Friday, 28 September 2018

WHEN IS A FRIEND NOT A FRIEND?

Reader KRISTINA shares some tips on how to recognise when your friend isn't really being a friend..

Kristina says:
I've been asked to write a little more about friendship, and I thought I'd explore what happens when a friendship goes wrong and for one reason or another you find yourself in a relationship that just isn't healthy. The question is, how do you recognise this? Here are some of the warning signs!

The friendship feels uneven - you're doing all the work, she's just along for the ride.
She tries to put you down, even in front of others
When you succeed at something, she doesn't share your happiness; she seems dismissive or even jealous
She takes advantage of you
She's really hard work - you run around in circles trying to keep her happy
She demolishes your character and says she's just being honest and is only trying to help
She can't keep a secret
She makes you feel like second best - or worse
She tries to conrol everything you say, do, wear, think
She only wants to hang out with you when she's got nothing better to do
She lets you do all the running
She's too full-on and demanding - you feel smothered
You couldn't turn to her in a crisis
You notice she's quite spiteful about others, even those who are supposed to be friends
You can't trust her
You dread her texts, messages and calls
You tread on eggshells when you see her - everything seems stressful
You feel flat and tired after seeing her

Sometimes, a friendship can go through a bad patch, but if you know things aren't fixable, it may be time to step back from a toxic friend. This happened to me when I was thirteen, and in a friendship with someone who made me feel really bad. I out up with it for longer than I should have because I was scared of being lonely, but actually once I made the break I felt a million times better and made new friends quite qucikly... it turned out my classmates had kept their distance because they were wary of her!

Be your own friend and don't put up with a toxic friendship... you really do deserve better.

Cathy says:
Great advice from Kristina! Have YOU ever found yourself tangled up in a toxic friendship? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday, 24 September 2018

YOUR STARS FOR SEPTEMBER

With the shifting of seasons, we all need a little guidance from the stars. Skye predicts once more, your future! 

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Let yourself dream freely, it will inspire a creative new project. Have you ever tried keeping a dream journal? Often the best ideas come at night, just before sleep, so keep a notebook to hand so you don’t forget!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Be there for someone you love, they may need it more than ever this month. Rewards come in all different shapes and sizes, the cycle of karma works its own magic in its own time. With this in mind, never neglect your own needs and happiness.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
You will reconnect with an old friend this month, they may come bearing big news! Interest in a new hobby will enable you to explore this friendship more comfortably than ever before.

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
A flash of inspiration will come from an unexpected place this month, something to ignite your creative fires and help you overcome an obstacle in your life. Channel it and sit back and watch the magic happen!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Ever had a spinach and kale smoothie? No, me neither. Being healthy doesn’t always mean sacrificing tasty food. Exercise is a great way to feel healthier and happier! Walking instead of getting the bus is an easy way to feel better. Mentally and physically.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
It’s officially autumn. Time to get your slouchy cardis and fair isle jumpers out! While there are a lot of changes happening, make sure you make time to curl up with a good book and relax. Switch-off time is so important for your mental well-being.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Be impulsive, go out of your comfort zone. It will pay off in unexpected ways and things you might never have dreamed of doing will become some of your biggest achievements. This month in particular will be full of opportunities!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
You like being in control of your actions but try and cut loose and let your mind wander. Sometimes the magic happens when you let go a bit. Be bold and confident but don’t be upset if your efforts don’t pay off all at once.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
This is a month of new experiences. A lot of changes are taking place and not just with the shift of seasons. Embrace these changes, the good and bad, the scary and familiar. This month in particular will shape a new path in your life.

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Nature is your first love, these autumnal colours bring not only joy but a breath of fresh air. Like an imaginary reset button, this is a month to start afresh. Go for a walk, feel the crunchy leaves beneath your shoes. Breathe.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You are full of energy this month but it is erratic and comes in waves. Make sure you use it wisely. Take care not to hurt others around you. A friend in need may come to you, be kind and selfless.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
A bit of confidence in your own abilities will pay off this month. You are usually very humble and shy, but try it out for size! It feels good to be sure of yourself and you can achieve anything with the right amount of confidence.

Cathy says:
WOWEE! Lots in store for the weeks ahead! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU this month? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Friday, 21 September 2018

SEPTEMBER BOOK PICK - THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS

Reader and blogger Coco&chats tells us about an amazing YA novel that you'll never forget...

Coco&chats says:
I love nothing more than getting lost in a book.... sitting absolutely anywhere and just getting so engrossed in a story. I have been really busy this year with school so this summer I planned to catch up on all the books on my to- read list. I thought it would take a while to find a really good book but I was wrong. I picked up this book from the library as it was part of this year's Carnegie Award and I knew from the first page that it was going to be amazing. It is THE HATE U GIVE  by Angie Thomas. I don't know what it is about this book that grips me - it's just written in such a unique way.

The story follows sixteen-year-old Starr Carter as she moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangster. Protesters take to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

What Starr does or does not say could upend her community and endanger her life. I think this book is amazing because it tackles real world issues. I think Angie is an amazing writer and I really felt a connection with down-to-earth Starr, being a teenager like her. In summary I would say this book is a gripping, interesting, must-read book. It kept me hooked and I loved every bit of the storyline. I can't wait to read more of Angie's books!

CATHY SAYS:
Thank you Cocoa&chats! Like you, I absolutely LOVED this book... it was moving, powerful and genuinely eye-opening. I think that Angie Thomas is a huge new talent. What's the best book YOU have read this year? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 7 September 2018

GABRIEL: MY SUMMER VOLUNTEERING IN GHANA!


Student Gabriel wanted to make her summer count - so she embarked on an adventure volunteering with other young people to build accommodation in a small village in Ghana!
This summer I decided to spend five weeks volunteering in Ghana with Lasallian Developing World Projects. The opportunity to become involved came when one of the charity's organisers came into school for interviews. I decided that such an experience would be so special - I could not waste the opportunity! I wanted to do something to help counter the poverty and inequality so prevalent in the world today. Of course, I could only make a little difference, but it made me realise that if everyone put in a small effort, big changes could be brought about.


The thought of venturing off to West Africa with eleven other students I didn’t yet know absolutely terrified me, but after a lot of thinking and talking to others, I decided to jump headfirst into this crazy adventure. To go on the expedition, I had to raise £1,600 (very good value, I reckon!). Raising the money was much less painful than I thought it would be. I wrote letters to many relatives and family friends who send generous donations. I also held two cake sales in school which was easy and enjoyable! My main fundraiser was a meal I held in a hired venue: about thirty people came and I made a good profit from that to achieve my target.
When I first arrived in Ghana, I felt very homesick, which was unsurprising given my introverted nature. But with the support of my group, I began to settle in and enjoy Africa. We were based in the village of Kaleo, near Wa, in the Savannah region, and our task was to help build accommodation for nuns, who were soon to be teaching in the school next door. Working in the heat every day was tough, but with good music and great company it was also fun! We made mortar, plastered door frames and formed water chains for the local builders.
I gained a huge sense of independence during my time in Ghana: walking into the town on my own to buy provisions; being cautious of health worries such as malaria; and cooking for ten people! It benefitted me personally in so many ways, whilst giving me the rewarding knowledge that I was helping a less privileged community. The local people we met were all so welcoming and friendly, making us feel at home all the time, and we made many friends from whom it was so difficult and sad to part!
Being in Ghana for five weeks certainly changed me and made me discover more about myself. I threw myself in far beyond my comfort zone, which showed me how strong and confident I could actually be. My eyes are much more open to the diversity which exists in the world. Being in Ghana also made me realise the importance of human connection: friendship is a huge part of the community in which we were staying.
I would highly recommend getting involved in a summer expedition such as this; it is rewarding and memorable, and has changed my outlook on life.

You can find out more about the organisers of this project here: http://www.delasalle.org.uk/ldwp/4586745771

Cathy says:
Wow... what an amazing experience! Those five weeks in Ghana must have been a challenge, but how  satisfying to know you've contributed something genuinely worthwhile! Do YOU ever dream of volunteering to help others? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday, 3 September 2018

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT SUMMER?

We asked YOU what your fave thing about summer is? Here's what YOU said!

Julie says:
 Simply the sun!

Ro says:
Everything slows down... time to read, rest, plan adventures!

Zara says:
This summer it's all about sunshine... I'm loving the heatwave, it feels like we haven't had a proper hot summer for so long. I think I am designed to live in a hot climate! Long may it last!

Katie says:
The best thing about summer is the release of new Cathy Cassidy books!!! *hugs Sami’s Silver Lining to my chest*

Sharon says:
The glistening of the sun on my face followed by rain drops cooling my skin.

Lindy says:
Longer days...

Priya says:
Travelling to see old friends and faraway family... and days spent doing fun, cool, unusual stuff. Holiday time is the best!

Helen says:
Reading in the sun!

Bev says:
Time to inhale whole books without pesky work getting in the way 🤣

Sophie says: 
The Edinburgh Book Festival! 😀

Sade says:
Having an excuse to drink fruity cocktails with ice!

Olivia says:
The best thing about summer is having tons of free time to read and relax...

Jodie says:
School holidays... otherwise known as FREEDOM!

Caitlin says:
Relaxing win the sun and bbqs with the family!

CATHY SAYS:
My fave summer things are festivals, friends and sunshine... and this summer has been packed with all three! What is YOUR favourite thing about summer? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

NELL: MARCHING FOR THE FUTURE

On Saturday 23rd March 2019, an estimated one million people marched through London to demand a second vote on Brexit - reader Nell was th...