I am a Nutritionist (who counts Carrot Cake as one of my five a day) in London who is stamping stigma out of mental illness. Also interested in all things mental health related.
Follow me on Twitter: @mirandasmurmurs and Instagram: @mirandabunting
All eyes will be on London this evening as the Opening Ceremony takes place to mark the start of the 2012 Olympics. I feel so honoured and excited to have been part of it. I have been working as a Games Maker - I am one of the 70,000 volunteers who has helped put the games together. My job has been to meet and greet athletes, VIPs and officials at Heathrow as they arrive.
I have met some fascinating people and teams. I have been based in the arrivals section of Terminal 3, which receives flights from Norway, Finland, Denmark, Turkey, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Oman.... the list goes on!
Some of the most note worthy teams who have come through who I will be looking out for are:
Denmark Table Tennis
Canadian Triathletes Ramon Gittens - Men's 100 m Athletics participant (who will run against Usain Bolt)
AND MANY MORE!
All the Games Makers at Heathrow have been collecting pin badges from various people from different countries who have come through. I received badges from Oman, Czech Republic, Finland and USA.
I had the honour of being invited to the Opening Ceremony Technical Dress Rehearsal on Monday night so I have seen some of it already - although there is lots that will happen tonight that has all been kept top secret. It was absolutely mind blowing and made me feel so proud to be British.
London and most of the UK has been incredibly lucky this week with blissfully hot weather and there is such an incredible atmosphere around the city. I was walking through Hyde Park this week surrounded by the sounds of other people who are as excited as I am about the Games starting.
Its been challenging having to work in a new place along side people I had never met working strange unpaid hours (some of my shifts start at 5:30 am so my alarm goes at 4 am and some finish as late as 11:30 pm) but its all been so rewarding and I am so pleased I was chosen to help take part. 250,000 people applied for Games Maker roles and only 70,000 people including me were successful.
Teenagers Translated alerted me to Radio 4's Thought for the Day this morning. It was all about depression and the underlying causes. I hope Ruby Wax heard it as it mentioned her favourite thing - Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Here are some scary statistics that were mentioned:
Depression affects 6% of adults in the UK and 121 million people worldwide each year. 1 in 6 of us will experience an episode. The WHO predicts that by 2020 depression will be the largest single health issue in developed countries.
I did a talk recently at my old school on Gap Years - and this is what I said:
Advice on Gap Years
Gap Years aren’t really a year long – it starts the night of
your last A level and finishes the night before your first day at university:
that’s 15-16 months.
Check that the universities you are applying to approve of
your deferral/time out – is it relevant and appropriate for the course you want
Be careful about paying too much for a company like STA
travel to organise it for you – take advice from other people without copying
their exact route…try something new.
Do productive things like learning to cook, learning about
art, learning basic computer and business skills – all of which you can use in later
on in life.
Employers/universities want to see time well spent not months
Be different – don’t just go along with what your friends
want to do.
Don’t be afraid to break away from your usual/same group of
friends and venture off on your own.
Do what you want to do not what your parents want.
Don’t be afraid to try something new – you’ll never again
have so much time out.
Make sure you are always trying to learn new stuff and not
sitting in the comfort zone.
Try and do something really gritty at the start and then
reward yourself later with your travels: I worked at a prep school in the
middle of nowhere from Sept-Dec earning £85 a week (14 hours a day/5 days a
week) when I knew everyone else was earning that much in a day…
Don’t expect your parents to pay for it – they may offer to
contribute in some way but you will have a much more satisfying and rewarding
time if you know you’ve worked and paid for it yourself.
If you live and work in London before you go travelling, be
aware that its very expensive and you will risk spending a large proportion of
the money that you are hoping to put towards travelling.
Try and do things that will be relevant towards your degree
in someway – i.e. spend time in France/Spain/Italy/South America if you choose
to study a French, Spanish or Italian at university.
Plan it all in advance – not the week before. Effective planning
will ensure you can do as much as possible and not miss good opportunities.
Do things that you will want to talk about afterwards –
because lots of people WILL ask you what you did and you don’t want to have any
regrets or feel embarrassed that you weren’t productive or used the time wisely
Don’t rely on your friends to do all the planning and
research – explore ideas together.
Gap years aren’t just all about the travelling – think hard
about where you might like to work – find somewhere that you will enjoy
Advantages of GAP Year
Gives you time to really work out what you want to do
Gives you the opportunity to learn new things and meet new
Gives you the chance to maybe change your mind about going
to university or what degree you want to do
Gives you a unique experience to add to your CV/UCAS form
Gives you a break and chance to recharge batteries after A
If you have the opportunity to have a gap year, do it. You
may never get another chance. But be aware that it’s a long time to fill – and
you must be occupied up to 90% of the time with productive and fulfilling
Disadvantages of GAP Year
It’s a long time to be occupied
You may not suit the lack of routine that school provided –
you are your own boss
You may find it hard to return to studying afterwards
What not to do on your gap year:
Do NOT just go to London, work for 4 months at Fornums, let
your parents pay for your rent and all you expenses, then head off to
Australia/New Zealand/Thailand/South America and expect to swan around on
beaches, deserts or cities doing nothing productive.
Better option: roll up your sleeves and work in a different
setting to what you might have always found comfortable. If you love riding - help
out on ranches in America or with polo ponies in Argentina, love children - work
in an orphanage in Zambia, love socialising with new people - work in a bar in
Sydney, love skiing – learn to cook and be a chalet girl in Switzerland, love
fashion – approach designers and fashion houses. A friend of mine walked up
Sloane Street posting her CV through each letterbox and got a phone call the
next day from Chanel who asked her to work for them…
It is highly likely that you will know people who have been
to places that you might like to visit – don’t be afraid to ask their advice.
Don’t expect things to fall into place – there are bound to
be glitches and changes to your plans. Keep all options open – you may like to
spend longer than you thought in one place and shorter time in another. Have a
plan B up your sleeve in case the place where you plan on working turn you away
at the last minute – after all you are relying on them to help fund your
If you are highly ambitious, don’t be disappointed if you
don’t get to do everything on your wish list – your university summer holidays
will be about 5 months long so you can do more travelling then!