Never Forget.

You would think that on a Friday London night that most 23 year old girls would be glamming up before heading to a club, celebrating the end of the week with cocktails or perhaps cosying up next to a boyfriend (or girlfriend) for a Netflix and takeaway food marathon. I can fully assure you that I fall into not a single one of those categories. Instead of making sure I made the last ‘happy hour’ bar orders, I found myself digging up my old journals from when I was 18/19/20. It’s flashback Friday after all right?

I’ve spent a good couple of hours reading through pages of hurt, pain, depression, happiness and good fortune. I’ve cried and laughed through each different entry (not to mind that I admired the neatness of my handwriting from all those years ago!)

People always remind you to ‘focus on the present’ and that the ‘past is the past so don’t dwell on it!’ Much easier said than done. The past has effectively shaped us into who we are, how we deal with certain situations, and although I don’t condone ‘dwelling’ on it, I think it is hugely important to remember our past memories – traumatizing, good, happy, bad, ugly – each single one of them! What has happened to us in the past is relevant – many of our past experiences have taught us lessons and experience that we now use in the present.

My reason for urging anyone to not take the past for granted is due to a small letter I found in one of my old journals. What I wrote down hastily in July 2011 reminded me that as upsetting as past experiences can be, they are also experiences that I have grieved over but eventually ended up growing in both emotional strength and emotional maturity.

Everyone has a past experience that they would rather pretend never happened or never wanted to learn from in order to accept and be able to move on. For this reason, I want to share the note that I found in my journal and hope that it may inspire more people to feel able to be open about their past and never ashamed of whatever they may have done or experienced.

July 2011 (Journal Entry)

“Has it now become the legend of impossible fairy tales that one day we will end up happily married to ‘the one’, with beautiful children running around our white picket house? I have unfortunately found myself in two unlucky and upsetting circumstances. As the extent of my actions began to dawn on me, I started to change. I couldn’t escape my own taunting mind, and sadly, it reached such low points where I simply couldn’t cope with my guilt. No matter how many times my mother would hold my shaking and sobbing mess of a body, and continue to softly tell me that ‘it would have been unfair… It wasn’t the right timing…’ But more importantly, she asked me: “wouldn’t you want to have a child when you are in a truly committed relationship? When both of you are ready?” Knowing my mother and her at times, very ‘proper’ views on family/pregnancy, I only assumed from her words that the ‘committed relationship’ could only mean two things: either a relationship leading to marriage, or marriage itself.”

Looking forward or looking to fall off the cliff?

Looking forward or looking to fall off the cliff?

I know it finishes abruptly, but it’s been a a long time in which I’ve acknowledged the past of July 2011. It feels like being naked revealing parts of your past, but once you’ve done it, you know you won’t look back on it as another mistake to be added to the past. Experience, embrace, learn and live – the present is just as important as our pasts – the only difference is that we cannot change the experiences of our past, but we can do our goddamn best to let these experiences shape our present and future for the best.

C

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Standing at the Crossroads.

At the tender age of 23, I have now reached the end of my school/university orientated life that was filled with essays, books, exams and the soul crushing all-nighters. It feels as if I am in my car, right by the STOP sign at a set of crossroads. Where do I go from here? Am I making the right choice? Where will I end up? Millions and millions of nagging questions going round and round in my head like a ferris wheel on crack cocaine.

My first mistake was choosing the wrong degree, but I can’t blame myself too harshly as I find it very hard to believe that every 19 year old knows bang on what they want to study, and then magically come out with a job relating partly to that degree choice. I was good at English; I used to write mini ‘novels’ when I was younger and always had my nose in a book and was even lulled to sleep due to the soothing sound of Stephen Fry narrating Harry Potter books. But unfortunately, as I grew older and began to understand that the world wasn’t the happy shiny place I had seen through my young eyes. Instead I began to learn about the politics of the world and the issues of terrorism. 9/11 in particular caught my interest; I could only think one question as I watched those planes crash into the crumbling world trade centers. Instead of jumping onto the ‘all Muslim’s are terrorists’ Western bandwagon, all I asked is: “but why would these people do such a terrible thing? What angered them so greatly to cause them to react in such a horrifically violent way?” There are always two sides to the story after all. From that day forward I was fascinated by Islam, Jihad and every aspect of the Middle East.

I chose my degree because I wanted to learn and understand about what drives such a minority of people to commit such disturbing and violent crimes – this did not necessarily mean I was good at the many History or Sociology style essays that my course demanded. I had dropped History at the age of 13 (in favor of Geography) and had no real clue on how to write a successful economics or sociology based essay. With no previous experience, my many weeks and nights of research, reading and working produced mediocre essay grades. It quickly became disheartening.

Now I stand on before the crossroads, full of ambition to head out into the REAL world (and not back to the bubble of boozing, late nights and half hearted work). I want to work, I want to finally start LIVING my life. I am grateful every day that I have had an experience that showed me there is a beautiful gold lined path leading to a career that I am passionate about and also extremely good at. I used to be passionate about my degree, but that does not automatically mean it is meant for me or that I will succeed in it.

A piece of paper (a degree), does not get you any more further in life than someone with self determination, passion and confidence in what they want to pursue, and I hope many others realize that University is not the only way to succeed in what you want in life. Time, experience and passion are truly the vital ingredients to lead you onto a life that you will love and never look back on and regret.

Don’t ever let parents/significant others/friends ever try to keep you from what you truly believe is the right thing for YOU. Once you can manage that, the crossroads won’t seem as scary as you think.

From London with love,

Caitlin

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ALWAYS follow your instinct

ALWAYS follow your instinct

Mr. Lonely

How much longer can I keep on pretending that magazines, my kindle or laptop and a glass of wine are perfectly suitable substitutes to fill the lonely void inside me?

They say that you can only learn to be happy with someone else only when you can learn to be happy by yourself. I achieved that quite a while back, when I loved getting to cook for myself and choose what to watch on TV when everyone else was out for the night. But when that odd occasional solo night turned into three nights a week, which soon turned into five or six times a week, the novelty of getting to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey and enjoy a half bottle of Pinot Grigio by myself each night quickly wore off.IMG_0932

They say you can feel at your loneliest when you have lots of people around you – if only I could be so lucky. Just today I sent a message to a friend with a picture capturing my bored home alone life (a glass of prosecco, magazines, and an episode of the The O.C on my laptop), and he replied: ‘you’re always on your own! It’s like you live on your own!’ Obviously this message was meant to come across light-hearted, as this particular friend doesn’t know I already feel lonely, but this brief message caused me to burst out into tears and down the rest of my bubbling prosecco.

I could go down the cliché route and blame this on my female hormones or place it down to being a stereotypical needy girl, but the truth is I really might as well be living on my own. During the day or night it’s either A. a miracle if my mum or brother is in for the evening, or B. a miracle if my mum actually listens to me at the kitchen table when I come to enjoy her company – it normally ends with me asking aimless questions, just trying to enjoy human proximity, but those questions go unanswered or I get shooed away as her laptop or any phone calls consumes any life she has at home.

If I actually lived alone then it wouldn’t feel so disheartening cooking another meal for one or watching the clock tick by till someone comes home. I have my two cats (this story is really hitting rock bottom now isn’t it?), but they don’t always provide the greatest conversation or companionship. They may be vocal and lovely when they want another food pouch, but once they have a bowl full of food they cast me aside like yesterday’s cat litter.

Another route many will go down is asking: “but what about your friends!?” This is one question I dread answering and now filter my answer down to: “They’re on holiday… She’s working… Oh, and he doesn’t live in London… And yes mother, I have tried texting!” Rock bottom when your own mother seems to have a more thriving social life than her 22-year-old daughter.

I don’t want this to be a pity party post; I do try my hardest to stay afloat. Unfortunately the future I want isn’t in reach until I finish up my degree down in Exeter (something I am desperately trying to avoid and very much dreading heading back to the books, dissertation and late all night library sessions).

So till then I guess it’s just me, myself and I (and my two cats). But really, is it too much to ask to feel like you have a family life that’s active and loving or present? I guess in this century, where marriages result in divorce and where emails or phone calls dominate home life there’s not much hope. So for now, I’ll just prepare myself for another night in and slowly turn into a 22 year old Miss Havisham type figure – Charles Dickens meets lonely London suburbia, a hit seller in the making.P1000274

Smack.

In the beginning of a relationship it’s hard to see any of the annoying or bad attributes that your newfound beloved may possess. The ‘honeymoon’ period of each relationship has those lovely rose tinted glasses that make your partner seem like the most perfect man/woman in the world. In this short-lived period of time all you want is to be around them 24/7 and spend a lot of time in bed getting to know each other (in more than one way!)

After the few lovely rose tinted months progress, unfortunately those lovely romance goggles start to see much more clearly, and with that clear vision comes the time when you see the REAL person you fell in love with. And of course, with any long-term relationship the number of fights or fallouts do increase, but as I’ve always believed: a relationship with no arguments whatsoever isn’t a healthy relationship.

Arguments allow you to vent how you feel, and after each fight you become stronger from it and learn how to deal with conflicts in a much more controlled way. However, not all individuals can stay so controlled when in an argument and this can sometimes be the start of a slippery slope into fights that hurt in more than one way.

Petty arguments or getting annoyed if your partner doesn’t clean up or leaves wet towels on the floor (two of my main pet peeves), is just the start of how your relationship will be carved out in the future. Soon enough, those wet towels on the floor, dirty underwear and clothes thrown about your lovely bedroom and fights over what to watch on TV start to reveal the person underneath the lovely romantic exterior that once plastered a big smile on your face for the first blissful 3-5 months of the relationship.

Unfortunately, sometimes what you find underneath the beginning romance is a lot darker than what those rose tinted glasses made out to be. What I had never really encountered at all in my life was anger and violence. In some circumstances the more you get to know your significant other, the more you understand as to why they react in a certain way in arguments or when unhappy, but along with it comes the result and consequences of how they treat you when the rumble of thunderous anger storms over you.

I remember the first time I felt scared of my own partner. Scared!? To this day it still makes me so sad and even embarrassed that I let myself succumb so greatly to someone’s anger. In that moment I did not recognize the person shouting, swearing and degrading me by every second. I did not think that the person I loved, and who loved me, could treat me in such a way. To be blunt, I felt like a cowering dog that was about to get kicked.

For months afterwards I endlessly Googled or consoled in my mother whether verbal abuse was a quick step away from actual physical abuse. The internet and all the various website forums I trawled pointed to a big YES, whilst my mother said that yes, in some cases if your partner is being verbally abusive it can eventually lead to physical abuse. One thing my mother did make very clear to me was that someone’s violent childhood and turbulent upbringing was in no means an excuse for the behaviour that had recently been displayed by my ex-partner.

Every name under the swearing sun, you name it, I’ve been called it. Every word feels like a bullet hitting a weak safety vest, letting the verbal bullets cut slowly into my skin, into my blood, and into myself, disfiguring or breaking the way I see/saw myself. ‘You selfish little bitch, you’ve ruined everything… You’re a disgusting moody little shit, get out of my life…’ Sadly those words and names float around in my head to this very second. If the person who you feel knows you the better than anyone else seems to think so lowly of you (even if it is just in a heat of the moment rage) then imagine how hard it is to reassure yourself that you are not that piece of worthless crap in the gutter that you now feel like. On a few occasions I thought in my head that a bruise or cut would feel so much less painful than the words that were spat out at me

I found myself in a catch 22 – on the one hand I wanted to be there and help my partner through his anger issues and felt so sad knowing the details of the violence he grew up in, but on the other hand, I had to ask myself whether I wanted to stick around someone who was verbally abusive. I couldn’t get my head around it all, and to this day I still can’t.

The rose tint of my glasses is long gone, and now I see more clearly in front of me. I see more clearly as to how I should be treated and that abuse of any kind is not acceptable in a relationship. The names still float around in my head, and knock me off balance on a few occasions, but I know that if I believe the poisonous words in my head then I will never begin to like myself. I realised a way back when I was in a dark period of my life that if I don’t learn to like myself, I won’t learn to like other people or be liked in return. A little positivity every day will get you a long way from who you used to be, and who you used to be with.

My chunky love affair.

Today I looked at my lovely jewellery tree, which is normally only sporting dainty little Alex Monroe pieces from birthday’s past or old discoloured Urban Outfitters necklaces, but then I realised that all of those delicate or broken necklaces were engulfed by my recent obsession of ‘make a statement’ jewellery.

I stay true to my little four leaf clover Alex Monroe necklace, or my Dinny Hall Talitha pendant given to me by my brother on my 21st birthday, but I decided a while back to cheat on my dainty beloveds and go for something bigger in size (obviously no sexual connotations here…).

I didn’t think my love affair with chunky statement jewellery would last long, ‘just another passing fashion phase’ I thought to myself, but oh how wrong I was, and unfortunately, my bank balance didn’t seem too pleased with my chunky love affair either.

However, my bank balance didn’t see my money-saving ways at first, but once I had the statement jewels that I thought was enough to cover most outfits in my wardrobe, I felt no need to go looking for another printed top or blouse – just popping on one of my statement necklaces instantly made wearing a plain white top all the more fun and quirky – as seen below.

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Chunk-ify to have some fun with the plain basics.

When it comes to statement necklaces, I divide mine into two camps: the bling-jewel crew, and the edgy tribals. As you can see from the ‘bling-jewel’ style, I do have a passionate love for an Emerald green or Gold:

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Greens & Gold’s.
– Green cuff & both necklaces: Accessorize
– Chunky chain: Urban Outfitters
– Scallop style gold necklace: Topshop

With my selection of the ‘edgy & tribal-esque’ necklaces, I find these sharp structured lines work best with a simple silk or textured top, preferably with no pattern as the jewellery is doing the talking for the outfit itself:

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Lines, Curves & Points:
– All the above is from Topshop (not so adventurous, but at a price that keeps both me and my bank balance happy).

Does a long gold spike necklace work with a nice white formal dress? Well, I thought so, and here was the result:

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Plain white dress? Edge it up.

Obviously my opinion is heavily biased, but my verdict is that YES, the long spike chain necklace completely transformed a plain white bodycon dress (from Zara) into something INTERESTING, something that stood out from the sea of expensive little gold chain necklaces.

By adding that chunky edgy statement to your everyday or formal outfit, I promise you will have a lot more fun, and notice a lot more compliments on your quirky choice. Just remember to make sure none of the spikes of edges harm anyone in the process wearing your new chunky friend!

Time to love you & leave you now!

With love from London,

C

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Sunny Sunday.

I’ve decided to up the ante and start blogging more about fashion/my style favourites etc. I felt my blog had a bit of a sad theme going on, with a few of my posts about my parents divorce, feeling alone or sad etc. So I’ve now decided that I am going to blog about things that I love or am interested in so my mind isn’t so focused on the sadness around me. Its all about getting the balance in life right eh?

I think the best place to start is to show you, (the lovely reader of my blog), what I wore out and about during my Sunday FUNday antics.

As it was warm, but not warm enough to wear my favourite shorts, I stuck to my trusty denim jeans – always there when you need them when London hasn’t decided in the rainy morning that it wants to be hot in the afternoon.

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Feeling floaty floral in Notting Hill.

Right now I’m very much into loose floaty shirts, especially ones with a great pattern or design. Button up shirts are also great to show a little bit of lingerie lace if you want to make it a little more risque than just casual day wear.

My favourite part of the outfit is the clash of patterns between the floral print on my shirt and the blue and white stripes of my hairband – which I picked up from a children’s clothes shop! Stuff in those kind of shops ain’t just for toddlers or pre-teens!

From where?

  • Floral button up shirt: Primark
  • Jeans: New Look
  • Bow Hairband: No Added Sugar
  • Bag: Ozzy & Deena (Urban Outfitters)
  • Shoes: found in my mum’s shoe collection & have now worked their way into mine.

As Sunday is a day of rest, I will love you and leave you now. My ‘bible’ (the Style magazine supplement that comes with the Sunday Times papers) is calling me!

With love from London,

C

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Time to play in the summer sun!

Let’s rewind back to the ‘summer’ months of London 2012 and reminisce of the glorious weather it brought us Brits… For starters, it was recorded as the wettest summer since 1917, and then all hopes of sunbathing in Hyde Park or a trip to Brighton were dashed by the measly mean UK temperature of 13.9 °C – the coolest summer we’ve had since 1998! My 2012 ‘summer’ wardrobe consisted of jumpers, jeans, and if VERY LUCKY, maybe even a t-shirt without a cardigan!

Fast forward to the London summer months of 2013 and its a whole new story. The heatwave that gripped us from the start of July has held on into August, I like to think that’s the weather saying ‘sorry about the shit summer we gave you last year, we feel kinda bad about all that flooding and ruining the Queen’s Jubilee, so we’ve decided to let you all have a hot and sunny summer’. This was very nice of the weather, but a heatwave that causes problems with my wardrobe? Not so nice.

In this perpetual 28-32°C weather I have found my new best friend that keeps me cool and un-sweaty in this city heat – the playsuit.

I used to think playsuit’s looked silly and that it was odd that women wanted to wear a child’s outfit. It wasn’t until a few years back that I tried one on in Urban Outfitters and decided that for a shorty like me (I nearly reach the great height of 5ft), that these short, silky little things did wonders for my little legs and added instant sex appeal through the short hem, silk and pattern.

I’m not a huge fan of Aztec prints, but on this Urban Outfitters playsuit (below), works perfectly. With the cream base and pink patterns toning down the bold Aztec style pattern it stands out from the regular heavy black, yellow or red typical Aztec prints seen on the high street.

As the playsuit’s pattern does all the talking for the outfit, I think its better to tone down when it comes to accessories. Wearing a delicate necklace helps to balance the loud design of the playsuit, seen in the picture below, choosing to wear my favourite Dogeared gold star necklace.

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Silky printed playsuit = solution to keeping cool in the hot weather.

For all you lucky regular sized people out there, a pair of ballet pumps or flats or even a nice pair of sandals will do the trick to making your legs look lovely and long. As you can see in the photo above I opted for a pair of wedges which instantly flattered my little legs. However, as I soon sorely found out, wedges and cobbled stones DO NOT MIX.

Another playsuit I added to my ever growing collection is much more understated, being black in colour with a minimal print to it. In this case I added a statement necklace that complemented the colours of the pattern on the playsuit (dark pink and blue).

I also found that with nearly every playsuit you don’t have to stick with jewellery to add to the look, in fact I found that adding a belt complements both the outfit and emphasizes your waist at the same time – two birds, one stone!

This outfit (although not properly seen in the photo) has kept the sweat at bay in clubs or on holiday.

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Keeping cool on holiday in the Italian heat – picture taken in the beautiful Florence.

If you want to check out a beautiful model wearing the Aztec print playsuit, or if you would like to add it to your wardrobe collection, check out: http://www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk/sparkle+fade-ombre-playsuit-in-aztec-print/invt/5741424315842/

Urban Outiftters may be a little on the pricey side, but the sale always comes up tops and is well worth checking out instore. My favourite alternative if I’m not up to splashing out on £38 or more for one item is to trawl Ebay, where I’ve already found two beautiful swallow printed playsuits in a lovely light blue colour or in cream.

Wondering about a reasonably priced necklace to go with your playsuit? Here is my favourite choice (I rarely take it off!): http://www.asos.com/Dogeared/Dogeared-Make-A-Wish-Rising-Star-Necklace/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=2573568&cid=4122&sh=0&pge=0&pgesize=36&sort=-1&clr=Gold

Wanting something to emphasize that itty bitty waist, or maybe to simply make the playsuit more fitted? Try out a belt like this (I have one like this, but with a pink-y nude belt strap instead of black), the gold bar on the front of the belt will make it easy to accessorize with jewellery and also gives it a more sophisticated look:

http://www.missselfridge.com/en/msuk/product/accessories-299050/belts-299077/black-skinny-metal-bar-belt-2020270?bi=1&ps=40

The sun is shining, and now its time to get out and play in my playsuit without sweating till I’m soaked! And because its called a ‘PLAYsuit’, it means you HAVE to have some fun in it. Enjoy!

With summery love from London,

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