Thursday, 18 June 2015

This Place at This Time | Reflecting One Year On From Graduation

Finishing university was so hard for me. My whole life had quite easily been mapped out and every year I knew what step to take. I didn't have to worry about income (too much) or fulfilment. I just needed to work hard and strive to succeed. Upon graduating I thought I had a plan; serve a mission, keep my relationship long distance (figure all that out when I came home), come back, possibly travel, look into the possibility of doing a masters, work on building/establishing a career, get married at some point, etc, etc. Yet that was not what happened. Leaving the structure of education was a shock but knowing I had a mission to strive for anchored me. 

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an actor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." Ether 12:4 (Book of Mormon) 

I had my next step, my next goal of progression. Then came my mission call and the dreaded month. It was breaking my heart to leave my love but it also broke my heart to stay. To gave up something I had worked so hard for for so long, dreamed about, prayed about and it wasn't simply knowing that the place was so perfect for me individually or knowing that I would have an incredible opportunity, but it was also giving up being able to serve the Lord fully 24/7 for 18 whole months, missing out on the intensity of the spirit every single day, never meeting my companions, never helping those people prepared by the Lord, and so many more things I cannot even name.  

Yet I decided to stay. One of the hardest decisions of my life. I choose what I knew was better for me and happier for my individual life. I stayed and married my best friend in the temple. And while I gave up my mission, I still had some direction. Mourning my loss but able to build a brighter future full of hope and love, we got engaged and I planned a wedding in six months, alongside working as a waitress and looking for creative work placements. A career at this stage wasn't something I had even considered to be a reality, but suddenly it was something I needed to address. I was blessed with a job as a waitress (with very little experience) a few weeks after declining my call. I know that God helped me get this job, that it anchored me with a routine and inturn sanity. 

I sorted out my creative portfolio and started harassing advertising and design agencies to get internships or placements. In this field a graduate entry level job is a joke. Just not going to happen. They expected at least one or two years of internships before you are even considered. Not to mention these are often either unpaid, expenses only or below minimum wage. Helpful when you have a wedding to save for and are planning on becoming an independent newly wed couple! My first hurdle was simply securing a book critique or interview. Emails often went unseen and telephone calls unfruitful. The prospect of cold calling scary and from what I'd heard, kind of rude! I signed up to a freelance agency and was accepted, I started working from home doing the odd job which was often social media. Being paid well for the amount of hours I was doing, but these jobs were largely inconsistent and competitive. I landed a placement in Manchester which I loved (but did no wedding planning while there, not ideal!) and worked as a volunteer for D&ADs judging week

It is so easy to feel lost, unmotivated and unsure. Graduates begin to question their own abilities and lose confidence. While I've been given some amazing opportunities, the reality of the day to day is often waitressing and getting stressed out. As humans we need plans, goals and to use our talents. It is frustrating to be trained and specialised in a line of work and not be able to use it. I have learned that routines and hobbies are so incredibly needed just to give you peace of mind. While being a graduate is difficult, it is so satisfying and exciting when new plans form. When I am lead to new steps. As a teenager all I wanted was success, but right now I want to be happy and fulfilled. I create plans and research different areas I can go into, different routes I can take and pray about them so that I can feel the spirit whether or not it is something I should pursue. Sometimes I feel right and peaceful about things straight away, others I just take baby steps and then suddenly a huge opportunity appears and again there are times a thought simply comes to mind and I know it was the Lord. 

"Verily, verily I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done: for thou hast inquired of me, and behold as often as thou has inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time." Doctrine and Covenants 6:14

I read that scripture whilst lying in bed the other night and the profundity of it just hit me. 

If it wasn't for God I wouldn't have gone to the university I did. 
If it wasn't for Him I wouldn't have applied or had a desire to serve a mission. 
If it wasn't for Him I wouldn't have my job. 
If it wasn't for Him I wouldn't have gone on a first date with my husband. 
If it wasn't for Him I wouldn't have married my husband. 
If it wasn't for Him I wouldn't be as happy as I am now. 
If it wasn't for Him I would be lost for the future.

I am so eternally grateful that God loves me so much that he helps me in these huge life decisions. That each day I can feel His example and know that He is there to guide me if I make the effort to work on things and then seek for His advice. That He loves everyone else just as much! I have found that as I get older I trust in Him more and more. We realise just how much we truly are dust of the Earth but at the same time His sons and daughters. We are worth more than we realise and divinity really is there for us. I am so excited for the future and the plans we are currently putting in place. I cannot wait for them to begin!

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Monday, 8 June 2015

Teacup Kitchen | Things to do in Manchester

My university friend Leanne and I have made it a mission of ours to explore Manchester's Northern Quarter every time we meet for a catch up. Boasting an array of vintage clothing stores, alternative art galleries, hipster cafes, chocolatier specialists and tea-rooms it's clear too see why. Neatly hidden away behind the rather large Arndale shopping centre, it's easy to overlook  and miss out. But it's hidden quality only adds to it's gemlike appeal. A secret place buzzing with life but doesn't hold the manic busyness of a city. 

After seeing it last time Teacup was a place I had mentally bookmarked to visit. Looking for somewhere cute to catch up over a hot drink, we went in expecting small and cosy, only to find it much larger and far more uniquely furnished. Botanical studies lined the walls, wooden antique chairs that reminded me of a posh primary school, hung lighting, large spaces, and a menu offering hot food aswell as a beautiful cake counter. 

Specialising in a wide variety of tea, including the oh so tumblr flowering kind, they also offer fresh health boosting juices, milkshakes, and sweet potato fries!! (Always a win) It seemed most customers where opting for either cake or sandwiches (it was lunchtime after all). Leanne's Vanilla Cacao tea was served with a little honey, brewed in a teapot until the colourful sand timers ran out, causing beeping then transferred it to another pot before drinking. I ordered the Lemon Zingi fresh juice (apple, lemon, ginger & grape), I was certainly tempted by the milkshakes but decided with cake it might all be too sweet. 

After pouring over the menu for years and years we headed over to the cake counter to see the selection. From rainbow cake to red velvet, they even featured a blue iced masterpiece in aid of Mind week, raising awareness and funds for the mental health charity. We both opted for the White Chocolate and Poppy Seed Cake and it was glorious. Definitely homemade, enormous and delicious. The combination was simply perfect, there was even nuggets of white chocolate throughout the filling! It was so absolutely indulgent that we both couldn't finish it and had to take the remainder home! 

Even the staff fitted the every essence of the place, so laid back but super helpful. They offered to move us as a large party was due to come in near where we were initially sat and made sure to check everything was ok. Making recommendations on drinks, they certainly were up to speed with the menu and above all enthusiastic about where they worked. I have always loved the idea of afternoon tea and will definitely be returning, although next time I think I'll give the hot/savoury menu a go too!

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