29 January 2015

Take Back What's Yours

This is my post for the "Take Back What's Yours" campaign started by Chloe's Concept. Chloe's blog is one of my favourites, partly due to the fact it is both a lifestyle blog, while covering her life with T1 Diabetes. Before her blog, I struggled to find a diabetes blog that also ventured into the quite saturated 'lifestyle and fashion' blogging world, so discovering Chloe's Concept offered both reassurance and also something to aspire to. 

When I saw her launch this campaign, I knew I had to do my own post for it and am passionate about getting more people involved, both within the DOC and the wider lifestyle blogging community! On a personal level, its concept links in perfectly with my own New Year resolutions - essentially, I want to take back me. I want to take back Sophie.

… which includes, for starters, my glasses! Fun fact, Sophie wears glasses. For seeing, to be precise. Yet I nearly always remove them out of self-consciousness… until today, I have taken them back (literally) and plonked them on my head where they belong. 

So, taking back me... rather abstract, cliche, generalised - yes. But for me it carries so much truth. The past year has seen both physical and mental illness rear their tyrannical heads a bit more; on the back of unprecedented diabetes curveballs, I came into 2015 feeling a little lost about what the future may hold.

My quest to take back "Sophie" is largely about coming to terms with my diabetes. Thirteen years on, you would think I would be there already. Sadly, life doesn't quite map pan out as we would expect or idealise. Nonetheless, in taking back some of the little things that make me, hopefully the road will become clearer. I feel wearing my glasses is a good star! 

Taking back my mind 

It does not belong to any illness, physical or mental. 

I need to take back my blood sugar metre and learn that the number is just that - a number. It needs to be counted, but it does not need to count for anything. Those trivial digits have dictated my life for far too long, from food and life choices, to my own self-worth. This needs to change. 

I need to find my way back to the mind that enjoyed cake and Spaghetti Bolognese without a second thought. The head that could rationalise carbs as, again, simply a number that needs to tot up, not torment. I need to take back my free will and my choices, away from these two illnesses. I need to take back diabetes - not the diabetes that mental illness has, to some degree, capitalised on and warped. I need to get back to basics, essentially. Baby steps forward.

Taking back my books 

In the midst of all the diabetes dilemmas of the last few months, recreational reading has fallen somewhat on the back burner; for a lifelong literary lover, this does leave a noticeable void. The sad truth is that blood sugar volatility (and subsequent heightened eating struggles ), has placed me in a bit of a head fog - physically and mentally. However, I am resolved to read more - last summer I was more prolific than ever in my reading speed!

 Of course, I do have quite a mountain of university module texts to read, my most recent favourite being Bill Bryson's Notes From a Small Island, but I want to try and read a non-course book every 2 weeks - 1 if I put my mind to it. After all, I do only have 6 contact hours a week! £9000 a year well spent… 

Perhaps at trip here is in order? I even have my own Mimbulus Mimbletonia. 

I also want to do more reviews - I am currently reading a review copy of Gayle Forman's new novel I Was Here, so expect a post on that in the imminent future. Books are such an important part of my life, a real 'Sophie' thing. I need to take them back and never let them go… now there's a good book - on that note, I also want to read more from Eastern writers!

Taking back my coffee order

I already achieved this in 2014; finally saying no to skinny following years of uttering that now shoulder-shivering words in countless coffee shops. This needs to continue, in the form of visiting more independent cafes! Not only do they offer cappuccinos far superior in all the essential areas (velvety froth, sweet espresso shots and coffee art to melt your heart), but they have no numbers. 

With the Student Guild in Exeter due to put calorie counts on their menu (brilliant article on this here at The Independent), it is a welcome sigh of relief. As I said earlier, numbers do not need to count for anything, but it is nice to simply have them not exist at all. 

Since falling in love with smaller branches such as Bath's Society Cafe and Exeter's Boston Tea Party, tasting Starbucks coffee over christmas was met with quite bitter (literally) disappointment. When In Bath, I want to visit the new Colonna & Hunter in Milsom Place (sister of Colonna & Small's - the King of the flat white). Meanwhile, Exeter's Devon Coffee and the new The Glorious Art House might require me to travel a bit south of Boston or, in the case of the former, about two shops down the street…! 

It does bemuse me slightly that two 'premium' coffee shops should be placed so close to one another, but then you only have to go to Kingsmead Square in Bath to find no less than four coffee shops… at least you will never struggle for options. As for the latter - I have seen photos of their tea cups, and it could very well be Sophie-in-a-shop. Quite fitting then, in my quest to "take back me". Happy days. 

Taking back my smile

The original name for this blog was Sophie Keep Smiling. I have used it as an 'alias' for a few things. Originally it was somewhat ironic - when I was in a bad place back in 2012, I used to just tell myself to "keep smiling", put on a front to both the people around me… but also to myself. It was a mask, but looking back at pictures now I am not convincing anyone; well, I don't convince the 20 year old who sits here now. Moreover, growing up I could genuinely never smile! It was a bit of an inside joke in our family - when I was in year 4, my parents were offered my school photo for free. True story. 

When I began recovery, "keep smiling" was a bit of a motto I adopted to spur myself into action. Despite how anxious or afraid I felt, I told myself I would keep smiling in the belief that one day it would start to seem less brittle, less painted on. It is quite easy to look back at my Next Top Model watching days and laugh over Tyra's "smile with your eyes" mantra, but it's true! Your eyes are where you see a smile - they are what, above all else, signifies health and happiness. Not your body, or the size of your thighs. It's your eyes. 

My smile is strongest when I am nourished, have blood sugar stability and feel content in myself. It is amazing that it took eighteen years for me to learn how to smile, but I think I finally have. Given the turmoil of the last year, it isn't as bright as it has been. However, come 2016 I hope to look back, in photos, on a year filled with laughter, sparkles and smiles. 

A smile I took back, because the only person it can ever belong to is me. 


Cheesy post over, I tag the following lovely people to take part in this campaign. I have chosen a mixture of my favourite lifestyle, diabetes and recovery bloggers; #takebackwhatsyours is such a positive idea, let's spread the word as widely as possible! 

Take Back What's Yours


21 January 2015

Wednesday Wish List

  1.   Two-tone brogues 

More and more these days I am realising that my style sense may be morphing, ever so swiftly, into a certain pop princess'…

photo credit: pinterest.com

...what can I say? She likes satchels, brogues, and duffle coats. Fairytale fashion if there ever was. I already have a pair of heeled brogues, along with loyal paddington coat and my bargain Urban Outfitters Satchel. Recently, my hunt has switched to the "two tone oxfords", as beautifully exhibited above by Taylor and Kendall Jenner - I even have the dog to complete the look - I know it can be argued that "all puppies are beautiful", but I think Millie edges it in the cuteness stakes. 

First port of call: Office. Only to find that theirs are priced at £90. Moving on. Asos - nothing. Topshop, Urban - mada. Ebay… nothing that quite 'fit'. Then I found myself on lyst.com and stumbled upon the website ModCloth. It could be a new love. They do free international delivery, retro apparel, it could be Sophie in  a store. 

                           ModCloth, £26                                                                                Office, £30 
Then, as if the stars aligned, a couple of days ago I returned to Office and there they were; the shoes, exactly as I dreamt they would be… in the sale! You can't argue with these prices either. 

  2.    The 'portrait' dress  

One of my favourite blogs is The Londoner - Rosie has a smile and spirit that is infectious. Then there's Custard… I want to set him and Millie up; they would have the cutest puppies that ever existed. Fact. 

A couple of times she has done a post featuring these lovely vintage pattern dresses. The fact both dog and duffle feature on the left only make me love it more. So I decided to finally visit the online site in question, and found the middle dress… 

The Londoner                                             Sheinside, £13.39                                           The Londoner   

It's a love story, with a price to please the most frugal of hearts. The design is quite quirky, but that fits my 'times past' style quite nicely.

  3.   Floppy hat, floppy hat 

Having a serious Friends nostalgia trip now, but as per usual I am getting side-tracked… ever since Vanessa Hudgens stepped out in one, I have had a love for wide-brimmed felt hats. The fedora style is quite popular, but I quite like the really oversized look.

photo credit: pinterest.com
  My current stumbling blocks with this particular lust-item are a) the price tag. The Topshop one below is gorgeous, but at nearly £30 I have been doing some eBay hunting. An ASOS offering was my original favourite, totalling out at £45.

                                 River Island, £25                                                                                  Topshop, £28

I may just have to make an exception though - they are both so pretty! You can also be assured they are of god quality too, so can stand the test of time.

Then b) there is a confidence issue… I simply question whether I can walk onto campus wearing one, without feeling like a bit of a muppet! However, I think curiosity will triumph. I keep seeing them appear on my favourite blogs - namely WishWishWish,  Zoe London, Coco's Tea Party and What Olivia Did - the hat is clearly trying to tell me something! I would be rude not to listen.

4. Storybook Love

My more unique wish list item - this is love. oh Etsy, you never disappoint. I was recently intrigued after seeing a friend's "book bag, so decided to google the term on my most beloved online store. I found this…

The products in this store are creative, romantic and so unique; my birthday may be eight months away, but I think I've just found the dream present.

I'm not sure how strong my willpower is to keep this a "wish" list. I have a feeling some multi-coloured brogues, at the very least, may stumble upon my wardrobe in the imminent future, You can't hold back a love story. 


19 January 2015

Six Snowy Style-ssentials

With the promise of snow in the imminent future, I thought I would do a clothes post for staying stylishly snug thise New Year. I say stylish… this is, as ever, subjective. Sorry Kim. 


Embrace your inner Paddingtom with a duffle coat. I can guarantee you will:
  1. not regret a penny once you've used the furry hood to protect you from a rain or snow onslaught.
  2. look far less sinister than a certain film interoperation of Britain's most beloved bear.
It's a win-win situation. Mine is from Miss Selfridge, one of my Christmas presents last year and chosen after much dithering and searching (and more dithering). I found the coveted "petite" version in my size, as being hobbit sized I was at risk of being buried alive. 

I definitely recommend finding one with the fluffy hood - mine is sold out, but ASOS have a couple that are now reduced (here and here). You won't regret it! This new furry favourite joined the 2013's coat purchase found in the Topshop New Year Sale. Now, I am not a 'sales' person. My outlook has always been "there's a reason stuff goes in the sale". However, this particular coat was an unearthed gem, and continues to be two years on. 

Red and black checks - otherwise known as "tweed" - it goes with pretty much anything, including for more formal occasions. To top it off, the black velvet ribbon gives it a wonderfully cutesy, vintage feel. This coat would have been worth the full price, so securing it for under £40 made for one rather smug shopper. 

If you don't have the money to spend on a coat nearing the £100 marker (which most good quality ones are), I recommend trying to find one in the sale, rather than buying one which was originally at that lower price - you get more for your money! I have a similar strategy when it comes to buying wine; always get the ones on offer, never risk the bottle that was always under a fiver. It won't end well.

Short Skirts < Skirt Shorts

Enter the skort. I love skorts, amazing to think once upon a time they only existed in my life in the form of highly questionable school gym kit. In recent years though, they have made a bit of a resurgence, with nearly all High Street brands stocking a wide range. They eliminate all fear of winter winds betraying your modesty, and are far comfier to jeans.

My favourite is the green skort - it goes with anything. Crop tops work best, and recently I have experimented with baggier tops in floral patterns, which gives it a nice vintage feel. One of my favourite outfit combinations is this cream and black striped River Island top, with a pendant necklace and heeled brogues. I often wear it in the day dressed down with a baggy cardigan, but is also brilliant for going out. I usually pair with the Miss Selfridge top in the left picture; the sleeves are practical for winter and stop it being too revealing, while combining the red and green stops the former colour being too bold. 

And then there's just good old shorts. I was sceptical at first - shorts? I was the 16/17 year old whose style was compared to Rachel Berry. However, they are now a wardrobe staple, not least this red ASOS pair that my flatmate purchased a mere couple of weeks into last term! They are first of all incredibly comfortable, but are also rarity in that they don't swamp hobbits like me. Same goes for this greyscale Miss Selfridge pair, which handily enough can be pair perfectly with my favourite skort top. 

I have a small love for a statement pendant, from my Camden Market pocket-watch design, to my happiness token from the Temple of Literature in Vietnam. That might be slightly too long a long trip, however, so I would recommend Nika Jewellery at ASOS Marketplace; they offer some really beautiful  designs, for only a few pounds each. 

Then the satchel… my bag of choice. You don't run the risk of a broken zip, its structure avoids the 'bulging bag' look, and every so often you can wander into UO and find one for half price. £20 and I use it pretty much everyday. That was a happy day.  

Clothes are Like Onions

This is not a reference to the eye-watering price-tags, although there is an argument there. I'm talking about the Shrek analogy of LAYERS.  Winter brings a myriad of possibilities when it comes to wardrobe choices, although it was actually summer that saw me experiment more with layering clothes to change an outfit. 

I bought a couple of these New Look shirts during sixth form, but resigned them to the back of my wardrobe once I headed to University. However, I've discovered they can actually make really good alternatives to cardigans, particularly if you just want to wear a jacket that an oversized cardigan won't fit under. For some more onion layers, onto 'boot buffering'…

...Oh boots. My beautiful burgundy boots. My christmas miracle gift. I'm like Monica from Friends, only these shoes are not only gorgeous but a great compromise for the vertically challenged. I can spend all day in them, see the world with higher eyes, and have zero foot ache come evening. I have been hunting for the perfect boots since September, and at last Office answered.

With boots, my favourite thing to do in winter is wear lace-rimmed socks underneath. As I am a skort/short/skirt girl, it is a perfect solution to wearing tights and not feeling the foot freeze. Speaking of skorts, these boots are perfect with my green one, and dare I say it make me look of normal stature? As I said, a Christmas miracle.

Layering also calls for baggy knits - The cardigan on the left was another glorious UO sale steal (on reflection, I should view them with less cynicism…). I actually bought it full price back in November, only to return it upon being 'unable to justify the price'. Return a month later…. down to half the price! Another happy day. I love to pair it with my Topshop purple velvet dress, which I also got for half the original price - this time, however, it was courtesy of a little thing called eBay. 

Bobbling Along

This subheading instantly made me think of that song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks… aah such a good film! Anyway, back to the serious business of... bobble hats.

You've already embraced your inner paddington, now it's time to channel Edith.  My sister always calls me Edith when I wear my bobble hat, and really what greater compliment is there? My original bobble hat (worn in the photos with my red and black coat) was possibly my greatest bargain ever… 90p! From Topshop. I kid you not, when the sales assistant told me I actually felt guilty that I was somehow stealing from them. Love how my 10% student discount still applied to. 

When I tragically lost bobble hat numero uno, a trip to Primark was in order. Suffice to say, it is the first time that shop has ever looked pricy. It may not be the most stylish of accessories, but paired with the right coat and some boot heels, you can actually look your age and have the added bonus of ears that don't freeze.

Best Foot (and Finger) Forward

The 21st century brings a new glove dilemma, in the form of a certain Apple. It's that moment when you think - survival of the fingers, or survival of that Facebook conversation? It's a tricky one. Luckily, the innovative fashion world has come up with a solution…. touchscreen gloves! Mine were an ASOS investment, and the beauty of being able to make a call or text, without risking the life of your hands, was worth every penny of six hundred. 

Of course, there are other solutions… enter mittens. But not just any mittens - fingerless mittens! I am of two minds with this contraption. Practical? Absolutely. Comfortable? The jury is out. I do find it a bit of a hassle to have to go and fasten and unfasten... not to mention when it unfastens without warning, or a button breaks. Then it's about as much use as a soleless shoe. They do come in some really cute designs though, aka pandas.

When it's cold and gloomy, what better to cheer you up than clothes with animals on? At the risk of appearing like a five year old, I will vouch for animal gloves - they make you smile. As for animal slippers, Next are unrivalled in this department, and it is like having a foot hug. Just a word of caution, don't let your dog near them - they will lay claim and guard as fiercely as a Tolkien dragon.  


Sophistication may be called into question with some of my selection, but you can't argue with the snugness. In my eyes, the two go hand-in-hand. Comfort and warmth = ability to hold a conversation without the risk of freezing all your senses. There is some sense in that and, after writing this post, I have been reminded that there is a lot of sense in sales, too. Who knew? 

11 January 2015

Customising Christmas

Cuddly cavachons and make-your-own crackers are a couple more distinctive features of the Harrison family Christmas. However, this year was somewhat different, being the first time with just the four

…sorry, five of us at home. Christmas Eve saw the wonderful return of my sister, who works in Reading and managed to get an earlier sleigh ride back to Bath then anticipated - just in time for sausage roll making! We did shake things up a bit and relegate our usual beef bourginon dinner, in favour of venison steak (I am aware of the irony here, and do confess to still being a tad ethically uncomfortable with "eating Rudolph"…). I also displayed some festive goodwill by agreeing to the film choice of It's a Wonderful Life - while it is a classic, nothing beats the classics as divulged on my vlogmas. Kermit  Cratchit is clearly the only version Dickens would ever have endorsed.

However, this year my family really did surpass themselves with really personal, quirky and meaningful gifts. This is definitely a post where pictures do the talking, so without further avail I will wrap up my rambles and move onto unwrapping the presents…

It's nice having a child in the house at christmas again… Millie has all the excitement and wrapping-rage of a four year old, complete with a love for drinking Christmas Tree water and eating one of her presents on Christmas Eve.

Pets at Home is the Toys 'R Us of the dog world. Millie's haul this year featured candy canes, cookie jars curtesy of the wonderful The Dogs Cake Bakery, who make everything from birthday cake to 'cheesy feet'…
…and attempt to find a replacement for her favourite polar bear, who has been looking a bit dilapidated of late. Suffice to say that, in the twelve days since christmas, 'new polar bear' has remained unmoved from his position at the corner of her basket, and old polar bear has had an emergency shipment to Arctic Hospital for some arm repair. These two cannot be separated.

She had a turkey stuffed bone though, so she was really quite smitten. Onto the humans...

My dad struck gold in Sainsburys, presenting both my sister and I with respective Anna and Elsa dolls! Among the many nicknames my sister and I have for each other (plus Millie), Anna, Elsa and Olaf are the favourites. I was slightly crestfallen when Argos were out of stock of the Olaf toy I planned to get my younger 'sister', so fingers crossed they restock soon!

My parents remarked how I am remarkably easy to shop for, being the princess of 'pretty things' and home comforts. Among my favourites were the casserole dish from John Lewis, which will be perfect for my new favourite breakfast discovery - baked oatmeal! Seriously, try it - it's the perfect thing to wake up to, and the time it takes to cook (20 minutes) correlates exactly with the time I usually wait between giving my insulin and eating… meant to be! Then I unwrapped my sister's gift to find a tea lover's paradise - Fortnum and Mason English Breakfast!

My sister and parents deserved an Elf Oscar all round for some truly original 'Sophie finds', particularly those with a literary twist! After I did a literary inspired gift guide for Exepose Books, featuring my beloved Etsy and Not On The Highstreet, my sister found this gorgeous calendar, notebook ft. a quote by one of my favourite writers, and possibly my favourite "book quotes for Sophie". 

I am incredibly lucky to have my Anna in my life, and Olaf of course… Millie's name weaves its way onto every present card, despite her lack of contributing funds! 

Then my mum… my ingenious mum. One particular item featured on my gift guide - and admittedly my favourite - was this Harry Potter inspired pendant. One newer family tradition of ours is "make-your-own" crackers, ft. a lindor chocolate, elaborate scratchcard and a gift that we all pick for each other. I open mine, and the pendant above falls out… my mouth fell open, I couldn't quite believe it! Some girls love Tiffany, but cute, quirky and meaningful items are the true gems in my eyes. Almost everyday (including this Christmas) I wear my "happiness" pendant, which I bought last summer from the Temple of Literature in Vietnam. It must have been the equivalent of a couple of pounds, but is one of my most prized items. Meaning over money. 

As delighted as I was over the gifts I received - mostly the thought that went into them - this year I adored gift-searching and completely threw myself into it! Etsy was definitely a revelation; my overarching theme was nostalgia, and with the help on online shopping I was pretty chipper with the result. For my sister, I found a Doll House size copy of Charlotte's Web, a real harkening back to childhood for my sister, who has a namesake in literature's nicest spider. Then I wanted to find her a version of this game my Grandma and Grandpa owned, and which we both loved playing. After googling wooden discs and sticks game (detailed I know) I discovered it on Amazon… where I discovered its real name is "Towers of Hanoi". Given our holiday last summer, it seemed too good to be true! Onto mum… 

…did anyone else ever read this when they were younger? It is one of the earliest books I remember being read, so when I found this Emma Bridgewater cushion I knew it was meant to be! Possibly my proudest present creation, however, was for dad.

I created four separate designs to be printed on top of coasters. I tried to make the quotes fitting for the photos - I am the Harry Potter lover in the family, so the picture of Millie and I was accompanied with one of my favourite JK nuggets of knowledge. Roald Dahl was a big part of my Childhood, with both mum and dad, so the photo of us three uses that. My sister loves Lord of the Rings - enter Gandalf wisdom! The final one is from The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, a fantasy series my dad loves and mentioned a few times when I was growing up. I googled quotes from it, and fell in love with this one (top left). It was the perfect one to complete the set! 

It was ordered through Etsy, and the shop I worked with was so co-operative and the final product exceeded all I ever hoped for. Sadly, due to my slight underestimation of international delivery times, it arrived slightly after christmas, but this only added to it. I wrote my dad a poem entitled "Coast Life", in which I paraphrased the quotes on the coasters. He was convinced it was thus something to do with the coast/sea, so I was rather proud of my lateral thinking here! He opened it on New Year's Eve, and it was an example of why tears do no always equal sadness - he loved it, and this truly made my Christmas. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I think it might be my best gift idea ever, and I think this is largely due the fact it is so unique. If you are ever stuck for an original gift idea, personalised coasters are the way to go! 

Customising christmas definitely calls for Millie cuddles. Always. 


5 January 2015

Roundups and Resolutions

Happy 2015! I intended to do an interim post between Christmas and New Year, but life as ever ran away with me a bit, not to mention the looming deadline of my Creative Writing journal…

Consequently, this will be both a 2014 roundup and 2015 resolution - I adamantly stated a mere couple of days ago that I was against this particular convention, but since then I have thought of a few things I would like to accomplish this year, and what better place to hold myself accountable than here? Writing out possibilities for the new year, and seeing how many I can realise. 

Roundup 2014

Christmas will be omitted from this part; partly logistics, as I have yet to get my hands on dad's camera, but also because there is simply too much Cavachon cuteness to condense into one section of a post… However, I here's a little snapshot of New Year's Eve at the wonderful Brasserie Blanc! Just the four of us - mum, dad, sister and I - which was so lovely. 

After a quite tumultuous year in our family, it was nice to do something relaxed and more laid-back, as a family unit. An evening of nattering, 'fine' dining and playing our signature game of 'celebrity lookalike' (my best was James McAvoy in action as Mr Tumnus) was definitely more suited than rushing off to some social soiree or faraway land... sorry Newcastle, I love you really. 

This cod deserved a John Torode
"melt in your mouth" accolade
We bottled the stars...
…and I loved it to the moon and back

Simple… but always sophisticated! The champagne was utterly delightful, signalling my sister to remark that I have "expensive taste". Well, you can't put a price on stars.

The food was rather tasty too; very French, which was fitting given the location - our collective menu featured two souffl├ęs, a cassoulet, not to mention a particularly pungent cheeseboard. For me, however, the star of the show was my sister's mussels. Next time we go (it is more of a treat place, but worth its weight in gold), I am ordering mussels! The words 21st and Le Manoir were also spoken of in the same breath, which was just a tad exciting…

So, I described New Year's Eve as being all about our family unit and, as famous as the four of us are, we're nothing without our fab fifth member:

After one or two (or three) outfit changes, I succumbed and reverted to my Christmas Day outfit! Never has £20 been so well invested in an item of clothing - this blue velvet Topshop creation was my first foray into Ebay, and let's just say the High Street may have lost a devoted customer… 

…Resolution 2015

On a rainy 31st December day, I realised that a New Year list is pretty much a summation of my blog title… penning down possibilities for 2015. On that note, here are a few items in my bucket box; I hope to dig out a good majority of them, before my 21st year is over, but am not setting any expectations. Let the chips fall where they may… 

Build my blog

This virtual home was first constructed in 2012, but made a little comeback in February when I published my article for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Since then, I have been blown away by how it has grown. In the past year I have received almost 20,000 new hits, then my foray into the Vlogging world somehow didn't result in the epic fail I had anticipated!

The response to my Dear Meghan Trainor video has been incredible, and also made me realise… wow, maybe I could actually make a difference? Maybe what I write - or say - could bring some positive change, however small. Even if it is just one person who can read/watch and feel less alone in something, then I couldn't really ask for anything more. 

For me, it isn't about the stats, although if I am hoping to raise awareness through a post then of course the wider the reach the better! Nonetheless, I care more about the stories behind the stats. Reading the comments on that video, or people even contacting me to simply say "I'm glad someone is speaking on this, raising awareness, being open with struggles past and present". These messages in turn motivate me, and I am very grateful for each and every one of them.

I am unsure where I will go with the vlogging - I don't really feel my voice is made for video, if truth be told! I also know how saturated the vlogging world is, and I don't think I will ever have the credentials to do a make-up tutorial! Then again, maybe that is a good thing? I do want to do more lifestyle features - possibly about clothes, as I do have a 'passion for fashion'… yet maybe my genius use of rhyme there is an indicator that I should venture down the writing path more? On that note… 

Write With D 

*I have to give some credit to the brilliant "Walk with D" campaign here, lest I risk being sued for name thievery! 

At the start of this post I referenced a certain Creative Writing journal - submitted as of this morning! I also think on a previous post I mentioned how, for the poetry side of said-journal, my theme is chronic illness. Specifically, writing about my experiences of living with T1 Diabetes. 

During the research that forms a part of the journal, along with my own writing, I discovered that there is very little creative work exploring diabetes. My reaction was similar to the realisation of how little resource there is for diabetes and eating disorders. Basically, D is downplayed a lot, and greater awareness is needed. 

Enter writing. I did find a truly wonderful anthology titled No-Sugar Added and, on the last day of 2014 (over star-bottled champagne no less)  I had an idea… why not do it again? I have a sequence of poems written, which I plan to share on this blog after submission (apparently there's such a thing as plagiarising your own work…), but I am sure that there are so many far more talented writers out there who also have experience of diabetes! They need to be heard. They have a story that needs listening to. 

So, my rather ambitious plan for 2015 is to try and gather together a collection of poems, centred on life with T1 Diabetes. I have also been intrigued by the eBook world for a long time, so this could  offer me a way of exploring that, in addition to building on the skills I have amassed through my role as Online Books Editor for Exepose. It is likely a pipe-dream, but you don't know until you try, right? I thought no one would ever read this blog, but they did. Miracles can happen! 

Get back to "Blue"  

'nuff said really…. I miss my little blue box! He has endured mountains, survived roller coasters, been dropped a fair few times too…

In short, he's a tough nut and I am a nut lover at heart. Maybe it's a shot in the dark to hope we will be reunited soon - when I tried putting a set in over the holidays it was a bit of a bloodbath…

But I will keep trying and keep hoping, because in short lantus seems to place my blood sugars at the top of aforementioned mountain, and leave me rolling down it. As I ended my satirical poem Divorcing my pancreas:

"I'll concede you're no saint,
but I still wait for you at 
the gate - please take
the soonest flight
back home."

Lose Gain Weight

Huh? More like a New Year Revolution, isn't that? Perhaps. Because it turns out that the January onslaught of the Diet Brigade just isn't for everyone. This doesnt make it any easier to turn a blind eye to.

For anyone with an eating disorder, however far into recovery, this time of year can be very hard.  Weight loss conversation seems to be everywhere, from society to our tv screens. 6:1 is the new 5:2, The Times Magazine presented us a delightful little piece on 'High Fat Low Carb' that gave insulin little devil horns… not that this could give someone with diabetes a complex or anything.

Resolution: give things the thumbs up. Just say yes. 
How do you turn it off? Well, turning off the screen is one option, but I'm not so sure running away is the solution. Placing yourself within the context of your life might be. Yes, people around you may choose to diet. Yes, this may be very difficult to watch, but it is their choice. Their life. Their health. What's more, it is not necessarily unhealthy for them. 

I have spent 2014 at a weight which, in my heart of hearts, I know is not natural for my body. In the last 12 months a combination of things - diabetes the primary one, but also bereavement and general life stresses - has seen my recovery wobble and waver more than I would like. Nonetheless, it has been a sobering reminder to me that you must always remain on guard; especially considering where I was only two years ago. 

I could go back over so many "if onlys" and "what ifs" of the past year and a bit. How I got too caught up in "living" upon going to university, and didn't immediately identify little slips. Then there is the ever-present self-criticism over how I manage my diabetes, wondering what more I could have done or still do? I can lose count over the number of times I have said "no" to pasta, pizza, and that piece of chocolate from the selection box. 

That being said, I look back at this year and see how I finally said "no to skinny". I have lost count of the number of cappuccinos purchased this last term at uni, although the free Boston Tea Party drink I am owed, courtesy of my stamp card, can tell me that it is at least 8 from that particular cafe alone… I have eaten dominoes, I went to Asia for two weeks and and it was a real test in terms of 'adapt and evolve' . Two years ago the mere sight of an oil bottle sent me running.

Yes, I have said no, but I have also said "yes". This latter word needs to become the default.  

2015 can be the year that I commit - restoring my weight (not gaining - it should never have been lost) to the point where my body and mind will be at their healthiest. These other things on my list can never be realised, unless I fulfil this one first. 

Keep drinking coffee

I've probably posted enough coffee photos.

I did say probably, and this one is vietnamese complete with awesome straw, so it's practically ambrosia. In short, my continued love affair for 'real' milk coffee will ensure my life is never blue-less.
I do love it a latte. Except that I'm a cappuccino order. Always.

Practice what I preach 

Quite simply, making a choice everyday to walk the walk. This includes self-care and taking the time to be kind to myself. I am the worst culprit for self-deprication, and I have found that this has grown even stronger in recent months - diabetes plays a significant role in how I view myself and measure my own value. To this end, over this holiday I have finally acknowledged that, perhaps, I need to be open to more help from others. I should not be ashamed of the psychological impact my diabetes has left; I have read how many diabetes departments are engaging a psychologist within their team, a recognition of just how great the mental toll can be.

I am constantly telling others to be kinder to themselves, willing to move heaven and earth for them. What is preventing me from applying this to myself?

Something I read a year or so ago has stuck with me ever since: 

"And if your daughter came to you, crying with hunger, would you tell her no? 
Would you tell her she wants too much, she must shrink into society? No.
Then why would you tell yourself the exact same thing? 
You are somebody's daughter."
- Michelle K. Somebody's Daughter

Regardless of where you are in life, you can take something from this. Treating yourself, not just like you would a daughter, but also a friend, sibling, parent… pet. Just a couple of Millie's nicknames are Beyonce and Duchess. Mariah when her diva displays are particular on point paw. 

My first birthday with D was a flying affair… 

Sometimes, when I am having little moments of self-doubt, it helps to look back at photos from my childhood. I look at this girl, and I think of that Michelle K. quote. This girl is me - she still is me. Would I have told her she wasn't worthy of self-care? Of proper nourishment? Of a life free from diabetes' puppet strings? No.

You don't have to wait for the writer. You can pick up that pen right now.
How can someone fall in love with your life, until you have yourself? 

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