everyday things that help my mental health

2020, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

Mental health is a topic that’s incredibly personal – what works for one person won’t necessarily work for anyone else, what some person doesn’t feel anxiety about can absolutely debilitate someone else and on top of all that there’s still that kind of taboo where people online (and offline, actually) will make comments about whether someone is actually depressed or not (regardless of how little they know about a person or situation).

And to be honest, my mental health isn’t great at the moment – the end of 2019 kicked my ass a little bit, 2020 is already proving challenging (a returned tooth infection and tonsillitis? Fantastic) but there are a few things that make me feel a bit calmer day to day and I thought I’d share because even if these don’t work for everyone, I love reading posts like this just in case I find a new idea or something to try.

  • properly taking my make-up off and washing my face at the end of the day

It’s not a face mask or anything but just cleaning my face and having that time in front of the mirror to look after my skin and feel just a little bit like I’m pampering myself, even when it’s just cleaning my face in the most basic way.

  • tidying and getting rid of clutter

Clutter and too much stuff makes me feel overwhelmed, hence why I got rid of like six bin bags of clothes in my last year at uni. Having a clear floor in the living room, making my bed with my nice Harry Potter pillows from Primark, maybe even emptying some bins around the house but we don’t want to push the boat out and get too productive.

I don’t know why but it just helps calm me down, maybe it’s like a claustrophobia thing like I just don’t feel so cramped in a space when it’s only got what we need and everything is in its place.

  • curling up under a blanket

Is there anything cosier when you’re feeling a bit sad and overwhelmed to tuck yourself into a little blanket burrito and watching YouTube or scrolling through Instagram or putting some cosy Netflix on.

Bonus recommendation that I can’t actually vouch for – I’ve heard that weighted blankets are meant to be really good for helping with anxiety. I looked at a website where they were only like £200 (note: sarcasm) so not going to be rushing to buy one soon, but I really want one.

However, I have tried and tested a slanket (a blanket with sleeves) – I’ve been telling my family I want one for probably the best part of 6 months to a year? My mum regifted me one that she got for Christmas and I love it.

  • ticking something off my to do list

When I’m not feeling it, being ‘productive’ isn’t something that I prioritise but getting just one thing done can feel really good. Whether it’s making a list in the first place of things you can actually, realistically do, maybe it’s adapting a list you already have to prioritise the things you can achieve on that day or maybe it’s looking at a list you have a just starting t the top because making a real decision is a bit much.

Even seeing just one tick on your list app, in a notebook, wherever, is better than a growing list of tasks.

And if your brain isn’t letting you get off the sofa, then taking that list and putting it in the bin (physically, digitally or metaphorically, whatever works!) counts.

  • take time to cook something great

Whether that comfort food is full of cheese and carbs, is full of vegetables or is covered in buttercream, taking time away from screens and ‘real life’ stresses to just cook is so therapeutic. I find this is a great time to spend with my partner – after long days we can catch up, we can listen to music and dance, it’s really nice quality time we spend together and I really hope that I can continue to prioritise it even after I go back to uni in a couple of weeks.

So that’s five things that immediately sprung to mind when I thought about this topic – obviously if you feel your low moods are severely impacting your life then please see a medical professional or talk to friends and family because it’s not something you have to go through alone.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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having a 5 year ‘plan’… ish

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

With the amount of goals, organisation and planning posts I’ve written on this little blog, I think it’s relatively clear that I’m one of these ‘productivity’ types (even if being organised is actually procrastinating being productive). One of my goals for 2019 was to start a five year plan and get some notes on paper on what I want to achieve over the next 5 years. As I moved into my new bullet journal this New Year, I’ve started my ‘new’ 5 year plan starting in 2020 and ending in 2024 (where I’ll turn ~28~ and that is scarily close to 30).

But calling it a 5 year ‘plan’ feels a little bit more formal than my plan really is – it’s a double page spread in my bullet journal (though it might actually make more sense to make it digitally if you do everything else online!) with a grid split into five columns and three rows for the five years of the plan and three categories I plan my life in.

So I thought today I’d write about how I make my 5 year plan, what I’m learning in my second year of having a 5 year plan and where I think I’ll learn more in the future.

I started by making a grid in my bullet journal – as I said, 5 years across the top and three categories down the side. Three seems to be my magic number and having three categories works for my New Years Goals and I thought it would be useful to have those three categories match up, so mine are Professional, Personal and Home.

They’re pretty self-explanatory – in ‘Professional’ I put my career goals, at this point I am having somewhat of a career crisis and I have no idea what I want to do so this section is a bit quiet at the moment. But as I do more research into what I actually want to do and actually develop a career I can make more solid career goals but this section is probably the simplest.

The next section is ‘Personal’ – this is where I will detail my travel plans, any ‘life’ stuff like when I want to shave my head again etc. I’m still kind of figuring out what I want to put in this category but it’s for things that aren’t career stuff, kind of hobby related, travel goals and stuff.

And then the last category is ‘Home’ – this is where I put my plans for my life with my boyfriend essentially. Where we’ll live, what we’re saving for (house deposit etc), when we’ll get a pet, maybe a wedding or a baby? It’s another one of those that’ll get more specific when I have more of an idea about what my career will look like over the next few years but the baseline and the ideas for what I want to achieve is already set!

And that’s my 5 year plan! It feels like I haven’t described enough but actually, all it takes to make a ‘5 year plan’ (or ideas, which is how I prefer to think about it) is to write down 5 years and write down what you’d like to achieve in that time.

Now going into my second year looking at my 5 year plan, I can see what was a ridiculous idea and what is actually more achievable. I’ve learnt that setting ‘blind goals’ (such as “I want to have made this career progression” when I’m not actually sure what career I want right now) is not going to help anything and filling up space for the sake of it might make it look like I have my life together but it’s just unachievable words. This year, having an emptier plan is something I’m finding reassuring rather than intimidating – it’s a prospect of endless possibilities and not a terrifying emptiness (well, most of the time anyway).

As I continue to fill in my 5 year plan this year and start again in next year’s bullet journal and so on, I can only see that I’ll get better at goal setting and making them S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, or something like that). It’ll be less ‘get married’ and ‘try for a baby’ and more ‘pay X amount of the mortgage’ and maybe ‘Child A starts school’ – the next 5 years are going to be some of the biggest of my life and that is exciting.

But even talking about 5 year plans sounds daunting – the thought of knowing exactly what I want from the next stage of my life is a lot! But seeing the scope of what I could achieve is really motivating and helps me focus on the steps I need to achieve to be able to get there. 

If you’re wanting to take yearly goals to another level and get some longer term ideas down on paper but don’t know where to start, just start by writing down the years. It’s a lot less daunting than you think when it actually comes to it! Hope that helps.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals + January Goals

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

really want to start this post with a joke about ‘I’ve not written a post since last decade’ because really I’m the closet King of Dad Jokes but instead I thought I’d just tell you about it. I think that might be worse.

Either way! If you’re a close followed of this blog, you’ll know that I love goal setting, organisation and planning. If you’re new, hello! Join the party – I love goal setting, organisation and planning. To the extent that I lull myself into this false sense of security thinking I’m getting stuff done but I’m actually just writing lots of to do lists and not doing very much.

This is something I actually got better at in 2019 – I really reevaluated how I was productive with my time and I’m still figuring out what works best for me. This time last year I thought I was embarking on this amazing freelance digital media career (which fell through pretty much immediately) and now I’m working towards a masters degree, I have my own place with my boyfriend, I had a job and now I’m looking for a new one, I’m spinning a lot of plates and somehow they’re just about not falling.

Having looked back on my 2019 goals (I was going to write a blog post but I think personal reflection was more appropriate), I’m actually really excited about my 2020 Goals because I was inspired by videos by Doctor Mike and Hannah Witton to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals that are actually going to be relevant to me over the whole year.

So let’s try and keep this succinct – please do let me know your thoughts on goal setting! Do you like setting goals as they become relevant? Are you a fan of New Years, Fresh Starts? Do you make SMART goals or more ‘bucket list’ style goals? I’d love to hear all about it.

My goals are split into two different types – I have three categories (Professional, Personal and Home) each with three goals as well as 9 stand-alone ‘bucket list’ style goals. Here goes!

Professional:

  • Finish my Masters in Digital Media Production at Oxford Brookes University
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October
  • Learn website design

I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters (and the end of 2019 really gave it a good shot!) but this first semester has been a massive learning curve and I want to really make the most of my time in Oxford so next semester is going to be a bit more level headed.

Finishing what will be my third degree (BA Hons Multimedia Journalism, PG Cert Professional Development Planning and MSc Digital Media Production, thank you) should lead to being able to get a job and starting my career journey! I’m a bit nervous about this one, because this is what I anticipated when I graduated from my undergrad and I’m still struggling with incredibly low self-esteem about my worth in the workplace, but by the end of October I want to be working full time, even if it’s not in the industry I want to stay in forever yet.

And I want to learn website design! 2020 is my fifth year of blogging and I still don’t know anything about code, hosting or designing a pretty blog and that’s a skill I think will really benefit me. So if you know of any good courses or online tutorials please do let me know!

Personal:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week

I made some amazing progress with saving in 2019 and I was so, so proud of myself but moving, starting a masters and a personal crisis of sorts led to me using most of those savings just to pay bills so once I’ve figured out my financial situation, I want to get back on the savings wagon because it’s so satisfying.

Film photography is something that’s intrigued me for a little while – just before Christmas my dad revealed he had a bunch of film cameras that he was willing to let me have and after spending £10 on one roll of film I’ve been studying the manual and experimenting with lenses as much as I can. It’ll take the film being developed for me to know if I’ve actually learnt anything but I’m really excited to take this little camera on adventures this year.

And eating veggie has been on my radar for a while – last year when I was doing really well with healthy eating I was ‘veggie till dinner’ and when my boyfriend and I moved out of my mum’s house and he started being away a lot with work, I tend to eat veggie when I’m on my own because it’s cheaper and I love vegetables. But I want to learn to cook more veggie meals and experiment with more ingredients this year.

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please)
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account

Pretty simple – I don’t want to move in 2020. It will be the first year since I moved to uni in 2015 that I haven’t put all my stuff in boxes and had to settle somewhere new. But obviously it depends on income, whether they want to put the rent up after the first year and if the location is still relevant to what we need.

Travelling is always a goal and last year I got way too excited and overambitious about where I thought I could go. For Christmas, my boyfriend has said he’ll take me on holiday and I’m thinking a beach holiday in the first week of October just to CHILL after my dissertation is handed in but I’m a little blown away by the whole thing so advice please.

Lastly, I know I said I want to make a plan for my personal savings account but I actually have three (personal, joint with the boyf and a help to buy ISA). I think this amount might be a tiny bit optimistic but smart goals have to be measurable – I currently have £10 in there so only £490 to go? But for real, I really want to start saving for a house this year and any amount is a good amount to start.

And onto…

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November NaNoWriMo)
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal (not confident enough to share this on the internet yet, soz lads)
  • Get another tattoo!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket

Also maybe figure out a blogging and YouTube schedule but tbh, I want to keep it chill this year so we’ll see how that goes.

And that’s what I’m aiming for this year! I was going to do my January Goals in a separate post but I figured most of it will stem directly from these goals so I’m going to tag them on the end here.

January Goals:

  1. Write 9000 Words for Writing Challenge (I’ll be real, I didn’t twig that I wanted to do a writing challenge this month until the 3rd when writing this so that was a nice realisation)
  2. Register at the doctors – I’ve been collecting my anti-depressants from my home doctors at my mum’s house since I moved nearly four months ago so I really need to get onto this
  3. Find carb-alternatives for lunch food – a sandwich is so easy and what worked for me last year was not eating carbs or meat until dinner and I want to find a way to make this less boring. I don’t really like salads that much, I love couscous and roast veg but I can’t heat it up at uni. Need to do some research!
  4. Launch new blog…
  5. Spending ban – except food, bills and my boyfriend’s birthday

And so I don’t forget my two monthly ‘bucket list’ goals…

  • Read 1 book
  • Have a date night!

Now that is a long ass, self-indulgent post about what I’m hoping to achieve this year! But I find reading and hearing other peoples goals is so inspirational so let me know all about your goals in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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feeling festive… or not?

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

December has rolled around! You scroll through Instagram to see trees galore, there’s pretty lights everywhere you look and I bet your feeds are choc-a-block with festivities… but do you actually feel festive?

Do you feel that cosy warmth of the twinkly lights and tinsel and dark evenings with warm drinks? Do you feel the excitement building for the one day of the year where you spend time with loved ones and you get to spoil them with special gifts you’ve chosen and amazing comfort food? Do you feel Christmassy?

However much I want to, I’m not really feeling it yet – it might be something to do with the tooth infection I’ve been diagnosed with and the potential six months on an NHS waiting list to get it removed (fingers crossed for me please!) but Christmas is the last thing on my mind.

I’ve been to my local light switch on, I’ve planned Secret Santa with my favourite gals at uni, I’ve got plans to see my boyfriends family and the tree is up (even if I haven’t bought any decorations for it yet).

The reason I’m not feeling Christmassy is probably more personal than ‘I’m just not feeling it’ – the aforementioned tooth pain, the fact this will be my first ever Christmas without seeing my family and financial worries are probably putting a negative influence on my desire to watch festive movies and wear that one Christmas jumper I have with bells on it.

But here’s how I’m trying to put a bit of festive fairy dust in my step (but not really because getting that out of the carpet would be a nightmare).

ONE – PUT THE DECORATIONS UP!

Like all mums, my mum have a spare six foot Christmas tree under her stairs so having that has really helped make my new house feel a bit more homely. I’m all for fake trees because having the same tree come out every year is so sentimental and lovely. I see the appeal of a real tree, but the upkeep and the hassle of having to go pick one isn’t for me – and I’m saving the environment lads! Hashtag Team Fake Tree over here. Don’t @ me.

Either way, I spent a couple of hours on Sunday trying to make myself feel a bit better after calling in sick again by putting up the tree (with no decorations because I only had enough for the little tree that’s gone in our room) and some tinsel on the bannister.

It’s quite exciting because this is where my boyfriend and I can start to build our little Christmas collection – our own decorations, our own bits and bobs that come out every year and our own traditions. That warms my heart just a little bit.

TWO – MAKE PLANS TO SEE FAMILY!

Not only am I missing seeing my own family this Christmas but our ‘family Christmas’ where we do see each other is on a weekend and I now have a retail job so I can’t go which I’m genuinely gutted about. But I’ve got two mid-week trips planned – one before Christmas and one over New Year where I’m hoping to see my family but I’m just waiting on my work schedule to set it in stone.

My boyfriend’s family are lovely, but I’m a very sentimental person and my family means more to me than I can put into words (I may not be a McPherson by name, but I’m a McPherson by heart) so at 23 having my first Christmas away is definitely going to be emotional.

Having that time booked in where I know that I’ll at least see my immediate family will make this new change a lot easier!

THREE – PRESENT PLANNING

I know I’m very fortunate to be able to live in a nice house and pay rent and pay for my car and go to university in a different city, but finances are something I’m struggling with at the moment. Moving is expensive and stretching my wages to cover everything has all but ruined all the good work I put into my savings this year (but at least I did the saving so I had something to fall back on!).

I’m going to write a whole blog post about doing Christmas on a budget but making a list of everyone you want to buy presents for, setting a budget and getting as creative as possible with home crafting  makes it all feel a little more achievable.

The other thing to bear in mind that all these places posting ‘shop local’ and ‘shop small businesses’ – that’s great if you can afford it, but you’ve got to do with what fits best for your budget. I’d love to do all my shopping from Etsy and Not On The High Street and independent sellers on Instagram, but it’s infinitely more convenient for me to do one big Amazon order. Maybe next year, but for now – I’m doing what works for my bank account!

FOUR – MAKE THE MOST OF TIME WITH YOUR FAVOURITE PEOPLE

Another change I’ve had to get used to that is probably another reason I don’t feel too festive is that I’m still getting used to my boyfriend not being home all that much. He works in live broadcast, mostly at sports matches, so it means he’s away all over the country for three/four nights a week and after spending a whole year living in my mum’s house together and not really being apart overnight much at all.

I think at first we were grateful for the time apart to be ourselves for a bit and now I can feel myself waiting for him to get back. This is definitely something I need to work on 1) because I’m an independent woman who thrives with or without her man and 2) because it’s not going to change for however long he decides to work in this industry.

But making the most of the time that he is home by cooking together, planning activities to do together (like buying decorations for the aforementioned naked tree) and playing video games together makes everything feel a bit more like home.

If you want to see more Christmas content this week, I will be uploading a Christmas themed vlog on my YouTube channel at the weekend, so go over there and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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approaching New Year | diary 10

2019, lifestyle, writing

Hello!

Doing these little diary posts once a month really reminds me what blogging is all about and where it all began – a web log, a recount of goings-on and a log of activities. The priority on my little corner of the internet will always be having something that I can look back on and 1) be proud of and 2) serve as a little reminder of who I was when I posted, even if that’s not who I am now.

And writing rambly blog posts that all come out in one go are my favourite and I think they’re the nicest ones to look back on!

So today I wanted to talk about how the end of the year is fast approaching – it feels like my entire Instagram and Twitter feeds are either full of Christmas or ‘it’s the end of the decade, have you achieved anything, get off your ass and do something‘ and personally I feel attacked (note the sarcasm).

But for real, it’s very intense and makes me think I haven’t achieved anything but at the turn of the last decade I was 13 – I’m a completely different person to who I was at 13 and that’s definitely for the better. I’ve finished my GCSEs, finished my A Levels, finished my undergraduate degree, finished a post-graduate certificate and I’m now studying a masters that I’ll finish in September next year – I’m starting the next decade as a masters student and hopefully that’ll be the beginning of a much more exciting decade full of learning but not in an institution that racks up my debt any further than it already is.

Outside of academic achievements, I’ve been on two charity expeditions to Tanzania and Ecuador, each for a month for the most amazing, terrifying and life-changing experiences. I’ve moved across country and met people that are going to be friends for the rest of my life. I lost friends that I thought I’d have for the rest of my life (but that’s just how the world works).

I met the love of my life. I’m a proper renting adult with proper bills and a car to pay for. I learnt to drive! As soon as the list begins you realise that 10 years is a long ass time and so much can happen in that time.

With that in mind I shunned the pressures of the internet and thought about the here and now – how do I feel going into the New Year?

Generally, the signposts of the passing of time scare me – I like routine, I like consistency and whilst I consider myself someone who adapts to change quite well, I’m definitely working on being someone who embraces and enjoys change. There were several New Year’s Eve’s as a teenager where I’d silently cry in my room as Big Ben rung over to the New Year and I couldn’t stop thinking that ‘this year’s going to be worse than last year’ and ‘I won’t be any happier next New Year’ so I’m grateful that I’m no longer trapped feeling that sad and lonely. But the New Year still scares me a little bit.

So I try to focus on the things that I enjoy – as I detailed in my last post, I love organisation, goals and planning so January is going to be almost exclusively resolutions, yearly goals, goals reviews and the likes! I’m actually really excited about that because 2019 started in a very different frame of mind and my goals reflected that so I feel more prepared to make my goals for the next year.

In a typical ‘I’m a student mindset’ I can’t really focus too much on the New Year or Christmas because I have about a million deadlines (five) to hand in before that and they’re big and stressful, but after that I’ve got a few shifts at work, Christmas, New Year with my family, then three weeks of working at much as possible before it all begins again with semester 2.

Generally, the New Year is a good time for me – it’s another chance at a fresh start and new goals and resetting. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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a little house update!

2019, interior homeware, lifestyle, photography

Hello!

What a whirlwind few weeks it has been! We picked up the keys to our new rented house about three and a half weeks ago and all of our belongings were delivered three weeks ago but actually, we’ve unpacked all the boxes and everything is feeling a little bit more homey!

I’ve put up fairy lights in almost every room (the bathroom doesn’t need fairy lights, the kitchen might be next though…), I’m slowly putting up pictures and finding homes for everything. Obviously we still need to ‘live’ in it to get used to it all and find homes for everything, there’s a few items of furniture that we can’t afford to buy just yet so that’ll take time but we’ve not been in for a month yet!

The kitchen is complete unpacked – the cupboards as a bit bare but we’ve got all we need, we’ve got all the ingredients for dinners and I’m making my packed lunches but as we live here we’ll build up a collection of seasonings and baking ingredients and more ‘long term’ cooking things. But the kitchen is done – after five days with no plates just having slightly fuller cupboards is really reassuring.

The living room is where I started – it was the first place I put fairy lights up, I spent a long time thinking about where I wanted the sofas and where the TV would go even though we don’t have a TV aerial downstairs (which is ideal…), trying to fit in a desk, figuring out how we’re going to store everything and deciding we need an IKEA trip soon.

That was mostly my decision but if my boyfriend doesn’t want to come then that’s fine.

We also bought a new TV for the living room… We definitely shouldn’t have, we were trying to set up finance with Currys PC World but it was going to take too long so we decided to just pay for it and suffer the consequences. We’re working it out!

Moving on! I want to get a shelving unit for the upstairs hallway because I think it would be the perfect place for my record player and other ornaments. I think I want to get a corner shelf so we can use it for storage and decorate it up a little bit (did someone say fairy lights…?).

The bedroom has so many nooks and bits to explore – starting with the main room, we’ve got the bed in the middle because I think that means we’re grown ups now (and no one has to climb over the other to get out of bed in the morning). The bed was kindly #gifted by my mum for my birthday (lol as if I would actually be gifted anything) and has ottoman storage underneath so at the moment we have spare duvets, blankets and bedding under there but there’s so much space we’re definitely going to have room for so much more down the line.

We each have a bedside table that my mum had going spare and I’m actually struggling to find enough things to put in them? I might swap my drawers out if I can buy a smaller bedside table and use the drawers under my desk downstairs that would be really convenient but for now it’s housing my current read, my phone charger and my glasses overnight!

Onto the first wardrobe (I know, the built in wardrobe and storage in this house is actually amazing) – this is my wardrobe because it’s the bigger one and my boyfriend decided that it would make more sense for me to have it.

I’ve unpacked my clothes but on the shelf side I want to get something to divide everything up a bit – I think maybe some IKEA Units and some drawers but I’m really not sure what to do to sort this out to be honest – any recommendations would be fantastic! Other than being huge, it’s a pretty average wardrobe, nothing too special.

My boyfriend’s wardrobe however it pretty cool – it’s a bit like a walk in wardrobe/changing room. It’s got a hanging rail, a little cupboard (that doesn’t have any shelves but we put an IKEA unit in there because we have a fair few…) and it even has it’s own light! With the wood panelling wallpaper I genuinely think it would make an amazing changing room. This is where basically all of my boyfriend’s belongings are and it makes me feel a little bit guilty that I have so much stuff.

The last (and potentially most exciting bit) is what we’re calling the alcove – it was a mutual decision to make it my little make-up/get ready corner. I’ve put an 8-square IKEA unit that I’ve dotted a few of my bits around but not really organised it properly yet. I shouldn’t have bought the vanity unit from B&M but I was feeling sad and I wanted to have somewhere to put my make-up and it really finishes the alcove! I don’t have to justify it but I also feel like I need to reassure my bank account. I’ve put lots of fairy lights up, I’ve set up my cloud light, I’m starting to decorate a little bit and I can’t wait till I’ve got a couple of months pay under my belt and I can start buying bits and bobs to decorate.

I’ve got so many ideas and I’m so excited to finally get everything unpacked but I’m also glad we’ve got the time to not rush it. We keep throwing ideas around and making plans and then saying ‘we just need to live in it first’.

Slowly, it’s all coming together and I love it so much.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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4 Year Anniversary 💜

2019, lifestyle

Hello!

Today is my four year anniversary with my ridiculous boyfriend Lucas – ironically I spent my day at my new job and he’s away with work so we won’t actually get to see each other until tomorrow evening but we went to a wedding last weekend and we’re going to have a night in and it’s going to be fantastic.

Sometimes when I’m thinking about what content I want to make I think maybe I should talk about relationships because I really think I’ve found the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and we’ve worked really hard to make our relationship something we really cherish and I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made and oh-my-god-I-just-love-him-so-much-I-become-a-soppy-mess. But I don’t feel like I can really justify giving advice considering I think I’m just really lucky to have found him! I don’t think I’ve got anything else to say really.

Until I went to uni, I spent the first 18 years of my life being utterly repulsive to every male (and female, I guess) I encountered at school – I like to tell myself that it’s because all those people remember me as the nerdy, Twilight fangirl even when I actually started caring about my appearance as I get older. Then I got to uni and it felt like I was overwhelmed with attention which sounds cocky af but I wasn’t ready for it at all. I’d had one kiss when I was seventeen with an asshole that started dating someone else five days later (being a teenager is really bloody complicated!) so when I started dating Lucas I’d never dated before and I was incredibly inexperienced to say the least.

And here I am four years later at a point where I can comfortably say that I want to marry my first boyfriend. When we first started dating I was so overwhelmed by our relationship because I felt so much for him but part of me felt like I was missing out on only having dated one person (even though I didn’t want to date anyone else… it’s difficult to explain).

Sometimes people will talk to me about people they’re flirting with or their love life as a single person and I want to be able to give advice… but I have nothing to contribute! Lucas and I were put in the same flat at uni, we chatted on Facebook before we moved in together then I spent two months determined not to date anyone I was living with then I gave in and four years later we’re renting our own house together. I didn’t have to put any effort into convincing this boy to like me which is something I’ve literally just realised in writing those words right now!

So the conclusion is – I’m actually the worst person to ask for relationship advice! At least, getting into a relationship. I wish I could help but it’s significantly easier when you’ve got someone who definitely likes you. Sorry?

My best advice for a long term relationship is 1) make sure you have really open communication, 2) don’t have secrets, especially about money and 3) make time for each other, for us it’s playing video games together in the evening and sometimes going to bed a bit early and just lie together and talk and I love it.

Having a good relationship isn’t easy, but being with someone you really love makes the work feel easy.

I meant for that to be some sort of inspirational quote but I don’t think it went very well.

I’m genuinely shocked that at 23 I’ve been in a relationship for FOUR YEARS but I look forward to the day that I’ve been in this relationship for longer than I haven’t. I’m a soppy girlfriend and I’m only like 20% ashamed of it?

I could write a really heartfelt message to Lucas about how happy I am to have spent four years with him, but I don’t think I need to do that on my blog!

Should I talk about relationships more? I have lots of opinions but I really don’t feel like I have enough experience to talk about it – let me know what you think!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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November Goals ’19

2019, goals, lifestyle, organisation, writing

Hello!

How is it nearly the end of the year? My favourite month September went by in a FLASH and now it’s November and I feel like time is going by quicker than I can keep track of it! Not that I’m complaining – I’m getting better at handling the passing of time and I’m getting excited about the prospect of the future and a career again.

Rambles aside, it’s time for a new set of monthly goals – if nothing springs to mind I always refer back to my goals for the year that I set in January which helps me focus and make progress on my mid-term goals. Little top tip for you there! If you’d like a post about how I set goals then please do let me know, this is something I’d love to pursue but I feel like I haven’t achieved enough to warrant making this an aspect of my career.

I’m rambling again! Onto the goals…

One – be more productive with uni work
I don’t mean in the ‘getting more done’ sense, I mean working more consistently and achieving more in the long run if that makes sense. At the moment, I’m slowly trucking away and then I have to work just that little bit harder in the two or three days before an assignment is due to finish off. Even if I spread that work out over a week, I can work in shorter periods and get more done and work on more assignments at a time.

To implement this (another goal setting time – don’t just make goals, plan how to achieve them!) I think I need to start breaking my time down into more scheduled chunks. I’ve always been against this because I’ve taken the mindset that a task will take however long it takes but if I’m spending hours dragging my feet through one task, I’d probably be better off going and doing something else and coming back to it. SO if I set myself an hour of working on one assignment and then I’m going to spend an hour doing some reading for another unit and then an hour writing blog posts then I’ve at least made some progress in all three elements rather than taking all day to reach the point I wanted on a certain assignment.

Two – settle into my new job and the new routine
Getting a job has taken longer than I anticipated because I spent so long looking for jobs in the place where we were going to move and then we ended up moving somewhere else and then there was complications with my applications in the place we actually move to then there were complications with start dates but I’m finally due to start my new retail job next week.

I’ve made this one of my goals because my original intention was not to work in retail – I wanted an office job where I could refine my admin skills, but I just don’t really know where to look and the job I now have actually fits really well with where we live and where my boyfriend works so I just need to give myself permission to potentially enjoy it. I think I might be working in the homeware department so that’s always exciting!

Three – eat a bit more healthily and track my weight again
Now that we’ve moved and I’ve got a bit more control about what I’m eating (and I’ve rediscovered how much I love vegetables) I feel ready to start making small life changes to get back to the healthier lifestyle I had this time last year.

Being brutally hones, I’ve put on about seven pounds since my lowest weight of this year but you know what? That’s really not a massive setback and I can see lots of really obvious habits in my life that I can adapt so I’m looking forward to the challenge in a way.

Four – finish two books!
I made a good dent in catching up on my reading goal of 12 books for the year in September/October but fell off the wagon a bit with moving stress but I’d really like to be back on track by the beginning of December.

I’m currently reading ‘Our Stop’ by Laura Jane Williams and next I’ll be reading ‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F. E. Higgins.

Five – NaNoWriMo/write every day
And last but not least – another writing challenge! This is what I’ve been training for all year and I actually don’t feel prepared at all but as with the first week of any writing challenge I do, I’m excited – the key now it’s to maintain that momentum.

Although the goal is to hit 50,000 words, I’m not too fussed about the word count because I haven’t had the time to plan the novel redraft that I wanted to write, I’ve got a masters to get and a life to deal with but my focus is making writing a habit. I will be writing a combination of my original novel, a bit of fanfiction and some creative writing exercises just to get words on paper. I did consider including blog posts and any uni writing I have to do but I feel like that’s taking the mick a little bit!

My wrimo profile is sophiecountsclouds, if anyone wants to add me!

So those are my focuses for November! Writing these posts always motivates me – I love a new start and a new month just gives me a little boost and after how hectic October was, I needed that.

Bonus question – I started drafting a blog post during the week of a ‘day in the life of a masters student’ and I started feeling very insecure about whether this would actually be interesting to anyone? So let me know if you have any thoughts on that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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we FINALLY moved!

2019, goals, lifestyle

Hello!

I wanted to post this on the day we moved but it turns out even when you’re not doing a ‘full move’ (i.e. it’s just a couple of car loads of stuff, the rest of our things are coming at the weekend) it’s still a really busy day! Unfortunately blogging didn’t happen, but here we are a couple of days later.

It’s only been a two months round journey but here we are! My boyfriend and I have our own place – a rented, terraced, one bedroom house in High Wycombe with a fireplace in the living room, a cute little garden and incredible built-in wardrobe storage and I’m in love.

Let’s have a little recap of our journey so far – my boyfriend got a job on his graduation day in 2018 on the condition that he had to have a full driving license. Cut to a year later and he passed his test, I passed my test, I had decided to apply for a masters and we wanted to move to Reading – we went to property viewings in and around Reading, we saw a flat that we loved and we paid the security deposit that evening with a set move in date of four weeks later.

Shock horror, that did not happen.

Three days before we were due to move (and the day before my birthday, might I add) we were told that flat wasn’t safe to move into and the move in date had been pushed back two weeks. However, Lucas (the boyf) still started work and my uni course still started so we spent the best part of a week living in a hotel room then our friend Nick very kindly gave us his spare keys and we stayed in his flat in Reading until we could figure out what we were doing.

It was then that we started to think that Reading wasn’t for us – High Wycombe is where Lucas works and overall, Reading just wasn’t as convenient for my commute to uni or anything. So we went back to viewing properties – and the first viewing we arranged was for this house that we loved and I went that afternoon and it was like fate, it was perfect for us. We saw another flat that was nice but it just wasn’t the house.

The thing that really solidified the decision for us was that we knew where we wanted a Christmas tree to go. We could picture ourselves living here – we wanted to put fairy lights in the bedroom and tinsel on the stairs and if that doesn’t say to us that it’s the right place for us then I don’t know what will.

So we put our application in, paid our security deposit, then initially got rejected by the landlord who didn’t think we could afford it, we then reapplied with some more information (we begged) and we got approved! Then we sorted all the referencing, planned the move in date and everything went to plan. The letting agent was generally much more friendly and much more open about setting a realistic move in date and the work that needed doing and it was just a much more pleasant experience that didn’t feel like fighting.

And here we are! If you have any questions about renting in the UK or anything like that please do let me know! I’m sure I’ll post more updates when we’ve unpacked and started doing as much decorating as we can in a rented property – there’s going to be more shopping, I want to do an Ikea and a B&M trip, I bought a washing up bowl and a drainer and a worktop saver today. It’s all a bit grown up but I kind of love it as much as I resent how much it costs.

I’m starting to feel a bit more relaxed now – everything is slowly falling into place. We’re getting there. I’m getting there.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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what I want – Autumn lust list

2019, fashion, lifestyle

Hello!

The internet is the place for hauls right? YouTube hauls, blog hauls, Instagram hauls, even Twitter hauls are a thing but today I’m going to flip it – rather than stuff I’ve bought, here’s a list of stuff I want to buy.

(I’m fully aware this isn’t an original idea, just thought it would be fun!)

Lucy and Yak dungarees – I think every blogger under the sun has seen someone on Instagram wearing Lucy and Yak dungarees. The pair I’ve linked are the glorious rainbow stripe dungarees that are unfortunately sold out, but there’s rainbow trousers that I’m kind of obsessed with, these mid-wash denim dungas that look super comfy and these bluey-purple striped dungas to make up for it! I’m massively exploring my relationship with clothes I’ve never thought ‘suited me’ and incorporating bold patterns into my wardrobe and whilst I’ve had my eye on these for a while, I just can’t justify the price. Maybe further along the line when I’ve got something to reward myself for but right now where I’m focusing on sustainable fashion and getting lots of wear out of the clothes I’ve got, Lucy and Yak are staying on my Lust List.

Dr Martens – yes I already have a pair… no I don’t have a black fur-lined pair so obviously I need them. The choice is between the fur-lined Chelsea boots, the fur-lined traditional boots or… just a pair of black Docs. I love how these look when styled – how they can make a really feminine outfit look a bit more edgy (or am I just a nerd trying to look ‘edgy’?). I’ve worn my maroon pair so much and I can’t wait to get back into styling them in the winter months, maybe this is the year for another pair…?

& Other Stories sweater – this one is new to the Lust List – I saw Rhiannon Ashley wearing this on her Instagram a few days ago and fell in love with it. Then she shared the link and I saw the price tag and suddenly it became infinitely less appealing, but still looked so soft and comfy – it’s the combination of cosy Autumnal knitwear and easy to throw on hoodie that gets me. The £75 price tag is a massive negative for me and brands like ‘& Other Stories’ don’t tend to cater to a plus sized audience so their L (because obviously they have an XS but not an XL) is probably a size 12, maybe 14 at a push and making girls everywhere feel ‘large’ and inconvenient for being an average (below average) size.

Can you tell I’m passionate about these matters?

Still really like the sweater though.

Space necklace from Eclectic Eccentricity – I first heard about this brand from Hannah Witton in one of her favourites videos – she showed me space jewellery and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. This gorgeous necklace captures everything I love about cutesy moon drawings and delicate, subtle silver necklaces and pairs them together in a lovely £38 bundle. If Santa’s listening, it’s on my Christmas list (is it still too soon for the C word?).

Pajamei Slippers – maybe a little bit niche but here we go – the only video game I really play is a franchise called Overwatch. One of the characters in this game is an ice queen better than Elsa – Mei is an environmental scientist who’s the only surviving member of her team when she wakes up in a cryo-chamber. One of her skins (‘outfit’ in video game terminology) is a chilled out skin called Paja-Mei (I love it so much). I really wanted to cosplay this outfit at MCM Comic Con next year but I think the jumper and potentially the PJ bottoms have been discontinued, that doesn’t stop me from wanting these slippers more than anything. Again, I think they’ve sold out because there’s no size options left but a girl can live in hope.

And those are the items I can’t stop thinking about – a lot of these items are much more pricy than I would ever spend on clothes/things to wear usually. If I did buy them they would be special treat purchases for sure but when I weigh up these things against the amount of clothes I could buy in Primark or the pens I could buy on Amazon, quantity usually wins but hey! We’ll see what happens in the long run.

What are the ‘luxe’ items that you yearn for but can’t bring yourself to buy? Any brands that I should be looking at for plus sized clothing? Let me know!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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