26 February 2016

All Groan Up: Why Being In Your 20s Is Fabulous

Though I inwardly cringe when I have to reveal that I am indeed swimming through my twenties, it is largely due to the fact I still look like a 16 year old complete with the somewhat undistinguished career status of a 16 year old. Yet in all honesty there's no other age I'd rather be. Well unless I can be 7 year old me again when life consisted solely of running around in nothing but frilly knickers and a slice of salami hanging out of my mouth on the sunny rock of Barbados. Tough childhood. 

Waving salute to your teens and entering the world of your twenties is met with deer in headlight fear as it suddenly seems to be the time that you've got to get your sh** well and truly together. It's the phase of life you plunge into with full expectations of burning your fingers in the process, experiencing the emotional lows, the career blows, the money woes and the bell boy blues yet walk away with a tough skin of discovery. 

You may feel that being at the bottom of the life chain is a serious struggle train but if you stop to think about it clearly, it's actually pretty dandy and fabulous! Here's why...

#1. You're young, you're fit, you can sprint up a flight of stairs (...just) which makes you the most goddam sexy you're ever going to get. Don't waste these precious years hating on a little extra cupcake cushionin' as you're never going to be as young and carefree as you are today! You can sweat the small stuff when you hit the golden age of 50.
#2. Topshop exists. As does ASOS, Zara, Missguided and Paperchase. 

#3. Fancy a new nail colour? No problem. The range of nail polishes out there is beyond the spectrum of the rainbow...knock yourself out crazy cat!
#4. Fake tan that doesn't leave you either an alluring colour of carrot or smelling like you've rolled around in a pack of McVitie's biscuits actually exists. Fare thee well mango tango and bonjour bronzed beach goddess!

#5. The support towards mental health is increasing all the time due to greater awareness into just how many individuals it affects nowadays. This means that the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly being broken down and mental illnesses are treated with the respect they deserve! 
#6. Candy King exists and Wilko's is our top lad for dropping half price tub dashes. Let's count our blessings and all hail the sugary goodness.

#7. Never have we been more free. Now is the prime time to take full advantage of the old cliche "Do whatever it is that makes you happy" and do whatever the hell you want! Ok then, a yacht life in the Caribbean is calling my name...
#8. There are a hell of a lot of wise old sayings, affirmations and mantras flying left right and centre so now is the time to be nothing less than a motivated confident queen of sass. Bam.

#9. Channing Tatum regularly makes an appearance upon our television screens. Thank the lord for HD technology...now's a pretty effin' great time to be alive. And female. 
#10. We're still young enough for our guilty bieber crush to be somewhat acceptable. As long as your devotion is kept firmly under wraps. Love yourself. 

#11. Google maps. Getting yourself disgustingly lost is so 2000...unless you're a vacant blonde who still can't navigate her way around this marvellous little app.
#12. Vodka is your holy water and greatest companion for Friday night karaoke. 

#13. Overslept and rushing into work with a greasy pigeons squat hole on your head? You're being fashion forward, dahlin'. Rustle tussle bedhead is totally an "en pointe" look in the fashion world so your 'too lazy to shower' look just got you the fashion credentials to rival Miss Develvinge herself. Kudos to you. 
#14. Reckless shenanigans and shameful flirting is not only totally acceptable but delightfully encouraged during after work drinks! Work hard, play harder after all.
#15. Netflix and chill. Self-explantory. 

Go on comrades, live young, live wild, live free...you mise well since you're in the last stages of cool!

[Photo Source Inspiration: Pinterest]

22 February 2016

Dreaming Vs. Doing; The Battle Game

"The Power of Intention". An alluring old-age mantra we've all read and heard through the relentless grapevine. The simple art of visualising your goals and intentions in clear focus and light of day will undoubtedly magic them into attainable fruition, right? 

A pumped up idea dressed in pretty bows and flowers but somehow the delivery box always remains just out of arms reach. 

We live in a world laced with lists, wishes, motivators and goals but how often do we actually get our heads out of the plans and actually see them through? Indeed there is great power to be found in intention and visualising where we want to be and what we want to do is as easy and natural as your nans' wind pipes but pursuing these visions and actualising them is a different story entirely! 

We are skilled creatures of habit who unconsciously make every man-made action a tangible excuse for why certain things can't or don't happen, (i.e. the weather was atrocious, your wifi was playing games, you're short on cash, you enjoyed happy hour too much). This is exactly where the wall barriers between thinking and doing - thought vs. action - are built and progress falters. We fail to recognise that even if all of these external reasons for why action can't be made were wiped out, the one thing remaining that inhibits it all is ourselves. We automatically project control and fruition upon an external locus of control rather than taking responsibility for our own here and now and realising that it is only us and us alone that can make a certain wish or thought materialise. 

If you find yourself stuck in the hamster wheel lined with bucket wishes and lengthy to-do lists yet still running around in circles, it may be that deep down there is something inside you that is fearful of change. You may be comfortable being confined to your cage of intention but sometimes a change in direction and a push towards a brighter future requires you to step off and take yourself out of the wheel by seeing a plan through and actually doing

We can rabbit on for days, weeks, months and even years how we "wish we had time to redecorate the bedroom" or "learn a new language" but the prime excuses of "I don't have enough time/ I'm too busy/ I keep forgetting" slip in and what remains is a situation unchanged. 

Whilst these external excuses may or may not be entirely valid, the undeniable crux beneath all of the fancy words is a root of resistance. 

What is it that keeps watering the soils for your root of resistance to thrive within?

The natural path of thought has somewhat regressed to the patterns of our ancestors who avoided the hunting routes that deviated from the known, safety paths in fear of being eaten or attacked by something unbeknown. We fear that if we do something different to what we've always known or done - like apply for that job promotion we've been hankering after that we're going to mess up and in the process lose whatever valued identity or knowledge we had. 

The fear of failure becomes the hinderance that halts us from moving from dreams to success - from wishful thoughts to measurable action. 
Instead of addressing our fears of inadequacy and change head on by testing these predictions, we choose to mask them with easy excuses of "I'm tired/ I don't have time" and therefore remain racing around in circles on our wheel of relentless resistance. It ultimately becomes your wheel of stagnation. 

Of course it is important to recognise and practise a rational sense of self-awareness and appreciate when you truly need a break to re-set your body and mind. We tend to overwork ourselves, again through a feared sense of failure and really do end up "too tired" to actualise our other life ambitions. Maxing yourself out is different to neglecting and playing ostrich to your priorities and need for change and it is in this exchange where honesty and tough love with yourself is crucial.

"Let yourself move to the next chapter of your life."

Take yourself in a wider picture and really question what it is that you want to be and where you want to go in life. You may find that the comfort of your familiars are the real reasons why you feel locked into fear of indifference. It takes time, patience with the process and yourself, determination to seek comfort in the unfamiliar in order to jump from your safety zones. New experiences, failings, successes, conversations plunge us into growth as individuals and enable us to overcome the roadblock of fear. Learn to identify the fear behind your familiar old excuses and take yourself off of the wheel of wishing and make all those dreams a reality. Turn your to-do lists into accomplished lists of experience and discover the untouched parts of you along the way.

You don't need everyone to understand your journey or where you're going in life; all that matters is taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, action and behaviours. Once you master that, you simply get your power back. 

It certainly won't be easy but if we really want to do something, be someone, achieve something then none of our default excuses should hinder and prevent us from pursuing our goals. Relenting to our excuses is not a waver of strength or sensibility. In all senses it is what is easy. Taking the chance to succeed- or fail and learn - at something different or unknown reflects the strength of perseverance and character a great deal more than safety and fear ever could. Remember that you have two choices in life: Make excuses or make progress. 

Stop dreaming; Start doing. 

Take the leap; I dare you. 

[Photo Source Inspiration: Pinterest]

19 February 2016

Throwing Back The Beats

So it may not be a Thursday but I'm feeling somewhat nostalgic and think a little throwback playlist is in order to get the morning vibes in tune and the motivation pumping out loud. Time to turn back the clocks and get the childhood memories buzzing through the speakers!

You can just picture it now like it was only yesterday, the awkward friday night school disco with Mrs Robinson whizzing up the decks on the makeshift DJ booth made up of the morning assembly desk and the huddles of groups decked out in their Von Dutch snapbacks and tammy girl tartan skirts casting furtive glances at the opposite sex.

Get your speakers turned up and transport yourself back to the 90s and early 2000's with some golden nuggets of explosive hip hop, Rn'B, pop, rock and humming dance tracks!

Prepare for a mega music mashup throwdown just waiting to be downloaded to your playlist...priceless fo'shizzle!

Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl

R. Kelly - Ignition (Giraffage remix)

Britney Spears - Oops I Did It Again!

Spice Girls - Wannabe

Shakira, Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie

Sean Kingston - Beautiful Girls

Fountains Of Wayne - Stacey's Mom

Christina Aguilera - Dirty

OutKast - Ms. Jackson

Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body

NSYNC - Bye Bye Bye

Kayne West, Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger

Avril Lavigne - Sk8er Boi

Destiny's Child - Survivor

Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way

Rihanna - Pon De Replay 

JoJo - Too Little, Too Late

Miley Cyrus - Party In The USA

Kelis - Milkshake

[Photo Source Inspiration: Pinterest]

13 February 2016

Single Girl Swag

Who's ready for the onslaught of the love puppies today? So it seems that the one day of the year has arrived in all her shining glory and never one to disappoint, she's back more proud, loud and keener than ever in emblazoning your relationship status (..or lack thereof) as the talking focus of the town. So whilst it appears that the rest of your generation crew are preening and pruning themselves for lazy candlelit schmoozy dinners, fastening the diamond encrusted clasps of their new agent provocateur lingerie and clinking glasses of prosecco bubbles to toast their undying childhood love, you're tousled between the sheets of your bed, flying high in pure ecstasy with your lips and tongue entangled between the soft curves of an ice-cream tub. You're home alone. De-ja vu. It's alright, no one wants to settle for mediocre after all, you take your time when you have to make life decisions and a boyfriend nestles entirely in a lifetime investment piece. Choose wisely n'all that!

You don't need to be in one of those sickly love nests to indulge in a bit of Valentine's tomfoolery and fun! Being single and ready to mingle just means you have more time to dedicate to showering yourself with self-love and treating yourself to some cheeky solo pursuits! So before you indulge yourself in a full-blown Bridget jones breakdown and emotional train wreck, pull on your single girl sass and celebrate being young, free, gorgeous and doing whatever the hell you want because you can! Rally up your other unattached chickas and celebrate your day of swag with a few of these no-shame, no-guilt valentine's indulgences! 

    So go forth mighty singletons and revel in your status of sassiness!

    • Spend the night with a hottie. Since you have no other burning attachments, dedicate your attention to the close n'personal contours and curves of a beautiful man upon your television screen. Grab yourself a couple of movies and indulge yourself with the sweet, sweet eye-candy performing just for your pure unadulterated entertainment...Magic Mike XXL anyone?
    • As you won't be having to fork out a friggin' fortune on some cheap, sappy glittered infused fodder then take the chance to shower your majestical self with some lovin'. Get online, get spendy, treat yourself and worry about the effects upon your bank account tomorrow. 

    • Host a girl's night in! Invite all your girlfriends and celebrate being young, free n'single with some good wine, good food and good giggles! Create a playlist of empowering songs, rustle up some yummy food for everyone to tuck into and prepare to indulge in some naughty talk!
    • Spend the day with your best friend, jump into the car and take yourselves off for a day of adventure to somewhere you've never been before! Whether it's simply venturing over to Costco to marvel in a grocery world you've never entered before or taking to the highways and finding yourself bumping bonnets in the Brighton pier arcades, get yourself doing something new, exciting and enjoying being in the company of good friends!

    • Take yourself out on a date. You are the most important person in your world and therefore should be treated like the princess you are. You don't need no man in order to go out for fancy meals and wearing great underwear so invest in yourself and take yourself out for dinner or afternoon tea simply because you can! Make time for yourself and indulge in an ego-centred evening of relaxation complete with your best jammies, best wine, best films and best men to grace this earth...Ben & Jerry!

    • Host a foodie night of gluttony! Get your pinny tied pretty and park yourself in the kitchen ready to whizz up a culinary masterpiece! Whether that be slaving over a maple-glazed ham or simply cracking the lid on a can of heinz baked beans, tickle your tastebuds with your favourite flavours either solo or with your single girlfriends. The best thing about being single? You don't have to share a single spoonful of dessert!

    • Buy your own damn bunch of roses! You don't have to be in a relationship in order of being worthy  to a bouquet of flowers - go forth and buy them for yourself girl! A bouquet of pretty flowers is a simple and cheap (most of the time!) way of brightening your day so don't wait around for someone else to treat you when you can take control of mastering your own happiness and enjoyment!

    • Play cupid to your favourite charity! Instead of focusing your attention on yourself and beating yourself up for not having your sh** together, turn your focus upon doing something for someone else. Why not get your whisk ready and bake up a couple of batches of cakes and cookies and sell them at work or in your spare time to raise some money your can then donate to charity! Helping others and seeing the change you can make to another person will unknowingly benefit you in the process by making you feel pretty darn special. Just how you should feel!

    If you're still feeling somewhat disgruntled after your friend sends you a snap of her surprise plane tickets to Barbados then just keep telling yourself that roses are red, violets are blue but vodka is faithful and costs less than dinner for two.

    [Photo Source Inspiration: Pinterest]

    08 February 2016

    Hello Black Dog, Familiar Friend

    Beneath the suffocating darkness of his thick heavy fur lies a delicately curled tulip bud crouched in empty heavy silence amongst the deep fast echoing beat of a heart that feels ready to drop and an unchangeable mind that wanders too much. Yet just like a flower unfurled and exposed bare, you are more than the familiar emptiness thudding through your pulse and purely an existence of intricate complexity that pulsates beauty in the thunderous waves of your wanderings. Your beauty exists and shines through your boat rides between where you've been, where you now and where you will be once the smothering blanket of despair breaks into clarity upon the shore.


    Want to know the worst thing about it? Not the feeling of remote desolation or the foreboding disquiet lurking round every corner nor is it feeling that such a numb existence will never find closure. No, it quite possibly is the negatively unjust disregard and invalidating stigma towards it. It being a very real, very silent but very cruel illness. Those who are yet to experience the presence and all-cosuming company of the black dog just assume that others are being miserable old sods and are somewhat selfish in being unappreciative of their lot in life. Just whack on a cheeky smile,  snap yourself out of it and all will be peachy again, right? Wrong.

    I want anyone out there currently struggling amongst the dark clouds of loneliness and seclusion to realise they're not alone. Being dealt the cards of depression is tough and can often feel never-ending through the consistent fear that any bout of delight will soon be scuppered and slaughtered by the arrival of the looming black animal again. In actual fact you are an individual of extreme bravery and your presence here today should be celebrated as an influential and inspirational character.

    It is more than okay to find yourself in a place of struggle as it quite plain and simply implies you are in a process of growth. Life is not a smooth line of calm sailing, it is a wave of unpredictability and the struggles you experience are only blessings in disguise for change and evolution to occur. Those who do not change and do not grow are those who refuse to struggle so if you're hurting right now, keep in your heart the knowledge that it is a sign for something wonderful just around the corner.

    Some of the most miraculous things in this world have been shaped and created by the very individuals who have continued to keep pushing forwards when they felt there was no hope left at all so hold onto your hope that the sun will shine through the storm clouds again.

    You are valuable and worthy merely because you exist in this world, not because of how many people like you, how many friends you have online, your productivity or because of how attractive society deems you. You are valued simply for being you and that is wholeheartedly enough. Trust in the timing of your life as it is shaping something amazing - the people, the places, the timing and experiences are determining the most rewarding of journey's for you so keep the faith.

    Living with a black dog doesn't make you weak, pathetic or a victim of vulnerability. Such individuals are in fact quite the opposite and represent beings of great strength and intuition. Experiencing depression enables a way of prepping yourself for a more thoughtful, tactful and happier future. Whilst in the moment the dark clouds of sadness feel like a curse, the experience allows you to gauge a sense of significance and develop a skill set that works for you in achieving more both physically and socially. The presence of the black dog opens the doors in the search for greater understanding, self awareness, life direction and peaceful grounding. This may not be the case in the here and now but eventually, the darkness will fragment to enable the light to shine and guide. The darkness of depression does not make you a coward, a failure, a nobody but pushes you to make the answers to the holes existing in your life. It makes you quizzical, attentive and brings you in touch to the wider picture of appreciating the beauty and fragility of life. It brings you more in line with authenticity and that in itself is an act far greater and more worthy than fear.

    Individuals dealing with the shadows of the black dog are often met with negative vibes - not only from themselves but more loudly from society. Either depression is ridiculed for being an overdramatised "bad day" where the societal effects just deepen the depressive effects of that individual or it's received with nonchalance and ignorance. Depression is one tough illness to define and affects individuals in a plethora of different ways yet what it isn't is a target for disrespect or insensitivity. An individual is exactly that - an individual - not their illness despite depression often robbing someone of their natural temperament. The black dog can sit and mask the positivity and truly beautiful qualities of the affected but that doesn't mean they're no longer there. They very much still are but tiptoeing around them on eggshells and treating them indifferently like a walking arrow will never coax their true selves out of hiding. Treating an individual as their true and whole self - not the illness they may have - radiates a sense of respect and acceptance of that individual in whatever stage of life they're living. Celebrating who they are and not the difficulties they're struggling with helps to remind an individual whose lost their sense of value just how remarkably valuable they really are.

    Walking the black dog on a daily basis can leave an individual exposed to the blows, gusts and winds of thunderstorms and heavy black clouds. An all-consuming sky of self-doubt, confusion and paranoia about life and direction becomes the vision they see the world with. Your aunty may be really talented at making ceramics just like your mum may be really good at not getting jokes! The simple fact is that no matter how clueless and muddled we feel about our place in our world, we all undoubtedly have talents. Those walking the black dog may not be able to see them for themselves which is why it may be that your new found talent is going on a mission to help them find what makes them tick. Seek out a journey you can take together to help grow, hone, develop and nurture the passion and talents that naturally reside in the dog walker. The demons in their head are not who they are, nor are they the only talents they can play with - helping to unearth new interests will inevitably help to release the invalidating identity that the black dog tries to mark upon them like a permanent scent and unveils a profile of new-found passion and significance.

    Dealing with the black dog can be difficult and tiresome not only for the one consumed but also for the support network of family and friends. The black dog is sneaky and sly and can sliver up when least expected, bringing with him a foggy haze of disengagement, irritability and inexplicable numbness. Whilst it's frustrating and agonising as an outsider to watch it before your eyes, it's an even harder battle for the one going through it as more than anything they want to scrabble to find the escape button that remains so cruelly hidden. Boundaries of expectations cause conflict and guilt between both parties - often family members wanting to rescue and save the loved one from free-falling but truthfully the fight to quieten the black dog and put it back upon a leash lies in only one set of hands. Theirs. It is their battle, their fight, their quest to navigate and overcome and no amount of involvement, nurturing, interference and willing from another will magic away the negative energy or the scars of the dog bites.

    Firing advice and wisdom laced with "shoulds" only fuels the hypocritical joy of the black dog. An individual struggling with validation already holds a self-scripted checklist of "shoulds" which is what limits their appreciation of themselves in the first place. Explaining to someone that they "should snap out of their funk", "should stop feeling sorry for themselves", "should be more appreciative of what's already around them" sets up a relationship of condescending displeasure. An individual with a black dog is exactly that - an individual with their own mind and own demons, not a child with an underdeveloped mind or no will of their own. Telling a depressed loved one that they "should" behave in a certain way only leaves you more disconnected from them as a wall of defence and barrier of protection from criticism will instantly be build by the black dog.
    Encouragement, suggestions and positive, strengthening questions radiates respect and acceptance that who they are and what they do in this very moment is enough and makes no difference to their value and importance in your life. The key message here is that affirming and positive encouragement  helps bolster an individuals' self-esteem and value far more than any negative and demeaning words ever could (no matter if they are delivered with positive intent) as they can only but feed the hungry dog and inflate his strength and depressive ego.

    My parting words to any of you who are currently suffering or are often frequented by the black dog is don't ever let your sadness make you feel ashamed of being you. Be stronger than the bones of the dog as he doesn't have to be your backbone if you choose not to let him beat you down. Refuse to never give up the fight, refuse to never back down no matter how low he grinds you to the floor and refuse never to give up on yourself as you are stronger, wiser and more resilient than a black dog will ever make you feel. To waste your valuable energy in feeling guilt and shame at being human is a wasted source of energy you could be using in leashing that black dog.

    Remember that experiencing the black dog is never your fault, he doesn't diminish your place or value in this world, those who matter and are important will love you regardless, you are you and not your demons and lastly...you are not and never will be alone in your battle of leashing the black dog. 

    [Photo Source Inspiration: Pinterest]
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