October Reflections

Bright Flowers in Three Glass Jars

October brought grey skies that turned pink at dinner time. Crunching leaves. Meals shared with family.

It meant catching up with friends over mugs of tea after too many months, and smiling at thoughtful cards. Enjoying the scent of candles and the sweetness of the last bite of birthday cake. Anticipating what’s next.

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What’s the Point of an Arts Degree?

Minimal work space - Creative flat lay photo of workspace desk with sketchbook and wooden pencil on copy space green and blue pastel background. Top view , flat lay photography.

Five years ago I was an uncertain fresher studying English and History at the University of Southampton. Now I’m halfway through a part-time MA in Cultural Management at King’s College. I’ve gone from the Brontës to business plans.

Would I make the same choices again?

Yes, absolutely. Arts education can be incredibly interesting and rewarding.

During the summer I asked a few friends and contacts to share their perspectives on the value of studying for an arts or humanities degree.

Here are four key benefits:

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Talking Social Enterprise in Sri Lanka with Josie George, AMMA

AMMA Sri Lanka's Mother Makers at Workshop

This week I’m happy to be introducing you to my cousin Josie. Josie runs AMMA, a social enterprise that trains and employs mothers in Sri Lanka’s central highlands. AMMA uses colour from food waste and local plants to create beautiful, natural textiles. Read our interview below.

Molly: What led you to start AMMA?

Josie: A few different reasons. Something needed to be done about the high unemployment levels amongst mothers in the tea picking communities here. Around the same time, Child Action Lanka, the local charity we work with, was looking to start income generating initiatives to become more financially sustainable.

I wanted to build an enterprise that demonstrates a different, fairer, more wholesome way of doing business in the fashion / textile industry. This gives me the opportunity to promote natural, botanical dyes, which I believe are a much safer alternative to synthetic dyes for both our planet and our wellbeing.

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24 More Things I’ve Learned by 24

Pastel pink and floral notebooks

Last September I shared 23 Things I’ve Learned by 23. Now approaching my 24th birthday, I’ve put together another list. I’m all for lifelong learning.

Here we go:

1. You can’t and don’t need to do everything. Prioritise your commitments.

2. Qualities can be more important than qualifications.

3. Social contact can help you live longer. Make sure to ‘build your village’.

4. What a stranger at a train station thinks of you really doesn’t matter.

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September Reflections

View from Cissbury Ring, West Sussex

If Richard Curtis adapted my experience of this month into a romantic comedy, it could be called One Wedding and a Funeral. It would feature plenty of love, laughter and tears, without puffy dresses or patterned waistcoats.

September has brought another milestone – going back to school. I recently started the second year of my MA. This looks set to be the last autumn I spend balancing professional work and academic work (and blogging and…). I’m keen to get stuck in and appreciate the experience. Please remind me of that when I’m in the library two hours from home and it’s dark outside.

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A Life Well Lived

Sam, my Grandad, passed away on Saturday. For the past few months, my family has been going through the raw, uncomfortable process of losing an important person. Grandad was witty, clever and always supportive. His steady presence was accompanied by a love of history, languages, golf and West Bromwich Albion F.C.

I miss – and will continue to miss – his stories. In April 2013, we stayed with relatives in Mumbles, a village at the far end of Swansea Bay that leads to the Gower Peninsula. I’ve written briefly about this place as home before. On this visit, like many previously, we walked around Oystermouth Castle. As my cousins played on a tire swing and Nanny looked across the bay, Grandad and I ventured through the trees. He gestured to the house where he and my great grandparents had lived in the 1950s, enthusiastically describing how he grew from a teen into a cheeky young man with a motorcycle. Before this he had lived in Ethiopia and afterwards he moved to Birmingham. In the early 1980s, his young family moved back to the Gower, where my Mum later met my Dad, an Oceanography student from Kent.

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