I’m a little late in posting this but it’s been a busy month. So last month, I was very kindly invited to go along to the Viking Arty Party, held at the gorgeous, King Street Townhouse. Anyone who knows me is aware of what an obsessive stationery lover I am so this was right up my alley.
A couple of my blogging pals were also there, Lisa from That British Betty and Donna from Polkadot Pink, so it was lovely to have a few friendly faces there as going to these things can be a little daunting. My nerves did not last long at all though, when I arrived I was greeted by lots of friendly, smiling faces, offering me sweets and coffee… I was in heaven before we’d even got started.
Once everyone had arrived, we we assigned to groups and started with the first activity… Calligraphy! My favourite! We were given the tutorial by Joyce from Artsynibs. I’ve been following her work for a while so it was so nice to finally meet her in person. She was so helpful, she’d created workbooks and showed us the best way to hold the pen and even the right posture to have. It’s SOOO much more than just writing. I don’t think I did too badly though, my writing was a little shakey but with a little practise I think I’ll be able to get pretty good at it.
Next up was notebook customisation with Chloe from The Crafty Hen. This was fun, but I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as the other activities… too many late nights backing my daughters school books. I still really enjoyed it. We got given an A4 exercise book and had to choose from all these lovely papers and washi tapes. I went with pink and gold stripes for my book which didn’t look too bad but after looking at some of the others I did get a touch of compasrisonitis. Everyones books looked so lovely!
Lastly, we got to try our hands at block printing. This was so much fun! This time with Stacey, also from the Crafty Hen. After a tutorial on how to carve our own rubber stamps it was time to get stuck in. It took me a while to think of a design to decorate my magazine box with but after a bit of thinking I decided on a wave pattern. It was approaching the end of the day so I was trying not to overthink everything. I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out though.
A MASSIVE THANKS and shout out to Viking Direct and their marketing team for the invite. You can read their post from the day HERE. I had a wonderful day and really enjoyed mingling with other crafty bloggers. Also, thanks to their photographer, Matt, for taking some awesome photos of the day too. Thank you also for my lovely goodie bag which I’ve had so much fun with since the event.
“The way we honour the dead is by living well. If we spend our lives never allowing ourselves to be happy, we are wasting what they would have loved to hold onto.”
I haven’t written many personal posts here for a while. It’s mainly because my brain has been pretty fuzzy of late with uni, and holding onto negative personal stuff. I’d say the last couple of years have been pretty up and down. On Tuesday, 31st January, my grandmother and her husband were tragically killed in a house fire.
I’ve dealt with a lot of death in my life, my mother, father, step-father, uncle, two close friends both in their 20’s, grandfather, step-grandfather… and you’d think that when you deal with something a lot in your life, you become hardened to it but with loss, that isn’t true at all. Each time is different and each loss hits you harder than the last. Each one leaves a scar on your soul. It’s only been a few days since the fire and I think, I’m doing ok.
In the past, I would have curled up into a ball and hidden away from the world but I know my grandmother wouldn’t have wanted that. She was special to me. She took me out of foster care when I was six to raise me after my mother died. She was the closest thing to a “mum” I knew. We had our differences but I know she did her best. She was due to turn 90 in a week or so and she still had so much life in her.
Problems with my sisters started in my late teens and I always felt like she sided with them. After things got worse I had to sever ties with them all for my own sanity and for the safety of my daughter. Even though I hadn’t spoken to my grandmother in a few months she would write to me telling me she was doing well. That, to me, was comforting. But now, I’m wracked with guilt that I didn’t just ignore my family’s attempts to push me away and go and see her, even just one last time. I felt like I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye and she probably died thinking that I don’t care.
When you learn about the death of a loved one, that exact second in time stays with you for the rest of your life. Even thirty years after my mother’s death, I still remember vividly, the exact moment I found out that “she’d gone to heaven”. Each death, each message is permanently imprinted in my memory. The days following feel like a huge bomb has gone off, leaving you feeling disorientated and devastated. Time moves slowly. Everything is in slow motion while the rest of the world just whizzes by. You want the world to stop spinning just for a second so you can just have a moment to take stock and reorientate yourself… but it doesn’t. It carries on spinning. Faster and faster.
The last few days, I’ve done very little. The house is a mess, when I’ve felt like eating I’ve ordered take-away and I’ve barely gotten dressed. I think sometimes you have to allow that. There are times when you have to just stop and rest. Embrace those emotions. Cry if you need to and allow yourself to feel. Because then, you allow yourself to heal. By going on as if nothing is wrong and carrying on as normal, how can you fix yourself if you won’t admit that you’re broken?
In the past I’ve gone through life, thinking to myself, why is all this bad stuff happening to me? Was I being punished for something that I did in a past life, perhaps? But, after chatting to a friend who sent me some wonderful videos and poems I feel quite lucky that I’m living life, and grateful that I’ve had the chance to experience all the wonderful emotions and feelings that make you feel truly alive. I’ll miss my grandmother dearly. Right now my heart is well and truly broken, and I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone. But I know that she would call me a “Silly bugger” and tell me to “get off my arse and stop wallowing”
So, to honour her, I’m going to live. I’m going to cry, and scream and embrace the sadness and grief I’m feeling, then I’ll live. I’ll be successful, I’ll work hard and I’ll love those around me with every fibre of my being. I’ll leave this video that my friend sent to me as a reminder for myself when I find myself wallowing.
I hope it helps anyone else who is going through grief too. Thank you so much to Glyn, Rachel, Rosie, Sophie and Charlotte for being there for me this week. I don’t think I could have got through it without you.
Sleep well, Nanna. I love you
The new year is upon us. It’s that time to start making plans for how we can be our best selves over the next twelve months. One thing I definitely want to start focusing on is my health. Both mentally and physically.
I’m not a fan of faddy diets or short-term fixes when it comes to looking after your health and wellbeing. Long-term changes in everyday habits are what’s needed to live a long and happy life. Which is why it’s so important to make changes to your everyday routine. I’m by no means a health expert and don’t claim to know the key to a long and healthy life, but I do have enough life experience to know that looking after yourself is so so important.
Losing weight is a bonus. It’s feeling good about yourself inside and out that matters.
Here are a few of my favourite tips:
I’m a self-confessed couch potato. The idea of getting sweaty in a gym full of gorgeous toned bodies fills me with dread. I’d much rather watch Netflix with a huge bag of crisps. But, exercise is so important and there are sneaky ways to burn a few calories without even realising it. Take your dog for a walk (if you have a dog, that is) or just go for a stroll in the park and do some people watching. Housework is a great stress reliever too. Put on some up-tempo tunes and vacuum for a few minutes. You’ll also feel a great sense of satisfaction at how clean and tidy your home looks. The New Year also offers a great opportunity to buy some workout DVD’s that you can do in the comfort in your own home. Exercise is a great mood booster too. So you’ll feel happy too.
Ask a buddy for help
This is great fun, and I can guarantee at least one of your friends will be planning a New Years kick. Getting a friend on board means that you can motivate each other, and hold each other accountable. There are days when I don’t really want to do anything, but having a good friend come to my aid and give me the motivation I need is great. Also, you can even get your family on board. My other half loves to keep fit and eat healthy, a team effort is so much better than trying to go it alone. Also, if you’re really serious about losing weight, slimming clubs are a great place to meet other people with similar goals to you and they usually have some great sign up deals at the start of the year.
Eat more fruit and veg
Takeaways are my biggest vice. Something I plan to cut down on (might even save some money too ha ha) Eating more healthy foods is a great way to make you feel good on the inside. One of my favourite ways to get more fruit and veg into my diet is by making some delicious juices. You can try something like one of these juicers by Panasonic. It’s compact, quiet and easy to handle, and if you are partial to a morning orange juice or two it features stainless steel screw rotates to extract maximum juice all the while retaining important vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants! Some of my favourite ingredients are apples, pineapples, spinach, cucumber, chillies… (yes, chillies. I love the kick) They’re so tasty that you forget you’re having something that’s super healthy and nutritious. They make you feel amazing.
If you have any tips for being healthy, and if you’re a little like me, find it difficult to get motivated with a healthy lifestyle, let me know your tips in the comments section.
This was a sponsored post on behalf of Panasonic
Recently, I did a quick logo design for personal trainer, Eryn, of Barberama Fitness, Manchester. She wanted something that was fun, and showed her personality. It was a pretty easy job because she had a good idea of what it was she wanted and she was great to work with.
I’m currently offering logo design from £40, so be sure to contact me if you’re looking to give your business a professional touch.
Most nights I lay in bed and think about things I could write on my blog. While I may not post as often as I’d like, it’s definitely something that’s always on my mind. Today, I wanted to share something personal.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how we sometimes self-sabotage ourselves. Whenever things go well for me I tend to flip out because deep down I don’t feel like I deserve good things in my life. Last night I was thinking about a lot of the bad shit that happened to me as a kid and the environment I grew up in. My mum dying, my dad being an abusive alcoholic, my grandmother neglecting me, my aunt beating me, my sisters turning against me, being raped, annual suicide attempts… All before I turned 18! I’d had bones broken by my father, lost my mother to cancer and tried to kill myself all before my 10th birthday. I could probably write a book the size or “War & Peace” on it all. That’s a lot of baggage for someone to carry around with them, and it’s caused a lot of problems later in life for me. But it’s all I’ve known. It got to a point in my life where I accepted that life is a struggle and the people closest to you will eventually turn on you and hurt you. So, when things started going well, it would feel unusual. Almost as if misery was a comfort blanket. I’d get so depressed and overwhelmed because I wouldn’t know how to process what was happening so I’d go back to this broken mess of a person because that’s what I was used to. I knew it wouldn’t last, so why enjoy it? Despite being a bad thing, it was actually comfortable for me.
For me, getting help has been difficult. I’ve lost faith in the system. Trying to get a doctors appointment would be like getting into Fort Knox… then when you finally do, they’d just give you some pills and send you on your way. Not even taking into account the root of the problem. They’d just treat symptoms and not the cause. It’s not the doctor’s fault, they’re overworked and underpaid as it is and everyone seems to be depressed these days. I’d just be another sad face in an endless sea of miserable people to them. I saw a counsellor for a while too. That didn’t really help either, and when he started repeating things from previous sessions as if what he was talking about was scripted, I knew I had to call it a day on that. Talking to friends has only driven them away, they’d not understand and distance themselves because I’d be no fun to be around after. The ones who’ve stuck around have been the ones who matter.
So this leaves me here. What’s a girl to do with all this baggage? I think that the only person who can help you if you’re in a situation like mine is yourself. You have to dig your way out of the hole you’ve fallen into by yourself. I’m not saying that if you’re depressed a doctor won’t help you or pills won’t help. Everyone’s situation is different, and I strongly urge anyone to at least explore those options before writing them off. But no matter what your situation is, everyone needs to show themselves a little love and understanding. Getting better isn’t easy and no matter how much outside help you’re lucky enough to get, a lot of the hard work will be down to you. You have to really WANT to get better. Your past will always be there. But rather than let it haunt your future, leave it in the past where it belongs. I’m 35 now. If I live to be 70, I’m halfway through my life (that’s depressing enough) I’ve literally spent half my life being sad over things that are neither my fault or have had any control over. How bad is that? That realisation has scared the hell out of me. I turn 36 in a couple of months, do I really want to second half to be just as bad? Do I really want to never amount to anything because I don’t feel like I deserve it? Do I really want to stay comfortable in my own misery because that’s what I’m used to and it’s just easy?
NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!
So, how do you overcome it? I think that showing gratitude for the good in your life really helps. Celebrating even the smallest victories and reminding yourself constantly that you deserve good things is so so important. Remember that you’re allowed to be happy and when opportunities come your way, say “YES” even if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can learn as you go along (a great lesson from Richard Branson there). Because, dwelling on negativity, not accepting that you’re an amazing person who deserves to be happy and saying “No” to opportunities in life because you feel you don’t deserve them, will only make that hole you’re so desperately trying to crawl out of even harder to leave.
Letting go is really hard sometimes. But when life knocks you down, you have two choices. You can let it cripple and break you… or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself down and stand taller and stronger so that it can’t knock you down again. Write it all on a piece of paper and burn that shit! Get a therapist. Whatever works for you. Because if you don’t let it go, as you get older it will just become heavier and heavier until it breaks you.
I know a few people who are going through rough times at the moment. People who have had to deal with similar traumas to myself. As shocking as it all is, it happens. A lot. There are kids today going through some really messed up shit that will haunt them for years and it truly breaks my heart. Once I have my own life together, I’d love to be a foster parent so that I can help kids who are going through similar situations that I did. I want to teach them that they have it in them to grow up to be amazing, successful people despite the crap that life has thrown at them. It’s probably the reason why I’m so protective over my own daughter. I don’t want her to feel any pain or suffering like I did as a child.
I’ve shared a lot of deeply personal information in this post, and I haven’t done it for sympathy. I really don’t want that. I’ve shared it because no matter what your start in life is like, you have the power within you to to be whatever you want to be. You deserve to be happy… even if on some days you have to remind yourself of that. I’m still a very long way from my idea of success, but I know that if I remember that I deserve it, and keep going for it, no matter what, I’ll get there.
Image Credit – Fredrick Kearney Jr
Recently, I worked with friend and local photographer, Amber O’Brien, in helping her out with her rebrand and her new website. She recently graduated from university and wanted to give herself a more professional online presence so that she could focus on promoting her work and her business as a commercial and portrait photographer.
Amber wanted to go for a style that was elegant, clean and simple… with a little bit of fun injected into it. So we chose a colour palette, fonts and patterns that suited her and the type or customer that she wanted to attract.
An important element of branding is also having good headshots. If you have an online presence, people want to see who they’re talking to. So, we headed to our local park for some photographs to use on her site. Amber is not only a great photographer herself, but she makes a great model too. Her style would probably have suited photographs in a more urban setting but because of time constraints we worked with the location closest to us. This is an element of her brand that can easily be changed and updated anyway, so in the future, these will probably be replaced.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. Her website and branding shows off her work beautifully and reflects her personality well. She’s had some great feedback since launching and hopefully she can promote her business well.
If you’d like to take a look at Amber’s site you can go HERE
Feel free to get in touch if you’re looking to have a rebrand yourself. I love working with small business, freelancers and bloggers to help them create an online presence that looks great.
I haven’t been using my camera much lately. I think after a few bad experiences with photography caused me to fall out of love with it a little bit. What was once something that used to bring me so much pleasure and allowed me to express myself creatively, became something I felt I was a slave to. So, I stopped taking pictures for a while.
While I’ve loved taking pictures since I was in my teens, it’s been about six years that I really started to learn photography. It was something my boyfriend and I used to spend dates doing. We’d write a list of things to take photos of and would go out with our cameras. It was so much fun. So, since it was such a lovely day, I gave Glyn my Canon 100d and I got my 6d and we both headed to the park to just enjoy the weather, catch Pokemon and take pictures of the flowers.
I really think I need to get out with my camera more. Today made me realise how much I miss taking photos for me. I still think there’s a lot of work to do before I fully get my mojo back but I’m on my way.
A lot of things have happened recently that have taught me one very important lesson: Doing things for yourself and self-care is so so important! Creativity can be used up so you have to take care of yourself, and do things that ignite your passion so that the well doesn’t run dry. Because when that happens (it happened to me recently) you’re no use to anyone.
I’m off to soak my aching feet.
My daughter is a huge fan of Youtube bloggers. She’s hooked. Most days, after school, she’ll come home, turn on her laptop and catch up on the latest videos from the likes of Zoella, The Saccone Jolly’s, The Eh Bee Family and Tanya Burr. So when she found out that Tanya would be appearing at a book signing at Waterstones Liverpool to promote her new book, Tanya Bakes, we just had to go.
I’d heard of Tanya, and have followed her work myself for just over a year… but when we arrived at Liverpool, we had no idea that there would be so many people queued up to meet her. It was insane. There were hundreds of teenage girls all lined up for a chance to get a selfie with their favourite blogger.
After queing for about two and a half hours we finally got to the end of the line, where a member of staff handed us a copy of the book. The cost of our tickets included a copy so they were great value for money. Holly was so excited as it was all real. It all seemed a littl ecrazy though, there were security guards ushering us through, telling us to have our phones ready to take a picture and our books open to the right page. We finally got to Tanya and must have been with her for a minute. Holly got her booked signed and got a selfie with her. Even though, personally I wouldn’t have bothered to go through all that, seeing how happy this made Holly was totally worth it, and Tanya seemed absolutley lovely. She told Holly she liked her top and gave her a hug after they’d taken their pictures. She was well and truly star struck.
After we were done with the book signing we’d planned to hit some of the museums as Liverpool has so many fun things for kids to do but we were just exhausted so we headed home. Holly even slept throughout the entire train ride.
The book, Tanya Bakes, looks amazing. The recipes look so tasty. There are some new things I’ve never seen before and also a few old favourites with her twist added. I haven’t baked anything from it just yet but since we still have a few weeks left of the summer holidays, I’m sure we’ll be having a couple of baking days to try out her recipes.
I’ve been a little quiet lately so I thought I’d write an update. I miss writing. It used to be something that I could do when I was feeling off and it would help me gather my thoughts and gain perspective. These days though, if you have a blog, there’s so much pressure for your content to be relevant to what your selling, or you need to be offering some sort of advice. Don’t even get me started on keywords and SEO. Back in the days of MySpace I used to just love blogging for the sake of blogging. In a way I miss that. On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing. The world doesn’t need to know my every thought, does it? I have a journal for that now anyway.
Over the last month I’ve been pretty unwell. First it started with kidney pain, which turned into the flu… which turned into a kidney infection. There was even a trip to hospital involved. I’ve been feeling better, physically, for about a week or so now but mentally, it’s left me a little drained and foggy. It’s been hard to get motivated or get over feeling generally low. I won’t go too much into detail about the ins and outs of my depressive mood but lets just say it hasn’t been pretty. It tends to get worse when I don’t take care of myself or if I’m feeling burnt out or unwell. The last couple of years it’s been at it’s worst and it’s the main reason I’ll be staying on at university for an extra year.
For the first time in a few weeks though, I’m feeling quite motivated, and I have lots of ideas for projects that I want to do and my mind is just busy. I’m currently working on four websites that I want to get finished ASAP so my clients are nice and happy with me too. I’m still tired but I’m feeling good.
I’ve recently got myself a subscription to Lynda.com so I can learn some new skills over the summer months alongside my freelance work. I’m a huge advocate for learning. No matter how old you are, you should never stop.
I’m no longer going to be offering photography services. I’m happy to take headshots for branding but no more weddings and events for me. Photography is something that is quite theraputic for me at times when I’m feeling anxious. Not that I don’t love a good wedding but the stress of photographing them has proven to be a little too much for me too handle lately. Plus, I want to focus on my design and freelance work. Being stressed just took away all the excitement and pleasure that photography gave me.
Those who know me, will know about my obession with planners and stationery. I’m currently reading Let it out By Katie Dalebout and it’s so good. I’ve kept a journal since I was a teenager but over the last few years I haven’t bothered with them as much. I’ve either been too busy or foggy brained to have one but I’m trying now. The plan is to use it as my place to write down my feelings, what inspires me and and ideas I have for art and design. A theraputic brain dump, if you will.
So, I’m off to work on some client work and tend to my daughter who’s off sick today.
Are you reading any good books at the moment? Do you have any tips for getting motivated and overcoming brain fog? Let me know in the comments.
Have a great day x
So the other day, I headed off to the Lake District to meet a bunch of photographers, who are part of the LOOKSLIKEFILM community for a bit of a meetup and a chance to take some photos with some like minded people. I’ve followed Looks like film for about eighteen months and the standard of work submitted there is amazing, so before going I was pretty intimidated. I mean, little old me would in no way be as good as some of the photographers there, but lately, I’ve been trying to get out of my comfort zone and do more to develop my skills and also boost my confidence a little.
It was a long trek up to Blea Tarn. Sophie and I met up with Amy and Darryl from Let Love Flourish Photography (Amy also happened to be one of the organisers too) and headed up in the car together. The drive was a lot of fun. As soon as we’d arrived at the lake district, seeing the hills and narrow, winding roads, the nerves and excitement started to set in. When we got there, the location was absolutely breathtaking, we had a little while to take it all in and other people slowly started to arrive. We all introduced ourselves to each other and waited to get started.
Once everyone had arrived, it was time to start taking some photos. There were about 50 of us, so we split up into groups and headed off around the tarn. We went off with Lukas and some others to take photos of Sarah-jane and Matt (both amazing photographers themselves). Since our model couple couldn’t make it, they kindly stepped in to pose for us and they were amazing models.
Lukas taught us a few techniques he uses whilst shooting, such as; having the camera set to monochrome so you can concentrate on the light. I love this and it’s something I’ll always do from now on because it lets me focus on the subject more and not worry so much about the colour which can overwhelm the image a bit. Plus, everything always looks better in black and white. He also showed us how to shoot by “freelensing”. I’d tried it before but never quite got to grips with it, but now I’m definitely in love with the effect that you get by holding the lens away from the camera whilst shooting. It gives a gorgeous, dreamy effect which is so beautiful when shooting subjects up close.
Once we’d taken a few shots of Sarah-jane and Matt, we headed off up a hill to get a few more shots of them. Getting to the top was pretty scary. I hadn’t been feeling very well recently, plus I’m not a fan of heights so I had a bit of an anxiety attack at the top. Scary as hell but everyone was so supportive and lovely. Once I’d managed to calm down and compose myself, I’m pretty pleased with the photos I’d got.
Lukas shared some of the things he says to couples to get them to relax and connect with one another. Little word games he uses and questions he asks that they wouldn’t normally think of. It’s a great way to make the shoot more of an experience for the couple resulting in photographs that show more emotion and tell a story.
Next up, it was time to go see what Amy Faith was up to. I’m a big fan of her work and have followed her for a while, so getting the chance to shoot along side her was brilliant. She had set up a bridal styled shoot with model and photographer, Agnes Black who is absolutely stunning. She was modelling some gorgeous gowns by Emma Beaumont.
The gowns were so beautiful and Agnes modelled them so well. After a few shots in the woods, she headed off to the water for a some photos and Amy set off a few smoke bombs to create a really ethereal effect. I’d never worked with smoke bombs before but had always wanted to try them out. I love the result.
After a little break and a chance to sit down to have a rest and something to eat, we all gathered together for more smoke bomb action with Liam Rimmington. This was so much fun. Agnes had changed and was modelling again, this time we were going for a more edgy, casual look. Liam got other people to run around her with the smoke bombs to create streams and shapes in the coloured smoke.
It had been a long day, and after all the photos and fun, it was time to head off to the pub for some food. By that time it had gotten pretty chilly so it was lovely to curl up with a drink while Sarah-Jane and Matt Ethan gave a talk on how to market and promote your photography business. You can check out their nuggets of wisdom here if you want to learn more. Once they’d finished speaking, it was time to say our goodbyes to everyone and head home. There were lots of hugs and after only knowing these people for a few hours, I was so happy knowing I’d made some new photography friends.
It really was an amazing day. Considering I was so nervous about going, after meeting everyone and seeing how like minded we all were really put me at ease. I learned so much, and considering that this was a free event, I learned so much more and made more connections than I ever had at any workshop I’ve ever paid to attend. Money seriously can’t buy the memories and experience I got from the day. I left on a real high.
One of the things that I love the most about the Looks Like Film community is how open and friendly everyone is. They all realise that we all start out somewhere and no one will ridicule your work. Everyone is willing to share their knowledge regardless of who they are or where they’re based. It’s all about community over competition. I love them all and looking at everyone’s images from the day has made me so happy. The fact that Lukas came all the way from Germany to meet us, spend time with each one of us and share his knowledge was fantastic. I learned so much from him, and he really is a lovely guy. Amy and Chris who organised the event did a brilliant job too. I can’t wait for the next one.
You can join the Looks Like Film community HERE