I come bearing pictures! One of those fashion self-portraiture bits that I’m constantly trying to wrangle people into helping me with (one day, I will get a remote. One day. That day may well be soon). For this shoot, I collaborated with make-up artist Kiran Kaur, who did a lovely job of making me look good and complementing the earthy tones of the first two pieces — the green cowl and burnt orange hat — and then adding a little bit of pink to my look for the blue and purple hats. She also touched up my hair and assisted me with the photography.
This was my first shoot after moving from Hampstead Heath to Belsize Park — it was the day after I moved, actually, so I wasn’t really familiar with the area yet. We got ready at my now-regular Starbucks, shot on my street and another one nearby, and touched up my makeup between shots at the little table outside the Springhealth gym. I’ve still got another two pieces to shoot, and I’ll post some behind-the-scenes pics along with those when I’ve got them.
Meanwhile, I wanted to show you these. If you love the hats and cowls as much as I do, head on over to pixiebell.etsy.com! The quality and craftsmanship are amazing. I actually had my mom include my dragonslayer hat in my coat parcel because I missed it so much.
There’s one goal I had for November that I’ve managed to stick with consistently: journaling on a paper notebook. The day or two I’ve missed, I made up for a day or two later, and I chronicled those days on another (personal, private) online platform anyway.
Last week, I said I was starting a gratitude project of sorts, and attaching that to my journaling habit. I’ve yet to post about it, or make a vlog like I intended, but I’ve kept up the lists of things that made me happy. I’ve had the best week I’ve had in ages, and I don’t think it had anything to do with the gratitude thing; actually, I think good things happening made it easier for me to write down what had made me happy instead of wallow in despair. But it’s encouraging regardless, isn’t it? I thought I’d end up listing the same generic shit every day, and instead I’ve found myself coming up with specific moments, and specific reasons for including the usual suspects (my mom, my best friend, fandom, that sort of thing) on my lists.
The truth is the week was better on paper than it was inside my head, but I still had little happy moments, like dancing around my room on Saturday night tidying everything and twirling and stretching and then going back on my laptop to find a notification of a media kit sale. That made me really, really happy. And I got to see the Christmas lights along Piccadilly and Regent Street on Friday, which also made me happy. I got to pay rent the Thursday before it was due, which was a major relief, even if my brain quickly seized the opportunity to start stressing about something else instead.
My brain is my worst enemy. For the past two months I’ve been thinking I’d be okay when I was no longer drowning financially, and that’s sort of true now, true enough that I’m paralyzed by stress and overwhelm from my workload instead.
But I’m trying, I’m trying. I’m trying so hard and I’m starting to see results. I was just looking at last week’s goals and they were:
The 52 Week project I already talked about: I’ll do an intro post or vlog for it soon; I’ve got plenty of things to share from the lists that I have been making.
Writing: I didn’t put a day aside to write, but I finished two long articles on Saturday, and I blogged twice during the week, and that’s something. I just got busy quite suddenly. But I did edit the photos from the House of Fraser press preview and put that post together, and on Friday I shot a jewelry boutique for an upcoming feature.
Getting up earlier: I very, very slowly and gradually got up earlier than usual. I’ve started seeing daylight when I get out of the shower. I relapsed yesterday, but there were extenuating circumstances. I’m not going to be getting up at 6 AM any time soon, but if I can just make it out of bed by noon every day, that would help immensely with everything.
Making lists: List-making was limited to ‘things that made me happy today,’ for the most part, but I did add things to Wunderlist and I did meet a number of deadlines. Not all of them, which is partly why I was so stressed this weekend, but it’s progress, at least, getting things done regularly.
This week, I would like to:
Set more deadlines, and meet them. Set more ground rules, and stick by them. These are: no work after 10 PM, no deadlines on Saturday or Sunday, being allowed to take Sunday off. I don’t want to work myself into the ground and the truth is that I can keep up and even increase my productivity if I pay attention to my patterns and work with them instead of against them.
Make a dent in my design to-do list. Goes hand in hand with the above.
Actually set a day aside to write, even if it’s Sunday. This is heavily reliant on setting and meeting those deadlines above, because otherwise I’ll be thinking about design work I owe and unable to focus on just writing. And the thing is, I’m a lot more productive if I focus on one field of work per day.
Blog every day. I have the content, and I need my blog to keep growing, and it needs to happen so I’m making it a weekly wish. Hand in hand with this goes editing pictures more often. My backlog is still a mammoth of a backlog.
And a little bit of work, a little bit of relaxation: go through my bookmarks and single out links for link love posts. I love cleaning out my laptop so this should be a fun activity for me.
That should keep me well busy and, hopefully, motivated enough to accomplish it. Motivation and time management are my biggest weaknesses. Along with my brain which is my worst enemy, as stated above. But I need to get my head above water and getting organized is one of the most helpful ways I’ve found to do it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
A little while ago I had the pleasure of working with Lisa from This Beautiful Day on one of my favorite media kit designs to date. She provided gorgeous photos, pointed at magazine-style media kits for inspiration, and gave me free rein over her existing branding. I had a blast putting this together, and I’m excited to show you guys the full result.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!