On Dropping Out Of College and Undiagnosed Mental Illnesses 2

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I’ve spent some of the past four days reading a story (fanfic, if you want to know; holler for a link if interested) about someone coming down with severe depression at university and struggling with that, with the usual crap that comes with first realizing you’re not completely sane, and with deciding what to do next: drop out? Take a break? Try to stick it through?

I talk a lot about my mental illness for many reasons. Some are long-term activist reasons, and some are more practical, immediate ones. Some are selfish, wanting to get the pain out of my head and maybe reach for support, and some are selfless. I want people to know they’re not the only ones going through it; I want to make it easier to talk about it; I want people to know there’s nothing embarrassing about having anxiety or depression or any other mental illness, that it’s a real illness like any physical one would be. I want people to know they have various options for treatment and not one of them is morally better than the others. That meds can help, and they don’t make you into a zombie most of the time. That there are ways to harm yourself that aren’t as publicly advertised as cutting but should be taken seriously, too. I want to — I want to speak up because I want other people to speak up because I want people suffering from these invisible illness to be able to tell a friend, a parent, a doctor without fear of being dismissed. And I want the professional treatment that is out there to be better. I want it to be more accessible, and I want it to be better suited for the people who need it.

But this is not a post about how I missed two cognitive behavioral therapy appointments meant to treat my major sleep schedule issues this summer by sleeping through them, and was summarily dismissed.

This is a post about my college experience. The first time round.

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I moved to Madrid at the last possible minute, a rainy afternoon on the first of October in 2007. I was seventeen. I’m a November baby. I’d been on my first trip abroad just before then, on a scholarship the ministry gave out to promote ESL immersion learning. It had been my first time in London. I’d fucked up my foot badly, and barely eaten anything because I had limited funds and clothes took priority and my living arrangement, which the school I booked a course with — a scholarship requirement — had set up for me, included breakfast and dinner, but I hated the food the family liked, and I hadn’t cooked in my life myself. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how dishwashers worked. I probably sprained my ankle or worse taking twenty-minute walks to the Bounds Green tube station wearing a pair of flimsy golden flats I’d bought in Valencia when I went to my cousin’s wedding in 2006.

I fell in love with the city. I fell in love with the weather, the architecture, the language, the parks. I fell in love with the tube and I fell in love with long walks going nowhere. I fell a little bit more in love with books.

And then I came home, on the 28th of September because I’d booked my trip for the last possible date that wouldn’t overlap with the beginning of university so I could catch a Millais exhibit at the Tate Britain. I got to see my favorite painting of all time in person, so I don’t regret it, even though the day I went to the exhibit, there was an evacuation at the museum for reasons I forget.

My point is, I went home to Ciudad Real, had two days to regroup, and repacked for Madrid. To live in a dorm. My father came with me, carried my suitcase. My relationship with him was already fairly strained, so it wasn’t the nicest trip of all time. It wasn’t awful, either. He’s always come through when I really needed it. He certainly saved my ass a year later when I missed my flight back from Heathrow.

So I went to Madrid, I found my dorm — the only one I’d been able to get a place in as I’d assumed people would start looking after they got their Selectividad grades, not before. It wasn’t a bad dorm. It was on a nice street. Busy, rainy. Wide road. It was a co-ed dorm, and the first thing I heard when I came down to the lobby after my father had left was a chant they’d made up to haze first-time students.

That wasn’t a very auspicious start, but I’m not going to blame my dropout on hazing. I think it’s bullshit, and I know a lot of first-years take it on like a badge of pride and there’s some sort of Stockholm Syndrome thing going on there that’s very concerning. But it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t aggressive, anyway. I was able to do my thing and be left alone. Eventually, I actually said: you know what, I’ve got tachycardia issues — I didn’t know it was mental health yet — and I can’t handle this. I can’t participate in this.

And they did respect my wishes. It did feel a bit like I’d be ostracized, or maybe I was told that. It didn’t feel like it made that much of a difference with my social anxiety generally keeping me from making friends anyway.

I met a girl in my first ever Philosophy class. Her name was Nuria and she was doing Philosophy at the same time as her last year of Art History. We talked and I bumped into a wall because of social anxiety and she had a car and she drove me to the tube station at one point. She had tennis courts somewhere. She said I should go up to her house to play. I’ve always wanted to play tennis.

I didn’t make it to a whole lot of classes, after that. I saw her again, a few times, but she’d got a proper group of friends who were actually around and I was awkward and I wasn’t making it to class all that often. I didn’t want to spend so long on the tube and then walking all the way from the Ciudad Universitaria station to the Philosophy building. I didn’t want to get up.

I was living in a dorm with severe social anxiety and without a laptop. My entire support system up till then — and even now — was people I could only communicate with via my laptop. I spent some time in the computer room upstairs. It was really uncomfortable. I could have found a Starbucks, maybe. I wasn’t as familiar with them in Madrid. My coffeehouse renaissance didn’t happen until Oxford in 2008. I borrowed my roommate’s laptop, sometimes. I couldn’t afford my own. I felt like that was holding me back from being able to do… god, everything. Research, write, write for fun, do uni work, stay sane.

I’d taken my father’s portable DVD player with me and my Gilmore Girls DVDs and I watched a lot of that. I watched Imagine Me and You and A Cinderella Story. I bought another Gilmore Girls boxset with my small allowance from my parents — 200€ a month. I don’t know how they were making enough money back then to give me that, survive themselves, and pay for my dorm until my scholarship came through in fucking December. My dorm mates were pooling together 600€ at a time to spend on booze to pour over first years during parties.

I didn’t understand that at all.

Most of all, though, I really fucked up my eating. The dining hall had long tables and I felt like I had to ask to sit with any group, and I was so anxious about it that I only went if I caught my roommate on the way down with her friends. I walked to Burger King in Callao and ate fast food. I was weak, and at one point, I got up, I got in the shower, and I fainted.

The bruise spanned my entire thigh and changed from yellow to blue to red to purple over the course of two or three weeks until it finally went away.

I don’t know if I’d had trich before, but the first incident of it I clearly remember is writing on my Moleskine journal on my birthday, completely depressed — not in the mental health way, I didn’t think at the time, just hopelessly sad — and pulling out the hairs on my eyebrows and letting them pile up on the slope on the inside of the notebook pages.

When December rolled around, when holidays arrived, I went home for good. I packed and I ate at the same Burger King in Callao while it was raining outside and I went home. I bought myself a MacBook and an iPod for Christmas. I wasn’t going back. I was going to try going by train, commuting from Ciudad Real every day. People did that; Renfe offered monthly passes for about 200-300€ per month for people who commuted to Madrid for work every day.

I think I managed to do that twice, in February.

In May, I bought a Canon camera. It’s the same one I still have. In between the laptop and the DSLR, I got some clothes, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. I don’t know why I was pretending I might stick out the year. I intended to sit my exams in June, just to keep my scholarship, and I didn’t because I could do it in September and have it amount to the same thing.

I went to my faculty for the last time on September 6, 2008, with my Canon camera, after spending three weeks in Oxford and coming back with 4GB worth of pictures — and I wasn’t shooting RAW at the time. I took a lot of pictures of my way there. It was rainy on the train there, and sunny as I walked to sit my exams.

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I signed up for the first two years of English Philology at my hometown’s university. I didn’t want to lose any time. I’d already lost a year. I dropped out eventually in the middle of a vicious circle of not being able to motivate myself to do any work because I didn’t know if my parents would be able to afford tuition for the first year, which I couldn’t get out of the government again since they’d already paid for my first year at Complutense.

My father was really proud of me for getting into Complutense, and hated my hometown’s university. My mom never liked that I’d switched from Math and sciences to Humanities for Bachillerato after having to put up with an awful Math teacher my fourth year of ESO (obligatory secondary education). I hated my hometown’s university, too, and I didn’t want to study English under professors who had worse accents than I did. I was a snob, getting less snobbish by the minute, but I still wasn’t happy. But I hadn’t been proud of going to Complutense, either, because all my chosen degree required was a passing grade from high school and Selectividad. I’d got my average back up to 8/10 after a truly disastrous fourth year of high school (ESO is four years, ages 11-12 to 15-16, and then Bachillerato is two years) that took my A+ student status to nearly having to resit the year for so many absences. This is a story for another time.

I don’t remember dropping out officially. I just remember no one ever saying I should see a doctor, no one considering the possibility that my constant tachycardia wasn’t just a freak physical pattern, no one suggesting medication, no one calling my trich trich until a fanfic exchange chat two years later. I didn’t make peace with having dropped out of the path I’d been so set on having for myself — high school, university, grad school, work; I couldn’t hold on to friends, but I performed really well academically, I loved exams, and that was supposed to be enough.

No one suggested taking a gap year. I don’t know if that was a possibility. No one suggested counselling, or talking to the university about support for people with disabilities because I didn’t even know the anxiety and depression I felt were mental health conditions, let alone that they were classed as disabilities. I didn’t know they were classed as disabilities until last year when someone said I might have luck applying for disability benefits, if my anxiety and depression were getting in the way of my life — which they were.

They have been. For years. Since that fourth year of high school, probably. Since the year I dropped out of college, probably. But I didn’t put a name to them until years later, and I didn’t get treatment until years later, and I didn’t know there was any support or resources available to me to help me continue my education despite having a mental health condition. Until now, I hadn’t even thought of that period of my life as a period where I had depression.

Looking back, I don’t know what else it could have been.


Fashion: House of Fraser SS15 Press Preview 24

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Last Friday, I had the chance to attend my first press event for a fashion (and then some!) company. I was invited to the House of Fraser Spring/Summer 2015 preview day, and it was a completely different experience from the first time I attended a blogger event! It may have been because I got there as the day was winding down — I tried, really, but at the same time, I’m really happy with the nighttime shots I got — or because I went in thinking about gathering content for this feature rather than intending to mingle, but it was a really enjoyable evening. I maybe fell in love with fashion all over again.

As most of you know, I’ve been on an incredibly tight budget for the better part of my life, and the last time I went shopping was maybe January, and just because I needed a long-sleeve t-shirt and a hoodie very, very badly. I wear that long-sleeve tee about twice a week on average, and my sister kept the hoodie back home. Since then, I’ve been so focused on making ends meet — staying housed and fed — that I felt like a fish out of water walking around the racks at #bloggersfestival, wondering if I was expected to shop — spend money? What money? — or network — social anxiety! — or something else.

Two months later, I have an inkling I was supposed to get photos of the products and show them off here and on social media. At the time, from a photography standpoint, I approached it more as “meet-up with brands in the background” than “press preview.” Thankfully, the House of Fraser SS15 press preview day was straight-out a press preview, and I didn’t have this problem.

I bumped into Georgie from Away With The Fairies when I walked in, whom I’d met at #bloggersfestival in September, and I was fed and watered by the waiters who were still milling around with trays of treats (I’m annoyed at myself for not picking up a macaron though!), and that was all the socializing I did, which suited me just fine as I walked around the room getting shots of the racks, shelves and products on display.

And there were so many beautiful things. There were things for a multitude of tastes — things I would never have worn in a million years, really flashy patterns, a lot of silky fabric that I can’t stand — but also things that I plain old sighed over, and things that made me long for a chance to wear them. This was me discovering House of Fraser for the first time, and there were two things that really stood out for me: Therapy, one of their house brands, which had the loveliest sundresses I wanted to live in for the rest of my life; and the long, beautiful, feminine dresses from JS Collection, which were — you guessed it — the ones that made me wish I had places to wear them to.

So, without further ado, here are the things I loved from the Spring/Summer 2015 Press Preview at House of Fraser.

Read More →


Wishlist: Fixing A Hole (In My Wardrobe) 4

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Snow Scene T-Shirt (Ted Baker via John Lewis)  •  Elementz Cross Body Bag (Brantano)  •  Bouclé Military Coat (Guess via Nordstrom)  •  Quilted Black Coat (Joules)  •  Turtleneck Poncho Sweater (Michael Kors via Nordstrom)  •  Flat Knee-High Boots (Macy’s)  •  Mint Velvet Striped T-Shirt (John Lewis)  •  Peacock Teal Joy Tee (White Stuff via John Lewis)  •  Tan High Leg Boots (Quiz)

I finally got my coat parcel (from my mom), yay! I’m trying to wrangle a vlog showing you everything I made my mom send me from my closet back home, so I thought for this week’s wishlist, I’d focus on things I… still don’t have, and which would help me make the most of the pieces I do have. I didn’t get any flat boots in this shipment, so I still need those; I’m still most comfortable in hoodies and could use another one to add to the rotation; and while I did get a bunch of sweaters, I need long-sleeve tees to wear underneath or I’m uncomfortable as all get-out. I also still only have the one blue bag… which doesn’t go very well with my black leather jacket or my charcoal gray duffel coat. I’ve also noticed most of my t-shirts have massive cleavage, or didn’t but are so well-worn that they do now, so I added that gorgeous snow scene tee.

And then I just indulged my love for tight feminine coats a bit. Because of course.

How about you? What’s missing from your wardrobe right now?

Disclosure: This post contains a mix of affiliate, ppc and sponsored links.


Weekly Wishes: November 17, 2014 5

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I’ve had a very weird weekend. I could have been on the edge of a panic attack, but my meds — my lorazepam — pulled me back so thoroughly that I was actually productive, and optimistic, and just not thinking about my stressors at all. Then I came across Ashten’s current gratitude journal project, and realized I was at a stage with my mental health where it made sense to me to try to focus on the good — it’s a great 52 Week project because I’m starting off from such a terrible place and hoping to get to a significantly better one, and I was already journaling every day because of NaNoWriMo, so I’ve started listing things that made me happy every day along with that.

Last night, I even decided to use my Minted gift card on a planner and a couple of notebooks — only to be thwarted when it turned out the code wouldn’t apply to shipping. I’ve emailed them to try and sort it out; if anyone wants to help me out, I’ll buy you something with my gift card if you cover my shipping. (It’s $9.95 shipping. Really, it’s just. I’m that broke. Why is that whenever I get to buy myself a treat, something about shipping ends up messing it up?)

Long-running goals update

 

  • My blog redesign is progressing — the control freak in me is freaking a bit, but I’m so excited to see the mockup I did actually come to life, which I could never have developed on my own. Probably. Definitely not. Maybe someday.
     
  • My Americommerce shop is on its rightful subdomain now, which means I need to populate it so I can launch. To that end, I’ve created a bunch of subfolders in my edited pictures folder matching the organization system I used for the shop categories. Now I need to move stuff into them, edit, upload, write the copy. You know, everything except creating folders to put images in.
     
  • Weekly Wishes [Link-up]

     

  • Like I said above, I’ve picked my 52 Week project, and that project is keeping a gratitude/things-that-make-me-happy journal and blogging or vlogging about it every week. I may vlog more stuff — I’m definitely vlogging a pseudo haul this week, you’ll see, and I keep toying with the idea of filming myself singing a cappella and uploading that to youtube every week (or even every day if it proves easy) until someone takes pity on me and sends me a guitar. Which is extremely unlikely to ever happen, so I’ll probably fizzle out before I reach my goal, but it would be fun, wouldn’t it? I think it would be fun. I have no shame.
     
  • I’ve got a ridiculous amount of writing to do, for this blog and for other things, and I’m hoping I can put a day aside and just write all day long.
     
  • I’ve also got an art exhibit to go to tomorrow evening, and I may be doing my first boutique feature! Yay! So I’m actually going to central London twice this week. Amazing. Should probably get started editing the photos from last Friday’s House of Fraser Press Preview before any more accumulate. That’s next on my schedule after I finish this post. Couldn’t neglect my blog any longer; it helps pay the bills, after all.
     
  • I’ve found a little trick to get up slightly earlier than usual, and that trick is not checking my phone until I’m out of the shower. I’m usually pleasantly surprised. The other trick is actually putting my phone down after reading something instead of spend two hours playing Facebook games on it. It’s soooooo hard, though, you guys. So hard. But I’m trying. I’ll keep you posted. I’ve been doing really well at cultivating some other good habits, specifically using both the face wash and serum I got from Facacia and stretching properly while I dry my hair. I’m also eating less chocolate, astonishingly. My face is still a disaster but I’m holding up all right. Eating proper meals, watching gymnastics while I eat. Good stuff.
     
  • My big goal for the week is the list-making kind: I want to see if I can schedule my days the day before and actually get through each day’s to-do list. I’ve kind of decided to start taking lorazepam as a daily treatment and if it allows me to focus enough on what I have to do to do it — then it’s worth it, you know? I’ve been giving myself deadlines and I want to stick to them. In short, I’m trying to get organized, and for the first time in ages I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
     
  • So that’s what I’m hoping to focus on this week. What are you doing this week?


    24 Things I Did When I Was 24 39

    24 Things When I Was 24

    Because if you can’t reflect on what you’ve accomplished on your birthday, when can you?

    1. Started a design business — or started freelancing as a designer, whichever. I filled up my Etsy shop in the wee hours of November 8, 2013, and hopefully I’ll have redesigned all the graphics by the end of the weekend. I’m also raising my prices tomorrow, so if you’ve been thinking about hiring me, today would be an excellent time!

    2. Discovered print design via media kits, and realized if I could only ever do print design with the occasional logo and larger project thrown in, I would be a happy designer.

    3. Designed a magazine cover with my face on it. This was last week, but it counts.

    district-cover

    4. Modeled professionally — i.e. for money — for the first time in my life.

    5. Was on a boat also for the first time in my life. For a shoot. Wore a wedding dress for the first time in my life, also for a shoot. Modeling is kind of awesome, but can be terribly exhausting, too.

    self-portrait-boat-1590

    6. Attended my first ever blogger event. It was interesting. My social anxiety reached highs (lows?) I’d forgotten it could reach, but I’m glad I went.

    7. Met my best friend in person again for the first time since 2008.

    8. Photographed a fashion shoot with a full creative team for the first time in my life. It was one of those experiences where you learn a few things the hard way — both about yourself and about other people, the creative industry, the importance of agreements and so on. I haven’t shared this shoot on the blog yet, but I will sometime this month. I’m proud of those photos, and I enjoyed working with the creatives on that team.

    9. Photographed products for money for the first time! That’s another shoot I’m dying to share with you guys. Not only did I photograph them, but I also modeled them. Self-portraiture commercial photography is so much fun when you’ve got a little bit of help.

    10. Photographed real-life people who were actually there to be photographed. Not for money, yet, but hopefully sometime soon. I’ve posted two bits of shoots so far: Christine Cherry and Leigh Travers. But there’s a fair bit more.

    Beauty Photography by Lix Hewett London Portrait Photographer

    Another beauty shoot I need to post: Paulina Maria (model) styled by herself and made-up by Bethany Owen, who styled and MUA’d and organized the boat shoot above.

    11. Volunteered to photograph a Pride event. Need to share those photos on the blog, too, probably. This list may be a list of posts to come, ha.

    12. Got used to getting out of the house and walking at least ten minutes every day again for the first time since I dropped out of college (again) in 2009.

    13. Went off antidepressants. It was horrible. I needed a change, and I stabilized eventually, but I had some of the worst days I’ve ever had. I was suicidal and crying and couldn’t do anything.

    14. Had a lot of breakdowns over money. Had some of the truly worst days of my life. Survived them all.

    printrbook - lix hewett

    And made a book to remember it.

    15. Started making money regularly, if only because I needed it to stay housed and fed. Didn’t always make it on time, but things worked out somehow. In this new year of my life, I would like to take the “somehow” out of the equation.

    16. Flathunted for the first time in my life. It was horrible. It did a number on my mental health. It really was my least favorite thing I did this year. The thought of having to do it again sometime makes me understand why people pay exorbitant agency fees. Then again, I’d probably have had less trouble flathunting if I’d had that kind of cash. Things worked out, anyway. Somehow. Stroke of luck. I don’t want anyone to think there’s a trick or a way to make it through flathunting in London on a tiny budget unscathed. There isn’t, unless you have a stroke of luck.

    17. Lived in Ciudad Real, Spain, with my parents and sister and cat; lived in Belsize Park with my best friend for a very short time; lived in Leicestershire with a friend I met through this blog for another short time; lived in Ladbroke Grove with two cats and a puppy (and a landlady); lived in Streatham with a kitten (and no one else); lived in Crouch End with a flatmate whose father was the owner of the flat; lived in Hampstead Heath with a host family (and another lodger); lived — live — in Belsize Park in a rented room in the landlady’s flat, with said landlady and two cats and another lodger (and as of today, one besides).

    There was a lot of moving. A lot of temporary solutions and things that didn’t work out. I have a year-long lease now, and I’m hoping it will last the year, at minimum. See #16.

    There were also quite a few cats.

    streatham-elliot-face

    This is the one I was tasked with keeping alive for a week.

    18. Wrote for money for the first time in my life. Truly never thought I’d be able to make money off my writing, so it’s been an interesting turn. I need to be more consistent about it, because I truly suck at that bit, but there’s potential for regular income and that’s really important to me.

    I also designed an infographic.

    19. Had a crush on a real live person for the first time in ages. I forgot about it until a few weeks ago, and then I was like, wait, no, it wasn’t that long ago that I last had a proper crush. I was still on antidepressants, so it was a bit different from crushes past, but it was definitely a crush. It’s just good to know I haven’t lost my ability to be attracted to real-life people, you know? Years of basically being a hermit can make you wonder.

    20. Was on my own for my birthday for — the second time, actually. First was in college, the first time, when I was in a dorm. Similar bad place, similar journaling bits, only now I depend on myself, and I mostly make it work. But I haven’t cried in a really bad way yet, and that’s kind of amazing.

    21. Skipped the Spanish summer, and could not be happier about that. Finally. (Sorry I missed my sister’s birthday, but you know. I wasn’t in the country.)

    Not that summer skipped London, but it wasn't awful nearly as frequently.

    Not that summer skipped London, but it wasn’t awful nearly as frequently.

    22. Designed a mockup of my ideal blog, and delegated the coding to a friend. This was also last week, and it also still counts. I’m straightening out my branding and I’m very, very happy with the way it’s turning out.

    23. Invested in a few things — was able to invest in a few things — starting with a tripod and a tablet, and ending with a flight to another country for the purpose of a trip to see my best friend or maybe staying, if I could make it work for me.

    24. Made it work for me, and stayed in London. Six months last week. When 2013 started, I’d made that the year I got out, and it never happened — but it happened four months into 2014. Despite all the stress, all the worrying, all the breakdowns, all the times I’ve missed my cat and my guitar and my mom, not necessarily in that order; despite how hard it’s been, I’m so, so, so proud of myself for taking the plunge and getting that flight ticket.

    I try to keep that in mind, because it was a true display of bravery that I didn’t think I was capable of. I really thought it would never happen, not on my own. But I’m here, and I’m finding my footing, and all through the pessimistic bits, all the hopelessness, this is where I want to be. This was my dream move, and I made it happen.

    So, those are some things I did when I was 24. I still need to go through my 25 Before 25 list and see how hard I failed at it, but I did make progress on some of it. And then I’ll see about putting together a 26 Before 26 — or maybe not until I’ve accomplished at least 50% of the 25 list. That seems doable, yeah? I think it does.

    Back to work now — that’s what I’m doing for my birthday, trying to use the motivation of a new beginning to get on track. I blogged about this on Tuesday, and my birthday wishlist is still open if anyone wants to buy me anything. Like I keep saying: book me for a shoot and I’ll buy that 50mm lens and use it on you. Do it for my birthday. Or for yourself. I do take excellent pictures, and I do excellent design things with them.


    Birthday: A Wishlist (Or Wishlist: A Birthday? The Musical!) 6

    birthday-wishlist

    • Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II Lens — currently half price for £67.49
    • Canon Remote Control RC-06 — £14.65
    • A new Canon700D for video, 70D might be a decent upgrade, and my ideal, excuse me while I cry at the price, not that I can afford any of the others: the 5D Mark III.
    • Classic Duffle Coat (J. Crew) — but really I just want my coat back, the one I splurged on last year, which is a cross between this Michael Kors one and this Burberry one, only Mango and a lot less pricy. And charcoal gray. And I miss it. I need to get that shipment sorted out already, before I freeze.
    • Steve Madden Cap-Toe Boots, though I’m really flexible here — I just could use a pair of flat black boots. I included two in my Dream Capsule Wardrobe last week, and this pair looks super cool as well, and these Guess ones! Yes. Anyway, the thing is that I have a pair of beige sneakers that I wear all the time lately, and then I have my awesome black boots, but those heels are… kind of scary lately. Because I actually walk. And I live on a third floor without a lift. I haven’t been as out of breath getting back home to my door as I used to be, though! Yay! Maybe I’ll pull out the high-heeled boots next time I only plan to go down to the Starbucks down the street. It’s a pretty clean, no-obstacles, no-cracked-surfaces walk. But I still want a flat pair. Or a pair of dark sneakers.

    I’ve also been wanting a touchscreen pen for two reasons: more precise fingerpainting, er, freehand calligraphy; and being able to use my phone to take photos when I’m wearing gloves. This one looks nice, and so does this one.

    There are some other things I want, mostly tidbits for my room — a laundry hamper, bed linens and towels of my own, an armchair, a fleece throw. But I think those belong on a different wishlist. This one is what really matters to me right now and can’t quite buy. Though I wouldn’t not say thank you if someone were to send me a Starbucks gift card. Money saved on Starbucks = money for my 50mm lens (I’ve got a £30 Amazon gift card, so I’m not that far off!), and/or for the parcel with my coat in it (which I can potentially get by just paying the VAT on it). Of course that’s assuming I don’t have to spend all those spare pennies on rent, which is kind of optimistic.

    But we’re trying. And I really want that fucking lens. Sadly, buying it is not yet a choice I can make. But hopefully soon. I’m still, clearly, obviously, prioritizing getting on top of and then ahead of rent, but the 50mm feels essential to my photography career, so… there it is. Front and center left but big on my wishlist.

    And that’s what I want for my birthday, or would want for my birthday if I thought it was realistic to expect gifts at this point. Thank you for reading!

    Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links and PPC Shopsense links.


    Welcome to November: Goals & Musings 43

    Welcome to November - Photography & Design by Lix Hewett

    First things first, I have — or rather, Rafflecopter has — drawn a winner for my media kit giveaway, and the lucky lady is Crystal from The Happy Type! As a longtime reader of her blog, I could not be more excited to work with her.

    I recapped October on Sunday, and you’re welcome to have a read of how that went. It wasn’t great, but it didn’t end too badly. Now, this November thing. November means:

  • It’s my birthday. This Saturday, actually. Expect a birthday wishlist on Wednesday and probably a Twitter meltdown on Saturday, let’s be real, I suck at keeping it together on my birthday. I have zero plans at the moment and don’t foresee making any, which I have mixed feelings about. I haven’t celebrated my birthday in years but I feel like I should do something special. I’m going to be leaving my early twenties behind, after all. That’s kind of… horrifying, a little bit. Not really. I don’t even know if I’m capable of bastardizing Taylor Swift’s 22 for twenty-five. Twenty-five. Holy shit. Moving on…
     
  • It’s been six months since I moved country. I already blogged about this, but the thought keeps popping into my head at random intervals. Shouldn’t I have it together by now? Obviously that’s a really toxic thing to think, and I’m constantly torn between wanting to do better really badly, and freaking out that if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s never going to. But I’m also trying to think about what works and what doesn’t in terms of self-care, because I’ve had six months to pick up and drop habits, good and bad, and flying by the seat of my pants is clearly not an approach that works, so I need to take a good look at myself and my choices and make better ones in the aspects of my life that I have control over. Because I do have some control over some aspects of my life, like what I eat and what I do with my time and whether I consume enough entertainment to keep myself from combusting in a cloud of work-related overwhelm.
     
    One thing I’ve noticed recently is I spent so many years avoiding music because it was hard for me to focus on fiction writing with it playing that I forgot to bring my iPod to London with me, and I haven’t necessarily missed it — I would have had to bring my speakers along as well — but I’ve missed music. I interact with it differently now that the bulk of my work doesn’t involve words, and the work that does involve words doesn’t rely on cadence and pacing — not the way fiction does, anyway. iTunes is right there, and when I do listen to music, it lifts me up. There are very few things that have that effect on me, and none that have it so quickly and unobtrusively, so I need to use that knowledge. Gymnastics is also good for me, and it’s something that I can easily watch while I eat. It’s not quite the TV show I wanted to pick up — just one! I can’t choose! — but it’s a start.
     
  • It’s NaNoWriMo. It’s also NaBloPoMo, which I’m actually doing, or attempting to — this post was supposed to go up yesterday. But there’s something incredibly comforting and motivating about a whole lot of people doing the exact same thing at the same time, and I’ve actually been writing on a notebook every day since November 1. I don’t know if it’s really helping yet, but it’s got potential. It’s helped before. It’s all about taking a moment — ten, twenty minutes — before I dive into the Internet to assess my situation and talk out my concerns and keep track of, like I said above, what’s working and what isn’t.
     
    I’ve also found myself, since I started journaling, thinking about blog posts as stories — or thinking of stories as potential blog posts. All these little tidbits of my life I didn’t know how to talk about, how to share, are taking shape in my head, and it’s weird because this kind of thing usually happens when I see somebody else do what I want to do and do it well, but it’s happening spontaneously.
     
  • It’s getting dark really early, and I need daylight to stay sane. Apparently. Or something. What’s tripping me up, besides the fact that I’m still dragging a 5 AM to 5 PM sleep schedule and I generally wake up with my anxiety beating down on my motivation, is I’ve got used to and found comfort in going to Starbucks right after I get up — at 5 PM — and staying there till closing, while it’s dark outside, and I could potentially still do this — work at home and come to Starbucks in the evening — but in order to do that, I need to be able to turn the heating on in the morning, and there’s a minor issue there that requires me to talk to my landlady and like, assert myself and I suck at this so much that I’m very much considering spending daylight time at Starbucks and going back home around 6 PM when she’s back and turns the heating on. But I shouldn’t be spending so much time (read: money) at Starbucks anyway. Dilemma!
     
  • So that’s where I’m at as November begins. I think my main goal for the week is to work on time management. Again. Two weeks ago I didn’t have any way to make money, and right now I’ve got a few ways but I keep getting bogged down in thinking that I have so much to do and not enough time to do it, which is a lie because I really waste a ton of it. Focusing is hard, but it’s not impossible, and for the first time in a while I feel mildly capable of blocking time and taking breaks and just being tidier about it all. Music and NaNoWriMo are here to help me along! So I’m going to try.

    Linking up with Weekly Wishes as always! Here’s to a great birthday month. I especially can’t wait for my blog redesign to come together! It’s out of my hands at the moment, though, so I get to focus on work — writing, design — and my photography backlog. So many pictures to edit and share!

    What are your plans for November?


    Diaries: The October Wrap 3

    In My Life

     
    I started October off sick, and the entire month was an uphill battle. I made it, and last week was so, so, so much better than the three before, but I’m not out of the woods yet… and I haven’t listened to Taylor Swift’s 1989 yet, either. Coincidence? Actually, I think not. Which says things about me that I don’t want to get into. It’s just that I got the lease on this flat the day after Shake It Off came out and I’ve been an irrational mess over this album ever since. With the occasional break to just be excited for new Taylor Swift music.

    So, October. I can’t remember much of what I did, to be truthful, which is one of the reasons I’ve decided to use the peer pressure of NaNoWriMo to motivate myself to journal every day, and list the stuff I did. Maybe what I ate, too, because I spend way too much money on chocolate and it makes me sad. I used to have a modicum of self-control, and fewer acne breakouts. I also know I’ll feel it if I don’t start eating more fruit soon. I coast on broccoli for greens, and that’s probably not enough. Plus, I like fruit. I’m just… lazy about peeling it…

    Anyway, journaling before I do anything else is great — it grounds me a bit and that’s really helpful for starting the day off on the right foot. I’ve also picked up two Instagram daily challenges because another thing I completely disregarded in October was taking pictures of shit. Sure, my backlog’s got smaller, but it should get smaller because I’m editing things, not because I’m not picking up my camera. Besides, in the span of time I just spent editing a picture to go with this post, I realized a) I hadn’t taken any since October 5, when I was sick; and b) I love photography. Like, I enjoy it with a passion I only get occasional glimpses of in design or blogging when I either make unexpected money or a project I’m working on is just my style, like the media kit I designed this weekend. And even then, it’s just not the same.

    Work-wise, I wrote a couple of articles and designed an infographic, which wasn’t completely new to me because I’ve done similar things for media kits, but it was my first actual infographic. I’ve got a lead on another writing gig, so fingers crossed I can get that going, and start writing properly weekly for Photodoto (that one’s on me).

    I edited a whole modeled product shoot for Pixiebell and added a product photography listing to my Etsy shop. I designed two media kits (and a cover on Friday night, but didn’t finish the draft till Saturday), a set of ad banners, a product tag, a set of labels; started on another set, fixed up three logos, and started redesigning the design shop.

    I made a mockup of my blog redesign as well; it’s currently under development by the same person who moved me to www.lixhewett.com. I trust me, but I trust other people more. I also trust other people’s wifi more than mine, to be honest.

    At some point I received the shop I won with AmeriCommerce, and I learned my way around the dashboard, more or less, but I haven’t done a lot of work on it because I don’t feel in control. Last week I decided to submit a ‘go live’ ticket so they’d move it to my subdomain before I started uploading my products; I was told it was a 3-5 day waitlist for this, not weeks like I usually get between asking for something to be changed in my design and getting a response (if at all), but… I’m still waiting. And I feel bad for talking about this openly because I won a giveaway, I’m not paying for this, I’m obviously not their top priority, and actually the last time any of the people originally assigned to me replied to my questions was when I tweeted about how freaked out I was that they weren’t being communicative.

    But all I want is my move. I don’t even want the menus fixed — Leila (my developer friend) is helping me out with that, too. Just give me this one thing and I’ll leave you alone, and possibly renew my subscription to your software next year with actual money! Is it that much to ask when the bulk of their work’s already been done? The thing is, if I have to put together a quick design portfolio and a photography portfolio, I’ll do it. I know WordPress better anyway. I can eventually develop a WooCommerce shop for myself, and divide my services between personal invoices and contracts, and Etsy. But so much work and time went into the AmeriCommerce shop that it would be criminal not to use it.

    Regardless, I need a portfolio, and I need it yesterday, so I’m giving them three days and then I’m just moving on. I told myself I’d have this stuff up on my birthday, and that’s next Saturday, so there’s really no time to lose here.

    (The bright side to my experience with AmeriCommerce is that I’ve become a lot more responsible as a designer myself. Now I know what it’s like to wait without knowing when something’s going to get done, and wow, I do not want my clients to feel that kind of uncertainty. And I understand the impatience better than before.)

    Ultimately, October was odd because I was off — I had a number of meltdowns over money and there were a lot of days where it took all of my energy to hold myself together. I don’t think I got to central London, or in fact anywhere outside a 20-minute walking-distance ratio of my flat, all month. I didn’t shoot and I didn’t model. I had some leads, but my sleep schedule was — is — shot and like I said, I was so depressed I couldn’t see myself actually following through on any plans that involved other people. And I sure as hell couldn’t afford transport — there was a weekend I could barely eat.

    But I also edged closer to stability, in ways I didn’t expect — one weekend I was so stressed out, my anxiety seemed to act as its own antidepressant, and I went through the motions for that entire weekend and managed to make Monday’s rent and make it to Tuesday, when things got a little better. I read not one but two fiction books, and I spent a little bit more time in Safari, where I’m logged into my fandom spaces and my personal twitter. I didn’t watch anything, despite thinking about it, but I made myself grilled cheese, twice, and I engaged with people about the yuletide fanfic exchange, even if I didn’t end up signing up for it. I’m still participating, in my own way — even if my own way ends up being popping into the community posts and the IRC chat every now and again.

    Anyway, October sure was a Month, but it ended on a high note, so I’m hoping November picks that up and runs with it.

    ON THE BLOG

     
    DESIGN

    PHOTOGRAPHY

    LONDON

    STYLE

    MISCELLANEOUS

    PERSONAL

    In Conclusion

     
    See you tomorrow to set some goals for November, and remember I’m still offering sponsor spots on a pay-what-you-can basis! PS: Next Saturday is my birthday. ;)


    Wishlist: Dream Capsule Wardrobe for A/W with Avenue 32 20

    avenue32-capsule-wardrobe

    AVENUE32 CAPSULE WARDROBE: Leather Shoulder Bag | Grey Tee | Pale Blue Tee | Mustard Jumper
    Grey Cashmere Jumper | Ecru Cable Knit Jumper | Burgundy Raglan Jumper | Brown Raglan Jumper
    Leather Motorcycle Jacket | Distressed Jeans | Boyfriend Jeans | Black Skinny Jeans
    Red Cashmere Cardigan | Suede Wool Cardigan | Tan Nappa Shearling Coat | Grey Wool Blazer
    Black Leather Moto Boots | Black Over the Knee Boots | Black Backpack | Cognac Leather Belt

    In a nutshell, this wishlist is the fashion equivalent of my interior boards on Pinterest. It’s a realistic look at what my closet would look like if I had the money and willingness to splurge and make it the closet I really want. It’s what my closet would look like if I were a character in a movie, too, and let’s be real, even if I can’t put my finger on any specific ones, movies — rom coms — are definitely an influence here. But so is knowing myself — knowing how picky I am about jeans, and that I’ll never wear skirts or dresses in the winter because I can’t stand tights, and that I walk a lot and I’ve given up on heels. It’s knowing I favor neutrals that aren’t nudes but still want a bit of color, selectively, and I’m easily cold and need thick sweaters and cardigans to cozy up in at home. It’s knowing how much I love looking put together without looking fancy, because fancy makes me feel self-conscious about my face, and like I should be making an effort with makeup, and that’s how I end up not wearing things. It’s knowing I’ll reach for the leather jacket (black or otherwise; the one featured here from BLK DNM comes in several colors, including emerald) time and time again because it makes me feel a little bit like I’m cosplaying.

    It’s knowing I default to a few pieces and I’m okay mixing and matching because it’s what I’ve done all my life, and anyway, I like clothes to be a comfort — I like having favorites and wearing them because I already know I’ll feel good in them.

    Avenue 32 carries a selection of products that fit all these bills, and it was a lovely, wistful experience putting a closet together with them. Of course this board can be used as inspiration if you have a tighter budget, as well. I would also add a few basic long-sleeve t-shirts to the mix to wear under the jumpers, something like this or this, just in case the fabric bothers me, but I couldn’t find anything basic enough on Avenue 32 — though some of the tops they carry look amazing for summer. Just not squeezed under a jumper for comfort. ;) I’d also add a pair of tan brogues to go with the coat and belt — a pair like this.

    Have you given any thought to capsule wardrobes? What rules would/do you go by to build your own?

    This is a PR collaboration post.


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