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The true meaning of One Love Manchester

The day after a terrorist attack claimed the lives of seven people on London Bridge and in Borough Market, 60,000 people crammed into Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground for Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert. The message: we will not be afraid and we will not be deterred.

The concert was a response to a separate incident that took place two weeks ago at Ariana Grande’s Manchester concert. After the concert was over, a suicide bomber ended up killing 22 people and injuring many more. The victims were a mixture of parents, children, and teens. For many artists, this was the ultimate tragedy. And for Grande, it was heartbreaking.

The youngest victim was eight years old.

Sunday’s benefit concert, titled One Love Manchester, was incredibly powerful. People of all ages pushed their fear aside and came together to embrace this idea of love, tolerance, and acceptance. With 60,000 people in the audience, the silence was deafening. And when they all sang in unison — even the artists on stage started to cry.

British singer and frontman for band Mumford & Sons, Marcus Mumford, kicked off the concert with a moment of silence before singing a touching rendition of his song “Timshel”. Other musicians included Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Robbie Williams, Coldplay, and Black Eyed Peas, among many others.

Of course, Ariana Grande sang some fan-favourites, as well as duets with some of the performers. One of the most touching moments was when the Parrs Wood High School Choir sang Grande’s My Everything. The choir posted their rendition of the song to Youtube after the bombing, and was invited to perform it on stage during the benefit concert. Grande came out to sing with the 12-year-old soloist, holding her hand as she was overwhelmed with emotion.

Grande ended with an emotional “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

The benefit concert raised over 2.6 million euros for the victims of the Manchester bombing, with part of those funds also going towards an emergency fund set up by the city of Manchester and the British Red Cross. But, more importantly, it proved to the world the U.K. is not “reeling” from these terrorist attacks, as some in the media have claimed.

When tragedy hit, the people of Manchester and London didn’t blame a religion. They didn’t react in hate. They didn’t close their borders or put up a wall. What did they do?

They opened their hearts. They opened their minds. And they sang.

 

I got a tattoo alone — and it gave me strength

People are constantly distracted and surrounded by other people all the time — talking, thinking, and spending time with people. Maybe you are collaborating on a project, working with a team, or eating dinner with family or friends. Someone else is always there!! So, let us ask you this: doesn’t it make you exhausted? When are you able to spend some quality time with the one person you wake and go to sleep with? Yes, yours truly!

I asked myself this very question. Though most of these human interactions were special and lovely, I found myself growing more exhausted because I wasn’t replenishing myself with any much-needed ‘me’ time. I decided I was going to take myself on a date. Instead of inviting someone out with me for an evening, I challenged myself to hang out on my own. Though this is initially very uncomfortable, I knew it was necessary.

I embarked out on my own for the evening with no set plan, but I was excited and nervous for the realm of possibilities. I was walking down the street in the drizzling rain, feeling a bit lonely, and I nearly pulled out my phone to call someone to distract myself. I stopped myself just in time, and that’s when something caught my eye; a tattoo parlour.

Right then and there, I knew what to do. I was planning to get a second tattoo on my wrist for years, but had put it off due to financial constraints and fear. With my previous tattoos, I had always brought a friend or partner with me for support and to hold my hand. I resisted the urge to call a friend that lived nearby and forged ahead bravely. I opened the door, linked up with a great tattoo artist and signed the consent.

That’s when the panic set in.

I was alone — who would hold my hand? I almost walked out of the salon right there and then, but a voice in the back of my head said no. I knew I had to stay and do this on my own.

I needed an opportunity to show myself that I could be my own support. I breathed deeply and coached myself through the pain. I told myself I could handle it and everything was okay. I knew that I was capable. I calmed down and in no time, the tattoo was complete and I felt amazing. I walked out of the tattoo place with more than a new tattoo on my wrist. I had a new sense of being grounded in my own life.

We all choose where we go and what we do each day. It may seem like circumstances are out of your control, like you have to spend most of your time living for others, but this is a choice. Supporting yourself through something scary or new without needing another person to be there is strengthening and creates spiritual renewal. So, get out there and take yourself for a night on the town! Start with someone simple like a movie on your own (and a giant bag of popcorn), and work your way up to a dinner out. Then, if you are feeling brave, try something new and fresh solo (as long as it is safe to do alone, no hiking trips up a mountain!).

After I left with my new tattoo, I treated myself to a dinner at my favourite restaurant, which I only attend alone. I make a point to have a secret restaurant that I only go to when I have date nights with myself. It’s a place where I order a meal and eat it nice and slowly. I let my thoughts take over. These nights are always a time of peace and solitude. Find a secret spot you love and keep it for you.

If you have personal time, you will learn to really love yourself — there is always time for that.