Music, Opinions

This Week in New Music: Lorde, Denai Moore & The Strypes

Here’s my pick of the albums you need to hear that dropped today

Melodrama – Lorde

Lorde

Alternative/Pop

Melodrama, the “Royals” singers sophomore album, is a concept album about a house party. From the excitement of that first great song  to the beginnings of a hangover, it’s worth listening to in sequence to get the full experience.  Despite the influence of the likes of Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles) and Kuk Harrell (Justin Bieber, Rihanna), this pop album is still uniquely Lorde.

 

We Used To Bloom by Denai Moore

DenaiMoore

Alternative/R&B

Londoner Denai Moore’s latest album is a a beautiful and affecting glimpse into a young woman learning to love herself and accept her flaws. Moore explores topics like anxiety, greed and the “transformative” power of love here with extraordinary grace and poise. With smooth R&B beats and sincere vocals, “We Used To Bloom” is a pleasure to listen to.

 

Spitting Image by The Strypes

The Strypes

Indie/Rock

If you’d like a throwback to retro rock and roll, Spitting Image is your album of the week. It feels a little rock-y, a little blues-y, a little indie, but it’s a mix that works well.  The Cavan natives third record is more polished than their previous offerings but the rawness of a good live performance is still very much tangible.

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Life, Opinions

Vegan Friendly Youtubers You Need To Check Out

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Something I struggle with on an almost daily basis is eating well. There’s periods where I crave orange & raspberry smoothies, avocado on brown bread and black bean burgers with leafy green salads… but if I am honest 99% of the time I just want a big bar of Galaxy chocolate and a flat white. I’ve seen the sugar documentaries, the vegan documentaries and Jamie Oliver’s (brilliant) Ted Talk.. but on a day to day basis my stomach seems to overrule my brain when it comes to thinking about how beneficial a bowl of soup is over a plate of chips.

The one thing that’s helped me the most in this area is… youtube! From chef’s to vloggers, my main foodie inspo comes from Youtube. The following channels either provide 1) Tasty recipes 2) Drool worthy aesthetics or 3) Both. They’re also mostly vegan (or at least vegetarian) which I personally think is the healthiest, most environmentally friendly & ethically superior diet on the planet. I am  a vegetarian (which means I can’t eat meat/fish but can eat dairy/eggs), but I tend to make mostly vegan food if I am cooking for myself. I might go into this further in another blog post but for now I am going to avoid the ~ controversial ~ topic of veganism and preaching at y’all about animal agriculture and instead woo you to the veggie/vegan side with aesthetically pleasing, drool-worthy food that will make you feel good too. Promise.

1) TheHappyPear

First up is Ireland’s very own Stephen and David Flynn! The Flynn twins have two cookbooks out, a café in Greystones and a range of products now available in Supervalu like pesto’s, hummus’s, soup’s… basically they’re the Irish version of Jamie Oliver. Now I know a lot of people think they’re annoying af but personally I find their enthusiasm really endearing. My favourite thing about their channel is their “5 minute dinner” series which is perfect for students like myself who need something quick, easy and cheap!

(Fun fact: 3/5 of my family members have actually met the Happy Pear and tasted their food… but as is life, the fan, aka me, is not among those three. Sad face.)

2) BonnyRebecca

Bonny is one of my favouriteeee youtubers. She makes lots of videos including vlog type what I eat in a day videos. She’s super positive and her vlogs always make me smile! I enjoy seeing the amazing vegan food she can get when she eat’s out in Australia (and the drone shots of her beautiful country) but the main reason I am including her in this video is for the recipes she shares in her vlogs/recipe videos. A lot of the time she’ll vlog herself and/or her boyfriend Tim making their meals which provides lots of inspiration.

3) ThrivingOnPlants

Next up is Cherie Tu. Cherie is an eighteen year old vegan from Sydney.  Her “What I Eat In A Day” videos are so calming and I love the fact that they’re so short (usually around the 3 minute mark) and she literally just shows you what she makes. She always includes the full recipe in the description box below the video so you can make her beautiful recipes too.

4) CosmicColette

Colette is an Irish gal living in Berlin aka the vegan capital of Europe. My favourite thing about Colette is that she isn’t a size 6 sunkissed glowing skin vegan insta model… she looks like your average gal, and it’s brilliant to see her promoting the vegan lifestyle as a “normal” diet, with vegan junk food to boot! She always posts videos talking about body positivity, eating disorders and even money management and seems like a cool gal all around. The video I’ve embedded above is one where her boyfriend voiced her “What I Ate Today” video and it’s hilarious!

5) JessBeautician

Jess is a British Beautician who loves simple & natural make-up and food. Her recipes are always so simple and easy-to make.. what’s not to love?

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Opinions

An Ode to Ireland

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It’s that time of year again – St. Patrick’s Day. The one day when the world is painted green. From the green lights cast on the Empire State building of New York to the Sydney Opera house and London’s Big Ben, there’s no other country on the planet that is celebrated as much and as widely on its national holiday as Ireland. What is it about Ireland that encourages such festivity?  Well, I would argue it has very little to do with the land, lakes or landmarks, much rather it is the Irish people that are truly worth celebrating.

Being Irish mean’s loving and drinking a good cup of ‘tae’ (sometimes in equal proportion to ‘the black stuff’). It means being able to finish a Father Ted quote without thinking. It means going on holidays and finding the Irish pub. It means trad sessions in the local. It means calling yourself a catholic but only going to mass at Christmas. It means ‘I will yea,’ ‘ara sure look,’ ‘jaysus,’ ‘grand so’ and ‘savage’ are all part of your vernacular. It means always having something to complain about (especially the weather). We Irish are hilarious and hypocritical, celebrators and complainers, dancers and dreamers – and proud, proud people.

From our inception, Ireland and its people have been a proud nation. The Irish Free State, established in 1922 (later to become known as the Republic of Ireland) was born after years of bitter fighting for freedom from the British Empire. It’s no wonder, therefore, that the pride of being Irish and the love for our country is so deeply ingrained in all of us (and that undeniable competitiveness when placed against the Brits in any kind of competition!) This pride is part of what makes us great. You will find no greater supporters than the Irish, travelling all over the world for soccer matches, rugby, boxing, horse-riding etc. As a small nation, we don’t have as many sports superstars, and the resources to produce them as many of our neighbouring countries do, but when the likes of the O’Donovan brothers or UL’s very own Thomas Barr emerge out of the shadows – the whole country gets behind them. Then there’s all the creative folk that our fair island has produced; from Hozier to the astounding Riverdance dancers, the genius of W.B Yeats and the beautiful Saorise Ronan, Ireland is known for and can be proud of its people and their contribution to the artistic world.

Perhaps our creative folk produce such varied material due to the paradoxical fact that the Irish are both home birds and travellers. From necessity to wanderlust, the Irish have populated the globe with O’Sullivans, Murphys and Walshes, with roughly one million Irish-born people currently living around the world. Wherever we went, we brought our most valued asset; the Irish spirit and culture. We brought Irish dancing to the UK, Irish music to the US and GAA to Australia. Sure, it might just have been us participating for the most part, but there’s something nice about our refusal to leave behind what we’ve known, even whilst embracing the new.

However it has to be noted, we don’t just barge into everyone else’s country without returning the favour! The Irish are renowned for their hospitality and welcoming nature. One of the only Irish phrases we all get right is the beautiful, “Céad mile fáilte,” translating as “one hundred thousand welcomes.” From tourists to asylum seekers, adventurers to economic migrants, the Irish people envelop all in their compassion and warmth. This compassion has led to many young people embarking on vocational trips to places as far as Kenya or Ghana, and influential activists such as Adi Roche, Bob Geldof, and Fr Hugh O’Flaherty.

Ireland, once seen as a small, insignificant, old fashioned country, is now a hub of multinational companies, IT firms and highly respected universities. The change Ireland has undergone in recent years is truly remarkable. This, I believe, is entirely down to the forward-thinking, inspiring, and hardworking men and women of Ireland. The once crippling influence of the Catholic Church has been significantly reduced, resulting in our republic becoming the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage by popular vote. This show of understanding, empathy and kindness would never have happened a decade ago. Currently, there’s an ongoing campaign for abortion to be outlawed as a crime in Ireland. Regardless of what side you are on, or which way the eventual vote will go, it is a victory that Ireland has reached the stage where we can all discuss important issues such as these, in a mature and reasonable way. This change is a credit to the empathetic, forward-thinking youth of our remarkable country and I can’t wait to see the future Ireland this generation will create. I am sure it will make Ireland and its people an even prouder institution.

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Opinions

Why I won’t compliment you on your weightloss

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With every new year comes a host of new years resolutions. For many, that will include “lose weight.” Last week, nutritionist and personal trainer Joe Wicks (The Body Coach), held the top 3 positions in The Mail On Sunday’s bestsellers list of non-fiction paperbacks with ‘Lean in 15: The Sustain Plan,’ ‘Lean In 15 – The Shape Plan’ and his original book ‘Lean in 15’. In fact, if you look at any of the bestseller lists for January you’ll find a host of books promising to help you get fit, eat healthy and of course, lose weight.

Now, there’s nothing  wrong with wanting to lose weight – maybe you’re overweight and concerned about the health implications, maybe you ate a bit (ok a lot) of cheese and chocolate over Christmas and are trying to shed the extra padding, or maybe losing weight isn’t even your main objective but a result you’re expecting thanks to your new fitness & healthy-eating regime – one that really is making you feel healthier than ever before.

So, just to be clear, I am not saying losing weight is a bad thing (although, of course, it can be) but I am questioning whether complimenting someone on their weight loss is. Certainly, I’ve complimented friends on weight-loss before and when I did it, it was with the best of intentions. I wanted them to know that what they were doing was showing, that the effort they put in was visible, I wanted them to feel validated. But, when I take a step back and ask myself why I say “wow you’ve lost weight you look great!” when someone’s lost weight, I realize it’s not such a great compliment after all.

For one, it reinforces the idea that “thinner is better” which can be a pretty dangerous narrative to contribute to. Both in terms of image and in terms of health. Simply put, being thin doesn’t equate being healthy and being healthy doesn’t equate being thin and losing weight isn’t always a good thing. You don’t know the reason the person in question lost weight. It could be as a result of an eating-disorder, an illness such as cancer or Lupas, stress or anxiety related etc.

Secondly, it implies that the person didn’t look as great before their weight-loss. Which, y’know, might be taken the wrong way, like you’re implying they were “fat” beforehand. (Especially offensive to those of us from the “snowflake generation” – that’s millennials to you and me by the way.)

Thirdly, it puts a pressure on the person in question to maintain that weight or even to lose more. Research has shown that most of us who lose weight through dieting put it back on, if not more. Therefore the “you’ve lost weight! you look great!” compliment is a bit of a sting in the tail. It’s a reminder that you notice the other person’s weight – you’ll notice (and judge) if they put the pounds back on.

Of course, not everyone will take the intended compliment like that – some people will be delighted to hear you’ve noticed their weight-loss. However, in my experience, those kinds of people will voluntarily provide this information to you by telling you they’ve lost weight & feel so much better/healthier/confident etc, and that’s great! But I am hesitant to compliment friends on their weight because I don’t want them to feel like they weren’t good enough before their weight-loss or that I think their weight is all that important to be honest. Weight is one of those things that many people struggle with, and it’s different for everyone. Some people can look healthy while ordering takeout every night, while others can eat healthy, balanced meals, regularly exercise and be generally leading a healthy lifestyle and still be overweight. To me, it’s so much more important to compliment people on the more important things like their ability to be kind, generous, hard-working, loyal, humorous, sassy. (What? I value some sass ok?)

In a world that’s increasingly infatuated with both men and women’s weight, we’re bombarded with images of the “ideal” body, one that’s sold to us as the image of health and sexual appeal. We might have started to move on from anorexic women being the only thing we consume, but that doesn’t mean what we’re being sold is anyway more attainable. From the “curvy” woman (aka skinny with boobs and a bum) to the chiselled men with six-packs and bulging veins, we’re still having images of “perfection” crammed down our throat, often times now wrapped up and sold to us in the form of fitness books and DVDs or even on our Instagram feeds. While I am all for people taking control of their health and fitness, I think we’ve reached a point where it’s becoming increasingly difficult for us not to be confronted with our weight on a daily basis, and I for one don’t want to further contribute to that.

So what I am proposing is that we don’t cease to compliment, we simply change our compliments. Instead of praising weight-loss, thinness, skinnyness etc, we praise the people in our life for their commitment to going for a jog in the morning or thank them for sharing a new healthy recipe with us. We compliment them on positive personality traits or for passing their driving test. There’s a multitude of things to pick from when you want to give a compliment – maybe we can all dig a little deeper than putting so much emphasis on numbers on a scale?

For me, the only time it’s appropriate to comment on someone’s weight-loss is if they’ve outright brought it up in conversation or blatantly made it public knowledge and are asking for recognition eg. posting a before and after shot on Facebook alongside some inspiring post about their ‘journey’ (sorry lads I am not mocking, really I am just jealous). Personally, that’s why I’ve made the decision to refrain from commenting on others weight, whether I intend to compliment or not.

(Published on Spun Out)

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Life, Opinions, Personal, Random

Some thoughts on Facebook comments and communication

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Here’s a blog post addressing discussion and anger that I intend on sharing on Facebook that will no doubt be met with minimal discussion and unfounded anger. I apologize in advance.

Recently I’ve found that whenever I share anything mildly controversial on Facebook, a video that might question our daily actions or maybe an article about some political figure or what not..   it always seems to be met with angry or defensive comments from people who might disagree with what the source says or what my own opinion on it is.

I am 100% cool with you, my Facebook friend, disagreeing with my opinion. I am obviously not always right (and neither are you!) and I am open to hearing what you have to say. Maybe I’ll learn something new or change my opinion entirely, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I embrace it.

All I ask, Facebook commenters, is that you are kind and respectful when leaving comments. Otherwise it just leaves me feeling like I can’t share thoughtful or controversial content, and it leaves my other Facebook friends feeling like they can’t interact without being attacked. And that’s really sad.

Without getting too philosophical, I really believe the reason people are becoming more “extreme” in their thoughts (whether that be conservative or liberal) and the reason we appear to be living in more divisive times, is because of our inability to communicate effectively with one another. Sites like Facebook and Youtube further facilitate this by showing us content similar to that we’ve already shown to like and agree with. If we never expose ourselves to other viewpoints and ideas how can we ever evolve and better ourselves as people?

Maybe I’ll write a more informed and coherent blogpost about this at some point, but for now, I’d just like to thank you for reading this post instead of watching another cat video. I’d also like to encourage you to engage in discussions with other people on Facebook, but please keep it kind, respectful and open-minded.

On a sidenote, I apologize if sharing posts about being kinder to the planet, the animals & other people pisses people off.. I am only doing my best to do what I can to make the world a better place and hopefully encourage some others to do that too 🙂

(Couldn’t end the blogpost without a bit of sass now could I?)

 

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