All Posts By bridie

Do You Ever Just Feel… Painfully Average?

Posted on 5 min read

Painfully average. It’s a vaguely fatuous term but complex in all its connotations. When some people talk about being painfully average they talk about not passing maths or lacking rhythm or eating nuggets and chips for tea every day but when I talk about feeling painfully average (actually I don’t which is why this burst of conversation is ironically derived from securing the lock on my deep-rooted cynical cerebral conceit) I mean an all consuming wave of sub-parity, a real definition of my depiction, incessant doubt and instability, and a thought or ten that never goes away.

Painfully average to me is a static state of never being good enough, no matter how hard I try. It’s counteracting with that whiff of regard that you are trying, convincing yourself you’re a washed out footnote in what trying really translates to. It’s feeling lazy and useless and stupid. It’s logging on to social media to discover the sunflower in a sea of daffodils has just been given that promotion or reached a triumphant milestone or being welcomed to work with their dream brand; and you’re just a hovering barren bumblebee unable to harvest pollen, wrapped up in the absence of validation.

It’s the fruition of disappointment and disapproval. The rumination of mediocrity. Being nothing special or noteworthy. Irrelevant in my jaded existence. It’s having zero faith in my capabilities. It’s being laced with self doubt which in succession prevents that flow of confidence and creativity and ambition, navigating that vicious circle. It’s never holding the superior title. Failing to conquer relatively resourceful skills because my brain is unable to gather information at an expert rate. Practicing but never quite reaching that satisfactory endgame and allowing that disabling defeat to overpower my entire being. Keen to build an empire but instead only managing to shelter in a flimsy made tent as the wind gravitates me in a tailspin back to that endless limbo.

It’s stationed below what is expected of a twenty something, boxed in with no way of escaping without the illustrious voice in my head taking centre place on the winning podium and laughing directly at me if I even attempt to ask for help or strive for more. It’s also my own expectations, ingrained and compressed furthermore in a mind running off pure pipe dreams and elusive pursuits, never satisfied or fulfilled with who I am and what I want. Visualising change and improvement and then being stared out by intrusive thoughts of “why bother?”

It’s feeling the wishy-washy kind of insipidly dull. Like a failure. An empty soul. Being behind on the times. Like anything I ever do or achieve (emphasis on the ever) is going to match up to the prodigal son who’s made up of not just ordinary stone but dazzling gemstones. It’s meaninglessly filling the void directionless, mulling over and wondering whether I’ll catch up on the thriving ladder of relationships and career and general success in comparison to ~normal~ people my age. Whether I’ll ever make it in life with that placid, content feeling of value and belonging.

 

Painfully average is not quite finding my place yet nor fitting into the universally cool criteria. It’s that trivial rejection email or notification or voice out loud that feels like a drastic event and tears you apart. It’s exerting myself with the amount of effort I’m putting in and seeing nothing for it. Like no matter how many hours I put into a project it’ll always be on the bottom pile shielded with dust. Wanting to give up but knowing full well I’m still not doing enough to help myself and taking the wrath of guilt that follows. Dwelling on the fact it’s never me on that pedestal, in fact I’m just on the back burner not daring to make a name of myself or actually being acknowledged to do so. It’s that sickening, blood draining, lump in your throat when it hits you.

It’s that reoccurring phase of being somewhere in the middle, unwavering yet sailing amongst more desirable options. Stuck in a foggy, unclear atmosphere of suffocation and suspension and suffering and then smiling, like everything’s all right. Tumbling in a constellation of inhibition and irrelevance with an inability to go anywhere; floating my way through the sphere on a black cloud above sunshine and rainbows. I’m not moving but the rest of the world still continues to orbit perfectly fine around and without me.

 

 

And feeling painfully average isn’t just limited to my inner self. It’s the outer oxymoron. Having a volatile habit of depriving my personal quality by appearance shaming. There’s periods of adequateness, like when I dress in my Sunday best and prance around streets embracing the one thing I am solidified in (style fyi) but then the unsettling hatred germinates and before I know it it’s all I’m blazoned with. Is that linked with my conceptual insecurities? Perhaps. The two are most likely conjoined. But it doesn’t make it any easier. When the mirror is no longer my friend. I’m alone with no camaraderie and just downbeat thoughts circulating. Not feeling funny enough. Or pretty enough. Or striking enough. Or just enough. Being well aware I’ll never be that flawlessly, glossy, witty glamour model with cooperative hair and golden skin and an impeccably toned bod; especially when I’m figuratively strapped to my bed with week old hair, a bare face, sunken eyes and spots because of an unexpected and unwanted pain flare up. Being well aware and predominantly accepting it, but also wishing more than anything I could swap faces, bodies, and lives, with her in the spotlight.

 

I think I am subconsciously aware I do have reasons to be above painfully average but not the kind I desire, not the type I feel I’m capable of embodying.

There’s a tweet doing its rounds on Twitter at the moment:

and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Yeah, I laughed because it was definitely a direct attack, excuse me hdu. But it’s not until it’s actively materialised into your train of thought that you start to muse over how the perception of yourself from child to adulthood can be so profoundly different. I was the good kid, regularly praised, breezing through school, plenty of friends and fun and bubbling with that guileless sense of majestic credibility.  Only when I started having problems mentally at the end of high school did the switch flick. My aspiration began to dwindle and the painfully average overtone of being utterly insufficient became encapsulated in everything I perpetrated.

Using humour as a method of distraction and a coping mechanism is definitely popular in my rule book trajectory. I can jest about seeing people younger than me settling down and buying a house and getting married and having babies whilst I laugh at farts with my brother on an evening where I eat cereal at 1am and devote my entire slumber state to a new sitcom. It’s okay until that starts to becomes a designated, ineradicable, painfully average fear.

 

The big PA is semantics. It’s food for thought. It’s a term individual for everyone. And that’s what I am, wholly individual. I’m not even seeking to be highly above average. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into a standard category but I just can’t seem to get a grasp on it becoming a casual phrase instead of an eternal mood eating away at me and weighed down like an anchor beneath a stationary boat. All I know is that when it does happens, I’m enclosing it to a glass bottle and sending it out into my own ocean of forever.

Share

Olympus PEN EPL9: My First Thoughts

Posted on 8 min read

Olympus PEN EPL9 review

Dismissing the fact it feels like we’re in the 50th week of January, it’s almost been one month since I unwrapped my Olympus PEN EPL9 on Christmas Day. Unaware and taken aback. My Grandma trying to play-act about a mysterious final present in the boot of the car parked outside. Three pairs of eyes and a knowing smile pinned upon me. It’s definitely up there with the most unexpected but unsurpassable gifts of all time!

I’ve had my eye on the Olympus PEN EPL9 for a while. Not even because it’s the staple device essential for every cliche contemporary blogger and their mum but because of how practical it both looked and functioned. I was well aware of the trio of models, heard about the EPL7 and 8 in their all the rage prime and I can’t say I’m in the well informed position to compare the three but I did have an intuition that the Olympus PEN EPL9 would be my soulmate camera.

And I was right.

I’ve had more than enough time now to test drive the machine masterpiece to its full potential and even then, I’ve probably not utilised all the features to its maximum performance but I did want to talk about how much I love it, how I feel it’s going to propel all the enterprising creativity my brain is packed with, and how it’s (hopefully) gonna be my lifelong accomplice in a (hopefully) fulfilled content producing journey.

Olympus PEN EPL9 review

Fetching Design

The stylish design is absolutely beaut! It comes in three colours, four if you’re including the exclusive stunning blue colour. I’ve been lusting over that model since it was first showcased but the next best is most definitely the subtle brown and it once again goes to prove just how well my mum knows me. It has a lovely vintage feel to it, like those old school cameras you’d see preserved on a mount in a museum. I’m very much thinking about upgrading the strap to match!

The metal body isn’t particularly as light as you’d think by first appearance but certainly a big switch from my hefty heavyweight Nikon D3100. Although it’s been my reliable, all purpose DSLR for a good few years, the Olympus PEN EPL9 is much more slick, compact, and convenient. Easy to pop into your handbag instead of the bulk breaking your back – and with a sturdy grip, too.

The Olympus PEN EPL9 is so complex but not in that overwhelming, panicky ‘I have no idea how to work this’ way. In fact, I picked up the mechanics pretty swiftly. It took me a while to get to grips with all the fancy bits I’d never come across before but once I’d cracked it, it activated the advantages and got me geared up for how I can play around and put these into practice.

There’s 9 Modes To Choose From

I’m still yet to venture into purely manual shooting and part of me wishes I’d just take the plunge and really study the basics, practice the ins and outs, and master the technique of adjusting the aperture/f stop and shutter speed operates solely freehand but for now that’s something I’m going to use as future reference when I teach myself the functionality with my fresh new baby by my side (or should I say in hand).

Thankfully, A mode is ever present on the Olympus PEN EPL9 and that’s what I’ve settled with, for now. But you are spoilt for choice with 9 different modes to explore!

AUTO – Your typical point and shoot. All settings will be selected without you having to do a thing.

P – In-between Auto and Manual. Selects most conducive shutter speed and aperture but allows you to be in control of exposure via the wheel.

A – The mode I was raving about! You are in charge of adjusting the aperture and the camera alters the shutter speed for optimum results. There’s freedom on all other settings and most importantly it allows you to modify the background blur.

S – Shutter priority. Which means it’s the opposite way. You decide the shutter speed and the camera chooses the aperture. Works exactly like A mode for everyday shooting and moving subjects.

M – It’s all on you. In manual mode you set the shutter speed and aperture to balance the two together in a way that suits your personal photography desires. Leaves you in full control of your images!

SCN – Short for scene, obviously. You’re able to access the user friendly guide to whatever is the topic of your subject and the camera will choose the best suited settings. There’s the main 6 (as shown) and then further specific sub-options such as portrait, landscape, macro, children, fireworks, etc.

AP –  Advanced photo mode. A super handy, resourceful option. You can access 9 advanced photography methods: Live Composite, Live Time, Multiple Exposure, HDR, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE Bracketing, and Focus Bracketing.

 

ART – Here you can pick between 16 filters to add some colouring to your photos. As you’re testing you can see the effect live on screen in real-time which is fantastic for getting a vibe of what you’d like. My personal favourite is the new instant film filter which adds a warm, grungy look and fits in with my theme!

Stand Out Features

The Olympus PEN EPL9 doesn’t just stop there. There’s many multi-facets which make it effective for everything you want in a camera; whether that be simple or artistic.

 

There’s the adjustable exposure wheel in the same place you’d rework aperture but using the buttons to select the exposure meter instead. You can increase or decrease it making your snaps brighter or darker. You just have to be careful to not go too overboard, especially as it can slow down the shutter speed.

There’s the flip up screen. Something I can’t get enough of. It’s probably just the customary norm for those with Olympus PEN’s but to me it’s basically life-altering. It means I can actually have the image frame reflecting back into eye view which is necessary to snap that perfectly awkward flatlay or shameless selfie or anything else I fancy mustering up from scratch. The Olympus PEN EPL9 also has a flip out screen which manoeuvres upwards and then outwards. Highly snazzy and extremely neat!

There’s the touchscreen. Another nifty little feature. You can alternate with the green square in the corner, depending on whether you prefer to use with or without. I’ve used it mainly for focusing, zooming, and actually taking photos and it’s a fast fab way to get the most out of your photo shooting session.

There’s the built in flash. Just flips up at the flick of a button. Albeit I don’t think I’ll be using it much as I prefer the natural light but it’s there for when you require it.

There’s the super control menu which on the Olympus PEN EPL9 is automatically programmed so is all laid out for you! By pressing the OK button you have immediate, quick access to all the settings you need such as ISO, White Balance,  Face Priority, AF Area, Format, Ratio, and so on. Just a heads up, I usually persist with auto ISO and WB, auto focus with framing, and I shoot in raw at 4:3 screen size.

There’s the built in wifi and bluetooth which can easily be connected with the Olympus Image Share app meaning I can import my photos straight to my iPhone in just a couple of minutes. It’s one of the greatest, most facilitating parts, I reckon. Especially for bloggers on the go. Once you’ve finished your shoot you can upload them, have a browse through, and even get a cheeky feel of how they lay out on your insta grid. The app also has a remote control and you can operate your camera’s shutter speed and bring a live view directly to your smartphone screen. I’m yet to try this, though!

Finally, there’s the 4k movie video. Something I’m super excited about as my aim for 2019 is to dive into video based content and really up my Instagram creativity game. Whether that be gifs, hauls, styling vids, and even the odd vlog. The supreme quality recording emphasises to that wished upon glossy effect – and there’s also an option for high speed video which can be played back in slow motion. How cool?!?

Lenses

Another bonus with the Olympus PEN EPL9 is the interchangeable lenses. My camera came intact with the standard pancake zoom lens 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 AND the 30mm 1:3.5 macro as apparently there was an epic deal on where you received that free when purchasing the normal kit!

The pancake lens is one I’ve heard so many positive reviews about and some of my all time favourite bloggers shoot their beautiful imagery with this so my hopes were high and they’re yet to be dampened as I continue usage. It’s a brilliant starter lens as the wide angle and optical zoom allows you to capture as close and far away as you want. In my beginner eyes it’s the standard point and shoot which covers the main areas: flatlays, outfit pics, room interior etc. If you’re close enough to the subject area you can also form blur so it really is the sustainable combo of versatility and value.

I’ve only used the 30mm lens once and that was for portraiture which I believe is most beneficial for, along with outdoor nature and the odd product shot. For a maximum aperture of 3.5 it’s reasonably sharp! The powerful 2.5x image magnification and close focus point is also a huge plus!

I’m more than happy with these as all round lenses but eventually I do want to invest in more; obviously within my budget and the priority being a lower aperture wide lens focal length. I’ve been doing some research and the 17mm and 45mm are looking like the most favoured preferences. Now all I need to do is get on with advertising and selling my old camera!

I will be sad to let my Nikon go, don’t get me wrong. It’s helped me develop photography skills, shaped my style over the years, and there’s some sentimental memories that have been shot on that camera, but our time has come to an end and there’s a newer, better, badder bitch in town.

Now, I don’t hold an expert opinion that’s for sure but I really can’t fault the Olympus PEN EPL9 and actually, I’ve grown attached already. I’m an eager beaver. My motivation has plummeted. I’m just so much more satisfied with how my photos are piecing together!

The high tech durability. The make up of the model. The extensive components. To me, it’s like a superior transition from a smartphone. These days you can take relatively good photos from your phone, but this is like the additional boost which takes you from a grain of sand to gold dust. It’s more than suitable for everybody, to be honest. The beginners, the more advanced photographers, and the in-betweeners like me.

I’m so keen to just work with it all the time! Aside from a couple of test runs over the Christmas and New Year period I had my first ~official~ full outfit shoot on Sunday and managed to smash it in just ten minutes with a whole batch of photos I was chuffed with; and I didn’t complain or go in a sulk about them, once!!

Olympus, honey, me and you are gonna get on well.

Are you an Olympus PEN owner? Do you have a favourite element to the camera or have any tips for me to register and take on board? If you do, please do send them my way! I want to learn EVERYTHING.

Share

2018: my yearly recap and how I’m stepping into 2019

Posted on 12 min read

2018. It’s been a funny old year. In January’s reflective post I had an intuition 2018 would be the year of good fortune but I was wrong, as per. I made a real effort to follow the purposeful plan I’d set out for myself, the objectives, the testimonies, and the life mantras, but a couple of weeks down the line and I found myself having to force it.

As the years go by, the less I want to spend hours typing out a lengthy post that fits the ‘new year, new me’ culture. The less I want to blend in with the crowd and start laying out all these romanticised, stilted statements declaring I’m going to become a completely different person and remain nothing but upbeat and positive because in reality, that isn’t reachable for someone like me. I’d very much like it to be. That’s probably why I assertively tell myself and get it down in writing; but if there’s one thing I’ve executed this year it’s unfeigned honesty and direct gospel – through the ebb and flow – and that’s what I’d like to carry on persisting with.

So, instead of railroading my way through another bittersweet year flying by and another unpredictable one open to possibility on the horizon, I’m reviewing and I’m reflecting.

2018. It’s tested me but it’s also opened my eyes and taught me valuable lessons. I’ve seen true colours. I’ve lost respect for people I thought I’d hold on a pedestal for a long time to come. I’ve become wary and had a downfall of trust. I’ve fortuitously fallen out of love with things that once meant the world to me, things that once played the chief role in my happiness. I’ve wobbled and I’ve won. I’ve been intentionally hurt and knocked down. I’ve given in to people trying to break me. I’ve been at my all time low. I’ve been surrounded by so many anxieties and worries about the here and now and the future; tons of questions and realisations that leave me sad. I haven’t felt like myself. I’ve been lost and lonely and weak and unsure. I’ve still been battling with no fixed outcome daily.

But I’ve also been strong. Resourceful, empathetic, compassionate, driven, open, passionate, liberal. I’ve laid my struggles and self-hood out on a plate and taken that risk of people being able to target every little component of my life – but it’s paid off. I’m using my personal experiences to achieve, inform, and impel. I’ve read more. Educated myself more. Listened to more music. Listened to more people. Been more vocal. For most of the year I’ve spoke as an advocate for those most oppressed in society and especially the disabled/chronic pain community. That honest mindset has given me an understanding of who I am and what I stand for. Allowed me to feel empowered and unstoppable and in turn it’s worked in my favour.

I’ve witnessed karma first hand. I’ve recognised what is toxic, that there’s a difference between what you want and what you need. I’ve learned that walking away from someone and/or something that had a hold on you, so much so that you lost sight of what’s important and what you yourself are made up of, can be liberating and free and leave you in a newfangled sense of peace. I’ve also learned that it’s OK to let said people go because all-sorts of folk will come and go in life – whether they’re meant to be temporary or permanent. I’ve moved on. I’ve focused on myself and my dreams and my personality. I’ve cemented friendships with an even more resolute connection. I’ve appreciated how blessed I am to have such an incredible network of people around me who are patient, understanding, and accepting. And I’ve proudly said; you know what? I’m a pretty sound human and I aim to continue improving on that.

 

 

It was probably just a few weeks into January when I realised the year of 2018 was just going to be as shite as the rest but actually, that’s my pessimism demonstrating its demons. Looking back there has actually been a fair few stand out moments and that’s what I love about reflecting on the past year, you find positivity you failed to see before.

I’ll definitely be orchestrating a photo-focused round up in my insta stories in the next couple of days before the clock strikes midnight, the fireworks are lit, and the party induced fun and frolics are reinforced to the limit on the 31st, but a quick summary of all the good bits of 2018 worth raving about is something I wanted to report in my 2018 synopsis.

The year started off amazingly as I attended my first Blog At The Beach and subsequently went and won myself a trip to Paris. PARIS. Bloody Paris! The place I’ve been fantasising about visiting since forever. I then headed off with my sidekick (aka mum) at the end of July in a sweltering heatwave and had the most mesmerising time which I’d do anything to relive! I landed myself some fab collaborations both on social media and my blog, working with some amazing brands; most notably Pretty Little Thing, Warehouse, Nomination Italy, Victoria Leeds, and Beauty Bay. I attended numerous events and restaurant reviews. I’ve been slowly but steadily growing a business I intend to aim towards skyrocketing to its prime in 2019! I got my first freelance writing gig and composed from the heart. I got another job from home as an online stylist (the platform’s currently being relaunched so that’s something I’ll be getting to grips with in the new year!) I featured in news articles, magazines, documentaries, and have spoken to media outlets about my story – pushed myself to face my fear and anxiety of phone calls and told my story. I raised £500 for The Stroke Association – a charity I’ve doubled my support and unification for, this year.

 

I’ve seen three of my favourite artists live and bought tickets for three more (speaking of which, The 1975 hold the album of the year title! Modernity has definitely failed me and I can’t wait to yell the Love It If We Made It bridge at my loudest next month.) I went on my second girls holiday to gorgeous Gran Canaria, had no recollection of sleeping four in a bed, slow danced to a Whitney Houston tribute, laughed until we cried, and loved it so much we booked to go back to the same place again. I had the most unbeatable summer fuelled with football fever and red hot sunshine I never thought I’d have. And, most weighty and progressive for me and my self-doubt and consciousness, began to debut my face and my voice via video – opening up new doors and using this to engage fully with my audience. Testing the waters. Experimenting. Constantly wanting to strive for content both you and I enjoy!

It’s been a mixed 2018. Hard to deal with for the majority, but full of memories to treasure. A real whirlwind of emotions but emotions I’ve been able to release; be more comfortable in talking about and revealing to the world. Often it’s felt like I’ve felt so much at once and yet nothing at all. Hollow and dead inside but about ready to burst with apprehension and overpowering, loud energy. The main point is, I can take the good days with the bad and share that publicly and that’s what I aim to carry on doing. The less alienated I’ll feel, and the more adjoined I’ll feel to you lovely lot.

 

Although I’ve promised myself no resolutions, no strict goals, no ridiculous, unreachable aspirations, I still want to go into 2019 working on myself and myself first and foremost. There’s five key methods I want to implement into my mentality.

  1. Stop trying to compete with the same. I feel like 2018 has consisted of me being so caught in trying to be I neglected the letting me be. I want to properly drill it into myself that I’ll never be the 100k photo perfected superior kind of blogger but that doesn’t have to be a downfall. The complete opposite, in fact. I have my own individual quirks and ways of documenting my creativity and if I concentrate on that alone it’s bound to be beneficial.  I want to try and switch off from the intensity and pressures of social media whilst still being interactive, sort of discovering that balance. My attitude is to strive to work for something bigger for myself; instead of trying to conform within someone else’s world, I want to mould my own. After all, no-one really cares if I disappear. Nobody notices or reaches out or will be missing my posts. It doesn’t shake them or knock their routine. That’s why I need to stop trying so hard to please other people with what I produce and stop seeking validation that isn’t going to be instrumental for me on a long term basis.
  2. Be responsible for my own happiness and well-being. Staying with social media; I pledge to make my feeds a safe haven. Block and mute stuff that makes me uncomfortable and leaves me with dread, anger, and anguish – because boy has 2018 been full of those. The internet has been heavy and hard to handle this year. People seem to have gotten more disrespectful and unnecessarily horrible and in turn 2018 has definitely made me more perceptive of what affects me and I want and need to keep that ongoing. I often tell myself as long as I’ve grown as a person it doesn’t matter that nothing’s changed but the end of 2018 going into 2019 is and is going to be the turning point and the ultimate breakthrough. Nothing’s changed because I’ve not allowed it to. I’ve stayed in my safe, comfort zone and only stepped out of it a couple of times that I breathed a sigh of relief over when it was done with. Next year I want to outdo myself, shock myself with how adventurous I’ve been, to explore outside my usual endeavours. No more getting lost in imagination, more acting on it. I am the motivator for change; for my general wellness, my mental health, my peace of mind, my stability, my fulfilment, my thrills and my contented pleasures. Relying on others and fantasies to form my own happiness is unhealthy. I’ve already kick-started the process but I am erasing the concept of depending on people that don’t even care about my existence, and hyper-focusing on situations that last only a day before reality hits again. Finding and creating self happiness is hard but doable and I’ve taken the first step by admitting I need help and support via therapy. It’s not going to come to me, I have to make it happen, and I’m excited about and eager to see what’s going to come next with the right guidance and stance!
  3. Construct confidence and self-worth. I’ve shed light on this subject a couple of times. In a blog post at the start of the year and on a recent insta post inspired by Paige’s #ChristmasConfidence campaign. I wrote what was close to a heartfelt essay about the functions of my brain. How no matter what people say otherwise, it will always tell me I’m a useless waste of oxygen, that the reflection I see is ugly, too flabby, not fit to society’s standards. I spoke about not wanting to be so wrapped up in the negatives as I exit 2018. I don’t want to fake my confidence with a false poise. I don’t want to be scrutinising myself with every photo I take and every outfit I try on. I don’t want to set myself diet and fitness goals and only then allow myself to feel hot. I want to embrace my flaws, accept what cannot be changed, and what makes me the person I am. There’s three aims I intend on epitomising: stop doubting myself, give time for myself, and love myself – because what is meant for me will be mine.
  4. Chase that development. I want to chase the gains on my hopeful career ladder but I also want to chase the curiosity and the ambition and the impulse and the passion. Think outside the box, up my creativity and revolutionise my ideas, really get to grips with what I want to convey in my niche and focus on a day by day approach with origination and blossoming trailing behind at full speed. Put my heart and soul into ventures and projects. Put even greater time and effort in and hopefully – fingers crossed – notice the results come this time next year!
  5. Leave behind what isn’t good for me. Not just the trivial things that I really shouldn’t get myself stressed and worked up over but the way people treat me and respond to me as an individual. Less worrying but also less being a pushover. I’m not begging anyone to stay or saving space for people who can’t be bothered or show no interest in me. My circle of people who matter is small but balls to being afraid to cut people out if they show signs of lying and manipulating and being passive-aggressive in the way they behave around me. It’s okay to put myself first because this is my life, my heart, my mind, my body, my beliefs, my thoughts, my feelings, my cause, my existence. I am unapologetically me and I don’t need vindication from anyone but myself.

All in all, the underlying sentiment is that the more the years go on and the older I get, the more I am determined to become better, more aware and receptive. There’s a quote by Denzel Washington I like to always look back on when I need a reminder that being a good person gets you to where you want to be and always sits at the number one spot when life is playing out around you.

“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished it’s about who you’ve lifted up who you’ve made better it’s about what you’ve given back.” 

2018 has definitely been that kind of year and 2019 will take that notion by the hand and lead it further forward. With blips and woes but with perseverance and power!

Now, it probably wasn’t the wisest idea writing this hefty, deep, digestive post in the weird wilderness period between Christmas and New Year when we’re all delusional as to what day we’re on, who we are, and what we’re supposed to be doing. Being the least impressive and most unattractive version of ourselves. Falling into an abyss of endless food and sleepiness, made up of 90% chocolate and 10% indigestion.

I’m currently there. It took a metaphorical slap to the face to get me shifted off the sofa I’ve melted in to since Christmas Day and get sat down to express all the internalised conflict 2018 has shifted upon me. It doesn’t help that a massive flare up of chronic pain has inevitably occurred after having a lot of bonkers fun and that’s tied me down. But writing this has proved it doesn’t have to have me entirely in a choke-hold and I do actually feel pretty damn cleansed nearly 3000 words down. Exhausted and my hand in agony, but cleansed.

These few days are where it’s okay to take time off and strive to do absolutely nothing but it’s more than okay if you want to follow in my footsteps. Just saying.

 

 

I peaked early because I’m heading off to the East Midlands tomorrow morning for a family break to a tranquil country park in joint celebrations of my mum’s 50th and new year’s eve. I’m staying in a caravan meets lodge, with the most snazzy design, a hot tub, and a TV above the bath. Spending three days there, seeing 2018 out and welcoming 2019 in is just what the soul requires. Reconnecting with natural nature, winter walks along the lake, chilled evenings, more scrumptious food, getting dolled up for the new year shenanigans, forgetting about every errand and problem 2018 appended on me for a short while, and not feeling as though I’m obliged to do anything but draw a blank. It’s going to do me the world of good leaving 2018 behind and starting the new year in another place – a peaceful setting at that – I feel it in my bones, and I hope this time I’m right.

If you’ve got to the end of this mammoth post then, congratulations. I applaud you. I also hope you’ve had a brilliant Christmas and end 2018 with a bang (take that how you want.)

I’ll be signing off until regular schedule begins, now, but will more than likely be still posting bits and bobs over on Instagram over the weekend. I hope you’ve had the chance to rest and retreat and come back afresh with new inspiration and ideas. I definitely have and you should start to see me implementing them as soon as I properly get the concept into gear.

And last of all, THANK YOU. Every sign of support from my small but mighty bunch of readers has kept me going this year. The compliments, the feedback, the likes, the messages, the praises, the invites. Knowing I have those dedicated readers with me every step of the way on my turbulent journey, even through the rejections and the lows, is why I do this and is why I’m always striving for excellence. I hope 2019 brings you everything you wish for and every inch of contentment and feeling of success, enthusiasm, and purpose you’ve brought me!

Lots of love,

Bridie xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

SHOP THE POST:

Share

Christmas Eve Musings: My Favourite Things About Christmas

Posted on 7 min read

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE!

This is possibly the most cliche Christmas post I’ll ever write but in all the years I’ve blogged about the holly jolly season I don’t think I’ve ever flat out stated what I savour the most at Christmas time. I’ve gone down the playfully, witty road, expressed my Christmas Eve traditions, and even spoke about what a typical day in my household contains of back in my novice stage. But I’ve never directly had an informal natter about what personally brings me the most joy and gratification, and what isn’t necessarily succumbed to the materialism attached.

That part of Christmas, for me, seems to have faded as I’ve gotten older. The ever-growing environment around you and the circumstances surrounding you as an adult allow you to conform a different mentality of what it’s really about; of what really matters. From the most minor, random parts of your festive regimen, to just appreciating the people and the nostalgic, visceral memories you have around you. What’s under the tree on Christmas morning is just a secondary component and there’s so much more out there to immerse yourself, your efforts, and your high-spirited, kind heart in.

I’m also writing this post to attempt to throw myself right in the deep end of festive feels because this year I couldn’t feel less Christmassy even if I tried. It’s just a mere few hours before the 25th and it still seems like any ordinary day. It still feels like I’m stuck in an alternate universe where autumn hit and I became dormant. Bizarre and baffling, but also quite unsettling. I do not want to turn into a grumpy old Grinch, thank you very much.

Although I had a brief rumination over on Instagram a couple of days back, talking about how Christmas is a difficult time of year for some, how it can trigger loss, how it can feel so empty and lonely in your head and your home, how it’s hard to keep up with the pressure and compulsory fun we must be having, and how your mental and physical illness doesn’t just disappear come December, I do still want to remember what stark, simple slices of magic this celebratory event held, and still holds. I can’t stress enough that it’s okay not to be merry and bright. It’s perfectly fine to dislike Christmas, but it’s also nice to remember not to lose sight of the amenities which make you fuzzy and smiley, right?!

Right.

The beige food

I don’t think there’s anything better, really. Bite-size buffet food has always been a (not so) guilty pleasure of mine. Although my bloated tummy won’t agree afterwards, overindulging in the rare form of Christmas themed snacks is the seasonal superiority. From the canapes of savoury, the mini sausage rolls and pastries, to allll the cheese, nuts, and limited edition crisps that I somehow naturally hunt down every single year. Searching the shops at this time of year is honestly fascinating because there’s foods in there you’ve never seen before and a miniature platter version of pretty much everything. I mean, halloumi pigs in blankets? What kind of genius? Gimme all the party nibbles so I can inundate myself until the end of time!

Christmas drinks

Nope, not just the fizz and the sweet tasting beverages that usually contain some kind of cranberry; but also, like the true basic bitch I am – the hot chocolates and the coffees. I’m in agreement that the chain merchants are overpriced and profit-orientated but when else am I gonna be able to grab a gingerbread latte and a hot chocolate that tastes like Terry’s Chocolate Orange? The Christmas menu at Starbucks and Costa never fails to let me down. It’s the one occasion I can forgive myself for consuming enough sugar for the day in one sitting.

Wrapping gifts

I can only apologise to those who despise spending hours making their presents look presentable as you get tangled in ribbon and tags, lose the end to the sellotape, and misplace the pen every five seconds because I bloody love it. Call me weird but it’s the epitome of ultimate Christmas completion, for me. It’s really cathartic, just to sit and have some quiet time. Music playing, creative head switched on. I can officially relax once they’re done and dusted and look pretty. Mostly because I have a penchant for the visuals. I’m a careful wrapper. I like to pretend I’m pro. I’ve also got to go full Pinterest – despite not actually being on Pinterest (a goal I’m working on for 2019) – and figure out an annual aesthetic. I’ll spend a good few minutes smiling to myself about the thought I’ve put into the gifts before I wrap them. Then I must photograph my flatlay with precise coordination. And finally, then I can sit back and watch my handiwork be ripped apart in mere seconds. It’s just all part of the process I love!

The cosiness 

I dislike winter in general. It’s too cold. Too dark. I’m miserable. I have a chronic pain flare up almost every day. But boy am I tremendously pleased Christmas falls in December because without the sombre atmosphere you wouldn’t be able to jazz it up with lights and trimmings and candles. I find it impossible to get bored during the celebratory break, to be honest. Not when you can put your feet up, tuck into a box of truffles, dim the lights with the tree twinkling, and watch cheesy movies all day. There’s something unique about Christmas cosiness, it’s different to ordinary cosiness. Everything just feels that little more contiguous and close to comfort.

The togetherness

For the other 364 days of the year, it’s near impossible and extremely rare to get the whole family together. Not that I mind. Now at the ripe, wise age of 25 I find company of clashing opinions quite overwhelming but I still take delight in being surrounded by my loved ones. The inside jokes, the stupid conversations, the exchanging of gifts and general ruckus, the children’s excitement, the reminiscing of old times and the ones who are sadly missing from the clique. It’s all holistic for the heart. A time to forget the problematic factors of life and focus on the happy moments in the here and now.

Giving

I specifically spoke about this in my latest freelance writing piece. About giving the gift of yourself and what you have to selflessly offer. Splurging isn’t what counts, it’s showing your love in alternate ways. Through gestures of goodwill, through actions and words, and granting the gift of time. One thing I’m proud of this Christmas is partaking in The Stroke Association’s campaign and sharing my story and my positivity for others in need of it. It gave me purpose and that’s probably going to reflect back to other survivors. I’m also a real advocate for giving to those who are less fortunate at this time of year. Donating to charities. Helping the homeless. Dropping off some unwanted bits and bobs at your local food bank or refuge. I’m working on perpetuating consideration and compassion every day of the year, not just at Christmas, but it’s this time of year when it becomes that little bit extra meaningful.

 

Everything is acceptable

Literally everything. The Fuck it, it’s Christmas attitude is amazing. You don’t think twice about eating everything in sight because the existence of calories somehow evaporate with every chocolate scrammed. Lounging about in the worst possible attire and not brushing your hair for an entire weekend is approved. Blowing your bank account on all the sales gets a thumbs up. There is no drinking limit. Spending the majority of the rest up duration playing crappy board games somehow becomes unsurpassed entertainment. There is little to no concept of time. You don’t know what day we’re on. All you know is that you’re on day three of the leftover turkey, you’ve forgot to pay a bill, and you’ve just agreed to drive to Timbuktu.  And let’s not even talk about the “I’ll do it after Christmas” to do list. Now we know where the term January Blues appeared from!

In and amongst all my jest, I do wish you the merriest of Christmases and hope you’re in the presence of everything you’ve wished for and everything that makes you happy. This is my sign off post for a few days, to just turn a blind eye to social media, forget the errands, and soak up every last bit of family time.

It’ll be a hectic day for us. Mum’s making the dinner for the famous four aka herself, me, my brother, and grandma. We’ll then probably let the overload of food settle with a sit down and a watch of whatever’s on TV. Three lots of present opening – from each other in the morning, from my grandma and to my grandma when she comes round, and the chaotic calamity once we head over to my auntie’s to spend the night with the extended family with another hoard of bags.  Boxing day’s a quieter one, my gran’s making her speciality dumplings (so another massive meal, yep) and then new year – well that’s a whole other tale to tell in my 2018 reflection post.

To whoever’s reading, you’re the best, and THANK YOU for all the support – all year round and with this month’s content. I’ll catch you on the 28th-31st (whenever I can be bothered climbing out of my lazy Christmas haze to write the post up) with a proper, in depth round up of the year in full.

Merry Christmas you bladdy bunch of legends!

Share

How To Make The Most Of Christmas Markets

Posted on 6 min read

To me, Christmas markets indicate the first sign of the Christmas countdown. As soon as you see the rustic stalls and the festive chalets being set up, it means you’re officially entitled to watch Love Actually on repeat, eat a full tub of Celebrations to yourself, and hum Mariah Carey till your heart’s content. They’re the prime tradition across the world; blessing us with a sugar overload, overpriced booze, and an exuberant atmosphere that instantly nudges the festive spirit into gear!

As much as I’d love to travel the lengths and depths of Europe to discover and experience the pinnacle of fancy, fun festivities, you really don’t even need to. Christmas markets with a dart of internationally inclusive frolics are right there on your doorstep and are available any time you want to venture out into the scenic winter village world.

They can, however, be quite a consuming and exerting task. Especially now just a few days before Christmas when the hustle and bustle of the crowds will be making the most of the jam packed week running up to the big day and the final closing of the Christmas market doors. But you can’t let that put you off when there’s so much to see and do. You’ve got to adopt the magical bonanza in your own way. Take advantage of the buzzing, warm vibes that bring happy holidays all round.

 

Leeds and Manchester are my most visited Christmas markets. I do have a goal of checking out the other local spotlight wonders come next year but for now these are my safe bet. One being my hometown trade, and the other being a larger, more popular location which is the fleshed out epitome of merry and bright, and which quite frankly shits all over other Northern England Christmas markets (aside from Edinburgh, I’ve heard that one’s top class and my dream is to head there one day in the hopefully not too distant future.)

It does all depend on where you are going but it helps to have a little guidance before you head off into the unknown void of fairy lights, cosy indoor retreats, overdecorated huts, sickly sweet ravishing scents, and a whole load of rowdy people (particularly if you’re a newbie.)

So, here’s a few tips to make the stressful Christmas markets life that little bit easier.

Check the weather forecast

This one’s a given, really. Staying on the Northern England radar in December time, it’s bound to be raining a good 90% of the time – and attempting to have a thorough look around with no shelter and a brolly that keeps blowing inside out is never fun and games. There’s not a lot you can do about the skies above, unfortunately, but teaming downpours does ruin the aesthetic of the Christmassy essence. Whereas, the cold doesn’t. Wrapping up like a polar bear in lots of layers adds to it but it’s still best to double check there isn’t a violent storm brewing for your own sanity at least!

Plan in advance

Another given but more handy than you think! You may convince yourself you have everything prepared but when you get there it’s a completely different story. When I say plan in advance I mean as in depth as possible! Schedule your journey. Leave plenty of time for everything you have in mind. Create tick lists of your most desired sector, the bargains you want to bag, what exactly it is you’re looking for. Have a vivid idea of how much you want to spend, and stock up on those extras you can whip out of your bag when you need them.

Get the timing right

Another practical tip but useful to bear in mind. The time of day and time of week you visit is crucial to your personal enjoyment. For me, I prefer natural lighting and less swarms of shoppers so I’ll try plan a trip midweek in the morning or early afternoon. For others, it may be the loud parades, the rowdy evening drinking and the beautifully lit up town in the dark they’re more drawn to – so any time through the week and on a weekend would be the better option. It’s also convenient to note it’ll obviously be quieter when the Christmas markets open in November, opposed to this late in December.

Take your camera

Especially if you’re photo obsessed like me. If you’re aiming for a fab festive feed there’s plenty of Instagrammable opportunities at Christmas markets. There’s light, colours, and subjects galore. From the bokeh effect at night time, to the pretty, polished trimmings adorning the wooden theme. There’s a chance for you to explore all areas of photography. Portraits of yourself beside the spirited shacks. Depth of field and blur focus on the gorgeous, glittery details of ornamental findings. The golden glow of the warm, brown tones. Utilising the amount of people present for those natural candids. Test and trial, work on those angles, and you’ll be capturing the mood of Christmas in no time!

Stock up on cash

Pretty obvious, I know. Not just because (unfortunately) if you want to buy things that means it costs money and you have to part with your bank balance (pfft, the audacity) but because Christmas markets don’t usually accept cards. As a millennial it’s effort drawing  money out instead of swiping contactless, I know, but it’s gotta be done. Christmas markets also aren’t really the place to be if you’re looking for a super cheap outing. You’ll need at least a tenner for some pancakes and a cup of mulled wine or beer! In most places you also need to put a deposit down for speciality mugs and glasses. You can return them to the stalls and reclaim your couple of pounds back afterwards but often enough they’re too cute to hand back and you end up keeping them as a collectors souvenir instead!

Take advantage of the unique items

If you spot a beautifully crafted memento, grab it quickly. Christmas markets often work on a come and go basis and a lot of the traders have handmade their stock individually. That means if you hang on and wait, the piece you’ve already gotten yourself attached to might have been whipped up. You have to stick your middle finger up to the comments about consumerism at this moment of time.  Instead, think about you contributing towards supporting solo businesses and most definitely the quality over quantity!

Step out of your food and drink comfort zone

There’s so much yummy goodness to be consumed at Christmas markets. Sometimes this means straying away from your usual choices at the dinner table. To get the full sense of involvement, sample some of the produce and taste delicacies you’ve never tried  before. There’s all sorts of diverse variety from all over the world. From French cheeses, to Italian bread, Greek dishes, German sausages, and of course the famous Yorkshire Pudding Wrap. The possibilities are endless so don’t let the opportunity slip from your fingers (quite literally.)

Make a full festive day of it

Rid of the ordinary and rack up the outrageous. It’s the perfect opportunity to go all out and not get judged for it because it’s Christmas, and you’re soaking up the holly jolly entertainment to your best potential, thank you very much. If you can’t bring out your most hideous Christmas jumper, put your snowflake earrings in, and sing and dance at the top of your lungs when you’re visiting the Christmas markets, then when can you?!

Visit with other loved ones

Making it a family and friends occasion just adds to the festive feel, in my opinion. Thinking like a true responsible adult should; you’re safer whilst in a group but you’re also more content. Relishing in and partaking in activities and nice strolls around the strips together provides that full, bubbly, satisfied feeling from head to toe. Creating memories and spending time with the closest and most special people in your life is what Christmas is all about!

Although Christmas markets can be overwhelming at times and there’s serious fomo at the blink and you’ll miss it situation, with some rational thinking and conscientious prepping it’s possible for your trip to be the most whimsical, wonderful time of the year. Afterall, they don’t call it that for nothing!

Are you planning on visiting the Christmas markets before they shut this week? Have you already been? What’s your favourite part?

Share

Christmas Gifting For Haircare Lovers with Paul Mitchell

Posted on 5 min read

It’s almost just one week until Christmas Day (how, you ask? I’m still trying to fathom out the answer to that question myself) so hopefully that means you’re all sorted in the gift buying department and they’re all exquisitely wrapped and put under the tree. But if not, I feel you. And I’ve also gotchu. With the help of Paul Mitchell I’m here to take you through their gift of style guidebook for this festive season. An indulgent treat for that special someone who likes to take extra care with their shampooing situation and nourish their locks to the maximum amount of splendour!

I’ve spoke about my love for Paul Mitchell and their super stylish sets in the past and I’m lucky enough to receive a bi-monthly box of goodies as part of their Salon Success scheme so I get a first hand dip into what they have to offer around the festive period. This year is on another scale! The primary duos and trios which instantly caught my eye when opening the giant bow adorned box were these gorgeously greeting-card inspired packages. Crafted with monochromatic designed packaging and fancy, gold, calligraphy fonts catering to those aesthetic poetics.

Not only are they pleasing in appearance, they also come in a varied collection of notable assortments that – if you’ve ever experienced the luxury of Paul Mitchell – have probably come across before.

I have the all is bright and get festive. The bright of course representing the blondies with the Forever Blonde Keractive Repair shampoo, conditioner and dramatic repair spray. Specifically suited to keep bleached and highlighted hair in tact and contributing towards rich hydration for silky soft hair and healthily sealed vibrancy as it washes away the built up impurities. I was going to save this as a gift from me to me but I tried it on a whim a few weeks back and I haven’t looked back since. It is INCREDIBLE! My hair’s been in poor condition for a while now; that being with a mix of iron and vitamin deficiency, and the fact I was very light in colour (part of the reason I chose to switch to a few shades darker) but this has worked complete magic and transformed my hair into a squeaky clean salon-like masterpiece. It’s totally reversed any signs of noticeable damage and flyaway brittleness, and left me with nothing but immaculate moisture. It’s also sulphate free which I’m aiming to stick to in future to reduce the harsh chemicals on my hair – so if you know anyone who’s fussy about what they put on their precious toned barnet, this is the one!

The get festive contains the Super Skinny shampoo, conditioner, and serum which is also a combo I’ve personally used before and seen real time results with. This is targeted for those with thicker, troublesome, rebellious hair that just doesn’t seem to cooperate no matter what you do. Turning dry, coarse, curly hair into a silky sleek, luminous finish that eliminates frizz and fights that winter battle. So, if there’s any wavy wonders on your family and friends list, bear this in mind!

All in all, there’s nine gift sets; every one different to suit a wide variety of hair types. They’re marked as cheer leaders – injecting the cheer and merriment right into your Christmas period and leaving you with showy, ship shape, shiny hair. It’s also worth noting that for every one sold, Paul Mitchell will make a donation to Baby2Baby; a charity that provides low-income children with nappies, clothing, and all the basic necessities every child needs and deserves.  A really lovely touch that defines what Christmas really is about!

 

 

Paul Mitchell are home to some of my long term firm favourites. They’re my forever holy grail brand, the one I always feel myself going back to when I pine for the professional, polished, refreshed, brand new, heavenly haircare. So it’s fortunate that the products I’ve always relied on come in gift set form. Two of these include the Marula Oil range for lifeless, dull hair – a deluxe treatment created with natural ingredients that bring your locks to life. This is an old type I’ve photographed and although the pretty, rose gold and white exterior is rather fetching – the newest addition is even better. This year’s gift set is all black and gold glitter and sparkle; it contains a sequined clutch bag you can keep and inside is the shampoo, conditioner, and rare oil treatments. I’ve raved about this gem before if you want to take a peek.

The amazing Tea Tree Lavender range is another exalted fave of mine. Every time I’ve used this I’ve been left with a bouncy, swishing feel and the scent is perfect for allowing you to relax and unwind – something every person on earth wants to do around such a stressful time of the year. So, what better way than to let a loved one unwrap their way to paradise for a concrete happy holiday.

The five piece moisturising shampoo, conditioner, leave in spray, mask, and eye mask creates so much zen whilst invigorating your senses; calming, quenching, and cleansing. Again, its target audience is those with dry, unruly hair. To fix with rich conditioners and amino acids that improve strength, shine, and manageability whilst replenishing your hair and soothing your scalp in the process. Paul Mitchell are never short of these ethical product gift sets at Christmas time!

 

 

 

 

Stepping away from specifically Paul Mitchell but still remaining that connection, the last collection I wanted to recommend as the stellar way to say Merry Christmas is the Kenra Platinum. The premium products fall into four categories; Revive, Colour Charge, Thickening and Styling and they all consist of your standard shampoos and conditioners, oils, glosses, mists, treatments, serums, and sprays. Once again tackling any weakness, dehydration, and lack of texture. There’s plenty for every individual in there, especially a champion patron for opulent haircare. That certain someone is bound to be blessed with a smile painted on their face at the mere thought of having this number to revel in as we enter a budding new year.

Not pictured are the rest of the prized Paul Mitchell pick me ups. Their gifts of style not only have the ranges mentioned but a fair few others including the Wild Ginger (which I’ve also spoke about before,) the Neon and the Neuro, little extras such as the Ultra-Shine brush which volumises and controls flat hair, and of course the stocking suffers for any woman, man, or even pet in your life. Yep, that’s right, Paul Mitchell are inclusive to the point dogs and cats are part of the agenda!

The shopping process in general can be really intense when you have no idea what to buy for someone who’s picky and distinguished. There’s not much on the market for distinctive hair-fanatics but if you’re looking for last minute gifts ensured to tick all the boxes – Paul Mitchell has your back.

Are you a Paul Mitchell lover? Do you have any haircare admirers in your close circle? 

Share