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  • The Post Lockdown 'Lose the pounds' Phase - Why I'm Refusing To Listen

    Well, imagine you’re at a party, and biscuits are being handed out. 15-year-old Emily would deny her of the biscuit despite wanting it oh so badly. 23-year-old Emily would think, yes I want that biscuit I would much prefer to be an Emily who can exercise at home, be strong and enjoy food than Emily who

  • Be Your Own Valentine This Valentine’s Day

    Oh, Valentine’s Day, that ol’ day. The day of flowers, grand declarations of love, chocolates and feeling appreciated. Or if you’re me, a few years ago, a day of tense conversations and a lack of chocolate. That’s right readers, I’ve never really had the best Valentine’s day, even when I was in a relationship, which is kinda sad I guess. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not that big on Valentine’s Day at all. I would have been happy with a 10p Freddo and a post-it note saying “Hey girl, you rock my socks!, but I’ve found myself with people where even a Freddo was a little bit too much to handle. That also wouldn’t have been a problem, if affection was given here and there but it wasn’t, and here I am, learning from that and realising what traits I value in a relationship; traits I won’t let pass me by. I don’t believe Valentine’s Day is the be-all and end-all. I don’t believe there should be solely one day dedicated to love, and a commercial day at that. I believe if you’re lucky to have someone who supports your goals, is kind and genuinely makes you happy, then that can be celebrated whenever and however you want. I do believe though, that if Valentine’s Day IS important to your loved one, there is nothing wrong with making them smile - although some people don’t share that view. What I’ve realised from being single for a while, and meeting other single people on my travels around the world, is that you cannot give your love to someone, without loving yourself first. Yes, it’s the oldest cliche in the book, but it’s true. So I ask you this, what if on this day - and ALL 365 days of the year - the special someone that needs to be celebrated is YOU. Then what? Have you thought about that? Where’s Clinton’s with the 'HEY I’M THE BEST DAMN VALENTINE THERE EVER WAS' cards at? This day, my friends is about YOU. Wonderful you, reading this very post. Despite the fact you should really be making yourself feel good every day, if you’re feeling particularly lonely on Valentine’s Day, here’s what you can do to remember it’s all good in the hood and you deserve all the love. TREAT YO’SELF HUN If you’re going to be viewing this day as the day that couples give each other presents, then gift yourself a face mask, or a bubble bath….or a box of doughnuts. WHATEVER you want, you go get it. This day should be yours, to treat yourself, press the reset button and relax. In these uncontrollable times, the one thing you CAN control is making time for yourself, and being kind. WRITE YO’SELF A LETTER OF LURVE This year has been a year of change, both in a positive and negative way. Some of us have found this period more challenging than others, but we’ve risen above it and kept pushing forward. What are you proud of this year? What have you done for yourself this year? What do you love about yourself today? Even if it’s difficult, start digging deep. In the words of RuPaul, and as my best friend regularly tells me, ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ Amen. SEE YOUR BUDDIES (virtually) I think we're extremely lucky that connecting with people is so accessible with the development of mobile phones. Despite the fact that we're unable to leave our houses, there are still lots of ways we can see our friends - and we need our friends right now. This is a lonely period, and connection is key. Buy yourself a bottle of wine and have a Netflix party with your buddies, make a quiz night (come on, it's been a while since our last one!) or simply just spend some time catching up with each other. Valentine's Day is a celebration of love - and love isn't restricted to just a partner. LOL LIKE YOU’VE NEVER LOL’D BEFORE I’m no doctor, but I feel like laughter is the cure to everything. There’s some damn good movies out there on Netflix (which at this point we’ve probably already watched this year, but bear with me) that still make me laugh out loud. Also, despite the vast majority of films showcasing a relationship as the be-all-and-end-all of life, there are some which show that it’s not everything. ‘Something Great’ is SUCH a funny movie to watch if you’re single on Val’s Day, as is ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘I Love You Man’ and despite not being a comedy, ‘Wild’, if you want to feel inspired. DO THE SAME THING COUPLES DO - BUT FOR YO’SELF Did you know that INCREDIBLY it’s quite easy to do everything you did with a partner, for by yourself - FOR yourself? The best part of it is, you don’t need to share ANYTHING - I know, mind blown. In the past, maybe you’ve gone out for a romantic meal for two? If we weren’t in a major pandemic, I would have recommended taking YOURSELF out for a romantic meal and treating yourself. I went out for tapas by myself in Barcelona a few years ago and met the most fabulous couple - one of them is a famous author and the other is a wonderful pianist! Both guys were so friendly to me, warm and welcoming and I ended up having a blast. Now that Covid-19 has scrapped those plans, why not make yourself a three-course meal - for one? No sharing that carrot cake, that’s all for you, my friend. GIVE YO’SELF A BREAK I think all jokes aside, Valentine’s Day when you’re single can be quite triggering for some people. I find it interesting how for many, one day can make you doubt your worth, and make you wonder if you’ll ever be in a relationship again. This year hasn’t helped. Pre-2020, dating was fun for young people, whether you were using dating apps or just meeting people at bars. Ultimately, with a global pandemic on, there’s no chances to meet people and less of a chance of finding love - if that’s your goal. Stop being hard on yourself. Remember your qualities, remember that the right person will be lucky to find you and there is NO rush. Things happen when they happen. For now, give yourself a break. We’re living through an epidemic and life is tough right now. Life happens, and love happens - sometimes when you least expect it. Be kind to yourself first and foremost, the rest will fall into place. ‘

  • Four Paradoxes I've Realised About 2020

    I looked out of my window last night - I say last night, it was 4.30 pm but it was already pitch black - and I thought about where I was around this time two years ago, just before COVID hit - yes, I still can't believe we've had a year of it either. I was travelling, you see, backpacking the world by myself. I had ended up in Vietnam for Christmas 2019, with a Dutch girl I had met and connected with three months previously in Thailand. She became - and still is - one of my closest friends. On Christmas Eve she was feeling homesick and I had guaranteed her a fun night, so we brought in the 25th partying at rooftop hotels in Hanoi, meeting a Vietnamese Santa Claus and participated in Vietnamese Christmas quizzes we didn’t understand. We decided to spontaneously book a flight to Indonesia, and bring in the New Year in Bali - and three days later we were on a plane. Simple. On the 31st, surrounded by new friends we had made in a hostel, we danced along with the fireworks exploding over our heads, filling the sky with colours, hope and excitement for 2021. I spent January in Indonesia, writing my diary outside my beautiful £10/night room, always catching a sunset view over the pool before I had flown to Australia. Now, 12 months later, spontaneity seems like a lifetime away. The naive excitement I had on that very night I left Indonesia, intending to start a new life in Australia seems laughable. After two months of living in Melbourne, I had decided to fly back to the UK in March to visit my family, then COVID hit and I was unable to return. With half my items on the other side of the world, months spent clueless as to what to do and living with a father who’s in the vulnerable category, I have spent the last few months trying to figure out the best way of dealing with this situation, calmly and rationally - which is not easy for someone with diagnosed mental health problems, I’m telling you. But do you know what I’ve realised? That everything in 2020 has seemed and continues to seem like a paradox. There are always two sides to everything. Like how peaceful it is to lie on a sofa and do absolutely nothing. Maybe you’ll meditate, or you’ve got time to read that book you bought five months ago. The things you’ve always ‘wished you had time for’ you suddenly have time for - woohoo. But the flip side of that coin is, sometimes doing nothing feels like the heaviest thing in the world. Sometimes pure silence, and time to do everything you wanted is not the peaceful regime you thought it would be. It’s okay for a day or two and then it becomes EXHAUSTING - who knew? That’s not all, here are four paradoxes I’ve realised about 2020. I took well-known shops, cafes, and tourist hotspots for granted. In fact, there was nothing worse than getting stuck in rush hour in Oxford Circus, with its crowds of people crowding around shops selling overpriced clothing. But now we know loads of these shops are being closed down with jobs lost to match, everything feels a little strange. All those people who now haven’t got an income. The emptiness of high streets that were always buzzing with shoppers on a Saturday. That’s what we’re USED to. What will fill those spaces? Is online really the future now? Can we really not escape our screens? 2. Without reliance on materialism, we’ve been stripped to our very core. We can no longer put on a ‘clown’ face or hide behind our social lives, and relationships and friendships for everybody have been tested beyond belief as a result of this. I’ve learnt more about people through lockdown than I have all the time I’ve known them. People I thought would be in my life forever showed their truest selves in different lights whilst acquaintances I’ve barely known have held me up when I’ve been at my lowest. 3. I’ve lived my life differently to most. Caring for a disabled father and seeing illness from a young age imprinted into my mind that life is short and to live it to the full. Despite this, I have always thought I was invincible. It seems crazy to me that there has been and remains to be something more powerful than us, that has had the strength to cause death and economical destruction in its path. It is survival of the fittest - and only the lucky can survive either of those perils. 4. All perceived feelings of control fly out of the window and we have to surrender ourselves completely to let the universe decide what is to become of us. I’ve tried my hardest to control everything since I was young, but really I don’t think we’ve ever had control over anything in life and everything is simply an illusion to make us feel differently. We have time, and dates, and routine, but ultimately we don’t know what’s going to happen. Being out of control is scary, but perhaps we’ve never had it. Another reason to try and live life day by day. 2020 has been a year of change throughout the world with major events changing the course of life how we know it. The coronavirus ruining livelihoods, careers, jobs, dreams, sectors of business, breaking relationships and tearing families apart with illness. The separation of the young and the old. The rallies of support for the BLM movement. The overwhelming grief the world felt with the loss of Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter. The weekly clap for our medical heroes. In each of these situations, the things that connect us all, as humans beings, as one, is communication, love and respect. Communication has no language barrier when we show our vulnerability, feel the SAME and support each other throughout. If there is anything I’ve learnt the most, it’s that there is no one person better than another. We are one and we will get through this, together, wiping our tears and holding each other close when this ends, to whisper ‘we survived’.

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