Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Am I a Freak?

*Goes to any family gathering*

Family Friend/Member: 'So have you found yourself a boyfriend yet?'

Me: *shrugs and laughs it off* 'Oh no, not yet'


A big insecurity of mine has always been relationships. And this post is quite difficult for me to write and share on the internet for all to see, but I came across this draft from a while ago and thought maybe, just maybe, it's not just me feeling this way.

I think a lot of kids - teenagers - go through the 'boyfriend' phase - you know the one where you don't actually talk to each other, but you got your friend to ask them if they want to 'go out'/'go steady' with you and then you add their name with a heart on your MSN tag line and it's official! 

We all I think - or at least our peers at school - go through it. And it's around about year 7 which is also the step up to a new school - and I think it somehow got drawn into me that this was a measure of worth, of being desired, of being cool!



As the title suggests, this never happened to me. And it's not a huge issue - I haven't been totally consumed by this idea, because I've always been quite a smart and logical person, so I know now and I knew back then - that seeing this a measure of worth is total bollocks! 

And I can go into my sassy, girl-power mode and say 'You don't need a man to make you happy', 'having a boyfriend doesn't impact your self-worth' and yes I truly believe that and that's why this isn't a massive issue and I can live a long and happy life, succeeding as I have and will do in the future. 



And yet, it's been an insecurity of mine ever since then, and I won't deny that's it's knocked my confidence slightly in the past and no doubt will do in the future. And although I only really get down about it when I'm already in a bad mood or upset about something (and tend to fall into that lovely spiral we all love so much!) it keeps coming back to me. The idea that there's something wrong with me? Why am I 21 and never had a boyfriend? Does it make me weird/odd that I'm in my twenties and I've never had sex? 

Which spirals into a field of ongoing questions that my over-thinking, scientific brain likes to analyse like;
Am I disgusting? Am I ugly? Is there something wrong with my body?

Or worse; Is it me? Am I just unlovable? Am I the 'nice' person who no-one ever really has as their first choice? Am I too boring or uncool?



And luckily I'm in a good place right now that I can write this logically and know that everything's fine. I'm content with the faith that really, the person that's right for me is out there and to quote Mr BublĂ©, I just haven't met him yet. And at 21, I've got my whole life to go out and meet different people, all of them right for that time in my life. It's easy to get caught up in the superficial things like sex or the relationship label, but at the end of the day I'm the soppy one who just wants love and I can wait a lifetime for that!

I'd like to point out that this doesn't rule my life - I just realised that it was a recurring thought over the years and wondered whether anyone else had ever felt that sense of doubt?

Also a little reminder, that you're the main person who deserves your undivided attention and love and you're totally amazing no matter your relationship status!



Monday, 24 April 2017

How I feel about Travelling Alone

So as my final year at university is creeping to an end (so close yet so far...) I'm starting to get pretty excited for my freedom and therefore plans to head off to the land down under and have a bit of fun!

Of course, we'll ignore the crippling fear of no job, no prospects or any ideas of what to do with my life - that's for future Josie to worry about! For now, I'm going to totally let go, be wild and do whatever the fuck I want! Because I've earned it!


So enough of the off rambly intro - this post is about how I feel about taking on this adventure alone. Years, even months ago (even now sometimes) I would never have even considered going alone, and as travel is a common desire among a few of my friends - one's even out in Australia now! - I've always assumed someone will come along with me. But as things are getting closer, myself and others have actually started planning/considering actually doing things, our timings, finances and actual willingness has turned out to be different.


For a moment, I'll admit I did consider postponing a year, until a few other friends had finished uni/earned enough money to come out with me, but I know myself, and I know that the minute I get a job or get stuck in a routine, I'll be finding excuses or other responsibilities will come along that will mean I never get to do it. 

There's also the point that, because going alone is so scary and different, that's completely out of my comfort zone, and for that reason I sort of have to do it! 

'Life begins at the end of your comfort zone' ~ Neale Donald Walsch


So it's ended up being just me. And at first that was seriously scary - it still kind of is - I'll be going to the other side of the world, a country I've never been to, one that I have no/little family there - bit of a scary prospect.

There's also the fact that I can sometimes really doubt my 'friend-making' ability, don't have the most amount of common sense and have just about enough money to see me through a couple of months.


However! As I'm doing my research (when really I should be revising, ssshh!) and I'm getting more and more ready for summer adventures (I think the recent spring/summer-ness is definitely boosting my mood), the fear I had - though still there - is turning more into excitement!


And as I'm planning/researching, I'm sort of getting excited to be on my own - as a constant people pleaser - I'm looking forward to having a bit of freedom to just do what I want, and to have that alone time.

Also, the number of people I've spoken to (hopefully aren't just trying to make me feel better) have ALL said that they almost couldn't not meet people - all/most other travellers, therefore a lot of fellow Brits thrown in there - so that's definitely dampened my worries a bit. It's also getting me all excited to meet some new, amazing people and learning so much more about myself and this amazing world!


I'll do another post after I've been and satisfied my travel-bug (if I ever come back) to let you all know how I got on.

I know it'll be scary at times but I've vowed to myself to - going against everything that comes most naturally - just have faith! I'm a smart(ish), kind and friendly person - and I'm going to have a freaking amazing time!!


Anyone ever been travelling? Did you go alone? Any places you'd recommend?





Friday, 14 April 2017

Baking Easter Brownies

Happy Easter to all!

So I was procrasti-baking last week and thought I'd make them Easter themed, using an idea I got from a Facebook video and thought I'd share the idea with the internet if anyone fancies anything different to the standard Chocolate-Cornflake mini egg nests (although I'll admit this was my first thought when deciding to get baking)!



As I've been quite tight for time lately, I picked up a cheat version and got one of the brownie packets by BakedIn where you just add 3 eggs and 200g unsalted butter, cook for 40 minutes in the oven and hey presto, 12 deliciously tasty brownies!



The idea I got to make them Easter-themed, was to use white chocolate and orange food colouring to coat some strawberries and make them look like carrots! However, unfortunately, when mixing in the food colouring, the melted white chocolate seemed to congeal (apparently don't melt it in the microwave?) so plan B was to make some orange icing to coat the strawberries and I think I just about saved them (however my presentation isn't always immaculate so I'm sure you could do a much better job!)


Once cooled, I covered them in chocolate spread and sprinkled on crushed Cadbury flake to look a bit like soil and then added the orange strawberry 'carrots'. And for a couple I used mini eggs, because you can't very well bake Easter themed cakes without them!


And voila, double chocolate brownies perfect for Easter - if they last until then?!


Disclosure, this post isn't sponsored by BakedIn, it was just the one I picked up from Tesco!

 My brother and I are kicking off Easter Weekend by heading up to London tonight to watch Part Two of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and OH MY GOD It was so amazing last night I can't wait to see the rest!! How's everyone celebrating their Easter Weekend? 




Friday, 7 April 2017

How University harms Mental Health

So after the term I've had and things I've experienced, as well as yet another piece of devastating news, I realised some of the serious dangers to mental health the university can cause and so I wanted to do a post to try and voice the issue.

When a lot of people experience mental health problems, a common feeling is loneliness and shame; feeling as though you're not allowed to feel weak and sad because everyone else is coping just fine.

However, I've noticed this year, that there have been a lot of issues with mental health, not just at my university but among family and friends too, and this has devastatingly resulted in suicides. It's extremely hard to attempt to help someone when they're in that place, however we can do our very best to try to prevent it getting to that stage.



University is hard, and it's different levels of hard for each individual depending on the subject, their work ethic, the way they deal with things and of course external and social influences. But it is hard. And yes it's meant to be hard so that it's worth more when you come out and yes I've definitely grown as a person and will be better equipped in the real world knowing I got through it. And don't get me wrong, I don't regret it - I've met some incredible people and am a stronger person because of it.

 But I came pretty low this last term - I mean very low, too low in fact for it to be worth a 'degree' (oh and life long debt), and I'm evidently not the only one. Just looking around at my friends - not to mention hearing about other students from mine as well as other universities in England - I can feel the stress, despair and worry (and not going to lie we're all pretty smart and hard working) and through meeting with a university counselor, they've been chocka-block all year with concerned students.

In my opinion, it's a little bit too far. In some ways I think it's good that young people can experience and learn to handle stress and a busy workload while they have the support easily accessible and 'free' (cough cough £9000 a year) so that they're more prepared for the future. However, there's a line. There's a line where a degree, £27,000, relationships, bullying, body confidence etc etc IS NOT WORTH IT!  And it seems that a lot of students either don't want to or don't know how to find the help they need and it all gets a bit much. And unfortunately crossing this line cannot be undone.


Universities have an obligation to their students to support them and unfortunately some of these support services are not well promoted or potentially not equipped enough to deal with the demand. Now I'm writing this post thinking, well there are plenty of support services at my uni, we've each got a subject supervisor who's with us all throughout university and a project supervisor who's meant to guide us through our dissertation project. But the thing is, being at a Russel Group University, everyone has their own research, i.e. they have their own work to do on top of, marking endless essays/exams, planning lectures, they're own life. Everyone is stretched so thin that I have felt that I can't go to these people when I need to, leaving me to deal with it on my own.

Mental Health and Mindfulness is becoming a new hot topic so I'm hoping that things will start to change and ideally become more relaxed and focused. Not only in universities but school as well, young people are so vulnerable and are learning new things everyday - we need the support of family and friends, who not everyone has support from making the support from the community/institution so much more important.

At the end of the day, a degree/exam is a piece of paper, it doesn't not signify your worth. Nowadays there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. Nothing is worth ending your life for. Nothing. 

If you're feeling down or stressed and feeling like you're not coping here's what to do. First, don't feel ashamed, we all (really, all of us!) go through it - I always thought university memes were a bit drastic, but nope we genuinely feel like that. Second, talk, it really does help, seek out what support your university/school provides (you should have a subject supervisor, of if you want more anonymity there may be counselors on site) and if they don't - make it happen! Third, if there's really no support, there's services like The Samaritans that provide free counselling. 



*Little disclaimer to point out that I didn't personally know the people who have recently passed very well, and therefore don't know the reasons for their actions. But simply based on their occurrence, mine and others experiences, I strongly feel that this is an issue that needs addressing urgently.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Thinking of Sunnier Days*

Sup All!

I'm very sorry that posts have been rather rare recently, time seems to be flying by and all taken up by this dreaded dissertation project, as well as part time work and attempting the odd social occasion/night out... oh and some sleep if I'm lucky! 

Not to worry, when Easter comes along a huge weight will have been lifted (hopefully) and I'll have much more time to put back into blogging, but for now things might be a bit slow!

Nonetheless, I've been daydream-procrastinat-ing, thinking about - and very much longing for - Spring/Summer and the sunnier, brighter things that follow! I think it's suffice to say that the cold, dreary winter isn't quite as enjoyable when there's no Christmas round the corner!

So in my planning for Summer (and attempting to find cheap, fun holiday destinations for end of uni whilst still saving for Australia, paying for rent/food and the odd Salt and Pepper takeaway after a night in Society!) I've been planning a splendid Summer do for a End-Of-Degree/Very belated 21st Birthday/It's Summer and I just want to drink Pimm's and have fun Party! You know, a Classic!

I've very fortunate enough to have a rather large, extended and (now my parents have cleaned it all up and decorated) really nice back garden and it makes for a great space for a summer party! So I thought I'd share with you some fun ways I plan on decorating it and a few bits and bobs and some odd furniture, that I think would go absolutely fabulously!

Outdoor Bits:

Porto Lounge Set

Something that's always handy at a summer party is some great, comfy and stylish seating areas for those who want to sit and eat their BBQ or have a civilised chat with a drink in hand. Mum managed to snab a lovely ratten set like this one (although not quite as stylish) from Groupon but you can grab them from most furniture shops and garden centres. This one from Cox and Cox definitely grabbed my eye - and they're so good for summer (even if it's not for a party) - definitely gets us out in the sunshine a bit more!



Indoor/Outdoor Double Cushion

A fab idea for those without much outdoor seating however - or if you just have soo many friends - is this awesome looking cushion! We have a rather long garden and right down the back is a tiny little patio by the grass and several trees, bushes and flowers surrounding it and I can picture one or two of these outdoor cushions laid on the grass for a cute little chill area away from all the bustle, where you could sit and chit chat or have a cheeky sunbathe!



Four LED Lights

Now my parents have been on the hunt for some lovely outdoor lights that they like and, personally my fave are the fairy-light like ones that you can wrap round the trees and wind through the plants, but they're huge fans of the hanging tree lights. You can grab these from many places I believe, many garden centres, Clas Ohlson and these lovely ones here from Cox and Cox.



Gazebo

Of course, if you're planning for your ace summer party to go on until the late hours of the morning (since it'll get darker a lot later!) or of course you're hosting it in England, and you want to cover all weather scenarios, then a gazebo is essential and I've picked out a few goodens from Halfords that won't break the bank! Always a nice touch to decorate the inside with outdoor fairy lights too!




(our little not-so-elegant set up for my parent's wedding party - balloons and bunting are always a good decoration!)


Food and Drink:

Obviously if you're going to throw a banging party, you're going to need some delicious food to accompany the jugs of Pimm's and Strawberries and Cream, of course!

Just a little bit more decor from the party! Cake made and decorated by yours truly


For my parents wedding party, we hosted it in our back garden and we had one cracking good Hog Roast! Unfortunately I couldn't find any photos, but I remember the deliciousness of those pork baps! I believe we went with the Spitting Pig in Berkshire since it was near to home but I'd very much recommend if you've got a number of guests and want the food taken care of.

Similarly, Costco do wonderful ready made trays of wraps, sandwiches and sushi that a few family friends have bought for various birthday parties and they've always gone down a treat, if you're looking for more nibbly/cheaper bits!

Other wonderful ideas are of course, a classic barby in the garden accompanied with a classic array of different salads and canapes!




Anyone else seriously excited for Summer even though it's barely Spring!?

Anyone got any awesome plans to look forward to? Or any parties planned?



*This post was in collaboration with Cox and Cox but all views and opinions are my own! 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Walking In A Winter Wonderland - Vancouver

What's more responsible and appropriate in third year than to take a spontaneous day trip to Canada? 

I know it's extremely late to be posting this since it's now FEBRUARY! What!? But since the days are still chilly and frosty I thought I'd talk about how lucky I was this December to accompany my dearest mother to Vancouver for a day! 


When we got there at about 1am UK time, we headed straight out for cocktails and a walk round the town! The next morning after a restless short, 4 hour sleep (jet lag and all that!) we were up early and headed out by 7. We headed first straight to Canada Place on the airport shuttle and stumbled upon the Pan Pacific Christmas Wish breakfast held by the fire fighters raising money and a record breaking number of presents to donate to children! I thought this was such a wonderful idea and it was so festive and pretty packed! 

We went and watched the sunrise and got some lovely photos of the gorgeous mountains covered in a blanket of snow - beautiful!


Jumper - Sainsbury's

Leggings - River Island

Boots - New Look

Hat - Rip Curl





We then took a wander all the way from Canada Place over to Stanley Park along the coast and went for a mini wander through. Stanley Park is probably the main attraction - 405-hectares of a gorgeous forest. The weather was perfect - bloody freezing but so sunny and crisp, that the views and experience was lush!



We then headed over to Granville Island - a teeny little section of Vancouver, where we strolled through the lovely market, filled with pretty much anything you could think of! From soups and burgers to bakes and fruit, jewelry to flowers, purses to paintings! 



Finally we headed out on our trek to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which was quite a bit further out of downtown than we realised *awkward face* 

We walked through downtown Vancouver and out to the snowy suburbs up the hill and kept going all the way down to West 37th. Of course it was worth it! The snow was imaculate. Blanketed the ground and decorated the trees, the gardens were simply beautiful. 

I aimed to head there when it was dark as a light event was being held, however we got there a bit earlier and by then we were too tired to wait. So we headed for a walk round the gardens and they were all decorated with gorgeous lights and the some festive decorations!




Definitely a 21st birthday of dreams! Canada is stunning and I can safely say that the common Canadian stereotype that they're all really really nice is very much true. They are complete babes! It was probably the only place where everyone was genuinely happy and so friendly and helpful and it definitely added to the wonderful experience! 

So Thank You Vancouver - I can't wait to return!



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

3 Easy ways to Practice Mindfulness

A lot of people lately have been jumping on this whole Hygge lifestyle trend and I am loving it (Although let’s be honest I’m sure a lot of us have always been totally up for a relaxing Sunday in bed with tea and books and cosy-ness!) and I thought it very much tied in with the mindfulness trend that’s also up and coming.
With the continuing increase in work load and pressure we seem to be under recently, whether it be juggling jobs or facing new challenges; work, academic, health or otherwise, the importance of taking time out is even more important. I’ve noticed this a lot amongst the blogosphere in general (mainly because we’re all perfectionists that want to provide great content, but a lot of us are also preoccupied with full time commitments) and so thought I’d share some of the things that have been working for me since the start of this academic year, in case anyone’s looking for ideas…


Smiling Mind:

This has probably been the main thing that has really helped me this year. Smiling Mind is an app (similar to the Mindfulness App – except that it’s free (which is why I changed to it)) that has a number of different podcast-type files that are based on practicing mindfulness and meditation. The great thing about this is that most of the files (on the Adult program anyway – I haven’t really explored the whole app because there’s a tonne of content) are only about 5-10 minutes long and the guy on it literally just talks you through a short practice that really calms me down.
I usually listen to the meditation ones right before I go to sleep and it really helps me not to check my phone and to really take a good 10 minutes to relax and unwind and focus on my body and my mind. If I’m honest the main reason I think it’s helped me is because by doing this I have been sleeping really well and have definitely been feeling more refreshed, awake and productive the next morning, thus impacting the rest of my day!
You can do these meditations anytime, anywhere and there’s a variety of different podcasts, for example ones for sleep, ones for stress, emotion, worries, curiosity etc – I just love it! Also the guy has an Australian accent and that may be a factor in why I love it so much! (just you wait till I find an Irish one!!)


Yoga:

I know I’ve mentioned this in a post before, but I am really loving the buzz that I get from yoga. The class I take a uni is definitely not easy – I’m very tired and sweaty by the end of it (even the beginners class) but I’ve certainly noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and my flexibility and strength simply from going to one 1.5 hour class each week. I’ll admit, I’m terrible at self motivation lately and never really practice at home (partly because my room is so tiny and I don’t really want to take up the whole living room shoving my bum in the air with 3 other housemates about – I know excuses excuses) but I’ve bought a mat and now I’m home for Christmas I’m going to try and at least do some short 20-30 minute Yoga with Adrienne practices to try and maintain this buzz!


Fab Mental Health blogs:


What Lauren Did Today's Happy List Project

#MH at Little Thoughts Blog by Hannah

#Speak Up at Thrifty Vintage Fashion by Nicole


I was going to add a few other little bits like going for a walk or a bath with a relaxing Spotify playlist and candles, but I’ve appeared to have rambled on a fair bit (as usual) and don’t want to bore you completely with things you probably know already.

Do let me know if you have any other good ideas for staying mindful and/or whether you’ve tried any of the above things? What do you think?



Thursday, 5 January 2017

21 Lessons on my 21st Birthday

So this is a bit late in posting, but I wrote this a few weeks ago when it was my 21st birthday just before Christmas and instead of the classic 'New Year New Me' post, I thought I'd share just how far I've come in these 21 years and some of the things I've learnt in hope that they can enlighten/remind some of you;


1. Health is more important than any academic achievement

2. Everyone deserves happiness

3. J.K Rowling is a genius

4. F.R.I.E.N.D.S will never stop being funny

5. Friendship knows no distance

6. Experiences and memories are far more worth time and money

7. Everyone has insecurities


8. Face your fears or they will always haunt you

9. Epilating is one of the most painful but worth it things to do!

10. Everything happens for a reason

11. There’s always time to learn from your mistakes

12. Thinking of another point of view helps understand the reason behind a situation or event.

13. You are never alone. There’s someone out there feeling/thinking the same thing – you will find your people.

14. Periods (or the pre-period period) really can make you think and see differently.

15. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it seems like there’s no way to recover.

16. Every day is a chance to be the person you want to be.

17. Don’t wait to do what you want to do.

18. It's far better to have a few really great, loyal friends than loads that you don't feel truly yourself around.

19. Take every opportunity you get given

20. If you really want something, the universe will, in some shape or form, offer it to you.

21. Everything will work out so stop worrying!



What lessons have you learnt over the years?