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Friday, 29 June 2018

Eight reasons why everyone should be watching Queer Eye

I don't watch TV shows religiously and I'm not the kind of person to stay in to watch something I love, so Netflix and catch up is absolutely perfect for me - especially on the go. I normally tend to watch one thing consistently until I finish a series, and then move on to something new after a recommendation from a friend. Netflix gives me the opportunity to watch things as and when I choose, and I love the flexibility it offers me. With my latest addiction I am ashamed that I am so late to the game as I genuinely don't know how on earth I missed watching it for so long! So let me introduce you to a show that pretty much everyone has been talking about over the last few months...

Queer Eye is a Netflix original series which is 'more than a makeover' show. Each episode shows the "Fab Five" advise men (and sometimes women) on fashion, grooming, food, culture and design in order to try and give them a new lust for life and help them achieve their life goals. It might sound like a bit of a silly show with a simple concept, but actually it goes so much deeper than the superficial. It looks at how people can get stuck in a rut and often they can't get out of it without a little bit of help - which is where the fab five come in. Here are my eight reasons why you should start watch Queer Eye right away.

1. It's a show that celebrates homosexuality and emphasises that people who are not heterosexual are no different from anyone else. Although the show highlights some of the prejudice that they have felt during their lives, they also discuss how they always come out fighting. There's no doubt that there are still issues throughout the world with people disagreeing with homosexuality, but I think shows like this are fantastic at opening the minds of those who choose not to accept equality for all. If a redneck from the US can welcome five gay men in to his life and sob like a little baby when they leave, then surely we can expect an attitude change from other people too?

Monday, 21 May 2018

So I've started a podcast...

A few months ago I was round at my friend Kat's house and we were drinking a lot of prosecco. We wanted to film a video for her youtube channel all about internet dating so we sat down in front of the camera to have a bit of a chin wag about our individual experiences. A few hours later after we'd finished (talking, giggling and drinking) we drunkenly decided that it would be a really good idea to turn the audio from this video in to a podcast! After all...what was the worst that could happen? We loved the way that our three different experiences and opinions worked well together on the recording, and thought that it would be good to move forward discussing a whole host of subjects. It seems that when you've had a couple of bottles of prosecco and lots of sweets and snacks, the impossible seems a hell of a lot more possible. Well I'm so grateful that our intoxicated conversation turned in to a reality, because eight episodes later and it looks like this is a proper thing now! The Prosecco Sessions was born. 

We now share weekly podcast episodes (started fortnightly) on a Sunday morning on subjects that interest us and record whenever we can whilst drinking a glass of fizz or two during recording. The hosts consist of me, Laura from LovedByLaura and Kat from ShesAGentry, and we're a pretty good team if I don't say so myself! We all live in different places, are all different ages, and all do completely different job roles - which makes for a really interesting conversation from three women with different lives. We each have different family situations, different relationship histories, and different likes and dislikes, and it means that we can add perspectives that maybe one of us hadn't thought about before. We pick a subject for each episode and spend a few days beforehand thinking about it and looking in to anything in particular that we want to bring up. Then we come together and get chatting for a couple of hours and pick the best bits for you to listen to!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Let's talk about stress and mental health

Unless you've been living under a rock then you'll know that it has been #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek between the 14th-19th May. Started by the Mental Health Foundation in 2001, this week aims to raise awareness of mental health and the problems associated with mental health in order to inspire action and promote the message of good mental health for all. Not an easy challenge, i'm sure you can agree! This year they are focussing on the subject of stress as their research has shown that it is a key factor in many peoples struggles. Although it isn't a mental health problem in itself, it can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide - so if we don't talk about stress then we are in danger of people developing much more severe issues. Whether it is stress in your personal life, stress caused by work, worrying about money, health concerns...whatever, it is crucial that we highlight the epidemic which is happening amongst many people in the UK at the moment. 

"Three quarters (74%) of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope" (Mental Health Foundation Survey of 4169 UK adults)

So in the spirit of opening up the conversation and encouraging people I know to delve in to discussions about it, I went to Twitter to get some information on how different people handle stress and cope with their own mental health. I hope this helps!

1. "I have what I call my 'Basic Humanity Checklist' which I run through whenever I'm feeling low/stressed. 1. Have I eaten food in the past 24 hours? 2. Have I drunk water in the past 12 hours? 3. Have I had enough sleep in the past 48 hours? 4. Have I moved/washed my body in the last week? 5. Have I had any meaningful human interaction in the last week? If I get through all that without feeling better, it's time to talk..." @Becki_Bush, Book Editor, London

2. "I find when I'm suffering, every night before I go to sleep, I think back through my day & write down anything good that's happened, even if it's as small as someone smiling at me in a coffee shop. Looking at the good rather than the bad really helps me in day to day life." @CaraWood, Manager, London


Saturday, 28 April 2018

10 reasons we should talk about periods more...

Yes, I'm doing it, I'm talking about periods. Why am I talking about periods? Well this week I'm on my period and I am I need to talk about it. I don't necessarily mean all the time, but we sure as hell should feel more comfortable having the odd conversation about it when the time is right.  Today, my friends, is that day. I am going to give you 10 reasons why we should all be talking about periods more. 

1. Well the first reason is just obvious...we should talk about it because they suck. Why suffer in silence if you're feeling anything less than okay? If you had a bad foot and someone asked you why you were limping then you'd have no problems telling them that you've hurt your foot. So why on earth do we feel the need to be so shy about discussing what's going on inside us? Yes it can be a bit gross from time to time, but it's bloody life (see what I did there), so we should feel good about discussing the things that are causing us pain - periods or not! 

2. Because it's natural. It's a thing that comes about every month and we literally have no control over it. Once you hit puberty, it will come around once a month and at first it will be a real surprise. Your body is going through some huge changes, and adding your period in to the mix is possibly the worst thing ever. BUT it is natural, and you're not the only there's no point making a massive deal in out of it as we can't change it. If conversations started younger then we wouldn't all be so afraid as we grow up. 

3. Because it's important to recognise that there is no 'normal' period. None of us look the same, none of us feel the same, none of us are the same, so why would there be one set way to have a period? Some people have short periods and some long, some people have heavy periods and some light, some feel pain and some barely feel a thing...every person has a completely different combination of all of them. It's important for us to be open about what we go through because it helps other people to understand that each of our experiences are 'normal' - but it's normal for us, not for every woman on the planet.


Sunday, 22 April 2018

It's the little things that get me excited when changing jobs...

Recently I decided to take the plunge and apply for an opportunity that appeared in my inbox. After a year and a half in my current role I thought I would take a chance on a new job that sounded terrifying but exciting all at the same time. I really like the place i'm at at the moment, but sometimes a new offer turns up that is just too good to turn down - and I'm so grateful that this new offer was given to me. I hope to do quite a bit of content about getting a new job and how it all goes when I start, but I thought i'd start with mentioning the nerdiest thing that's making me excited about moving jobs. STATIONERY. Yes I know what you're thinking, 'is she really saying that a few new notebooks and some fancy pens are all that exciting?' And my answer is yes, they make me just as excited now as they did each summer when mum would take me to WHSmith in an attempt to get me to be enthusiastic about going back to school after a long holiday off. 

One of my favourite places to shop for new bits and pieces is the Old English Company. They are a stationery and homeware brand that make really beautiful, hand lettered products that I am obsessed with. Their stuff is so simple and stylish, and they use cute calligraphy-style writing across all their designs. I was introduced to them a few years ago and have been building a collection of items from them ever since (I can't help myself). When I found out about my new job they were naturally the first place I headed to when I decided that I wanted to treat myself to new work stationery, but I hadn't quite realised that all but one of my favourite items were 'millennial pink' themed! Who can resist it when they all look so nice together? My main priority had to be planners and notepads, because although I like to think of myself as quite a naturally organised person, often this is down to the help of a good planner. An A5 notebook is so handy for keeping in your bag in between meetings when you're out and about, and it's even better when it's got some rose gold foil lettering on the front. Then when you're at your desk, prioritising tasks is essential for me if I want to tackle not only the big jobs, but also the boring ones too. A weekly agenda helps me to take a look at the week ahead and assess what things I need to make sure I tick off; and then a note pad and memo pad are super handy for making notes throughout the day when new tasks are added to your (never ending) list.


Monday, 16 April 2018

Why I'm Doing #WalkInHerShoes

10,000 steps a day does not sound like a lot to most people. However if you're like one of the many people like me who use public transport and then sit on their bums all day in an office, then it is embarrassing how few steps you're able to achieve on a day-to-day basis. Until recently I had never even thought about how far I was walking each day, or how much time I spent sitting versus walking. I always thought that if I was eating good (enough) food and doing my yoga once or twice a week then I was surely living a healthy lifestyle. Well I was wrong! Sitting around for more than eight hours a day can be associated with diabetes, heart disease, issues with blood pressure...the list goes on. However if you're able to swap your habits and walk around a little bit more during your day then you can counter all those problems and more! 

A few months ago I heard about Care International, a charity working to fight poverty in 94 countries, after seeing their signs at International Women's Day in London. I discovered that they do a number of fundraising projects throughout the year which focus on helping women and girls who are affected by poverty and discrimination - and they have been doing some incredible things so far. I think it is very easy to go about your normal life and not think about women in other countries who are exactly the same age as you, but living their life in a very different way. I wake up in my comfortable bed, go to work using my oyster card on the tube, and then sit in my nice warm office all day long earning money to pay my bills. I don't have issues with buying myself lunch, or accessing clean water. I don't have issues with putting clothes on my back or makeup on my face. I am fortunate in the sense that I do not have to face any extreme discrimination because I am a woman. Yet I'm sure you'll all aware that this is not the case for a lot of women and girls in other countries.


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Wrapping up

I don't know about you, but i'm bloody freezing pretty much all the time. I'm that person who wears socks to bed (and sometimes a jumper). I'm that person who has gloves in their bag for most of the year as I always feel like my fingers are going to fall off. I'm that person who can't sit on the sofa without a blanket cascaded all over me. In short, I get cold A LOT. When you're inside, you can wrap yourself up in all the cosy things you can find in your room, but when you're forced to leave the house for annoying things like work or social occasions, then you're a bit stuck when it comes to being warm AND looking nice. I know that when it gets to September, us Brits all have the same predicament where we don't want to give up entirely on the chance of some final summer sunshine, but we are also very realistic about the fact that within a few days, the temperature will drop, it starts bucketing it down with rain, and all public transport will be ruined for ridiculous reasons like too many leaves or frozen tracks. So despite us now being on the other side of winter and *supposedly* one step closer to some sunshine, I thought i'd share one of my favourite looks that i'm wearing at the moment, one that has helped me stay wrapped up and looking nice over the last few months. 
The cream knitted jumper. Is there anything better? You can have slim fitting ones, or slouchy over-sized ones, and yet they still look really awesome. The thing I love about my H&M knit is that it goes with pretty much anything. It's long enough to fall down below my bum (meaning it's hiding my really stylish under clothes situation of a top tucked in to my jeans) and also has nicely fitted sleeves which aren't too long and aren't too short. It has some slight detailing to it, but it isn't so over the top that it is a statement jumper. And finally, it is super cosy. It's the perfect jumper for chucking on under a big coat or a light jacket, and has been my go-to item for the last few years. I got this baby in a charity shop for £4 and I would definitely say that it has been one of my best finds. If you're ever looking for great jumpers then please do check out your local charity shops (especially if you don't mind a bigger fit), there are so many great places selling amazing big knits for everyone, but with a tiny price tag which means you can't say no. 

Thursday, 22 March 2018

#OriginsInBloom in Cambridge

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend an event in Cambridge with some of my other lovely Camb Meet Up ladies at Origins in Rose Crescent. Sally from planned an incredible Saturday evening event after the store had closed and I felt so fortunate to not only be with a group of really nice people for a couple of hours, but also in the Origins store finding out about the amazing products they sell. I've always been a bit useless with my skincare (e.g used to be rubbish at taking my makeup off/bad at washing my face or using face scrubs), and then a few years ago I was introduced to Origins and i've been in love ever since. Attending an event in their store was like an evening of heavenly treatment. We learnt about the correct type of products we should use for our different skin types, the order that we should apply the products in, and how we can look after our skin better moving forward. A couple of girls were used as models to demonstrate the effect of the cleansers, toners, serums and moisturisers, and it was relaxing even watching this! I had a full face of makeup on so I didn't put myself forward, but I made sure to go and feel how soft their skin was when they had finished (I got permission first!). Instead, I jumped at the chance of having a hand and arm massage. I could feel the tension being released from my hands with each movement, it's crazy how much you can de-stress from something so simple. It just shows how easy it is to make yourself feel that tiniest bit better with a little bit of self-care with some good products. 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

London Gin Festival

Last month I had an email pop in to my inbox that could possibly be seen as every gin lovers dream. 'I'm currently on the hunt for bloggers to attend the London Gin Festival'...erm say no more, yes please! After giving up vodka and a couple of other spirits a few years ago, gin became my go-to drink for all occasions. Looking for an after work drink... how about a gin, tonic and grapefruit? A relaxing evening drink...i'm sure gin, elderflower tonic and cucumber would work! There's so many different ways you can add an exciting twist to a classic G&T and I knew that the London Gin Festival would be the place to find some new ideas. Based in the amazing Tobacco Docks, a Grade 1 listed warehouse in the East End of London, this couldn't have been a more perfect venue for the festival. It's uniquely authentic design helped to add another element to the experience as everywhere you looked there was a new interesting area filled with music, food and gin. You could tell that other people agreed as even though the queue to get in was quite long, everyone was commenting on how fascinating the venue was and how excited they were to get in and have a drink. (Pro tip: get there as early as you can to avoid waiting in line). 


Friday, 12 January 2018

Unexplained Unfulfillment

Despite being friends with people because of common interests or circumstances, you will never view a situation in the same way as the person next to you. You can feel as if you know someone because they portray themselves in a certain way, but it's important to remember that behind closed doors they might be someone completely different. It's so easy to make assumptions about people based on what you know or see about them, but how often do you stop to look deeper? We are all so busy, so we choose to accept people as what we think we know, and that is completely fine! Who can be bothered to question it? Modern day life takes over and we are all time poor, so viewing things in the simplest way is normally the easiest to come to terms with. Every so often though, we should take a moment to realise that only a few individuals are truly themselves on the inside and out, and that some people use all of their energy on 'appearing' okay, whilst also suffering with anxieties, fears and battles of their own. 
I've titled this post unexplained unfulfillment because this is what I suffer from. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a steady income, yet I live with a constant feeling of unfulfillment. It's absolutely insane when I try to explain it to people (so apologies if it doesn't make much sense), but I guess the only way I can articulate what I mean is by saying that my life feels like a never ending battle to achieve what is just out of reach. My brain tells me on a daily basis that i'm incapable of achieving the salary I want, the body I want, the motivation I want, the types of friendships I want...and there is absolutely no explanation as to why. I just can't. I realise that this is a stereotypical post written by a modern day 'millennial' - someone who is supposedly completely unsatisfied with life and unappreciative of what I have (can you tell I hate generational prejudice?). However, I think it is important to explain that this is how I feel, and not hold back because I'm worried about what people will think. 
I've spent most of my life suffering with anxiety and have had real issues with comparison, but I think that more recently it has dawned on me quite how much I struggle with it. We live in a world of instagram models and social media accounts which display the success of our peers, and it makes it really difficult for each of us to not compare our lives to theirs. Don't get me wrong, there's so many amazing things that come from the world we live in, but it's also not healthy to see these aspirational bloggers and celebrities who live lives that are so out of reach. It makes it almost impossible for me to realise my value or work out where I belong when I'm pretty much being told that I should be someone completely different to who I am. It's not surprising in the slightest that I am feeling these crazy feelings of unfulfillment when I am getting so much exposure to an unattainable lifestyle. I know deep down that all the things I think I want wouldn't necessarily make me happy or fulfilled in any way, but because it is in front of me all the time my brain plays tricks on me. 
This year I want to spend more time following and being inspired by girls and guys who I feel like I could go for a coffee with. Make friends with people who live in the moment and are real, those who write posts about real life subjects that I can relate to and don't make me feel bad about myself. Every time I look at a picture and get that horrible sensation of FOMO (from a friend or blogger), I need to pinch myself and bring myself back to reality and realise that the person in the picture might be struggling with the same imposter syndrome that I am - but they are just better at hiding it. I know that not every relationship is perfect, every girl suffers from body image issues, and I know that I can't afford a Gucci handbag or go to expensive restaurants on a daily basis, so why am I spending my time trying to convince myself that that way of life would make me feel more satisfied?
I know that mental health is discussed all over the place, as this is 2018, but it always amazes me that it is still so frowned upon by some people to openly discuss the struggles that you're going through. We all seem scared to be honest about the thoughts in our heads due to the fear of being called a drama queen, an over-sharer, or worse be categorised as the dreaded label of 'mentally unwell' (which unfortunately has more negative connotations than it should). I don't know about you, but I think I have very few friends who feel secure enough to discuss the extent of what is going on with them because we live in such a world of judgement. People are worried, even with their own friends to talk about their insecurities and the things they are battling at the time. So I say to hell with all that. I want to encourage everyone in my life to be more open - in fact I challenge you. If someone makes you feel bad about thoughts you're having that aren't 100% happy all the time then they aren't people you should be spending time with. I don't want anyone else to have a horrible feeling of unfulfillment  - explained or unexplained - so how about we support each other a little bit more instead of feeling envy or rivalry? I've never been a big fan of 'new year, new you', but if you are going to change anything for the year ahead, then why not try to be content with what you already have? Stop feeling like you've failed because you're not the same as everyone else. We are all special, and the sooner we start believing that, the better off we will all be. 
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