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New Year, new me, same old clichĂ©s

Now that I’ve eaten my weight in chocolate, binge-watched a few box sets and argued over the rules of Scrabble, Christmas has come to a close and it’s time to bid adieu to 2016.

And what a year it’s been.

We’ve seen war and conflict, the wrath of ISIS,the triumph of a tangerine-faced tycoon and the fall of Harambe.

From David Bowie to Princess Leia, stars have dropped like the value of the pound and Brexit meant Brexit which meant nothing at all.

Oh, and for some reason people started running around dressed as killer clowns.

So yeah, it’s been a pretty bizarre year.

On a personal level however 2016 hasn’t been too shabby.

I climbed the highest mountain in North Africa, got a degree, sampled veganism, met Basil Brush, rode in a hot air balloon, reached 100wpm at shorthand and quit alcohol for good.

I made new friends, travelled, laughed, cried, sang and danced.

I saw the sunrise in the Sahara and Elton John in concert.

I had my heart broken and I made mistakes.

But in the end, through all of these ups and downs, I’ve grown as a person and inched one fumbling step closer to finding my place in this crazy world.

Then again, it’s New Year’s Eve so really I should forget all of this, focus on my faults, draft some resolutions and set about making 2017 my “best year yet.”

I’m not usually cynical about New Year’s resolutions.

After all I’m the kind of person who actually writes down life goals and approaches tidying with colour-coded post-it notes.

But as the saying goes “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, Hell in this case being the sofa which most return to one month into an annual gym membership.

So this year I’m not going to go for the same old “new year, new me” spiel.

As Gloria Gaynor sang “I am what I am”, so even though I maybe would like to have the body of a supermodel, the motivation of an Olympic athlete and the grace and beauty of a film star, I realise that such goals are unattainable.

So instead of making my New Year’s resolutions things which I would like to change about myself, I’m going to propose three things.

One thing I want to achieve, one thing I want to try and one philosophy I want to live my life by:

1.) Learn how to drive – not because all my friends are doing it or because someone told me to, but because it’s pretty essential for journalists and I’d like to have fewer public transport nightmares.

2.) Try dance classes – not because I want to get fit, or lose weight, or meet a sexy dance partner, but because it should be a laugh (if only for the other people in the class.)

3.) Embrace being single – not because I’m uber confident and don’t need anyone or because I want to have a Sex and the City-esque lifestyle but because I’m wasting too much time wishing that I was in a relationship (or pretending that I’m not) when I should just be enjoying life as it is.

So that’s it.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye 2016.

May 2017 bring you all that your heart desires.

Live long and prosper 🙂

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My unofficial guide to learning shorthand

Image result for shorthand

Shorthand; a necessary evil if you want to be a journalist.

It’s also the reason why I haven’t posted in forever since I’m expected to do two hours of practice every night.

That’s two hours of drilling special symbols, dictations and generally losing the will to live.

This level of dedication is however necessary since in order to pass my exam I’ll have to be at a speed of 100 words per minute.

FML

It’s not all bad though.

Our shorthand tutor Ed is young, good looking and laid-back and constantly tells us to not lose heart.

For anyone else who is embarking on this perilous journey to here is my guide to learning Teeline shorthand.

1.) Practice, practice, practice 

Shorthand is a skill and like many skills it comes easier to some. That said the best way to improve when you’re starting out is just to practice as much as possible. Once you’ve got the alphabet down and know some basic theory the best thing to do is keep going over and over your notes. Practice on the bus or the train. Make up sentences in your head and write them out in shorthand. Try to eavesdrop on conversations and transcribe them back. Use every spare second to spruce up your shorthand. It all makes a difference.

2.) Specials are your friend

Shorthand specials exist to make your life easier so every time you learn a new one make sure to commit it to memory. Make a little dictionary of specials and copy them over and over again until they become an automatic reflex. They’ll make your life easier in the long run. With Teeline there is also the possibility of making up your own specials in some cases so try out what works best for you. For example I use three ‘O’ indicators for over and over again. There’s also a girl on my course who uses the shorthand for the letter ‘Y’ when she wants to write ‘why.’  Whatever you do though just make sure you’re consistent.

3.) Size matters

If you’re shorthand isn’t as small as it can possibly be then you’re never going to improve on your speed. It’s as simple as that. Just make sure that you can discern between your bigger and larger letters. For example a small ‘w’ needs to be smaller than a ‘wr’ blend and likewise with the ‘mr’ and ‘lr’ blends.

4.) Use all the resources you can 

It’s best to use a range of resources. I would recommend  Shorthand Games for a funner way to practice the basics and Teeline Online for some free dictations.

5.) Get a grip

A pen with a rubber grip is a must, especially when you get up to higher speeds. If you don’t have one a rubber band works just as well to stop your pen from slipping.

6.) And finally….