Wednesday, 27 July 2016

In Print: Romantic Threads Interview

I am delighted to mention that I have a new piece out in Carpe Nocturne magazine, available from the CN website here. For the steampunk-themed summer issue I was lucky enough to interview the lovely Belinda of Romantic Threads about her creations.

Romantic Threads: Custom Made Fairytales

"From a modern-day Marie Antoinette, or a be-corseted Mina Harker, to a medieval maiden draped in velvet - whatever your heart's desire, there are artists and craftspeople out there that can help us make it so. Belinda of Romantic Threads is one such creatrix. She has been making one-of-a-kind, custom gowns for over fifteen years."

In honesty, I'd love to screenshot a page for you because the team have done an extraordinary job on the layout (there are roses and everything) and the photographs are stellar, but I'm restraining myself.

Thanks to Belinda for taking part and as always a huge thanks to the Carpe Nocturne staff.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Being Your Own Best Friend

You've probably heard this before, but self-love isn't easy. Let's please chuck out the useless mantra of 'if you don't love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?' because frankly it is bollocks - sometimes, it's a lot easier for other people to see the best of you when your perception is cluttered with your own flaws and shortcomings.

Becoming your own best friend and cheerleader is a hard thing to do, but even making the effort to try can be so incredibly rewarding. I am certainly not a guru or a mental health specialist, but over the last few years I have done my best to change my attitude towards myself and I am the happiest now that I have been since childhood. It ain't perfect. Everybody goes through rough patches. But compared to the headspace I was in five or six years ago, the changes are dramatic.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but below are some suggestions of ways I came to care for myself more, and hopefully something here might resonate with you, too (but please - judge carefully what you feel will be safe and empowering for you and don't try something that makes you in any way uncomfortable just on my say-so. And of course, if you are experiencing mental health problems or other issues of concern, please don't be afraid to reach out for professional help. At the bottom of this post, I'm including some links for organisations such as Samaritans who are there to offer you non-judgemental help and support. You are valid; you are important; you are not alone.)

As always, if anyone has any tips, suggestions or further advice, please do jump in.

  • Stop seeing your personality as a challenge to be overcome. Those of us who are quiet or shy or introverted or unsociable by nature are often bombarded with the message that this is a problem to be fixed. No. You are valid and good exactly the way you are. I don't mean that you should never encourage yourself to go out or push the edges of your comfort zone a bit if you want to, but if you know a noisy party in a strip club is never going to be your thing, you don't have to go. We're always told to 'put ourselves out there', 'say yes to stuff more' - but you don't have to! Realising this was a massive relief to me. I like to go out for a dance from time to time but I'm never going to be a wild party animal. Sometimes now I choose to stay in and read or have quiet chill time with other introverted friends instead of going out, and my stress levels thank me for it.
  • Be your own target demographic. I let go of 'cool'. I let go of 'fashionable'. I let go of hating on things that teenage girls like (this has been said before, but can we all stop bashing teenage girls please? Adolescence is hard enough without being belittled at every turn, jfc). I let myself like whatever it is that I like. Seek out what makes you smile. (Personally, I recently got hugely into cute, fluffy manga - it's non-threatening, it's squee-able, I find it incredibly soothing. I should probably also mention Pokemon Go here - I haven't played it yet cause it's not compatible with my phone, but I hear people are finding it very helpful for coping with anxiety and depression.) Luckily, the media and franchises available to us seem to be becoming more diverse, representational and feminist-friendly, which makes me happy because I can now read comic books and watch movies where the women wear sensible armour and have realistic body types and I don't need to come away feeling a bit poop about my belly chub (Ghostbusters. Fury Road. Bitch Planet. Rat Queens. Lumberjanes. Princeless.). 
  • Listen to yourself. A big turning point for me was realising that I couldn't even contemplate going to a certain social event sober, because it scared me too much. And a little voice in the back of my head said, well, if it's that uncomfortable for you, maybe don't go? So my new yardstick for social events is 'do I have to drink to get through this?' and if yes, I don't go. (This has also massively cut down on my drinking and my skin has cleared up wonderfully, so, yay! I'm really not a fan of drugs and obviously alcohol is a drug, albeit a legal and socially acceptable one, so the smaller a place it has in my life the better, really.) Just checking in with yourself and seeing how you feel - and adjusting accordingly - can make a big difference. Using my new yardstick, and therefore only going to things I think I will enjoy, has turned my social life from something stressful and terrifying into a set of genuine, comfortable friendships.
  • Also important is to check in with yourself physically. Self-care, as we all know, is an important thing. Sometimes this is hard. If you can't get out of bed, let alone shower and eat, then that's fine. If regular sleep and three square meals a day is not on your dance card at this point in time, that's okay too. Self-care can range from 'I didn't die today' to 'I ate', 'I bought myself a nice perfume' to 'I bought Thinx pants because VAT on tampons is fucking stupid and periods should suck less'. When you feel able, check in with yourself and see what you are able to manage. Can you get a glass of water? Put socks on your cold feet? Get a manicure? If you can't manage anything extra right now, then still well done to you just for checking in, because sometimes acknowledging your fleshy meat prison is hard all on its own. 
  • Check your compromises. Obviously in all relationships there are some kinds of compromise involved. But if a relationship isn't actively enriching both people's lives, it might be time to take a look and see if you're okay with what you're contributing. Letting go of toxic relationships is difficult but sometimes necessary. Or you might simply need to adjust your boundaries. De-prioritising a relationship that takes up too much of your time and energy is okay. (For example: my partner suffers with cluster headaches, has a busy work schedule and supports a person with disabilities. Therefore we don't see each other half as much as I would ideally like. This was beginning to really upset me and was putting a lot of strain on both of us because we were both stressed about it. Letting myself focus more on other friends and other activities doesn't mean I love my partner less - it just gives us both space to breathe instead of both of us freaking over a problem we can't solve.)

If you feel you might need support or advice, try:
Depression Alliance

Listening to: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist by Ramshackle Glory

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Inspiration Station: 12/7/16

Wow, I actually haven't posted one of these since February! I'm taking a trip to London for a couple of days with my best friend so I thought I'd sneak a post in before I go.

Articles I've Enjoyed

Cool is a Trap: A Defense of Being Uncool
And not in an 'I was uncool before it was cool' way either. Honestly, my life has become approximately 7954% better since I gave up on trying to be cool or impress anyone. 10/10, would recommend.

How I Became Okay Wearing the Same Outfits All the Time
Speaking as someone who has the same handful of T-shirts and two pairs of jeans in fairly continuous rotation, I loved this. In Ye Olde Goth Days, I never wore the same outfit twice. Literally never. Mostly this was fine, because I had A LOT of clothes, but sometimes it led to absolute meltdown. And it got hella expensive, fast. If I'd lightened up on myself (and stopped feeling the need to blog every single outfit) I might have had a little more fun.

The Not-My-Style List
Oh look, I'm linking to Into Mind again. Whilst I'm never going to be the ultimate minimalist (I collect My Little Pony, which does not make for the Pinterest-friendly, sparse, Scandi environment. My room will never be a shimmering vista of polished driftwood and white paint, and I'm good with that), I do really enjoy this blog, and this particular post was such a lightbulb moment for me. And it's such a simple idea, I can't believe I didn't think of this before!

Punk Girls
A showcase of the amazing photography of Liz Ham. Her Punk Girls collection focuses on the women of the punk subculture - yes, the clue kinda was in the name. Seeing women express themselves in non-conventionally-'pretty' ways is a real big thing for me and I absolutely love this photo series (it's worth clicking through to Liz Ham's Tumblr as well).

My Husband and I Made Up a New Last Name When We Got Married
I thought this was a genius idea and I was really surprised by the reactions this couple got. My partner and I have been talking recently about what we would do, name-wise, if we got married. I've always said I'd keep my own name but the problem is that his last name is really nice, which puts me in a quandary. :/ I suppose there're always hyphens, but it just doesn't sound so good then. Perhaps I could choose a new name. A better name. One name to rule them all.

Recommended Reading
  • The Wander Society by Keri Smith. Funny, clever, thought-provoking, and got me to start going outside more. It's easy for me to fall into the trap of being indoorsy but I was always an outdoors kid and the more time I spend wandering, the more I feel connected to myself.
  • Girl Up by Laura Bates. Aimed at a younger market than I realised when I bought it, this nevertheless features some delightful illustrations of dancing vaginas and as such I can't recommend it more highly. I wish this had been around when I was in my teens.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I thought I was over YA vampire books until I read this. Holly Black's writing is amazing - lush, dark, poetic, magical. #endgush

Listening To
  • Pet Sematary by Muncie Girls (Ramones cover)
  • Rich Bitch by Die Antwoord
  • Lush Life by Zara Larsson
  • A Month From Now/Whatever You Like by Rail Yard Ghosts (Prof cover)
  • Army of Me by Bjork

Lusting Over
  • The last thing I need is another mug, but this Supernatural mug is great. (I'm SO into SPN lately that I'm even annoying myself. I have a massive squish on the entire cast and... oh man... the fanfiction, the feels, I can't even. But we probably have a gif for that ;) ) (Sorry if you're my dad and you understood about 1% of that sentence.)
  • My next perfume purchase is absolutely going to be this Screaming Fangirl perfume oil.

Geeking Out

Just generally pretty excited about Supernatural right now, so there's that.
Neil Gaiman is taking a break from the internets to work on a new novel, so that's exciting. I'm not sure if that's separate from his Norse Mythology book due to come out next year, or something totally new, but it's all good with me!
I haven't got Pokemon Go yet! Security updates have taken up so much space on my phone that it won't download so I'm frantically deleting everything to make room. Can't wait!
Looking forward to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Obviously I'm on Pottermore, and I got sorted into Thunderbird house.
Lastly but not leastly (sorry), the new Ghostbusters is apparently pretty good despite all the whining about the predominantly female cast. No surprise there.

Style: Icons and Current Ponderings

My Month

L-R: Walking home late at night after parties, chilling on abandoned armchairs in the woods, badly photoshopping my Gishwhes team onto the Avengers (sadly you can't quite see Rosie as Thor because it's brilliant), a sketchy self-portrait that managed not to look like me, accidental Life Is Strange cosplay whilst out exploring and taking photos of abandoned buildings, being fancy for no reason vs. being a happy potato, travelling at sunset, a day out for the 12th anniversary of my relationship, writing in the woods.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Recruiting for Gishwhes!

I know this is a long shot! But, is anyone contemplating registering for Misha Collins's Gishwhes this year? My team (Team derek, with a lowercase D - capital-D Derek was taken >.< ) still has spaces - we're seeking friendly, enthusiastic, lovely nerds for joyous mayhem. We're a non-competitive team as this is our first year tackling the challenge - we're going to do our best to win, obvs, but mostly we're just in it to have fun.

If you're interested, please comment below, or message me on Instagram @wildlavendergirl. (I don't check my email often and time is running out to register so you might miss me there! Please be aware, there IS a registration fee - all rules, terms and conditions can be found on the Gishwhes webpage.)
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