BLOGMAS DAY 12: 8 Tips towards a warm heart

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in life and become overly focused on something. It’s so important to remember that we are only here once and we need to savour every moment and live with a warm and happy heart.

1.) Look up from your screen. We are all guilty of probably spending a little too much time on our phones endlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. What we might not be realising is how much precious time we are missing out on. When you have friends or family over, make sure you’re chatting with them. When you’re a passenger in a car or on a train, take a moment to look at your surroundings. When you have some time spare, try and fill that time with something lovely; our social media isn’t going anywhere and is a great tool for staying connected – just don’t fall into the trap of it becoming your main point of focus. Treasure the time you have.

2.) Telling someone to have a nice day. Even if they don’t say it to you, be the first to say it. I know before when I’ve been feeling a bit down, all it’s taken is for one person to wish me a nice day when I know they’ve truly meant it for me to feel that bit better.

3.) Charity work. Now, don’t worry – this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start a huge project or create an event. There are so many ways you can make a difference to a charity that are super easy! For example, donating to national fundraising such as children in need – you can buy lots of little bits and bobs and proceeds will go towards the cause. You can make a shoebox – something that is particularly popular this time of year. Shoeboxes can be made for people that are homeless, people living in poverty – locally and globally – just to name a couple. It’s a small gesture that goes such a long way! Also, think about the fundraising you see on Facebook; people doing Dryathlons, the race for life or individual charity work – take a moment to donate something towards them. It’s a wonderful supportive gesture and I know it always warms my heart.

4.) Spend time with little minds. One of my favourite things about working with kids is the run up to Christmas! I had a little boy telling me about how Santa is going to use his special key and is coming soon. He also said he can’t wait to see me next. Little moments like that are the kind that truly warm you. Kids say such amazing and lovely things; I highly recommend if you have any little ‘uns in the family, that you spend lots of special time with them and discover how fantastic their little minds really are.

5.) Compliments. I feel that as a society, we do not dedicate enough time to really celebrating one another and building each other up. Giving somebody a compliment really serves as a great feeling. The second you see how they appreciate it and how they react to it, you will know it was worthwhile. Don’t feel constricted by just using physical compliments as well; whilst commenting on somebody physically is lovely, there are so many other traits which are equally as important that you could mention. Tell somebody that they are intelligent, kind, funny, unique, interesting, intriguing, the list could go on! We could all do with that little extra boost sometimes.

6.) Movies, books and music. Think of something that really resonates with you. Something that completely draws you in and grabs your full attention. Spend some time just in that moment appreciating it and noticing how it makes you feel. I know there are songs out there that give you goosebumps, put them in a playlist and submerse yourself.

7.) Helping someone out whilst expecting nothing in return. A little bit of politeness doesn’t ever go unnoticed. Helping somebody, whether it’s a loved one or a stranger, is something which I believe more of us should start to act on. If somebody is struggling with something, give them a hand – don’t just walk past and pretend you haven’t noticed. We need to engage with each other a lot more than we currently are. We are all on the same planet – we need to have each other’s backs. Plus, for onlookers, they will feel wonderful that they have experienced such a kind gesture.

8.) Identify the positives. If you go on Google and search for good things that have happened this year, there will be several lists which tell you all the highs of your year. The news often reports the negatives and it’s safe to say that this year there have been many. This has meant that our minds have been exposed to more bad than perhaps good. It’s important to acknowledge the wonderful things that happen all over the world – it’s a guaranteed instant feel-good!

I believe that we are living during a time where people find it difficult to find the good things in life. They find they can not recognise it as easily as they can the struggles, challenges or sorrows. But having a warm heart will influence your entire being. You will become more conscientious, more emotionally available and more appreciative of all that is surrounding you. Always try your best to live a life that is full of beauty and full of wonder.

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BLOGMAS DAY 11: Choices – Part 1 (A short story)

Ok. So, I suppose I should probably explain why I’m waking up this morning sprawled on the floor of a hotel room with mayo in my knotted hair, wrapped up in a bed sheet, wearing one shoe that has a heel hanging off of it with a 21 year old starfished across the bed…

I’d been dreading this day since the moment that perfectly presented, rose-scented, wrapped in silk invitation landed on my laminate floor. As a recently turned 31 year old woman, who is the epitome of being single, attending my best friend’s wedding to her tall, rich,, tan, Italian fiancé was not quite at the top of my agenda. I had 6 weeks to either a) find a wonderful, handsome man who is pining for me with all of his being or b) find a reason (excuse) why I simply wouldn’t be able to make it. Now, given my recent situation, it was looking like option b was the most realistic. The only male attention I’d received this morning was from Carl who lived in the flat opposite.

Carl always seemed to time collecting his packages from his front door step at a very particular time because I don’t remember the last time I left my flat without him conveniently being there, leaning on his doorframe holding his online supermarket delivery and calling over to me. The lights in the hallway always reflected on his bald spot towards the middle-back of his head. That bald spot was not stopping for anyone; yet he was still clinging on to every follicle of hair he had by smoothing it all over. I’ve also never known Carl to wear anything other than his Star Trek jumper and flip flops with a pair of pyjama bottoms that look as though they’ve existed decade after decade. There was one day I got a knock on my door. I had just washed my hair, I was in my underwear with a plate of cheesecake in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. I looked through the peep hole on the door and all I saw was that gleaming bald patch and Carl’s signature glasses which had been taped together in the middle and had one arm missing. I opened the door. “Hi Carl, I…” “Hello Piper, long time no see!”. He saw me this morning when I opened my door to get my post but sure; he continues “Did you get one of these in your door today?”. He presented a leaflet menu for the local pizza shop. He knows full well that everybody in this block gets them, at least once a week. “Yep, I did Carl. Just like last week, it’s in my drawer with the rest of them”. “Well, you see what I was thinking…”. He steps past me, through the door and into my flat. “Why don’t we share a large one. A margarita. Some Pepsi. I must know this menu off by heart now!”. He has taken a seat at the breakfast bar – the one where I have piled up all of my post, including the menu for Paolo’s Pizza’s. I find myself racking my brain for an excuse when, thank God, my phone rings. It’s my best friend, Ally. She knows exactly when I need her to come through and get me out of a situation. I put her on loud speaker straight away. We have an agreement – anytime one of us answers the phone with the other one’s name followed by a particular phrase, it’s go time. “Ally! Hi! What took you so long to call, tell me everything!”. She knows and this is why she’s my best friend. “Pipes, I need to talk to you immediately. It’s all gone wrong!!”. She’s even putting in some fake whimpering tonight, amazing. “What? Ok yes of course, let me just… Carl I’m so sorry I really have to go”, I say as I’m herding him out the house like a sheepdog. Before he has a chance to finish his sentence, the door is shut and all I can hear now is Ally giggling away.

“Shhhh, he’s still outside the door, you know!”

“Carl! Again?! That must be his 3rd visit this week!”

“Listen, I love the place and in all honesty, I am in no position right now to be looking to move. I just need some Carl repellent that’s all!”

She laughs. “Oh Pipes, I cannot wait to hear you tell all your stories next week!”

Crap. The wedding. The damn wedding is next week and it’s taken me this long to fail at finding an excuse not to go. Why did my ex have to have such poor timing? I mean, who ends a relationship the day before receiving a wedding invitation…

Well Piper… looks like next week you have a wedding to go to…alone… and single… and hopefully blind drunk…

*TO BE CONTINUED*

BLOGMAS DAY 10: A Change of Plan

2:15am on Sunday 10th December 2017. My alarm goes off after we’ve had around 4 hours of sleep. I’m up first, finishing packing my suitcase and getting everything sorted. Liam gets up at 2:50. Our taxi arrives just after 3am and after the last minute stresses the day before, we were glad to be on our way.

My mum was texting me in the car asking if I was excited. I was so excited! We got to the airport in around 40-45 minutes. Straight through to security (thank you online check in) and it was wonderful how quickly we got through compared to when I’m there in the summer! All checked in and our bags through safely, it was a no-brainer… pre-flight ‘spoons was on the cards straight away with a beer for Liam. It was great, we still had 2 hours until our flight so the morning was ours. We got a few bits from Boots and had a wander around the airport.

Liam was looking out the window at all of the snow blanketing the planes and the runway. ‘You watch it get cancelled now…’ we laughed. It was now 5 minutes until our gate was open; finally – I was getting sleepy! As we expected, there was a delay. I’d been on plenty of delayed flights – it wasn’t a big deal at all. We decided that while we waited for further information we’d get some more to eat and find a warm place to sit! Costa. Perfect! Needless to say, at this point, we were both tired and we were both wanting to be in the air soon so understandably, we were snappier than a group of crocodiles at a lake party. We found another spot to relax; it’s warm lighting and elegant interior made it nice and comfortable. I set up with my book and cracked on with reading it – it was getting good so I was hooked! Liam checked up on the snow which was falling heavy and settling fast. On the overhead announcement they informed passengers that the flight to Amsterdam had been cancelled. We’d earlier bumped into Liam’s friend who was on his way to Amsterdam; I couldn’t imagine how they must have felt. We kept our fingers crossed and I continued to be lost in my book. Another announcement, the flight to Dublin had now been cancelled. Our flight was still awaiting further information which was coming at 9am. The airline had given us free refreshment vouchers worth £7.50 – winner! Some snacks for the plane! I was getting hungry, my breakfast from 4am was digested and I was ready for more fuel so I popped over to Boots. Liam fancied something warm so he grabbed toasties from Costa. I waited with my book & packet of Quavers.

When Liam came back, his face told all. ‘Babe…the flight’s been cancelled’, which was shortly followed by the same message on the announcer, except they added that we needed to make our way to gate 7. All I could think to do was cry. I felt heartbroken. I’d always wanted to go to Paris and Liam was making one of my dreams come true! The magic of Disney, our first holiday together, photos outside the Eiffel Tower – all snatched away in a few seconds. I was just absolutely gutted. It was the most special trip and I was so excited, I couldn’t believe what was happening.

We also realised we had absolutely no clue how to deal with these things – neither of us had ever had a cancelled flight. So we went where we were told to go with what seemed the rest of the airport. We got in the queue at the right time because the trail of people behind us was never ending. Two hours we were in that queue. Two hours. So I sat on the floor and carried on reading my book (I needed a distraction from a) the current situation and b) the lady humming behind us…). When we finally got to the front, we were told we couldn’t sort out the refund there, despite being told different earlier in the queue. Cue further anger and distress from Mr Batchelor and Miss Whitmore.

Now, when we were in that amazing queue, I did do one constructive thing and booked us a hotel in Birmingham for the night. It was the hotel we stayed in on our second date. So, next port of call was to make our way to the station via the airport monorail and grab our tickets to New Street Station. We arrived, checked in and made our way to the room where I had another realisation that our magical trip wasn’t happening… so I cried again…

After several phone calls sorting out our refunds and expenses, we needed a plan. So we booked a table at Jamie’s Italian (our favourite), only to later receive a call saying they’ve close early. Fabulous. So we booked a table at Las Iguanas. We were so determined not to let this ruin our time off together. Liam and I rarely get to spend full days together due to our work hours so we didn’t want to waste this time that we had.

We spruced up and made ourselves look less haggered! I wore my favourite playsuit and had glitter on my eyes. Liam wore his boots and grey jumper. We had our coats and scarves on and were ready to go. We took some photos and out we went. We got our table after a very slippy walk there and immediately took advantage of the 2 for 1 offers! 2 pitchers and 4 cocktails accompanied by our delicious food. I haven’t laughed as much as I did that night in so long!! We had so much fun together, just like that second date we had back in March. We took a snowy walk after dinner (at one point thinking we were walking into a beautiful field, only to realise there were gravestones to the left and right of us and a church right in front- oops!) and made our way back to the room. We were genuinely thrilled that we hadn’t missed the end of I’m a Celeb so we got comfy and enjoyed a wonderful night in at the hotel.

Our day had not gone to plan that day. We were not in Paris. We weren’t going to Disneyland in the morning. We didn’t have any pictures with the Eiffel Tower. But what we did have, was each other. We had the best night and had enjoyed every single second. It just goes to show, it’s not about where you are, it’s who you are with that creates the most wonderful memories.

It’s a story to tell the Grandkids one day and there is nobody I’d rather have experienced this crazy 24 hours with.

BLOGMAS DAY 9: Grateful

I am grateful.

For the hurt for it made me strong and resilient, with a zero tolerance for bullshit. For the stress of university… twice; for it led me to my achievements. I outdid my own expectations and the stresses of that hit a nerve which pushed me forwards with a great force. For the missed opportunities; for there is a reason I was led towards the path I am following today. For the opportunities which I have seized and taken in my stride. For the tasks which I have failed, they taught me self-development and reflection.

I am grateful.

For the days that I was unwilling to get out of bed through a sheer weight of depression and lack of motivation – they showed me the following day that I can heal and have my own small achievements. For the times I had a breakdown which led towards seeking the help that I needed, having the realisation that I needed.

I am grateful.

For time healing all – time has taught me more than any one person ever could. For my previous relationship for teaching me how I deserve to be treated… as well as what is completely unacceptable treatment. For my current relationship happening 7 years after I wanted it to, allowing us both to live the way we were supposed to, to find each other again at the right time.

I am grateful.

For my imperfections for they are completely unique and shape the person that I am – and they scream beauty to others regardless of my opinions. For the way that I have grown and the body and mind I have grown into over the last decade. For the people that have turned me down – you have been part of the process in realising just what’s right for me…it wasn’t you.

I am grateful.

To have had the most wonderful Nanna anybody could wish for. For my huge family. For my friends that have made me feel wanted, loved and appreciated. For my boyfriend for looking past all of my flaws. For my managers for their continued faith in my future successes. For my job and the wonderful families I get to meet. For my counsellors – past and present and helping me cope with what everyday life can throw at you.

I am grateful.

For the roof over my head and the food on my table. For the clothes in my wardrobe and my bed to sleep in. For having access to sanitary and hygiene products. For my doctor, my dentist, my optician. For the options of different shoes I have. For technology. For running and clean water.

I am grateful for a multitude of things in my life and I will continue to be grateful for anything that is dealt my way. Each and every moment, idea, experience, relationship – it tells the story of who I am. It develops a persona so unique and individual that I become proud to say what I have been through, what I have achieved and what I have not, who I have loved and who I have lost. Life is not one smooth road. It has twists, turns, hills, dips – what’s important is that we learn how to embrace the lack of smoothness in our journey and take it in our stride.

A lot of people take a Westernised life for granted and it can become easy to stop appreciating how lucky we truly are. Take a moment today to think about what you are grateful for. Make a list, a mental note, tell a friend – anything! By acknowledging what you are grateful for, you are letting in more light and inviting in positivity. Gratitude changes everything. 

BLOGMAS DAY 8: Mental Health – What they didn’t tell me.

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As a lot of you know, I’m a huge advocate for openly discussing mental health. I wanted to share some of my experiences, positive and negative. My experiences are based on suffering from depression, OCD and anxiety. I must emphasise that my experiences are unique to myself. Not everybody with the same mental disorders as me will have gone through the same as what I have. I am simply sharing some of my own stories. I am letting myself be incredibly vulnerable and telling you a lot. So then, what they didn’t tell me…

That OCD has many forms and I have had it for years. I suffer from intrusive thoughts which are a part of OCD. I plan every single aspect of my life – I cannot be spontaneous. I organise my room every night. I check I’ve locked my car door 3 times before walking away from it. I also tap the top of my window and check the boot. I panic when I don’t know where things are. I have developed compulsions for all of these behaviours and more. I have been treated awfully for these behaviours. I have been called a slut for openly discussing an intrusive thought that I had. This led me to believe that I was not normal, that I wasn’t a good person. OCD is starting to take over my life and I am trying incredibly hard not to let it. I would love to be able to lock my doors and just walk away. I would love to not analyse everything. I would love to be spontaneous. I would love to stay calm when things are out of place. I’m just not there yet.

That people will say they are ‘always going to be there’ but the reality is that they won’t. Some people like to be a part of the result but are unwilling to be involved in the process. I’ve trusted too many people when reaching out for help and support. I’ve relied on people that have let me down… massively. People have let me suffer. People have stood by and watched me struggle, knowing they have offered to help me before. I have learnt to really think about who I am reaching out to and I am confident that I have developed an incredible support network.

That depression can come and go, even in the happiest of people. I’ve always been told how bubbly, cheery and excitable I am. People probably wouldn’t associate me with having depression. Some days are great and I’m fine. I’m lively, I’m focused, I’m motivated. Other days are worse. I can’t make a decision. I can barely muster up the strength to get out of bed. I feel the weight of the world pushing my shoulders down. I feel a fog of grey completely covering my mind. I see no happiness. No positives. Endless streams of self-doubt and worry. No energy. Constant blame upon myself. Low mood and upsetting thoughts. That is my reality.

The side effects of anti-depressants. The first anti-depressants I was given were called Sertraline 20mg. They did not suit me at all. I had nausea that didn’t ever go away. I became incredibly irritable. My sleep was affected. So, I told my doctor and I was given Citalopram 20mg. They took away the nausea and the irritability. But they just weren’t strong enough. So, they upped the dosage to 40mg. They’re starting to work but my hormones are just all over the place. With also being on the pill, my emotions can go from being sky high to rock bottom. They are also not short term. I’ve been taking them for 7 months now and I’m nowhere near finished.

Sleep will become frustrating and difficult. I have had sleepless nights. I have had nights where I’ve thumped at the bed and at myself through frustration of not being able to sleep. I’ve also had hours and hours of sleep and woken up feeling like I’ve not slept a wink. Sleep for me has been hugely affected.

You will develop new behaviours that are dangerous and upsetting. The most obvious one for me is my history with self-harm. However, I also have a compulsion which leads to me physically pulling clumps of my hair out. At the time, I feel it is completely necessary. Afterwards, I look at the hair in my hand and want to cry. I have developed an addictive personality where it’s all or nothing. I can become very easily obsessed with an idea, thought or action. I have moments where I completely space out and do not respond. I have developed a habit of scratching my arms and curling up as small as possible when I feel uneasy. My mood can change so quick it’s like flicking a switch. These are all characteristics of my own mental health disorders which I am trying to overcome.

People will continue to stigmatize anxiety as being ‘cute’ or something that ‘everyone has’. My anxiety has spoilt a lot of situations for me. Unfortunately, I have been in situations where my anxiety has been made worse by toxic people. Anxiety is not feeling teary and just being cuddled by someone. It is not a case of just being quiet and shy. It is not the ‘artistic trend’ that many make it out to be. It’s feeling your chest tighten to the point you can’t move. It’s feeling like you can’t breathe and gasping for air. It’s been physically paralysed and rigid. It’s not being able to respond to anyone. It’s something I wish I didn’t have to live with.

It’s not all bad. Whilst suffering with mental health illnesses, there are so many positives that are still there. You will still be successful. You will find support links and help; it might take some time but it will happen. You will learn so much about yourself, about how your brain works. You will discover what your passions are; you will be encouraged to find something that triggers a spark in your mind. You will develop strength, courage and resilience. You will be able to tell your story with pride and power. You will come out of your struggles tough and ready to take on anything.

This is your journey. It has it’s ups and downs, more downs and more ups, but I am confident that we all have the strength inside us to beat mental illness and realise our self-worth. I am here for each and every one of you. Love, support and wishes to all of you. x

BLOGMAS DAY 7: Cerebrum.

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A celebration of my brain. I have devised a consecutive list of reasons why my brain is simply amazing. My brain, which suffers from several illnesses, continues to be impressive. It has thousands of capabilities, skills and talents – all of which I feel need the recognition.

  1. I can listen to songs that I knew the words to 6,7,8 years ago and remember all of the words.
  2. I can demonstrate a phenomenal amount of empathy, a skill I am particularly proud of.
  3. I have the ability to store knowledge from primary school right through to university.
  4. I can develop the mental strength to make the decision to rebalance my ‘happy chemicals’. I am able to acknowledge that my brain sometimes needs a bit of a push, a bit of support.
  5. I can set goals to realise a future that I want to secure. I can also alter that future as and when I want to.
  6. I can adapt to my surroundings (just like a chameleon!!) and carry myself through a multitude of situations.
  7. I can continue to develop new skills and new talents for the rest of my life. I can learn a new language, learn to play an instrument, create new platforms and continue to expand my potential.
  8. My brain is responsible for my personality and who I am. All of my quirks, my interests, my goals, my characteristics – they are all lead and influenced by the messages sent by my brain which I am bloody proud of.
  9. I’m very good at remembering where things are, my keys in particular!!
  10. I pride myself on my ability to stay organised. I remember to record all of my appointments, plans and events.
  11. I have the ability to recognise faces I haven’t seen in years.
  12. I have an incredible bank of pointless information – coming in particularly useful when I’m watching the Chase or taking part in (absolutely smashing) the pub quiz!
  13. Passwords. I can remember a lot of passwords.
  14. Dance routines – yep, I’m classing Saturday Night, the Macarena and the Cha Cha slide as iconic dance routines which I will take to every dancefloor for the rest of my life!
  15. My brain demonstrates strong awareness. It is incredibly tuned in to a variety if topics, issues and emotions.

“Her brain makes her exactly who she is. She may have some faults and bad thoughts but it’s her brain that makes her do everything she does and to me that’s what makes her perfect” – written by Liam Batchelor.

Now, I imagine you’re wondering what on earth I’ve been talking about in this post and questioning why I’m sitting here telling you about what my brain can do. Well, it’s because everybody needs to be able to take a step back and look at where your head has got you. You’re here right now in this moment, with your own feelings, your own experiences, your own interests and passions and that little control system inside your skull is what’s gotten you to this point.

It’s about realising what you are capable of. It’s about seeing what you have achieved so far and what is yet to come with regards to your own potential. It’s about not regretting a single one of your decisions. It’s about owning your opinions and staying true to yourself (in true Disney style!).

And yes, some days your brain has had enough. Some days you wake up uninspired, unmotivated and exhausted…but there’s nothing wrong with that. Look after your head and your mentality. Prioritise it as much you would your physical health for they are both equally as significant.

Give yourself some credit for the person which you have become and have complete pride in your persona. After all, according to the brain, it’s the most important organ you have!

N.B. Credit to Liam Batchelor for his contributions towards this post, thank you. x

BLOGMAS DAY 6: Told Through Tattoos

If I had to pin-point what it was that people say to me the most, it would be between ‘Stacey’s mom has got it going on’ and ‘I like your tattoos’. Now luckily for my readers, this post is going to be about the latter (I can’t imagine writing about the former would be the most gripping read). I want to guide you through my story and what’s behind each of my tattoos. I’ve got a few opinions about tattoos within society which I feel need addressing, not for myself but for others. You’ll see what I mean when I get to it! So, get yourself comfy and I’ll take you on a little journey (there’s pictures and everything). So then, as they’re going to be posted in order, I’ll begin with…

Tattoo #1 

IMG_5219 My first ever tattoo. Oh, the amount of times I’ve been asked if I regret this one. I’ll put this out there early – absolutely not. I do not regret a single one of them. I got this tattoo when I was in recovery from self harm and it was a massive step for me. The Butterfly Project was something that influenced me in a huge way. The idea was that you draw on a butterfly in the place which you have self-harmed. You can name it after a loved one. The aim is to keep your butterfly alive, thus, you stay clean. So, I thought what better way than to keep mine there forever. As a sign of recovery, as a sign of support and a sign of strength – it will always represent my journey. As I bring my sleeve down, I cannot wait to encorporate some more beautiful designs around it.

Tattoo #2

IMG_5236 My second one – ‘nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy’ – in the centre of my back. One of my all time favourite quotes by the phenomenal Nicholas Sparks. These words will always resonate with me and are words I often bare in mind. It’s the courage to carry on, to keep in mind your end goal and to remember that all of your hard work, your struggles and the challenges you face are all leading you to where you need to be; to reach your desired destination.

Tattoo #3

IMG_5237 My hibiscus flower – this ties in with number 4 and you’ll see why! One of my all time favourite Disney movies is Lilo and Stitch, which is based in Hawaii. The hibiscus flower is also a personal favourite. They are unique and they are beautiful. I always picture them in the sunshine and they bring positive thoughts. I would love to say Aloha with my feet in the sand of the Hawaiian beaches one day!

Tattoo #4

IMG_5227 ‘Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten’ – welcome back Lilo and Stitch! My family is amazing and a very special part of my life. My Dad being 1 of 10 means my family is bloomin’ massive! I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. My mum is my best friend. My brother is someone I look up to. My dad is simply wonderful. I am excited for the day (in the way, way future!) that I can continue to grow our lovely family and bring my mini-me’s into the world!

Tattoo #5

IMG_5239 On my right shoulder, my second butterfly. Again, I got this one in relation to my first butterfly. I wanted them to be consistent displays of art, not as a theme, but as a symbol of recognition. This time around, I contrasted from the simple black silhouette. I wanted bold, bright, beautiful, colourful and strong.

Tattoo #6

IMG_5235 (Ignore Liam’s leg in the background – evidently he wanted to be included, ha!)  ‘Strength grows from weakness’ – inspired by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and a personal reminder for my darker days. My mental health is something I have been battling with for years and years; I’ve definitely had my fair share of difficult days and testing moments. This reminds me that during those tough times, I will grow and I will become stronger. I have survived 100% of my bad days and developed strength and resilience from each and every one of them. I am learning from my weaker moments and growing from my darkest days.

Tattoo #7

IMG_5243 In memory of my Nanna. An apricot rose – one of her favourite flowers. The flowers we had at her funeral in 2015, alongside a quotation that summed her up perfectly. ‘Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow’ – by the ever inspiring Helen Keller. My Nanna was a woman of constant positivity. If you do not focus on the negatives, you cannot see them. If you keep your gaze towards the sun, its rays will shine down on you and the shadows disappear. It’s all about maintaining that positive and optimistic outlook on life. My Nanna never wanted to worry anybody. She never gave up. She never once complained. She was taken far too soon. She wanted to remembered always through laughter, not tears. I feel this piece represents her beautifully – a treasured art.

Tattoo #8

The beginning of my sleeve!! For anyone that knows me, Drama is one of the most influential factors of my entire life. Drama and Theatre are my true passions. I’ve written in previous posts about my love for the Arts. Drama has allowed me to discover self-expression. It has given me confidence. It has given me a creative outlet. It provided a platform for my studies and my post-graduate degree. It has shaped my goals. It has grown my desire to share Drama with others. It is something which I feel I could write a book about! My Drama masks are a huge part in telling the story of who I am; my longing to perform, my wish to educate and my inclination towards sharing the Arts with the world.

Tattoo #9

IMG_5242 My beautiful little fox – created for 2 key reasons. The first – my home. A Leicester girl since ’95! My tattoos are all personal to myself and as I’ve mentioned, I want them to tell my story. My fox represents the city in which I have lived for 22 years as well as the football team I have been brought up supporting. In addition to all of that, it’s an animal which my mum loves – honestly, we have little foxes all over our house! For me, it’s a symbol of home – a reminder of my roots!

Tattoo #10

IMG_5222

‘If you like pinaaaa coladaaaa’. Right, no judements – you’ve made it this far, hold back the judging!! So, in Summer 2017 I went on my 4th girls holiday. I’d done Zante, Ibiza, Sunny Beach and then went to Ayia Napa. I had some of the best times of my life on these holidays – paint parties, seeing the likes of Avicii and David Guetta, Zoo Projects, Full Moon parties – the lot! And yet, I had never gotten a tattoo abroad. Now, I’m not a daftie – I didn’t stumble down the road to a bloke doing it for €10 next door to a chicken shop. I went to a decent place and paid a respectable amount. I wanted to keep it simple – I needed something to remind me of all the fun I have on my girls holidays and things like ‘Napa ’17’ were not even a consideration. So, I went for the common factor across all of these holidays – cocktails!! So I picked my favourite drink and that was that! I love it – I love that I have so many fun stories relating to my little pina colada glass. Let’s face it – I could’ve ended up with something much worse!!

So, that’s it (for now) in terms of my story through tattoos. Now, I have something I want everyone to consider. I am 22 years old, I have 2 degrees (one of which is a First Class, the other a PGCE), I’m a businesswoman and manager, I have experience in retail, education, marketing, staff development and recruitment (to name a few). If I apply for a job, and it’s discovered that I have a flower on my left shoulder, or a quote across my ribs – does that take away my skills and capabilities? Do my tattoos affect my ability to work hard towards success? My tattoos are not offensive nor explicit. Do they hinder my development? Do they make me unprofessional? Does your opinion of me change once I take off my jacket and reveal a fox on my inner arm?

What I’m getting at here is that tattoos are incredibly unique, personal and signs of artistic self-expression. Within the workplace, there still remains some archaic views upon tattoos. There is stigma still attached and the assumption that a person’s art hinder their skills set and talents. Furthermore, society remains judgemental. A lot of people have been brought up with negative views of tattoos – again, making derogatory assumptions towards people. I have seen absolutely shocking pages on Facebook, depicting tattoos as ‘violent’, ‘ugly’, ‘cheap’, calling people ‘broken’ and ‘brain damaged’. There’s even an article calling girls with tattoos ‘sluts’, ‘mentally ill’ and ‘selfish’. It breaks my heart that these pages and articles exist.

Tattoos are a way of expression. They depict beauty, personality and individualism. My tattoos tell my story. The plans which I have for my next tattoos are some that I am incredibly excited about! Trust me when I say, once you’ve had one, you will get the bug – they are addictive! I will always view tattoos with an open mind and an eye for perspective; I know that I love to tell people about my own just as much as I love to see those of others!

As always, thank you so much for being a part of my ramblings! Your support means the world – who knows, maybe a writing based tattoo could be on the cards!!