One Year On

So today marks one year exactly since I started writing my blog! Happy blogday to me!

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I have, of course made cupcakes, because any excuse, right?

But it’s also given me a really great excuse to look back over the past year, and it’s been amazing to do that. I know this blog is generally full of makeup, and my shoes disintegrating and me dressing up as Winnie from Hocus Pocus, but when I started, I wasn’t in a great frame of mind to think about any of that kind of stuff.

If you’ve never read my first post, here’s the short version:

I created this blog because I was depressed. I had been working for about a year in my “dream job”, and had known for quite a long time that it wasn’t making me happy anymore. But when I told people what I did, they would go “Ooooh, that’s amazing”, and look totally impressed. I had my big girl job, I was on the way up, I was A Success. I fell in love with this image of myself, and told myself that as long as nobody knew I was miserable, I’d be okay. Eventually, it got too much for me and I told everyone I knew, including the internet, in a crying jag that lasted about a week. I started this blog to let other people out there know that maybe it’s okay not to be okay, and to stop me shutting people out like that again. Two weeks later, I quit my job and signed up to an online counselling service. This was basically a collection of all the scariest things I could ever imagine doing, all happening at the same time.

Skip forward a year. How am I doing?

Well, I’m doing pretty great. I know lots of you have been following my blog and seeing me living it up in London, and to be honest, my life is going pretty damn amazingly. In the past year, I’ve seen this blog grow to be something that I’m really rather proud of, and it has charted my journey to being someone that I am really rather proud of. I’ve done some incredible things this year, and realised some really important stuff.

Firstly, don’t let anyone else ever, EVER tell you how you should go about being happy. People don’t come out of cookie cutters. Different things make different people happy, and we don’t ever get to judge someone’s success by our standards. Don’t ever be ashamed of what makes you happy, it’s such a waste of time and emotions and energy that would be better spent being smug about how happy you are.

Also, our idea of success is the most fucked up. The most fucked up. Apologies for swearing, most of you have probably noticed that my personal posts tend to get a bit sweary. I mean, how crazy is it that our primary, and sometimes only, barometer of success is the work that you do? Our careers have become the most important thing to strive for, we fall over ourselves to be busier than each other, to talk about how absolutely crammed our lives are with meetings and suits and serious-looking charts. Stop. If you have a high flying career that you adore, hats off to you. Seriously, that’s amazing, and I hope that it continues to bring you happiness. But what about the woman who spends her days pouring coffee and her nights making beautiful art? Or the guy who works a boring office job and struts out of the office at 5:01 every day, work forgotten. Or the stay at home mum whose life revolves around her kids. We look down on these people and we judge them because their lives don’t fit the specific image of success that we’ve spent so long building up. I did that to myself, and it made me really, seriously ill.

Doing stuff that scares you is incredible. This blog has pushed me to do so many things that I would never have done in a million years. I went to a champagne tasting in a skybar on my own. I handed my business card to a Radio One DJ. I blagged my way through countless beauty and fashion events where I felt in over my head the entire time. And it’s been one of the best years I can remember. Seriously, 2014’s photobook is gonna be an absolute corker. I try to say yes to things without even thinking, because I know that once I think about it, I’ll talk myself out of it.

The people who love you are the most valuable asset you will ever have. At points in this past year, I have had literally nothing. No money, no job, no self esteem, no idea what I was doing or where I was going. All I had were those people. They have mopped up buckets of tears, picked me up when I felt like I couldn’t take another step, forgiven me time and time and time again when I hurt them in fits of self destruction. I will never be able to express the gratitude and love that I feel for them. For my family. For Ruth. For Niall. For every single person who got in touch with me after I posted that first blog and told me that they felt the same. For the hundreds and thousands of hands that came out and took mine when I thought I was completely alone. People love you, I promise. Give them a chance to show you and you will be blown away by the kindness that they can show you. I know that I was.

Okay, I’m definitely crying a bit now.

When I started this blog, even when I started to get better, I was determined not to show you some squeaky clean, shiny, happy, perfect vision of my life. I wanted to be real, always. If people loved my writing, I wanted them to love my dark days, my mishaps, my swearing, my awkwardness, my everything. I wanted them to read it and go “Oh my god, thank god someone is talking about this”. Sometimes that means you have to write about porn. Sometimes it means admitting that you almost set yourself on fire taking your cute blogiversary photo. Sometimes it means you have to spill your entire heart on the internet. Social media is a god damn nightmare for making you think that everyone else has their life together. If I hadn’t started this blog and had people get in touch to say thank you, I would think I was the only one of my friends who felt like they lost control of their lives the second they graduated. We lie all the time on social media, and here, on my very own little corner of the internet, I don’t want to lie.

My life isn’t perfect. Depression isn’t the kind of thing that you just brush off and never think about ever again. There are days when I look in the mirror and all I see are flaws. There are days when I don’t look in the mirror because I don’t want to get out of bed. Despite everything that I went through, and all that very good advice up there, there is still a little voice in my head that goes “You’re working a nine to five? God, how embarrassing. You’d better say that quietly. You should probably become a space octonaut instead.” Seriously, I still have that fight with myself. But at least now, the bigger part of me knows that it’s bullshit. So I’m a little further along the path than I was. And I’m working on it every single day. I hope that some of you will stick around on this journey with me, thanks for coming this far.

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy!

Today is officially my last day in Australia. And I am so very, very in denial. It’s been an absolutely incredible holiday, one of the best I can remember. Despite what my social media updates might suggest, I had no intention of shoving my holiday down everyone’s throats. So, even though I could have blogged about 17 times a day about all the awesome things I’ve done (Is that a humblebrag? I do apologise. I’m becoming one of those people that I hate.), I decided to save them up and give the people who are interested a lovely big highlights post. So if you’ve been throwing darts at my Australia Instagrams, you might want to give this post a skip.

So! Without any further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the highlights of my amazing trip down under.

Meeting a whole new generation of little cousins.

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I know everyone thinks that their children are the most beautiful, but these ones actually are. I’ve spent about 40% of my holiday cooing at one or more of them.

Turning 23 in the most spectacular setting imaginable.

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I’m used to bundling up warm and hoping for snow on my birthday, so to picnic in the sunshine under an enormous tree, overlooking the whole city was unbelievable.

The dog beach.

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Dog. Beach. Dog beach dog beach dog beach. Oh my god, dog beach.

Picnic tea at the gloriously wonderful outdoor cinema. Twice.

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If you haven’t seen Pride yet, go see it. If you have the chance to go to a Grease singalong, do it. Nothing like a glass of wine, a beanbag, a great movie and a beautiful sunset. One of the absolute highlights.

Getting a massage from an actual waterfall and bathing in the pools beneath.

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Does this one even need explaining? I’m just gonna leave that picture there.

Playing the world’s prettiest crazy golf course.

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Vineyard hopping round Western Australia’s delicious wineries.

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Picking two winners at the Trots.

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I won $37. So damn rich.

…and then winning $90 at the casino the next night.

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Look at my big excited face. I put $2.50 on 17 in roulette. Boom.

High tea on the 33rd floor.

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Holy crap, so much food.

Seeing the world’s most spectacular sunsets.

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I love seeing the sunset, because I know that no matter what happens, how rich or poor I get, a sunset like this will always and forever take my breath away.

Sister Act: Our Revenge

I’m sure most of you reading know all about my relationship with Race for Life.

For the recent readers, here’s the Cliff’s Notes:

Six years ago, my mum was diagnosed with cervical cancer. This was literally the worst.

Fortunately for everyone involved, she’s a total badass and sent that creep away with a flea in his ear.

Sophie and I decided to start a Race for Life team, Sister Act, and what began as the two of us slowly grew to a team of ten. Over the past three years, we have raised just over £3000 for Cancer Research UK. Most excellent.

Sister Act: The Gathering

Sister Act: The Gathering

Anyways.

This morning, I got a rather exciting email from JustGiving, letting me know that our fundraising page was in the top 5% of fundraisers in 2014, and congratulating me on my excellent work.

Now, I’m a great big narcissist, and there’s nothing I love more than a good pat on the back. But I just can’t be doing with this. See, all I do is spend an hour dancing round a big circuit with my favourite people. It’s not exactly a chore, ya know?

So I’d like to bat the congratulations in that email right out to all of you folks who donated. Every single one of you is my personal hero, and I will never be able to articulate just how much it means to me to see your support every year. Seriously. Loads. Every penny donated goes towards ensuring that no mum ever has to sit her daughters down and tell them she has cancer. 23 years ago, my dad lost his mum to cancer. The incredible leaps forward in treatment in the past 20 years meant that I didn’t lose mine. From my heart to yours, thank you so much.

For those of you who are just joining the Sister Act story – welcome to the party! Don’t worry, we’ll be back humiliating ourselves and baring our hearts for your money a bit later in the year. And we’re really hoping to smash last year’s total. This isn’t the height of our journey. We’re moving on up, and this year is going to be better than ever.

Cancer, you picked on the wrooooong family.

How To Survive Long Haul Travel Without Looking Like A Bag of Spanners

The more astute among you will have noticed that I’m in Australia. Apologies for the perpetual online bragging, it’s just so damn pretty. Rest assured that within a fortnight, you will once again be regaled with thrilling pictures of my tiny, freezing London flat.

Unfortunately, to get there, I had to spend no less than 19 hours on a plane. A very nice plane, but a plane nonetheless. And since the general travel advice of flying business class wasn’t reeeaaally available to me, I decided to put together a guide for the monetarily challenged long haul flyer. So I guess that technically makes this a broke girl’s guide! So good at blog seriesing.

I thought long and hard, and packed myself what I think is a pretty excellent survival pack for the hazardous and terrifying environment that is an aeroplane seat.

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I’ll go through these essential survival items in completely arbitrary categories that I have just decided.

Cleanliness

Never, ever underestimate how much better a clean pair of socks will make you feel. I feel like a new woman when I have clean socks on, and that is the truth about my glamorous life in one sentence. I packed a clean pair of socks, clean underwear, a little roll on deodorant and my toothbrush. When you’re travelling for more than a day, this can really help to break it up and keep some semblance of normalcy in your routine.

Entertainment

For the love of god, bring something to do. I brought my Kindle, which, despite me being an old school book lover, is a total massive lifesaver in situations like this, and my laptop, having optimistically promised that I’d do a load of blogging on the flight. Instead, I rinsed a series of Life of Mars on the in flight entertainment. But I had the option, and that’s what matters. Bring a book, some knitting, some crayons…literally anything to distract you from the mind numbing boredom that is your life for the next 10+ hours. Also, it’s a good idea to bring some snacks, in case the aeroplane food is totally inedible. I brought a big assed bag of Thorntons Diplomats because I’m fancy (really because I got them for Christmas).

That I have classed food as entertainment is very telling.

Moisturisation

Where are my dry skinned girls at? For me, one of the worst things about being on a plane is coming off with pieces of your face flinging themselves from your body and fluttering to the ground like the world’s saddest, most disgusting snow. To avoid this charming Doctor-Who-villain look, I brought my tub of Inlight Organic Night Balm and my Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balm, both of which I have raved about on here before (moisturiser here and lip balm here). I was also lucky enough to be gifted an amazing travel sheet mask set by TT Beauty Masks, which contained a cleansing wipe, an exfoliating wipe and a nourishing sheet mask for gorgeous girls on the move. I busted this out after a horrendous bout of travel sickness during hour 17, and it was exactly what my poor, parched skin needed. The oily cleansing wipe soothed and cooled my face like a big drink of water, the sheet mask perked me right up and besides, who doesn’t love scaring the ever loving christ out of an air hostess by transforming into Hannibal Lecter? Also, I’d hope that this doesn’t need to be said, but please remember to drink some water. Buy a big assed bottle when you get through security and sip at it for the whole flight. Yes, it will make you need to pee – suck it up.

Medicines

Pack some painkillers and some Immodium in your hand luggage – aint nobody got time for travel sickness. I also keep some peppermint tea bags on me. Peppermint tea is an absolute lifesaver if you’re feeling a bit queasy, and settles your stomach right down if it decides to go for some stunning gastrogymnastics. It also has the added bonus of freshening up your mouth if you just can’t be bothered negotiating brushing your teeth in those tiny aeroplane sinks.

Comfort

As well as my nice clean socks, I also packed a pair of fluffy slippers, which kept me lovely and cosy and helped me relax a bit. Since planes are almost invariably too hot or too cold, I dressed light and took my big green scarf with me to wrap around me like a blanket. Comfort levels maximised.

Essentials

Remember to keep your passport and boarding card handy, as well as your purse, phone and any chargers you need. Also, if you have a stopover for a couple of hours, don’t be a rookie like me and forget to bring currency for that country too. The ability to grab a cup of coffee might just save your sanity and stop you hitting actual madness.

Pictured: actual madness

Pictured: actual madness

What to Wear

My priority when choosing my flight outfit was the ability to curl up in literally any position without getting tangled up or exposing my vagina to anyone. So I went for a pair of super soft leggings and a vest top. I picked leggings that were made out of soft pyjama material, because I find normal leggings can be very binding. There, I said it. Makeup: don’t even bother. Seriously, you don’t want it sitting on your face for 19 hours, and it’s never going to stay put anyways. Start with a nice clean face, and then pamper the hell out of yourself with sheet masks and fancy moisturisers. My hair is too heavy to wear up, but if you can, wearing it up is a great way to keep cool and comfortable.

My sexy, sexy flight outfit.

My sexy, sexy flight outfit.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I still had undeniably dark moments during our flight, didn’t quite manage to avoid travel sickness and did come off the plane looking a little bit like a bag of spanners. But taking care of myself during the flight has meant that my body bounced straight back and I haven’t been suffering with dry skin, jetlag or general ickyness during my holiday. And until they invent teleporters, or I win the lottery and can fly business class, that’s good enough for me. T minus one week until the return flight, keep me in your thoughts.