Today I was planning to tell you guys about jewellery, however I’ve put that post on pause for a day to bring you another ~personal thoughts from Fran’s brain~ edition of the blog. I feel like this might resonate with or encourage some of you out there, or at least I hope it does. Let’s just dive right in, cos I’m about to get real.

Sometimes in life, things feel pointless. This year has been a hard one for us all, for the world in general, and the last few weeks have felt particularly tough. In the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer he uses the phrase ‘heavy boots’ a lot to describe feeling sad or hopeless, for example “seeing homeless people gives me heavy boots”. Heavy boots weigh you down, as if you are not only carrying yourself, but dragging a weight along with you. They can also make you fall, or stop you moving at all.

It feels like a lot of people are wearing heavy boots at the moment.

The world is full of suffering and unfairness, and 2016 seems to have had more than its fair share of this (or maybe the accessibility of information these days makes it feel this way), and it makes this blog feel pointless sometimes. Here I am writing about vegan food and sustainable bags when people are scared and isolated and in desperate need, and I worry if I am being vapid. But then I remember something. I can’t do everything, But I can do something.

I can’t singlehandedly end violence across the world, or stop the oppression of people of colour, or solve the refugee crisis. But I can do what I can where I am. The thing about bad things is that they happen in one fell swoop: an earthquake, an attack, a virus. Good things happen incrementally. Devastation can come as fast as you can click your fingers, but rebuilding comes over time, step by step. And so it’s harder to notice. It’s so easy to feel discouraged when we see every day the awful things that are happening in this world. I’ll be the first to admit that nowadays when I wake up I’m nervous to check the news, because I don’t know what I’m going to see next. But I just want to tell you all that you are not powerless. Yes you can’t fix huge problems alone in an hour, as much as we all wish you could, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference.

Every choice you make can and does have impacts beyond what you can see right in front of you. The choices I talk about here are mainly in terms of consumerism, how you can have less impact on the environment and how you can make choices that don’t negatively affect people who may be making your products. In turn these small choices have larger impacts, the more people make these choices the more collective consciousness changes, if the majority of people start buying based on ethics large companies will have to change in order to maintain their customers. Small choices have big impacts when made collectively. I know you’ve probably heard this all before, but it’s true. And that’s the reason why many of you are here I’m guessing, because you want to make these choices and you believe that others will get on board, and together you will have power.

So I want to encourage you that this extends beyond consumerism. I’ve kept my blog largely out of politics because I know my readers come from a variety of backgrounds and contexts, but I don’t think I can talk about ethics and not talk about kindness outside of consumerism. Not today.

I want to encourage you all, as well as making ethical choices in your buying, to make the same choices in your words and actions. Choose to be kind. Whilst you can’t stop conflicts alone, you can choose to be kind to those you may encounter. You can choose not to become an easy victim of fear, you can choose to stand against islamaphobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism… All of these and more. There are actions you can get involved with yes, petitions and peaceful protests and writing to your local politicians, and all of these are important and great. But on a daily level, choose to be kind. You don’t need to agree, or even understand everything about people who may be very different to you, but you can decide to be kind. I want to encourage you all to take the time to listen to other people’s stories; if you can provide platforms for them to tell them, do that too. Get to know those who are different from you, try to understand, try to remember that they are people and therefore valuable. Try to remember that we all have struggles, and everyone has a back story. All these things may seem small and meaningless, but they aren’t. Fear or anger only breeds more violence, oppression and injustice. Conversation, attempts to understand, empathy, kindness, these things breed collaboration, innovation and ultimately, change. When people feel heard, when they don’t feel feared or hated, everyone’s boots get a little lighter. It may seem small, but remember that each small action, wields just as much power as consumer choice. When these are done collectively, you create a different kind of world.

And when you see people acting or speaking in hateful ways, try not to attack them. It’s hard, GOSH it is hard, not to get frustrated. Trust me I know. But if you can try and understand why their thinking is that way, what has caused them to misplace blame, to refuse to acknowledge fact or to act in downright narrowminded ways then you can try and help them become more informed, and perhaps change this. We can’t change peoples minds by shouting at them about how wrong they are, but we can attempt to open dialogues and broaden minds. It’s not easy, but it can happen, and it is always worth trying.

With the state of the world right now, it’s hard not to discouraged. It’s hard not to give up the fight altogether. Why write this little blog when the problems we face seem so big? Why do anything at all? But don’t give in to this kind of thinking. Cling to hope, as hard as it may be. When you are kind you might face rejection or hurt, but don’t let it knock you down. Get back up again and continue on, because you never know who you’re impacting along the way. Do what you can with what you have. It may not feel like much, but it is important.

That’s all folks, that’s my thoughts. Keep going. Don’t give up.

Until next time, stay magic y’all.