Happy Valentine’s Day, my Southend lovelies! Hope you’re having a beautiful day despite the cold and rain. This week’s been really getting me down. There have been some awful stories in the local news this week, and it seems every day there’s just more and more of it. What with the weather and the Echo, Southend life seems to be pretty bleak this week.

I had the pleasure last night of being invited to a meetup at Utopia for Southend Passionate Women. If you’ve never been to the Utopia coffee lounge just outside of the Royals shopping centre, I urge you to go get yourself a coffee, milkshake, smoothie or whatever it is that makes you go “mmm“. Anyway, the ice latte was amazing and the quirky upstairs decor fit the atmosphere of the meetup wonderfully. If you’re looking for inspiration, to embrace new ideas and to participate in energetic discussions (and enjoy a great cup of coffee), the next meetup will be held at Utopia on the 26th February upstairs at 7pm.

When I first walked into Utopia, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Was I about to crash a mothers meeting Bible club, or had I just stumbled upon the greatest kept secret of Southend? Perhaps a troop of crime fighting female vigilantes passionate about keeping Southend safe and litter-free? My imagination may have run away with me a little there, but I was getting quite excited about meeting a gang of female Southend superheros. In a (very) not obvious way, they kind of are.

These women welcomed me immediately into the group, and I can’t believe how quickly and comfortably I took to them. We all briefly introduced ourselves to each other, as I was apparently one of two newcomers that week, then Adriana (Southend’s Passionate Women ambassador) began the first introductory discussion on the topic of Valentine’s Day. We challenged the definitions of romance and I thoroughly enjoyed this concept of self-romance that was brought up; the idea of romance as a means of self-indulgence. Even with reciprocated romancing, is it not all very self-indulgent anyway?

Southend Passionate Women meetup

We then passed around a bowl full of paper slips, each one printed with words of inspirational instruction, and were asked to read each one aloud so that we could discuss them one at a time.

I’ve never been much of a public speaker so thank gosh I was at the far end of the circle! I pulled a paper slip randomly out of the bowl.

“Affirm yourSelf. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you! Telling yourSelf wonderful things about yourSelf makes you feel great! If you hear something good enough, you will begin to believe it. So why not make sure that you are hearing the good stuff?”

I think these words can really apply to the local news that have been circulating this week and how it affects us. These stories we’ve all recently read or heard regarding the appalling amount of violence in Southend, they affect the way in which we perceive ourselves as residents of Southend. By surrounding ourselves in negative local media, our image of our otherwise beautiful and cultural seaside town diminishes. We convince ourselves that we live in a ghetto, and what kind of person lives in a ghetto? We begin to believe that we, as a town, are “scummy”. This isn’t true. There have been some amazing, awe-inspiring events recently in Southend. But since negativity is sadly what sells, uplifting news and random acts of kindness often go ignored.

For instance: Southend Craft Club chose their target, South Essex College, for their Valentine’s Day “yarn bombing” last night. People need to be sharing more of this and less of the depressing Southend self-loathing. Especially on a day like today where we should be celebrating friendship and love.

Have a great Valentine’s Day, Southend.

Southend yarnbomb craft club Southend yarnbomb craft club Southend yarnbomb craft club

 

The photos above were borrowed from @thecraft_club

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