Wednesday, 16 August 2017

NINA: ARE MY PARENTS SPLITTING UP?

It's agony aunt time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Nina is worrying about her parents in today's problem letter. Can Summer Tanberry help?

Nina says:
My parents have been going through a bad patch recently and arguing a bit when they think nobody is listening. Now Dad has said he isn't coming on holiday with us because he needs his own 'space'. We always go away to a caravan site in Scotland with my aunt and her family, and Dad has never stayed home before. I am really scared they will split up and don't know what to do.

Summer says:
You've picked up on the tension in your parents' relationship, but don't jump to conclusions. Work, money, health or family worries could all be part of this, and you dad may need to stay at home for any number of reasons. It's difficult to come right out and ask what's wrong, but unless you do you will go on assuming the worst. Find a quiet time to talk to your parents and see what is going on. It's possible they are under strain, and that a break may be what they need right now. It's even possible that they may separate or divorce, and although I know that sounds scary it can sometimes be the best thing, as it was for my mum and dad in the end. I do know one thing, and that's that everything feels worse when you don't know the facts. Get talking and get the reassurance you need.

Cathy says:
Summer is spot on with this advice - Nina must confide in her parents and get the full picture, whatever that may be. What advice would YOU give to Nina? Post your COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 14 August 2017

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Readers share their happy holiday memories to get you in the mood for a sizzling summer!

Kerry says:
My best ever holiday was in Greece, Corfu. It was three years ago and I remember it because all of my family went, my grandparents on both sides, my aunt and her family, my uncle and his new girlfriend, my cousins and us of course. We stayed in two big villas with a pool that was just for us, and we took boat trips and went on visits to the towns and to historical ruins, but most of the time we just chilled on the beach or by the pool and had huge family dinners at the nearby tavernas in the evening. One of my grandparents has died since and my aunt has been ill, but on the plus side my uncle got married and has a new baby now. I don't think there will ever be another holiday quite like that one, but life doesn't stay the same, it moves on and changes. But we will have that memory forever, and I am glad of that!

Leanne says:
My mum and sister and I went on holiday to Lanzarote and loved it! We went to a place called Rancho Texas which has a 'Western' theme with lots of cowboy activities. You can eat food that fits the theme and learn lassoo skills... we got dragged along the floor at one point but it was so much fun! They had tepees and horses you could ride... it was just amazing!

Jess says:
I've had lots of great holidays but last year I went on a music tour to the Rhine Valley and that's the one that stands out right now! We had the chance to sing as part of a school chamber choir in Cologne Cathedral... wow! I'll never forget the impromptu performance of Locus Iste in an old wine cellar at Scloss Rheinfels, or the views from the fortress at Koblenz, which were spectacular. The socialising was the best bit of all... all of us, year sevens up to my year, twelve, felt like one big family by the end of the trip. Unforgettable!

Holly says:
We first went to Dumfries and Galloway in 2010 and stayed on a farm. My sister and I helped to collect the eggs, feed the lambs, visit the calf shed and groom the ponies. It was Scotland, but this area has it's own microclimate so it wasn't too cold and the sun shone! It was definitely the best holiday ever, and we've been back three times since!

Grace says:
Most memorable holiday? Hmmm! We went to Haggiston Castle and stayed in a caravan... it rained a lot and a little Scottish lass from the caravan next door woke us all up by knocking on the door at 7am to introduce herself and to challenge me and my brother Jack to a water fight!

Val says:
One lovely childhood memory is a holiday in Ireland with my mum, my brother and our two sisters while Dad stayed at home to work. We went on the ferry and it was a long, rough crossing - I was just three at the time but remember it so clearly! We returned again when I was seven and I remember my grandparents' garden, haystacks, home grown fruit, bats at night, mass on Sundays and Mum crying when it was time to come home again. We visited again when I was fourteen, but by then my grandma had died and my grandpa was very ill. It was a chance to say goodbye. We never visited again, although we still have relatives in Ireland... my mum won't return, but I don't know why.

Chloe says:
We went to Spain a couple of years ago and loved it... this year we're going to one of the Spanish islands and I can't wait!

Cathy says:
Holiday memories are so lovely... they bring back the happiest times! Which holidays do YOU remember with affection? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

JODIE: INTO THE FUTURE...

Reader Jodie shares her hopes, fears and dreams about the future in this brave and poignant blog post...

Jodie says:
I have just finished Year Eleven. I was there for the last day, when my classmates threw flour and eggs (it wasn't allowed but the teachers weren't too angry about it) and everyone signed each other's school shirts. I was there, but a part of me felt I was watching it all from a distance, as if I was behind a glass wall. One of my friends threw her shirt in the bin that night, but I will keep mine forever because I want to remember the last five years at secondary school. I didn't realise it at the time, but they were very happy ones.

Next term my friends will be doing different things. Some will be going to the local sixth form college, some staying at school to study A levels, some going to specialist colleges locally to study art, drama, animal care, childcare, all kinds of things. Some will be starting work. It feels like a turning point, a crossroads in life, but no matter how hard I look I cannot see the future. I cannot work out where I will be or what I'll be doing, even though I've had dreams of studying music at A level and taking it further at university for as long as I can remember.

Suddenly, all that is up in the air and even the ground beneath my feet seems to shift. I can't be sure of anything, except that my exam results will not be good enough to stay on at school or take A levels. I missed four of my GCSEs because my anxiety was so bad, and though I sat the others I know I was so eaten up by worry and fear my grades will be poor. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety a year ago, and in that time I have gone from high-achieving A grade student to someone who can't even make it into school most days. When I look into the mirror I don't even recognise myself. I do not like what I see and there is no point in applying for courses right now because I don't think I could handle them. This makes me so sad.

What will my future bring? I used to think it would take me forward to fame and fortune, or at least a career as a musician. Now I just hope my tablets work and my therapy helps and the depression and anxiety that sabotages my life will fade away like a bad memory and give me my life back again. My ambition is much simpler now. I want to pull the fear and self-loathing out of my soul and throw it away, burn it in a fire, drop it into the deepest part of the ocean. I want to be me again. I want to be free.

Awesome photo by talented reader Ribh - many thanks!

Cathy says:
This is such a brave post... Jodie's honesty about her illness shows just how damaging depression and anxiety can be. Have YOU ever struggled with mental health issues? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Friday, 11 August 2017

EMMA: LESSONS FROM FAIRY TALES

Can 'Once Upon A Time' apply to real life too? Blogger Emma takes a fresh look at fairy tales and what they have to teach us...

Emma says:
Fairy tales get a bad reputation. There have been claims they are 'unrealistic' and give young children a warped view of life, that fairy tales have nothing beneficial to teach the next generation and that they will only set them up for failure with that message of 'happy ever after'. However, reading these stories ten years on, I find that now I get a different message. Being older and more analytical, I have a less rose-tinted perspective. Looking at those classic fairy tales now, I see a message of empowerment with lessons that would only have a beneficial effect on generations to come.

Belle: If Belle teaches us anything, it's to think with our mind and not our eyes. Judging from appearances, the Beast seems emotionless and intimidating, more than enough for anyone to refuse to give him a chance. However, Belle decides to be a diamond in a world full of rhinestones and gives him a chance and can famously 'see the man behind the beast'. A man who turns out to be gentle, loving and unfairly written off. It's a well needed reminder not to judge a book by its cover and to make your own mind up about people. Outer Beauty is said to be 'skin deep' for a reason!

Cinderella: Cinderella shows us that good things come to those who work for them and never give up. The fairy godmother din not choose Cinderella at random - she gave her the break she needed because her work ethic combined with her belief that 'if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true,' didn't just mean that Cinderella deserved it, it meant she had earned it.

Rapunzel: Rapunzel's story teaches us that no matter how impossible a situation seems, there is always a way out. This heroine was isolated and cut off from the world and no way out seemed plausible. However, by accepting help, Rapunzel came to see that she had the answer all along (ie, her hair!). It just took a different perspective and a bit of creativity to see it. This take personally reminds me that when you cannot think of an answer inside the box, think outside of it, get inventive and try again. If there is a way in, there is always a way out!

In conclusion, the chances are that a fairy godmother won't appear with a magic wand. You may not wake up with the ability to communicate with animals. In my opinion, these are just colourful ways to grab the attention of the reader and draw them into the story, so that the life lessons these tales carry don't sound like just another lecture on what is right and wrong. We remember fairy tales throughout the course of our whole lives, and what they teach us and the fact that they slip in a bit of magic here and there, makes these lessons more memorable and adds a little sparkle to our everyday lives!

Cathy says:
I love Emma's re-interpretation of these famous fairy tales... how cool! I'm a big fan of fairy tales... I think Red Riding Hood is probably my favourite - what's YOURS? Just COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

READERS AROUND THE WORLD...

Another round-up of cool CC readers from around the world... take a peek!


Jemma says:
I am Jemma, I'm twelve years old and I live with my family in Papamoa, New Zealand! I love, love, LOVE CC books! I have just finished BROKEN HEART CLUB and it is so amazing. My heart was beating so fast at the dramatic bits and almost cried at the end. There were so many things about the book I loved - and that goes for all the others too! SWEET HONEY is one of my favourites, and I did end up crying in that one; LOOKING GLASS GIRL was the first one I read and it is still a favourite. I was sorry to miss out on the MY BEST FRIEND ROCKS comp for 2016, but I'm going to give a shout out to my two best friends anyway... their names are Eden and Elyssa. They are so awesome and I don't know who I would be or what I would do without them!

Jade says:
I live in Canada and my first language is French... I read Cathy Cassidy books translated into French and am a huge fan of them all. I first found the series FILLES AUX CHOCOLAT (Chocolate Box Girls) thanks to one of my friends, and I began to read them. I have read the whole series one by one, and so far my favourite book is COEUR VANILLE (Sweet Honey). I like the book because it is really cool and believable. This book is real - there are so many books that are not realistic out there, but these, they are situations that can happen in real life. I love the books, they are the best!

Bhavya says:
I have travelled a lot in my life and lived in United Arab Emirates for a while, and now I am living in India. I first came across Cathy Cassidy books during a book sale at school, and thought they looked interesting. I decided to give them a try. I can relate to the books - one way or another, they always seem to link to my life! I never get tired of them, even though I must have read them like fifty times over! I love them all, but COCO CARAMEL is my favourite - and Coco Tanberry is the character I most identify with, too. I have the same madness for animals. I hate doing make up, hate boys and I love climbing trees and walking on beaches! I dream of being a writer, but perhaps writing is not really my thing - reading definitely is!

Cathy says:
What a fascinating post - it's great to 'meet' my readers from all around the world, even if just on DREAMCATCHER! Do YOU live outside the UK? Would YOU like to be featured in a post like this? Just COMMENT BELOW and email me via the EMAIL CATHY link over on www.cathycassidy.com

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

PRIYA: IS THIS A CRUSH?

It's agony aunt time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Priya has a question for HONEY TANBERRY to solve...

Priya says:
I don't know if you will take this seriously but I have fallen in love with a boy who has a summer job at a shop near to my house. I am there most days buying things for my mum, and he is so sweet and friendly I have fallen head over heels. I dream about him at night and think about him all day, and when I see him, I go all shy which is not me at all. I don't think this is a crush, but how can I make him feel the same? And if he did ask me out, what would I do, because my parents would never approve anyway!

Honey says:
You won't want to believe it, but this IS a crush - still, it's no less intense for all that. A crush can reach obsession levels, as you've found, but is is essentially a one-way thing, a dress rehearsal for real life love if you like. This boy is friendly and chatty, but you don't know much about him - his likes, dislikes, family, school, interests. Instead, your mind fills in the blanks and your imagination creates a fantasy romance too perfect to be real. You have pointed out that if he did ask you out, your parents would not approve, so you already know there is no future in this in the real world. Instead, enjoy the fantasy and practice your flirting and chatting skills with this boy if you want to! In time, the shine will wear off this crush and you'll move on, one day falling for someone you actually do know and can build a relationship with. Until then, what's the harm in dreaming?

Cathy says:
I agree with Honey, a crush can be very intense... but still, it's not real life love. What advice would YOU offer to Priya? Add your COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

CHLOE: WHAT IS A GIRL?

Reader Chloe has some thought-provoking questions to ask of you... a total must-read!

Chloe says:
So... what is a girl? Is it a gender? Is it simply a group of people who are all the same? That's for you to decide, but choose wisely I can assure you that there's a chance you'll change your mind by the end of this. There's this insult - I like to call it the 'like a girl' insult. Do you run 'like a girl?' Do you fight 'like a girl?' What's the first image that comes into your head when you are asked these questions? Cat fights? Skipping, stumbling, worrying if you've got sweat patches? Do you know that when you use this insult on someone between the ages of 10-16, their confidence could plummet? Do you know that when you use the term 'like a girl,' you could be offending not just one person but a whole group of people called females?

Currently, for girls everywhere, there is a certain image you must copy in order to be seen as 'normal'. You must be born female, have perfect hair, you must wear make up, you must wear the right clothes, the must have flawless skin and a flawless figure. In other words, you must be perfect. Well guess what, I'm not perfect, and I hate to break it to you, but you're not either. I know that sounds harsh, but I don't think of it that way because, as a matter of fact, I know what a girl is.

My question for you is how many times have people called you names or used the 'like a girl' insult on you? How many times has it brought you down? How many times has it made you feel hopeless and useless? Or like it's just not worth it anymore? Trust me, I've been there.

Now, what is a girl? Is it having pride in who you are? Is it doing stuff 'like a girl' and doing it proudly? Is it being so amazingly imperfect? Is it standing up for who we are as females in society? You chose, because you have the right to be the female you want to be, the female you choose. Remember, female has no figure, size, race, eye colour, hair, body. It's free for you to choose that and everything about you...

Chloe's piece was inspired by this amazing video clip... take a look!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

Cathy says:
I love this post, and the video clip is SO powerful too... would YOU like to make sure 'like a girl' is never an insult again? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!