My Top 10 Highlights of 2018

My Top 10 Highlights of 2018

We made it to the end of 2018 – wooooooo! It’s been a weird year of up and downs, but I’ve learnt a lot from it. I wanted to share with you just 10 of my highlights from 2018, it was hard to whittle them down! If you’re looking for my bookish favourites of the year you can find those here.

paramore - couple - 10 years - relationship - growing up

Paramore

We kicked off the New Year with another trip to see Paramore, our 4th time together. As you can see Ali still doesn’t want to smile for pictures. Despite how it looks we had a great time!

Becoming A Published Poet

Finding out I was being published and then recieving the final product! I’m a published writer!!! I wonder what I can publish in 2019…

London Book Fair 2018

Visiting the London Book Fair

I was invited to attend the London Book Fair as a blogger with my Mum. It was something I wanted to do for a while and it was an interesting day, even if I did feel a little like a deer in headlights.

Hammies

One became…three. I said no more and then Ali and I went to Pets at Home and we saw our little guys BB & Artoo. I’m now a hamster Mum x3 and I absolutely love my little buddies. They really keep me company when Ali’s away.

YALC

I got to go to YALC! A whole day of being around book people, buying books and it was magical. I also got a pretty impressive book haul, which I’m still making my way through. Hopefully I can finish tme all before next year!

Going freelance & starting my business!

I’d been toying with the idea of going freelance for a few months but thought it was something I would never be able to do, until I had to! I’m now living life as a freelancer and absolutely LOVING it!

Six The Musical

Musicals!

I saw not one but two new musicals this year which I didn’t realise how much I missed! When I was younger I was a total musical nut, I even wanted to be a musical theatre actress when I grew up (more on that in another blog).

I loved Heathers enough to see it twice and I’d happily see Six again when it moves back to London. I’m looking forward to getting more shows in 2019!

10 year anniversary

We made it to 10 years! I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past decade with this wonderful human. He’s pretty great.

Disneyland!

I got to go to Disneyland!!! DISNEYLAND. I loved it so much I wrote not one but two blogs. You can read the first one here and the second here.

I Read 115 Books!

After setting my Goodreads goal at 50 so that I didn’t feel any pressure, I managed to double it and then added some! I read some really amazing books (and some not so amazing books).

There are more things and people that I haven’t had a chance to add but here’s to hoping I have an even better 2019!

The Pros and Cons of Long Distance!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that my boyfriend and I have to make long distance work. He’s a Sound Engineer which means he can be away anything from two nights to two months, well, that’s the longest run so far.

If you’d have asked if a few years ago if I thought long distance could work for me I would have said no, but life changes and shit happens. I’m super proud of what he’s achieving but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. So, I thought why not let you know what think the pros and cons of long distance are.

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Pro: You really appreciate the time you have together

I am in such a good mood when Ali is home. I’ll hang out with him all weekend, sometimes we’ll get breakfast together, other times we’ll just do our own thing but like that the other one is in the house.

Con: You can end up having to go to a lot of events alone 

It’s only been a year since Ali started working as a full-time Sound Engineer but there have been a lot of birthdays, events and things that I’ve gone to alone or am planning to go to alone. I can be a little sad, particularly when there’s a lot of couples around.

Pro: You’re made to be independent and have your own interests 

I’m very independent and that’s something that’s been enhanced with Ali’s job. I’ll quite happily spend time alone, I can find things to do, go out and see friends. On the boring side, I  cook, clean, sort out my car etc.

Con: It can get pretty lonely at times 

On the flip side, it can get pretty lonely at times. The house can get really quiet, the bed can feel too big. I go visit my Mum and have a cuppa with her quite a bit when Ali’s away, message people etc. I might be introverted but I also need a bit of company sometimes!

Pro: You always have something to talk about each day 

When he’s travelling there’s always interesting things going on, stories from the tour bus etc so we always have things to talk about. On my end I have stuff to tell him too, although they’re normally not as exciting as his.

Con: There’s not always a lot of time to talk! 

There can be so little time to talk, I might be in meetings all day, he might have a double show day. Or if something really exciting happens (like when I got taken on permanently at work) I have to wait to tell him.

Pro:  Getting the bed to yourself 

Spreading out with no one stealing the covers, I’m not mad about it.

Con: Distinct lack of cuddles 

Although cuddles are lovely and I miss them a lot.

Pro: You realise what really matters  

I think it’s changed our relationship a lot. There’s no point in me getting angry because he’s away on my birthday. He doesn’t get irritated when I don’t spend every second of time with him when he’s home. We don’t need fancy meals or an Instagram worthy couple shot because it is such small stuff to worry about.

Con: Big life decisions can be difficult 

People ask me about kids a lot, and I get a lot of weird sympathy which makes no sense at all to me. I wouldn’t want Ali to change a job he loves for kids, I wouldn’t change mine so to make that decision I’d need a big support network. It’s not something we’re thinking about for a long while but it is just a part of how long distance works.

 

What are your pros and cons for long distance? Let me know in the comments below!

The Friendship Evolution

The Friendship Evolution

Ah, friendship, something important and lovely but not many people talk about how friendships need to change and evolve to survive. I’ve had quite a few friendships that have broken down for various reasons, we’ve grown apart, grown up or found out we’re just not compatible. So I wanted to write about some of my friendships and how they’ve evolved in certain situations.

 

Me and Joe London MAy 2018

After Graduating

I don’t quite know how I would have gotten through uni without my friend Joe. We’ve been best friends for years now and we went from seeing each other multiple times a week to graduating and being lucky to see each other once a month. It’s tough because there are times when I just want to hang out but one of us has to get a train and we have to organise it and, don’t tell him, but I miss him like hell.  Our friendship had to evolve and we have to communicate, which luckily for us isn’t a problem but we’ve needed to be more organised.

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Friendship Additions

When Abbie and I became friends a few years ago we were happy just the two of us, and then two became three and it only got better! So, it went like this. I have been friends with a guy called Ben since I was 17, Ben meets Abbie and they get together and we become friends. Still with me? Ok. Sarah, is Ben’s cousin who met Abbie at a family gathering. Now we are all close friends. So Abbie and I had to make room to become a three and it did take adjusting, not worrying if one talked to the other more etc. I for one am just happy we now have Sarah in our lives, she’s amazing and fits with both of us so well.

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Babies

I’ve known my friend Lucy since I was eleven years old. I was the kid with a school fleece on the first day (I still blame the terrible woman in the school shop, they clearly hadn’t sold one in years and smelt my weakness), she had a mass of frizzy hair that earned her the nickname, Frizz. Now we’re very similar, which meant we fought a lot, teenage hormones will do that. We drifted apart a little as we got older and didn’t become best friends until we were seventeen, after the birth of her daughter.

Luce will be the first to tell you that being a Mum of two at twenty-three wasn’t the plan she had at eleven, but you only have to watch her to know she’s damn good at it. So Lexi came and we were a pair of seventeen-year-olds, still trying to work ourselves out but now with a tiny person who I loved so, so much. We had fights still, we were still stubborn but was always came back because there was a little person. Then, while I was on a bus a few years later at university I got a text: ‘ I needed to tell you something’, I joked back ‘you’re not pregnant are you?’ and then a picture came back of two blue lines. That’s how I found out about Ollie.

Our friendship isn’t what we thought it would be at twenty-three, because neither of us saw this coming but we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We are different people but love each other so much and don’t pretend we know exactly what the other is going through but we’re always there for each other.

 

How have your friendships evolved over the years? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

MHAW18: 10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

When a loved one is struggling with a mental illness it can be hard to know what to do and how to help. For me, when I’m on a low I don’t even know what I want sometimes! There are some things, however, that you can do to help. I wanted to share them with you.

Listen

Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen. They don’t need actions or solutions just someone to listen to how they feel and why they might be feeling it. It’s really that simple. Having someone listen to you can make such a change to a person’s day.

Don’t assume you know or understand 

Mental illness may have a set of symptoms but it is a truly personal experience. From experience, someone else thinking they know what you’re going through and trying to guess, rather than listen, is frustrating. It is so, so important to see this as a personal struggle not just a set of symptoms. Depression isn’t just sadness, Anxiety isn’t feeling nervous these are real issues.

Support them with small steps

Sometimes something that might seem small can be a big deal. In my worst times, I struggled to leave the house to go to the shop down the road. I physically couldn’t leave and when I did I had anxiety attacks. So my amazing boyfriend helped with the smaller steps. First, take a shower, then put on some clothes, then put on my shoes etc. It was long and frustrating but we did it and later that afternoon popped to the shop. I do the same thing with close friends with things such as blood tests. Small steps matter!

Let them know you’re there without forcing them to open up 

People will open up when they’re ready. Trying to force it from them will probably have the opposite effect. Just letting someone know that if they want to talk or hang out, you’re there is a big help.

Don’t try to ‘fix’ them 

Don’t listen to Coldplay, people with a mental illness aren’t broken and recovery has to be something the person wants for themselves.

Treat them as the person you know they are 

The person you know is in there, they might just be hiding. You can still make jokes, ask them to go places. They could say no 99 times but that 100th time they might feel well enough to go. It let’s them know that you still love and care for them.

Ask what they need 

It could be someone to just sit with in the quiet, someone to eat with or just being that voice at the end of the phone. Asking them what they actually need rather than guessing makes things a lot easier in the long run.

Swot Up! 

There’s so much information out there to help you understand what your loved one is going through. Read personal accounts, watch documentaries, listen to music. You might not be living it but you can try to understand as much as possible.

Be there 

It really is as simple as that. Just being there for someone.

Be a champion 

Mental illness is something that we need to talk about and even if you’ve never lived it you can be a champion and continue the conversation.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

carrying on surviving the past year

Carrying On: Surviving the Past Year

Hello, hello, hello

I know, why am I talking about the past year when it’s April? You see the past year has been tough, really damn tough. It was unexpected and difficult and at times I didn’t really know how I was going to get through it all. I wish that was me being dramatic, I really do.

Career Changes

Aaaaaand this is where it kicked off. In April 2017 I was let go from a Marketing job. To be fair I wasn’t happy in it and now I know it was a good thing, a really good thing. So I did some temp work, some more work which turned out to be temp work before I found my current job. Now I do what I wanted to do when I graduated, I work in Social Media. I love doing extra research, looking at stats and people listen to what I have to say! That said my confidence took a really bad hit for a chunk of the year but I’m back guys!

 

Relationships!

So, Ali is a Sound Engineer and back in April 2017 he hadn’t done much travelling for work. We also hadn’t spent more than 2 weeks apart since we were 13 and 14. Everything changed in that regard this year. Now we’re used to spending time apart from a few nights to two months after a busy summer and his first tour. When it first came around I panicked, I cried and I was petrified of sleeping alone. Now? I miss him but hello, double bed for one? Yes, please.

Personal Challenges

Only a few days after losing my job, I lost my second Dwarf Hamster, Hamski. That was heartbreaking, we knew she was old but the timing just seemed cruel. Because of everything that was going on my mental health took a hit, I became very anxious and depressed, I thought that everything was destined to fail in my life. I was in a lot of pain which, I found out was going to continue to be a constant in my life. I really had to work hard to overcome my personal issues to succeed.

But it wasn’t all bad…

Of course, I’m going to throw in a cliche. It has to rain for flowers to grow. I believe that everything happens for a reason in your life, this year reminded me how resilient I am. I’ve been knocked on my arse and got up again. I’ve got a job that I love, that I feel so passionate about. I have my little Hamster, Wickett. Ali and I are actually closer since he started working away and then coming back. I started to get comfortable with how ‘boring’ I am. I know I can be fully independent if I need to be.

Long story short, it was shit but I got through it and I bet you could too.

 

monthly favourites lifestyle blogger

Monthly Favourites – February

Books

 

I read a lot of books this month once again (a mix of paperback, ebook and audiobook) but these three really stood out! After starting the A Court of Thorns and Roses series last month I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the season. I finished these very early on in the month and I already want to read them again…I’m serious. For non-fiction in February, I listened to Brave by Rose McGowan, I had no idea who she was from films just that Rose had started a movement. It’s not an easy read but it’s important and will blow you away. You can read about all the books I read this month here.

Fashion

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Only one fashion favourite this month and it’s this adorable dress from Primark! My grandparents picked this up for me and it is SO flattering. I love a dress where I can easily throw extra layers underneath!

Home

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I finally, finally, finally went to IKEA at the beginning of the month and got a second bookcase! Although it doesn’t look too full here there might still be a few books at my parent’s house that I need to bring over…oops! This is one of the slim Billy Bookcases and I looooove it!

Life 

 

This month it was Valentine’s Day and I was given a giant dragon, which has been named Puff after Ali drove all around the local towns looking for a Unicorn he wanted to get me, they’d sold out! I’ve also had some quality time with Wickett as well as my lovely Godkids Lexi and Ollie and finally, I managed to pick up some new Pop Vinyl’s! Don’t you think Ron and Ginny look fab?!

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Book Review: Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton 

7 Things I Wish I’d Known As A New Graduate 

Book Review: Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

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Well, what can I say about Dolly and everything she knows about love. Finally, finally, we have a memoir that a twenty-something can relate to. There’s talk of MSN Messenger, of life before iPhones and the frustration at the current housing crisis. Love, jealousy and most importantly, friendship are all woven throughout the pages of this book in equal parts. I wanted to laugh and cry throughout.

I’ll be honest, in the first few chapters, I wondered if I would connect with Dolly. She talks about the suburban life, her boarding school, living with girlfriends etc. Not exactly things I relate to but, as she grows I could see myself and, at the moment in my life this was the book I needed. Nothing is off limits and while, in the beginning, I was frustrated that Dolly seemed to gloss over problems, this was only for a short period, by the end of the book I was rooting for her, I saw myself in her and her friends.

While the title is all Dolly know’s about love, she doesn’t clarify what kind of love. This isn’t a self-help book, this is how a young woman has navigated the relationships in her life whether that be with partners, her friends or herself, each is mentioned. Of course, there are hilarious stories of bad dates, strange men and questionable antics it’s not just a ‘look what a crazy single girl’ type book. It has heart, and that’s the most important.

The best part though? The humour. Dolly writes satirically about when friends grow up, the expectations for hen dos, baby showers and the like. About the feeling of loss and insecurity when your friends are moving faster than you are. About trying to work yourself out in your twenties and having no idea where to start.

In short, this was a brilliant book. I’ve given it 4 out of 5 stars, I only do so for two reasons, one there were recipes kind of randomly placed throughout the book and two, I wish some parts had gone more in-depth but understand that Dolly may not have felt she could. I 100% recommend this for anyone in their twenties who needs a pick me up!

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and author who gave me an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.