity were forgotten.

That important phone call that I’d been putting off for months to the bank, that form I filled out, the brief discussion I’d had with a friend or family member. Each and every single one of these things were important to my overall recovery from a very dark place that I’d managed to put myself in.

I kept these diaries for four weeks until I decided that enough was enough. My Bullet Journal had fallen to the way-side and turned into something like a book of lists (Books I owned and wanted to read, Holiday Destinations for the future, DVDs I owned, movies I’d watched) and I knew that whilst I was using those relatively small A4 sheets to log my weekly comings and goings it wasn’t going to satisfy me.

As a lover of notebooks and stationery, it wasn’t difficult to rifle through my ’empty notebooks’ drawer and find something to use to start logging my days, and even better that I’d found the perfect use for a notebook. (One of the reasons I have so many is that they’re all in there waiting for the perfect purpose. Sorry, notebooks.)

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So it began.

Almost 2 weeks later, I’m still swearing by it. Claiming that this act, and this act alone is the one reason that I’ve managed to pull myself up out of the funk I’d fallen into is a huge stretch of any imagination, but I feel very strongly that it has contributed to my continued improving mental health and will keep doing so much!

I write the time my alarm went off, and the time I actually got out of bed. Writing it down makes it a fact, and gives you a solid thing to refer back to. I find that when I am struggling the most I lose all sense of time and feeling and life. It’s easy for me to forget how I felt only a few hours ago, when I’m so preoccupied with the current moment, and the thoughts that are in my head at that time and in that place. So I feel it’s very important (for me) to be able to refer back to previous days, not to make negative comparisons or to judge the ‘value’ of the things I’ve done in the present day but to be able to look back and see, from hard factual evidence that ‘things’ over all are better now than they’ve ever been.

Thinking too hard about the shape of my life exactly a year ago would only promote a desire to reach out and take ownership of how I felt back then, in a time when my recovery was in it’s very early stages, and I feel very strongly that it would be detrimental to my health, but if I’d kept the same log I have now I might be able to recognise instantly the stark contrast in my mental health. Of course, it’s arguable – that if I’d kept a log back then, like I do now that perhaps my life would be very different but I also believe very strongly that it’s taken all of these incredibly small steps over the span of a year to get here at all and without them it just wouldn’t be possible.

We can’t fast forward progress, and we can’t force it. There are clear steps in any recovery that have to happen before you can continue on your way. That’s why we call them steps. It’s quite easy to visualise for example, the steps that might lead up to the second floor of your home and to accept the reality of the fact that before you can get to the tenth step, you have to make it up all the ones before that first.

Progress

I was going to come back with a huge update on my progress, but I feel like the whole thing would be very complex and complicated, long and possibly boring so I’m going to start from where I am right now.

Living in the moment is something I have being hearing here, there and everywhere at the moment, which might be because I’ve started listening, or because it really is something that’s taken a grip on the kinds of social circles I run in.

All I know is that yesterday, sat in my 14th therapy session – I understood what it felt like to be content with the way that things are right in that moment.

Getting to this point has not been an easy, or simple drive. There really was no direct route and it’s something I’ve heard all the time, both before I started to ‘get better’ and through this duration (which is by no means anywhere near it’s end, I’m completely and utterly sure!)

As always, I want to be able to write so that maybe, just maybe something I say is helpful for someone else. Our experiences are all so different, and I know that what works for me won’t necessarily work for others, but I also know that so much of the support and advice I’ve been offered over the years which worked for other people didn’t work for me. I’ll keep going on about it, mostly because it’s a part of my life and I understand it now, but the difference between a diagnosis of depression and one of Borderline Personality Disorder is one I wish someone had made for me years ago.

That there are people ‘out there’, who are just like I used to be – in a constant uphill battle with themselves trying to work out why they feel so up and down is upsetting to me when the answer could be something quite so simple. I won’t reiterate the feelings I’ve lived through from confusion as to why I could not connect with others in my experience of depression – that’s all in another blog post from months ago I’m sure.

The last month of my life has been the most successful since I returned to Melbourne well over a year ago, but that’s not to say that I didn’t have to go through the last year to get where I am now.

Since travelling, my life has been full of comparisons. Right now there’s a lot of thought in my head about where I was last year, and mostly two years ago. I try hard not to dwell on it, but it’s difficult not to get the facts straight in my head. On this day two years ago I was staying with a friend in Washington State, just over a week into my epic journey. The thoughts and feelings I had then were so incredibly different to the outcome of it all, but I don’t really regret it, and even if some part of me does I am doing my best to challenge that thought and change it.

I could get upset that I took the money and ran rather than opting to pay off my debts. (It wouldn’t have covered it). Sat here right now I can think of a hundred things that I feel I ‘should have’ done, but as part of this entire process I am learning to challenge my thoughts and ultimately be kind to myself.

I forgive myself on a day to day basis, but to manage that I had to force myself back until I was in a place where I had absolutely no expectations for myself.

It was difficult, and for a lot of the time I felt very uneasy about the path my life was taking. There are pieces of advice, and things that people say to us which stick out sometimes, and I don’t think I will ever forget the words of my GP to me whilst I was in Melbourne. After making the decision to go home and recover I went on excitedly to tell him that “and then, maybe in three years or something I’ll be back working full time.” 

He turned to me, (he’d been writing something down) and he smiled and said, “Ollie. Stop thinking about what you’re going to do, and don’t make those kinds of goals.” We talked, briefly – about this idea that making goals like that for the future were only going to set me up for disappointment.

It’s taken until now, and I mean 3 months of ‘calming down’ whilst I stayed at my Mum’s, and 10 months settling back down in Lincoln, seeking out and going through therapy to get HERE. Here is just the beginning (and even that I think I’m not really supposed to bank on) but I know that even if things dip again, I can find this place.

This place is actually pretty comfortable. It’s not about the location, but the process. Obviously.

As someone who likes to claim to be a writer, one thing I’ve made sure to do for myself is to write. I write in a diary before bed, I write a daily account of what I do by the hour (which I believe is a part of schema therapy to try and establish routine – it’s been working), I try to write 3 pages a day of whatever comes into my head (Thanks to Morning Pages) for the inspiration.

It’s only been maybe a week or two of trying to establish a routine that I’ve finally managed to accomplish these things, but the most important thing has been to forgive myself when I’ve not managed them. Even though I’d tried to brush off the things that I don’t like, I ended up bringing it up with my therapist. She asked me what the problem was with spending two of my days pretty much just watching Netflix the entire day. Asked me who I knew who didn’t like to spend their evenings watching TV sometimes, or their weekends.

Accepting that my perception of a ‘normal person’ is twisted and unacceptable is going to take a while, just like the many other perceptions that I build for myself.

For the first time in a long time, I can see results. I can see that I’m forming a better opinion of myself, moving forward and doing things that I enjoy without stressing myself out over whether I should be allowed to do them.

Tools

I’ve been using a LOT of tools to help me get to where I am now, and I wanted to share some of them with you. x

Sleep Time – An app for the phone. You set a time that you want to wake up by, and by tracking movement on your bed, the app will (do it’s best) to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase.

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Daily Activity Diary – This was given to me by my therapist, weekly. I’ve found it’s been really helpful to keep a daily log of what I’ve done – I update it at least once a day, but try to keep on top of it for a more accurate record.

Therapy – I can’t stress this enough, and it’s actually really upsetting to me when I hear that so many people are unable to access therapy. Just having someone that you see once a week is so helpful. Some useful things you can possibly do for yourself that I was asked to do by the therapist are:

  • Set a two hour window to go to bed between. (I started with 11pm – 1am, but this moved to 10pm-12pm)
  • Make sure you’re eating 3 meals a day
  • Write a list of POSSIBLE activities

Calm.com – I’ve been using this both from the website, and the app. Even after the initial 7 days of calm, there are other guided mindfulness activities you can do for free.

Be kind to yourself.

User names with numbers

So, recently I’ve been playing a really fun game. I got Star Wars Battlefront with my PS4 back before Christmas as an early present from my Mum & Step-Dad, but thanks to the crazy outback Alaskan satellite internet I wasn’t able to play it right away.

Turns out even when I got back it was going to be a no go, due in part to not having a Playstation Plus account – and even after I bought some time just before my birthday I’d completely forgotten I could now play Battlefront until recently.

Which brings me to the point of this rant, because that’s what it is.

There are so many unimaginative usernames out there! I’ve played with people so desperate to call themselves nacho that they feel the need to add 2857358652523879325962395 at the end of their name for the originality of a bland and boring handle that makes no sense and won’t even differentiate them from anyone else who had the awesome idea of calling themselves nacho.

There are plenty of words in the world to use, either on their own or in combination with other words! I think I can even tolerate the use of numbers as a replacement for certain letters. 0 (zero) for an O for example!! Sometimes. Maybe.

I’ve been streaming my efforts, and it turns out that this seems to be a major hang up of mine, but I can’t really decide what the reason for my frustrations are. It’s not like their username is offensive me, nor should it bring the anger that it does, but I suppose it is JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS.

I spent some time trying to rationalise the whole thing. Even the addition of numbers after a username to denote a year of birth is– frustrating to me?!

Maybe it’s a way to deflect my frustrations at almost always ending up in the bottom half of the scoreboard by the end of each campaign, but I’ll embrace the elitism nonetheless!

This is Borderline

This video was posted on the BPD sub on Reddit. It’s an emotional video, and admittedly had me in tears, but it is well worth a watch.

Short films like this are perfect to try and spread the word about the truth of disorders like Borderline. It is incredibly difficult to properly convey how it feels to live on the edge of your emotions all the time, but this does a very good job of getting the point across that so much of our lives is fleeting.

I try to prescribe to the thinking that life is short, and therefore we should make the most of what we have, the people around us and the things we experience. This idea seems to work tenfold for me as someone with BPD. No one knows how long a good mood will last, but I don’t think that people without Borderline ever spend ‘good days’ trying not to think about when that particular time will end. High moods are tainted by my own fears that after a high, there is bound to be a low and the higher you go – the further there is to fall.

I definitely recommend that you take a few minutes to watch this film, whether you have Borderline Personality Disorder or don’t.

April Showers bring May BulletJournals

I finally bought a dotted, blue, moleskine to use as a bullet journal earlier in the month.

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It was admittedly a bit of a whimsical purchase, but I tried using an A4 lined notebook I had, a smaller A5 sized one – was lucky enough to find an ORANGE gridded notebook in Waterstones, but didn’t get along with it thanks to the spiral running along the side.

Honestly, my heart had always been set on the Moleskine or the Leuchtturm 1917. One day this month I went into a gorgeous local stationery artsy-crafty type place called Ruddocks and was overwhelmed with shoppers delight when I saw it there.

April has been a rather difficult month, so I set my sights on May. It’s my favourite month of the year for reasons I just cannot fathom (!!!). Since then I’ve been trying to get to grips with what trackers will work best for me.

Endless lists of unachievable goals and deadlines have proven to be incredibly helpful at this time in my life, but I wanted to share with you the things I’ve been working on.

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Okay, so I’m a little obsessed with the whole money making stuff at the moment, but it’s nice to be able to write something down once a day.

Small steps.

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I have borrowed/own far too many books and although this is one of my favourite pages so far, it always highlights just how far behind I am on my reading! To make matters worse, I keep going to the library and adding to the collection!

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Lots of my friends know how terrible I am at watching a film. This is a list of all the DVDs I currently own, and not unlike my other trackers – I’m hoping it will inspire me to take time to watch them and feel that little more educated about film. (Also, it can never hurt to watch Tony Stark one. more. time.)

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May’s Diary spread as it looks at the moment. Honestly. I could have cried when my pen started smudging across the page. I think it had a lot to do with something I discovered not too long afterwards.

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An achievement in itself, I present to you. The first pen that I have used until the ink ran out.

Retail Therapy

Last week turned out to be a pretty difficult one for me.

After scoring a grand total of 0 (zero) on the Department of Work & Pensions criteria for eligibility for ESA (despite scoring 20 on a PHQ9 test done with a mental health team member – within their highest bracket of depression.) I hit a low.

I won’t go into my very sore feelings about the current system, and the hoops I had to jump through just to know that there was something I could do, and no I wouldn’t be committing benefit fraud by signing on when I’m not able to work. Those are likely for another day, when I’m not in a state of flux.

No, this is about Saturday.

The story starts the night before, as so many stories do. Imagine my horror when I realised that the laptop charger for my beloved MacBook was no longer working. The white outer cable had split, exposing wires which somehow had frayed over a very short period of time. I made an executive decision there and then that tomorrow would require a trip to the StormFront shop in Lincoln.

It was a blood good job that ‘No Spend April’ had been such a beautiful success until then, because it meant I had more than enough for the £65 replacement.

Facing the crowds (it’s Lincoln, I hear you say what crowds??) wasn’t such a big deal for me when I had such a clear, and very important goal in mind. I’m not a poster child for ‘living without technology’. One day without the laptop is fine on my terms, but when the desire to do something online sets it’s difficult to handle. A lot of my current, daily goals actually actively require the use of the internet. (Funny how I managed that! =P)

I’m not going to lie, I really had to stay focused on my end goal whilst I was out. Keeping my head down and hunting for pennies to supplement this huge splurge was useful in making sure I didn’t clock each and every person around me. I dread to consider the notion that I might have completely blanked someone I knew in town. What I would say ran through my mind a fair few times, but I was on a bit of a high I felt sure I could manage.

After skulking around the desk at the Apple store, uncertain whether some of the people across at the other side were in a queue, or waiting to be seen, or being helped I quite happily took time in staring at the very thing I needed to purchase. It didn’t take long to manage to make eye contact with someone who was clearly looking for their next customer and it’s really easy to explain something when you’ve brought along the offending power cable with you.

Ten minutes and £65 later. I was a happy bunny. The status quo had been restored. My connection to the wired world was assured! Now I could happily banish all creeping fears of a day spent at my Dad’s without a laptop to the bin – no longer could they linger in the back of my mind and poke and prod, using up the resources I quite clearly needed to function properly in the rest of the day to day to and fro that needs brain power.

The trouble with being a happy bunny without care is that my mind starts doing that thing where it wanders.

I’ve been BulletJournalling on and off for a while. I started out with a gorgeous, A4, lined Kikki K number all the way from Melbourne. It lasted into the middle of February and I traded it for a wired, A5, orange covered grid notebook from Waterstones. It was supposed to be perfect. I carefully accounted for all possible difficulties. I only used one side of the page, I numbered my pages, I left space for a contents page.

Only those moleskines. With their joined up pages. There’s no worry that the pages might get caught in the spiral when you turn them.

I was on a mission.

And so, I began bimbling. It’s a dangerous thing. I ventured into Paperchase – where I purchased a reduced, new case for my phone, a cute card that was reduced, and most importantly a care for my Mum for her birthday. They’re all valid purchases! I’ve needed a phone case since I upgraded to the iPhone 5! The birthday card was well over due, and reduced cards are wonderful, aren’t they?

From there I took on WHSmith. The only place I know in Lincoln which stocks VeganLife magazine.

The next stop was Waterstones, just around the corner and would you believe it. They’ve got Gridded Moleskines, at about £2 less than Paperchase.

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Into the basket it went. (It’s a proverbial basket.)

The next stop was the post office, to send my Mum’s card – but hang on just a minute. I can’t stand there in the Post Office queue without writing in Mum’s card.

Impromptu, yet necessary stop at Costa Coffee needed! Of course. A packet of their finest (vegan!) crisps, and a large, soy chai tea latte. (and on another note – I need to get in touch with Costa on account of the fact that they no longer sell their vegan fruit crumble. :( :( :(.)

So, I sit. I drink. I write in my Mum’s card. It’s good. Great. Fabulous.

Except, whilst I’m there by Costa – I might as well pop into Holland & Barrett and see what they have for sale! More money spent.

Next stop, the post office. Finally. The card is posted! (and has three days to make it’s journey. Eep.)

I’m not done yet. Going home to an empty house just means risking the chance of upset – so I take a wander through town. Actually. I’m still kind of hungry and you know what, I haven’t been to Cafe Shanti in a while. So why not treat myself?

It’s a grave error on my part, really. Yes, I love the place. They do good food, at good prices, with wonderful staff and lovely customers.

Ruddocks is on the way.

Ruddocks have it. Ruddocks. Have. Dotted. Moleskines.

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The price doesn’t matter. The fact that no less than an hour earlier I had already purchased a gridded journal doesn’t matter. I have it in my hands. This is the thing that is going to make Ollie Bullet Journal history! Victory.

I buy it. I even enquire into whether Ruddocks can get VeganLife in, rather than have to go to money grabbing, WHSmith. (It wasn’t the best experience.)

Naturally, my journey’s last stop is Shanti. The usual of course. Vegetable Lasagne and some kind of wonderful fruit tea in the cutest tea cups.

It’s the story of how I managed to completely and utterly decimate my bank account in the space of approximately two hours.

The story of how I decided that I really don’t need the second Moleskine. (which I ended up taking out of the packaging, despite knowing I wasn’t going to use it.) It’s why I’m setting up a giveaway on the Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook page, and just maybe why you’re reading?

ACCOMPLISHMENTS! In a world of negatives.

I know that I have successfully neglected to write content for this blog for far too long now, and it feels like the only thing I have actually managed to accomplish recently. It’s not necessarily true though, is it?

It’s so important to focus on the good things. The positives. Even if you have to add copious amount of humour to try and make it easy to talk about and what not. So without further ado, I present to you!

MY LIST OF THINGS I DID BUT DIDN’T WRITE IN A TO DO LIST SO I COULD CROSS THEM OFF

  • Continued mastery of Sleeping Skills
  • Creating warm blanket cuddle pockets for cats
  • FFXIV
  • Thinking about eating healthily
  • Managing to eat a healthy, balanced meal about once every three days
  • FFXIV
  • Avengers Academy
  • I left the house one day for chips
  • I owe the guy at the chip shop 20p (Without freaking out, although I remind myself of this debt pretty much every other hour.)
  • 1 (one) load of washing
  • Saving money by only wearing pyjamas for four days straight
  • Cat cuddling
  • FFXIV
  • Live Commentary whilst watching Daredevil with housemates
  • Not eating enough apple seeds to cause cyanide poisoning. (A+++)
  • Cat communication (They only know one word, but I have found them to be very expressive in using it!)
  • Sharing hilariously cute videos on Facebook
  • Not responding to ridiculous ‘But Bacon’ arguments against veganism
  • FFXIV
  • Staying up until 3.26am to post this

 

Money Making Websites

I’ve been on the internet for a long time. I’ve seen the claims and read the scams and been assured that this new get rich quick scheme is definitely not a pyramid scheme and you can really make millions!

In theory, yeah. You can make money on those websites. If you manage to get the right hook in the right communities you can end up with a down line and be making money from people you’ve referred. It’s how money is generated, but there are plenty of websites online that don’t need to you spend hours trying to convince your friends that it’s a really awesome idea to sign up to get anything from them.

Every day I make sure to check these ‘daily’ tasks, and it takes less than 10 minutes.

‘Free’ Lotteries

People with time, patience and real drive to make themselves some money have come up with great ways to help others whilst helping themselves.

The most popular website that I’m aware of at the moment is FPL, or –

Free Postcode Lottery.

www.freepostcodelottery.com

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Signing up is quick and easy and checking whether you’re a winner is a doddle. There are many chances to win, and as news of the website grows, so does it’s potential.

Lucky Phone

www.luckyphone.co.uk

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Enter your telephone number, and there are two chances to win daily prize pots with this one, and also a chance to rack up loyalty points. When you get 1000 points, you can claim £10! (I’ve never been called, or had messages or any charges because of this.)

Selfie Lottery

www.theselfielottery.co.uk

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This one is simple! Who doesn’t have a selfie somewhere on their computer? If you don’t, it’s easy to sign up with Facebook, and once your account is linked you won’t have to worry about remembering log-in details.

Daily Prize Draw

www.ashleighmoneysaver.co.uk

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No need to send in a snap, or give away any personal details with this one – for a daily chance to win £50!

DOB Lotto

www.doblotto.com

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This one is a birthday lottery. Just enter your date of birth for a daily chance to win £50. It’s quick and easy, and from the 1st of April, they will be introducing the chance to fill in a quick survey to win another draw on the website.

Free Birthdate Lottery

www.freebirthdatelottery.com

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Another chance to win thanks to the day you were born. Just tell them when it is, and if it’s picked you can win £5. This website is coming up with other quirky ways to win extra points and money to ‘cash out’, too. Looks very promising.

Daily Click Websites

These need a little extra attention, but they’re definitely worth it. You can input a lot more time than just the suggestions I make, but in keeping with the notion of only spending a few minutes, once a day on these websites I suggest the following.

GiftHulk

www.gifthulk.com

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I’ve got a long post about GiftHulk here, but this one is simple. Every day you get a certain amount of chances to ‘guess the card’. For each correct guess, you get points, and once you reach 5,000 points you can redeem them for a $5 Paypal voucher. There are other gift cards that you can win, and many other ways to make money if you can find more time.

Reward Shopping

www.rewardshopping.com

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The ‘Super Lucky Button’ is my main focus on this website. Again, you get a certain number of chances every day – but you don’t have to guess anything. You either win or you don’t. This website requires 2,200 points and once you reach that goal you can cash out $1 in PayPal Cash. (It all adds up)

2,782,608 Pigs

I want to take some time to talk about Meat-Free Monday.

When I first heard about it through a vegan friend, my thoughts were pretty mundane. What was the point in promoting something that felt so half-assed? If people only go meat free for one day a week – how does that really make a difference?

See, it’s a struggle to be optimistic – and with Borderline as my witness! (And believe me, I’m an all or nothing kinda girl) I have to say it took me a lot of introspection to really get behind the idea.

It’s pretty simple when you think about it, and once you start to run some figures it’s surprising how much impact something that seemed so insignificant could make.

When I got some time alone to ponder the ‘point’ of such a venture, my first thoughts drifted to my Dad and his girlfriend. The both of them have been terribly supportive of my decision to go vegan, even if my Dad does very often use phrases like ‘can’t I tempt you to have a malteaser’ and ‘do you want milk in your coffee’, but I think – like so many things it’s down to habit.

Anyway, I thought about them. I thought about what they would have for dinner first, and I realised that all this time I’d only been thinking about that one meal of the day. My Dad’s a traditional kind of guy, and anything with vegetables, potatoes and meat at the end of a busy day sounds perfect to him. What if he found a meat-free alternative that he liked the taste of and swapped out his meat for that?

I’ll tell you what it means. It means that for one night he doesn’t need to buy that ASDA (Tesco/Sainsbury/Morrison/Whatever) £3 pack of pork chops.

Okay. Wow. Two people. Four chops. Whoop de doo.

No, no.

In 2011 the estimated population of Lincoln was 130,000. Assuming that each person would have just ONE pork chop for their dinner on a Monday night, that’s 130,000 pork chops that Lincolnites don’t eat.

According to the internet, one pig will provide 23 pork chops (and a host of other cuts, but for the point I’m making we’re sticking to chops. Deal with it.)

That means, (with some help from a calculator) that in Lincoln alone approximately 5,652 pigs would not be required.

I’m already in a statistics kind of mood, so lets ramp up the numbers a few more steps, shall we?

A quick internet search suggests that in 2015 the population of the UK sat at just over 64million people.

ASSUMING, that 64,000,000 people ate ONE pork chop on a Monday night – the approximate number of pigs needed to provide those chops would be a whopping. 2,782,608 pigs.

Okay, I can already hear the critics, but hear me out.

If you told me that in a YEAR we, as a country were culling this many pigs just so that we could get our pork fix I would have difficulty coming to terms with this as a truth.

Suddenly, the notion of Meat-Free Monday has taken on a far more important meaning to me, and I’ll be doing my best to try and encourage my friends, family and acquaintances to consider taking one day off from meat in a week and maybe, just maybe people will be begin to see just how much difference this tiny sacrifice can make.

http://www.meatfreemondays.co.uk/ – Get some great Meat-Free ideas for next Monday.

http://www.animalaid.org.uk – Find out more about adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle.