Monday, 9 October 2017

Balance



Time often seems something hard to come by.

You need time for everything, and yet it always seems to be running away from you.

But as you cannot create extra hours, you can manage how you use them. And that requires some good balancing skills.

Honestly, I think we all struggle to find a good balance between work, play, exercise, rest, socialising, and everything else. We all know of the triangle that states 'pick two' when it comes to working, socialising and sleeping. And often it really does feel like that. Like you undoubtedly must sacrifice something in order to succeed in other areas. But that really shouldn't be how it is. I think we're often too set on achieving our goals really quickly and therefore believe we should focus all of our energy on one or two things, instead of taking a little longer to get there and caring about our overall wellbeing.

Balance is the most important thing.

Sure, you want to move on up in your line of work. Sure, you want to achieve your fitness goals. Sure, you want to network and make time for all your different friends. But ultimately, are these goals, and your desire to achieve them as soon as possible, becoming detrimental to your fundamental welfare? Sometimes you really need to take a step back and ask yourself that question.

It might be your health that's suffering, your brain from overwork, your whole body from lack of rest. Maybe your personal relationships are suffering, or your work from trying too hard to do too much.

But I think we can still have everything.

There seems no need to substitute certain areas of our lives in order to achieve more in one area. It's time to reevaluate, to look across the board and realise: all these different areas are important and none of them should be neglected to benefit another.

Balance may not seem easy, it may be frustrating or seem as though it's holding you back. But it is the best thing for you. It's important to make time for everything. Even if the first step is just a 15 minute phone catch up with one of your best friends, or a half an hour walk around your local area. Balance is actually far more about the little things, the small, perhaps seemingly insignificant things, that ultimately restore order and equilibrium to your life.

You can bring balance into your life in a lot of different ways. Personally, I think time management is the way forward. I like to write out a to-do list everyday, stating what I plan to get done, and working in most, if not all, the different areas of my life. It might literally say, 'work 9.30-6; text xyz to see how they are; walk to the bus stop further away to catch the bus home; get an early night'. It's honestly that simple, and it makes it really easy to start off with those easy, seemingly insignificant steps. But they add a balance to you life. You get to work, sleep, socialise, and exercise. A bit of everything and it's really not as hard as it may seem.

So take a little time out to reevaluate and restore balance to your day-to-day happenings.

You won't regret it.


Until next time.


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Monday, 2 October 2017

Treat Yourself



Honestly, I think it's very easy to forget to treat yourself.

In May I bought my first car and pretty much ever since I've been saving and refusing to indulge every now and again. And that's been fine, but there comes a point where you realise that saving isn't the be all and end all. Having a safety blanket in your finances is undeniably invaluable; there will be a time that you need it and are eternally grateful that you put some money aside. But that doesn't mean you should save everything. It's important to make the most of life and do what you want with it. It's important that you're not a slave to yourself. Indulge. Splurge. Treat yourself every now and again.

My treatless life ended very abruptly last week, when I saw the Selfridges Beauty Advent Calendar and thought: why the hell not. Undoubtedly, it was a pretty big thing to splurge on, but I know I'm going to have the most exciting December because of it. That's the kind of treat you need occasionally, and especially after ignoring your shopping impulses for a long five months. I also gave in and bought a purse I've had my eye on for about three months. When you find something that you've been looking for forever and you know you'll get a lifetime of use out of, you have to treat yourself.

Generally, I think my treats will be a lot smaller. But I'm planning on doing/buying at least one little thing a month to treat myself. For instance, I love having fresh flowers around, so I'm going to treat myself to a bunch more than once a year. If something I love and use all the time is getting old and tatty, I'll replace it without thinking too much about the cost.

It's easy to forget to live and enjoy what you have and what you can afford in the present day. My conscience is constantly thinking about the future and how I'll never be able to afford to buy a house, so I try to save extra now to make up for it. But it's the wrong mentality. We shouldn't scare ourselves into saving too radically. It's important to live a little more liberally and to make the most of things before we die with money in the bank but without having lived a joyful, indulgent, exciting life.

Plan a holiday, go to the pub with your friends tonight, buy that cute jumper you tried on over the weekend and fell in love with.

You deserve it.


Until next time.


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Saturday, 30 September 2017

September Books



This month I read a bunch of very different books, ranging from Victorian sci-fi to 90s genocide and the breakup of Yugoslavia. All very interesting texts, so here are my thoughts on them.


Girl at War - Sara Novic

Honestly, I loved the book but hated the main character. There's something really unlikeable about Ana as a person. Obviously, she had a very traumatic childhood, as the book follows the breakdown of Yugoslavia and the effective violence and conflict. However, she seems to position herself above others in the novel, and acts like she's still a young teenager when she's in her twenties. I always find it difficult reading an interesting and thought provoking book when you're seeing everything through the eyes of this kind of character. I felt like I was missing out of some of the more important things, some of the history and such, because of Ana's character. But, other than the protagonist, I thought the book was very effective, well written, and an accessible insight into these historical events.


Generation X - Douglas Coupland

Generation X is a bit of a strange book. It's basically a novel without a plot, which, I can appreciate, but it just sort of circles around a few, relatively uninteresting things. It does, as the title would suggest, give you a good understanding of a generation that came before mine, so I can empathise with the central characters: a group who don't own property, aren't working in jobs they care about, see no real future so imagine various scenarios and live life through their own short stories. I really liked the content of the book and the endeavours of the central characters, I think I just found the structure, as effectively a series of short stories about a trio, a little hard to read as a novel. Nonetheless, if you're okay with something slightly incoherent style wise, then I'd definitely give it a go.


War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells

I can't say this was the most enjoyable read, but I certainty appreciate the prestige of the book. Being one of the first ever texts to imagine the extraterrestrial, it's certainly a must-read for anyone with a love for literature. It is a very interesting novel, especially considering the Victorian nature of the text, however, I didn't like it as much as a lot of the other texts I've read from the era. There was a slight discomfort in the style for me, I'm not sure if that was because Wells was describing something new and groundbreaking or quite what it was, but I didn't find it read all that well. I didn't really like the digression back and forth and around his brother; if it's a first person text, I do tend to prefer the primary voice to be the one we see things through rather than at such a remove. However, of course the imaginative and innovative descriptions are highly engaging and certainly more enjoyable than the style. I'd say read it, but don't expect to love it.


Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

This was by far my favourite book I read this month. It is so well written and discusses important issues and ideology. The narrator was a very interesting character and showed the struggles of his race in a seemingly authentic manner, offering the ups and downs. I found the discussion of race within the African American community particularly interesting, with the differing views and the struggle to find a voice and to find a way to move forward after such discrimination. The unpicking of the relationship between identity and Marxism was particularly thought-provoking, and it certainly read as a text to be deciphered and properly unravelled rather than simply scanned over. A very important text and one that should definitely find itself upon your bookshelf.


Until next time.


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Monday, 25 September 2017

Being tall isn't always so great


There'a a good reason why autumn/winter are my preferred seasons. Because I can wear the slouchy, baggy clothes that will fit me right and not seem out of place.


It seems to be a natural human tendency to want that which you don't have.

In some ways, this is how I feel: I'd like to be shorter because I'm not. But equally, I love being tall. It's a never-endingly reevaluated pro/con list. Being tall is great; I can find my friends in a crowd, I can get stuff off the highest shelves, I look a bit slimmer on the whole because my body weight is spread out further, my walk is a strut because my legs are on the longer side.

But there's one, single thing, that makes me absolutely detest my height. And that's clothes. And unfortunately, they are necessary.

I wish I could explain how upsetting clothes shopping is for me.

Honestly, I love clothes. I enjoy shopping - though, albeit, primarily online - and I like seeing the new-in fashion for each season. But when the clothes actually show up, I get so disheartened.

Basically, barely anything fits me right. I'm 5'11'', so notably above average height, and when I'm trying on clothes, I always wish I was half a foot shorter. It's so difficult to find jeans that I can actually wear. I've got a smaller waist, but a very long torso, so even high-waisted jeans often fail to sit right - and then, my legs are long but not super long, so trousers are either a bit too short or too long if I get the longer length ones. I put off buying trousers pretty much altogether unless it's completely necessary because I get so upset that they never fit. My hips will always sit where my waist is meant to be and it makes me feel huge and just terrible about myself.

When I find a top of a reasonable length, more often than not I'll try it on in my size and my shoulders just won't fit properly. Or the 'long' sleeves will finish three inches before my wrists. This actually happens with 'tall size' tops quite a lot too - as though yes, the length has been considered, but literally nothing else has. So I end up wearing oversized baggy tops and jumpers all the time and then feeling like I look frumpy, but nothing else fits right so what's a girl to do but wallow.

And the never-ending swimsuit struggle. I used to swim all the time when I was younger, but after I surpassed the age of about fourteen, I couldn't find a swimsuit that was long enough for my body. So subsequently, I haven't been swimming. I actually found one that fit my body perfectly on ASOS a few months back, but of course there was another fatal flaw, after I'd gotten so excited that it was long enough. The material around the boobs was ridiculously baggy, so if I'd wanted to swim then they'd have just come straight out of it.

The fact that my struggle with clothes actually stops me from doing things genuinely breaks my heart. I'm sure being tall seems a silly thing to complain about unless you actual are tall. It's a major bummer and I'm trying to get over it, but it does really suck.

On the upside, there are quite a few brands that have pretty okay tall sections. ASOS is particularly impressive, even if the pieces aren't always entirely thought through the fit the taller frame. I appreciate that brands are trying and I am eternally grateful that there are some clothes that make me feel okay in my own body.

Here's to more of that.


Until next time.


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Monday, 18 September 2017

Currently Coveting: ASOS

I don't tend to talk about fashion on here, basically because I don't know much and wouldn't want to pretend I did. However, I like clothes. And shoes. So, I thought I'd compile a post about the pieces currently situated in my saved items on ASOS. Some of them have been there for months, after me re-adding them again and again, but I just can't bring myself to purchase just yet (desperately waiting for 20% off to happen) and others are very recent additions. Either way, I thought I'd give you a glance into my shopping basket and my ever-evolving style.







I thought I'd start with coats and jackets, as they are ideal for the unpredictable Autumn weather. This khaki coat would look perfect with any outfit underneath, and can be easily dressed down or up for a smarter occasion. I love this Stone coloured cord jacket - it's very Gilmore Girls/90s. Just a really nice casual, neutral jacket, but with the added layer of warmth from the borg. This last one is a little more out there and more on the Spring/Summer side, but it's soooo cute. It would bring a really lovely pop of colour to a more neutral outfit, as well as being a nice light layer for the warmer days.






You may know that I'm a self-confessed jumper fiend. If so, you'll be surprised to find only two jumpers in my saved items (probably only because there aren't many jumpers online yet, so I'm sure that number will grow). Both of these are actually from Missguided at ASOS, which isn't a brand I normally go for, but I think both of these are so cute. The pastel jumper reminds me of one Unif had a couple years ago, but for a fraction of the price. It's really pretty and brings some lighter colours to the dulling seasons. And this other one is so cool?? I saw Rosie from Rosie the Londoner wearing one of these in a blog post recently and just thought it looked so chic and very end-of-summer/Autumn appropriate. And navy's always a winner.



The only T-Shirt in my saved items right now is this one. I think the embroidery on this is absolutely gorgeous. Such a simple top but made really special with that little added detail. And feminism is a way of life that should be expressed.





I'm coveting some very contrasting shoes at the moment. The first, aren't very A/W at all, but they are beautiful !!!! I fell in love the first time I saw them. If I do get them, I'm sure they won't get much wear until Spring time, but they're kind of too cute not to. Secondly, I've got some smarter Dr Martens. I've been after these for ages to be honest. I wear my boots all the time, so I'm very tempted to add these to my shoes for a little more versatility (also saw my friend Chloe wearing them a couple weeks ago and thought they looked even cooler in real life).





Last up are a couple accessories. The first is a super cute pink scarf, which looks irresistibly soft. I like how it just has a little fraying at the ends rather than a mass of tassels, keeping you void from tangles. And it's a really nice shade of pink, one that you don't see all that often. Finally, this purse. When I first saw it I couldn't believe my eyes. I have been hunting for a purse for about three years now, making do with a basic New Look one that I've never really liked. And it seems I've found the ONE. First of all: what a cute colour? And secondly, it opens exactly how I like; basically like a book, and it has all of the card space. Heartbreakingly, it is currently out of stock, so I'm desperately hoping that it'll come back soon.



Until next time.


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Monday, 11 September 2017

The importance of girl friends



I have some of the most wonderful girl friends in the whole world. And that's really bloody important to me.

Albert Einstein once said, 'However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship.'

One of the most intelligent men in history could never have been more right than with this statement. True friendship, is the most beautiful thing in the world, and especially between girl friends. A true girl friend, will hold your hand when you need it, will laugh at your mistakes when you need them to, will support your decisions when you need them to, will drive any distance when you need them to. And what's more, they will know. They will know when you are in need. They may be far away, but even then, they will be there and they will know.


Another wise, though this time literary, genius, Shakespeare, said, 'Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.'

And with a faithful friend, comes all the words you need to hear; sometimes all those words are said with nothing but a hug. More often than not, when you're sad, you are not looking for someone to speak the words you need to hear, because actions are always far more audible than spoken words. Your true girl friends will make time, no matter how busy their schedules, to give you the all important hug you need, the one that no one else can provide.


Jane Austen said, 'There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.'

I feel this so strongly. There are not many people who you would do anything for, but think about it for a second. There are a couple of girl friends who you'd drop everything for, aren't there? Stop, drop, and send them a message reminding them how important they are to you. You might be miles away, you might be countries apart, but you would still do anything for them. There are some people you could never love by a half: your girl friends are probably on that list.


A. A. Milne, wrote in Winnie the Pooh: 'How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.'

Your girl friends are the friends you always want to hug for that second longer when you're saying goodbye. They are the ones who hold you up when you're feeling down. They are the ones who you laugh next to in delight. They are the ones who you cuddle up to after a time apart. They are the ones who support you, no matter how difficult you might be making it for them to do so. They are the ones who you want to talk to for hours, about nothing at all. They are the ones who you will walk through life with.


They are the ones who you should never let go.


Until next time.


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Monday, 4 September 2017

September


It's September, and for the past three years, that's meant starting back at uni. For the past sixteen years, that's meant starting back at some sort of academic institution. But not this September.

Honestly, it's very unsettling. I feel like this time of year I'm normally reading through my course books, getting excited about my new modules, and am usually just ready to get back in the swing of things. And I do still feel like that.

I think it's partially because I'm still working my regular job and nothing feels all that different yet. I feel quite stagnant. As though, no, I'm not moving up through uni, I'm not learning, I'm not progressing. And I know that in life you're always moving forward, but not going back to uni has made me feel really uncomfortable, like I need some sort of movement, some sort of new engagement.

It's natural, I suppose. I think more than anything, it's the lack of regularity of it all. Things are different this September and I just don't know how to feel about it yet. Of course, I always knew I would come to this point in life eventually, but I don't think you can really prepare yourself for the 'what now' nature of it.

I've considered doing a Masters, I've considered all kinds of continuation with education. Ultimately, that's not what I want right now. I am, well and truly, done with formal education. Now I just need to work out what I do want to do, what new goals I'll set myself, work out where I want to be this time next year. It's one of those things that takes time, and I need to allow myself the time to consider my options and to think about my aims for the future.

September, as much as January, is a time for new beginnings, new plans, new lifestyles.

And I'm ready to embrace that.

Until next time.


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Thursday, 31 August 2017

August Books


Time for a little end of the month book round up.

I've been pretty busy working this month, and on the days I haven't been working I've mostly had plans for days out/trips to visit friends, so I haven't read many books in the past month. However, the few I have read have been big hits with me, so I thought I'd tell you a little bit about them.


Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

Honestly, I can't believe it took me so long to get round to reading this one. I loved it. As a lover of books, obviously the concept is a little upsetting, as the burning of all books and effective destruction of literature is NOT cool. But I thought the text was exceptionally well written, as well as very accessible when it comes to style - it was a nice, easy read. I loved the character of Clarisse, and I could only wish that we had heard more from her and about her, as she seemed an intriguing person. I'm sure most people would hate the somewhat ambiguous ending, but I am all for it. I love that you can choose to imagine how things went on from the ending point of the text, you can consider the possibilities and choose the actuality you think most likely. All in all, a must read.


The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road is quite the modern classic, and to an extent, quite a difficult one to explain. The most important point to get across: it's an amazing book. It's effectively a dystopian text, as Fahrenheit 451 would be considered, but unlike Bradbury's text, it's never made entirely clear why it should be thought of as dystopian. There's a sense of apocalypse throughout the text, and one that's essentially man-made. In the short, it's about a man and his son, who are walking The Road to find the ocean. It's seemingly desolate, with the odd person here and there, and no one can be trusted. There's an air of cannibalism and this due to the apocalyptic environment, with a 'good guys' vs 'bad guys' simplicity for the boy. But it seems that behind the simple language and basic explanations, something much bigger and more serious is going on. A really interesting, thought-provoking read.


Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie

The last book for this month, that I've literally only just finished, is a Nigerian novel, and an incredible one at that. The novel follows three central character during the Biafran War, showing their different, yet intertwining, experiences. I thought it was a really interesting, thought-provoking read, with a lot of political and colonial background covered. The novel jumps around in time a little, which can be confusing if you don't quite keep up with it, but overall I thought this told the story more effectively. One of the main things I liked was seeing the different women the novel portrays, showing women from varied backgrounds and yet giving great light to the theme of empowerment, which I found really endearing. An amazing novel, and one I would highly recommend reading.


What have you been reading this month? Any recommendations?

Until next time.


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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Summer Favourites '17


Bit of a mammoth one today.

It's favourites time. I never remember to do these posts at the end of the months, so doing them seasonally may well work out for me. These are probably actually one of my favourite kinds of posts to write; it's a nice summary of what I'm enjoying and it's always nice to share the things you like with other people - like a post full of only good things.


Makeup


Makeup wise, it's a great month for Kat Von D. Not only did the brand recently become widely available in Debenhams stores as well as online, I also popped over to New York in April, where I tried her products for the first time. Let's talk about the Liquid Lipsticks. The formula is one of the best I've come across and I've been on a bit of a quest for the perfect liquid lip. I'd describe them as fairly similar to the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams but far longer lasting. My favourites are two of the more everyday shades: Bow and Arrow and Lolita, which are stunning. They're probably the most 'everyday' shades in the range, and I can't say I'd be one to go for the darker shades, but these two are beaut. I've also been loving the Tattoo Liner, which is probably one of the best eyeliner pens for me. It's just so much easier to apply than a lot of the other felt-tip style liners I've tried, and it doesn't budge. Amazing.

The award for the world's most beautiful highlighter goes to the Too Faced Candlelight Highlighter in the shade Rosy Glow - SO pretty. I've had so many compliments on how glowy and yet natural this looks, I cannot get enough of it. Originally I was going to get a different Too Faced highlighter but they'd sold out in the shop I went to, so the sales assistant recommended this and I think I trust her with my life now tbh. It's such a beautiful sheen/glow, blends in perfectly and it's not glittery. Unbeatable.

Some other products I've been loving include the Maybelline Brow Precise Fiber Filler in the shade Medium Brown. It was only in the past year or so that I hopped on the eyebrow wagon, so I haven't tried a great deal of products, but nonetheless this one is my favourite of those. It just looks really natural and fills in your brows quickly and easily. It's a no-brainer. I've also only just tried the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara and I like it a lot more than I was expecting to. I'm a L'Oreal mascara girl through and through, to the point that I never try ones from other brands, but this one has been too hyped not to try and it's beeeeautiful. It just really works for my lashes and gives that nice wide-eyed voluminous look. Surprisingly really impressed.


Skincare

The only addition to my skincare over the past few months has been The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng and Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask. I bloody love this face mask. It has quite a gloopy texture, but it seems to work really well for my skin. I leave in on for 15 minutes and then massage it into the skin as I'm washing it off, effectively exfoliating my face and leaving it super soft afterwards. Looking forward to trying a few more masks from The Body Shop's new range.


Haircare


As I said in my last post, I cut off a mass of my hair at the beginning of this month!! And I absolutely love it! I was expecting to really dislike it at first, basically because I've never had short hair before (besides when I was born). But I'm so, so happy with how it looks and how easy it is to look after. The best decision I've made in ages!!

Haircare wise, I switched up my shampoo and conditioner a couple of months ago, as my hair had gotten limp and lifeless. I'm pretty sure there were too many chemicals in my previous products and it had started weighing my hair down and it just wasn't working. But I started using Lush products and I've not had any issues whatsoever. My long hair was always naturally nice and wavy, with curls here and there, but they'd pretty much disappeared before the switch up. So I was really happy when they sprung back when I began using the Lush Big Shampoo and American Cream Conditioner. They are really great, cruelty free products and they have worked wonders on my hair. I can't remember a time that it felt so soft and yet still had a lovely texture to it. And the combo is still working great now that I've got a lot less hair - also meaning the products last soooo much longer, which is also another major pro for short hair.


Fragrance

A couple months ago I made a pricey Debenhams order but they threw in a couple of free gifts, including a little set of Versace fragrances. One of them is a little too full on for me, but the other two are divine. They're called Bright Crystal and Yellow Diamond and they're both super fresh scents and I've been loving wearing them - surprisingly the tiny bottles have lasted really well. Think I'm gonna have to purchase at least one of the full sizes now though, as I've finally run out! Also still absolutely loving Elizabeth and James Nirvana in the floral scent - a perfect everyday fragrance, and no fuss whatsoever with the rollerball.


Music

My music favourites of this summer are all linked below - albums of the year for sure!


Lorde - Melodrama

LANY - LANY

HAIM - Something To Tell You

Mr Jukes - God First

Solange - A Seat at the Table

Bonobo - Migration

Halsey - Hopeless Fountain Kingdom

John Mayer - The Search for Everything


Books

Books wise, I've started doing books of the month posts, so I'll link the first one from July here, and August's post will be up in the next week.


Day Trips




I've loved day tripping over the summer, whether it be to go visit my friends, National Trusting, or a day out in London. A couple of favourites have been to Basildon Park, near Reading, which is a beautiful National Trust property. The gardens are so rich and the house was stunning. I also loved going back to Buckingham Palace with my Mum, as we had year-long passes, so thought we'd better make the most of them with a trip back (had the most delicious scone ever in the Garden Cafe). As this is posted I'll actually be in Manchester for a couple days, visiting my best friend, Chloe - so more to come soon on this two-day trip.


Food


I've been to The Farm Shop at Bicester Village a couple of times now, but I recently went for brunch for the first time. It was incredible. Maybe even the most delicious meal I've had in my life. And surprisingly good value too. I had poached eggs, spinach, mixed squash, tomato and mushroom, with tea and orange juice all for £13! Such great food for really reasonable prices. If you're ever shopping at BV, you need to try The Farm Shop.



What have you been enjoying throughout the summer?

Until next time.


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Monday, 14 August 2017

Exiting the Comfort Zone

Guess what.


Chopped ma hair off lads.

Believe it or not, my hair has always - minus the one occasion when it was first growing when I was a baby - been long. And I mean lower back long, so this is kind of a big deal.

Honestly, I've been wanting to cut it off for years, as I'd grown sick and tired of looking after it and forking out a load of money on conditioner every month. But I think for me it does resemble more than just me having had enough of the hassle. It feels like I've just given away my security blanket for the first time, and I thought that I would feel awful and absolutely hate it and immediately feel like I'd made the wrong decision. But I am so, so happy with it.

I think me cutting my hair off shows how confident I've grown over the past few years. In a way, I used to hide behind my hair and just be that girl who's quite quiet but has pretty hair. Now I'm a little louder, a little prouder, and a little happier with who I am as a person. Cutting it off feels symbolic of that; I don't feel like I need to hide behind it anymore, because I like who I am. And it was pretty momentous when I realised all this. So much so, that I decided to donate my hair to a charity, in order to pass my safety blanket on to someone else who really feels they need it right now.

In the end, I donated a foot long plait of hair, so loose it would be somewhere between 12 and 14 inches in length. I sent it off to the Little Princess Trust, who use donated hair to make wigs for children who have had to undergo cancer treatment and have lost their hair as a result. It was important to me to give my hair to someone else, as, like I've mentioned, I always felt I needed my hair to feel comfortable in myself, and I understand that some of the children who receive wigs will also feel this way. And I hope that it helps them grow in confidence, until the point that they too no longer feel they need it.

I absolutely love how it looks short and I feel so happy whenever I glance at my hair in a shop window. And I feel even more like myself having let it go.

Until next time.


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Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

I joined the gym


About time really.

I've actually been planning on joining the gym for about two years, but either never got round to it or felt it was an unnecessary expense. In some ways I still think it is (it's vvv expensive), but it's something I've been hoping to do for ages and am finally in a position to do.

Honestly, I'm really enjoying it. I think it's always a bit nerve-wracking trying something new or going somewhere you aren't comfortable and where you don't know anything. That's probably the main reason I've been putting it off. Comfort zones are both wonderful and incredibly restraining things. I feel like I haven't been letting myself get comfortable with exercise because I've had anxiety regarding the gym. It's all the standard stuff: I'll look like an idiot, people will judge me for not knowing what I'm doing, they'll judge my body etc, etc. But I finally had a breakthrough and realised, if this is something that I would like to do for myself, I need to do it and try my hardest to push those feelings aside. And I'm halfway there with that.

I'm now really comfortable with going to the gym. But I am still yet to gain the courage to use the weights room. It is intimidating. There are always men in there seeming like they own the place. And it's been making me not want to try out the equipment and get to grips with it. I think this is actually something a lot of women feel in regards to the gym: you become really happy with the cardio side, but the weights become daunting, not because of your own physical strength and ability, but because of the people you know will be around you.

Obviously, this shouldn't be the case, and I shouldn't, we shouldn't, feel this way. It is however a sad reality. I wanted to talk about it here just to get my thoughts and feelings out. And I've decided that August is the month that I'm going to start using the weights room. If, by the end of the month, I'm just using one piece of the weights equipment, that will be a success for me. I'd really like to achieve this goal, mostly just because as much as you can tone your legs a bit with cardio, it's not really easy to do that for your arms.

Hopefully by the end of the month I'll have found the courage (and found the gym during a quiet period) to test some of the weights machines out. That's my small and achievable goal for this month.


Until next time.


Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: @abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Friday, 28 July 2017

July Books



I've recently been watching all the book videos I can find on youtube and have been absolutely loving them. It's always so nice to hear about what other people have been reading, what they liked about certain books, and getting some inspiration for my own reading. So I thought I'd try to do some monthly/bi-monthly book posts on here, as I'm nothing if not a book fanatic. Here are some of the books I've been reading throughout the month of July and what I thought of them.


Out of Africa by Karen Blixen

I loved the concept for this text, but I can't say I loved reading it. It's a bit hard not to read a memoir, such as this one, as a fictional text, and I think that's where I found the book fell short. The descriptions and people in the texts were interesting, but the form just didn't work for me. It felt very - this happened, then this happened; I hate to say a bit Key Stage 2, but that's how I found reading it. The actual contents of the text was interesting, but unfortunately it was harder to enjoy because of the poor form. I think it must be difficult to structure a memoir though, so credit where it's due, as this is a strong text, it just lacks the stringing together that could have made it really great.


Lion by Saroo Brierley

After reading Out of Africa I plunged myself into another memoir, partially for comparison, but mostly because this one sounded like it would be formulated with a slightly more fictional flare. I believe the original title for this text was A Long Way Home and that was then changed to comply with the film, which is always a little disappointing, but nevertheless the title does work with the book. I'm yet to watch the film but I thought the book was incredible. It's written in the style I was hoping Blixen's text would have, with real substance and feeling, and ultimately a plot line. I know that plot isn't the point of a memoir, but it makes it so much more gripping and easier to read. Really loved this one.


Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I've had this book lying on my book shelf for ages so I thought I'd finally give it a go, and I enjoyed it. You gain a lot of different perspective throughout the text and it jumps around a lot temporally, which can be very hit or miss, but it worked so well with this book. It's a very heartfelt text, showing every side of family dynamic that isn't really working well. Ultimately, as the readers see each characters' perspective and feelings, the other members of the family become more aware of each others emotions. It's a text where everyone seems to grow whilst dealing with a great loss. Beautifully written.


Euphoria by Lily King

Euphoria was a really interesting book, with themes of anthropology, interaction, and loneliness. It seems a study of the study of humans, as while the characters themselves are anthropologists, learning about human culture in New Guinea, the author gives us an insight into western humans, ultimately unveiling the differences and extreme similarities that all humans bear. I really liked the character of Nell, who seemed passionate about the cultures she was engulfed in and about conveying them correctly in her research. However the other characters were a little more disappointing, but I think that was the point. Having a female with integrity in a research based field in the 1930s shows an empowered and intelligent woman, but sandwiched between two men who think they always know what's best helps create an even bigger bias towards her character. A good read.


Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk

The final book I'll mention is completely different to all the others, being more of a dystopian text. The novel follows a somewhat bizarre, but equally convincing, plot line, where women become obsessed with a new range of sex toys offering them the ultimate pleasure. Essentially it shows a man using these toys to gain absolute power over a nation of women, moving society back about a hundred years to when women were not in high flying jobs. I thought the character of Alouette was particularly interesting to read and, if anything, would have liked to hear more from her. Nevertheless, it's an interesting and aggravating text, with an easy-going style and I think it's well worth the read.


Until next time.


Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: @abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

12 Things University Taught Me




A week ago today, I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a better degree classification that I would have expected. And I'm thrilled. So I thought today I would talk about some of the things that uni taught me over the past three years, as there were just as many life lessons as academic lessons.


1. Though you may feel uncomfortable in a situation, the chances are everyone else does too.

2. Sometimes you have to be the first to speak. The more often, the better.

3. I can overcome pretty much anything.

4. Sometimes no matter how far from home you'd like to be, you need to be at home for a while.

5. Nothing gets easier, but you get better at dealing with it as the time passes.

6. A full time job would have been far less stressful than my degree. But I don't think it would have been as rewarding.

7. The feeling of accomplishment you will feel at the end of it all is completely worth all the hard work.

8. You won't necessarily meet your best friends at uni, especially if you've already got a great group at home - just remember to remind them you appreciate them while you're away.

9. I love language. My degree really cemented that for me and I know I'll be an avid reader forevermore.

10. Exploring new places isn't daunting and probably never was, and I now do it at every opportunity.

11. There are a lot of factors that will affect the quality of your work. And if you can do that well with all that going on behind the scenes, then you've done better than you could have possibly believed three years ago.

12. If you set your mind to it, you can do it, and do it really darn well.


Until next time.


Social Media/Contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Soundtrack '17




This post contains just a few of the songs I'm going to be listening to all summer long. Hope you like a few of them too (links on each song title).


Want You Back- HAIM

Don't Know Why - Slowdive

The Place I Love - The Jam

Bad At Love - Halsey

Waiting for a Star to Fall - Boy Meets Girl

Most Girls - Hailee Steinfeld

Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out- The Smiths

Dark Side Of Your Room - All Time Low

Without You - Parachute

Ride - Empire of the Sun

Homemade Dynamite - Lorde

I Wish You Were Here - Simple Minds

Love on the Weekend - John Mayer

Ultralife - Oh Wonder

Who Are You - The Who

If Music Could Talk - The Clash

Fake Friends - Sigrid

Endlessly - The Cab

Deep the Water - Lewis Watson


Until next time.


Social Media/Contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: @abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Monday, 22 May 2017

New York, New York







Haha guess who skipped town a couple weeks before their dissertation was due. ME.

I've never done anything so uncharacteristic, but the trip of a lifetime was made possible for me so all responsibilities banished from my mind. I went to New York and had the best time ever.

It was actually about six weeks ago now, but with deadlines and exams I haven't had much time to write about it. But basically New York City is everything. I had the most amazing week and so I thought I'd tell you all about it.

We arrived late in the evening, meaning we got the most magical view of the city at night in the taxi from JFK to Manhattan. It also meant we were pretty exhausted upon arrival, but we managed to adjust to the time difference, waking at about 7am for a day of full on tourist fun.




We spent our first morning wandering Fifth Avenue, where we saw all the iconic buildings, from the Plaza and Tiffany's all the way down to St Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. It was a fairly dull morning but luckily by the time we got to the top of the Empire State Building (after a two hour wait!) glorious sunshine had emerged from behind the clouds. The views are next to none and it was well worth the wait. After a spot of lunch we headed further down to see the iconic Flat Iron building, before heading over to see the flower show at Macy's. All in all it was a very productive first day and we got used to the buses and subway as well as the grid system of Manhattan.





The following day was our one and only really rainy day, meaning we spent the day indoors at the Natural History Museum. In all honesty, I don't think it's one that's worth doing if you're really tight for time, but it was still a good day and a good way to avoid the poor weather outside.

The following day was still very cloudy but luckily there was barely any rain, as it was a jam packed day just like the first one. We started by heading across town and down to Grand Central Station, which was absolutely beautiful, but surprisingly seemed a lot smaller in person than it tends to in films. From there we moved on downtown and went for a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge, which was magnificent, with a nice view up and down the East River. We carried on down to the very tip of Manhattan, where we caught the Staten Island ferry to get a good look at the Statue of Liberty, which was standing tall and strong even though the weather wasn't too great. On the way back uptown we hopped off the subway to have a quick walk around Union Square, which was a nice quaint area, before heading to The MET. One hundred percent the museum to go to if you only have time for one, it was brilliant. You're taken through so many different periods and cultures, and we thought it was amazing.








We spent Saturday morning in Washington Square Park and around Greenwich Village, which was a really lovely area that actually made the city feel a little small and sweeter, cosier if you will. From there we headed up to the High Line, and I loved it there. It's such a unique and interesting way to see the city, as you tend to always be on the ground looking up or somewhere really high looking really far down, so it was a nice position to see New York from. From there we went up to check out the Lincoln Center and then to see Columbus Circle. We made our way back to the apartment through Central Park, exploring the west side of the park on our way up.






Sunday was spent almost entirely in Central Park, which I absolutely loved. It was glorious sunshine and the perfect weather for a day outdoors. We started by having a walk around the Reservoir and then headed down the east side of the park, catching up on everything we missed the day before. We saw everything from the famous Boathouse to the Alice in Wonderland Statue and had the most wonderful time in the sun. We actually got the bus back uptown from the bottom of the park, heading up to Harlem so we could also explore that area of the park. It was so nice and so much calmer than the more touristy south end of Central Park. We went back to the apartment to get some after sun (having not realised that we were a bit burnt before it was too late) and went back out at dusk to see Times Square. It was really cool to see how bright all the billboards got as the sun went down, and there was a great atmosphere there too.






On our final full day, we went downtown to the World Trade Center and went up to the One World Observatory. It was interesting to see the city from this point of view, as rather than being in the centre in Midtown we were all the way down at the tip of Manhattan, looking back up. The views were great and it's well worth a trip (the queue wasn't bad at all either). Whilst we were there we also saw the 9/11 memorial, which was very moving and made you think about just how dreadful that day must have been. From there we went over to Wall Street and saw the Charging Bull, with the wonderful Fearless Girl statue stood defiantly opposite. We also had a trip to Bloomingdales and got some great cupcakes from the bakery.




Our final morning was spent having brunch in a typical American diner on the Upper West Side not far from where we stayed. We had some great pancakes, but man were they filling. A pretty great way to end such an amazing trip.



New York is the most incredible city and I would highly recommend that absolutely everyone should jump at any opportunity to go. I know I certainly can't wait to go back and have already inspired one of my friends to book a trip this summer. A truly wonderful place.

Until next time.


Social Media/Contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: @abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com