Saturday, 5 December 2015

24 Things I'd Tell My 12 Year Old Self

Hey strangers, I know I've been well and truly AWOL since I left for South East Asia a few months ago... sorry about that. I've got a looong wait for a bus so I thought I'd make an effort to post something, finally.

Confession: I started this before my 24th birthday in September, but travel plans and life admin took over and I never got around to finishing it. Whatever, here's 24 things I'd tell my 12 year old self (12 y/o because my high school-age self took her fair share of shit):

  1. Don't cut your hair yourself, you'll look like Noel Fielding, in a really, really bad way. Don't worry though, it WILL grow.
  2. Face wipes just move the dirt around on your face; use your brain, use a flannel and use a cleanser.
  3. Freaking out about little things the way you do is not "normal". Stop ignoring your problems and go and talk to a doctor. NB: you'll have a few bad experiences with unpleasant, unprofessional and unsympathetic doctors before you finally get the help you need: keep at it.
  4. That body you hate so much? It's great. Your metabolism will slow down, so make the most of it (and maybe start looking after it a little so your lifestyle doesn't catch up with you quite so suddenly... you'll look back on photos and cry.)
  5. Don't give that guy the attention he's begging you for; don't give him the satisfaction. He is unwell, and his behaviour will affect you for a very long time if you let him get to you.
  6. High school popularity means nothing whatsoever in the 'real world'.
  8. Teenagers are hideous. The 'friends' you have now are not the friends you have later, so don't worry about how awful everyone is in high school. You'll find your people.
  9. You will not be this socially awkward forever. In fact, you'll grow to be quite confident in most situations (you'll even conquer that blushing problem, for the most part).
  10. The world of fake tan is a dangerous one; tread carefully (and maybe try not to get addicted - it's expensive, time-consuming and kinda sticky). Pale is fine, by the way...
  11. Smile with your mouth open for photographs. You didn't endure three years wearing a brace to keep it shut and look awkward and uncomfortable.
  12. Look after yourself. You don't need to damage yourself to be noticed, you don't have to be hurting to be in control, and you don't have to be broken to be interesting.
  13. Go to more gigs and concerts.
  14. Stand up for yourself more. The easiest targets are the ones who accept bad treatment without a fight, so it's a vicious cycle.
  15. Leave your comfort zone every once in a while. It's good for you.
  16. Stop trying so hard not to be a 'geek'. You're intelligent, allow yourself to get good grades. Also, stop being a nightmare to teachers - you don't look 'cool'.
  17. The guy will eventually love you too, but there's gonna be some wait, and it's not pleasant. Bear in mind: it will be great, but it won't last forever. That's okay. There will be more relationships - great, terrible, confusing - and they'll all teach you something, but you actually do pretty okay on your own. Who knew?
  18. Be nicer to your parents: they are incredible, and the way you treat them is hurting them. Would it kill you to tell them you love them?
  19. That mood you're trying to convey? One day there'll be an emoji for that. Don't ask.
  20. Being one of the only virgins in the classroom is neither a terrible tragedy or a hideous embarrassment, it's totally insignificant.
  21. Trends are all well and good, but think twice about those you follow. A velour tracksuit and diamante "Chanel" earrings, really?
  22. Think long and hard about going to university. Uni isn't for everyone, but if you do decide to go and you don't love it, know that it'll be worth it anyway.
  23. As Matt Haig (you'll like him) says, you're your own best laboratory. Go easy on yourself, but remember to mull your feelings and actions over, too. Self-awareness is the key to keeping one step ahead of your illness, and, if you ask me, that's the only way recovery is possible. Know yourself.
  24. Travel as much as possible. Find places to see the sunset wherever you go (see photo. This place recently became one of your top three happy places). Keep perspective, you are so small.

  25. Ultimately, keep on truckin', girl. You got this.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

8 Instagrams I Love

8 Instagram Feeds I Love | A Little Grey

Instagram is my ideal social media platform; I love having a nose at other people's lives and I love documenting my own in pictures, even if it's just the every day things. It's no wonder, then, that I've spent a lot of time making my feed as curated as possible, scrolling endlessly through the "discover" section to find the prettiest, most inspiring accounts to follow.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

ALG September Playlist

ALG September Playlist
I'll cut to the chase: despite monthly editions since December (that's a good stint, though, you guys), there's been no playlist on my blog since June's. Sorry, sorry, but ALG playlists took a two-month hiatus because I was burning out and wasn't feeling all that inspired by music and yada yada.

I'm back and alive and kickin' and thought I'd get this month's one out before September ends. Just about made it. I'm kind of clinging on to summer with this selection, which I think is justified because September has been a weird mix of summer and autumn; there were a few days where I wore my bobble hat and winter coat it was that cold, but I also sat by the river with an ice cream about a week later, so.

There's some of my usual stuff, plus some old school Maccabees (have been re-listening to their old albums lately) and, as usual, some stuff I should probably be ashamed of but am not.

If it's your cup of tea, you can subscribe to the playlist on Spotify here and find the rest of my monthly playlists here. Enjoy!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Custom Laptop Skin Review + Giveaway & Discount Code (CLOSED!)

Marble laptop skin - £22, CaseApp*

Fun fact: I am seriously squeamish about the feel of the newer MacBooks. It's the aluminium... is it smooth or is it gritty? I can't tell, and brushing my hand over it makes me feel all funny, so I prefer wearing long sleeves while I blog/work/live my life (I wish I was joking). Even worse, when it's connected to a power source and goes all static and blaaahh. Anyway...

When I was offered a free custom laptop skin by CaseApp, I didn't realise quite how much it would improve my life for the better. Sounds (and is, obviously) dramatic, but not only does my MacBook look nicer now, there's also about 50% less chance of my skin crawling after an accidental stroke of the gritty-smooth aluminium. Win-win.

Now you're all reassured that I'm a dramatic weirdo, here's my thoughts and feelings on my laptop skin...

Monday, 21 September 2015

How I Relax & Recharge

#ShareYourSerenity | Me-Time Rituals: How I Relax & Recharge
A while ago I posted about weekend activities that are good for the soul, but it's important to find time for yourself throughout the week, too. In fact, finding ways to recuperate and relax has become more important than ever for me recently; I have to be seriously careful I find the right balance between productivity and relaxation, because if I get it wrong, I can get pretty down pretty quickly and can start to spiral.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

India Travel Memories with My Partner in Crime

In a month or so I'm headed to South East Asia (eeeeeek) to tick a load of places and things off my bucket list alongside one of my best friends in the entire world. Excitement (impatience), plus a combination of working from home and having a bit more freedom and not having been anywhere for a few years, means the 'wanderlust' (ugh) I have at the moment is ridiculous.

It's also no secret that I'm about as sentimental as they come, so when asked me to dig up my favourite holiday photos and memories and dedicate a post to the person I shared them with, I was more than happy to oblige. On reflection, it was a bad idea to write such a nostalgic post on a gin/wine hangover - it got emotional - but I hope it's as fun to read as it was to put together!

India Memories with My Partner in Crime
Happy to have reached the Hampi viewpoint after 500 "steps" Hampi (filter doesn't show how red-faced I was) | mopeds in Goa | Trainlyf | Gangtok, Sikkim

Friday, 18 September 2015

5 Long-Term Loves: Fragrance & Skincare

5 Long-Term Loves: Body & Skincare 1

Because I'm desperate to start talking about beauty on my blog a lot more, I thought I'd start with a two-part series of the products I've loved for a while - sort of a foundation before I start writing up my thoughts on products. For the first in the repurchase series, I've rounded up the skincare bits I can't go a week without, plus a chat about my favourite perfume for good measure. It was a hard one to cut down - hope you enjoy!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Monday | 5 Happy Things

Almost two months after I last published a blog post, I finally have the emotional energy to get something written. Until I can think of something a little more inspiring, then, here's five things which made my Monday worth waking up for...

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Currently I am... #2

Currently I am...

Excited to: return to Leeds this weekend to visit Rupert and Oliver.

Admiring: the most beautiful (and under-appreciated) Instagram account belonging to Laura Mauger. Especially her photograph from the top of Snowdon which makes my heart hurt and my soul happy (below).

Snowdon | Laura Mauger via A Little Grey

Wearing: a (beautiful) Missguided Active Wear sports bra, my trusty Zara flannel shirt and some trousers - if you can call anything this large 'trousers' - I got made in a Kenyan market. I hope nobody expects me to apologise for this ensemble.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

"Riding the Wave": How I Cope with Down Days

Riding the Wave: How I Cope with Down Days

Depression is exhausting; it's constant. It sucks the life out of you, again and again and again. In the years since my diagnosis, I've learnt that it's not so much about recovery. People recover from depression, yes, but I try not to think about that. For me, right now, it's more about minimising the effect a bad day has on me, learning how to maintain some control on those days, and doing my best to take full advantage of every good day, too. It's an uphill struggle, but I hope that one day I'll master it. Maybe not recover, but control my depression more than my depression controls me.

I started this post in the wake of a really bad week; I took a number of days off work because I'd been so down and so anxious that I ended up with a horrible migraine and no energy, physically or emotionally.

I've been much better since, but I've been thinking a lot about the strategies I use to get myself out - or at the very least, through - my lowest points; I thought I'd finally get this finished, a month after starting. I've got a long way to go when it comes to learning to manage my depression, but for now, here's an insight into my coping methods, or, simply, how I force myself through my 'down' phases...

1. Accept the day as a bad day

Give yourself a time out and let yourself feel. Know the difference between acceptance and submission, though; there is a very fine but important difference between allowing yourself to feel low without punishing yourself and 'dwelling' (although I hate to use this word) on how low you feel until you make yourself worse. The latter is a one way ticket to spiralling a bad day into a really, really bad day. Practice the art of acceptance without submission; don't let a bad day envelop you. Know that you will not feel this bad forever. It's a cycle you've been through over and over again; ride it out.

But if you don't feel like you can do it on your own...

2. Talk about it

Tell someone you feel low, just like that; simply and plainly. I find that in my lowest moments I just need to feel like somebody gives a shit, and people can only care if they know there is something to care about. I'm lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive family, and a number of close friends I can talk to openly about my depression. Even still, on the worst days, sometimes all I'm able to do is tell someone it's a bad day, just to let them know that I need them.

Try not to expect too much of anyone, though; supporting someone with depression and understanding the illness is not easy.

Also, remember that there is a difference between needing support and needing attention. Depression is manipulative sometimes, and selfish often; though I still find it hard to admit, let alone talk about openly, when I'm at my worst I am very guilty of manipulating and guilt-tripping people into giving me the attention I think I need. Recognising these traits in yourself is incredibly important when it comes to preserving friendships and relationships; ask for support before you feel yourself grappling selfishly for attention.

If you don't feel like you have anyone close to you who you can talk to...

3. Talk to a counsellor

Before you turn your nose up (or cower in fear), counselling is not like Hollywood would have you believe (you know, stern-looking therapist holds excruciating eye-contact while you lie on their sofa bearing your soul). In fact, it can be really beneficial.

Personally, I don't struggle with talking about my illness, and, having spent most of my life figuring myself out, am incredibly self-aware. For those reasons, counselling has never benefitted me as much as it might someone else, I don't think, although I'm keen to give it another go at some point.

If you find it hard to talk to your friends or family about your depression, though, or simply feel like you want to understand it a bit more, counselling is definitely something to consider.

If the idea of counselling doesn't appeal to you, you're scared to take that first step, or you don't want to have to wait weeks for your initial consultation, have you thought about online counselling? Plus Guidance offer immediate access (with optional anonymity) to hundreds of counsellors, and their clever matching system ensures you'll get the counsellor best suited to your needs.

4. Do what you need to do, and then don't

Whatever gets you through a bad period, do that; hiding away in bed, a long sleep, a cry, a bath, a day off work or university... whatever you need to do. I've learnt over the years that when I'm down, simply staying in bed for a while, away from everything, can be completely life-giving.

That said, there is always a very tangible moment when it stops being healthy and starts becoming damaging, but it takes practice to recognise that change, I think. These days, I am much better at identifying that moment and forcing myself to face real life again, but it's certainly a work in progress; it's all too easy to become complacent and get comfortable in hiding. If I've learnt anything over the years, it's that depression is a million and one excuses not to face real life, and it's a million and one reasons not to bother trying. Depression is poison, but you don't have to let it overcome you.

If you're not quite there with recognising when your hibernation is becoming unhealthy...

5. Monitor yourself and be mindful of what beats you down

This is more general than the others, but there is a lot to be said for mindfulness when it comes to mental illness; get to know yourself. Use logs and apps like Optimism to keep track of anything that might trigger your bad phases, and learn what makes you tick. After a day or two of hiding away in your bed without showering or eating properly, knowing there are simple, practical and, most importantly, achievable things you can do to boost your mood (or avoid making yourself worse) can seriously help. You'll start thinking more logically, and gradually feel less and less overwhelmed by everything.

Baby steps, though; you might not be able to go to the gym just yet, no matter how good it is for your mental health, but you might be able to get up and dressed, and that is something. Pick the mountains you are able to climb.

6. Be nice to yourself

Bear with me, I'm not talking about that airy-fairy, pep-talking-yourself-in-the-mirror stuff, here. Just... don't be a dick to yourself. Whatever you would tell your best friend to do for themselves on a bad day - do that.

I always, always think about something Hannah Gale wrote in her article on ways to make yourself happier right now:
"...put on clothes which are comfy yet don’t make you want to punch yourself in the face".
It might sound silly, but it's amazing the difference a change of clothes - from slob-wear to lounge-wear, if you will - can make to your mindset.

Get dressed.

Have a shower, put on some nicer-than-pyjamas clothes. Cook yourself a healthy meal. Brush your teeth. Wash your face (because there is nothing better in this world than a good double cleanse) and put on your favourite makeup. Do something you love doing.

Reward yourself.

Treat yourself well.

Disclaimer: I was finally diagnosed with depression three years ago, after many years knowing something was wrong. These are just some strategies I use to help myself, and I am in no way claiming that they will work for everyone, especially not those suffering with more serious forms of depression. Depression is different in everyone, and comes in many forms. This is just how I personally cope with my depression.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

ALG June Playlist

ALG June Music Playlist: Songs I've Been Listening To

(There has never been this much colour on my blog, ever. I don't know how I feel about it.)

Another month, another playlist... with only one post in between. Oops. Clearly it's been a bit of a rubbish month for blogging...

I hope you all still like me.

June has been a great month for discovering music. I love stumbling across new artists or bands, and this is happening more and more as I explore Spotify/other blogs. In fact, I've noticed that I'm listening to so much more music thanks to doing these monthly playlists, which makes me the happiest ever (especially considering I went through a phase of listening to almost no music at all near the start of university).

So, here's a little bit about what I've been listening to this month. If you've seen my past playlist posts, you know the drill: playlist, plus some Soundcloud extras, below.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Of Note: 8 Great Online Reads #3

A Little Grey - Of Note: 8 Great Online Reads #3

It's about time I got around to posting another online reads roundup; I just find these things so hard to compile. I always think I have my final eight and then suddenly I remember that brilliantly funny/inspiring blog post I read the night before and suddenly I'm having to re-think the whole thing and cut one of them out. Seriously, you guys, it's like that part of the X Factor with the chairs where Cheryl makes loads of bad decisions and everyone cries. Anyway, I eventually, just about, sort of got there...

Confession one: there's two slight cheat additions today, because two of these are actually series', so technically this is like 30 reads, but whatever.
Confession two: I always start compiling these posts weeks and weeks in advance, so sometimes the content isn't the newest ever - in fact some of these are months old. But again, whatever.

Minor disclaimers aside, here's my carefully (brutally) curated roundup of eight(ish) things I've loved reading online lately. I hope you like!

Monday, 25 May 2015

ALG May Playlist

A Little Grey - May Playlist
Okay fine, so it's basically June (wtaf), but at least that means this is a fair reflection of what music I actually listened to this month, right? It's a slightly longer playlist than last month, so I won't bore you with long, detailed descriptions of each track; just have a listen for yourself. There's a nice mix of summery songs and rainy day songs this month because that's what England is doing to us; the playlist is as confused as we are.

In no particular order...

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

3 Beauty Questions My Friends Ask Me: Makeup

3 Beauty Questions My Friends Ask Me: Makeup

Last week, having watched me and the Space NK assistant have a conversation about the new Laura Mercier Silk Creme formulas (dreamy, in case you were wondering), Maddy told me it was as though she was listening to two people talking in another language; like we were bilingual in English and makeup. I love that, no matter how ashamed I should probably be.

Nerdiness aside, I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but when it comes to makeup and skincare, I tend to be the person my friends come to for tips and advice.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

28 Things My Best Friend Has Taught Me

28 Things My Best Friend Has Taught Me

It's my best friend Maddy's 23rd birthday today and her present is, as always, late. Hopefully I'll get back in her good books by being a massive sop and writing some nice stuff about her in public.

I am so endlessly grateful for Maddy's existence. She is one of the most universally loved people I've ever met. She exudes kindness and joy and selflessness. She manages to juggle being both frustratingly intelligent and hilariously dippy; it's impressive. When I'm with her (or barraging her with texts at all hours), I'm constantly discovering things about myself, challenging myself and growing myself. I don't think we go a day without some kind of profound revelation about love, life and the universe. Here's some lessons I've learnt from her over the nine years (!) since we first met (on Myspace, no less)...

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

ALG April Playlist

ALG April Playlist

I think I, and every other person, say this every month, but I can't believe it's already the end of April... it's freaking me out that I'm putting this post together. Here's what I've been listening to since last month, although I will admit that certain songs from my work's 'throwback' playlist have been omitted for the sake of my (extremely limited) street cred. *Cough* Spice Girls - Viva Forever *Cough*.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Of Note: Pinterest #4

I spend an unreasonable amount of time on Pinterest, especially when I'm feeling a bit in a rut and want to get inspired. This past few weeks, I've especially been favouring type, illustrations and the occasional hair inspo to fill up my boards. Here's some favourites...


001. I shared this photo in my last post; I feel peaceful just looking at it, and it really makes me crave my own space (I'm not asking for a full studio here) to paint. Dreamy pin here.

002. This gorgeous dandelion print makes me want to get out my watercolours (there's a theme here, I think). Wish I could find the original source!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Currently I am...

Currently I am...*

Anticipating: Siân's birthday meal tomorrow and playing around with a graphics tablet on loan this weekend.

Craving: refrigerated medjool dates and chocolate milk.

Feeling: in a bit of a rut, and very aware that I've let myself become quite uninspired.

Unsure about: how to be consistent with my blogging during my 'down' periods (sorry, guys).

Happy about: the fact it's still not fully dark outside at 8.30pm.

Listening to: Purity Ring's new album and my April and March playlists.

Missing: Maddy because I've been without her for six days, London (and, more specifically, the London sunshine).

Appreciating: independence in the small ways.

Irritated by: Chamali Fernando, the moron and this horrible reminder of disparity.

Proud of: the Leeds team for getting to the finals of the Enactus UK National Competition.

Wearing: an ASOS cricket jumper and some knitted joggers.

Lusting after: a Charlotte Tilbury lip cheat pencil and a tiny tattoo like one of these.

Determined to: start chronodexing and illustrating more.

Jealous of: Andy because he's going to Coachella any day now.

Avoiding: finishing any one of the 9584956794857 draft posts I've started.

Admiring: The Selby (thanks, Ana) and this beautiful pin.

Regretting: not reading this post of Zoe's in time for my London trip.

Reading: a summary of the Green Party's manifesto by The Debrief and Rebecca's brilliant blog round up.

What are you getting up to at the moment?

*not very creative, but I needed to show everyone that I'm still alive...

Sorry. I'm still alive.

Friday, 27 March 2015

ALG March Playlist

Somehow February's playlist got lost (in like, an it was never made kind of way) so I've put a few more songs in than January's one to make up for it.

This past few months, I've mostly been getting in the mood for spring/summer with my music choices, but I'll be writing more on that next month. For now, I thought I'd include some of the other tracks I've been playing on repeat...

Saturday, 21 March 2015

9 Weekend Activities That Are Good For The Soul

Life has been getting on top of me lately. Really though, last night I came scarily close to booking a one way ticket to Bali in the midst of a mental breakdown/existential crisis, but that's a post for another time.

When things get too much and when the working week takes it out of you and you can feel the pressure building, it's more important than ever to use the weekend to recharge your batteries. Here's some things I try to do when I'm feeling stressed, low-spirited or just in need of a boost...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Understanding Depression and Anxiety: 6 Valuable Quotes

A few months ago I wrote about my decision to drop out of university and my experiences with depression and anxiety. The post was, and is still being, shared and viewed more than I ever could have imagined, and the response was completely overwhelming. I've had hundreds of conversations in the past few months - blog comments, Facebook messages, emails, even brief conversations in the kitchen at work - and I've come to a few realisations:

Firstly, no statistic could ever have prepared me for the actual, real life, right-in-front-of-me prevalence of mental illness.

Secondly, most people are open to talking about mental health.

Thirdly, however, somehow there are still people who are unwilling to talk about or understand depression, even when it affects the people they care about, even in 2015, and even given the incredible progress we've made in recent years. This doesn't sit right with me at all, and it's something I'm all out of patience or sympathy for - it's ignorance.

Talking will help end the stigma, and allow for a society where our mental health issues are not hidden in shame, secrecy or fear. That's why the mental health conversation is so necessary. That's why campaigns like Time To Change's #TimeToTalk are so important. That's why I have pledged to always be fiercely and unapologetically honest about my mental illness, even if (and especially if) it leaves me feeling vulnerable or ashamed.

Pretty much everybody I know has read my university blog post, and that's a daunting reality. Now all my cards are on the table, though, I have very little to lose. I'll continue to talk openly about my battle (and I use that word hesitantly, because I don't think it's always that fitting) with depression and anxiety, and I'm no longer sympathetic if my openness makes you uncomfortable; one in four people will suffer from a mental health issue in any given year (source), and, really, it's 2015... it's about time we all stopped avoiding the subject and faced up to reality.

Mini (and somewhat tangential) rant over and done with, here's six quotes on depression and anxiety which I think are valuable to the mental health conversation:

Monday, 2 March 2015

Of Note: Pinterest #3

Firstly I reached an incredible 500 followers recently (what?!) and I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who actually comes back to read each of my posts - you guys are the best ever and this made me the most happy!

Also, I should address the elephant in the room: I've been in blogging hiding for the past few weeks, and I'm sorry, it won't probably will happen again. Just gonna be honest. I've been completely overwhelmed lately and the thought of blogging was just too much. Hopefully things are going to pick up a bit now and I'll try my best to get back on the proverbial horse...

That out the way, I thought I'd geeently ease myself back in with a Pinterest roundup - nothing too emotionally demanding, you know? Here's what I've been lusting over on my 'Style' and 'Details' boards lately:

Sunday, 15 February 2015

20 Books On My 2015 Reading List

I love reading, but the more I think about it, the less I feel like I have the right to call myself a book lover. There are just so many classics, cult, modern or otherwise, that I've not read (those '100 books you should read before you die' lists are almost painful). Part of my 2015 bucket list, therefore, is to read 20 books - minimum - this year. Sounds pretty achievable, right? But It's mid-February and I'm on a grand total of one... pitiful.

Evidently it's not going to be as easy as I thought, but here's the books I'm going to try my best to read before the end of the summer (plus some notes when I fancy it). Wish me luck!

#1. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

#2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

#3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

#4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

#5. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

#6. Under the Skin by Michel Faber (the film was weird and great in equal measures, so I can't wait to read the book!)

#7. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (this one has very mixed reviews... interested to give it a go)

#8. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

#9. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight

#10. Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

#11. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (dystopia meets gender politics - hello)

#12. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

#13. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

#14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (after reading Gone Girl a few years ago and recently getting to re-live it through the film adaptation, I immediately read Sharp Objects (love) and have been impatiently waiting for my sister to finish reading Dark Places so I can steal it)

#15. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

#16 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

#17 The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

#18 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

#19 Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

#20 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

What's on your reading list this year? Any recommendations?

The Handmaid's Tale cover art by Akmar Ali

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Single Girl's Guide to Valentine's Day

Single and feeling a little bit grim/bitter about a day devoted to love and romance? Join the club. That said, hating on Valentine's day can be just as trite and annoying as the thing itself, don't you think? Instead, I'm gonna pamper and treat myself - because I'm worth it... - and then go out with my friends and pretend I'm not lonely have lots of platonic fun. It's meant to be a Hallmark-free zone, but here's some 'Pinspiration' still in-keeping with the Valentine's theme...

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Take 5 To Blog for Time To Change

001. My name is Rachel and I suffer from depression and anxiety.

002. My mental illness has affected my studies, my work, my relationships, and my self-concept.

003. My greatest source of support is my friends - those who 'get it' and those who don't - and my family.

004. My hope for the future is that I will continue to learn how to manage and cope with my illness, and that there will be a reduction in the stigma surrounding mental health issues. I hope I can continue to talk openly about my own experiences and offer my support to others.

005. I'm taking 5 on Time to Talk day because talking helps understanding, and if more people understand mental health, fewer people will suffer in silence.

Get involved with the Time to Talk Day 2015 #Take5ToBlog initiative and take five to have a conversation about mental health or post your own five sentence blog.

Sign the Time To Change pledge wall and learn more about how talking can tackle discrimination against mental health.

Take 5 To Blog

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

My 2015 Bucket List

It's almost the end of January now (what) and somehow it's taken me this long to write this post (as much as I want my organisational prowess to be something envied by the masses, this couldn't be further from the case).

Last night I sat down and reflected on 2014, what I achieved, what I would like to have done and so on. I wanted to put together this bucket list to have something (alongside my monthly reflections) to look back on in a year's time.

To be clear: this is more of a checklist than a list of resolutions. It's a list of things I'd like to do, try, see and draw this year (hence 'bucket list'). I'm planning on printing the list out and using it almost like a reminder to myself to do things a bit differently in 2015.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Of Note: 8 Great Online Reads #2

It's been an absolute rollercoaster of a week. I've been utterly overwhelmed, and it's taken me a full seven days to get back on the blogging 'horse', weird as that might sound, since posting my last post: Why I Dropped Out of University (& Why it Wasn't the Biggest Mistake of My Life). The response was completely insane (for lack of a better phrase...) and I've been dedicating literally hours to replying to emails and messages. Amazing, but so, so draining.

I thought I'd ease myself back in with the next in my 'Of Note' series, and you probably won't be surprised to see that there's a bit of a mental health theme going on. Here's my favourite online reads of the last few months...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Why I Dropped Out of University (& Why it Wasn't the Biggest Mistake of My Life)

Why I Dropped Out of University (& Why it Wasn't the Biggest Mistake of My Life)

Exactly one year ago today I made the hardest, most important decision of my life so far: to drop out of university.

I was in the middle of revising for my January exams when I suddenly, and drastically, had enough, so I left Leeds in the middle of the night and got a train back home to Chester. I sent a text to my housemates to let them know where I’d gone, and that was that. I’d ran away, quite literally, from university, missed an exam and an essay deadline, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. After a day of crying and talking to my parents about how unhappy I was, I still didn’t know what to do about anything. I remember thinking about how to go about re-sitting the exam I’d missed and whether it was going to be possible to re-do the essay I’d failed to hand in, but I wasn’t acknowledging that university was making me ill. I’d hit rock bottom. I was the most miserable I’d ever been, missing weeks of seminars and lectures at a time in favour of staying in bed all day, but I was refusing to admit any of that to myself.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

ALG January Playlist

Somehow it's the middle of January already, which is insane... I've barely even had a chance to think about my (not) resolutions and how to go about them. I've also been so busy since posting last month's playlist that when it came to putting this one together, I realised I barely had anything to add in. That said, I've made a few discoveries, become re-addicted to some old favourites and found myself a new guilty pleasure. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Of Note: 6 Things to Watch Online

It's definitely winter. And not the pre-Christmas side of winter, where excitement, shopping and fairy lights make everything a little bit easier to deal with. No, it's January; it's wet, and windy, and miserable and cold... it's so COLD. I don't know about you, but I've spent a hell of a lot more time than usual in bed with my laptop, blogging, pinning, reading and watching videos (a lot of which are total crap... see bottom example). Aside from my binge-watching of the O.C. with Maddy (Marry me, Seth), here's a few things I've been watching online...

You Don't have to be broken to be interesting

"Interesting people aren’t the ones who spend a life telling you about the stuff that has made them miserable. Interesting is “Sure! I’ll try that!” It’s “So I read this article…” It’s “Tell me more about that” and “This is what excites me” and “Let me help you.” I’m not saying you have to hide anything. It’s simply about refusing to live as a misery memoir. You are not That Bad Thing That Happened.(Article here.)

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Doing Resolutions Differently for 2015

It's taken me 10 days to get this posted. Partly because I've been all over the place so far this year (both emotionally and in the literal sense) and partly because I knew I needed to get it right.

2014 saw some gigantic changes in my life: I dropped out of university in my final semester, made some incredible memories with my equally incredible housemates, welled up as I watched one of my best friends in the whole world walk down the aisle, attended four other amazing weddings, admired my parents as they renewed their vows, co-led a team of student social entrepreneurs to come 4th in the Enactus UK National Competition, did my first bit of freelance design for a wedding, left Leeds to move back in to my family home, scored a job as a marketing assistant, met some really brilliant people including my soon-to-be housemate, fell even more in love with my friends, celebrated my 23rd birthday, got a kitten, discovered a love for tea, rediscovered a love for writing, and started this blog.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Of Note: Pinterest #2

001. A topical quote for me lately, I'm feeling a bit stressed out about all the clutter in my room/life/mind. I just don't need so much... stuff. Need to have an overhaul and do some sorting, I think. I also saw this quote on Nishaantishu a few days ago - straight to my quotes board.

002. This pin makes me crave the outdoors so much; I've got major, major cabin fever at the moment and can't wait to go on an adventure soon. Rach and I are planning a weekend somewhere exciting this year, at the very, very least, before our two year travel plan is go.

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 in Quotes

2014: the year that Kim Kardashian tried to break the internet, iPhones got bigger and bendier, ugly metal poles started appearing at the bottom of selfies and cacti became a 'thing'. On top of these groundbreaking happenings, these quotes, in no particular order, summarise 2014 for me...

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