Lifestyle | Four July Highlights

I can't bloomin' believe we're already on August's doorstep.

I've made a mental note to write monthly roundup posts a little more regularly. They give you a real insight into the real person behind the blog, showing that not everything is glam and photo-perfect. Whilst I've made a conscious effort to try to never put up that false pretense on my blog or social media accounts in anyway, these posts still provide a lovely insight into my life and who I am as a person.

Let's have a look back at the month that was...

Blogging Come Back
This month I popped my blogging hat on again and published my first posts since March. The hiatus was caused by a level of unease I had about blogging and my identity within the blogging community. I took the time to consider whether or not there truly is a place for lifestyle blogging within the blogging community. Whilst there have been a number of hugely successful lifestyle bloggers, the blogs which are really smashing it at the moment are largely beauty and fashion themed. I was torn between the two juxtaposing ideas of ultimately which kind of posts make a successful blogger and the style of blogging that truly holds my heart. But after a period of reflection I've realised that blogging success comes from passionate writing and an enthusiastic online presence, so as long as you're passionate about the topic you're writing about - whether it be lifestyle, beauty, books, fashion or otherwise, the world is your oyster. 

Solo Adventuring
July played host to my first solo adventure around Lincoln, visiting the castle and exploring its shopping delights. Although it was merely a day trip, for someone who battles anxiety daily it was a big deal. I picked a city I had visited plenty of times but an area and attraction that was new. The air of familiarity that came from previous trips definitely helped me to feel at ease and I had a truly lovely day. My inner history geek was well and truly out when I ventured around the castle and its Victorian prison, and the scenic views from the top of the castle wall were truly mesmerising. I'm so excited to embark on more solo adventures around the UK soon. If you have any location recommendations I'd love to hear them. 

Family Times
Summer would't be a summer without the odd family get-together thrown in, would it? My extended family lives here, there and everywhere so getting absolutely everybody in the same place is an occasion that only happens once or twice a year, but it's jolly lovely when it does. It was a day of family, food, frolics and an alcohol beverage or two. The perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday. 

End of First Year
July marked the end of my first year of uni, and I was absolutely blessed to discover I had finished the year with a first overall. The beginning of my university experience was a tricky one on all accounts but despite everything I managed to complete it and have a really solid start to my teacher training. Despite its ups and downs, I do have some lovely memories from my first year and am very excited to begin my second year in October and to see what the rest of my uni experience can offer me.

What was your highlight of the month of July?
Are you following Yours, Chloe on Bloglovin? You can find me here.

Thoughts | Twenty Things I've Learnt In Twenty Years

The past couple of years have been ones of personal growth and discovery. In the first two years of my adult life I've become pretty wisdomous (to quote the legend that is Joey Tribbiani) so I thought it would be a jolly good idea to share twenty of the life lessons I've learnt in my first two decades of life.

1. You can't control everything in life and that's ok.
We can't control other people or outside events, we can only control how we react to those things.

2. Wear whatever the hell you want.
It's easy to get stuck in the idea of 'this is on trend, this is what everyone else is wearing so I should do the same' but that is quite honestly crap. Your fashion style is part of your identity; it tells the world who you are and you don't want to imply that you're the same as everyone else. This is the same for things that are 'too short' or 'not flattering'; you like it, you wear it.

3. Invest in experiences rather than things.
Memories are more valuable than material items.

4. Always listen to your intuition.
Listen to that little voice inside of you; you're gut feeling, it'll tell you which path to follow.

5. Quality over Quantity.
Whilst this can be applied to most things in life, especially belongings,it should also be applied in regards to friends. It is more important to have a group of close friends who you will know will always have your back than hundreds of friends who don't really know much more about you than your name.

6. Jealousy is a natural emotion to feel, but use it positively.
Jealousy is a natural emotion to feel; we've all experienced it at some point in our lives. But this Tinkerbell-like trait won't really get you anywhere if you let it take you over. Instead we should consider what it is that's causing this envy and use it in a positive way; to make a positive change to our life.

7. Ask your parents/grandparents about themselves and their youth.
Not only is it important to hear their stories whilst they're still here to tell them, it can also help you to learn about not only them but also yourself. You will develop an understanding of where you get certain character traits or likes/dislikes from; it's truly fascinating how little things are passed down through generations.

8. You do not need to apologise for taking 'me time'. 
Self-care is essential.

9. So much joy can be found in sitting in a coffee shop alone.
Oh boy is it daunting at first but it's so so worth it. Since moving to Sheffield I've made the effort to take a trip to my local coffee shop once every two weeks or so with a book in hand. It was only when I was there that I realised just how many people sit in coffee shops alone. This is the perfect opportunity for a bit of me-time, and the perfect chance for some interrupted nose-in-book time. Bliss.

10. Be curious.
Curiosity creates opportunities for exploration; opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of life.

11. It's important to strike a balance between saving and experiencing. 
There's no point spending all of your younger years stressing about money. Be financially-conscious, of course, but don't let money worries stop you from enjoying life.

12. Live in the moment.
Don't spend your life waiting for Friday, for the summer, for the future; focus on right here right now and make the most of life.

13. You are much stronger than you think you are.
Although it may not always feel like it, you're strong and you will get through whatever life throws at you. Consider how many days you've gone through which you thought you were not strong enough to survive or bounce back from; you have and that shows your strength.

14. Don't compare yourself to others.
The only person worth comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday.

15. It's ok to not follow the same timeline as everyone else, or the timeline that society sets. 
Create your own path through the world. Don't let society, or specific people, tell you when you should reach significant life milestones, follow the path you want to.

16. Don't be afraid to try new foods or give previously-disliked foods another go.
Taste-buds change as you get older. If you live life staying away from foods you didn't like a while ago, or are scared to try for the first time, you may be missing out on some wonderful cuisines. 

17. Get rid of the negative people in your life.
Anyone that brings you down does not deserve to be in your life so wave goodbye and don't be sorry.  

18. The opinions of strangers or people you barely know don't matter. 
Don't get stressed at the prospect of people judging you, if anything they probably haven't even noticed.

19. Take lots of photos.
Remember to document life's adventures so you can look back and reminisce in the years to come.

20. Be kind.
"Be kind wherever possible. It is always possible" - Dalai Lama

What is the most important life lesson you've learnt so far?

Are you following Yours, Chloe on Bloglovin? You can find me here.

Thoughts | On Finding Confidence In Front Of The Camera

Body confidence has never been my forte; far from it. I've always been much more at home behind the camera than in front of it;

This is something I regret if truth be told. Photo albums from family holidays during my teenage years can give the impression I never made it on the plane and I wish I did have all of my wonderful holiday memories in photographic form. 

Blogging has also highlighted my lack of confidence in front of the lens. A significant part of blogging is upholding a solid profile on social media, especially on the likes of Instagram, and it's been well proven that the key to a successful following is flooding your feed with flat-lays and 'candid' photos of you exploring the world. That's easier said than done when your self esteem is below parr.

But this Summer I've set myself a challenge: I want every other photo on my Instagram feed to be a photo of me.

When setting myself this challenge I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park. It's early days still but so far so good, I haven't stressed over clicking publish half as much as I expected to. There is a number of things I've done to boost my confidence in posting portraits on my Instagram which have all contributed in their own little way and today I wanted to share them with you.

One thing that has helped massively with this is getting the right editing routine going on my phone. I've found a number of apps which have found a special place in my heart and each make all the difference to photos. I'm making an effort to not over-edit any of my photos though, as that will have the opposite affect on my self-confidence to what I am aiming for. I simply brighten the photo and add a small hint of a filter when needed. I'm tempted to write a post on how I edit photos to help those who are as clueless about editing as I was before now!

I've also started taking photos at times when I'm most relaxed. I love taking my camera out with me when I take my dogs for a walk so I can snap photos of the scenery and of them, with the option for photos to be taken of me should the timing be right. Having 'blog photoshoots' as spur of the moment things that just seem right in the moment makes them much more chilled; there's not that pressure to get perfect photos as you're just taking them in opportune moments whilst you go about your daily life. It is when you're at your happiest and most relaxed that you can be your true confident self and this shows in the photos that are taken.

Another thing that can help to boost your confidence in front of the camera is getting to know your body and which your 'best side' is. I love shots where I'm playing with my hair, or looking to the side of the shot. I also love candid photos of me with my dogs or just off for a stroll. Now that I have discovered a preference for these kind of shots, they are my go-to during photo shoots and I feel automatically feel more confident in doing them.

I also don't add the confidence-barrier of shooting photos in busy spaces. As I said, I like to take photos when on a walk where there's pretty open spaces and lovely scenery. These places tend to be pretty quiet which helps me to not stress about other people seeing me being all posey. The similar summery natural backdrops have also helped me to begin to build a theme on my Instagram, which gets me extra blogger points.

I'm going to keep writing posts reflecting on my progress towards becoming Instagram-confident. As I said, I've got a long way to go until I can be one of those girls who flounce about the streets of London snapping posey photos like it's nobodies business, but every little step is one step closer.

How to you find the confidence to pose for Instagram photos?

Are you following Yours, Chloe on Bloglovin? You can find me here.

Happy Mind | 5 Simplistic Self Care Ideas

Self Care: The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness. (Self Care Forum)

Articles about self-care often focus on the more luxurious options; the whole 'take a bubble bath' / 'have a pamper' routine. Whilst these can be fantastic self care practices, it is important to also consider some of the more simplistic examples of self care which can be instilled into your daily life.

Self care is quite simply the actions within your lifestyle you take to maintain and improve your mental health and wellbeing; the ways you take care of yourself. It's much easier than you may think to instill self-care practices in your daily routine and today I'm going to explore five of the main opportunities for everyday self care.

Make sure you're eating three meals a day.
Not the most radical self care idea I know, but an important one that so many people fail to do. Eating three healthy balanced meals a day is something which is so key to your mental health. Ensuring you're getting adequate amounts of all the key food groups, vitamins and minerals will help to maintain your mental health. Try to allocate time to properly sit down for each meal as this will not only help you to digest your food better but it will also give you a brief interlude from the craziness of life.

Settle yourself into a good sleep pattern.
The benefits of a good nights kip are well talked about and therefore getting your body into a good sleeping routine is a key way of looking after yourself. I'm not going to sit here and say you should be getting 9 hours of sleep every night because, whilst this is the ideal, it's not entirely practical when you consider the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But allowing yourself a good nights sleep every night is important and something we should all be doing.

Learn that it's ok to say no.
Identifying when you need to say no to social offers and take some me time is really important. I'm not saying shut yourself away and become a hermit, but every now and again (or as much as needed) it's ok to decline an invitation and take some time for yourself. Your friends will understand.

Drink enough water.
Again, this is a fairly obvious, but crucial one all the same. So many people don't give their bodies enough water during the day but girl you need to quench that thirst. If, like me, you're one of those people who is pretty crap at remembering to drink enough water, there's two things I do to get myself into a good drinking routine. Firstly, I bought myself a cute little water bottle which goes with me everywhere so I always have access to water. My local area has a campaign in which local cafes/restaurants/pubs sign up to provide free water when you need your bottle refilling and it's brilliant; I really wish it was a national thing. Secondly I've downloaded one of those water apps on my phone which kindly pesters me every hour and reminds me to have a little drink.

Stick to your skincare routine.
A good nightly skincare routine is the perfect opportunity to take the time each day to give yourself a little pamper; a little TLC. You don't have to go all out with face masks and fancy creams if that's not you, but a simple cleansing routine will revive your skin and help you to feel better. If you can use products involving essential oils (lavender, tea tree etc.) that'll add an extra dimension to your self care.

These five things are all concepts that often go out of the window when you're going through a period of bad mental health and I know that when you're in a rough place simply brushing your hair can seem like climbing a mountain. But instilling these five simplistic self care practices into your daily life can really help to boost your mood and to make things seem even that little bit better.

Have you got anymore ideas for simplistic self care?

Thoughts | Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self

A few months ago my little sister turned 16.

When I considered the prospect of my sister turning sixteen it inspired me to think back to when I was that age. It was only four years ago but it seems like a lot longer. I've grown so much as a person in the past four years and despite some bumps in the road here and there, they have been the best four years of my life so far. Reminiscing to life as a sixteen year old led me to consider the things I wish I'd known back then, so let me share the pearls of wisdom I've accumulated in the past four years in a letter to my sixteen year old self.

Sex isn't everything.
Yes the age of consent is sixteen but that doesn't mean there's an unwritten rule that puts any form of pressure on you to get jiggy with it (where does that saying even come from?!). I know at the moment it seems like absolutely everyone around you is in a relationship and loosing their virginity but that isn't the case, nor would it matter if it was. It will be a year or two before you meet someone special and that's ok, it's worth the wait. Don't feel like you need to rush anything or you're weird for waiting a tad longer than other people to jump on the sex bandwagon; just do everything in your own time and focus on yourself. Create your own timeline and do things at your pace, not at the pace society tells you to follow.

Working part-time will be really valuable.
Shortly after starting sixth form you'll start working part time; just 5.5 hours a week to start with. Although sometimes sacrificing your Sundays and opportunities to hang out with your friends might seem bad but the skills you'll develop whilst working this job for the next 3 years will end up being really valuable for you and help you to get jobs now that you're a grown up. It'll also instill a great work ethic in you than will put you one step ahead of a lot of your peers. Go for it girl!

Don't be afraid to forge your own path in life.
You've never been one to follow the crowd; you will always forge your own path through life with your own likes and dislikes regardless of what the 'popular kids' are doing. This determination to be yourself is one of your most wonderful qualities so don't be afraid to keep it up.

Your self worth isn't dependent on your weight.
We're getting serious with this point kid. Even though at the moment you won't recognise them as such, you have had disordered eating habits for a couple of years by now. Skipping meals, calorie counting and guilt after eating isn't healthy and I'm sorry to say that you're going to have a fight against these habits on your hands for a number of years. But please remember that food is fuel, not the enemy and the number on the scales do not impact on your self worth.

You're beautiful - clear skin or not.
Acne is a bitch. It can really ruin your self confidence without makeup and - regardless of how many skincare products you try during your teens - there's not much you can do about it. But just remember that regardless of how clear your skin is, you're still beautiful.

Friendships will dissolve sometimes, and that's ok.
As you get older you may seem to find yourself growing apart from your childhood and school friends and that is ok, it happens. During your later teenage years you'll find yourself discovering who you really are as a person and your interests, values and passions will really be established. As a result of this you may end up growing apart from friends and this is normal; and completely ok.

What message would you give your sixteen year old self if given the opportunity?

Thoughts | Is It Right To Feel Envious As A Blogger?

This post is one I've written in my head a thousand times over but have never had the courage to actually write down and publish. But I've realised lately that this is a legitimate issue within the blogging community and something that I feel a conversation needs to be started about. I'm talking about feeling envy as a blogger.

It's human nature to see the successes of other people as something of competition; as something to envy. We want to have achieved x or to be doing y successfully and that desire can often come out as jealousy towards the people who already have these things ticked off. This envy can emerge within all different areas of life but it is extremely prevalent within blogging.

You do almost feel a level of envy and frustration when you see bloggers really succeeding and you're still trying to get off the starting line. I do wish I could say that blogging is all sunshine and rainbows and cheering for each other, but this negative element to blogging does exist and should be talked about.

Ultimately no blogger can stand there and say they haven't experienced feelings of envy with regards to their progress as a blogger. You may see some fantastic content or photography and feel jealous of the blogger who has created it. An extremely common example is when we look at each others social media statistics and think 'she has 10k instagram followers; I want that'.  

Something I've definitely experienced, and I'm not ashamed to admit this, is feeling envious towards bloggers and posts which are successful when I don't necessary deem them to be deserving of such. I appreciate that such a statement makes me out to be a horrible person but I think we've all experienced this and are lying to ourselves if we say we haven't. I've read posts that have had a much better reception and much more success than my posts and my first thought is 'well I want and arguably deserve that success'.  I think anyone would find it tricky to not feel disheartened when they work for hours and hours on a post for it to then not get the reception you were hoping for. This disheartening feeling can often manifest into feelings of envy and that's ok.

Experiencing these feelings doesn't make you a bad person or a bad blogger; it's how you react to them that does. Sharing this negativity online is never going to have a positive outcome, it'll merely bring the fellow blogger down and paint yourself in a bad light. Instead we should recognise these feelings of envy and learn from them. If I'm jealous of a certain blogger's photography, what can I learn from their photos and how can I use this to information to positively influence my own content? If someone else is having great success in collaboration with brands, why do I think they're having this success and how can I work towards the same success on my own blog? Use envy as a spark for getting your creative juices flowing and bettering yourself as a blogger.

What is your view on envy in the blogging community?