How loving yourself changes everything

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I have come a long way. I used to hate myself. I used to wish I could be anyone but me!
Now, aged 23, I can hand on heart say I love myself. Not in a big-headed vain kind of way. But in a I am one of a kind, and I love the things I stand for, and the things that make me me kind of way. Believe me, there are many things about how I look that could be more beautiful by society’s standards. I’m sure if I was critiqued by the public they’d have more than a handful of mean things to say about my appearance. Perhaps I could lose a little weight, maybe my toes are ugly, they might say my nose is too sticky uppy. But that is beside the point because loving yourself starts from within. What people overlook is personality. And to me, that is the most important part.

I started loving myself a couple of years ago. I think it began at University. When I found freedom and friends who adored me for me, despite my flaws. I wish I could tell you how to love yourself but there is no foolproof guide. Just know if you want to love yourself, you’re already on track. But I’ve come up with a good idea of the sorts of things to start doing to work on your self-relationship.

Loving yourself means looking after yourself. Physically and mentally. Eat good food, exercise, sleep when you’re tired, rest and talk to friends when you’re feeling stressed. This means you respect the body you’re in. Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day on average. That little heart is keeping you alive – its sole purpose is to serve you. So treat your body with love and care.

Treat yo self! Yep, you deserve that ice cream, that camera, those shoes you’ve longed for. If you constantly put yourself down AND never allow yourself any joy or treats then of course you’ll feel resentful. I personally try to put £50 into a separate bank account each month so that I can spend it on something nice every now and then. And it feels so good, whilst making me realise how hard I work.

See friends and family MORE. They are key to making you feel good about yourself! They love you unconditionally and will likely cheer you up no matter what.

Make a daily note of the small or big things you love about your personality, your looks or your life! Whether it’s your amazing dad, your freckles or your knowledge about penguins. And don’t turn down compliments – you deserve them and should cherish them too.

And finally, just be open to loving yourself. Then the love can pour in!

 

Barry M Matte Me Up Lip Kit Review

So I’m a bit of a make up addict – which means all I want to do is spend money on the latest products. Sadly though, my hobby comes at a cost… which leads me to my next point: I’m always on the hunt for a good dupe of an expensive product. So I was extremely excited when I came across a perfect dupe for the one beauty product everyone’s after at the moment (and I do own one – so I can compare the two): a Kylie lip kit.

Kylie Jenner made big lips cool again – and brought to the world the majestic matte liquid lipstick. Something women have wished for since time began… a lipstick that stays put all day and doesn’t feel like lipstick! But at £35+ including shipping – it’s an investment – rather than a steal. So ever since I’ve been hunting online and in shops for that perfect high street dupe, and while I’ve come across some good liquid lipsticks, none have had the lasting power and light feel that Kylie’s has had.

Until I came across Barry M’s Matte Me Up Lip Kits.

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At only £6.99, they’re a smidgen of the price of Kylie’s yet they look so similar – and the products feel the same. The kit comes in a pretty little box which contains both a lipliner and a liquid lipstick. So far there are three colours to choose from – Pose, Go to and Runway. I tried Runway in the shop and bought Go to and Pose (after a hunt – as there was limited stock). The kit promises pout perfection with it’s non-drying ultra-long wearing formula – that’s easy to apply. I can vouch that those are all true.

The lipliner is hard enough so that it’s easy to apply perfectly yet buttery enough to have a fantastic colour pay off and even application. The liquid lipstick (or lip paint as they call it) is thick and highly pigmented, yet when you put it on it feels so light you wouldn’t even know you’re wearing it. I’d say the lip kit would last up to 8 hours, but does fade if you’re drinking a lot – so you would need to take it with you on a night out or dinner date to top up. But for £6.99 – you cannot complain. I think the formula and colours are fantastic. All three shades are gorgeous and I only hope they’ll come out with more shades.

My favourite shade is Pose. I’ve never thought I’d be the kind of girl to wear pink lipstick but (excuse my language) shit me this colour is insane! Makes me feel pretty yet sexy at the same time and doesn’t make my teeth look yellow like most pink lippies.

The lipliner is much darker than the lipstick but it’s for good reason – the two look insanely good together. They remind me a lot of Charlotte Tilbury’s pillow talk lipstick.

The other shade I got is Go to – a medium nude shade which would look incredible on an olive skin tone in my opinion – yet still suits pale skinned girls like me.

Overall I’d say to anyone wanting to try these out – do it! I mean, at just over a fiver, there’s no reason to excuse yourself from marching down to Superdrug and buying one to see how amazing they are for yourselves ;-)

Let me know your thoughts on the kits – and if you recommend any other liquid lipsticks I could try out!

Life lessons taken from Gilmore Girls

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As a huge fan of Gilmore Girls, who watched all seven series (153 episodes) in the space of three months, and has watched it the whole way through four times now, I felt I should share the life lessons I have learned. Lorelai Gilmore, my favourite character, is a strong witty single mum who goes through life being a good friend, business woman, girlfriend and mother to those around her. She is the character from whom I have taken most of my newfound wisdom. Besides that, the other characters involved; her mother Emily, her daughter Rory and her best friend Sookie; are also sources from which you can learn. The show is just the best way to learn about life – with a side of sarcasm and wit.

So without hesitation, let’s get on with it.

*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Lesson #1: Family is everything. Never ever forget it. Some family members will be your best friends, others will drive you a bit crazy, but at the end of the day, they’re all you have! My favourite family moment is when Rory says to Lorelai “Mom, you’ve given me everything I need” right when she’s about to leave home to go to Yale.

Lesson #2: Tell your family or your loved ones that you love them, and do it often. The family comes first theme is obviously a theme throughout the entire show, but the way that Lorelai and Rory talk to each other, and tell each other how much they mean to them is the absolute reason why their relationship is so strong. The quote that made me cry like a lost child in a supermarket (I’m talking meltdown crying!) was this one, Rory’s high school graduation speech, in the last episode of Series 3: “I live in two worlds.  One is a world of books… It’s a rewarding world, but my second one is by far superior.  My second one is populated with characters slightly less eccentric, but supremely real, made of flesh and bone, full of love, who are my ultimate inspiration for everything.  Richard and Emily Gilmore are kind, decent, unfailingly generous people.  They are my twin pillars, without whom I could not stand.  I am proud to be their grandchild.  But my ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend, the dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my life’s blood, Lorelai Gilmore. My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be.  She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith.  As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.  Thank you, Mom: you are my guidepost for everything.”

Lesson #3: If you are crying over him one minute and happy the next, it’s probably not a healthy relationship and you should run! In Series 5 Episode 18 & 19, Lorelai’s daughter Rory is torn about her open-relationship with fellow Yale student and rich kid Logan Huntzberger and in one scene is crying on the floor over him next to the toilet after being sick (due to too much of Miss Patty’s punch). Unhappy, Rory goes to end it but Logan suggests he can be a boyfriend and so they go to give it a go. After a tumultuous meal at the Huntzbergers’ house, where Logan’s mother and grandfather lay into Logan’s choice in dating Rory, confused she calls her mother. Lorelai then goes on to say “You, my beautiful, brainy, fabulous daughter, were lying on the floor of the bathroom, wondering what you had done wrong! Which is disturbing to me on several levels, including the fact that I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the floor of the bathroom! Is that really the kind of relationship you want to be in?”

Lesson #4: Life can be scary and disappointing, and that’s OK. This is particularly shown in the last series as Rory hunts for a job after finishing university. In Series 7 Episode 7 she feels lost and says: “Everything is just… ending. I just feel like everything is gonna be over. I’m done at the paper. Soon I’m gonna be done at Yale, and it’s just like I’m standing on this cliff, looking out into this huge, foggy abyss… And in my whole life, there’s never been an abyss. It’s been abyssless. I’ve always known exactly what’s in front of me, and I’ve always known exactly where I’m going… And now, I don’t know what’s out there.” This made me cry because it described my exact feelings too in the run up to finishing university, and the summer following it. I was terrified, and constantly getting rejections for jobs I had applied for. Everything felt awful and it felt as though nothing would work out, and I’d just become some jobless slob. Fear not though, Rory gets a journo job…. as did I ;)

Lesson #5: Reach for the moon and you’ll land among the stars. Basically, aim high, and don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are too big because with enough hard work and determination, you can and will get there. Lorelai always instilled this into Rory and told her all the time how smart, talented and loved she was. In Series 1, Episode 2, on Rory’s first day at Chilton she says: “You are an amazing kid. You have earned this. You just go in there and show them what smart really is. I love you.”

Lesson #6: If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t what you really want, no matter how much it hurts. In Series 7 Episode 14, Lorelai finally realises that her and Christopher cannot work things out because she doesn’t want him despite the fact that he is “the man she will always want to want”. He was “always this wonderful possibility” for Lorelai but “it’s just not right”.

Lesson #7: You’ll know when he is the one. In Season 7 Episode 21, Rory rejects Logan’s marriage proposal and talks to Lorelai about it afterwards. Lorelai says she thinks that Rory made the right decision because: “Someday you’ll meet someone, and you’ll just know it’s right. You won’t want to hesitate. You’ll just know.” This is everything.

Lesson #8: Just because you’re attracted to a person, doesn’t mean you should date him. It’s not all about looks! As Lorelai explains in Series 1, Episode 5… “I’m attracted to pie. It doesn’t mean I feel the need to date pie.”

Lesson #9: Listen to your friends – they often know you better than you know yourself. Lane and Rory had an inseparable bond, and by the end, Paris was also one of Rory’s lifelong friends. Often in life, particularly when we go through rough times, we think we know what we are doing, or that we will eventually sort ourselves out. But often it takes a long time to realise that you are down- or that something in your life needs changing. Friends sometimes notice it before we do it – and as hard as it is to take in – they should be listened to. In Series 1, Episode 21, Lane tells Rory: “I love you, but you’ve been mopey, dopey, and about 12 other melancholy dwarves for the past 5 weeks and I miss the old Rory.”

Lesson #10: You never really grow up. Not matter how much you think you’re a fully fledged adult – we are kids in our minds really. And that’s OK- in fact that’s the best part about us all. We should embrace our inner children and enjoy life a little more, with no fear of being judged – just as Lorelai always did. In Series 2, Episode 4 Rory reminds her mum of this… Lorelai: “I am a grown woman!” Rory: “Says the woman with a hello kitty waffle iron.”

EEE I cannot wait until the new series!

Being a third culture kid

I’m a third culture kid. What is a third culture kid, I hear you ask? A third culture kid is someone who spent a significant part of their life (specifically those important developmental years aged 0-18) in a country other than the country their parents are from. I didn’t even realise there was a term for this, but hey, we’ve been put in a box. I guess the reason it’s now known as a ‘thing’ is because we can all relate to each other in some way, regardless which country we were raised in.

I have moved a lot in my life- I have moved countries twice and moved cities eight times – but somehow I still feel very English. My family are English and my first huge culture change was when we moved to Geneva, Switzerland when I was 10 years old. I mean I had technically moved from Wales to England when I was four, but they’re still both in the United Kingdom, and as I said, I was only four. So when I was told, in year 5, that I had to leave my best friend, my school and my home, I felt lost. I remember crying night after night listening to S Club 7’s sad songs on my MP3 player. It was a completely different world, with completely different people.

After about a year, I slowly started to feel a little more comfortable. The international school, which I then went on to attend in Geneva, was full of life and the kids I went to school with were from all over the world. It opened my eyes to things I never even knew about when I lived in England. I learned about all the different sorts of cultures, personalities, religions and personal beliefs. Slowly but surely, I made friends and began to fall in love with the beauty of the country I was living in. Switzerland encompassed everything I needed to have a heart bursting full of love and dreams. Funnily enough, when I had to leave Switzerland, I felt like my whole world was ripped up from beneath my feet. I was crushed.

Aged 15 and half way through my IGSCE’s, I had to make a very adult decision. Things at home weren’t good and I was struggling emotionally as I was left with a decision to either move to Zurich with my mum and brother, or move back to England with my dad. I didn’t want to do it again, move because I had to, and to a place I didn’t know at all. I was worried about the move from IGCSE’s to pre IB (which I would of had to take had I moved to Zurich), and felt GSCE’s would be more similar to IGSCE’s. So I called dad, and asked if I could live with him, and soon enough I was boxing up my belongings and taking a flight from Geneva to Exeter. I cried the whole way. I cried all day on my last day of school. My heart was torn to tiny little pieces. I had lost everything. My immediate family, my home, my friends, my grades, my (at the time) boyfriend, my pets, the place I called home, and more importantly, the country that built me.

I was a shell, from then on, of the person I used to be. I arrived in England confused, hurting and lost. I started school in Devon, living in a tiny apartment with my dad. I was bullied for the first two years, and I hated it. All I wanted to do was go back to my little swiss house, and my friends and family, but I had come this far and I thought my education was more important. I had always wanted to go to university, and I was determined that taking GSCE’s and A levels would make that more likely. So I stuck it out. But going back to the topic of being a third culture kid: it was this move, that shook me more than anything. Because I was older, I was a teenager, and everything I thought was cool, or normal, wasn’t. It was no longer cool to be smart: if you answered a question or raised your hand, you were a nerd, a loser, a goody-two-shoes. You didn’t call teachers Mr. Bloggs or Mrs. Lane: it was sir or miss. It was like entering a different galaxy and being the only one without a book containing all the rules.

I think that is the thing all ‘third culture kids’ have in common. We know what it feels like to be an alien. We have learned how to adapt. We know how to pretend we are OK, when really we feel completely out of place. We have had our eyes opened, and have a widened view of the world.
But there are challenges that being a ‘third culture kid’ presents. The first being our identity. We are often left confused and unable to feel a sense of oneness with any one nationality or culture. We also suffer from a painful awareness of reality and have difficulty adjusting to cultures where the only culture that is discussed or focused on is itself. Another difficulty we face is the sense that we have no “lifelong” friends due to our constant moving/main move.

It’s funny though, as when I was 18 I felt as though I had no real connections, but very real memories. I felt lost. But now, aged 22, I can genuinely say I was wrong. I have some of the strongest friendships I’ve ever had now, and lots of them are from the various different places I’ve lived, others are now closer to the place I currently call home. I now feel more grounded than ever, after all, I’ve lived in England for six years now, so I’ve just about caught up with the amount of time I spent living in Switzerland. I miss Geneva, a lot, and I will go back someday. It’s actually been around four years since I’ve been back there, and that is crazy to me. I’m sure it would still feel like home if I was to return. Overall though, I don’t think that being a ‘third culture kid’ is a bad thing; I think it is something to be proud of! After all, how many people can honestly say they’ve lived abroad, in foreign far away places, and learned about the different dimensions within yourself?! I wouldn’t change it for the world now.

What are your thoughts on it?

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Confidence 101

Recently I have been thinking: thinking about beauty- and not just the outside kind, but the beauty within us. For years I have struggled with insecurities which led to me wasting hours of my life just worrying about how I look or whether I’m good enough. In today’s world, women are taught to be competitive in terms of beauty. It’s not necessarily done on purpose and there isn’t really a specific source to blame but it happens. From the day a little girl first picks up a magazine, she is engulfed into a world where aesthetics and fashion separate the “unfashionable” or “unattractive” girls from the “fashionable” and “beautiful”. Girls naturally want to look like the girls they see: that model on television, that actress on the side of the bus, that singer in the magazine. Not necessarily because of fame (although don’t get me wrong, there are fame-seekers out there) but because we know they are deemed attractive, and we want to look like them. When Kim Kardashian or Rihanna wear a certain outfit, so many young people will go out and buy items that look like those they wore because they think it will deem them fashionable or pretty.

Even from childhood, the idea that we aren’t good enough is instilled into us (thanks to advertising and photoshop). The worst part is that if we live our lives believing that and constantly comparing ourselves to celebrities and other females, we will never ever be “good enough”. We shouldn’t want to look like those girls. We should want to look exactly as we do, because we are unique, and beautiful because of that.

This isn’t a matter of slamming skinny women or larger women for that matter; rather, just a wake up call that no matter how much you want to look like that girl in the magazine, the likelihood is – to an extent- you never will. And it’s not a bad thing either.

I have spent years comparing myself to every female I know: Am I prettier than her? Is she skinnier than me? etc, etc. It is only now, aged nearly 22, that I have finally come to be confident within myself. The best part, is that the confidence I now have, has come from myself- no-one else. I am confident in how I look on the outside, yes- but more importantly, I am confident within myself- my personality, my flaws, my strengths and all the little odd things about me- that make me, me.

So I have put together a short list of 5 things you can do to help harbour your confidence.

1. Ok, so first up might be a scary step for some. But it’s the most important. Look at yourself in the mirror, in your underwear, or a bikini. Instead of immediately looking for the bad (‘Oh god look at that cellulite, oh crap my tummy is too jiggly etc’), look for the good. If you are a mother for example, with stretch marks on your tummy and hips, don’t see them as ugly marks you would normally hide away under a swimming costume (as so many people I know do), but rather see them as marks which show how wonderful your body is: you made another human and that is beautiful. Those freckles you hate and normally cover with make up? Realise that they are a pattern on you that nobody else has, just like us as people! Forget make up and show those beautiful freckles to the world. Basically, try to look at yourself through someone else’s eyes. I’m not talking that judgmental co-worker’s eyes (opinions like that don’t matter), but look at yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you: your husband/wife, your children, your mother etc. Suddenly you will start to realise that nobody else really notices the things you spend hours worrying over, and instead, while you might be worried someone is looking at your “flabby” arms, they might be admiring how firm your stomach is. Remember that.

2. Next step is to write down all the things you love about yourself. This includes your personality traits and your nature. If you think you are a selfless and caring mother/father, then write that down. If you think you are an amazing friend, write that down. If you love your eyes, write that down. And if you like your bum, then write that down too. Go to town- don’t feel like you’re being big-headed- it’s important to take time to acknowledge and appreciate your worth.

3. Remember that you are one of a kind. There is nobody in the world like you, and that is amazing. You are one of a kind. You’re like a limited edition handbag or watch, and there’s only one of you in the whole world available to buy. If only you knew your worth, maybe you would be more picky about who gets to have you!

4. Stop buying (or buy less) magazines with images of females (or males). Lessen the amount of advertising or subtle mental images that your brain is picking up on by simply paying less attention to it and not buying into it. I know it is impossible to completely do this because sadly in todays consumerist world, there is no escaping it, but just try. Try, and remember that the reason that girl looks so slim, so stunning and so perfect, isn’t because she was born that way, but because she was photoshopped that way specifically to make you want to buy that dress/lingerie.

5. Tell yourself you love yourself every day. Yep, cringe, I know, but it works. Look in the mirror and say I love me out loud. Or pick a body part or specific part of your personality that you are proud of, and tell it to your mirror. Brush off that devil on your shoulder trying to make you think badly of yourself. Time to indulge in some self-loving.

Let me know what helps you, because who knows, someone else might find your confidence tips helpful too :-)

The stars

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This quote really, really highlights something I’ve always thought. If ever I find myself in a moment I never want to forget, I make a mental note to remember it, and take a moment to pause and take it all in. And I don’t know if it is just me but usually it works. I can remember exact moments – the sights, smells, feelings- it all comes rushing back just by closing my eyes and taking myself back. It leaves me emotional every time because I know I’m lucky to have had so many of those moments I want to keep hold of forever.

The relevance of the quote, however, takes me back to a specific example of two of my most vivid memories. The first, I was living in Founex, Switzerland, and my mum, brother and I had been food shopping at Carrefour across the border in France. We mostly used to go after dinner and it’d usually be dark by the time we got there and even darker when we left. Occasionally we would pick up a McDonalds from nearby and take it home. In Founex, where I lived, every clear night was amazing because you could see every star in the sky so vividly. This one night, after the food shop, my mum and I had talked and laughed all the way home, singing along to our favourite songs. I was getting out of the car to grab a bag from the boot to take inside when I looked up and just paused for a minute. And words can’t describe the feeling I remember in that moment as I stood looking up at the whole galaxy of stars lit above me. I remember the air being cold and feeling my breath, I remember how silent it was aside a few crickets, and I just remember thinking “Wow. This is my life. This is incredible.”

The next memory was during a really hard time. I was moving countries alone after a huge fallout with my mum who decided to move to Zurich for a flaky boyfriend at the time. I was heartbroken and torn. I chose to move back to England to do A-levels and live with my dad, who left when I was 13. I didn’t even get on with him then. I was losing all the friends I had ever known, my close family (mum and brother), my pets, my home, my education (I had to do my GSCE’s in one year in England as the curriculum in Switzerland was IGSCE and totally different), the whole of my life I had built and loved. During the final week at my school La Chataigneraie, I was staying at my then boyfriend’s house (which had Lake Geneva in its back garden). One night, I remember sitting out on the back patio wrapped in a blanket on a sun lounger in the pitch black cold. I remember looking out at Lake Geneva with all of the city lights reflected in the water and the stars above until the lights turned fuzzy from the tears welling up in my eyes.

I think it’s so amazing how the stars can take you places you’ve been and loved just through memory. It amazes me to this day all the wonderful moments I can go back to just looking up at that dotted night sky.

That’s it really. Just having a bit of a soppy moment talking about the stars.

Take what you need…

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Every now and then we suffer from knock backs in life which leave us confused about where to turn next. Sometimes we feel as though we are lacking in some aspects of our lives but don’t know how to go about fixing them. But really, it is a matter which can be solved just by believing that they are under maintenance.

Sounds complicated, let me explain: similar to the placebo effect, if you believe a pill you’re taking will help the symptoms, it is proven you do actually feel better (even though the pill was only really a tiny dose of sugar), so if you believe you are growing more confident, you will become more confident. So take note from this clever person, and simply choose to be more of what you want to be or to have what you need. I choose healing and love.