Posted in Fashion, Life

10 Perfect Nail Colours for Autumn

Welcome back to my blog and here we are for another autumn themed post, this time… nail colours! Coincidentally, these are all Essie shades. I’m in no way shape or form sponsored by them, I just generally seem to always gravitate towards their polishes! These are all older colours as I’m yet to get my hands on the 2020 Fall collection, although don’t they all look stunning?!

In the mean time though, these are some other shades that I personally think are perfect for autumn:

1. Yes I Canyon

Typically, the first polish I’ve picked out from my personal collection isn’t widely available anymore BUT the colour is too perfect for me not to include it. Yes I Canyon is from the 2019 Rocky Rose collection and although it’s not technically available anymore, you can still find it on the likes of Amazon. It’s a lovely burnt orange colour which just autumn in a bottle really.

2. Exposed

This one is from the Wild Nudes collection, although don’t be fooled, as I would say it’s more of a green rather than nude. You can still get hold of it from some sites too, like this one.

Shades of green are nice transitional colour for autumn I find, a bit like when all the leaves start to turn.

3. Chinchilly

If you’d prefer something more neutral, then grey is usually a safe bet. I’m actually wearing this colour right now and find it to be a lovely universal polish that will compliment any outfit, what’s more, it’s still widely available!

4. Smokin’ Hot

Here we have another shade of grey but this time with a hint of smooth dark purple, for when you want something a little different but still not too colourful.

If you’re in the UK like me then you can get this one on the likes of Amazon.

5. Licorice

Seeing as we’re in the run up to Halloween now, any nail polish collection wouldn’t be complete without a jet black shade!

This staple colour is very much still available from places like Boots etc.

6. On Mute

For something not quite black, but still dark as a spooky soul… this dark slate grey shade is perfect!

7. Say It Ain’t Soho

Back to the warmer colours now… this is such an awesome colour for autumn. Pumpkin orange tones, check… shimmery, check! This was from the Fall 2018 collection so not widely available anymore however it does look quite similar on nails to the new Don’t Be Spotted, if a little deeper in colour.

8. Penny Talk

Another metallic colour but something a little more neutral than Say It Ain’t Soho… this is such a pretty colour for autumn!

9. Clothing Optional

Maybe don’t take the name of this one literally, especially with how the weather can be in the UK at this time of year!

This colour is a classic nude, with a lovely warm tone which to me definitely makes it just right for autumn.

10. Style Cartel

Finishing this list with something slightly different! I wasn’t going to include this one as I’m not sure how I feel about royal blue in autumn… however it’s very similar to the new Shade called Waterfall in Love, so here we are!

I still have a bottle so I’ll get it used up before purchasing the new blue as I don’t like to have too many similar ones!

Which out of these is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Life

5 Tips For The Ultimate Cosy Night In

I know it’s nice to go out in the evenings, especially in the summer when it’s still warm as the sun goes down… but that doesn’t mean there’s not something to be said for a super cosy night in, as the weather gets colder and the nights get darker.

That being said, it looks like we’re all going to have a lot more nights at home for the foreseeable anyway, so here are some of my suggestions for the ultimate cosy night in!

1. Have a nice hot bath

Let’s start the evening with something super relaxing: a hot bubble bathTreat yourself to a bath bomb to make it nice and special. Stay tuned for my Lush Halloween haul, the best time of year for bath bombs in my opinion.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

2. Get comfy

Cosy and comfy just go hand in hand really, don’t they?! My go to comfy clothes are really old and tatty pyjamas, but I’m very tempted to treat myself to some cute new loungewear for the upcoming colder months! I’m slightly obsessed with this set from Nasty Gal, which might not exactly be family friendly but that’s ok with me!

Sorry mum…

Depending on how cold it is, you might also want some cosy slippers or fluffy socks – I personally love a pair of Primark fluffy socks in the winter!

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Why not throw some cosy blankets in there too for good measure!

3. Snacks and hot drinks

Now, if you’re a bit of a food lover like me then the perfect snacks for the occasion are of utmost importance! Depending on the sort of night in you’re having, you might just go for something like popcorn and sweets… which is great, but if you’re going for the full works then you may as well get a takeaway in! Personally, I’d go for a Chinese or a pizza… if you’re not as lazy as me then maybe you’ll make some food yourself of course, but I for one, am no good at cooking!

Photo by Sarah Dietz on Pexels.com

4. Mood lighting

Light your room of choice up however you prefer… I’m a bit weird and like to have lots of light but for the sake of the ultimate cosy night, I’m going to assume that you’re more inclined to prefer a darker room like most people I talk to! Whichever way you prefer, I also recommend lighting some candles to get those extra cosy vibes too! Check out my recent post on my current autumn candle collection for some suggestions.

5. Have a selection of films or a series to binge

Let’s set the scene now… you’ve got your comfiest ever clothes on, wrapped up like a little burrito in blankets, the Dominos has just arrived… and now you can settle in to watch your favourite series on Netflix (or whatever streaming service you prefer, or your favourite film – am I the only one who has DVDs these days?!)

My current favourite for a cosy night in is Once Upon A Time on Netflix. Either that or whatever new crime documentary is about. If I’m up for a film then I have quite a varying taste, but next on my re-watch list is Rocketman! I could write a whole other post about how much I love that film but maybe I’ll save that for another day… Harry Potter is also of course ALWAYS an autumn classic!

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

I hope you’re feeling extra cosy now! Let me know in the comments what else you like to do for a nice, cosy night in ❤

Posted in Life

August Round-Up & Blogging Goals for Autumn

Just like that, it’s goodbye Summer.

Who can believe we’re about to enter September? It doesn’t seem right to me at all… March feels just like yesterday! This year hasn’t exactly been the best for anyone I think, so I suppose it’s not necessarily a bad thing that it’s flown by.

That being said, August seems to have been a busy month and so I thought now was a good time for some reflection before we enter my favourite season… Autumn.

What did I achieve in August?

Firstly, non-blogging related – Bought a new car – If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my recent reel showing of the car that Dale and I have bought. We went for a Mini Countryman Sport and I love it! There are a lot of luxuries that I never knew I needed, like heated seats and Apple car play… but not only that, it’s a really sturdy car and I actually feel really safe and secure whilst driving. Writing this makes me feel like I should have written a full review!

Planned content for the rest of the year – turns out that coming in to Autumn inspires me and then I was already on a roll so carried on for Blogmas and up to the end of this year!

Managed to publish posts consistently all month – I have struggled with consistency from day one so any time I can keep up with posting regularly is an achievement to me. In August I have shared more of my first Trek America trip, a photo journal, a review of StitchFix and also 8 things to know before you get a puppy.

Reached over 100 followers on my blog and 2,600 on Instagram!

In fact, it’s a been one whole year of Watt The Blog!

When you break it down in to small acheivements like that, the year doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Moving forward in to the glorius Autumn, here are my blogging goals for the season:

Continue to post consistently and more often – I’m going to aim for twice a week in the run up to December, then ATTEMPT a daily Blogmas up to Christmas eve… wish me luck!

Stick to my content plan – it’s all very well making a plan for the rest of the year, but I need to actually stick to it…

Reach 200 followers on my blog – that one might be a bit of a stretch, but I can try!

If I’m gaining followers on my blog, might at well reach 2,700 on Instagram and 900 on Twitter… again… I can try!

Create a blogging Facebook page – I keep meaning to do this, but haven’t quite got that far yet.

I’m sending out optimism and good vibes in to the universe right now and looking forward to reflecting back on these goals later on in to Winter!

What are you goals for the coming months and what are you proud to have acheived in August? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Life

28 Life Lessons I Have Learnt in 28 Years

Happy birthday to me!

I’ll be honest, I’ve not exactly been looking forward to this birthday and have been struggling to come to terms with getting closer to 30. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t acctually think I’m “old” by any means, it’s just that time has gone so quick and it’s incredibly unsettling – I haven’t acheived everything that I thought I would have by now.

Life just really isn’t as simple as I though it would be, but I’ve sure learnt a lot on the way, so before I start rambling too much, let’s jump straight in to the 28 life lessons that I’ve learnt in 28 years!

  1. Too much stress is actually physically unhealthy. I’ve always been a stressed out and anxious person, so I’m well aware of the physical side effects this causes, but I never really considered the long term health effects until a few years ago – it’s quite scary what too much stress can do your body over time, so it’s important to keep it in check.
  2. That being said, your health is your number one priority. My mum always used to say to me that as long as I had my health, everything else was secondary and I didn’t really get it until we were hit by the recent pandemic. Since then, I’ve really started to appreciate my health and am more active in trying to look after myself.
  3. That means you need to look after yourself. Drink the water, brush your teeth, eat vegetables and wash your face. Once you get past 25, you’ll only regret all those times you didn’t.
  4. Life really is short. Unfortunately, I think this is something that only really rings true after losing a loved one. It’s one of those things we all sort of know, but until I have to say that until I experienced a family member passing away, it never seemed real.
  5. Time waits for no one. Similarly, time won’t ever stop, no matter what you’re going through. If you want to acheive something, don’t wait!
  6. You can’t plan life. You just can’t! You can plan for the short term of course, and I guess have an idea as to what you wish to get out of life, but you definitely can’t plan it all out perfectly.
  7. It’s ok not to be ok. Just know when to reach out and ask for help when you need it.
  8. It’s also ok if you don’t actually know what to do with life. Just like you can’t plan it all out, it’s ok if you don’t even have a clue where to start.
  9. When you do know what you want to do, do everything you can to work towards it – don’t procrastinate! I spent years putting things off and I often wonder where I could have got to, if I just just got on and done the things I wanted to.
  10. People can be amazing, they’re not always scary. I spent so much of my life being afraid of other people, when there really is no need. Sure, people can be as crap as they are awesome, but those people don’t matter anyway.
  11. Travel, travel, and travel again – and do it solo! Most of these life lessons I learnt while travelling solo to be honest, there’s so much to be said for giving it a go on your own, although I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t find it terrifying.
  12. Money isn’t the be all and end all, but it certainly helps. I used to feel like you had to be super rich to make it but that really isn’t the case. Not everything costs money and you can get a lot done on a shoestring! That being said…
  13. Budget wisely. It took me a long time to figure out how to budget properly to make my monthly pay last, and that’s when money becomes stressful! There’s a difference between not needing to spend much, and not actually having enough to buy food. Now I always make sure I budget properly for the month and can still save some too.
  14. Material things don’t matter in the end.
  15. BUT if it makes you happy at the time, and you can afford it, go for it and buy the things!
  16. It CAN be fun to drink and not everyone is an awful drunk. I had some unfortunate experiences with alcohol growing up and for a long time was convinced that drinking turned everyone in to the absolute Devil. Then I found a cocktail I liked and realised you can just get a little tipsy and have a good time, you don’t need to take it too far.
  17. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Before I discovered a drink that I liked, I didn’t drink at all and got a lot of stick for it. I stuck to my guns though until I was ready and honestly I’m glad I didn’t give in to peer pressure – if there’s one lesson I could pass on it would probably be this one.
  18. In the grand scheme of things, no one else cares about what you do. Of course, people do CARE, and I don’t want this to sound harsh in any way but when you look at the bigger picture, we’re all looking out for number one.
  19. On that note, dress for YOU. Who cares if it’s not “on trend”, or if other people don’t like it. Wear what makes you feel good.
  20. A few, really good friends is way better than lots and lots of acquaintances. I spent many years through school being upset over not having many friends, and my mum also telling me that as long as I had a few good friends then that’s all that matters. Why are mum’s always right?!
  21. Similarly, you can’t make everyone like you. Stop trying!
  22. You can’t regret the choices that you made in the past, as they were right for you at the time. I vividly remember having to go to the Army Careers office a few years ago to collect my rejection letter. I tried SO hard not to cry but was so upset. The reason I was rejected was due to a medical issue that had only developed that year. I SO regretted not applying when I had originally wanted to a few years before that, as then I might have got in – the officer told me that I couldn’t regret it because I made the choice that was right for me at the time. It took me a long time to actually agree with him, but it’s definitely true.
  23. Education is a priviledge. I’m sure I’m not the only one who spent most of my school life despising school and not really appreciating my time there. Unfortunately, you could have never convinced me at the time but years later I realised I should have made the most of it.
  24. You can’t run from your problems. No matter how far away you go, the problems will be right there waiting when you get back.
  25. You can’t control everything, only how you deal with it all. It’s so easy to worry about things we cannot control, but what’s the point in worrying baout it if you can’t actually change it? All we can do is focus on is how to deal with it. That was something else I really realised during the pandemic: I was SO worried about everything going on in the world, but finally I ended up realising that I can’t do anything about it in the grand scheme of things, only how I cope and respond personally.
  26. A postive mental attitude is everything. Although that doesn’t mean you have to happy all the time, no one is happy all of the time!
  27. Everything happens for a reason. I’m not saying it’s all fate or anything, but honestly I do believe everything does happen for a reason, even though it doesn’t always feel like it at the time.
  28. Finally, it really WILL all be ok. I promise.

It’s safe to say, just this year alone I have learnt so much about life in general, and I’m sure I’ve got a lot more to learn in the next 28 years – whatever they may bring! It’s been a bumpy ride, but I’m definitely proud for how far I’ve come.

Let me know in the comments what you’ve learnt about life recently and come back soon for the next post in my Trek America series.

Posted in Life

Black Lives Matter – What I Have Learnt and How To Help

This post contains links to other sites and social media posts, none are affiliate and I haven’t been asked to share these, it’s just what I have personally found helpful. Any links to resources have not been created by me unless stated otherwise.

I always intended to eventually use my blog to discuss important topics, as well as travel and lifestyle. The name “Watt The Blog” is a play on words with my name and “what the fuck” – the idea being to discuss my weekly WTF moments – I think we can agree that the world is one big WTF right now. However, I’ve found myself waiting for “the right time”, until I develop my writing skills and to have a bigger following, but… why wait?

Last week, I, along with many other White people, had to face up to the fact that we have an undeniable privilege that we haven’t been putting to good use.

Racism doesn’t just come in the form that first comes to mind, which is why a lot of us defensively state we are simply not racist. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple: the fact is that racism is a spectrum and right now, society is inherently racist against Black people. This means that, without always meaning to be, we have all been guilty of a form of racism and I won’t believe you if you try to argue otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that if you’re reading this, you’re certainly not outwardly and overtly racist, but I’m also sure that you’re in the same boat as me in realising that things are complicated and we need to do much, much better. So, what next? Here is what I’ve learnt so far about how we need to step up.

Apologise and be willing to accept our White privilege

Without making this about me, (another thing many of us are guilty of doing, albeit without necessarily meaning to) here are my apologies:

I am so sorry that I had not recognised my privilege up until now. I have now realised what it is to have White privilege and accept the responsibility that comes with it.

I am sorry for ever thinking that I understand, when I could never understand what it means to face racism on a daily basis. The most (or least) I can do is stand in unity.

I am sorry for not understanding what Black Lives Matter meant up until now, and for previously taking the “don’t all lives matter?” stance. If you’re still not sure on this, the point is that all lives DO matter, but right now Black lives are being taken and treated as though they DON’T matter. All lives can’t actually matter until Black lives do too.

I am sorry for not being actively anti-racist and for thinking that simply being “not racist” was enough.

Stop trying to be a perfect ally

Many have said they didn’t want to write a post until they knew how to properly address the subject and that it can feel like you can’t do right for wrong at the moment. However, it’s better to speak up and get it wrong, than to say nothing at all. We will need to accept that we may get called out, if we approach something from the wrong angle perhaps, but then if we do, to listen and learn and adjust our thinking.

This is a learning curve for many of us but at the end of the day, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed, which simply cannot be done by Black people alone. As James Corden said recently – “how can the Black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?”

Listen and learn

I highly recommend that you check out this link for the BLM card – these are more related to America but still relevant. If you’re from the UK like me then this article is also really helpful. If you have found any other useful links, please do share in the comments!

The learning curve is continuous. It’s vital to keep reading, watching, listening and learning until long after the protests have died down. This isn’t just a one time thing, or a social media trend. Although social media has been brilliant recently for sharing knowledge and I honestly feel that I’ve learnt more in the past week or so, than I ever did in school.

A few people also started sharing their favourite Black content creators and I can honestly say that I have found some new firm favourites that I can’t believe I wasn’t following before. It wasn’t until it was pointed out that I realised I didn’t follow many Black creators and so therefore my feeds and the information I was receiving wasn’t very diverse. In turn, the voices and opinions I had been sharing were of fellow White people. Although, something else I noticed too, was that I had actually been following some of these accounts already but they had then been drowned out by all the White content I was following. Diversify your feed and you won’t regret it – listen to what Black creators have to say, learn and share too. I particularly appreciated that Kelsey in London shared her favourite creators with under 10,000 followers, which means they don’t have a swipe up link, so it’s harder for them to share information.

While you’re at it, there’s also lots of wonderful black owned businesses too!

Donate and sign petitions

There are lots of places you can donate to, and lots of worthwhile petitions. This is a list of just some petitions, as well as a few zip codes you can use if needed. Once you’ve signed and/or donated, share the links too and keep the momentum going, I cannot reiterate this enough. Something to note though, don’t donate directly to the Change website when signing their petitions, as the funds will go to their promotion, rather than to an actual charity or funding page that needs your help more.

If you’re tight on money right now (many of us are and that’s ok) there are lots of videos on YouTube that you can watch, and then all the revenue will be donated – there is a whole Twitter thread of videos. This is another video too.

Also something good to know is that if you purchased the Caroline Hirons x Pixi Beauty double cleanser at any point this year, or are due to purchase in 2020, 100% of Caroline’s proceeds will be going to Black Lives Matter, AND Pixi are now matching the donation.

Use your platform to support

You’ve seen the word “share” countless times in this post I know, but seriously share any resources you have found helpful. Share links to petitions and donation pages, share the books your reading, the shows you’re watching, most importantly share the voices of your favourite Black content creators/authors/actors and of your Black friends. It really doesn’t matter how many followers you have, just speak up and support those that need it.

Continue to advocate change OFFLINE

The work online is only a small part of what we need to do. The harder part comes offline in the difficult conversations with friends and family who may have not seen, or noticed, what you’re sharing online.

Something I hadn’t even considered this week on my sharing sprees, was that social media is an echo chamber. The people you follow, and those who follow you, already agree with you. It’s your racist uncle (for example) who needs talking to, it’s the favourite brands that you buy from that need looking in to. When was the last time you considered how diverse a company was before buying from them? I know I sure as hell have buried my head in the sand up until now.

How about where you work… Have you ever questioned racism in your workplace? In my industry we’re lucky enough to be extremely racially diverse but many, many places are not. Advocate changes in every part of your life, not just online.

Continue to work and recognise how to do better

I’m under no illusions and know that I have a lot more work to do, as well as a lot more to learn but right now I believe that what’s most important is to think about how to move forward. What will you do now? Will you simply move on and go back to the way things were, or will you continue to actively be anti racist for the rest of your life?

Something that struck a chord with me this week was that Black people continue to live like this and fight for their rights every single day, for their whole lives, there are no days off. Black people, and those of other ethnic minorities, do not get to take a break from talking or thinking about racism. So if we’re stepping up as White people, we need to make the commitment to stand along side them, for the rest of our lives.

Thank you for reading – I hope this can help at least one other person!

Some other helpful links

5 things to do right now in the UK

How to ally

How to respond to common racist statements

Anti-racism terms to learn

How to be an active listener

7 ways White people invalidate Black people’s feelings

9 things that wouldn’t exist without Black women

Examples of microagressions

Racism in the UK

Racism in the UK (2)

Posted in Life

Reflecting on May and Goals for June

Well, who else can’t believe that we’re about to go into June?! This year has been one hell of a bumpy ride so far and certainly not one we’ll forget, but hey, at least it’s going quickly?! Normally, I wouldn’t want time to pass by so fast but this year I’m taking it as a positive and hoping that next year can only be better.

I’ve certainly gained a whole new perspective recently and have really started to consider what’s important in life. May in particular seems to have been a month of reflection for me, so I thought I’d share what I’ve been thinking about, as well as the goals I have set for June.

I’ve realised recently just how much I enjoy blogging and would definitely like this to take off one day. I’m under no illusion that it will happen quickly and I’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s still nice to have a hobby to work on after a tough day at work, as well as a big goal to work towards!

Publishing this blog means that I’ve finally managed to implement a blogging schedule that allows me to post weekly, although let’s save the celebrations for a another couple of weeks just in case. Consistent posting was my first goal for my blog and so far has been my biggest struggle for a number of reasons:

  1. Procrastinating – I’ve realised this month that I spend all my time doing the wrong things. My biggest downfall is Instragram and I end up spending hours aimlessly scrolling on there, instead of writing and working on my blog. The thing is, I’ve found Instragram to be an easy platform to grow on, even though I get the least amount of blog views via Instagram, so I found myself stuck in a rut of procrastination, whilst telling myself I was working on my blog… I clearly wasn’t!
  2. Lack of time – Time can short for me… I have a full time job (keyworker, woohoo!), a house to keep clean, a puppy to look after, as well as friends, family and a boyfriend that I can’t just neglect to spend all of my time on my little corner of the internet. That being said, I’ve realised that it’s not necessarily a complete lack of time, but more a lack of utilising the time that I do have.
  3. Daydreaming – I’m a sucker for getting lost in a daydream, I always have been and probably always will be! Unfortunately though, I keep everything in my head and just think about all the things I want to do, rather than getting on and doing them. Sometimes I might make it as far as making a list but even then I still don’t really get on with it.

So, after all that deep self reflection… these points bring me to my goals for June, and beyond:

  1. Just DO – It’s ok to daydream but those ideas need to be put to paper and worked on. It’s not just my blog, even at home I will write a list of things that need to be done, then just daydream the day away without doing any of it… so less procrastinating! I won’t say that I’ll stop altogether, because let’s face it, I probably won’t.
  2. Set smaller goals – I think part of the reason that I struggle to get things done (blogging or otherwise) is that I often set myself too big a challenge or goal. I will write a mammoth to do list and then beat myself up if I don’t acheive everything on it… then I feel so disheartened that it makes me want to give up. I’m sure if I spread these tasks throughout the week and worked on smaller goals and to do lists, I will be able to utilise my time more.
  3. Switch off sometimes – Sometimes I get sucked in to everything and forget that blogging is my hobby and an outlet, not an extra thing to get stressed out over. I have enough worry in life, without getting worked up over the fun things too! Throughout June, I’ll be setting aside some time each week to switch off and remember the real world. This means not scrolling through Instragram and doing something off of a screen instead (I’ve got so many books to read for starters) and I’m fairly certain I’ll be thanking myself in the long run.

Overall, I’m looking forward to what June has to bring. I turn 28 this month too, so come back next week to read the 28 things I’ve learnt in 28 years!

Let me know in the comments what your goals are for June and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Posted in Anxiety, Life

10 Things I Do To Help My Anxiety

I’m going to come out and say it: I’ve suffered with anxiety for most of my life. When I was a teenager, I had frequent panic attacks, often cancelled plans with friends and made myself physically ill with stress and worry. As I grew up and saw more of the world, my panic attacks eased and, in many ways, I got “better”. Except, I wasn’t better at all, I’ve just learnt how to cope a bit more and function as an adult.

At the start of this year, I realised I finally needed help. The problem is that of course, I let my anxiety get in the way and now, we’re in the middle of a lockdown and the whole world is now in state of panic. The new “C” word understandably puts a knot in my stomach and I’m sure I’m not alone. Due to my work, I knew this was coming a couple of months ago and have therefore been an anxious wreck for some time. I now regret not getting any help before now and although I’m sure there’s still avenue available, it just doesn’t really seem feasible all the time we shouldn’t be leaving our homes – and whilst I’m too scared to do anything or go anywhere. I’ve come to appreciate my health and the need to look after ourselves, so as soon as it is safe to do so I will finally get the help I need.

This post isn’t about the “C” word though, and it’s not a complete story of my anxiety as to be honest, we’d be here quite some time. I thought that just for now, I could share with you some of the small things that make a difference to how I feel day to day:

Fresh air, or a walk if you can. If you feel up for it, go for a walk, it doesn’t have to be far. I find that I instantly feel calmer after a few deep breaths in the fresh air and a quiet walk somewhere to clear my head. Some days, it’s a struggle to get out the door and all I want to do is curl up, but once I’m dressed and outside, it really does help. If you’re really not up for a walk, even just opening all the windows and letting the air in helps.

Play with my puppy. I have dreamed of having my own Corgi for several years and a few weeks ago was incredibly lucky to finally get one. Nothing is more calming than playing with my lovely boy! Of course, playing with a puppy wasn’t always an option but even before we got Reggie, I’d spend a chunk of time scrolling through photos of other corgis… maybe that sounds weird, but it’s always helped.

A hot bath or shower. Nothing is more relaxing than a lovely hot bubble bath, or if you’re in more of a rush then a shower will still help, at least I find that it does anyway. I like to sweat out all my problems without having to go to the gym!

Deep breaths. This sounds like a given really but taking a few deep breaths and just giving myself a moment to focus is a key part of my day, sometimes several times a day! Try to relax your shoulders, really breath in through your nose and gently breath back in again out of your mouth. Doing this for a couple of minutes is so beneficial for relieving anxiety and stress.

A distraction – like colouring or reading. A simple hobby to focus on, like a good book or colouring something in, is a nice distraction from my anxieties. Watching a film, drawing or painting, anything that you enjoy that will also distract you. Set yourself some time to focus on something else.

Tidy up. It’s so true what they say – tidy space, tidy mind. Unfortunately I often struggle to get motivated to get house work done, even though I hate the mess. It really depends on my mood. I think it’s important not to be too hard on yourself and force yourself to do too much when you haven’t got the motivation or energy, but if you can, tidying up just one room or small space does actually help. Once I get started, I often can’t stop and go full nesting mode! If it feels like too much, I declutter something else, like the photos on my phone or a small task like clearing out my purse. A small victory in the day to be celebrated!

Speak to a friend. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your problems, I know that for a factbut it does help. Even if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you at first, just reach out for some communication and a good laugh. Talking about your concerns can follow later.

Make plans. I’m terrible for making plans and then sticking to them but having something to look forward to always gets me through anxious times. It helps to focus on something that will be happening after you’ve faced your demons, or whatever is worrying you.

Drink water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – you’ll feel so much better! Being dehydrated makes me feel so unwell, which I’m turns makes me panic more. Just drink your water!

Write it all down. This is something I’m still working on. I struggle to communicate my anxieties, because a lot of the time I don’t actually understand it myself. I don’t know why I’m in a blinding panic, I just am. Processing it by writing it all down instead is super helpful, I just seem to forget this and bottle things up instead!

I hope you’ve found these helpful, let me know in the comments what you do to ease your anxiety and get you through the day!

Posted in Music, Travel

Top 10 Road Trip Songs

There is nothing that completes a road trip more than a good playlist. The music you have on during a long journey can really either make or break trip.

Of course, everyone has different tastes and therefore different opinions on what constitutes an awesome playlist, but these are my personal top tracks and the reasons behind them.

In no particular order:

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Okay, come on, we ALL know the words to this one right?! This song is totally infectious and an undeniable classic. One of my favourite road trip moments was driving through the Lake District with a car full of friends – after a VERY long day sat in Bank Holiday traffic. We were having a bit of Queen run on the playlist and this came on, we turned it up full blast and all belted it out word for word, all the while passing by the beautiful scenary, head banging away. It was pure brilliance.

Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger

This song brings back memories for me of a family trip to San Francisco, rather than an actual road trip, but it’s a great song and so I thought I’d still include it. The trip was around the time that this first came out and I was totally obsessed. My mum and I were stood in a tacky souvenir shop when it came on over the speakers, I danced along without a care in the world and from then on my mum always tells me how it’s my song. It makes us both think of each other now, which I think is sweet so when I am on a trip away from home listening to it… I’m reminded of family.

John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads

“Almost heaven, West Virginia…”

The lyrics and mellow beat to this song really make me reflect on days on the road, and how bloody lucky I am to have seen some of the places that I have. It’s almost a sad song really I think, but I have so many treasured memories that this conjures up, that it’s impossible not to belt it out! West Virginia is definitely one of my favourites and oh the memories from there… including moonshine tasting, which is mentioned in the song! If you’d like to hear more about my West Virginia stories then well, you’ll need to follow my blog.

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

The ultimate solo travel song! Listening to this now makes me feel like I’m gazing out of an aeroplane window, off on another adventure, all alone. I might now know what’s to come, but I sure know where I’ve been! Plus, it’s an absolute classic tune, so what could be better? Sing it with me… “Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.” If you’re ever travelling alone and feeling a little lost, like you’ve made a terrible decision to go it alone, or just generally a bit lonely (let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen) this is the song for you. You’ve got this.

Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way

This song gives me similar vibes to “Here I Go Again”. Sometimes you just need a reminder that you’re on the right path and sometimes that can mean leaving people behind too. This song to me always felt like letting those people go, knowing I’ll be just fine, but also a reminder to yourself to go your own damn way. Another “you’ve got this” tune. It’s got me through some tough times for sure but it’s also an absolute jam for a road trip.

Frank Sinatra – Theme From New York, New York

I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York City not once, but twice. There really is no city like it. You know how it is in the movies? It’s literally like that, you really do feel like you could be in a movie whilst walking the streets there (or maybe it’s just me and my overactive imagination). Frank Sinatra describes the feeling to a tee in this classic tune. The first time I was there, I’d been staying in Newark and got the train in, where the station exit then takes you right in to Times Square. It was a Saturday night, so you can imagine the hustle and bustle, I felt like I should be in my own video montage, with this song blaring in the background. It was an increcible feeling and I’ve never felt like that arriving in to any other city.

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

I’m sure this song has featured on many road trip playlists, as it is yet another classic. The words “born to run” really hone in on the feeling of wanderlust, like you are literally born to be on the move and always exploring. For a long time this song really resonated with me, as I felt I’d never be able to settle and nowhere ever really felt like home… this has changed for me now, but it’s still a good jam!

AC/DC – Highway To Hell

AC/DC are the absolute best band, and I dare you to try and fight me on that! No kind of playlist is complete without at least one of their tracks. Our tour guide played this to us as we entered Las Vegas and it was one of those awesome moments of togetherness, and sheer excitement to be somewhere so special… before the carnage ensued! Hell of course is a good place in this context, no one wants to feel like they’re in actual Hell when on a road trip.

Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way

One of the purest and most memorable moments while travelling in New Zealand for me wasn’t any kind of adventurous activity, in fact I don’t even remember where I was when it happened. I was on a hop on/off tour bus and this song started playing. The whole bus, or at least everyone in my vicinity, lit up and sang and danced along. It was such a moment of joy for me and it’s really stayed with me, it really summed up travelling and meeting new friends, just feeling carefree – it’s a memory and feeling that I’ll definitely treasure.

Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – Time Of My Life

To be honest, I think this one goes without saying. There’s no specific reason behind this other than I’ve had the absolute time of my life on many road trips and hopefully many more to come! Plus, I think you’d be lying if you say you don’t know all the words… Forget wanderlust, this could be love!

Bonus Tracks! Sorry, there’s just too many good songs… let me know in the comments if I should do another post like this!

SIX60 – White Lines

I’ll forgive you if you don’t know this one, but I would urge you to listen to SIX60 on repeat as soon as you’ve finished reading this post. I was introduced to SIX60 a few days before New Year’s Eve whilst travelling the South Island in New Zealand. There was a lot of talk about how to spend New Years and where the best place to be was. I was due to be in Wanaka and had NO idea what to do, to the point that I considered rearranging and heading to Queenstown. I felt like it needed to be epic so when I was told there was a music festival near Wanaka, I was quite interested. There’s this Kiwi band ringing in the new year, you should definitely check it out, I was told. It wasn’t pricey at all and so a few of us that had met along the way went for it – there’s a whole other story to this but I will say, it was SO worth it and I’m glad I didn’t change my plans. The midnight fireworks went off, we did the countdown (yep, the wrong way round) and then this song played. Now I’m always reminded of the amazing times I had in New Zealand and to be honest, I can’t do any journey without giving it a listen!

The Bellamy Brothers – Let Your Love Flow

I don’t have a story behind this song really, it’s just a pure feel good song that I wanted to end the post with!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my picks for the ultimate road trip playlist, you can listen to all the tracks below. See you again soon, happy travels! xo

Posted in America, Anxiety, Life, Travel

Booking My First Solo Trip With Trek America

This post contains links to outside websites but all views are my own and I’ve not received any form of payment for this post – however if Trek America wants to hit me up then I’m down!

In 2012, I travelled alone for the first time. I cannot explain how much of a big deal this was for me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve spend most of my days crippled with anxiety and yet with a yearning to see the world, for a carefree life. I’d stumbled upon the Trek America site a couple of years before and when I told my Mum she was as flippant as always, “yes it sounds lovely, but you won’t even go to the shop round the corner alone”, or words to that affect. She wasn’t wrong. We’d played this game many times before, me telling her I was going to do something wild and outrageous, travelling solo somewhere, anywhere. She’d nod along for the most part and then bring me crashing back down to reality, reminding me of the panic attacks I was having day to day just going about my mundane life. This went on for a considerable amount of time, all throughout my teens and in to my early twenties, when I then started seeing a guy who was planning a one way trip to Australia. To my suprise and glee, he asked me to go with him,

I’d been saving money anyway for my own daydream life of a travelling Wonder Woman, so I didn’t need to scrimp much more together. As the trip approached though, I needed just a bit more time to save and so I asked this guy, could we delay for a month or two? I don’t remember exactly what was said but he wasn’t particularly impressed. Looking back now, I can see why his reaction wasn’t what I expected, however he esentially turned quite nasty, before ghosting me altogether and leaving for Australia without much of a trace. I’d had my share of heartbreak already but this was quite a sting and honestly that fiasco could be a whole other blog post.

Not long after though, as I dusted myself off and prepared to just get over it, it dawned on me that I never really wanted to go with him anyway. Australia wasn’t really high on my bucket list at this point – America was the place I wanted to explore the most, after a taster with a school trip to Washington DC in 2010 and then a family trip to San Francisco in 2011. Plus, we’d not been seeing each other that long and I knew deep dwn it would have all gone tits up quite quickly anyway. I pondered all this for some time while going about life as usual. I can’t remember exactly when I ended up back on the Trek America site, or my exact process of getting to the point of booking, but after trawling the site and memorising all the itineraries, I landed on a short 10 day trip over Christmas, as that was the easiest time to get off work. Plus it wasn’t too long that I might freak out and not go, but long enough that it still seemed enough of a break and adventure.

Wild West.

Looking online now, the exact trip doesn’t seem to exist anymore but it started and ended in LA, and included two nights in San Diego, a visit to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, a night in a cowboy camp, Route 66 and Christmas waking up in Death Valley. Incredible right?

I remember the moment that I clicked the final button and the trip was definitely booked, I felt like there should be some kind of ceremony and fireworks, but nothing happened. The world kept spinning, and yet something for me felt like it was going to change forever. At the same time, nothing really felt real yet, I carried on at work like normal for the next for the next few months, saving up every penny for the time of my life and telling everyone all about this adventure I was embarking on. Everyone was encouraging, although I think most people couldn’t grasp the fact that I was going away for Christmas but for me that wasn’t an issue at all. I was ecstatic and the time of year wasn’t even a factor. Most people I told were also amazed at how brave I was to go alone, although honestly it really niggled at me as, being hard on myself as ever, it felt like this was merely a tiny stepping stone to some real travelling.

The tour was due to depart in LA on an early morning and so I flew out the day before. Not before getting absolutely wasted on a night out with some friends though, dressed in American flat patterened clothes, as a mini send off!

That night out kept me sane, I’d have only sat up all night talking myself out of the trip if I’d been at home.

I remember distinctly arriving at Heathrow Airport, almost sick to the stomach with fear. My Mum and Aunty had come to see me off, my Mum still tells the story to this day – she knew how nervous I was because she bought me a Krispy Kreme doughnut and I couldn’t eat it. Funnily enough though, and what we didn’t know at the time, was that a coffee and a doughnut would become something of a ritual whenever my Mum and I were at the start of some kind of journey together. Sadly, my Aunty is no longer with us and this little send off is just something that makes us feel like she’s coming on the adventure too.

Time ticked on and I had to go through security… alone. It was impossible for my Mum to come any further with me and it was at this point that I nearly didn’t go.

My eyes welled up, my heart jumped in to my throat and nausea swept over me. My mum help me tightly and said I had to do this now, or I never will. She knew how devasted and broken I would be if I let my panic control me, yet again. The disappointment in myself would have been completely unbearable. She promised me that I would have an amazing time and she’d be meeting me back at the airport soon to hear all about it, it would be over before I knew it so I needed to go and enjoy it. Take one step at a time, something of a mantra for her and I.

I took some deep breaths and thought of all the times I’d had a panic attack and not gone through with something. All the upset and disappointment over the years, how I’d come so far by even just booking the trip and turning up at the airport. I thought of how I would have to tell all my friends and family that yet again, I didn’t do it.

Shaking and holding back the tears, I did it, I went through security. Another step closer and no one had yelled at me, no one had died. I wandered around the shops on the other side to keep myself busy. I bought a travel pillow in the shape of a dog that looked like mine that had not long been put down. Hot tears pricked behind my eyes that I waited.

I waited.

Then, on Saturday 15th December, 2012, I boarded a plane alone, for the first time.

The plane took off and I couldn’t turn back. Mum told me later on that she’d waited in the car until she knew the plane had actually left, as she was sure I’d come running back out and not go. Secretly, I think part of the reason I didn’t do that is because… how do you even get back out of the airport once you’d passed security? I’d surely have to find someone to speak to, which would cause more stress, may as well just get on the plane by that point!

I settled in for the 11 hour flight as the panic of what I was doing slowly lifted. The first obstacle had been overcome and my adventure was about to begin.

To be continued…

Posted in Life

Life As A Musical

Ok, hear me out… real life should be more like a musical. I’m sure there are some people wh aren’t keen on musicals who will disagree, but honestly, wouldn’t it be amazing waking up to a big musical number to start your day?! Think, ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ from Hairspray. I’d love nothing more than to start my mornings feeling the way Nikki Blonsky does, full enthusiam and ready to take on anything.

It genuinely upsets and offends me that I can’t sing… or dance for that matter. Although perhaps it’s for the best, as I can tell you for sure I would probably drive everyone mad, incessantly singing and twirling and leaping. There are some unlucky souls that have seen me at my most comfortable, singing or dancing away and I’m sorry if you’re one of them!

I really do feel that every day life would do no harm from having huge musical numbers and flashmob style dance routines.

My day to day is generally quite mundane and routine, but on my morning drive to work, I listen to musical soundtracks and can almost picture the pedestrians I’m passing by, dancing and twirling away. I’d sing something about slaving away day to day, pouring myself a cup of ambition à la Dolly Parton, ‘9 to 5’. (Now that’s a musical I’m dying to see!)

The hours at work pass by painfully slow. I can imagine singing and lamenting, wishing the days away so I can make it to the weekend. Perhaps I might have to deal with someone difficult and there would be a tense, punchy number or I could bellow out a tune like Barbara Streisand’s ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’.

On my way home, I like to listen to motivating tracks like ‘Defying Gravity’ and ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ and I’m lifted up again, my brain once again filled with show-stopping dance routines. As the week progresses , I’m more and more excited about the drive home. I can almost picture a complitation-style scene of each drive home, my face more and more beaming until Friday rolls around and I get out of the car at home, my boyfriend would greet me and we’d perform a fabulous finale dance rountine. Something memorable and catchy like ‘We Go Together’ at the end of Grease. The end, a lovely happy ending.

It’s impossible to choose a favourite musical, it completely depends on the kind of mood I’m in. I have to say though, in case you hadn’t picked up on it, I’m currently really enjoying the Hairspray soundtrack again, having not seen the film or theatre show in years. The songs completely lift me up, as cheesy as that sounds, because I know it does, but it’s so true. I always feel inspired and if I’m ever in a bad mood or upset in anyway, that soundtrack is one that can totally cheer me up. In fact, it’s great to drive to as I tend to suffer with road rage and a super upbeat cheery show song sorts me right out!

On the flip side, another favourite soundtrack of mine is Les Misérables. Quite frankly though, it makes me sob, no matter what. If real life were a musical, you likely wouldn’t want it to be this one, as beautifal as it is.

Music for me really has that ability to completely transform my mood. It’s like I can really feel the music, all of it. I’m sure it all sounds daft but I think I reason I prefer musical soundtracks is the rawness, you can hear the feeling behind the music of the band as well as the emotion behind the singing.

The reality is though, musicals aren’t at all like real life, which is perhaps why they’re so great. It’s far too impractical for everyone to sing to each other day to day, for reahearsed but somehow spontaneous dance routines, for ballads to help you make that life changing decision. Reality is mundane daily routines, sprinkled with every day magic, such as listening to soundtracks that we love and that epic Friday feeling.

I can still daydream though…