Sunday, 26 February 2017

Older and Wiser

Tides turn, seasons change, weather passes. Nothing is as consistent as inconsistency. Everything in life develops and as much as our surroundings and environment continuously evolves, we do too. Sometimes dramatically in wild and wonderful ways seemingly over night and other times gently without notice. It is often during (but mostly after) these moon like phases we go through that we notice a lesson learnt, a purpose or reason and a sudden acceptation of letting go of what once was, and embracing what can be.

As I am lucky enough to celebrate another birthday, I was hoping to share with you some of those lessons that, upon reflection, I have been bashed round the skull with learnt along my very own pathway, leading to where I find myself today. I by no means have things figured out and strongly believe that nobody does, but I've come to the conclusion that by sharing our experiences and realisations we can perhaps give a little reassurance that it's ok to make mistakes and that nothing is ever set in stone. So take from this what you will and feel free to share you own words of wisdom below.

Forever Friends
This is something that has taken me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. Besides my mum, I've never really had a best friend. Don't get me wrong I've had/ have many wonderful friendships, some that have survived the years only to become stronger with time and others that have blossomed more recently but never that classic BFF that you hear about or see so often in movies. The thing that comes with age is the realisation that there is no 'one size fits all' model for pals and really all we need to do is stop worrying about what we 'should' have and be grateful for those that we do have. Friendships, like everything else, change too. Sometimes you out grow childhood buddies- drift apart with differing interests and priorities or maybe you feel the need to cut particular characters out of your life entirely. Work colleagues can become solid shoulders to cry on, the gals in your pilates class might be your go to for sharing a giggle- there will always be fluid relationships that fit around your wants and needs, varying depths of friendship that develop naturally. Actually, since moving countries I've even found some bonds have strengthened despite the distance and in finding a neat way to make your friends and life fit together and most importantly by putting in the effort to maintain a friendship, this can really help things flourish and ensure the folks around you know how appreciated they are.

Learn To Say No
Something I have struggled with most of my life, being a stereotypical people pleaser. This personality trait can be such a ball ache. You can not make every person happy, it just isn't going to happen (not without stretching yourself paper thin), so learnt to say no, to choose for yourself what you want to do and simply turn down the rest. In fact so often, the more open you are with people the better a reaction you get. This goes for family and friends, but also colleagues or even job offers and project invitations- if it doesn't feel right then maybe it's best to just say no. For me, it has become a very powerful tool, one that has taken a lot of practise to get used to but has lifted my confidence leaps and bounds and has allowed me to refine my priorities and live a much happier life that I've crafted myself. But please don't misunderstand my meaning here, if there are opportunities that interest you then jump in with both feet! The complete flip side to saying no is to take a deep breath and just bite the bullet, but my point above all else is to just exercise your right to choose.

Be Kind To Yourself
This is as simple as it sounds but I so often forget the importance of self love. The pressures we put on ourselves, the unobtainable goals and ever mounting stress to achieve 'perfection'- ahem... putting this in perspective, who do we even think we are? I mean really, perfectionism is a bit narcissistic if you think about it. How about we simply pledge to do our utmost, to continue to move forward, to adapt to our surroundings and situations and to give it everything (within reason), and just leave the ridiculous, ever changing goal posts of the elusive ideal? I choose to make my own rules. To notice when I need time out, to step away from the situation and just breathe. To let go of cumbersome burdens such as misplaced guilt and heavy AF grudges. To say 'screw you' to those socially precious body image standards, the stereotypes shoved on us depending on gender, age, race, the expectations of where we're 'supposed' to be in 5 years/ 10 years. No thanks, you can keep it. I've learnt over the years to quit the constant comparisons and to just get on with things at my own pace.

Some lucky sons of guns are blessed with a healthy dose of confidence from a young age, or are simply of the 'don't give a fudge' nature- how refreshing that must be. I however have struggled with confidence for most of my life. Despite being an outgoing and courageous kid I lost my umph once I hit secondary school and have been searching for it ever since. It is such a shame to let something like lack of self confidence ruin opportunities or experiences and even more of a headspin is being aware of it but not knowing how to tackle it. I have no solid advice for how to get over this, as for me this came with age. At my wise old status in life I have learnt how to not give too much of a shit what people think and to be more selfish- in that I push myself forward with the thought that everyone else is doing the exact same thing. Keeping things in perspective helps, knowing your stuff, building a solid argument, remembering that you're just as important as everyone else and dropping all of the nonsense holding you back, will certainly give you a boost.

Be Picky
Call me grandma, but after speaking to some of the younger folks in my life recently it's hard not to notice this desire to rush through everything. I'm sure I was exactly the same at some point but I really just want to scream "Slow the heck down!" Where does this need come from? To have your studies/ career/ love life/ entire shit figured out. I'm sorry guys, but life just doesn't work like that. Plan all you like, in fact having working goals is fantastic, but leave off the time pressures. I planned on having a long career in theatre/ film after slogging away at my costume design degree and years of experience in that field, only to fall for a tall Dutch guy and move to the furthest point of civilisation (and theatre land) possible in the Netherlands (might have been a touch overly dramatic here). Priorities and desires change. Catch my drift? Stop racing ahead, savour every stage of your life and be darn picky! You can afford to learn who you are and want you want before speeding off into marriages and such. Be choosy, change your mind, live your life for you and that way you'll welcome such experiences and opportunities that just might lead you somewhere you may never have planned. All in good time.

Having a few personal objectives help keep things on track and work as a gentle reminder to put the above points in practice. Such as; making an effort to keep in touch with people even via a simple postcard or phone call / keeping a journal recording everything down from important dates and projects to daily tasks, thoughts and memories / I've decided to take more photographs as keepsakes but also to improve my skills (vastly needed) / to indulge in reading / to explore more and appreciate my environment / to get off my butt and set myself new projects.

While that, my loves, was my two cents, I by no means have a clear outlook of what I want or expect from my near future, but you know what? I don't really mind all that much. I'm happy and healthy, I have some great people around me and more than a few creative inspirations that keep a wee fire in my belly glowing. I will continue to reflect and take stock of my wants and needs and hopefully have the courage to redirect my path as necessary. Above all else I just want to work towards being the best version of myself.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Treasured Tomes // My Favourite Reads of 2016

During 2016 I really got my read on and devoured a good number of fantastic books, over the year. I felt a little odd that I hadn't shared my overall favourites with you, so here is my round up of recommendations!

10. De Vrouw in het Zwart / The Woman in Black by Susan Hill  5* {208 pages}

If you're a fan of classic ghost stories with a subtle yet spine chilling amount of suspense and a deliciously gothic setting then this little gem is for you! The perfect horror novel for the more delicate reader, as this book isn't a slasher gore-fest but a cleverly unfolding story with just enough of a creep factor to make you sleep with the light on. I give myself extra Brownie points as I read this sucker in Dutch (go team!).

9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon  5* {896 pages}

Although this book could easily double as a deadly weapon (896 pages!!), it really takes you on a journey. Through it's pages you will travel across lands and through time, following the experiences of a post WW2 nurse, visiting the brisk wilds of the Scottish highlands during the Jacobite risings of 1745 and discovering how love can grow in the strangest of situations. This is one to savour and enjoy, curled up in a blanket.

8. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast (book 5 part 2) by George R R Martin  5* {560 pages}

The last book in the series so far, and boy what a beauty! Filled with all of my favourite Game of Thrones characters (well, the ones that make it past the first few books that is...) and over flowing with adventure and treason, battles and romance, not forgetting our beloved dragons! A fantastic addition to this mammoth collection of books but be sure to take your time over reading it, as the next part of the story is yet to be released.

7. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss  4* {722 pages}

Being perfectly honest I was rather nervous to start this one, as it is a favourite book of so many people and often with a hype that big things can be a bit of a let down... But thankfully not this time! Good old fashioned fantasy fabulousness, everything you want and need in a gigantic feast of a novel! Pick up a copy of this is you're seeking magic and wonderment, tragedy and romance filled with tales of mystical beasts and deadly demons and over flowing with fantastic characters that will have you struggling to put the book down.

6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J K Rowling  5* {652 pages}

This guy needs no description, but I will say that I flipping loved this instalment of the Harry Potter legendary series and find myself at a loss now, knowing that only one more book remains. A classic story of friendship and love overcoming the tragedies and destruction's of evil, with a healthy sprinkling of magic, of course! Such a great story, no matter what age you are!

5. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich  5* {320 pages}

Oh boy, where to start with this book? Heartbreaking, honest and original. This novel knocked me for six and left me thinking about it's characters and story line long after I had put it back on my shelf. There is something touchingly vulnerable about this novel, one not to be rushed.

4. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters  5* {608 pages}

Everything I love in a novel. Set in the dark, grimy depths of Dickensian London this character led story is one heck of a ride! Tragedy and unrequited love mixed in with orphans, pick pockets and lunatic asylums, this novel is a real treat if richly described historical drama is your bag.

3. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt  5* {624 pages}

I devoured this tome of a book and embraced it's lengthy yet nostalgic, heart wrenching and characterful story not wanting it to end. For me, this was the perfect book to fall into and enjoy every page. I have set my sights on reading more work from Tartt in the hopes of recapturing the all encompassing feeling I had, whilst reading this one. A relatively simple story, no flash bangs or crash wallops, just a bitter sweet tale of family, innocence and forgiveness.

2. Bird Box by Josh Malerman  5* {480 pages}

This book! Such a fantastically original and pant wettingly tense story! Don't even read the synopsis just pick this sucker up and dive in head first. Although, a word of warning, if you've a rather wild imagination this may not be the book for you!

1. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon  5* {672 pages}

Well, I certainly didn't think my most favourite book of the year would have been a piece of non fiction. This little treasure really knocked my socks off. Such fascinating subjects told with a truly graceful hand, I really can't recommend this book enough. Gordon offers a most captivating insight into the lives of writer, philosopher and fore front advocate of women's rights Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley (of gothic masterpiece Frankenstein fame). This book brings together a pair of visionary women who despite not sharing a life continue to share a literary legacy. Biography at it's best.

I'd love to know if you've read any of these books and if you have any recommendations of similar reads, for me to check out. If you'd like more literary reviews / bookish recommendations or simply just fancy a nose at what else I read last year then you can check out these page turning posts. Or head over to goodreads and lets be book buddies. Either way make sure to fill your days with beautiful books packed with your favourite adventures! Happy reading, friends!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hashtag Aces // Instagram Accounts Currently Loving

Whether you're in the office, curled up on the sofa or out and about Instagram is my go to source of scrumptious visuals and constant stream of inspiration and social link to a greater creative hive, from the touch of a button. My stream of ever updating images is jam full of stunning landscapes, seriously stylish fashion warriors and incredible artistry from all across the globe.

I am never at a loss for beautiful photographs to browse and as well as constantly discovering new people to follow, I have a fair amount of favourites that I keep up with daily and being the sharing kind I have gathered up a handful of truly awesome Instagrammers that are currently brightening up my otherwise foggy, grey days.


Dreamy content // thought out yet natural compositions // earthy tones // crisp, rich visuals


Parisian chic with an English heart // retro vibes // classic silhouettes // rich, distinctive style


Soft, dreamy images // ethereal light // escapism // story teller


Vintage bombshell // classic and timeless // fun, playful looks // wardrobe of dreams


Texture // colour love // earthy florals // hand-stitched close ups // inspiring and creative


Light, refreshing collections // cute compositions // sweet yet wearable colours // classic cuts

I hope you enjoy these butt kicking instagram accounts as much as I do, feel free to fall down the rabbit hole of pretty pictures and check out my last instalment of favourites here. Oh, and please let me know of any creative peeps that you're currently digging, I'm forever on the look out for more! Have yourselves a fabulous week and don't forget to stop by my facebook page to keep up with my birthday month shenanigans (more of that here!)