Search

Iridescent Jemma

The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Make This Year Count: My Bucket List

Very recently I turned 21. Yep, I know, I’m now officially old!

Image result for gif life is tough

In all seriousness, I suppose this is considered to be quite a monumental point in one’s life and it really got me thinking about what I really want to get out of my next year on this rock floating through space. With everything that has happened in the last year, it really has taught me just how fragile life is and how everything can be ripped from you in a second.

Related image

While that gif is totally depressing and doesn’t quite lend context to the above, it really rings true and it’s what my mind always tiptoes back to when I recall everything that’s gone on. From finding out a primary school friend committed suicide, my granddad being diagnosed with leukaemia and my dad being diagnosed with cancer, it has been a bit of a rough couple of years. I really don’t want this to be a depressing post, but it really did put a countdown on life and made me understand how every day counts. You never know what hand life will deal you but it’s how you respond that speaks volumes about your character.

Related image

Without further ado, here is a list of the things, both big and small, I want to accomplish this year:

  1. Pass my first year of University
  2. Go to a beach
  3. Travel abroad
  4. Spend a night sleeping outside, watching the stars
  5. Donate £10-20 a month to a charity and blog about it
  6. Bake more often
  7. Learn a new language (Spanish)
  8. Go to more concerts and festivals
  9. Go to Thorpe Park
  10. Meet up with my online friends more often
  11. Write more poetry
  12. Take more free classes with The Open Uni
  13. Go swimming
  14. Ask the guy I like out on a date
  15. Read a book
  16. Learn a new skill
  17. Buy food for homeless people
  18. Make more of an effort to meet up with friends
  19. Travel around London
  20. Face a fear
  21. Compliment a stranger
  22. Start doing more photography
  23. Write a short story
  24. Buy a sketch book and fill it with drawings
  25. Go on a bike ride
  26. Cook a three-course meal for a date
  27. Pay for a stranger’s coffee
  28. Swim in the sea
  29. Get a tattoo
  30. Take a pottery class
  31. Go trampolining
  32. Go to a spa
  33. Go hiking
  34. Go camping
  35. Complete the Live Below the Line challenge – live on £1 a day for 5 days
  36. Write someone a hand written letter
  37. Plant flowers
  38. Picnic at Dinton Pastures
  39. Improve University work
  40. Go on holiday
  41. Go on a Lush ban for 1 month, use the money I save for a day trip
  42. Let someone pay for lunch/dinner and don’t feel guilty about it
  43. Learn British Sign Language
  44. Go to a farm
  45. Start a language learning twitter – only tweet in that language
  46. Go fruit picking
  47. Go to a trampoline park
  48. Go to an aquarium on a date
  49. See dodie live again
  50. Work on bettering myself every day

As you can see, this isn’t a super long list. But everything that I’ve added to this list was added with a lot of thought and it has taken me nearly a week to complete this list and be sure of it. I no longer wish to make myself empty promises and I do want to do all of these things. Life is so short and I want to live it all. I don’t want to be the girl who sits on the fence for the rest of her life, going nowhere, learning nothing, dating losers, being no one special.

Image result for me before you gif just live

I want to do all of these things and more. I want to go places, do things, ask the cute guy on a date, go on adventures… I want to be fearless.

Image result for fearless gif

If you are reading this and want to help me make any of these memories become reality, text me. I can’t do these alone and I’m eager to get started!

Image result for where my people at gif(#SorryRoxy)

Have a lovely weekend everyone. Remember to be brave.

~Jem x

 

Advertisements

Be Unapologetically You

Lately, I’ve found that one thing I, and others around me, have been doing way too often is apologising. I suppose this is to be expected when my confidence levels are a 6/10 at best (yes, that was a dodie reference). Don’t get me wrong, when I know what I’m doing I am in my element and won’t apologise for anything. But when I’m unsure about situations or people I seldom manage a sentence without a “sorry” thrown in there somewhere.

Image result for you say sorry too much

This bad habit of mine is something that I’m really noticing more and I need to kick it. Maybe I’m just using it as a filler or maybe because I feel intimidated or maybe I feel like I am bothering absolutely everyone by just existing. All I know is this isn’t the way anyone should feel and you should never apologise for simply being alive.

Related image

So, what’s the solution? After waking up at 6am today and having 13 hours to think about this I have now concluded that the best solution is to start thanking people instead. Apologising is automatically such a negative word in the vast lexicon that we use on a daily basis, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of churning out “sorry”s, we need to flip this shit round. Stop apologising for taking up people’s time or asking for their help, start thanking them for these things instead. After time I find apologies can lose their value, but saying “thank you” will never cause the worth of the word to deteriorate.

Image result for thank you gif

We are all continuously learning and this is not something to apologise about. If people spare a few minutes of their time, thank them. If people teach you something new, thank them. If people listen to your fears and offer you comfort through rough parts of your life, thank them. Make sure when you do apologise you are speaking only with genuine sincerity and when an apology is not a necessity remember you are not a burden and people will usually tell you if you’re annoying them. And if for whatever reason, someone does tell you or imply you’re annoying them, then your response should bear some sort of resemblance to my favourite phrase: go fuck yourself.

Image result for pretty girl maggie gif

To quote the beautiful man that is Shane Koyczan:

But I say I’m sorry for stupid shit and trivial things. And she sings the sweet logic that apologies should grow like trees: only able to bear fruit if it’s root is planted in the soil of genuine sincerity.

Image result for shane koyczan flowers

Ask for what you need, go after what you want and be yourself. Be unapologetically yourself.

Related image

~Jem x

 

Introvert to Extrovert: How I Am Beating Anxiety

Today I’ve decided to write about a topic I’ve been meaning to for a while. I’ve touched on this briefly in a few of my previous posts but I’ve really wanted to reflect properly on how I totally changed personality type in the space of about a year. Throughout this post I’m going to be referring a lot to the Myers-Briggs personality types, you can take the free test here.

Image result for this is who i am gif

So, about two years ago was the first time I took this test and at that time it wasn’t surprising at all that my results showed me to be INFJ. For those of you who don’t want to read the entire page, in simple terms the Myers-Briggs test explains INFJ personality types to be “Advocates” stating that their main wish in life is to help other people get to a place where they have not only been rescued but so they know how to rescue themselves. INFJs find making connections and building friendships easy and are warm and sensitive. INFJs are often seen as extroverted by their friends and colleagues but in reality, they need time to themselves to recharge, which can mean they withdraw for seemingly no reason. Honestly? This was exactly how I used to be. My friends would always pick up on how I had off days where I would struggle with conversation and couldn’t join in, but I’d always pinned that down to my anxiety and depression until I took this test. I mean, of course, mental health is a part of my personality. But I always kind of resented that it is seen that way. I’ve always felt like I’m so much more than whatever difficulties I face in my head like I have this quiet determination to do more than what my brain is trying to limit me to.

Image result for anxiety gif

Being INFJ also fit the fact that I wanted to be a teacher back then, but my job plans really have changed since then! When I first started my job in a contact centre, I was a literal ball of anxiety. The prospect of answering phone calls absolutely terrified me and it took me a good couple of months before I felt fully comfortable with answering the phone and advising customers. At the time, this job didn’t really match my personality at all but I can honestly say that nothing has ever developed me as a person more than my job and the people I have had the pleasure of working with. These people have allowed me to develop myself, and because of them, I feel brave.

Image result for be brave gif

A few months ago I started to notice that my anxiety wasn’t as omnipresent as it used to be and decided it was time I took the test again. This was when I found out my personality type is now ENFJ-T. As an ENFJ, also known by Myers-Briggs as the protagonist, I am still quite similar in personality to INFJs. I still care a lot about the well-being of others and I am totally selfless in most scenarios but the main difference is I find interacting with new people a lot easier, although I still do sometimes feel slightly awkward and like I can be overbearing at times. Regardless, this discovery was somewhat surprising to me as I still often feel like my anxiety takes over and I struggle with what to say in certain situations, especially when I’m under any sort of self-imposed pressure. But the more I think about it, the more I can see why this change has occurred. Ever since I’ve worked where I am, I have been pushed and challenged by myself and those around me. This has turned me into the person I am today. When I first started, I was quite submissive. I came to work, did what I was told to, then went home. Now, I think this is very different. More and more I find I am trying to really make a difference. There are so many views I have on different parts of my day-to-day work and processes that take place and I seldom let my opinions stay in my own head. My now extroverted personality means I struggle to bite my tongue when I have something to say which can really be a blessing and a curse, especially when I need to be more professional and think before I speak.

Image result for that sounded better in my head gif

With all of this said, I really think this change has been such a positive one for me. Being an extrovert with mild anxiety is such an odd thing to experience but I’m learning every day to be more and more accepting of myself and to try new things to boost my confidence and obliterate my anxiety. This has not been a magical cure at all but I am now coming up to 8 months self-harm free and while I do have my down days, they’re becoming less frequent and shorter.


Having time to reflect on this has made me really appreciate how lucky I am to have such a wonderful job full of kind, supportive people. Of course, as with any job, there is pressure. But I’ve always said if you’ve got a good team and a positive attitude then you can work through absolutely anything, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

And you look like a protagonist… You look like the person who wins in the end.

~Jem x

 

Goals for August

With the end of July quickly approaching and August on its way I decided it’s about time that I planned my month out properly, and for some reason, I chose to do that in blog form so you can all hold me accountable when I fail this.

Related image

Lately, I’ve been a lot more in my own head than I’d like to admit and the only positive about that is that it has left me a lot more focused. I’ve been able to finally start eating cleaner and doing regular workouts, studying more efficiently and I finally feel a bit more in control of things at work. It doesn’t sound like much to those who already have their lives together, but for someone like me, it really is. And actually, I’m damn proud of what I’ve achieved over the past week. I have faced a lot of my demons and I no longer feel like I’m just caught in the eye of the hurricane: I feel more in control.

So, without further ado, let’s start the goals for next month:

Water

Image result for water gif moana

This is a big goal for me as I know for a fact I don’t drink enough. I’ve started drinking out of a bottle with measurements so I know exactly how much I drink. At the moment, I drink about 1.5l but my goal for August is 2l. Along with this goal, I’m aiming to totally cut out fizzy drinks unless I’m eating out or having a bit of a cheat day.

Food

Related image

Generally, I’m now back on track with a healthy diet. But my eating has always been a little bit shaky in that I will go all day eating barely anything then will eat loads of snacks and I rarely used to have proper meals. I am currently making a meal plan where I want to track exactly what I’m putting into my body. One of my main goals here is to make sure I eat breakfast every single day. This is almost a phobia of mine at this point as food before 10am usually makes me physically feel sick. I’m going to start this by either eating a cereal bar or a piece of toast every morning at work and see how I go with that. Realistically I just want to be a lot healthier than I was, and I think I’m finally on the right track with that.

Exercise

Image result for exercise gif

I don’t really have an exact plan for this right now as I’m really trying not to push myself too hard. My main goal would really be to move to 30mins of workouts on weekdays and 1 hour on weekends. Really, I just want to make sure I can turn this into a habit. I set myself a personal goal of going to the gym at least once but in all honesty, my anxiety is just not liking that at all, so I will have to keep that on the back burner for a little while.

Money

Related image

I want to continue exactly how I am with my money by saving £5-600 a month depending. I just have to keep reminding myself that this will be going towards my future house and that it will all be worth it one day.

University work

Related image

Keep on keeping on. Do as much studying as I can when I have the time. I am setting myself the goal to get at least 75% on my final TMA, which is due on 11 September. I want to have my first draft of this ready by 15 August so I have a few weeks to edit, amend and improve on all of my work. I really just want to pass my first year with the Open University with a high Pass 2.

Friends

Related image

I really want to see my friends more this month. Now they are all getting back from university I really need to make more effort trying to meet up with them. Although admittedly this is going to be difficult as I deleted my Facebook Messenger like two or three weeks ago but anyway… I’m sure I’ll figure it out!

Work

Image result for work gif

My target at work is really just to keep going no matter what happens. It all feels a bit messy and I’m putting myself under a hell of a lot of pressure at the moment but that’s not helping anyone. I need to remember to get the right balance between working hard and having fun. Not to take work too seriously all the time. Be kind, helpful and support everyone and to not let anyone stress me out, including me.

Personal

Related image

I wasn’t too sure how to head this up but this section is kind of just relating to my mental health and happiness. Next month I want to continue to feel calm, confident, happy and in control. I want to work on my mental stability and learn to not let things get to me. I need to remember that with everything I have been through in the past 12 months I am a warrior and nothing will change that. I have battle scars both physically and mentally but nothing lasts forever. They will heal and I want to learn and grow through the pain I have been through. Sensitivity and reliving situations in my head is something I’ve always had issues with but I’m a firm believer that you can change if you really try, and that I will.

Relationships

No. Literally, no. Like, why would you, Jemma? Don’t. Do. It. Just don’t. Listen and repeat after me: NO. Make like Hailee Steinfeld and love yo damn self already.

Image result for hailee steinfeld  gif

At this moment in time, these are really my main goals and I need to get these down into a more trackable format soon but for now, this will do. I know some of these will definitely take a bit of time to get into the habit of them but I’m finally confident that I can make a good dent in this list and get my life back on track soon. And as for all the people trying to drag me down and the voices in my head telling me I can’t? Well, you can all just listen to mama Ru and…

Image result for i see you gif michelle visage

And here’s to a happier August, and a healthier life.

Related image

~Jem x

 

Why Losing Your Work Best Friend is Worse Than a Breakup

As far as weeks can go, this one has been absolute shit. There is literally no other words for it. Just shit. A breakup, stress at work, stress with my degree, general sadness and worrying about my dad’s cancer scan results for next week. If anything, shit is an understatement really. I guess I’m just counting my blessings knowing I have the most wonderful friends who support my decisions in life and are ready to pull me through absolutely everything and get me laughing, whether I want to or not.

Anyway, by the time you’re reading this (if I can remember how to schedule posts on here), I will be saying goodbye to one of my closest friends at work for what feels like forever. The next 10 months of my life are fully set to plummet downhill without this lady in my everyday life. She has helped me through every imaginable version of hell in my life the past year and I will never be able to thank her enough for that but I simply can’t describe to you all in any kind of detail what it feels like to have that kind of stability and love just disappear.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely over the freaking moon for Megs. She is about to go on maternity leave to have the most handsome little boy who I hope will always know me as his cool fake auntie. She is going to have the best time raising this special little guy but she will be leaving our office with a massive gap that no one could ever fill.

Obviously, heartbreak hurts a heck of a lot, but what I’m feeling right now is just incomparable. Knowing I won’t get to see this lady when I come in every morning, knowing she won’t be there to hug me when I’m sad, or to laugh at mean customers with me… It has left me with such an empty heart. Where I work the levels of stress are high and there is so much to do and most days my only real solace is the moment in each day where Megs will crack a joke and I will burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

14192088_1076457865806406_5080153643980875653_n

img_0398.jpg

img_0012We’ve shared so many lovely memories together and of course, we threw her the best baby shower ever.

Megs is someone I tell everything because she just gets me. She has taken the time to get to know me, flaws and all, and loves me regardless. Of course, I will still have my amazing boss Lorraine and my new senior Clare who are both just as amazing. But I guess when one person leaves it will always be difficult, no matter what, especially when that person has influenced so heavily the person I am today.

These are the things I will miss from the moment you are reading this. This lady is my hero and only further proves my internalised theory that friends will always make your heart feel more empty than any breakup ever will.

~Jem x

P.S. this is my finished letter to Megs and my last maternity gift:

(Painting by Laura Girling: http://www.lauragirlingillustration.com/)

Yes, ANOTHER Post About Lush…

Today I wanted to write something that I’ve been promising a lot of my lovely local Lush staff for quite some time: another blog post about them! Because, well, I adore them all.

Image result for emotional wynonna earp gif

But this time, I wanted to try to put into words the reasons this company and these people mean so much to me and have changed my life in one way or another. So without further ado, I’ll get started on why these magical people make me dance like the Doctor every time I go to the store… You know the dance I mean…

Related image

I want to start with my two lovely friends at Lush Oxford Street – Georgia and Leah. Georgia is honestly one of the funniest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She’s so kind and has given one of my friends a RAOK each time I’ve seen her. She’s just so ready to be kind and talk for ages. Leah is just the sweetest angel ever and deserves all the happiness. She’s so kind and the first time I met her we talked for ages and she let me put Golden Egg glitter on my face for the dodie gig I went to. These girls are so wonderful and the fact they recognised me the second time I met them a few months later made me eternally happy. I can’t wait to hopefully see you girls again soon!


One of the first lovely ladies that I met at Lush was Sammie! Sammie is always smiling and her stories always make me laugh and brighten my day. If you ever meet her, ask her about the demo bowl story…

Another wonderful person is Tori – she has shown me nothing but kindness and has the coolest bumble bee tattoo! Tori is so good at art and I can’t wait to see how she gets on with the henna cones.

Next, of course, is my lovely Lucy. This lady is everything I aspire to be – kind, caring, cool, and can rock a knot wrap. Lucy is covered in some of the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen and has the best style ever. She also has the cutest cats ever. Every time I see Lucy she greets me with a big smile and a compliment and I can’t help but smile. Eventually, we will do a day in London and do Lush Oxford Street, I promise!

Out of everyone who works at Lush ever I think Lauren B has to be the funniest. Her crazy dancing and obsession with Totoro are just two of the reasons she’s awesome. I love her enthusiasm and sense of humour.

I’ve only ever had like 2 or 3 conversations with Lauren G but the most important had to be about queer representation in Lush vs. The Body Shop’s half-assed attempt at replicating those pictures. I love finding people like-minded people with the same values – keep being awesome girl!

Emma is super lovely and always makes me laugh. I remember on her first shift someone “introduced me to her” and I’m glad we experienced that super awkward and weird moment together. But anyway Emma is really lovely and seeing Alyssa Edwards with her and the others was pretty cool.

I remember the first time I met the lovely Hannah we talked for like half an hour about Black Mirror and various other TV shows and it was like I’d found my TV twin. She’s really down to earth, funny and just generally a lovely human.

Okay, so Laura is literally amazing on every level. She is so sweet and her artwork is phenomenal. She recently did an illustration for me to give my friend before she goes on her maternity leave (see the picture below) and it’s so beautifully done. Laura is kind, funny, talented and our little chats always make me smile.


Georgia is such a lovely girl and my favourite memory has to be of her dressed as Intergalactic on the opening when some random guy ran past and poked her costume. Anyway, she’s really sweet and deserves all the happiness!


I’m hoping this won’t go to Nikki’s head again but like I said last time he is really cool. Nikki has the best sense of humour and always makes me laugh. He always makes a bad day that little bit less shitty. His tattoos are so cool and I don’t think the store would be the same without him.

Sin is always so lovely to me and makes me smile a lot. I LOVE Sin’s hair and our long-running joke of “you’re back again?” – as if I ever leave! Anyway, Sin is super cool and I always enjoy our talks.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Amelia T for the first time and she is the sweetest person ever, I swear. We spoke for ages about lots of different things and have decided we need a trip to Lush Oxford Street soon. She is such a star and I hope she knows that (even though her shoes weren’t quite as extra as mine, Lauren’s or Sophie’s)! Believe in yourself, girl. You are awesome.

There’s another Amelia too who usually has glitter on her face and it looks amazing. I love glitter and therefore she is awesome. She’s always been so sweet when we’ve talked and her hair is awesome too.

Now Alix is one of the sweetest people ever. She always compliments my outfits and it makes me so happy. Her style is everything. I remember she was the first to tell me about my last blog post and I remember being so happy. She’s basically just the level of cool and aesthetic I aspire to be.

Becky is really lovely. We’ve spoken a few times and she’s always so nice to me. Her Instagram is super cool and I love her style. The teenager in me is also super jealous that she went to a Paramore concert!

So Clara is basically the queen of makeup and I will be infinitely jealous of her amazing and literally sparkly skin. She’s so skilled and her tattoos are beautiful. She has given me such good advice over the past month and I love talking to her. Our views are really similar and it’s so nice to have someone to talk to who is so interesting.

Obviously,  Shaun is my actual queen. I love him more than anything and he’s always there for me to turn any bad day into an amazing one. He has done so much for me and I will never be able to thank him enough. From listening to my rambles to giving me a heart-shaped Creamy Candy, this babe has done everything possible to make my life a million times better. Accidentally going clubbing with you guys was the best experience. Can’t wait to do London and drown ourselves in bath bombs at Oxford Street, parading around London like the queens of sass that we both are! Love you loads Shauny.


Lastly, I want to talk about the wonderful Alicia. Since I met her we’ve gotten on like a house on fire. I can talk to her about literally anything and she always knows exactly what to say to make me laugh. The first time we met was her first shift where we talked and she demoed loads of the Christmas range for me and I was there for like two hours. The second time we met was on Monday 5 December and I remember that day so vividly because it was the day my dad was officially diagnosed with cancer. I wanted to be anywhere but at home and the only place I could think to go after work was to Lush. I cried the entire walk there so I’m sure I looked like a mess and I told Alicia what a shit day I’d had. She hugged me and gave me my first ever RAOK and then we talked for a while and it made the worst day of my life not so bad. 7 months on and this girl is still my fave and I can’t wait to go to London with her next month.



I’ve said it time and time again: these people are not “just staff”, they are friends. They are all such kind and caring people and I know I’ve probably missed a few people off so I will likely just keep adding to this as I remember them but for now I just really hope all these lovely people know how much they’ve affected both my life and my confidence. They’ve all helped me grow in one way or another and I’m so grateful to them all.

I love you guys. Keep being you.

Image result for rupaul gif

~Jem x

 

“That’s SO gay!”: My Top 6 Queer Media

Seeing as this month is Pride month I really wanted to write about some of my favourite shows and movies with a queer focus but before I dive into this I feel the need to apologise for the shortness of the list I am about to present to you. Honestly? I wanted to do a top 10 but realised that the amount of media which contains queer themes is minimal at best. The way that the queer community is represented in the media really just isn’t good enough and the amount of well-written pieces, well, I can nearly count them on one hand. So, without further ado…

6.  The Ellen Show

Related image

For all of you who haven’t been living under a rock for the past show, The Ellen Show is an obvious choice to hit number 5 on my list. Ellen Degeneres has been my idol for as long as I can remember. Her kindness, confidence and bravery empower me every single day and the way she has dedicated her life to spreading love is truly inspirational. This year has been a very special year for this amazing lady as she celebrated her 20th anniversary since coming out as a lesbian on her sitcom. It is so important here to acknowledge how much hatred and how much she has overcome for something that straight people, in particular, take for granted. Ellen began a new adventure with her talk show back in 2003 and has been a massive support to the queer community ever since. Her honesty has inspired a generation of queer babies to be who they are and to love themselves unconditionally and in a world full of people who are so ready to tear you down, Ellen’s light is leading the way for so many vulnerable and terrified people.

It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life and I would not change one moment of it because it lead me to be exactly where I am today.

 

5. Annie on My Mind

Image result for nancy garden sandy scott

This book is probably one of my all-time favourite books. Annie on My Mind is a fictional novel written by Nancy Garden in 1982, following the story of two teenage girls – Annie and Liza. They met in a museum and almost instantly fall in love, but don’t quite realise it at first. Annie on My Mind has undertones of the classic Romeo and Juliet, with Annie living in the run-down suburbs of New York, her parents being Italian immigrants, while Liza lives in the upscale town of Brooklyn Heights with her parents her brother with whom she attends a private school, Foster Academy. While the girls go on many adventures the book takes a turn where the girls find themselves at a loss over what to do, over-run by guilt and heartbreak. This story explains exactly what it can be like to fall in love with someone of your own gender. It captures all the first-love butterflies and the missed heartbeats from Liza’s point of view, telling the audience why she fell in love with Annie and why she will never love another the same way. This novel really does hold a special place in my heart as I read it when all these emotions were so very real and relatable to my life. It was the first love story that ever really made sense to me.

It’s Annie and me they’re all sitting around here like cardboard people judging; It’s Annie and me. And what we did that they think is wrong, when you pare it all down, was fall in love.

4. RuPaul’s Drag Race

 Image result for michelle visage quote

RuPaul’s Drag Race is by far the most fabulous show not only on my list but to ever exist. These queens have affected every part of my life; my style, my vocabulary and of course my confidence. This show is full to the brim with creativity and passion. It’s full of people who are good at what they do and who love what they do, which really is one of my philosophies in life. And of course, there’s a LOT of shade being thrown in every which way. These queens know no limits and each season is more shocking than the last. But of course, while the queens are fabulous, the real stars of the show are Queen Ru herself and the beautiful Michelle Visage.  Honestly, they are everything I aspire to be. Strong and independent, while inspiring all around them and giving us queer babies a safe place to be ourselves. And who can forget the time Michelle flashed everyone? I’ve always said the show didn’t really begin until she joined in Season 3. Ru’s face says it all really…

Image result for michelle visage boobs

3. D.E.B.S.

Image result for debs

This movie is probably one of my favourite movies solely based on the diversity of the main cast. And not to mention, for once, the women are the heroes. Bad ass spy girls, saving the day. This is such a pure love story about a spy falling in love with a villain, making her want to be a better person. Amy and Lucy are, for me, an iconic pair of lovers, showing just how love can change people and make people good and of course that your true friends will always have your back, no matter what. Be yourself, love who you want to, and be proud. Besides, look how cute they are!

Image result for debs kiss

2. OITNB

Related image

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past few years you will undoubtedly of heard of the masterpiece that is Orange Is the New Black. This show is spectacular in every single way imaginable. The most diverse cast to grace our computer screens, this all women’s prison has made one thing clear – straight, white men are the enemies in this prison. The women are put through many trials and tribulations that are totally out of order and their back stories are usually nothing but tragedy. The writers have made it near impossible to fall in love with every character for one reason or another. Except for Larry and Vi, don’t worry, nobody likes them. The representation in the show is outstanding, which in hindsight, isn’t something I should even be commenting on. I mean, it’s 2017 for god’s sake! Is it really that difficult for all writers to grasp that queer people, black people, Asian people, big people, small people (the list goes on) actually exist?! That would shock a lot of white, male writers I’m sure. Regardless, it really is commendable the efforts they go through to ensure their cast is comfortable and that their audience can see characters they actually relate to. So many controversial topics are covered from sexuality, to rape, to drug and alcohol abuse, to friendship, the list really is endless but enough of me talking, watch it for yourself. Just remember you’ll probably need tissues! Netflix, you’re doing amazing sweetie.

Image result for oitnb gif

1. Margarita with a Straw

Image result for margarita with a straw

Without a doubt, this had to be my number 1. Margarita with a Straw is about a young, Indian, disabled, bisexual woman making her way through University in America on her own. Laila has lived a sheltered life with a very reserved mother but throughout the film, we get to watch Laila fly the nest and become who she really wants to be. This film particularly struck a chord with me as it is one of those rare instances where disabled people are given a real voice. Laila’s character really has been done justice, being portrayed as a sexual character who is not quite the angel people expect her to be, two traits not common when portraying disabled characters in the media. Allowing this rebellious Indian character to explore her sexuality is so taboo in films, this can only be commended. I could go on and on about the beautiful and heart-wrenching triumphs and heartbreaks this film is full of but I don’t want to ruin this magnificently crafted film for anyone. The only way you will know how it ends is for you to watch it for yourself.

Image result for margarita with a straw

I hope you have found one new film/TV show/book that you want to try and please do comment your favourite queer media for me to try too!

~Jem x

Lush Reading: What’s Inside?

At the beginning of March, Lush Reading officially announced via social media that they would be getting a shiny new store come mid-April. For those of you who aren’t local to Reading, it is worth noting that their previous store was far too small and customers and staff alike had been dreaming of this new store for a very long time. It’s safe to say this upgrade really was overdue. With recent trends in the business world of stores downsizing, Lush’s company-wide decision to triple their average store size over the next three years really demonstrates exactly how successful Lush is and just how many people have fallen in love with its values and morals.

Now Lush Reading is not only my local Lush but I really do consider it to be my second home; the staff my second family. It is such a happy place for me with some of the kindest, friendliest, funniest and most unique people to grace this planet. My real goal of this blog post is to briefly outline the exciting new concept store and some of the lovely people that I met today at the opening.

Let the adventure begin…

Here is where we begin our tour. Located in The Oracle in Reading Town Centre, this is what the incredible new store looks like from the outside in.

Once we reached the store, we were greeted by the lovely Shaun and Georgia, who are two of the loveliest people you will ever meet in your life. Georgia is all smiles and there really are no words to describe my love for the fabulous Shaun. Of course, the lovely Georgia (pictured below) was wearing a spectacular Intergalactic-inspired costume!

Now we will dive right into the new store for the first time. The store is simply beautiful, with so many magical and witty quips and quotes displayed all around – it really adds to the modernised look, it’s such a lovely touch!

I tried to take as many pictures as I possibly could of all the different sections that are now a lot more defined than they were previously. Having so much space has evidently made it a lot easier to display so many wonderful products, while also leaving more space for demo stations.

With all these exciting new areas to choose from, I found it difficult to pick one favourite part, so these are my top two! Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found the best part of any shopping trip is the interactiveness. The concept of making and doing while socialising at the same time is very important to me personally. That is why the new events area and the incredibly exciting demo sinks are my new favourite areas.

When we arrived, I even managed to make a cute little alien at the events area with some Rainbow Fun! (Featuring some colourful shower jellies as planets: Refresher, Needles and Pines, Whoosh, 93,000 Miles)


After this, they transformed the events area into a station for creating the much loved Butterball bath bomb! Sadly, mine split in half on the way home but making it was still very entertaining.

One of the last things I got to do before I left was to have my hair done at their new styling station. This was such a nice experience, nowhere near as awkward as a trip to the hairdressers is!

The Gift of A Friend

The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.

Over the past couple of years, my life has been absolutely crazy. And as silly as it may sound, the wonderful people of Lush Reading have always unexpectedly cheered me up without even realising it. From heartbreaks to bad days at work; from low self-esteem days to my dad being diagnosed with cancer, these people were always there with a friendly face and a sarcastic joke to ease whatever stress I was going through. Now I really just want to express my love and gratitude for some of the wonderful Lush employees who were at the opening today; some that I have known for years, and some that I only met today, but all of them just as wonderful as each other.

**I’m sorry if I’ve spelt any names wrong, I’ll happily correct them if anyone wants to help me with the right spellings.

I’m going to start with the lovely people that I met on my trip today. The first person I met today was the hilarious Niki. Niki challenges the stereotype that all Lush employees are sunshine and rainbows but instead offers a level of relatable-ness that is so real and witty. 10/10 would recommend a promotion here!

The next lovely that I was fortunate enough to meet was the beautiful Mila. The skincare section of Lush is a range I’ve not ventured too far into, and currently, I don’t use any cleansers on my face. When I was struggling to choose which would be right for me, she swooped in and was more than happy to save me from picking the wrong product for me. She was so knowledgeable and convinced me to buy a cleanser and some tea tree toner, and also popped in a sample for me to try for the next time I want to buy a cleanser. I’m very excited to delve into these amazing products with my newly gained knowledge from Mila, thank you!

After I’d been finished basking in the beautiful skincare section, I decided to have a look at massage bars for when I have a bit more money to treat myself. That’s when the incredible Rachel rushed over to me to say hello! This lady was so kind to me and treated myself and my friend like real VIPs, offering to demo every product that we had never tried before. For me, this really showed just how passionate she is about the brand and her knowledge really shone through. She was very tentative and I’m really happy that I got the chance to talk to her, I can’t wait to come in and buy the products she showed me today.

Now I’m going to move on to the staff who I’ve known for at the very least a few months, starting with the lovely Tori. Every time I see her she’s always smiling and ready to help or just have a chat. Today was very busy so the fact that when the bath bomb making began, Tori made the effort to come and find me and took me to the table really made me feel happy and appreciated. I really do love chatting to Tori, she really is such a kind and lovely person and makes every trip to Lush enjoyable.

Another person who has always made me love being in Lush is Sammie. She is one of the most positive and smiley people, always welcoming and making jokes. Sammie is so bubbly and passionate about Lush and is always showing that. Every time I’m there she is always ready to offer help and knowledge, or just a funny story!

And of course, I couldn’t write this blog post without mentioning the wonderful Shaun. Shaun is literally just everything I love about Lush. He is kind, funny, sassy, and just the funniest person. I genuinely just adore him and we could probably talk for hours! Shaun is one of the reasons I love going to Lush, no trip is ever boring when he’s about!

There are also a few people who I wanted to mention that I don’t always talk to, but who always make me smile with their kindness. Lucy, Lauren (both of them!), Amy and Chai are also constant reminders of how lovely, kind and funny all of the staff at Luch Reading are. Honestly, I love this store with my whole heart.

If you’d like to follow these lovely people, you can check out their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Anyway, I will leave you all with some pictures of what I bought today and my wonderful company. Thank you to anyone who read this, and I hope you’ll take my advice and visit this wonderful store.


~Jem x

Why Lady Gaga is Everything

A couple of days ago I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 and (spoilers!) the one and only Lady Gaga made a special appearance. Considering I’ve been a Little Monster since like 2009, this instantly made me burst into tears of gayness and love.

Image result for lady gaga rupaul gif

While this wasn’t surprising at all that Gaga finally appeared on Drag Show, it really made me cast my mind back over the past 6 or 7 years, wondering what my life would have been like without such an influential woman to guide me in the form of music. As those who have had the pleasure of being in the same area as me for more than 10 minutes will know, I am always singing. By no means am I good at singing, but as I’m sure many of you will agree, music has always had a way of comforting me. Knowing that someone has been through what I have, knowing someone understands the pain and the emotions, the ups and downs, the struggles and the relief is so very important to me. While everything around me in my life has changed, there was one woman in particular whose music seemingly matched my life experiences and helped me make sense of my own emotions, and to build confidence in who I am.

From ‘The Fame’ back in 2008 to ‘Joanne’ in 2016, there have rarely been songs she’s written that I can’t fully relate to. After rewriting this next bit three times, I’ve decided the best way to continue to express my love for this astounding woman is to break my feelings and experiences down into the exact songs that changed me and helped me grow. Almost every song Lady Gaga has created relates to my life in some way, but these are the ones that really made my worst days a tiny bit more bearable:

I Like It Rough 

This was definitely not my favourite song the first time round, in fact I can’t say I even remember it from my first listen of the album, but it has definitely remained one of the most inspiring. For me, the song really puts the image of exactly what a strong woman in a bad relationship can do. I can’t tell you exactly what I think the song is about; whether Gaga really did love this man, whether he drove her crazy, or whether she was trying to drive him crazy. My inability to fully understand the exact meaning is why I can relate to it quite easily. Honestly? My life is just a collection of bad relationships that often began or ended in this way, so for me it’s almost quite a liberating song. It symbolises the beginning and the end simultaneously and I really quite like that.

Your love is nothing I can’t fight, can’t sleep with a man who dims my light.

Marry The Night

Now the reason for this making my list isn’t strictly relating to the song, which is undoubtedly one of Gaga’s top songs regardless, but actually because of the intro to the music video. Marry The Night begins in a setting that I have had nightmares of since I learned of their existence: a mental health clinic. Again, for those who know me well enough, it’s no secret that my mental health has a habit of spiraling in and out of control. Luckily it is yet to get bad enough for me to need this kind of help, but it has still been a real fear of mine. The video ends with Gaga frantically pouring gasoline over a car and lighting it up. For some this symbolises destruction and chaos, but to me it almost felt like she’d finally destroyed everything that was causing her insecurities and fears. This music video has always made me feel a little bit more in control of my own mental health, and a little bit less alone in fighting it.

I’m going to be a star. You know why? Because… I have nothing left to lose.

Hair

Ever since hearing this song it has been one that has really represented exactly how it feels to decide that you are in charge of what you do in your own life. Gaga has used cutting and dying her hair as a metaphor for so many decisions that can alter people’s perception of you and I truly believe it’s so relevant and relatable. Just as with your hair, you should be allowed to express yourself in any way you choose, and you shouldn’t be scared of the way people look at you or treat you. Live your life knowing that you are free to do what you choose and are not bound by other people’s opinions. It’s easier said than done, I know, but this song was the beginning of my continuous journey of self-acceptance.

I just wanna be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.

Born This Way

Choosing this to be on the list was probably predictable but by no means less important a choice. Born This Way was probably one of my first memorable experiences with the LGBT+ community and just how supportive and loving a community it is. In hindsight, I think this song really was paramount in me discovering who I really was and embracing it for the first time. While I’m not religious, this song really did speak to me and I sought comfort in not feeling alone. Even if “not being alone” simply meant listening to Lady Gaga in my bedroom, knowing someone would always care and love me without even knowing me really was so important for me as a teenager.

No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.

Til It Happens To You

I really do have to stress that this could be triggering for some of you reading so please don’t read this or watch the video if that’s the case. TW: rape/sexual abuse.
Up until this point in her musical career, Gaga’s music had never quite touched my heart as much as this song did. In fact, when I heard it for the first time I cried for a solid hour with it on repeat. Very few people know about my experience with the person who cause my heavy connection with this song, and nobody knows exactly what happened or why, and I very much intend on keeping it that way. The first time I heard this song was in August 2016 and I can’t stress enough how real it felt at the time, and even now thinking back. Lady Gaga had always been someone I looked up to and who inspired me to be strong, but there are some situations you may face in life where strength just isn’t an option. After I finally built up all my courage and cut off the person who made this song my reality for nearly a month, I slowly told people close to me about the situation until I was fed up of hearing “you’ll get over it one day”. This song really summed up for me how I felt about the entire experience, and how no one will ever really know why I am how I am unless it has happened to them too. For me, this song and the music video combined represented solidarity and compassion; the only things I never really got after one person poisoned a part of my life permanently.

Tell me how the hell could you know, how would you know, til it happens to you, you won’t know how it feels, how it feels, til it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.

Hey Girl (ft. Florence Welch)

While I was trying to do this in order of release date, this has worked out nicely as I can end this post on a much more positive note. This is a beautiful song from Lady Gaga’s most recent album ‘Joanne’. When I first heard this song a few months ago, this was the one that really stood out for me. In a world full of women competing against each other, pointing out flaws, gossiping about each other and dragging other women down, this song highlights exactly what I stand for, and exactly how I wish everyone was. It is exactly what I love about feminism twisted into an uplifting song. The way we as women treat each other needs to get better. Female empowerment is so important and this song emphasises this.

Hey girl, hey girl, we can make it easy if we lift each other, hey girl, hey girl, we don’t need to keep on one-in up another.

As I’ve hopefully made clear, this person is nothing short of spectacular. She is a role model, a LGBT+ icon, and stands for so many heartbreaking and wonderful causes. All I really wish for in my life is that I get the opportunity to tell her just how loved she is and how much better she has made my life. Lady Gaga is a pure ray of sunshine and I hope her music continues to inspire others the way it has inspired me.

~Jem x

Side note: yes, I cried writing this. Like, a lot.

Image result for lady gaga gif

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑