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Sunday, 1 March 2015

22 Things I Learned From My 22 Years

Yes, 22 years isn't a long time. To some people, I'm still a baby. However, I feel I've learnt a lot over the last few years (and some things through my whole life) and wanted to share my young words of wisdom. Here are 22 random things I've learnt so far in my 22 years on this earth.
  1. Do what makes you happy.
    If running makes you miserable, find a new exercise that makes you happier. If you want to spend your Saturday curled up with Netflix and a takeaway - do it. In my opinion, not enough people take the time out to just do things that make them feel happy. When I've spent time doing things that make me happy, I feel more productive and satisfied with my life. Not to mention, well, happy!
  2. Not everybody in your life will be a positive influence. 
    This is something I've only learned over the last year. Sometimes, people will just bring you down. Whether they mean to or not, some people are just toxic - their lives, their outlook and their actions will make you feel less than yourself and it isn't okay. This year I learned that when people aren't helping you or improving your life in some way, it is okay to cut them off. Just cut off contact and move on - with better people who will let you be yourself and influence you in a good way. 
  3. Be organised.
    No matter what stage of your life you're in, you need to be organised. Thankfully, I've always been a planner and I've always been pretty organised, but it definitely gets better with age and as I get older, I understand the importance of keeping every aspect of your life organised. 
  4. Speaking your mind is good; being offensive is not. 
    I'm the type of person that says what she thinks if a situation isn't going the way I think it should or if somebody isn't behaving the way I think is acceptable. In my younger years, I didn't see a problem with this but as I've gotten older, I realise that there are certain ways of communicating things without hurting somebodies feelings. I'm still up front about things, but I have found better ways to say it. 
  5. You only have yourself. 
    Whilst it's nice to have a support system and perhaps it is essential for our mental health to have people around us, the bottom line is that you can only rely on yourself. I learned this repeatedly throughout my 22 years and whilst it is a hard lesson to learn, it will make things a lot easier, in the long run. In one way or another, people will always let you down. This is the hard bit to accept and maybe this has only happened to me but you are the only person you can rely on and the sooner you realise that the better. Similarly, nobody can make your dreams happen but you. Sure, people may help you along the way but essentially, nobody can attend that terrifying interview for you, nobody can go running in the morning for you. You're on your own. Family and friends can be a trampoline for you to help you get back up from whatever or whoever made you fall, but essentially, you are the only person to change how you feel and how you act. 
  6. It's okay to not like clubbing.
    When I hit the legal drinking age at 18, everyone around me was going out 2-3 times a week. At the time, I felt it was a great idea and spent many of my nights throwing up, falling over and generally making myself look classless and generally awful. A year or so ago I realised that I didn't actually like going out. I hated the culture of it in the UK. I hated the fact I'd spend the night making a fool of myself, spending far too much money and then spend the next day useless and unable to do anything but sleep. I realised it's okay to not like doing that anymore, despite everyone around me doing it every weekend. I feel that most people go out to fit in, whether they enjoy it or not. I'd much rather focus on the things that make me happy and working on my career and that's okay. 
  7. Most men can't be trusted. 
    Yes, there are good ones out there, but they are rare. I learned this from not only my own experiences, but from watching those around me and it makes me sad but it is a truth I've now come to terms with. In today's culture, a lot of men think it's acceptable to lie and cheat and not respect the girl they're with - be careful who you give your heart to. The good ones are there, but they're hard to find. The wasted guy talking to every girl in the bar? Probably not going to be the person you want to give your heart to. 
  8. It looks better in your bank than in your closet. 
    I'm a huge spender. On anything. Not necessarily a shopaholic, but I did used to waste my money on just about anything without really caring where it went or keeping track of it. I've slowly realised that maintaining a healthy bank balance and knowing you have a safety net is a lot better than having the latest pair of shoes or a new lipstick to add to your vast collection. 
  9. Just because other women are bitchy, doesn't mean you have to be. 
    I've experienced a lot of bitchiness from women, but I've made a conscious effort not to behave that way towards others. We aren't in competition with each other - encourage the women around you to be themselves and encourage others, not put them down. If a girl gives you a dirty look because you walked confidently into a room? Smile at her and maybe even introduce yourself if you're feeling brave enough.
  10. If you see a boy being shady, keep it to yourself. 
    Many times, I've been outraged by boys being shady and doing inappropriate things and I've told their girlfriends because I hated seeing girls being treated that way and reasoned that if it was myself, I'd want somebody to tell me. I can count on one hand the amount of times this has happened, but every single time, the girl has ended up hating me because of it. Unless it's my closest friend, I won't be telling that girl I barely know that her boyfriend was trying to get me to go on a date with him - it backfires and chances are, she will stay with the guy and her & her friends will end up hating me, making any future encounters very awkward. 
  11. Apologising is not a sign of weakness. 
    One of my pet peeves is people who apologise for everything they do wrong, even when they don't mean it - especially when they don't mean it. I only say sorry when I really genuinely mean it, otherwise it loses it's meaning. However, saying sorry doesn't mean you're weak. A big sign of strength and maturity is knowing when to give somebody an authentic apology. 
  12. Send thank-you notes. 
    For everything. Somebody gives you a gift? Send a thank-you note. You attend an interview with somebody you admire? Send a thank-you note for their time. You're invited for dinner at a friends house? Send a thank-you note. Everybody appreciates a hand-written note. Invest in some nice note paper, possibly personalised if you find a design you like, and use it at every opportunity. 
  13. Don't compare yourself to other people. 
    Especially people you see on social media. You're never going to have the same life, shoe collection or job as somebody else so stop lusting after their lives and work towards achieving the things you want. People present the best aspects of their life to the world on social media so don't think somebodies life is perfect just because you follow their instagram - chances are they have shitty days and insecurities just like everybody else. 
  14. Failing isn't a bad thing. 
    I'm the kind of person who always learns from her mistakes. Okay, I admit, sometimes it may take me a few times making the same mistake before I actually learn anything but there is a lesson in every mistake, you just have to find it. 
  15. The world doesn't care about you. 
    As harsh as it sounds, you're not nearly as important as you think you are. Stop worrying about what people think of you, because most likely they don't think anything at all. We won't be here forever. Work towards making yourself happy during this short time we have on earth. Most of us won't accomplish amazing things that will be remembered long after we die, but we can make the most of our time here by contributing to others where we can and focus on doing what makes you happy. 
  16. Getting enough sleep makes a huge difference. 
    I get so much more done when I've had enough sleep and went to bed at a reasonable time. I feel refreshed in the morning and more likely to focus on the day ahead of me. 
  17. Politics are important. 
    Vote. Every election. But know who you're voting for. Do your research and become interested in politics. It affects your life much more than you realise. Similarly, watch the news, read a news website - make sure you're aware of current events. It will help you in so many ways. 
  18. Traveling is the best money you can ever spend.
    I haven't been to anywhere near as many places as I'd like to. I'm lucky in that I come from a family who love to travel. I have my grandmother and mother's stories to keep my traveling bug alive until I'm able to go to all of the places I'd like to. Traveling enriches your life in ways you can't even imagine and the experience is much better than spending that money on a new pair of shoes. 
  19. Not everyone needs to know your life on social media. 
    Thankfully, I've never been one of those people who post every aspect of their life on social media but in my life, I've seen plenty of people who do. Share the special moments of your life with those who you're close to, not people you went to school with 10 years ago. I use Facebook to speak to people through private message and to see what everyone else is up to, it's very rare I'll post something on my own profile. 
  20. Putting your phone down every once in a while is okay. 
    I'm from a generation who are permanently glued to their phones. Sometimes its okay to leave your phone in the car and experience life around you without feeling the need to document every aspect of your day online. I wouldn't recommend leaving it at home if you're going out somewhere, however. It's no fun breaking down in the middle of nowhere with no phone to call for help. 
  21. Forgive but don't forget.
    Another cliche, but it's so true. Life is too short to hold grudges and lose people from your life because they once spilled red wine on your white carpet. Forgive people, but don't forget what they did (and maybe don't give them a beverage that stains next time they come around!) No but seriously, even the big things in life can be forgiven. Don't mistake this for being a doormat however - if somebody hurts you in a big way, it's okay to remove them from your life - but let go of the pain and forgive them. Holding on to hate will only make you feel worse. I was once watching a documentary on a young teenager who killed his best friend, for no apparent reason whatsoever. The father of the deceased saw the murderer years later, looked him in the eyes and told him he forgave him. It was one of my most memorable moments of TV and I'll never forget the courage and strength of that father. 
  22. Exes are exes for a reason. 
    Once you've broken up with somebody, typically, they should stay in the past. Sure, there are times when people break up for reasons that can be fixed and they get back together years later and everything is fine and dandy. But generally, if it didn't work the first time, it probably won't work the second, or third, or forth time either. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Books | March 2015 Releases

Each month, I've gotten into the habit of searching the interwebs for the latest releases of the next month and compiling a little list here on my blog. It helps me keep track of the books I'm most looking forward to and hopefully gives you guys an idea of what to read next month too! 

The first book I'm really excited for is Liars Inc. A twisty YA story about lies, deceit, and death. Max sells forged permission slips to his classmates as a way to make money and make his school life a little more interesting but when he helps his friend Preston with a lie so he can meet a girl he met online, things become pretty scary when Preston doesn't return home. I'm so excited for this book and it will definitely be one of my must-buys - out March 24th. 

Half Wild is the second book in the Half Bad trilogy and I can't wait to see how the story carries on. I have an e-arc copy of this book already so I'm super excited to start it and learn more about the witchy world of Nathan. The series is about Nathan, a half-white, half-black witch and the only one of his kind. Being the son of one of the most dangerous black witches, Nathan has always had a problem fitting in and understanding who he really is. The first book introduced us to this world and I'm excited to see where the second book takes the story. Half Wild is out March 24th. 

The Wrong Side of Right seems like the perfect contemporary book as the nights get lighter and the days become a little warmer here in England. Kate has never known her father and when her mother dies, she's left trying to decide where the rest of her life will lead. Unexpectedly, her father turns up and Kate discovers he is a very powerful politician running for President. Kate must take on a new life and try to discover who she really is along the way. This book sound amazing for fans of The Princess Diaries (which I, of course, am) and is out March 17th. 

Vanishing Girls is the latest book by popular YA author Lauren Oliver and comes out March 10th. I love Oliver's style of writing and this book sounds like the perfect amount of dark and twisty. Dara and Nick were inseparable sisters but after an accident that left one of them scarred, a wedge developed between the two. When Dara vanishes along with another girl from the neighbourhood, Nick must find her sister before it is too late. 

Everything That Makes You is my next most-anticipated read and comes out March 17th. Fiona is scarred - emotionally and physically - and feels the only way to get her thoughts and feelings out is to write songs in secret. But what if Fiona never had the accident that left her face scarred with thick ridges? This book gives us the opportunity to play "what if" and see how different Fiona's life would have been if she had never had an accident. I'm interesting to see how this book plays out as I have often wondered "what if" myself. 

Finally, is Bone Gap, a YA mystery thriller out March 3rd. When Roza goes missing, nobody really minds since it's not the first time she has disappeared. Finn thinks she has been kidnapped and sets out on a journey to find out what happened. The synopsis on Goodreads reads "a story of how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are." I'm hoping this book has a lot of discovery and life lessons to give me something to read about. 

So those are my most-anticipated new releases for March 2015. What are you most looking forward to reading? Do you like the sound of any of these books?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Blogging 101 | Finding Inspiration

[Original source]

We all have those days where we don't feel like blogging. I'm not talking about lacking content inspiration or ideas, I'm talking just full on can't be bothered doing anything blog-related. This usually happens to me when I notice a dip in my views (I know it's not all about the numbers but when I notice it, I can't help but wonder what I'm doing wrong!) I don't know about you, but I have an editorial schedule that I try to keep to as strictly as possible, that lets me plan out which posts I will be putting live on what date. I then try to write up as many as possible and schedule posts for the next week or two so that if I'm lacking motivation one day, it doesn't matter because the posts are already planned and ready to bounce straight into all of your subscription feeds. However, there are long periods of time that I feel like blogging seems like a bit of a chore and when these times arise, there are a few places I go to recapture my blogging mojo. 

Scrolling through my feed and the popular posts always puts a smile on my face. At the moment, a lot of the popular posts I've been seeing have been blogging tips and they've made me feel like I shouldn't be sat around scrolling through my iPad, I should be blogging and making the most of my free time by working on something that I love. 

Independent Fashion Bloggers
I discovered this website a few years ago when I was more interested in beauty and fashion blogging, but have found it's great for inspiration for all kinds of blogs. Whilst a lot of their posts are aimed at Fashion bloggers, a lot of them are just for bloggers in general and have taught me a lot about the business of blogging. Whenever I'm feeling a dip in my blogging inspiration, I scroll through their tips and instantly feel back on track. 

Hannah Gale
A new discovery for me, Hannah Gale inspires me to create more lifestyle and personal, chatty content. Hannah is great at doing listicles and she often writes about blogging being her full-time job and how she's managing it. Reading Hannah's blog not only makes me feel like I should be blogging more, but she makes me want to make the leap to full-time (eventually!)

Career Girl Daily
Another new find for me is Career Girl Daily. This website is jam-packed full of inspiration for "career girls." It makes me want to get on and be productive, as it often features tips on things like how to be organised or how to make the most out of social media. One of my favourite aspects about the website is their profiles of successful women: it always inspires me to get out there and create a name for myself. 

Those are the websites I'm currently using to inspire and motivate me to blog more. Are there any websites or blogs that make you feel inspired? Do you enjoy reading about the business of blogging like I do? 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Book Tour | Cut Here by Azzurra Nox

Book Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Lena Martin's idyllic world shatters the night her mother dies due to a hit and run accident. Two years later, her dad relocates her from Italy to Los Angeles to help her put behind the time spent in a psychiatric ward following her mother's death. But the move only proves to be a fatal mistake. Shortly after her arrival, the classmates of her new private school begin to commit suicide under mysterious circumstances after reading a cult book called Cut Here.

Determined to unravel the mystery behind the suicides, she bands together with loner Jonathan Russe and outcast Hope Peters to figure out exactly what is happening, not realizing that this places them under a dangerous radar. During this same time, Lena falls for a mysterious and attractive guy named Michael, who is as equally disarming as he's dangerous.

As her attraction grows, so does the body count at St. Lucy Academy. Soon, Lena needs to decide whether to stay away from the guy she's falling for, or to trust him. Is Michael behind the suicides, or is he the key that can unlock the mystery that can stop the bloodshed? Deceptions run high and Lena soon learns that nothing is what it seems.

My review:
Cut Here surprised me with its intricate writing style and numerous character stories. I found myself constantly drawn into each character's individual story and wanted to know more. The story is very clearly based upon stories from pop culture but it had its own unique YA twist that I personally enjoyed. I would definitely recommend picking up this book if you like creepy, different YA horror's that aren't too scary. 

About the Author:
Born in Catania, Sicily, she has led a nomadic life since birth. She has lived in various European cities and Cuba, and currently resides in the Los Angeles area. Always an avid reader and writer from a young age, she loved entertaining her friends with ghost stories. She loves horror movies, cats, and a good rock show. She dislikes Mondays and chick-flicks. CUT HERE, her debut paranormal urban fantasy was inspired by a nightmare the writer had a few years ago. Some of her favourite authors include Anne Rice, Oscar Wilde, Chuck Palahniuk, and Isabella Santacroce.
Author Links:

Buy Cut Here from Amazon or visit the Goodreads page

Monday, 16 February 2015

Music | Operas & Musicals

I haven't always been a fan of musicals and operas, despite being surrounded by a family who loves them. In my recent quest to become more cultured, I've been delving into things outside of my comfort zone and wanted to write a post to document my journey. One of the first ways I've been educating myself in order to become more cultured is through music. Whilst Chopin, Bach and Wagner have been amongst my most played music on Spotify this month, I've also been looking into the operas and musicals I'd most like to watch in the near future and compiled a list to share with you. 

1. Disney's The Lion King
First of all and my most anticipated, is The Lion King musical. The show is currently in its sixteenth year at London's Lyceum Theatre and looks absolutely incredible. A well known story that is sure to get anybody interested in musical theater. Sadly, this season is already sold out in Manchester but I really hope to get to see this soon. 

2. The Mastersingers of Nuremberg
A new drama production sees Wagner's 16th-century comedy brought to life on stage. The Mastersingers has been assembled under the direction of ENO's Music Director Edward Gardner and sounds amazing. The lyrics are projected above the stage so if a sing-a-long drama is more your speed, this one would be perfect. 

3. Les Miserables
I've wanted to watch this ever since I knew Carrie from All I Know Now stars in it. I have yet to see the film, as I'm sure the musical will be so much better but this is one production I must see before Carrie leaves! 

4. The Queen of Spades
Another ENO production, The Queen of Spades sounds incredibly dark and intriguing. Tchaikovsky's opera about greed and obsession sounds perfect for me, a beginner in opera who is interested in darker storytelling.  

These four shows are definitely on my list to watch in 2015 but I'm sure as time passes, the list will grow. Have you seen any of these? Are you interested in musicals and operas?