Think Pieces

25 Things I’ve Learned In 25 years

Posted on 12 min read

25. Twenty five. Halfway to 50. A quarter of a century.

It doesn’t matter which way I dance around it, it’s not going to change the fact I’m officially in grandma mode.

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

And there’s no going back now. There’s no avoiding mid June like a lurgy because the daunting thought of moving further and further away from my youth is clouding my discernment that age is just a number. Thankfully I don’t feel any older (or any older than the 100 year old decrepit I feel on a daily basis thanks to my fragile body) but it is kinda sad that the older you get, the less meaningful your birthdays are.

It’s no longer the exciting parade of parties, jelly and ice cream, beaming smiles, red cheeks, a stream of new toys that can occupy you for hours without a care in the world, and a wild imagination to go with it.

The wild imagination is still there, just probably not how it was when you were five.

Instead, it’s analysing your progress obsessively, it’s comparing your sorry life to other people your age, and it’s drowning in self pity when you realise you don’t even fall close. It’s avoiding being centre of attention instead of basking in it. It’s doing everything you can to prevent wrinkles, and it’s worrying about future saggy boobs. It’s a juxtapose of sheer disappointment and sheer joy when you peak at 11pm on the night of celebrations not even halfway through pre-drinks, and it’s the sigh of dismay the next morning when the reality of adulthood hits. There’s no mum there to make you breakfast and do your hair, just giant bags under your eyes and a busy schedule on deck to greet you.

It’s a scary thought, really. Having the years fly by and not seeing much for it. Or at least that’s what it seems like; the same old, same old. I don’t like to be too pessimistic and crestfallen over still being depressed and lonely and pretty unfulfilled halfway through my twenties so I thought I’d take the next step – reflection.

In all honesty, I’m not who I thought I’d be at 25 but in some ways, I’m glad, and I’m proud. Every breath I’ve taken, every beat of my heart in those 9125 days is significant to my learning curve and the road I’m still travelling on. My mind, my body, and my soul have been through some drastic things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy but it’s also been on the awesome rollercoaster ride they call life. Ups, downs, highs, lows, flying at an uncontrollable speed, even being stuck in the middle for a long period of time. Here’s 25 lessons I’ve learned in my 25 years on earth.

  1. It’s okay to put your health first. Mental and physical. You have to put that before anything else because once you’ve lost your form, that’s it. Making that decision happened to me a lot sooner than I ever expected and it took me a long time to push away that guilt and shame but I discovered to make my well being my priority is an essential to how I cope with my condition. Yes, I sometimes ignore the warning signs, carry on exerting myself, and overdo it because I’m having too much fun but afterwards I do take those self care steps. There’ll always be that voice telling you you aren’t ill enough to put everything else on the back burner, to place stable regularity second on the hierarchy, and to take a direction different from the ordinary and the able; the internalised able-ism telling you you’re faking it, you’re exaggerating, you’re mooching – but you aren’t, you’re surviving. Only you know your own body, your life is important, and you don’t owe an explanation to or have to please anyone else.
  2. Life isn’t built on materialism. It’s built on moments, and adventure, and laughter, and love. It was only a few years back that I came to the realisation I was buying my way to happiness and that owning a collection of goods is nothing compared to what’s on the outside, available to fill your senses with genuine satisfaction. The finding of spiritual matters away from movements and physical possessions, is priceless!
  3. Being problematic doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. I’ve had my fair share of trial and errors over the years, and cited my fair share of ignorant remarks, too. Looking back, I cringe and curse myself for how dismissive, uneducated, and ill-mannered I was but it also means I can look back and learn from it. It’s bad at the time, yes, but to consider how much you’ve advanced in maturity and durability is rewarding. You’re taking the bad and making it good.
  4. Finding your friendship group doesn’t always happen straight away. Two years. That’s how long I’ve been friends with my platonic soulmates for, and I know hands down they’re the only true friends I’ve had. I found them in my twenties and it really does give a real perspective on how I’ve struggled to fit in, to manifest a girl gang, and how time after time I’ve accepted fake and troublesome when actually I should have drifted far away. The wait is worth it if you don’t force it and don’t let ‘friends’ walk all over you. Authentic friendship will present itself naturally and you’ll feel it from your heart to the tip of your toes when it does.
  5. And finding yourself. The same goes for finding yourself. I still think I’m on that journey with my identity, in fact I don’t think there’s a time limit on when you stop. Everything from your personal style, to your beliefs, to your personal decisions, to your opinions, to your all round disposition, to who you are; it can interchange, it can differ, and it can get stronger, but it’ll always be in your favour.
  6. Inspiration may strike at 2am. In fact, it probably will. You’ll be laid awake fruitlessly staring at the ceiling and becoming frustrated with yourself and suddenly a ping of the lightbulb in your head will go off. Usually they end up being some of the best, innovative ideas you’ve ever exhibited and the dark circles you’ll be sporting the next day are worth it for the epic dissertation you bang out.
  7. You’re never too old. To fangirl. For a cuddle with your mum. To think you’ll get eaten alive by a monster if your feet are stuck out the bed covers. To dance around the room to S Club 7. Nostalgia feeds the soul and fun is what keeps you young – and sane!
  8. You can cope more than you realise. When the world seems pointless and coping feels like the last thing you can do, you’ll still do it. You’ll get up, you’ll hold your head high, and you’ll wonder just how ever you managed to get past it. That’s because you’re powerful, you’re brilliant, and you’re built to pursue every hurdle, every task, and even every dream that comes your way. It began like this. Separated parents. Watching your dad slowly wither away and decline in health and in personality. Losing him. Losing my final father figure two years later. A mental breakdown at 13. Another one at 16. And another at 18. Having a rare form of stroke at 17. Being on the edge of death. Wanting to be on the edge of death. Left with incurable debilitating chronic pain and brain damage that turned my life upside down. Recovering the best I can and becoming who I am today. I’d say I’ve done alright and sometimes I have to remind myself I am in fact a warrior. You are stronger than you believe and you have to keep telling yourself that. You have to hold yourself higher than your brain tells you to!
  9. Your body is a temple. So look after yourself. That’s all I have to say. Your body is precious but it’s also open to extensive energy and freedom. Treat it well but don’t restrict yourself. Utilise it to your advantage. Give it the credit it deserves. Embrace your flaws. Have fun, enjoy the body you’re in, and it’ll love you right back.
  10. Your teenage crush is not the love of your life. Those nights you’ve cried until you had no tears left? Those songs on the radio you instantly related to the person you’re lusting over? The one you couldn’t have? The one you couldn’t talk to? The one you eventually did connect with? The one you fell for? The one you thought you couldn’t live without? News just in: you can. At the height of your twenties you’ll probably laugh about it but it’s all part of the structure in your love life on the pathway to your happy ending. I haven’t found mine yet, but I still have faith.
  11. The people in your life play a crucial part in how you flourish. Choosing the people you want to surround yourself with is a major part of how your life will pan out. It’s an absolute waste of time trying to make people who don’t like you, like you. It’s also an absolute waste of time trying to make the effort with those who don’t care. I’m at that stage now where if someone is a hassle, then I don’t even bother. Remove toxicity, don’t be around people who put you down, drain your spirits, or make you feel like crap. Life really is too short to spend it being dragged down by the wrong clique.
  12. Adulthood isn’t as easy as you think. When you’re a naive 10 year old, planning your life out, thinking about how you’re going to be settled and married with kids in your own home by 25. Earning thousands, living your best life, sipping champagne on a rooftop balcony, it’s easy to get lost in the notion of fantasy but it’s only when you reach adulthood that you start to realise it’s not as brilliant as you first thought. A let down, yes, but also a slice of reality you need.
  13. Say yes more. Take risks out of your comfort zone, tackle obstacles, keep going even when you think you can’t. There’s never been an occasion where I’ve regretted doing something I was apprehensive about doing beforehand and it’s almost always resulted in me being pleased I went there, plucked up the courage, and gained some wisdom.
  14. It’s okay to be different. Whatever you think, there isn’t no normal or abnormal. I have to keep telling myself this even now. Everyone leads an individual pathway; some may be a bachelorette still living at home with not many former or foregoing encounters happening (aka me) and some may be out there with ample expertise in being the picture perfect person on paper. You can’t like the exact same things as others. You can’t act the exact same way as others. You can’t all lead the same life at the same time because it would be a boring place if you did. Society likes us to believe there’s a specific timescale to achieve things but truthfully everyone has their own personal timeline. You’re not a failure or out of the loop, you’re you!
  15. It’s also okay to change. Who you were at 20 doesn’t define who you are at 25. Your mentality can change the more you explore those corners of life. I believe you’re constantly a work in progress until the day you die – all these segments you uncover along the way make up the pieces of the final puzzle.
  16. Do what you love. Overused, but life really is too short. It’s too short to let people put you off what you enjoy. It’s too short to allow judgement to burden you. It’s too short to pretend. It’s too short to be miserable. I’m Bridie, I spend half my free time meeting celebrities, I prefer to binge watch the soaps than any popular American drama, I like to go food shopping with my mum and grandma on a consecutive Saturday, and the rest of the time I strive for magnificence on social media but hey, I ain’t even sorry. I look at people my age who are steady and sturdy and living the quieter, simple, ordinary life, and tell myself maybe I should be in that position? But I’m still making the most of being unattached and free; expressing myself, my hobbies, and the life I want to build for myself.
  17. The experience of life matters most. it’s what you make of it that determines your happiness and steady contentment. There’s so much pressure on you to aim for the top but I truly think when you become independent then that’s when you blossom most. Despite what people think, general sociology has taught me life lessons school or college or uni never would. The importance of humanity, compassion, acceptance, open mindedness, being a person in a world where there’s so many issues, so many ways you can be a decent person, and so many ways in which you can fuse felicity.
  18. Those impromptu plans will always be the best. The unplanned days and nights out, spontaneous road trips with the wind in your hair, random trips to the seaside, last minute decisions and actions; they’ll all be the most memorable periods in your prime.
  19. Always listen to your intuition. Trust your gut, follow the vibes your instinct gives you as your suspicions and thoughts will always be proved right. It’s okay to give something or someone a chance but it’s also important to allow that wise voice in your head to lead the way. Karma will take control!
  20. Think before you make beauty mistakes. There’s been plenty of them over the years. Shaving my forearms. Straightening my hair until it breaks. Plucking off every single brow strand. Yikes @ my old self but also, thank you for guiding me because when I now feel like making a rash decision with my appearance, I always think twice.
  21. Always take plasters on nights out. Your feet will take a bashing, you’ll accumulate scars and blisters and wonky toes. It’s the price you pay for beautiful shoes, but plasters will save the day. They’re the answer to all evil. Pretty much the equivalent to a paper towel in primary school.
  22. The solution to almost all problems is a bubble bath, a good cry, a face mask, and a playlist on repeat. Music is a healer, crying your heart out is so therapeutic to the inner and outer soul, layering your face with clay and pretending you have your life together provides maximum zen, and laying in your own bodily grime with the smell of Lush awakening and unwinding your every move somehow manages to wash your woes away. Short term at least.
  23. You need to embrace your quirks. They’re what make you distinctively you, so why shouldn’t you? Be true to you, be as weird or as timid as you want. Take those traits and paint them in a positive light. The day you accept yourself and quit hiding behind a mask is the day you officially feel at peace.
  24. Kindness goes a long way. It’s cliche but the quote ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about’ sticks with me more than any other. Probably because it resonates with me but also because I’ve become so aware how suffering isn’t always visible – no matter how large or minor. A generous gesture, a passing compliment, helping someone in need, just making a human feel human – it’s selfless but it’s also beneficial to you as a person.
  25. You’ll be grateful for your never changing baby face in another ten years. People tell me this all the time and I think it’s only just sunk in. I’m gonna be one of those people who still gets ID’d for the lottery at age 40 and instead of complaining about it, I’m gonna be smugly grateful. Hell yeah to that!

And a bonus: Nobody will ever get your name correct. Even when it’s written down right in front of their very eyes. Mispronunciations and anagrams will occur more than actually being called your legitimate name, and there won’t be a day where you don’t have to spell it out. So, thanks mum. You birthed me and blessed me with this life but you also gave me an atypical name along with a bizarrely uncommon surname so for that, I hope today you’re feeling just as ancient as I am.

Share

Why I’m Learning To Love Myself and Embrace Self Confidence

Posted on 8 min read

I made a promised vow this year that I’m going to be kinder to myself and to swell my self confidence.

(The only vow I’ll make let’s be real with the speed of my non existent love life but as the saying goes… you have to love yourself first before loving someone else.)

The pledge hasn’t been entirely accomplished yet but we’re only 22 days in to January and it’s still a work in process. And as long as I remember to pinpoint where I’m going wrong, when I recognise self depreciation is clouding that self love, then I’m on the right track.

When I say embracing myself, I mean starting with the outer appearance before moving on to my inner struggles. If I started citing my derogatory thoughts on my self worth it’d dampen the mood immensely, and I want this to be a happy, elevating post! A pro-confidence, a mood booster, a ‘if you feel gorgeous, then flaunt it and remind yourself you deserve to feel great’ memo!

So I’m starting slow, taking little steps at a time.

Now, there’s two sides to me – the no makeup, unkempt hair, rocking the casual but often mistaken for a crisis in need look; then the ultra glamorous, up to an hour spent on perfecting the face and choosing the most showy outfit so I sass stroll down the high street like Bey kind of look.

Up to a couple of months ago, I could only appreciate one of those looks, and even then I would still turn my nose up scorning at a visible spot or a hair out of place, but now I’m putting my foot down and saying enough is enough. I’m here to cut back shaming my naturalness, my flaws, the part of my body and my face that I nitpick and disregard, and I’m switching my negative attitude into some refined praising.

The first step is being comfortable enough to go out in public with no makeup/the bare minimum. I’ve already grown to be more relaxed around this, which was the main issue I had with myself (past tense is the way forward!)

I can approach the public with just a tot of mascara on, I can give myself a nod of approval as I catch my naked face in the mirror, I can take photos without a scrap of makeup on, and most importantly I can shed away the anxieties I’ve always had with paranoia. Yes, I have acne scars on my face. Yes, I have suitcases under my eyes big enough to jet away on a 2 week holiday to the Bahamas. Yes, I look like a 12 year old child. Yes, my eyes are so big they almost appear sunken in with tiredness without any enhancement, but that’s not going to make the world tilt on its axis. People aren’t going to stare with disgust. Everyone is going to carry on as normal, and I’ll just be the person I was assigned to at birth; because after-all, if you can appreciate how cute you were as a child, then you can value the same-but-just matured face!

The second step is to not quash myself when I do feel good. I’m guilty of taking a selfie or polishing my pout after I accomplish my glam regime and initially thinking “YES! I’M KILLING IT!” only to go back on my word almost instantly because I’m finding faults, most of the time faults that aren’t even there. I have to live in the moment and stop sabotaging my inceptive thoughts.

If my highlight is popping, my hair is the desirable golden, and my outfit is both flattering and fitting, then I’m going to welcome it with open arms. I’m going to love myself loudly and proudly, I’m also going to post my face on social media for validation and confirmation that my judgement is right and I do look banging, but I am going to start the concept from within first. By means, it’ll take me a while to stop searching through photos and rejecting them as “ew!”, “nope”, “NOOOO”, but feeling fabulous is fun and it’s so beneficial to take a day off shaming yourself.

The third step is learning to accept compliments. Following on from step two, there’s no point me getting some well craved attention online to then dismiss everything people say to me with kindness and honesty, is there? If someone pays me a compliment, I do say thank you but also instantly decline it in my head because surely they’re just saying it to be fundamentally nice?

I hold my hands up to shooing a comment off shyly and modestly with my brain tearing me down and rebelling against any optimism and I don’t want to do that anymore. I have to listen and put those compliments into practice, because eventually they’ll play a part in me increasing that confidence I strive for.

The fourth step is brandishing my style. I spoke about finding my fashion pursuit and being in touch with my tastes in my recent reflective post and I want to keep up with that, to know what I want to wear, who I am, and what I represent.

Sure, I’m a little bit extra. My choices aren’t going to be relatable to those who prefer the basics, but that’s what makes me, me. I love to follow the trends but add my own unique aspect. I love to dress up wherever I go. I love to experiment and explore. I love to banish the thoughts of not being ~cool~ enough to pull something off, and just going for it. I love putting an outfit together and then thinking YASSSS.

Currently I’m obsessing over everything star print and with this Tie Front Blouse* from Tobi being the staple foundation to my winter astronomy themed outfit, I went the extra mile and layered a trio of stars from my head to midriff. Is it too much? Probably. Do I care? Nope. It was my ideal ensemble, the contrast of dark shades and intricate detailing. I felt sassy. Cold, but sassy. And that’s all that mattered.

The fifth step is coming to terms with my body. Mind, shape, skin, soul. This is at the forefront of my development, as I evolve into a person I’m proud to be. There’s nobody harsher on their body image than me. There’s times I’ve sat and cried, even when working hard to reach those desired standards but truthfully, you need to attain the body confidence before the body.

Bodies aren’t there to be repulsed, to be picked apart, to be mulled over, to exist solely to be altered. Your body is yours and yours only, there’s nobody else in the world with the same one. They’ve been through both adventures and grief and only you hold the attached memories on the journey its been on.

I’m so quick to dwell on the defects I can’t stand, but I forget how strong my body is and all that it’s endured – both good and bad.

Everything stands for something. All your features tell a story.

Those bags under your eyes? Late night laughter with friends. That bloated stomach? Indulging in a shit load of pizza in your happy space of films and comfort, stumbling in after a night on the town ordering a kebab and encountering those inevitable deep, drunk conversations that make the situation all the more special. Those legs you think are chunky? They’ve walked miles, carried you to your favourite places, allowed you to experience and breathe in the essence of life.

And that’s what life is about, that’s what you were put on earth for.

Sure, my hips are wider than I’d like them to be. My inner thighs touch. My belly is more round than hollow, especially after a carb heavy meal. My boobs are pretty much nonexistent. My bum is wobbly and covered in cellulite. My hands are tiny, my nails are short. My skin is overly oily, I have random dry patches, my torso is covered with moles, I have prominent scars, and stretch marks.

But, do you know what else? I still manage to wake up every morning with only half of that body functioning. My body has fought off mental and physical illness since I was a teenager with even less self-esteem. I am a survivor. A stroke survivor. I crashed to the bottom, and then rose to the top again. My brain has damage, my left side has a loss of feeling, my body withstands often intolerable chronic pain and yet I’m still able to hold my head up high, and I think that’s pretty amazing.

 

So, yes, I would like a flatter tummy, smaller thighs, toned abs, more of a cleavage, silky, smooth, long legs, a flawless complexion, tanned skin, a beautiful, straight, white, bright smile, and a perfectly symmetrical, womanly face. I’d love if my mind allowed me to rest, to stop thinking the worst, to stop killing my motivation, and to stop zapping me of energy. I’d love if I wasn’t exhausted after one simple job, or movement, and I’d much prefer a fully, working body but I’m embracing what I have.

My body has failed me at some hurdles, but it’s also wowed me. It’s let me down but it’s battled constantly. It’s allowed me to participate in nearly 25 years of wonderful worldliness and it’s reminded me every day that I am brave, one of a kind. That it isn’t an easy ride, and you can’t predict your fortune or your future. You just have to live for now. That turbulent relationship may have been rocky along the way, but there’s room to be calmer, more at peace, and towards the end you’ll realise it was worth it.

The sixth step is embracing them all. My insecurities, my vanity, my newfound confidence, and the things that spur on that radiance. What does give me confidence? A glowing tan, false lashes, a flowing dress that cinches in all the right places, a funky pair of heeled boots, a curly blow dry, some vivid lippy, being told I look pretty, the right lighting, exercise, and those moments I smile on the outside and inside.

From now on, I’m going to take all the efforts I put into hating myself, to transfer over to place utter focus on those steps I’m taking to love myself and to concentrate on what does make me feel great. I’m going to learn to love what I have, encompass my imperfections, my insecurities, and my flaws, and aim to become the paragon of virtue when it comes to erasing the idea that you can’t wholly champion your own persona.

You can, and you will!

Being your own enthusiast is bound to help in the long run. If you only talk about yourself as ugly and worthless, that’s how you’re going to feel about yourself. You’re going to be suffocating in self loathing and it’s really going to get in the way of your personal growth and the notion to building a healthier self image.

I am fed up of this nonsense and boring perspective from modern society, that self confidence instantly means arrogance and obnoxiousness, and that it’s a bad thing to love yourself. If you believe it, don’t hesitate in embracing it till your heart’s content. Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself, and not the idea of what you feel you have to be to make everybody love you.

As Carrie Bradshaw would say…

There’s no room for demons when you’re self possessed.

 

*Items marked with a * were sent to me for review purposes. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Share

Why I’m Reflecting on 2017 To Take Me Into 2018

Posted on 11 min read

2017 year round up

Happy new year, guys!

I know I’m 6 days too late but life unfortunately hasn’t been on my side for the opening of a new chapter that already seems to be going by at the speed of a snail.

I had a lovely festive break appreciating those carefree family moments where you sing along to the vinyls satiated with your atypical party food consisting of pastries, pizza, and Pringles, but then the day after Boxing Day I was struck with the deadly flu that seems to be knocking the entire population down left, right, and centre. Then I got my period. Then a flare up of my chronic pain. Not the best start, I must admit, but at least the germs allowed me to enjoy Christmas before they jumped into my system, right?! So kind.

I’m still unable to speak without representing a dying duck who has lowered the regular tone of voice to a croaky amplitude but I’m surprisingly feeling pretty positive and pretty zen about the year ahead of me.

This sassy coat pictured has helped me, along the way. It was a Xmas gift from my Grandma (chosen by me of course) and it’s one of those pieces that I can put on and it will completely transform my outfit and my confidence, enabling me to strut around like a queen. I think it’s fast becoming my most loved owned possession already; as are the New Look sale buys I’ve managed to pick up for less than £20!

These are all vaguely irrelevant things to mention but I just have that fuzzy feeling it’s going to be a good year, you know?? And as I’ve spent most of it coughing, spluttering, and zapped of energy, this – and the fact 18 has always been my trusty lucky number – is what I’m going by. I’m testing a fresh honourable approach of appreciating the little notions, and going with the natural flow of life. I do something I enjoy and do just that, enjoy it. Don’t dwell on what is to follow or what it means in terms of core goals I’m aiming for. I just let life and the pace of the clock lead the way.

I’ve kept up the tradition of doing a roundup post for a few years and as much as I get cathartic joy out of unravelling, reflecting on, and writing about my previous run of achievements, my goal is to stop setting myself unrealistic goals and concentrate on the basics. It’s so easy for me to get fixated on the pressure of being successful when really I don’t even take a step back and personally define what success means to me.

I scrapped resolutions a while back, mainly because I end up giving up about a week into January and end up cursing myself with guilt for doing so. It’s just additional stress and societal pressure I don’t need in my life and if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that putting yourself to the forefront is key.

That’s not saying I absolutely hate the idea of ‘new year, new me’ because I don’t. Yes, it’s a cliche social construct giving an ordinary day earth moving meaning when really it’s just another date on the calendar. However, it is the opportunity for a fresh start, a clean slate and somehow that’s comforting knowledge to indulge in. It motivates me. It gives me solace I don’t get from anywhere else.

I love the idea of leaving a whole year behind me whether it was amazing, terrible, or just tediously average. It feels like closure on the past, with the future you being in the spotlight. The feeling of starting over again, continuing to grow, becoming a better person, having a whole fresh year ahead of me filled with new chances, opportunities, and experiences. It’s the perfect way to have some well-needed self musing. Connect to your mind, your body, your feelings, your emotions, your ideas, and put all of them into perspective at your own pace.

So, in this year’s post, it’s going to be me revealing a short summary of my best 2017 moments and documenting the sentiments that I hope to attain, opposed to the lengthy must dos (although it’s getting v.lengthy already, nothing alters in that department I see).

Admittedly 2017 wasn’t a great year in terms of tragic events, political issues, and more devastating deaths. There’s been hurt and hardship both for the entire world, and for me, but overall it’s been manageable, it’s been breezy, and hand on my heart I can honestly say I’ve spent the majority of it happy as a lamb.

Of course there were struggles and blips, especially of the depressive and anxious kind. Times I was caught up in my own head, times when life tested me to the extreme, but I made it through and that’s the main. I try not to think of the pain that consumes me, but all the times I’ve moved past that and still continuously evolved in a positive way.

I’ve been on so many adventures, mainly to Manchester and back, but it’s become a standard routine that just feels so normal, homely, and uplifting. Most of my best friends are based there, as are the events I like to support, and the fun I have, so travelling for an hour or so is nothing compared to the priceless memories that will stay with me for a lifetime.

My friends are the most dominant impetus to my genuine happiness. I could talk about how kick ass, incredible, special, and inspiring they are for as long as my typing fingers would let me. This year may not have been a bed of roses but I’m so appreciative of all the wonderful, passionate, enthusiasts surrounding and supporting me and I know I’ve ended the year with the right people in my life.

2017 really solidified my friendships, I watched those I love dearly grow as people and felt proud, I grew closer to every single one of my girls and we connected as a unit, too. I even saw toxic true colours that are now removed for a healthier, more peaceful survival.

I went on my first girls holiday abroad which was mostly cloud and dancing in a shitty bar until 4am but it was still a week to remember.

I also went on family getaways that worked wonders for my inner spirit and really refreshed and revitalised my resolve.

I collected photos and moments that I can look back on and cry over, truly following my heart and my interests.

I really found my happy place… or places, the one where I forget the past that’s let me down and am so caught up in the current moment that I don’t even realise I’m ugly laughing settled with the warmest feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I also somehow discovered my style intuition halfway through the year, and curbed my spending habits with it. Something I considered impossible but something I’ve stuck to. When I’m shopping I now know exactly what’s me.

I became more independent, venturing off for blog and business related activities, or just for my own entertainment. I really am starting to feel secure in my abilities, my identity, and my sense of awareness and involvement. Deep down I totally think that’s because of the people who have made me smile everyday, who take the time to understand and accept me, welcoming me with opens arms, and allowing me to be braver and wiser with my choices.

I’ve become much more of an educated, open minded, compassionate, and considerate person and used that as my solid focus. I am seeing the world for all its diversity and am being influenced and inspired by so many factors in my life. The person I’m endorsing and embracing is one I respect. Dignity and decency come hand in hand, as do intelligence.

I am so much more articulated on diplomatic and social issues and collating with so many interesting and important attributes by analysing the environment around me has helped me to correct my problematic faults, my downfalls, and where I can go wrong in life.

This year upped the enthusiasm to voice my opinion and stand up for what I believe in. I have a voice, I am determined, and strong willed and I’m not afraid to fight for that.

I developed faith in myself, realising that really, I could do this, I am capable of completing what I’m striving for.

I learned how to manoeuvre Photoshop, taught myself the ins and outs, and even delved into the world of design on my own ground.

I made my first bit of income on Instagram, despite often criticising my failure to build followers, and this has grown into a long term proposal. To know there’s brands out there who are fond of my work is so stimulating and valued.

Which is basically the reason I decided to move over to WordPress and start anew with my title; really emphasise and pay close attention to the quality content I desire to produce. Continue to build my integrity whilst still remaining in my safe space where I can express myself.

2017 enlightened me, matured me, humbled me, blessed me, with the good and the bad, and now I want to implement that into another era of the instalments in Bridie’s ever-growing and frighteningly ageing adulthood lessons.

I’m moving into 2018 with an optimistic mindset and a real ease with who I am, the decisions I make, and the intentions I have but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to set myself some little reminders of what to consider to aid me on the moral road. Pretty much my own advice and guidance (because who knows you better than yourself, right?!)

I want to stop comparing myself to others, to recognise in reality everyone is walking on a different path and heading on a different journey towards varying stages of life. That you can’t compare where you’re at to where someone else is at because we’re all individual and we all carry a certain persona.

I want to be less judgemental, tone down my bitchiness, and recognise when I need to think twice because it will assist me on my ethical vision.

I want to try and not let things get to me as easy. Not to dwell over irrelevant things and let those occurrences that aren’t necessarily fundamental affect me so much so that I’m purposely setting myself and my mood up for disaster; leading on to me caring less the trivial matters and caring more about what’s meaningful to me.

I want to push myself, but not too hard to the point I burn out and lose all drive. I just want to work toward being who I want to be, assess the yes’s and the no’s and start cementing my foundation from there.

I want to leave those people and those circumstances that have caused me grief in the past where they belong. To stop chasing after things that have hurt me. To erase the point of it always being me doing the fixing. To walk away from bad situations, and find harmony with whoever and whatever comes and goes in life because often enough you end up losing yourself by trying to save everybody else.

I want to let go, not hold on, because sometimes you have to go through the motions with your eyes wide open. To let go of something old and grab onto something, to be willing to let a delicate and ordinary part of me die in order for another part to be born.

I want to stop purposely launching myself into situations that will upset and anger me. Know a certain piece of writing will unsettle me? Stop reading. Be ticked by a name or an image? Delete them.

I want to continue to not care what people think. That’s something that I can really pinpoint and what I’m totally proud of. I’ve now reached that stage in my life where if someone doesn’t like something of mine, then good riddance because it doesn’t concern them and what matters is that I’m thriving.

I want to take time out to self reflect, to be conscious of myself and what’s going on around me, to allow myself to see and to be. Start a new train of thoughts, and attract newfound wisdom – because time spent in self-reflection is never wasted, the more effective you are, the more you’ll notice and break recycled circles.

I want to keep reminding myself that it’s perfectly fine to not always be on top of your game. If you’re too occupied to participate in something or you’re just not feeling it, then the world won’t stop turning, nobody will die from a small break.

I want to treat my body with kindness. Physically, mentally, and spiritually; monitoring my temperament and really getting to the source of problems and issues that need dealing with, allowing myself to heal. I want to be less harsh on myself, tell myself it’s okay if I haven’t been as productive as I wanted to, that I do not choose to have chronic pain and if all I’ve managed to do on a bad day is rest and find relief then I’m not lazy nor useless, just a human with a medical condition and limitations. Most of all I want to listen to and be in tune with my body, recognise my triggers and check in with myself when I feel I’m slipping, and inject the constructive energy into everyday living.

I want to get back into exercise, both beneficial for the mind and the body. Although I suffered from the exertion of following a fitness programme, I felt SO much more alive and ready and prepared for life mentally when I did a year or so ago, and I want to reach that level again!

I want to take control of my eating patterns. Don’t shove false idealistic mottos in my own face, don’t order myself on a strict diet, just be steady and keep an eye on my tendency to binge as a comfort. Introduce new nutritious foods, drink more water, eat more fruit, and definitely fill myself up with protein through the day so I’m not ruining my efforts with some midnight munchies.

Which leads me on to the secondary… sort out my sleeping pattern. Attempt to go to bed and wake up at the same time and a reasonable time to really grasp a stable arrangement, instead of distracting myself till 1 or 2 in the morning.

I want to find the balance of being less showy but still recording those moments that matter. Sort of like snapping photos whilst I’m on a trip, rather than deliberately going on that trip to take photos. Drilling it into myself that when I take a trip out to a city it isn’t always necessary to cite every single encounter, I can just relish in the atmosphere.

I want to get more involved in the blogging community, and properly this time. Now I’m at a point I’m satisfied with my blog brand I want to give back, show my share of support, and be active. I want to comment on more blogs with praise, have standard conversations on social media, and really get my name out there.

But mostly I just want to be happy.

If I learnt anything in 2017 it’s that life is unpredictable and that you have to be open to anything coming your way because it’s a constant learning curve.

If I remain real, and human, then I’m doing just fine.

(Well the not so lengthy tactic didn’t quite work out. Nor did the regulatiry of my sleeping pattern. 2am and 2500+ words later… but as I said, I let life do the talking from now on.)

Share

And I Don’t Mind…

Posted on 3 min read

First of all, hi, hello and welcome to my brand new chapter. If you’ve been keeping track of my status over the past couple of weeks you’ll have noticed I’m no longer at my old snappy title of The Same Old Chic and have moved on to a more minimalistic motion for the long term where I’ve jumped on the ‘use your first and middle name as your branding’ bandwagon.

It’s been a big jump migrating from Blogger to WordPress and starting afresh but it’s a step I’ve been wanting to take for months now and I couldn’t not take advantage of the Black Friday discount over on pipdig (big thanks to Phil and his team for providing the best and most efficient service!). I can already feel the advantages both in my blogging drive and my attempt at a professional stance.  It’s upped my mojo, it’s progressed my ideas for creative content, and it’s given me the kind of enjoyment I craved to really strive for the best in an ambitious industry.

As you can see from the lack of woollen garments, a Rudolph red nose and a flimsy attempt at snow in these photos, this highly anticipated post has also had to take a back step whilst I adapt to my new virtual surroundings. As much as this vivid pink blazer has been my favourite stylistic go to piece throughout the end of Autumn,  it’s now had to be enshrined into wardrobe hibernation as the Baltic conditions moved in full whack.

But that’s just one of many things I don’t mind, inspired primarily by the t-shirt sitting snug underneath my rose coloured ensemble.

 

I don’t mind the golden leaves transmuting into speckles of nothing.

I don’t mind the cold air breathed into my tensed up bones as I’m wrapped in half a dozen layers.

I don’t mind wearing the same jumper for 3 days in a row because it shields warmth and comfort and I don’t have the money to be splurging in Topshop every week.

I don’t mind favouring a night in with films and snacks to a night in the clubs under the exposed strobes of light.

I don’t mind easily eating my way through a packet of Custard Creams then balancing it out with a salad and water the next day.

I don’t mind crying my problems out on the phone to my mum because she’s the only person I can talk to.

I don’t mind admitting that I struggle sometimes. A lot of the time.

I don’t mind confessing that I find viewing life from an adult perspective tough and frightening.

I don’t mind that I reap escape and emotional attachment in fiction opposed to real life.

I don’t mind craving human contact but then realising, actually, I very much enjoy my own company and my own peace of mind.

 

I don’t mind listening to the same song on repeat for hours.

I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong.

I don’t mind learning from my mishaps and mistakes and implementing them into an ethical way of life.

I don’t mind speaking up for what I believe in, either.

I don’t mind being mediocre.

I don’t mind being the bumble bee in a swarm of wasps.

I don’t mind being the less popular one with a finger for every friend I behold.

I don’t mind distancing myself as part of self care.

I don’t mind feeling like I don’t belong in a vocal, active community.

 

 

I don’t mind hating and loving myself simultaneously.

I don’t mind being real.

I don’t mind being me.

I don’t mind discovering my sense of purpose.

I don’t mind pinpointing my role in the moment.

I don’t mind being alone.

I don’t mind becoming the person I want and choose to be.

I don’t mind forgetting chasing after those who don’t put the effort into remembering me.

I don’t mind putting myself first until I’m happier and healthier and ready to share my existence.

I don’t mind people not understanding that.

Nobody cares, and I don’t mind. Because there’s nobody who knows the ins and outs, the full picture of our persona, and whereabouts we slot into the structure, better than ourselves.

Share

An Ode To Happiness

Posted on 3 min read

It’s happened many of times now.

Once when I was sat on a cold brick wall outside a mediocre pub linking arms with one of 8 of my best friends about 2am, slightly tipsy and very excited for a Domino’s feast that would accommodate us on our sleepover with only two rooms and blankets for shelter.

We were having a chat with two (intoxicated but really lovely) local lads and an aphorism they surged in our direction has stayed with me ever since. I can’t remember the exact words they spoke but it was something along the lines of “I can see you’re all really close, I get that vibe. As long as you’ve got each other, as long as you look after each other, that’s all you need.” It was a passive drunken comment but it really struck a cord and has been a motto I’ve held on to ever since.

The second time was in the same circumstances, with the same group of people who allow me to be the best version of myself, who lift my spirits, support and inspire me and make me laugh until I forget all about the hardship I’m dwelling on. We were singing at the top of our lungs to cliche karaoke in a dingy basement in the middle of Leeds for evening birthday celebrations and I realised there and then this is what real, innate contentment feels like. I don’t need a multitude of additional factors to reach my pinnacle. Sometimes all you need is real life.

Happiness comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s what you make of it and it’s who you surround yourself with. To be euphoric doesn’t have to entail materialism. Doesn’t have to be built on a lifetime of success or fortune. Doesn’t have to be found in your possessions. Doesn’t even have to be absent when you’re going through a bad patch. It can exist in the fundamental value of the simple spiritual pleasures you have already, what you keep close, and what you should hold on to.

It can be stemmed from a smile, or a hug, or a gossip with your besties. A nudge from your pet, a day with the family, a waggle of the tongue from a child in the supermarket. Kindness. Someone checking up on you. Being told someone’s proud of you. Having a sudden boost of creativity. Realising you can do it, whatever that is. Literally anything that represents love, connection, and serenity with the world and yourself.

These are all things that exist within and what can help along the way of finding lasting happiness.  It can become the basis of an objective, something to smile about.

It’s been the approach I’ve set for myself for the foreseeable future, now. When I’m feeling melancholic, worthless, and low, I’ll foment the goodness I’ve gained in the past and treasure those moments. I’ve already found it to help me snap out of my tendency to mull over my dissatisfaction and my problems because I’ll remember there’s always someone or something to pick me up.

The week before my social adventures I was drowned in pity and suffering. My pain levels were sky high and my mental health was rubbish, I was drained and I didn’t want to communicate or partake in any activity. I had all sorts of worries; money, health, actually being able to move forward, but those carefree times refreshed my outtake and gave me a fresh perspective. It signified what it’s like to be happy and that it is possible without the gimmicks and with the woe.

And that’s my toast to a better, more thankful, and happier me.

Share

Remembering the Memories of Mum and Dad

Posted on 7 min read

Today is Mother’s Day but, coincidentally, this year it’s fallen on the day the entire circumference of my heart is occupied with the other half of my reason for being on this earth right now, right this minute. For me it’s also a reflective, significant and woeful day, for me it’s the day I miss the presence of beaming smiles and infectious laughs and annoying teasing, for me it’s the anniversary of losing my dad. Today marks 8 years since he gained angel status. Now, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to celebrate the unconditional love, friendship, care and compassion my mum has given me since birth but it means there’s an extra space to include the appreciation of two incredible humans who shaped me into the person I am today.

 

I don’t need to proclaim my feelings or recurrently announce how much I mourn his precious spirit; that goes without saying (and if you’ve read my previous posts over the years you’ll know just how emotional I can get). But what I feel I need to do, is keep my dad’s memory alive. To remind the world what an extraordinary, brave human being he was and to use this retained detail to an advantage; to turn my sadness into powerfulness. This year I’ve decided to go one step ahead, to make a difference to others and to further contribute to the charity I’ve spent the past year or so supporting wholeheartedly.

 

You may have come across a mere mention of Once Upon A Smile in one of my blog posts from last summer but I don’t think I can ever project just how fundamentally spectacular this charity is. On a personal level, it’s important but as a whole it’s more than crucially valuable to so many bereaved families who need that support to help them overcome their grief. If you’d like to read their entire story, you can do over on their main site but for me to keep it short I want to specifically pick out those individual aspects that build up to who they are and what they represent.

 

We all know memories are poignant, they’re the pick me up when you’re down, the nostalgic times to treasure and hold close to you but when you lose the person those memories include, then they take on a whole different meaning. They are the basis to carry on, to keep strong, to celebrate a beloved life and to look back on when you need to sense the sound of a voice or a certain moment or the ambience of character. Once Upon A Smile hold many groups and events within their all donation run foundation to ensure young children and beyond have this opportunity to honour a memory and release their sentiment and to me, that’s so special, so helpful and so imperative. I’d give anything for one more day with my dad but to experience and explore the days you already have had, that’s truly healing to the soul.

 

This year I’ve set up a Just Giving page in memory of my dad along with a short video that reflects back on my wonderful childhood. I was lucky enough to have a dad who wanted to document every single tender moment with his children and without those videos, I honestly think that hole in the pit of my existence wouldn’t be as fulfilled as it is right now. They make me cry, they make me howl with laughter, they make me wish I could invent a time machine but most importantly, they allow me to remember. To raise money for a charity that allows families like mine to remember the light amongst the dark, I’d absolutely love for you to partake in your own memory mementos with both parents, as it is Mother’s Day after-all. Whatever the age, whatever the collection, whatever the donation – every little matters.

 

Here’s just eight of many memories created with both my darling mum and dad in mind to symbolise eight years without him:

  1. Going for breakfast. Every Saturday morning after we’d dropped my mum off at work. No matter what the weather or circumstance, my dad would always ensure he’d bundle us up in the car and drive off to the destination of paradise. To him, it was just a shop cafe, to us it was heaven and this is why he’d dedicate his quality time to the children he adored.
  2. Family holidays. I had the best childhood, I really did. Every year we’d jet off to somewhere hot and sunny and have a week to two weeks of nothing but fun. Forget tanning and relaxing, my dad left and gifted that to my mum who he believed deserved the rest. He’d be up and at em at the crack of dawn, tending to us through the positives and the negatives. Not just when we were throwing a tantrum but when we wanted to spend hours in the pool learning to swim, diving in and spinning around on inflatables. Every minute of the day my dad was by our side assuring we had the most enjoyment possible.
  3. Christmas. Another period where any trace of melancholy was always replaced with bubbly happiness. There was a set routine; dad would have the camera set up, mum would creep down the stairs with us to see if Santa had ‘been’ and the presents would be laid out in sacks with a designated side of the sofa for us both. You’d think after half an hour of ripping open many gifts and commenting on every single one my dad would grow tiresome but nope, that wasn’t the case. If anything it enthused his energy, he’d be cracking jokes and exaggerating his excitement for every toy and pair of socks we’d wave in his face. Those are the moments I remember the most.
  4. Scooby Doo on the Playstation One. There’s specific factors in life that stand out more than the other and this is one of them. I remember it like it was yesterday. We’d never been more appreciative of our new console and once dad had set it up, we all squashed up on a single bed to play Scooby Doo Cyber Chase, taking it in turns between mum, dad, my brother and I to make it fair. There was one particular level that neither of us could pass and I remember us trying with all our might for at least two hours. Our determination to not be defeated paid off in the end, though, and the celebration was epic.
  5. Dancing. I don’t know what it was about our little feisty foursome but we did like a dance. Whether it was individually or together or paired off as two. As a toddler, dad would always be swinging me round, as we grew older we’d be up boogieing in the middle of the living room when some old school track on top of the pops played and even when he used to pay us a visit when he no longer lived at home, we’d always somehow get him dancing to some random song whilst my mum ushered him away from the TV because he was blocking the view.
  6. Car sing a longs. We liked a sing along, too. Dad was well into his music so when the tape deck was booming, so were we. It was best on a long journey or when he gave in to my pleading of non stop Vengaboys at full volume. Whether it was a trip to the zoo or to the local supermarket, it wasn’t complete without some out of tune lyric reciting of Jamiroquai or Oasis.
  7. Bus rides. After dad stopped driving, we often had an eventful journey of bus rides to take us to our destination. I remember once he was being extra stupid (and he was pretty mad to start with so this was immaturity to the next level) we saw an old teacher of ours on the bus and were giggling as kids do. Dad made it ten times worse by drawing silly faces and words on the window from the condensation purposely increasing our laughter. Of course it’s as bit non-amusing as it is non-interesting but it’s nice when you can still look back and laugh on it in 2017.
  8. Painting faces on eggs. It’s probably just as weird as you’re imagining. It was one weekend when my mum was out on the lash with some of the girls, my dad had been left to look after both of us and our cousins so to say it was mad was an understatement. He was always keen to be on board with numerous activities and this time it was in the form of designing characters out of food produce with black marker pen. It kept us quiet and we ended up displaying our masterpieces in a show finale by the end of the night.

My mind is swimming with memories but now it’s your turn to share. Get involved, leave a comment, or even speak them in private! Days like this can be so difficult for so many people who have lost a parent or a child so thank you so much in advance if you generously decide to dedicate a fraction of your day to such a worthy cause. 50p, 50 seconds, 50 bullet points – nothing is ever too much or too less!

 

Enjoy your day to the max and remember to both create and cherish those memories.

 

Bridie x


 

twitter | facebook | instagram

 

Share