Life Being Little

Forever a small fish in a big pond

Monday, 30 March 2020

COVID-19; A change in plan.

March started off so exciting and positively overwhelming for me, I handed in my last academic essay of my degree; finally after three years the end was in sight. I was finding my feet within my first contracted job role, loving getting stuck in and exploring how I could contribute to the growth of our organisation; and then of course, the big one.... masters... I made the decision to apply for my masters degree, something which a year ago was never on my radar. I decided that my life in Wales was not something I wanted to pack up and leave just yet, and my journey at USW wasn’t ready to be over. So I applied.... and I got in.
I was starting to have a plan. For the first time in a long time I was starting to look beyond the next 3 months. I had aborted the idea of rushing back to my home comforts at the end of my degree, and I was beginning to shape life as I wanted.

Thursday 12th March; I got my official offer to study my MA degree in Working for children and families.
A week later: The UK confirms lockdown.

Wait. What?

Back it up a minute. This wasn’t part of the plan.

In a 7 day period, my life went from signing up for an extra year at university, to my time at university (for this year at least) ending without me even knowing. Where I was starting to plan the next few years, suddenly I don’t know what’s going on in the next few hours.

Anyone who's known me for a while... knows.... I thrive off a plan. My life has always involved the need to plan. Since a young age myself and my family have had to plan... if there was something I couldn’t reach? Plan how to reach it? If there was something that didn’t fit. Plan how to make it. If I knew my parents were going out for the day; I knew I had to plan everything I needed from the moment they left, to the moment they came back so that they could reach it for me before they left. If I go-out, I need to know that I could reach public facilities and get wherever I’m going safely. The height of public toilets. The height of ticket machines. How big the curbs are on the road; are they manageable?
Everything has always needed a PLAN.
Well let me tell you one thing.... COVID-19; doesn’t cate about your plans.

One week on from accepting to be a MA student, I was now left accepting the fact that my final semester of university; is going to take place in my home. Something which I don’t think anyone could’ve envisioned. The first few days; admittedly consisted more wallowing than working; I didn’t even know where to start. I made a semi-timetable to try and stick to the same working schedule as I would be having, had I still been at university, but by day 4 I had already missed half of my to-dos.
I was beating myself up. Big time. Caught up in how I had gone from feeling so positive about my studies; to not even being able to get my head down to write a sentence. The concept of everything was overwhelming... and not for the reasons March had started off as! And with each day in my schedle that I didn't stick to; only came a even smaller motive to attempt the day after. I wasn't getting anywhere, I wasn't any closer to achieving anything; but you know what was getting closer- DEADLINE DAY.

But after realising that walloing in my self-pity wasn't going to get me anywhere, nor was beating myself up about the situation, I took a deep breath and decided each day, I only had one plan: and that was to try. That's it. 

Try to stick to my homelearning plan
Try and make sure I get out for a walk
Try and make sure I sceduled a work post
Try and get a little bit closer to the end goal, than I was yesterday. 
but more importantly; TRY and not beat myself up if I don't.

and you know what? It worked. Elimintated, was the pressures. Gone, was the fear of not meeting deadlines. Removed, was the fear of not having a plan. And instead, I took it one day at a time..... (I mean I'm still human, this isn't the case everyday... but you get my jist)

Somedays work a dream, essays get written, books get read, dinners get cooked, targets get met.... other days.... I eat.... that's about it. And I count that as an equal achievement. 

In a time period of 2 weeks, life for everyone has been turned upsidedown, for me; my whole way of learning has had to change. I no longer have the comfort of my classroom to help me achieve my degree, or the ability to jump on a train home whenever I want. Everything changed, for everyone. 

So who cares if all you've done is eat today. Or if you've written 1 sentence instead of 2. If the washing up didn't get done or homeschooling lasted 20 minutes.. We're doing good. Doing good working under pressures that even the most detailed and well thought out plan, wan't prepared for. We've been faced with the impossible.

Yet we're all still trying.

That's an achievement in my books. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

To the girl who’s moving away.... the things I wish I heard someone say.

To the girl who’s moving away...... (The things I wish I heard someone say.)

This is your story now. Every day will be new to anything you’ve known before. And for sure every day will be different alright! Some days you’re gonna feel independent, strong and loved and other days you’ll feel forgotten and confused!

Nobody’s told you how emotionally and physically hard this process is, even though nobody is telling you it’s easy either. Everyone is so excited for you. You’re being reminded constantly how this is such a big decision, and you made it. But that doesn’t make the pain any less. You choosing to walk away doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to cry when you leave. 

The phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, and FaceTime calls... they can only do so much on the days you’ll need advice, the days you crave a hug, or you just need someone to vent to. You’ll miss their smell. Their voice. Some days you’ll worry that you’re forgetting all of that.... and on the days they don’t call, you’ll wonder if perhaps they’re living happily without you. Perhaps that they’re forgetting too.

All the birthdays, and holidays you miss, and the photos you follow that you aren’t in... you may click, but inside you’ll resent them. You’ll look at it over and over. Imagining how different the picture could be if you were in it too. Imagining how different the bigger picture would be too.... if only you were there... Some days you’ll wish you could drop everything and go back. And others you’ll wish they’d come to you. You’ll wish you could just run home, you’ll wish you could hug your best friend, your family... even your dog, but that this time you’ll have no time limit to how long it can last. You wish your mum would lecture you time after time again about the things you once moaned about.... and that your friends would have a sleepover with you... or even just sit in silence over a coffee... because it wouldn’t matter what you did..... Just that you were just present.

That you were back.

But the hard thing about all of this, is there is no going back. You’re there now.. There to grow, there to provide for yourself and your future. It’s your job now.... to remember all those moments and cherish them as much as you can, and never take any moment for granted when you get to do any of those things again. It’s a rollercoaster but one that will turn your life upside down for the better.... first you just have to cling on for the ride.

Some days you’ll be in your bathroom breaking down, and other days you’ll miss the phone calls from home as you’re so busy embracing life. One day can feel so different to the next. One hour even. It can be anything... the smell of a sweatshirt, a song on the radio... the photos you find as you’re clearing out your bottom drawer. It’s ok. Ok to feel the feelings. And ok for them to change. There’s no deadline. No point where they’re no longer allowed. No one expects you to switch off and forget. You may be fine for months- and then a tear will fall when you least expect it. Allow it. With no explanation. No one thinks less of you for missing the comfort of your own bed even if you haven’t been back to visit for weeks. It comes in waves. And the painful thing is that you can’t stop them. But you can ride them. And you will.

But as you do remember why. Remember why you packed your bag in the first place. And all those who were excited for you.... and still are! Remember that they didn’t leave you, they didn’t forget you. They’ll always be there. As happy when you’re back as you are. They have to get on with their lives as much as you do yours but it’s ok. Ok for you all to be happy in different places. But ok that sometimes you feel sad about that too.

It’s okay to miss home,

Home misses you


Monday, 2 March 2020

Being the dancer with a difference

Dance was always something I loved. For as long as I could remember I always recall dance being part of my life. I was a quirky, fun loving child, and I loved being part of my after-school dance club, taking part in multiple showcases and competitions. I wasn’t really aware of my difference back then, I was just having fun, doing something that I loved to do.
But when secondary school hit, my love for dance was pushed aside and replaced by insecurities. Due to my dwarfism, the size difference between me and my peers was far more apparent than what it had been before, and as I became older, the dance moves I was being taught got more and more complex. I was falling behind, I didn’t feel very good at it anymore. Suddenly the thing I loved to do, was becoming something that instead was making me feel rather lame about myself. The world isn’t always kind when you’re different. Society has expectations of how we should look, and when you don’t reach those expectations sometimes the reaction of others is a bitter one. It was this, that took dance away from me, the words hurt too much too outweigh the passion, and the thought of all eyes on me on the stage, gave me a feeling of fear, not fun.
So at age 11, I gave in, hung up my dance shoes and tried to live life, drawing as little attention to myself as possible. I didn’t want the limelight anymore, not when I was attracting the negative opinions and comments of others just by walking down the street. It’s fair to say that any quirk I had, had now gone, and instead I was starting to believe the things the bullies would say. I went from standing in front of a studio mirror all day, to not even wanting to look in one at all.

But this wasn’t to be forever….

Fast forward to 2016, my self-confidence was slowly starting to improve after moving on from secondary school and finding my feet in the real world. However my spark was still dim. But that was soon about to change, when I was invited to the Dance Sway Nationals in 2016 as make up assistant for a dance crew called ‘Audacity’. As I watched their performance from the side-lines, I saw in them, the same enjoyment and fulfilment as the 10 year old me had once had. I saw people doing what they loved, for fun, and feeling rather good about themselves for it… something which I didn’t think I’d find in dance again… that is until my boss looked to me and said ‘Come on, Why don’t you give it a go’….

So I did.

A year on, I returned to the same competition, with the same crew, but this time they didn’t rely on me to do their make-up…. but instead to dance alongside them. Until then I don’t think I ever thought I had the courage to perform again, but there I was, back doing something that I loved…. something that was becoming fun again. Was it easy? Nope? There were many tears, many times I wanted to quit, times I would compare myself to those dancing beside me, and be jealous of the moves that they picked up so quick… times I wish I could just do it as easy and as well as they could… and many times I thought to myself was I really good enough for all this after all? It had been almost six years since I had last performed, I had gotten much older, and therefore the moves which I was expected to be able to deliver, were far more intense than the Disney songs 8 year old me used to jump around to. The physical challenge this had on my body, presented me with a huge mountain to climb.
I still had the same body as 8 year old me. It wasn’t any bigger or stronger than it was back then… But if I was going to peruse my passion and keep up with the almost grown adults I was competing alongside, then I had to find a way to be stronger than the challenges that were in front of me. And the only thing I had stronger than the challenges, was my passion. That and a little bit of stubbornness too!!

Some days were hard..

Somedays I would fail to keep up, and other days I would watch from the side-lines whilst my body dealt with injury and pain. But every time, I got back up. Every time, I tried again. And every time, I pushed through the barrier of doubt tormenting me. Okay, I’ve never been the best…. I’m not the quickest or most skilled dancer, and to this day there are things which I can’t do, and probably won’t ever do. But that’s ok…. why? Because I may not be the best, but I am doing my best, and above all of that, I am doing something that I love, and something that I want to do, and no one, is going to take that away from me again.
For so long I used to be afraid to step back out there… to have all eyes looking at me because in the past, never once has that been a positive experience. I let the words and opinions of others hold me back. But I’ve come to learn that those who stare, those who laugh…. they’ll have two minutes of my life… but the confidence, motive and purpose that comes from when I dance…. that will stay with me for a lifetime. I will never be able to change how some people may see me, but I can change how I see myself, and you know what, some days, I don’t even notice my difference anymore.

If I could say anything, to anyone who may be being held back, at the fear of feeling different, or the fear that perhaps you may not be good enough. It would be, to be brave. Take the leap of faith. Be bold enough to step out there. And be the version of yourself that you want to be, not who anyone else expects you to be. We are only held back by the limits we set ourselves, and when I let go of those limits back in 2016, my life was opened to a whole new world of opportunity. I found my spark again.

Third place at the UK Welsh Street Dance Nationals

Thursday, 9 January 2020

It isn't built for me..

Ever wondered what it's like down here? Ever thought about how the way I see the world may be different to you? Ever considered that how I see the room may look comepltely different to you... even if what we're looking at is the same? 

I took these photos for a university presentation- A micro teach I had to present about my life. Something which despite being a blogger, and having done many public presentations before.... it's something which still is hard to summarise in words. So I used pictures instead.

The top rows of all of these, are what my average heigh friend sees.... which means... you've guessed it... the bottom row is what I see. The same objects. The same day. The same time. The same place.
Yet the views are compeltly different.

All these things are featured in my University, and all these things are ones I use on a daily basis, their essential to my lifestyle and study as a student.... yet... they're not built for me. None of them are. They're built for my friends. The average... the majority.

I'm lucky enough to have very supportive friends, who carry my load and make the fact all these things are out of reach almost forgetable..... but the truth of the matter is... they are. Initially anyway.

Being here 3 years now, I've got myself into a routine, I know my limits, I've learned ways around things and I've learned when I need someone else on hand when I can't achieve my outcome independenly, but this thought process..... on top of a full time work placement, and a BA hons degree... can sometimes feel overwhelming.

I used to be jelous, jelous of the things that all my friends could do with ease. Jealous that whilst they're fretting over their dissertations i'm left fretting over how I'm gonna reach my lunch. Somedays it doesn't feel fair. But then other days, honestly.... I don't even notice and I don't think others do too.

The fact is..... I could be angry. Easily. I could be frustrated, and beileve me somedays I am.... but more often than not, it doesn't cross my mind. Because after 21 years experience I've accepted that there will never be a day I don't need someone to reach something off a shelf, or a day I can see over every counter and desk I greet. And in the mix of all of life's pressures... You can guarentee I am not adding an addition one in the form of my thoughts and frets.

We all need a little help sometimes... and althought it took me a long time to accept it, my help just comes in the form of the little things. But in turn my degree is allowing me to help others with big things. Big things that I can do, that others may not have mastered yet. So if it turns out that reaching a book off a top shelf is my biggest weakness...... I'm happy with that.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

G-Expressions...... A whole new adventure!

Written for

Hey! I'm Danielle and I'm Creative Arts Assistant for G-Expressions. My role means I support both the dance and drama elements of G-Expressions. Despite only being in the role for a couple of months, my journey with G-Expressions began way before then.

So let me take you way back to the beginning..... 

My story starts here, on this stage, where I was performing with my organisation 'Portishead Youth Centre' back in October 2018. I produced the showcase as part of my BAhons degree, and as a result had invited members and partners of the University South Wales along to watch. We sold out, filling a room with 250 audience members...... within these, were the G-Expressions team. This is where I first come to know of exactly who these people were, and what they strived for, and I think it's fair to say I was inspired from day one.

Fast forward a couple more months, and the link between my organisation and G-Expressions grew stronger, as my dance crew were invited to perform as part of the opening of 'Hard Knock Life' a recent production by G-Expressions. Watching the show, and also seeing an incline of the back stage action only rose this organisation even higher in my admiration, as a dancer and youth worker myself, the show I saw in front of me was basically everything I was striving for in my own development. I wanted my own work to be of this standard, with this response.... having this impact! I remember one of my colleauges dropping into conversation on the way home, 'Dan this could be you one day'. And I quote my exact words were.....

"What a dream they'd be to work with''. 

Fast forward eight months.... and I can in fact confirm that they are a dream!

After deciding to move over the bridge to Newport in September 2019 in order to complete my third and final year at Uni without the pressures of 6am trains and long winter commutes.... I found myself on placement, with the organisation who for the last year had inspired and shaped the professional I had strived to become. I felt like I had hit the ultimate jackpot, after persuring a passion in dance for the last 4 years, how lucky was I that in the mayhem of the move, this was the one thing I didn't need to leave behind. But with this came some nerves... Did I have what it took? I may have been a confident spark on stage, but that spark dimmed when it came to my own self-beilef. But here I was amoungst a team of professionals who were trusting me.... trusting me to make a lasting impact on their organsiation... trusting me to deliver, represent and promote what they had been building for the last 10 years.....Me? ....Really?

Well if that's not a confidence boost in itself I don't know what is!

Moving away from home was never on my agenda, Not yet anyway. I never saw myself as the person who would fly the nest at 21, and if I'm honest I don't think part of me even thought I'd be the person who would be graduating with a BAhons degree, but yet here we are.... 2 months into my time living in Newport, 6 months away from Graduation day.... and a massive part of that is down to the team who inspired me. The team I now get to be a part of. 

Looking over the past 9 weeks, I every now and then in moments of quiet amoungst the busyness,I still question how I really ended up here.... getting to persue my two passions... Youth work and performing arts... and more than that, getting to support young people in bringing their own passions to life. But the development doesn't end in the studio. G-Expressions has grown my confidence and skills, in many aspects of my life, my academics, my professionalism... but most importantly in myself., and the person I have the potential to become.

So now it's my turn to do the same!

The support I have recieved from the organisation, and the spark they have put back in me, is what now drives me in my new role, to promote and find that same confidence in the young people we work with. I'd like to beileve that I can create the same oppitunities for them as I have had created for me and support them in their own journey of self-discovery and following their own dreams.   
G-Expressions has opened so many doors for me, doors I didn't even know existed... Doors I defintly didn't beileve I had the potential to open and if I can give even a percentage of that back for future generations... then I'll call my career a success! 

I am so grateful to G-Expressions, for the example they set me from early on, which inspired development in my career in the first place.... but more so, for the support, oppitunities and experiences I now am living and working everyday. From supporting dance leaders courses, writing funding applications, leading classes, planning events, organising fundraising events, creating and running my own sessions... Most students can only dream of that in a 9 month period! Which only gets me thinking.....If this is month 2...... where will we be on month 9???

If you had asked me three months ago my plan for life after graduation, I don't think I could answer, and part of me, still hasn't quite worked it out yet... but one thing I do know, is that my journey with G-Expressions, is a journey I hope is only just beginning.

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