Monday, 12 February 2018

Valentine's Day vibes: my fashion essentials

With Valentine's Day fast approaching I thought I'd show you a few of my favourite fashion pieces that matchmake perfectly with the month of love. Valentine's Day aside, these fashion staples are 100% ready to rock all year round, not just on February 14th. Whether you're a Valentine's babe or a Galentine's girl, hopefully my wardrobe essentials will get your hot pink heart pumping and ready for the month of love to be a 12 month affair, not just a February frolic. As you know my wardrobe is a cocktail of bubbling pink so Valentine's vibes feature aplenty in my outfits all year round. "You can't wear pink and red together", I remember my mum once saying when I was a kid. "Why?" I replied. "Because those colours clash", came her answer. These days I love colours to clash and I think pink and red make a gorgeous colour combination. So, bring on my V-Day outfit essentials, I hope they leave you lovestruck and heart-eyed..... 


This sassy bag is a total speed dial to cloud nine that I'm super over the moon to have in my life. From the masterworks of magic that are Skinnydip London, this Piper Cross Body Bag  is such a cute addition to any wardrobe be it the season of romance or not. Pssst, I've also got an outfit post planned for the future that features this gingham playsuit below. I've been wearing it religiously of late, and I can't wait to show you guys the outfit post in all its gorgeous glory. 


I rock this red outfit all the time come rain or shine, it's my "outfit" for instantly feeling uplifted, encouraged and confident when I need a bit of a boost. If you read about our trip on the hot Pink Hamble Ferry  then you'll know all about this outfit. It matched perfectly with the powerful pink Ferry Shelter and as you can see, I felt right at home amongst all the hot pink heaven. 


Probably my favourite pair of shoes, these shimmering beauts have been a romantic twist on many a beachy outfit and added a bit of gorgeous glitz to sass up the sand. I've also bought the same version of the heels in white, and you can see them in their full glory in this previous outfit post


Motel Rocks are one of my favourite brands for sequins and shimmer, and their romantic vibes are forever first on my hit-list. This pink sequin metallic rose dress is still on the Motel Rocks site  amongst many other glittery gorgeous wares. 


The Skinnydip siren's going off again you say. Hell yes it is. Drink this in; a pink champagne bottle bag that you can swank around in town with? Have you ever heard of anything so extra? This bag was bought after a bubbly lust for it broke to the fore and I decided to go ahead and add it to my quirky collection of bags. Like any Skinnydip bag, it's a fabulous bit of fun to have and to hold, and I definitely intend to show it in many more an outfit post. 


Ahh, one of my sure fire favourites. Sugary sweet and the perfect scoop of dreamy, this dress has marked one of my favourite outfit posts in the past. Okay it's not all hearts and flowers, but an ice cream date with extra sprinkles is always a love match, right? 


These magical mom jeans with glitzy embroidered red hearts are denim dreamy and cuter than Cupid.  From one of my favourite stores, Liqour N Poker, they also come with black hearts and are of course, hot to rock any season you like. I featured these jeans back in an outfit post last September and sorely regret not saving them for a Galentine's outfit post. But hey, the whole point is they're stunning every season.

How are you celebrating Valentine's/Galentine's this year? No matter what I always think February 14th calls for chocolate, a bubblebath and a girly shopping trip! 


Thursday, 8 February 2018

How to shake off a disturbing dream

Dreams. They can vary as vibrantly as the colour spectrum and can often be like a cinematic experience; you might want to buy the dream as a rental replay in your head, you might never want to see it ever again, perhaps it went on too long or finished as abruptly as it started. The dreams we long to have on repeat never seem to be showing in the forefront of our minds. The dreams we fear can frequently be blasted through our eye sockets, scorching our night's sleep into a noxious nightmare.  I suffer from night terrors (maybe more about that in a future post) and often have a lot of anxious thoughts giving me grief before bed. Understandably as a snowball effect I've often had vivid, upsetting dreams that have haunted me the day after despite many attempts to shake off that horrible "I know it's not real but I still feel on edge and upset" sensation that seems to always, always last for 24 hours. 

Without giving them too much stick, dreams can be a jackpot of good and back luck. One dream gave me the final ending scene in my novel. Other dreams have inspired me, helped me, guided me, switched my mood from so-so to happy and upbeat. Unfortunately we don't have a remote control to zap off what happens after we zzzz, and they often say if we've been thinking about something, talking about something or subconsciously serious about a situation, we'll be dreaming about it. Pretty unfair then, surely, that the characters in my novel that play on my mind 24/7 rarely feature in my dreams....

I still believe my first onset of anxiety really rooted from a dream I had about my Granny back when I was about 4 or 5. Funnily enough I've always felt deep down that the dream was supposed to be a happy, comforting one; I'd found her in heaven amongst clouds and people playing board games with sweets but I woke up crying, running through to my parents room. I still remember mum motioning my teacher aside in the classroom the next day and telling her if I started getting upset it was because of a bad dream I'd had. And I can still recall a little boy in my class peeking through the holes in his slice of ham at lunchtime, trying to make me laugh and cheer me up.

Point is, just how can we shake off a disturbing dream when it's settled in our mind and set to stay? 


May sound simple, even a bit stupid, but I've often found with disturbing dreams that as soon as I tell someone about it they'll either laugh, roll their eyes, smile or sympathise and then we'll move on to another subject. Trouble is, if your dream has affected you so badly that it feels real, it's hard to laugh about it or even look at it in a realistic way. Regularly throughout my life I've had dreams where people have died and they've been so disturbing I've had to make sure they're OK the next day. Talking about it to the people who have been worse for wear in my dreams usually brings on a sobering effect. Once you realise they're okay and in good humour about their fate in your dream, it's hard to take any dream - no matter how upsetting - with the same level of seriousness. 


To compensate for a shitty night's sleep plagued with destructive dreams, I think the silver lining is to focus on the thought that it was a bad dream, it's over with and any more reflection over it is wasted mind space. Often bad dreams can leave us thankful, relieved and in a hot sweat to face the bleeping alarm clock and realisation that the nightmare is nothing but that. With that in mind, let's look to the positive - the dream was bad but it isn't a reality. To have a fresh start to the day let's wash out the wrongdoing of the dream and be determined to turn the tables and have as good a day as possible.


Turning off technology has been a lifeline for me in the evenings as of late. I've taken to running a hot bath, reading a book and plastering a face mask on before bed. Yankee candles, hot chocolate and that whole vibe always works too. I've noticed (touch wood) that I don't seem to have so many (if any) upsetting anxious thoughts before bed when I've been partaking in a more relaxed routine away from bright screens and the whirr of the laptop. This also helped me immensely when I was suffering from a really bad spell of anxiety last year too, and is one of the things that helped me move forward and overcome it. 


Annoyingly the dreams we seem to long for never seem to dramatise for us. Our thought patterns predictably can throw up a person or moment or situation we're bitterly trying to forget and make it tonight's dream projection. I often dream about coming face to face with people from my past; you know the ones right? The ones we're all desperate to forget and to never see again? The ones that bring nothing but bad memories and a whole heap of bad feeling. Yep, those ones. Once I dreamt about an ex-friend and it left me feeling teary and on edge all day. A kind twitter follower reached out to me and told me to "write those feelings down, then forgive her and forgive yourself", which really struck a chord. Fortunately such bad dreams aren't a nightly occurrence, and it's important to reach into our memory bank and look to the good, positive dreams that help inspire, uplift and charge us with the feel good emotions that make life worth living. 


Chances are if you've had a good night, reamed a relaxing routine and go to bed thinking about the positive pieces of memories that made up your day then you'll avoid getting into a bad state of mind before bed. The week before last my sleep was in a pretty shocking state because of some robberies and attempted break-ins happening on our street. It really set off my anxiety and I could barely sleep and of course when I could, nightmares about what was happening surfaced. A few positive days with my thoughts switched off from the events really worked wonders, even though I was still nervous about what was happening, I wasn't giving it my full attention and my sleep improved. 


Last summer when some horrific things were happening on the news I found it hard (as I'm sure most of us felt) not to be frightened by it all. Even though we weren't really anywhere near where things were going on, I still felt like where I lived made it too close to home. I went to stay with Graham for a few days and just being out of the area made me feel so much better and more relaxed. Even though not always easy or convenient considering work patterns or general life I think a change of scene can really help when you're anxious, not sleeping well or are just downright burnt out. A spontaneous hotel stay, sleeping over at a friend's house or even going as far to redecorate your room can often be key changes in a better night's sleep. 

I hope this post is helpful + beneficial to anyone out there who may need it. 

Here's to dreaming those gorgeous dreams! 


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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Smashing low self-esteem: my story

Rewind to 10 years ago; I was 18, had such crippling low self-esteem that I could barely look in a mirror, go out without the paranoia and fear that people were talking about me in public and so much as going into a newsagents to buy a magazine and facing the person serving behind the till felt like a major feat. Keen to build up my confidence I would venture into Zara or Topshop alone, only to venture back out minutes later feeling too self-conscious to stay. 
Things had hit an all time low for me ever since one of my so called friends had turned against me in college with another girl. The three of us had started off friendly enough but soon the two of them became  quite cliquey which was fine, until they started whispering about me within earshot, laughing about the way I looked, mocking me to each other when I tried to nervously strike up any form of conversation. Ater trailing along with them at lunchtime, soon enough after they kept walking off on purpose, I spent lunch-times alone. I had counselling but was too paranoid to properly take it in as I was worried the girls would somehow find out. I remember sitting there tense and nervous, eyes cast down. I told the counsellor about what was going on, and about how ugly I felt, that I hated my appearance and everything I was. She told me she knew I wouldn't believe her but despite what I thought I was pretty and had everything going for me. She was right; I didn't believe her. 

I had to work with this so called friend at weekends as well, at a job I absolutely despised. It was a youngish environment and I couldn't have felt more alone if I tried. Lunch times were the worst, I remember once going over to my friend and saying "hi" but she flat out ignored me in front of a group of other colleagues. I tried saying "hi," louder, but still she ignored me. Hurt, I wondered what I had done to deserve this treatment when I knew I'd been nothing but a good supportive friend in the past. In the end I wanted to avoid everyone so much I locked myself in the toilets on lunch breaks. Between college and the weekend job there was just no escape. 

Below: my 18th birthday. My confidence was at zero, I still remember how awkward I felt.
I'd never been the most confident person growing up, the onset of anxiety from a young age and that whole "never being very popular in school" thing combined with the odd few hurtful remarks people would make denting my confidence further. "She's so ugly in those glasses!" A boy in my English class once called out in front of everyone. "How come's you're so ugly?" He mocked, as everyone laughed and I hurriedly shoved the glasses I'd always hated back in their case and tried to laugh off the remarks that hurt like hell. Another time a few guys started calling out that I was flat chested and various times people would ask if I ever ate anything due to my naturally skinny frame. Things got worse after I had various difficulties with friends and I'd already experienced some of the same bullying at sixth form as well as what I was now going through at college and at my weekend job. 


A few months after college finally came to an end, it suddenly struck me that I didn't have to still be in a hellish situation that my Saturday job brought. Because I had zero confidence in myself, I'd never stood up to all the bad situations that had happened there and had just gone along unhappy and alone. I quit my job and fortunately that meant I could now cut all ties with said friend. On my last day I was too drained to do anything but pretend to be OK, so I waved her off for the last time with a fake smile knowing I was now free to be away from all the shit I'd put up with for so many years and finally free to try and repair my damaged self-esteem. 

Even though it might be difficult or near impossible, if you can cut out those toxic people bringing you down you'll feel a million times better (take it from someone who knows) 

By the time I was nearing 19, I started feeling more confident. Things changed when I asked my lovely hairdresser Rosie if she could dye my already brown hair slighter darker. Truthfully I thought this would make me more invisible, so people wouldn't notice me as much but my hairdresser told me going darker would wash me out and suggested I go for blonde highlights instead. I'd always wanted to try blonde highlights and loved the idea throughout my teens but had never had the courage to do anything like that for fear of being laughed at by friends. Rosemary was a key factor in my confidence, she often set me little "homework" tasks; things I could do to gain confidence and I'd tell her how it went during our next appointment. I honestly don't think I would've come as far in my self belief as I did with her kind sassy words of reassurance and heart of gold. 

Now I was free from all the bullshit, I could do whatever I wanted with my hair without the fear of being judged by anyone. At first I was a bit nervous but soon enough I felt like an entirely different person. 8 months later I got my first tattoo; three stars to symbolise strength. It was a bit of a whim, and something so unlike anything I'd ever thought I'd do. I was nervous as hell but that day was a turning point for me and my confidence and self-esteem. I also decided enough was enough and instead of walking around squinting (because I had such a low opinion of myself in glasses) I went out and got contact lenses. While waiting for a train one day, started seriously thinking about what I wanted to do with my life for the first time, something I'd never even had much courage inwardly to imagine. This felt like a turning point in itself. 

Below: 19. I remember feeling happier in this photo, my confidence finally starting to set in and pave the way for positive times up ahead. 

If you're not happy with something, change it. If you've always wanted to dye your hair pink or get that tattoo or go skydiving or travel the world or write a book, DO IT! I found going blonde, getting my tattoo and getting contact lenses transformed me into a new person and was the start of better things to come. OK, so they weren't major changes, but they made me feel majorly different. 

I found seeing the right friends out and about helped lift my spirits, as did a lot of time spent on my own to recover from a truly horrible time. Sometimes it's all about taking time out to realise what you truly want in life and how best to lift your spirits and mindset.

Below: Rae and I have been best friends since we were 4! Our friendship has brought nearly 24 years of treasured memories, laughs, "you had to be there" moments, setting the world to right rants amongst a thousand other sentiments! I don't have many friends but I'd rather have a few precious diamonds than a ton of fools gold! 

Graham and I were both fairly shy at the time of our first meeting. We'd got chatting on Facebook and straight away I got the feeling he was decent and kind. Summer 2009 and my confidence was mounting; by then I'd got my tattoo, my blonde hair, my fashion interest buzzing and was doing well but still pretty unconfident in a lot of ways. When he asked if we could meet I immediately thought he'd take one look at me and run the other way (that is so rubbish to type but I'd not dated anyone at that point and my self-esteem was still fairly low). Deep down I was terrified of meeting this guy that seemed so perfect. We'd been chatting non-stop and it seemed too good to be true. Fast forward to 8 years later and I still can't be happier or believe my luck. Meeting him at the station that day was the best decision I ever made. 

I always had a passion for fashion but zero confidence to see it through. One day I forced myself to go into Topshop, promising myself that instead of leaving I'd try three things on, stay in the store and strike up a conversation with the girl on the till if I bought something. To my surprise I loved the items I'd picked up in a hurry, the girl on the till was lovely (not scarily too trendy to talk to as I'd assumed) and I left feeling a burst of confidence I hadn't felt in a long while. After looking through lots of magazines, more successful trips to Topshop and a new love affair for online shopping, I enjoyed feeling more stylish and getting interested in fashion. In 2011 I discovered fashion blogs for the first time and after a lot of thought I started my own in May 2013. If it wasn't for hitting rock bottom self esteem wise, I'd never have had to build myself up again so gradually and maybe I wouldn't have turned to fashion like I did. After writing a half finished, rough idea for a book when I was going through a bad spell in school I started properly writing my first novel when I was unhappy in a job a while back. My dreams have materialised from my hardest times, and for that I finally feel a sense of fate taking hold. 

Below: my confidence and style has changed considerably since I first started soinspo.  


Despite being a lot more confident during my twenties, there have still been many set-backs along the way. For instance I'd hoped attending my first blogging event would be an uplifting and fun (which the majority of it was) but during the experience I lost my nerve when I got there, staying in my room while everyone else went bowling and for drinks later in the evening, wearing jeans and a jumper when everyone else was dressed up (embarrassing much), and feeling self-conscious about handing out my blog card. Okay, it was a bit of a set-back, but still I feel stronger for it. I was also lucky enough to be with my best girl Yasmin, who was so understanding and supportive and we had a great laugh together. I enjoyed every moment I spent with her, it was definitely the highlight for me! 

Below: When I'm not shooting blog looks or going out out,  I often go out without make-up. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think "god you look bloody awful" but it's about not wasting any more time caring. I don't care about off days, I'm happy and content in myself not to let them bother me now. I spent enough time hating on myself & I'm at a point where I've come too far to go back. 

I find thankfully that I am 100% happy for the most part in my own skin these days. But despite being a lot more confident during my twenties I've still suffered from major drawbacks of self doubt after suffering from bullying in the workplace and a series of miserable jobs. Despite hoping I'd come a long way since college, I found myself on the brunt of bullying, and being too miserable and frightened to stand up for myself. My self-esteem was wrecked in the workplace, but still, I know it's something I'm stronger for in the long run. Being vocal and talking about my experiences can only help and benefit other people who read my blog, and make the world know bullying is not OK and shouldn't be tolerated. For the first time it's clear just why I've been through such tough times: now I can finally manifest them into something positive; helping other people who are suffering out there too. 


Rewind to today, I'm nearing 28 and am finally happy and carefree in my own skin. I have the right people in my life and won't settle for any less. Instead of putting myself down in front of people when they ask me what I do, now I'm finally able to smile and say with confidence that I'm writing a book that I hope to get published, running a fashion blog I'm really proud of and seeing what the future holds. Instead of walking along with my head down, I try and keep my head high. Even though I'm not the most confident person in the world by a million miles, I'm confident in my own body, confident in my blog, my book, my being. And that's more than I ever could have wished for 10 years ago. 

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I hope you've enjoyed this post & that it helps anyone else going through similar situations. 

"No pressure, no diamonds"