An Ode to 2017

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

2016 was, in my ever so humble opinion, just a little bit shit. While loads of people bossed the year either blogging, travelling or whatever it was they set their mind to, my year wasn’t quite what I expected or hoped it to be. My enthusiasm for blogging came in waves, I had my heartbroken for the first time, I moved back home with my mum after graduating from university, I continued to sell my soul to the pits of part-time retail employment and I even managed to get Mumps and an STI to top the whole thing off. Classy, I know.

So I stand before you a year older and none the wiser (except about the trials and tribulations of safe sex), and I’m about to attempt the biggest comeback since Britney post-2007.

Although I probably say it every year, I really want to make 2017 my year. This is the year to be an absolute #girlboss, or so my mum keeps telling me. Instead of finding happiness in my pursuit of the ever illusive perfect man, I am going to focus on little old me. My health and happiness, developing my blog, my search for a job, my attempt at dating (possibly, if I can brave it). And I’m obviously going to post about the whole thing on here and Twitter purely for your entertainment.

I think the issue with so many New Years resolutions is that they lack any kind of direction. Losing weight, making friends and being happy are all things we tell ourselves we’ll do and then by January 31st we realise nothing has changed and we feel just as lost as before. So, my resolution? To make small, realistic goals that actually have a method to them. Changing my approach rather than attempting to overhaul my entire life with the vague hope of “doing better”. Actually having milestones I can hit and progress I can actually measure. So, here’s a list of what I actually want to achieve:

1. Double my following on Instagram and Twitter and hit 500 followers on my blog. For me it’s not just about the numbers, they’re just a way of measuring my progress. But to make them grow I’ll need to post more and engage with people in the blogging world and that’s really what I want to do. Create and engage.
2. Go on a date – maybe. While I’m not too fussed on finding my big spoon just yet, it’ll be nice to know that I actually can put myself out there if I really bloody want to. I applaud people who go on dates left, right and centre without breaking a sweat and I hope that at some point I can overcome my fear of dating.
3. Read 26 books. I would love to tell you all I will read one book a week and smash an incredible 52 books this year, but I know that my motivation comes in waves and Netflix sometimes wins the battle with how I spend my down time, so that is just not going to happen. Therefore, I’ve set myself one book a fortnight to ease the pressure. If I smash it and manage to read more whilst also job hunting, working part-time and maintaining some sort of social life, then I’ll give myself a well deserved pat on the back and have book reviews coming out of my ears.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

So, 2017, here’s to you. The year of fuck budgets, blogging goals and a personal journey. Where a bad day, week or month in no way means you can’t find your way back. Where happiness is found in self-acceptance and sticking to your bloody high standards. Where small successes every day are worth more than you could ever know. 2017 is a fuck off massive middle finger up at the shambles that was 2016. Taking control really hasn’t ever felt so good.

Between you and me, I really haven’t felt more like myself than I do right now. I feel confident and sure. I look in the mirror and I’ve never felt so banging. Right now, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Sure self doubt can wade in sometimes, but I feel ready to take 2017 on. Now, who’s with me?

For more of the same, take a look at my favourite posts from 2016:
Things I Want to Do When I Turn 22

#BodyPositivity: How the Scales are Damaging our Self Esteem

Love,
Beth xo

Advertisements

The Versatile Blogger Award

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Not too long ago, in the midst of my blogging hiatus, I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by the ever-so lovely Shenan. The idea behind the tag is that you get to know more about your fellow bloggers and let them get to know more about you by sharing  7 facts about yourself, tagging more bloggers and so on and so on.

I’m incredibly grateful to have been nominated to do this, to tell you the truth. I’ve recently been in a huge emotional slump that has utterly diminished my desire to blog (or do anything else that requires me to not be in my pyjamas armed with chocolate and tea) . Every post I try to tackle ends up being a little too big for me to handle and so I’ve been buried under my duvet, binge-watching Pretty Little Liars (already at Season 5, what is even going on anymore).

When I was nominated to do this I actually felt something in me spark up again. This was something I really wanted to do. It was cute and didn’t seem too big. It made me feel like I was wanted in the blogging community – despite how introverted I’ve been. So, I would like to thank Shenan for thinking of me and for giving me the nudge I needed to sit at my insta-worthy (on a good day) desk and get writing, otherwise I may not have found a way back out of my pillow cave into the burning light of my laptop screen. Really, I owe you one you little babe nugget.

image

And without further ado, I present to you my Versatile Blogger Award: 7 facts about me.

  1. I have two accents; a split accent, if you will. English and Scottish. My entire family moved from Scotland down to England before me and my middle sister were born. When I speak to my family, those I grew up with, I have a distinct Scottish accent. When I speak to my friends and younger family members, I have an English accent. It’s a subconscious thing both me and my sister do and I always assume it happens because before we went to school, the only people we spoke to were Scottish. Rather than it fading, our brains learned to separate the accents and differentiate who to use it with. Disclaimer: I cannot do an impression of a Scottish accent to English people, its horrendous and I think I offend myself every time I try.
  2. I’m an introvert. I like my own company and if I’m around lots of people for too long, I really struggle. I love being around my friends but sometimes I just need a day or two to sit in my little bubble and re-charge and then I’m good to go again.
  3. My favourite book is The Book Thief and I don’t think I’ve sobbed at a book more.
  4. I’ve had my ears pierced since I was 5 or 6 years-old and I felt like the absolute bees knees walking into primary school because I’m 85% certain I was the first one out of my class to do it.
  5. Bon Iver is both my happy and sad music. Even though, disappointingly, ‘Beth/Rest’ is my least favourite song out of all of them.
  6. I don’t like to travel looking crap. If I’m hopping on trains, wherever the destination, I like to make an effort. I don’t know why. I don’t expect to meet anyone or have to impress people. But new clothes, good hair or a little splash of bangin’ lipstick always makes me feel a little more put together and will always accompany me on my travels.
  7. I believe I have been in love, once. Haven’t made up my mind on how I feel about it yet.

And so, there we have it. 7 facts about myself that a lot of people might not know. That means we’re best buds now, right?

To complete the challenge I also must tag 10 bloggers and nominate them to do the same. I may have broken the rules a teeny-weeny bit and chosen one or two bloggers with 1,000+ followers but, I’m sure you’ll forgive me, these are all amazing bloggers that regularly catch my attention or have interacted with me and made me feel welcome in the blogging community. So, ladies, to your blogging stations!

amandaalston.co.uk (@Amanda_Alston)
careergirlsite.wordpress.com  (@NirvanaWright)
tiannarochanne.com (@tiannarochanne)
sianblogs.co.uk (@siantweets)
followinglisa.com (@Following_Lisa)
littlebudget.co.uk (@little_budget)
thoughtsofgracey.blogspot.co.uk (@Graceythoughts_)
jessicaannarevill.com (@JessicaRevill)
cloudnine-blog.blogspot.co.uk (@uponcloudnine_)
overnightbelle.wordpress.com (@OvernightBelle)

Have you ever been tagged to do a post like this? Feel free to drop the link in the comments, I’d love to get to know more about the people behind the blogs.

Love,
Beth xo

#BodyPositivity: How the scales are damaging our self-esteem

image1-1

Today I want to talk body image. How you think you should look vs. how you actually look, and just bloody loving it anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means claiming to be an expert on self-love. Like most people, I am still learning how to love every single inch of me and I’ve had to get over years of comparing myself to models, bloggers and even friends. I used to think I’d like myself more if I changed my body; that clothes would look better if I ate less and exercised more. That boys would fancy me more if I was thinner. But no matter what shape or size you are, you will always pick at your imperfections and the people that really matter actually like you regardless of your shape or size – go figure.

As I begin to prioritise the feeling I get from certain clothes rather than the number on a scale, I’m noticing more and more that its the way I measure my self-love that makes all the difference to my outlook and general output of total bad-ass sass. *sassy finger click*

Over the years, I’ve struggled with my body and weight. I’ve never been fat but I thought I wasn’t thin enough.

Throughout my teenage years, I never liked the way I looked and I hated shopping purely for fear of the number inside the clothes. My boobs were never perfectly round, my bum jiggled way too much and my stomach was never flat. I went through phases of restricting my diet, controlling portion sizes and cutting out all the things I thought were bad. But then, I would secret eat to make myself feel better. If your mum didn’t know about the chocolate bar hidden in your dressing gown pocket it didn’t count, right?

Do you know what I learned from these fad-diets and silly rules I made? That I cannot and absolutely will not live without chocolate and that, my friends, is perfectly okay. Oh and potatoes, I love all kinds of potatoes.

Far too often men and women are too busy fretting about the numbers on a scale instead of focusing on how their body feels and celebrating what it can do. We let numbers define how happy we are with ourselves instead of focusing on what actually matters. We deem our reflection ugly or gross because we wish we had a smaller number when we stepped on the scale.

I set myself a challenge a couple of years ago to look at myself in the mirror everyday, to even look at the bits of me I didn’t like, and tell myself something good. With everyday, slowly but surely, I liked more of what I saw. I may have lost weight but my shape stayed the same, just a little smaller.

My bum jiggles. My tummy isn’t flat. My legs are practically the Mecca for cellulite.

But let me tell you something. My arse looks damn fine in a pair of skinny jeans and when I go out and party I shake what my momma gave me. My body is perfectly normal and it’s imperfections are what make it my own. I’m not a fitness or nutrition guru, I don’t have the time or patience to squat a zillion times a day. I like doughnuts and ice cream too much to care and I have an aversion to avocado. I don’t eat ‘clean’ because I will never see food as being something dirty or bad – it’s my fuel and I enjoy eating. I might walk everywhere but I run for no one and it’s going to stay that way.

My point is that even though when I step on the scales I might not like the number I see, when I look in the mirror all of that is irrelevant. I have a banging booty and I like my waist. I wear clothes that make me feel good regardless of what size I have to buy to avoid splitting my skirt open mid-twerk.

Learning to love your body, especially when you’re in your teens, is by no means an easy task. We’re bombarded every day with the perfectly photoshopped bodies of models and celebrities, so who can blame us for wanting their perfectly sculpted and highlighted breasts? But that isn’t a true reflection of the variety and diversity of beauty and fabulousness that our bodies have to offer. Models offer a certain kind of body type. They shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal for having the only kind of desirable body there is. Not to mention, half the models don’t even look like their photographs. Let’s face it, if models need to be photoshopped then do any of us really stand a chance?

The good news is there are loads of men and women fighting to combat this idea. They’re posting pictures of their rolls, refusing photoshop and retouching and they’re showing the world what their body really has to offer. And it’s amazing.

When we finally accept that absolutely bloody everyone has a couple of rolls under their t-shirt, it makes it a little bit easier to love your own. So don’t fret. Your imperfections are perfect in their own way and you wouldn’t be you without them.

Love,
Beth xo

Review: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

 

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I’ve always been told that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But, when you are faced with a book with a goat on the front, you’re hardly going to walk away are you?

I must say, however, I nearly didn’t buy this book. I was just about to leave the bookshop empty handed, after gushing over the leather bound classics, when I spotted this on a table by the door. Retail tactics to lure you in to impulsive buys, that is. Well played Waterstones, well played. As soon as I put it back down on the pile, determined not to spend any more money, a lady came over to tell me how great it was. She said that if I liked Elizabeth is Missing, then this was the book for me. And so I bought it, because who doesn’t like a classic ‘whodunnit’ and a glowing recommendation?

This book was wonderfully written, with every chapter I was more and more engrossed, ready for the climax. 10 year-old Grace is on a mission with her friend Tilly, sparked by the mysterious disappearance of her neighbour Mrs Creasy, to find God and to keep everyone safe. The narrative flows seamlessly between Grace’s charming, honest and humorous perspective and a third person narrative showing flashbacks that focus on her neighbours 10 years ago.

Set in the famously hot summer of 1976, the secrets of the avenue are beginning to spill. The disappearance of Mrs Creasy has caused a stir and as the tale unfolds everyone realises no one is safe from the truth. Kidnapping, arson, murder and Walter Bishop; the mysterious Boo Radley-esque figure of the neighbourhood, are all adding to the mystery that is Mrs Creasy’s disappearance.

Hidden under the ruse of a missing person, the book explores more than just an elderly lady gone walkabout. It touches on the truth behind what happened 10 years ago. Grace and Tilly embark on their mission, visiting every house on the street. With each visit and every conversation, the two young girls learn more and more about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mrs Creasy and why it might not be so good for everyone if she returns. But, nothing people say to them seems to be adding up.

Behind each door, every home has it’s troubles. Secrets wade in on relationships and Grace watches as her parents grow further apart. Even her relationship with Tilly is put to the test when Grace aspires to be more like Lisa Dakin. This coming of age story reminds us of the importance of friendship in the midst of the unknown.

Cannon’s story is portrayed under an umbrella of togetherness. The avenue and their secrets aren’t safe unless they’re all in this together. The street is united together by their secrets and their distaste towards Walter Bishop. Grace and Tilly come to realise that it only takes two people to believe in the same thing to feel like a part of something. With every chapter and conversation you get closer and closer to uncovering the truth behind why and, if you’re like me, you feel sad for the outsider that is Walter.

This book shows the everyday life of a British community within the 1970s and is charming and compassionate; interesting from the first page and completely understated. Unfortunately, a little too understated.

With the mystery of missing Mrs Creasy coming to a close, the threat of the truth coming out is more real than ever. But nothing happens. Mrs Creasy returns on a bus and the first spot of rain in weeks appears. While the rain suggests a change in the street, (classic pathetic fallacy), you are only left to assume what comes next and that is just so deeply unsatisfying. Will life carry on as it always did or does the street unravel? Where is the drama, Joanna Cannon? Where is the climax I’ve been waiting for?

Favourite quotes:

“Remington padded into the kitchen. He used to be a Labrador, but he’d become so fat, it was difficult to tell.”

“‘I’m going for a pint with the lads, Mam.’
‘The lads?’ She took a Turkish Delight.

‘Yes, Mam.’
You’re forty-three, Brian.’

“We sat on two giant plant pots at the back of Mr Morton’s Shed. You couldn’t really call it Mrs Morton’s shed, because even after a person has disappeared, there are still some places left in the world which will always belong to them.”

And so, with a heavy heart and shattered expectations, I award this book:

2.5/5 Mockingbirds

Love,
Beth xo

 

Things I Want To Do When I Turn 22

image1

Since finishing university, I’ve felt that my life has fallen into a bit of a rut. My days of late night studying, late nights partying and the constant struggle to have the best or most ridiculous costume on a Wednesday are, unfortunately, no more. It’s time to put down the glitter glue and grow up (wah).

And I feel like I’m flailing a little.

I’m applying to every job I think I have a shot at – whether I genuinely want it or not.
I’m working every shift at my part-time job and yet I’m struggling to save any money.
I’m hopping on trains here and there to catch up with friends and I’m going out for lunch as often as I can – just so I can feel in touch with my long-lost social life (baby, come back to me).

But I haven’t got a plan.

I realised recently that the reason those post-uni blues are hitting so hard is because I’ve placed so much pressure on myself to magically find the fabulous full-time job of my dreams and to settle into adult life almost instantly. Yet, I have no idea how I’m even suppose to do that. I don’t even know if that’s what I want right away.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I am currently in life limbo. I have no commitments or responsibilities. I’ve finished education and am yet to sell my soul to the pits of full-time employment. I could, quite honestly, do anything if I wanted to.

And to do that I realised I need to be more deliberate in my plans and intentions for my life; set out my wants and goals. Decide what it is I want and then figure out how I can make that happen. And oh boy, do I love an excuse to write a list.

And so, I have compiled a list of all the things I intend to do when I turn 22 (shout out to Tay Tay up in here). This gives me time to knuckle down, save up and make things happen.

  1. Travel – ever since watching Eat, Pray, Love I have always wanted to escape to Bali and spend time focusing on myself. While my time at university helped me grow confidence, I want to step further out of my comfort zone and explore life beyond essays. I am a massive home buddy. I love a good ol’ cuppa tea whilst watch First Dates with my cat. So, leaving that behind for a while will certainly be a bit of a shock to the system, but it might be exactly what I need to inspire some get-up and go. To make this a little more specific, I intend on visiting 5 different destinations.
  2. Focus on my well-being – now, more than ever, I’ve truly got some time to focus on my body and mind. Years of stress and education has left me feeling completely burnt out. I want to eat better, do better and try new things. I’ve recently embraced vegetarianism; something I see as a positive lifestyle change that I’m proud of. I’ve never been a fan of exercise, but I want to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I’ve considered yoga for years, but have never found the place or time to do it. or I could take up belly-dancing or something exotic, who knows.
  3. Sky dive – For years now, I have wanted to do the completely sensible and safe act of jumping out of a plane and plummeting to the earth. I can’t imagine something that could be more freeing and exhilarating and probably more vomit-inducing than this. I feel like finally crossing something so big off my list would be liberating in itself – and I could always raise some money for charity.
  4. Start to learn a language – I have wanted to learn a language for years. I failed miserably at GCSE French and it put me right off. I haven’t decided which language yet, but I feel like French and Italian are the most beautiful languages I’ve encountered. (Again, very Eat, Pray, Love of me. I just want to be Julia Roberts. Who doesn’t want to be Julia Roberts.) Learning a language is just another thing that would embrace me to travel and immerse myself in another culture and country and, who knows, it could open up some new opportunities that I might not otherwise have.

Voilia, there it is. The list of things I want to do when I turn 22. Now it’s out in the world and people can see it. So if it doesn’t happen, you can all tell me off for being lazy.

Are you feeling a little stuck, too?
How are you going to break out of your rut?

Love,
Beth xo

 

Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

FullSizeRender

Have you ever looked back on a moment in your life and wondered: what if?
What if your life isn’t destined to go a certain way? That one seemingly small moment could change everything? If you haven’t, this book certainly will spark those thoughts. The Versions of Us offers three alternative narratives, showing how one moment can change the course of your lives forever. For Eva and Jim, that moment starts with a bike ride and a nail in the road.

In version one, Eva’s bike goes over the nail and Jim, a passer-by, offers to fix it for her. When she meets Jim, she is faced with a decision: go with him, ultimately leave her boyfriend David and marry Jim. In version two, Eva’s bike misses the nail; she doesn’t meet Jim, and she carries on in her life and marries David. In version three, she meets Jim and instantly falls in love, but instead of following her heart, she tries to do what she thinks is right and ends up in a loveless marriage with David.

I can’t choose my favourite version. In each there is love, heartache, loss and happiness. Both Jim and Eva are successful in their careers, except, unfortunately, not in the same version. They marry each other and they marry others. There are affairs when they are together and affairs that bring them together. Each version runs parallel, running the same course, marked by chance meetings, events and death and yet, each version is completely different.

I have always believed that you can meet the right person at the wrong time. Someone you have the potential to fall madly in love with and yet, your lives aren’t ready to become intwined. And, because of this, I think my favourite version is the one where she doesn’t meet Jim and goes on to her unhappy marriage with David.

The third person narrative has you absolutely rooting for Jim and Eva as a couple, giving you insight into both of their thoughts and feelings. In version one, you fall in love with them as they do with each other and it absolutely devastates you when Jim betrays her. Even though in version two Eva suffers through her loveless marriage with David, she eventually re-marries to an older man named Ted and you can see how fulfilling and happy her new life has become. To me, Eva enduring her first marriage was worth it when she is adored by Ted. It is then when Ted, in his old age, gets gravely ill, needs to be cared for and eventually passes away, that Eva then eventually meets Jim. It is at this moment, that they are ready. They can love and appreciate each other, however short their time together might be. Both characters have had their successes, they have had love and they both have experienced loss.When their lives cross over in the other versions, neither are fulfilled and neither appreciate each other wholly.

In all versions Jim, in my opinion, is very unlikeable. He’s continually self-pitying and constantly believes the grass is greener elsewhere; in the bed’s of other women, mostly. I became so emotionally involved in each version, I just wanted the best for Eva. She was my favourite character and I was so disappointed when her marriage with Jim wasn’t as perfect as they thought it would be.

This book is a beautiful and elegant read that spans across Jim and Eva’s life time from young adults to an elderly pair. While the chop and change between different versions slowed the progress down, it wasn’t like anything I had ever read before. Watching these characters lives unfold before me and seeing how much of an impact one moment can make had me gripped. I absolutely could not put this book down. While no version has that fairytale ending we all hope for, they end with their characters having reconciled and at peace with their lives; each appreciating what they’ve been through and the efforts of others.

The novel’s concept and emotive characters are a credit to Barnett’s writing talent and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Favourite quotes:

‘Alicante: a city of dust and heat and unfinished skyscrapers.
This, at least, is how Jim imagines it: he has received only one postcard from Helena, sent soon after she moved to Spain. A tall, mud-coloured hotel of brutal ugliness; on the back, she had written,
For Jim – because even the most hideous building here is lovelier than the home I shared with you. H.

‘He should not have left Helena. He should never have tried to go back in time, to the moment when he and Eva had their entire lives before them. He has gone against the natural law of things: the law that says you get one chance at happiness, with one person, and if it falls apart, you do not get that chance again.’

3.5/5 Mockingbirds.

Love,
Beth xo

 

Monday Blues: Quotes to get you by

So it’s Monday and, even though I’m not stuck working in an office five days a week, I’m feeling a tad bit blue after a lovely weekend visiting friends; unfortunately, the dread to go to work is setting in and the buzz from good times is slowly fading. So, here are a few motivational words to remind you how important you are and to get you through the day because sometimes you deserve a pat on the back just for being you and getting out of bed in the morning:

image

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’

‘Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.’

‘It’s a good day to have a good day.’

‘You are the most important person in your life.’

‘Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.’

‘Take courage and be kind.’

‘What someone says about you, says a lot more about them.’

‘Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others.’

‘A bad day does not mean a bad life.’

‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’

Love,
Beth xo