"In the University zoo, tweets and yaks are as embedded in communication as actual speech."
Inspired by the lovely Elizabeth over at Rosalilium, here is my own Self-Care Sunday series for June!
Internal Care = External Care
Nonetheless, this is something that I recognise, in the long-run, isn't a healthy outlook, so I am actively trying to change it. The first Sunday of June saw the first evidence of this. As part of my mum and I's decision to do "different things" this summer, we went with my auntie to Harbourside Market in Bristol.
We stumbled upon the most wonderful selection of second-hand books - if I was to do the Harry Potter love potion "smell test", old book paper would definitely be vying for the top spot! I was quite enchanted, rifling through the pages with equal excitement at the bargain prices of the works on offer.
Being ever-indecisive me, at one point I did have quite an impressive stack of books that I proceeded to rifle down to the three below. However, rummaging through my purse I realised that I didn't have the correct change on me to buy them, and they didn't accept card.
I proceeded to go about replacing the books, but my auntie quickly interceded and insisted on buying them for me! My protests began, but eventually I conceded and am now the proud owner of the three books below… If you have never read Emily Dickinson, I urge you to go and do so!
|Shop: Anthropologie Verse Vase|
Putting the Self in Care
As important as accepting the gestures of others is, you have to learn to accept it from yourself too. This particular quote I found on pinterest resonated with me:
|photo credit: thecreativemomma.com|
|Topshop crochet high-neck top, £15 Smashbox eyeshadow trio, £22|
Each day that went by. without a new blog post going up, I became more and more panicked that I would lose potential readers. I was catastrophising hugely. All last week I decided that Sunday would be the day i returned to blogging. Sunday came, sunday went, here I am writing on Monday.
A week ago, something short of miraculous occurred. I woke up and didn't feel sick to my stomach. The context: Results day. Up until seven days ago, it has always been penned in my subconscious calendar as Doomsday, alongside trips to the dentist and the Game of Thrones series finale - what am I supposed to do with my life now? (I'm being deadly serious, any TV suggestions would be much appreciated!)
Turn away from Tunnel Vision
|The world will always have more sandwiches - just ask Joey.|
Seeing is Believing
The true irony was that, in the end, the University pipe-dream itself became engulfed by pressure. It wasn't pressure on me though. It was pressure exerted by me, on this beautiful place, to be the pipe-dream I had pictured. University life has been, in many respects, wonderful, but the "time of your life" mantra can distort. However, it helped me to realise something important; not even the dream board is perfect. All that energy I threw into obtaining this goal, and for what? Exeter is amazing, but it is not some deity I needed to compromise my whole life for. Nor are exams.
|Shifting perspectives Quoted by CS Lewis|
Extra curricular involvement at University - Exeposé - has been integral to my change in perspective. Happiness can exist outside of academia too! Last term introduced the Exeposé Press Day, which though stressful was accompanied by an incredible sense of pride. I am currently focused on writing, from my little home here to the wider world web. On the day of results, Whittard retweeted my Iced Tea post. Confession: this almost excited me more than the Firsts for two papers… there's a first!
In the past two years I have gained the pressure perspective - experienced responsibilities and fulfilment outside of those percentages and letters. I have also ceased to place everything on a pedestal, with myself below. I did not get to Exeter solely on grades. That English paper was Year 7 Spanish, compared to the personal challenges I faced that year.
The Simple Things
- Writing: You are writing on a topic you feel passionately about.
- Exeter: are in a place you love.
- Literature: You are studying the subject you love.
- Life: "you're not a sad story, you're alive" - had to get Chbosky in here somewhere!
We were both young, when I first saw you… how else do you introduce a Love Story? If you have this song on iTunes, hitting play now would definitely be fitting for this review.
Sarah for bringing my attention to the existence of The Simple Things. The blogging world is a bit like a Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail at times! If this magazine is the end point of the trail less travelled by, I am so very glad I took it.
At the risk of sounding like a fanatical Twihard, Belieber or Swiftie, within moments of opening this magazine it honestly felt like coming home; it is that first cup of tea in the morning, or snuggling up in a blanket on a cold winter's night.
The Simple Things is a publication about "taking the time to live well". It combines stunning photography, craft and home ideas, self-care and fashion too.
It takes the best parts of the glossy fashion magazines - the human elements. If Vogue is Fashion Bible, The Simple Things is top contender for Life Bible.
I am aware time is precious and my ramblings don't exactly adhere to this… So I have decided to write my review as seven simple reasons The Simple Things and I are a perfect pair.
Back in Britain, the cardigan sees me through all four seasons. In winter, it's the chunky knits, but I arguably prefer summer offerings even more, from kimono to waterfall draping. Here are my latest candidates for the cardi cupboard:
|Urban Outfitters, £42 ASOS Marketplace, £16.99 Urban Outfitters, £39|
Spotted: Two-Tone Brogues
Back in January two-tone brogues topped my Wednesday Wishlist. Nonetheless, while I searched high and low my wardrobe remained without - it seemed both highstreet and 'world wide' web were not on the same wavelength. Yet here they were, six months later - the shoes of my dreams. I promptly googled the website - agnes and norman.
Okay, perhaps the "too good to be true" did come into play here, confession time. They were men's shoes...
Not to be deterred, however, I ventured into the woman's section I did find a pair of possibly even nicer brogues. A little pricy, though I do think this is an item worth investing for quality. I also know they would quickly become "compulsive wearing" - something I do have a knack for. I think the middle pair may push that limit, but they were too pretty not to share!
|"nature never did betray the heart that loved her" - William Wordsworth|
Nature poetry is my calling card in Literature, namely Edward Thomas and basically all the Romantic poets - Wordsworth and Shelley if we're going to be specific. In the past I have taken a notebook with me walking, sometimes Millie in tow, and stopped by the Bath Spa University lake to write.
Reading John Lewis' piece was so calming and really allowed me to escape for a time. The caption alone - "field of dreams" - was enough to get you outside! Even if 'outside' was, in this case, the garden…
Top of the list is homemade berry ice-cream, with little more than cream and berries. I quite like the idea of experimenting and trying greek yoghurt too; it has more of a tang than cream, and with banana/berries and honey is so much nicer than shop yoghurt.
I also need to try some cocktails, elaborating on my iced tea creations! The magazine has some wonderful ideas to "mix up a moonshine".
One of the very first items we implemented, from my Features Editor manifesto, was "caption column"; students' satirical responses to a featured image. Seeing a strikingly similar feature - complete with alliterative title - in The Simple Things was quite surreal! I have to confess I am still working on a giraffe caption. So far I am having more gi-gaffes than golden puns.
It has rabbits on it. Point made. I still have a giant peter rabbit music toy, who sits on the shelf above my current chair.
I took out my first ever magazine subscription, a day after buying, which in itself was a form of self-care as I am terrible for spending money on myself! I've also ordered previous volumes from this year, to tie me over until July.
One of the reasons I love the blogging community, with Elizabeth's self-care sundays and five happy things on Little Winter, is the growing focus on mindfulness, another topic which is covered in this month's issue.
Self-care is definitely something I need to focus on more. From the nostalgia of tree decoration and ordering coffee non-skinny, to customising christmas with Etsy quote coasters; it is finding those things that make you truly happy.
On that note, I've made a good start already - The Simple Things is definitely on the list of "things that make me Smile".
This Election, Ben Bradshaw trebled his majority in Exeter, standing resolutely red among a sea of blue. Given the public perception of Exeter University as a place of privilege - Exetah is a common moniker - this is no small feat. In Ben's constituency, people are not simply voting for party. They vote for person.
I wish I had found one of those clay glasses to take back home, complete with lemongrass straw.
|My beautiful Tea Strainer is from Whittard|
My next experiment is potentially putting real lemon in tea, or trying online recipes. Sophie Dahl's lavender iced tea is definitely top of the list. My mum is a huge Earl Grey fan, so I feel it could convert her to the iced tea life.
All I need now are these gorgeous Anthropologie umbrellas. With my Rose Tea, I'd basically be Mary Poppins in Wonderland...
A defining part of University experience is, undoubtedly, my involvement with Exeposé, which may or may not be apparent from name drops in previous posts…
This post focuses on how my (now former) role Online Books Editor, positively influenced my blogging. Not only did I gain editorial experience, but I learnt so much regarding social media and content creation, not to mention the all-important issue of finding perfect gifs…
Social Media Matters
As an Online editor, one of my jobs was to promote articles via social media - namely Twitter and Facebook. I always knew of their importance, in our ever-growing digital culture; being a blogger has also opened my eyes to that. Nonetheless, I definitely credit my Exeposé role for improving my tweeting proficiency! Key things I learnt were:
Stay Away from Spam
The key is to personalise to audience. Tweeting an article that includes a Harry Potter reference? Mention this in your tweet to HP fan pages. Don't simply say "10 books that changed my life" - what is enticing them to read this? Sell the USP.
Tweet TeasesIt's not solely about who you tweet, but how. A couple of effective strategies I found were including photos in tweets. Field-left ones, such as bottom right, capture the reader's interest, as do utilising popular culture - TFIOS and HP I'm looking at you! Another useful punctuation tool is the "…", inviting people to read on.
Meanwhile, being a bit provocative can work. Any 50 Shades fans who are scrolling through the twitter hashtag might have something to say about it coming "under fire" in a Bad Books Bash...
Bare in mind too that online is even more of a competitive market, for culture writers, than print. Set yourself apart.
If you look at the majority of publications, there will be a "regular features section". Humans are homebodies at heart. They like to feel grounded, and magazines are bought as a source of comfort/pleasure. When my co-editor and I took over Online Books, it already featured the regular "creative Fridays", which was a huge success.
There is always a risk that a new venture will fall flat on its face. This did happen to us. However, one gamble did pay off. Enter Bad Books Bash and A Defence Of… which originated from the title of Percy Shelley's essay A Defence Of Poetry.
The best moments were when a book crossed both sections, for example To Kill a Mockingbird; as one of my favourite books, putting this in Bad Books Bash definitely put the "impartial editor" role to the test!
Winning with Pinning
Not only have the beautiful photos on Pinterest provided me with great photography for the Exeposé site, but it also inspired me to get more creative with my own photos! It has given me new ideas, not just with images but content. I reckon more than half my images were sourced from Pinterest, or Tumblr. There's nothing more I love than the marriage of Coffee and Poetry. Pinterest gets that.
|One of the Pinterest images I used for the Books section|
Pinterest. It's a beautiful, romantic love affair (To Paraphrase Tay Tay, who I can definitely pin as a Pinterest lover!) This brilliant blog post by Cat Crawford delves discusses the perfection of Pinterest in greater detail - definitely worth a read!
Open The WindowThe world is your oyster, your mussel, your prawn - there is quite literally a sea of opportunity out there, make your blog/site a stranded island! You have to go out to it though, it won't always come to you.
I saw the Exeter Poetry Festival was coming up, so I contacted the organisers and secured press passes. I also contacted several poets speaking at the event (via twitter of all places) beforehand and secured interviews!
It not only gave us a wealth of content for October, but provided me with interview experience and content for the Print Books section too. Last but not least, I discovered the fabulous poetry of Carrie Etter, was able to hear her read and met her afterwards. Go and read her!