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Iridescent Jemma

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

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.

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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…

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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.

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~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

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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

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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

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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…

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3. D.E.B.S.

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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!

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2. OITNB

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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.

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1. Margarita with a Straw

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Being Unbreakable

Recently I’ve been hanging out with my school friends a lot more and, among other really important topics, I find that I keep wandering back to how much I’ve changed over the past few years since leaving secondary school. Trust me, I know exactly what you younger readers are thinking, “I’ve heard it all before, another 20-something telling me I don’t understand”, but that isn’t what this is about.

A few years ago, between suffering with anxiety and depression and an ever-growing self-hatred, I would never have pictured myself where I am now. A challenging job, a strong set of friendships both in and out of work, studying a degree and a sense of where I want to go and what I actually want to do with my life. To some, this won’t sound like much at all. But if you told me 3 years ago that I’d not only have a job, but be promoted twice in the space of 16 months I would have laughed at you (and probably cried a bit). I have gone from having severe phone anxiety to picking up a call every 10 minutes and not having an ounce of anxiety at all. And what most people in my situation will tell you now is that it feels crazy that I have this newfound confidence, but honestly? It feels crazy to me that 3 years ago I never had this belief in myself.

It’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly this change took place. Maybe it was during college when I decided that I wasn’t going to tolerate the way people treated me any more, or maybe it was when I first got a summer job and my manager at the time gave me constant praise and encouragement and pushed me to do better and to want more from life. At some point between those moments, I learnt the beauty of saying “actually, I can and I will”.

When I was 15 years old I had a practice interview where I was told by a teacher I had never met that my efforts were not good enough and finding a job would be difficult if I “continued to be reserved and difficult”. When I was 16 years old one of my teachers told me there was no way I would pass the course if I didn’t participate more in class, despite the fact that two of the girls constantly bullied me into silence. When I was 17 years old my head of sixth form told me she saw no point in me applying for University because I wasn’t mature enough for that kind of commitment and my predicted grades would never get me into anywhere of real value. My entire school life I was told by someone, somewhere that I was not and would never be good enough. But I slowly realised this really wasn’t the case.

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Yes, it took me a while, and I am still learning to believe it, but it’s true: I’m pretty damn brilliant. For anyone who knows me, they will also know that this belief isn’t always there. There are days and sometimes weeks where I do not and can not believe this  about myself. But when I think about just how much I’ve achieved over the past 3 years, much of which had been drilled into me was not possible, I’ve realised the below to be true…

Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.

While I’m the first to admit that some things will always seem impossible, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t try. You should never stop trying because someone tells you to. The way I see it, the more people tell you it’s impossible, the more people you will amaze when you prove them wrong.

For me personally, when I started gaining that real self-belief, that’s when I saw so many new opportunities arise. I remind myself frequently that 3 years ago I would never have been where I am now if it weren’t for an amazing set of work colleagues and a personal desire to achieve. Over the past 2 years in particular I have chosen to surround myself only with a small handful of people who keep me aiming high and chasing my dreams.

I’m truly sorry for such a clumsy blog post with no real solid moral to it but what I’m really trying to get across to you here is that throughout your life, especially your young life, people will try to break your spirit. They will tell you that your dreams are stupid or unreachable, but you can’t accept that. Things will change the minute you decide to have confidence and never take “it’s impossible” as an answer. And if people try to break you? Be unbreakable.

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~Jem x

Guess who’s back…

A big hello and thank you to everyone reading this – guess who’s back!

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It’s been a fairly long time since I’ve posted any updates on here so you’ll have to bear with me while I clean things up a bit and get back into the swing of blogging.

I really can’t tell you why I decided to restart my blog, aside from my lovely friend Kat (whom I actually met from writing this blog) telling me I really should start writing again. Thinking about it, I suppose the real reason I am starting this up again is because I miss writing. I miss the feeling of having a purpose and an audience to share my emotions and stories with. Call me vain, but I also love hearing that people enjoyed what I wrote, or that I made someone smile or feel inspired.

As I’m working full-time and studying part-time I can’t promise much on a regular basis but I’m hoping to post at least once a week. I will be writing about everything and anything that pops into my head, but my main aim is to post inspiring stories, quirky anecdotes and a monthly charity donation post.

Hopefully you’ll find my blog interesting and if there’s anything you want me to write about I’m always open to requests!

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend filled with relaxation and smiles.

See you soon!

~Jem x

Side note: have a picture of my face!

Why I Love the December BuddyBox

As always, Blurt seem to know exactly when I’m having a terrible mental health day and send their wonderful box to cheer me up. So, here’s a picture of what was in the box this month (and of course the writing on the box has Christmassy golden text)!

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As always, some really wonderful gifts to help de-stress and relax and also a couple of items for getting creative (which my C in textiles proves I’m totally amazing at…).

My eyes literally always have bags under them so I can’t wait to use “puffy the eye bag slayer”. I’ve annoyingly already given out my work presents but the “Merry Christmas” tape will be perfect for family presents! The cracker has bath fizzers in and, let’s be honest, I’m the biggest bathaholic there ever was. The make-your-own ornament will be really exciting to make and I cannot wait to hang it on our tree every year! And of course, last but not least, in fact probably my favourite – the Calm book! I am always getting stressed over really stupid things so this is going to be my bible until I’ve done it all a million times and there’s nothing left to stress about!

This really was the most perfect early Christmas present and if I get nothing else this year, this really was enough for me (even if it was from myself, shh)! It makes me so happy to think my mum will be ordering me a 6 month subscription to Blurt’s BuddyBoxes for Christmas, to think I’ll be this happy every single one of those months!

Once again, thank you so much Blurt. I really wouldn’t be my happy self without you guys! And for all of you who would like to purchase a BuddyBox or learn more about their subscriptions, click here!

~ Jem x

 

The Brilliance of Blurt’s Buddy Box

So after a disastrous week or so with Royal Mail battering my Buddy Box to pieces my replacement finally arrived today (yay)!

The anticipation of waiting for this to arrive has killed me, I’ve been so excited, and now it’s finally here I have been bouncing off the walls since I found out! And it really couldn’t have come sooner with the shitty week I’ve had. But I really would like to note here that Blurt have been nothing but helpful and lovely; sending out a replacement box and even reporting the damage to Royal Mail for me.

“But what’s in it?”, I hear you cry! Well, as you can see from the picture, a lot of lovely little bits.

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Confession time: I am really not a movie buff at all (unless it is a horror/involves lesbians/both!) and I don’t drink tea but nevertheless this was still such a lovely treat. And, of course, I can always give the tea and game as a gift to someone who would love it!

I’ve not yet used the vaporising oil but have, of course, added the Amber & Smoke (from the first box which was damaged) and Sea Salt & Sage candles straight to my collection of 30+ candles… I’m really not obsessed with candles, I promise…

And as for the moustache fridge magnets – I’ve already ordered some pictures to stick on my radiator with them!

So, even though it took 10 extra days, it was totally worth the wait. If you are wanting to purchase any of the items in this box, as always, they can be found here – it doesn’t mention it there but I vaguely recall last month if you bought by clicking those links a small part of the money would go to The Blurt Foundation but don’t hold me to that!

The best part of this month was that I was also able to buy a Buddy Box for some very wonderful people in my life to thank them for continuously make me smile. Here’s what they thought:

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I like the uniqueness of each box and how even though it’s a small box it brings me so much happiness and it’s cute.

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I found the buddy box to be very interesting and contain lots of great little items. Very pleased with this gift and perfect for a casual night in.

Come to think of it, I probably spend way too much of my money on gifts but this box really is the perfect way to make people you care about smile! And, of course, anything to do with making my friends happy I’m all for!

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(Me when people tell me I give too many gifts… Sorry not sorry.)

If you want to order yourself a Buddy Box for next month you can still do so until the end of this month here. For a one-off purchase, a Buddy Box is £21.50 but there’s also an option to buy a one-off Buddy Box Lite for £12!

As I’ve previously mentioned on this blog Blurt does a lot to reach out and talk about mental health and this is something very close to my heart and personal to me. I have countless friends which I know both in real life and online who suffer with depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other “invisible illnesses”, and I have my fair share of struggles too. The love and friendship I’ve received from the Blurt team has been unbelievably helpful in my recovery and I hope the foundation continues to get the recognition it deserves. Either way, Blurt, you have my unending support!

~ Jem x

 

Why Henna Makes Me Happy

When I was in Sixth Form I made friends with a girl called Sanna. While it turned out she wasn’t a particularly nice person she did teach me one wonderful thing that has helped a lot with my mental health and I have to be grateful to her for that.

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Now Sanna is from a Muslim family who she told me are all huge fans of henna (otherwise known as mehndi) and when she first offered to draw on my arm with henna I jumped at the thought of having these temporary, beautiful patterns stained on my skin. After she’d finished her beautiful art work I asked her where she got her henna cones and that’s where my obsession began…

Ever since I discovered how easy the simpler designs are to do I’ve been in love with it and it’s honestly worked wonders for my tendencies to not be very kind to myself. For me it was the perfect alternative to self-harm on many occasions and it still is now.

(Just a few examples of my henna designs on myself and others!)

I think the main reasons I find henna so relaxing are:

  • It’s easy to do if you keep the designs basic
  • It keeps your hands busy
  • It helps you focus
  • It gives you time to think
  • It’s cool on your skin
  • When it dries you can scratch it off (I’m not sure why that helps me but it does)
  • It looks so beautiful and people will compliment you on it all the time
  • It’s super cheap (like 99p a cone) and the cones last ages

Remember you need to do an allergy test first because henna can be very dangerous and sometimes can scar your skin. If you are allergic a good alternative is body paints which can be bought specifically for people with sensitive skin.

So I’ll let you all make up your own minds on whether you think this is a hobby you’d love to take up or not but for me it’s just perfect!

~ Jem x

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