Self-Care and Filling Your Own Cup

... and breathe. Step off that hamster wheel you constantly run around, sit down and breathe. Think of the last time you encouraged a friend to "take a break", or did a good deed for someone else. Now ask the same question, but imagine you are that person. What advice would you give to a friend, a relative or a small child? Would you tell them to stay on that wheel, despite how tired their legs were? Would you judge them, or admonish them, simply for being human? 
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."
Oh, Pinterest. You truly are a golden one, apart from the fact I couldn't trace the author of this quote 0 if anyone knows, please enlighten me! For it couldn't ring more true. I instinctively pour care onto others, whether it be making gifts to 'bring a smile', or reaching out in their time of need; nevertheless, the concept of giving myself is altogether more foreign.

Moreover, I've realised that this is quite a common trait for those with mental health struggles. I've talked before about the incredible girls I met through treatment, but it is a case-in-point. From the little notes posted under my door, to the "toast for toast" poem that greeted me at breakfast, they would shower care in abundance. Until the last petal fell on their own stem, they would water every flower in the field before themselves. 

A few months ago, I taked about my self-care conundrum in Are we out of the Shoulds yet? At the start of CBT treatment, we explored the imbalance between my self-perception and how I see those around me. After so long convincing myself that I am less worthy than others, we questioned the logic of this belief. Fun fact 1: very little logic exists. Fun fact 2: Facts are your friend!

When my therapist asked "why are you less deserving of self-care?" I responded with diabetes and anorexia. My reason? They have placed me in a "care deficit" that must be resolved. Her response? "You didn't cause your physical or mental illness and they cause you the most pain." You can't argue with that cup of liquid logic; even a Wonderland Tea Party would be covered! So now we've talked the talk, there's just one thing left to do... actually, you know... ACT.

In the short-term, it will involve going against our instincts. Joey Tribbiani may have said "there's no such thing as a selfless good deed", but for the "empty cup" crew I think the opposite is true! Can we find a a selfish good deed? An act of self-care that is entirely our own, with no obvious benefit to the outside world. In the past few weeks I decided to put this theory to the test. and can confirm (despite a few stray trolls in the dungeon) I lived to tell the tale! Here are four ways I've filled my own cup....  

     READING A BOOK     

I adore books, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. What may come as a surprise, is the fact that I've not done much reading at all in recent years. I have no problem with "productive reading", aka course texts, newspapers and Coding for Dummies blog posts. When it comes to reading for pleasure, however, I hit a brick wall.

Growing up, I loved nothing more than burying my head in a story. It is a natural form of self-care for me, which is probably why my head has such a big issue with it! In the last month, however, I've started a new chapter. Inspired by the return of GOT, I've finally started the books and am completely hooked! I was a bit worried that it would change my response to the show, but in my opinion it only adds to the story. I absolutely adore this world and my guilt is far less than I imagined. 

If my mind ever does try to give me grief, I try to imagine Miss Honey telling Matilda not to read. In short, I can't imagine it! Depriving someone of books is what Geoffrey or Ramsey Snow would do, not anyone with half a heart or brain. I'd far rather listen to Tyrion: "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone." Read on...


If you saw my last post, you will be no stranger to the magic of MuggleCast! If you didn't, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! Since tuning in for the first time last week, I've trawled through the archives like a rampaging Hippogriff and am definitely converted. The same goes for Vlogger Emma Blackberry, who made my week with her A Day in the Life of a Sim vlog! Throwback to the noughties and my most valuable life lesson: never attempt Lobster Thermidor on a Grilled Cheese cooking skill...

When you think of "self-care", Podcasts and Youtube are probably not your first thought! For most people, they're just a natural part of their life and routine. So why did my head kick up such a fuss? I think it's because, like books, there's no obvious benefit beyond my own entertainment (with the exception of those Coding for Dummies tutorials!) Writing this out now, I realise it makes NO SENSE and I was half-temped to delete it...

... but I won't, because that would contradict a key part of self-care; self-compassion! Just because I think my guilt is "silly", doesn't mean it is silly. Would I tell a five-year-old that their fear of goblins was irrational? No, I would crochet a "Goblin-fighting Fox" to protect them at night, while encouraging them to return to their bed. I would never invalidate their feelings, but I would also encourage them to challenge it. Only by changing our actions, can we hope to change our feeling. So if you feel guilty for self-care, practice self-care! No goblins allowed.


When you are in recovery for an eating disorder, you could follow your meal plan to-the-letter and still miss the most important word. YOU! Perhaps we should call it RecovYOUry? Or perhaps we'll stick with something a little more abstract... quite simply, you. Meal plans are great for nourishing your body, but you have to nourish yourself too. I'll be the first to admit I struggle with this, finding it easier to eat 'by prescription', rather than for pleasure Yet is this approach healthy for my mind? Not in the long-term, if I truly want to be free of anorexia.

So I set myself some self-care challenges goals, namely choosing more foods I enjoy and cooking for myself. Two months ago, I fell in love with the Cacao and Almond Energy Balls by Deliciously Ella and didn't have another one for a few weeks. My avoidance had nothing to do with numbers; it was the simple fact that I really really enjoyed them! In the name of operation "nourish soul", August has been the month of enjoying them some more.

I've also been branching out from the world of rice packets, ravioli and Quorn sausages, with a little more help from Ella. Most recently, I made the Cannelloni Bean and Kale Stew and it was the perfect comfort meal. As the only veggie in our house, I tend to avoid big-batch cooking as it feels excessive to do "just for me." Yet after a little motivation from the end of Ella's book - which I've turned into a little postcard for my wall - I popped on the stove and ended the night full of beans. Literally.

*For the critics who group Ella with the clean-eating brigade, please read her book first! More than the recipes, I love her philosophy around food and the language she uses - there's no mention of numbers or restriction, which is helping me work on my relationship with food. So if by some miracle Ella is reading this - thank-you! 


I know for a fact I am not alone with this one! I get so anxious about spending money, unless it's buying things for other people - anxiety seems to take a holiday come Christmas. When it comes to myself, that's an altogether different matter! So for my CBT homework the other week, I visited the Holy Grail of cruelty-free, otherwise known as my local Lush Store. I initially went to buy some of the Happy Happy Joy Joy conditioner for my sister; I started using it a few months ago and wanted to share the joy.

Twenty minutes later, I left the shop with not one, not two, but four Lush goodies in my bag... and three were for me. Admittedly, one of them was a 'staple' buy - my foundation - but two were spontaneous purchases! My skin has become more dry in recent weeks, so I bought the Full of Grace serum bar for some TLC. Then, in an frantic till-shelf-till dash (we've all done one - and have all lost lost our space at least once), I picked up the Toothy Tabs I've been eying for months. I have no idea what to expect, so will be sure to update you!
I wanted to end with the act of self-care I'm most proud of. While it wasn't the most obvious, it was important to me because of the context: it was self-care when my self-worth was most vulnerableIn the past few weeks, my dad has been in-and-out of hospital and is currently waiting for surgery. My anxiety has really put its foot on the accelerator, as I just want him to be okay and feel powerless to help. 

Consequently, I have never been more thankful for therapy; however, thanks to an AWOL bus last week, I ended up missing half my appointment, while also enjoying an extra 30 minutes of bus-stop ruminating - why oh why did I forget my headphones?! By the time  I finally arrived for CBT,  I was responsible for every wrong in the world, including truant bus drivers and hospital waiting lists. Thankfully, my therapist was there to help with the fact-checking: Evan the bus driver has no clue I exist and the NHS is in crisis - a crisis that wasn't caused my own use of the service!

Yet even she can't work miracles in half an hour, so I was still a bit of a muddle by the end of the session. I managed to get myself into town and track down a veggie sandwich (good old M&S), before heading to the Sophie-friendly magazines in WHSmiths (crafts and wellbeing). I was instantly drawn to the Breathe Creative Journal, which has a range of mindful and creative exercises to "calm your mind". 
Any other person in my situation: you might as well stick a prescription label on this.

Me in my situation: I can't possibly leave this on the shelf, but I can't possibly buy it 'just for me'.

In a textbook case of "empty cup filler", I resolved to buy it for a friend... In that moment, I forgot the quote I love so much; I ignored the words that I would so readily say to another. In that moment, they didn't apply to me. So thank goodness for the gift of time. Later that day, I opened the journal and drank in the contents. Only then, as I felt a moment of calm, did I appreciate how drained I was. Two weeks on, the journal has found a home on my bedside table! I am hesitant to actually start, so I hope that this post will give me the final push. 

I may still buy one for a friend, as I know one in particular who would love it, but this one is staying with me. I need to fill my own cup too. 

Fantastic Beasts and Why We Find Them

In my latest Fortnightly Favourites, I featured a post by From Roses on combatting loneliness. In particular, I loved her idea of Podcasts and was surprised I'd never thought about it before. Thanks to Rebecca, I was resolved to try it; there was just one slight problem... my "grand plans" typically have the success rate  of Neville in a Potions Class. However, this time I was actually triumphant! Or, some may say, Erumpent....

... okay, perhaps I've taken the HP/FB analogies a bit too far with this one? No doubt you're feeing slightly confunded - and I wouldn't blame you. So to benefit  your no-mag eyes, I'll hit 'Muggle Translate' before I introduce... MuggleCast! No, I promise, 'Muggle Translate' really is turned on. MuggleCast is very much a Real Show - in a Real World - which takes place every week for a whole 90 minutes. Oh My God Gringotts, how did I not know about this?! I consider myself a PotterHead through and through, so am still questioning my priorities for the last 22 3/4 years.

After just one episode of MuggleCast, however, I can solemnly swear that I am here to stay! As I tuned in for the first time last week, I was rambling through the meadows with Millie moo and a lot of cow poo. For starters, I couldn't have chosen a better setting, because this episode united two of my favourite things - Harry Potter and Nature/Animals. What's more, it saw the arrival of guest star Evanna Lynch, aka Luna Lovegood, aka my two biggest role models in the Magical and Muggle worlds....

...Luna and Evanna, that is! My love for the former needs no introduction (simply read the description of her bedroom), but Evanna casts a powerful spell of her own. As a passionate advocate for Animal Rights, I love following her on Twitter and actually found MuggleCast through her account! She was the perfect choice for this Fantastic Beasts themed episode, empathising with Newt's Character in particular and recognising an affinity to Luna; it's clear to see how she ended up marrying his Grandson, Rolf (a fact that true PotterHeads will know. Obviously!) They are the free-spirits: eccentric, whimsical and unafraid to be themselves.... on the outside.

Evanna opened my eyes to a deeper analogy: Newt and Luna both struggle with human connection. When we read them on a page, it's easy to picture them in a bubble, immune from the real world; after all, how many people do you see courting Erumpents Elephants in Central Park, or searching for Wraskspurts on the Hogwarts Express First Great Western!? Yet if you read between the lines, the story is quite different. Not only does Luna face the death of her mother as a child, but she is often alienated and mocked by her peers - including 'heroes' like Hermione and Ron! In Fantastic Beasts, the scene that stayed with me was between Newt and Queene, when he begs her "please don't read my mind" - it breaks my heart every time, not least due to Eddie's brilliant acting, because that inner pain is so raw.

Evanna's own experiences are a real-life testament to the age-old phrase "don't judge a book by its cover". She shares on her own experiences in the podcast, notably her struggle with self-confidence, and has previously talked about her recovery from anorexia. On the surface, Evanna was  Luna - right down to handmade jewellery - and this synergy was instantly recognised by the producers (in the podcast, she reveals that they encouraged her to make her own accessories for the film!) Nevertheless, her empathy for Luna went far beyond radish-shaped earrings; she identified with her vulnerability.

So where do we find animals in all of this? Quite simply - connection. From Newt's Pocket Pickett, to Luna's feeding of the baby Thestral, they find belonging outside of humanity. We see it with Hagrid too, who had a difficult childhood and sees animals as his family - even seeing Norbert as his child. When Evanna is asked to choose her favourite scene from Fantastic Beasts she describes the moment between Newt and the Erumpent. Her answer was my favourite line from the whole episode:
"Animals have a wonderful way of letting you be who you are...
Quite simply, animals let you BE. They have no concept of fame, fortune or 10p freddos (oh the bliss) - only love, loyalty and licking every inch of your face; Millie's "welcome home" greeting is priceless. In my recent blog post on Vegetarianism and Mental Health Recovery, I described feeling a greater sense of "peace" than ever before, even describing myself as "The Luna in a world of Malfoys". As I wrote it, I remember worrying that it sounded "cheesy" and nearly deleted. Hearing Evanna speak, I'm so glad I didn't! Less thinking, more being.

If my time in CBT has taught me one thing it's that humanity spends far too much time thinking. Analysing, deliberating and tying ourselves in knots - a subject I've spoken about before, as I work to embrace the "let it go" mindset of animals... and kids! The two are very similar in this respect; one of the reasons I know Primary Teaching is right for me. Kids say it how it is and see it how it is, without the analysis-paralysis of adulthood. So I'm embracing my inner Millie and Matilda, which includes making up stories on Millie rambles, ft. hilltop renditions of Let it Go. She can't understand me, contrary to the humans who walk past and stare, but in that moment they don't matter. She does.

Humans have done incredible things over the centuries, but we've also caused horrors beyond comprehension. In nearly all the latter cases, the greatest enemy is ourselves; the dementors of comparison, judgement and fear. Evanna draws on this contrast to animals in the podcast, as they simply "don't prejudice against the same things that humans do" They love you for you. By contrast, while we've made progress in areas such as LGBT rights, gender equality and mental health stigma, we're still far behind children and animals.
"That's right adults, you don't know everything!" 
So thank heavens for little balls of fur! Thank all The Great Hall stars for Fantastic Beasts, great and small, short and tall, muggle and magic - even Blast-Ended Skrewts. They made Hagrid happy, which  is reason enough. The most extraordinary part of all, in human-animal relationships, is that you don't even need to say a word. Being is enough. Dumbledore may have said that "words truly are our most inexhaustible source of magic" and, in 97.5% of scenarios, I would be inclined to agree with him. However, Fantastic Beasts are that invaluable exception. In every corner of the world, both Magical and Muggle, there is a Platform 1/4 for Newt's Briefcase, Hagrid's Hut and Luna's Hare Patronus; for any soul in search of home. 

Back in our World, we may not have talking plants and flying postmen, but muggle mammals can cast their own spell. One of the best examples is the ever-growing number of Therapy Dogs in the UK, particularly for people with mental illnesses like Depression and Social Anxiety; I recently read about a dog who supported his owner with public speaking, which is just calling out for a Hollywood production of The King Charles' Speech.  On that note, I've concluded that we definitely need more films about animals - I would choose Fantastic Beasts or Madagascar a thousand times over Eastenders or Love Island. Fact of life and I'm not ashamed to say it! Llamas over human dramas, thank you very much... 
If you've been hit by the MuggleCast spell and decide to give it a listen, please do share your thoughts in the comments - the same goes if you're already a loyal follower... let's hope that, in 19 years time, mt priorities will be fully straightened out! Until then, I am off to finish my 5th crochet Niffler, which I'm quite tempted to send one to the MuggleCast studio... if I can find some Gryffindor courage, that is. I think I'll turn to Luna for inspiration there, as a fellow Ravenclaw (thank-you PotterMore!)

Last, but not least, thank-you to Evanna. After quite a turbulent week, this podcast couldn't have come at a better time and I could feel myself smile throughout. I can't wait for her Podcast - The Chick Peeps to start - cue heart eye emojis for all fellow veggies! Until then, I'm sure I can find enough magic in MuggleCast, meadows rambles and a Mooncalf or two. For more news on that last one, along with Neville the Niffler, my next post will be just your cup of Etsy...

Fortnightly Favourites #7

Hello my lovely little Lunas (aka the most magical nickname you will ever receive). Long time, no Fortnightly Favourites... which seems to be my standard opening these days! Nevertheless, it's all a positive sign for recovery, as I grow in confidence and organisation. Not only do I have posts scheduled for the first time in my life, but I've come up with a few staples to keep me on track. 

Along with my Monthly Wonderlists, I'm starting a Teacher Tuesday for Miss Honey musings and Crafturdays to coincide with my Etsy launch (keep your eyes peeled!). Essentially, I'm celebrating all things 'Sophie', from crochet and cruelty free, to those ever-important cups of coffee and bumbling bees. Never forget the bumblebees! Nevertheless, I wouldn't be a proper return to blogging, without my personal favourite...
Fortnightly favourites! This was a 'regular' feature on my blog last year; a chance for me to share highlights from the blogosphere and beyond - aka Buzzfeed. With a gazillion and one bloggers on social media each day, you can miss some real gems. The posts below are all examples of this, ft. Harry Potter tattoos, Khaleesi hair, princess castles and a puppy island! Yes, dear reader, you read correctly... A PUPPY ISLAND.


I always enjoy reading "vegetarian stories" and Emily's is no exception. At the outset, our journeys sounded very similar; could definitely empathise with considering meat "quite a natural thing" growing up, which I discussed in my own post on vegetarianism. I also loved the little shoutout to veggie collin sweets from M&S. They are my new go-to for low blood sugar remedies! 
Yet her post is also a prime example of how wide-ranging our motivations can be. Her primary focus was sustainability, which looking back I hardly mentioned! Emily's examples of the rainforest, water and climate change are all so important, so I am definitely motivated to research this more. Earthlings is top of my to-watch list, but does anyone have other documentaries they would recommend? 

Honesty hour: I'm a clutter culprit. I have clothes on my bed, socks underneath my bed, balls of yarn on my bookshelf and books in my yarn basket... and yes, I'm also a craft and book hoarder. What if I never EVER saw that ball of yarn/limited edition hardback again?! I'd be left in a real stitch.....
That being said, I am in need of some strategies for a little detox (minus the nutribullet, because I prefer to chew my food, thank-you very much.) Luckily, The Private Life of a Girl has some brilliant suggestions, my favourites being:
1. The One In, One Out Rule:  especially true for magazines, books, makeup and, yes, underwear; my poor (and primary odd) sock collection has had to be re-homed! And on that note...
2. Don't Overthink the Process: As much as I idolise Dobby, I rarely plan to wear odd socks outside the house. Nevertheless, I cling onto them like they're signed copies of Harry Potter, forever waiting for the Muggle equivalent of an Accio charm. Sophie it's not coming, so listen to Idina Menzel and LET IT GO! Perhaps there's a House Elf Liberation Front I could donate to?

In case my instagram/blog and twitter aren't enough of a sign, this list makes it official - I am an undisputed crochet addict! I can relate to every single one of these, although my personal favourites have to be:
1. You Wake up Thinking about  Crochet Patterns: 2dc, dc x 3. 2dc, dc x 3. 3dc... counting crochet sheep is stressful! Count your lucky stars if you only round up the imaginary type.
2. You Packed Yarn for your Vacation, but not Socks: or a camera charger, or shampoo... I packed myself, and that's all you need for crochet away! I genuinely did pack my crochet for our last two holidays abroad, although dad drew the line at taking it in my hand luggage *sobs*. Given the #diabetesproblems bag search, he may have had a point... Nevertheless, once we landed it was all about Niffler crocheting by the pool! 
The only thing that the list doesn't cover is "Finding an amigurumi eye in the lid of your mascara"  , but perhaps this takes me to a new level of #crochetcrazy. And there I was wondering why the mascara brush was bent...


The idea of my first tattoo has been on the radar for some time, yet that inner "good girl" has  never dared to consider the reality.... Until now! After many Pret dates with my tea twin, many more dates with Pinterest and an infinite amount of self-debating, I'm almost ready to ink think out loud. The one part I'm still unsure of is WHERE - after all, it's not like you get a "return in 28 days" option - so I've turned to the ever-faithful blogosphere for inspiration... 
Spotted: the ever-wonderful Salt and Chic (Shoutout if you read this in the Gossip Girl voice). I was almost 100% fixed on my design (a bumblebee), but after seeing Amy's deathly hallows symbol I'm starting to question my priorities... where's Ron when you need him!? In terms of location, Amy's final tattoo of the world map has got be back to the idea of my neck/top back. My other options are wrist/ankle, but it is definitely the final conundrum for me! What are your thoughts?

Continuing on the Harry Potter theme (no apologies), Tania (Tea Bee) has caught the Golden Snitch of beauty products. I'm still a bit spellbound that they exists, to be honest! I've seen magic wand pens, hair grips and even a crochet hook, but these Storybook Cosmetics brushes take it to a whole new level. And for £5.99?! I'd never heard of Wowcher before, but with offers like this I'm very intrigued! 
What's more, they are 100% SPEW-friendly (aka cruelty-free), so there's no risk to the Fantastic Beasts of our world. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a sponsored post; just a very enchanted Muggle who is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter.... and, based on my twitter feed last September,  I'm not the only one! 


In the world of Pinterest, I've stumbled upon and saved a gazillion "hair tutorials". In the world of Planet Earth, I stumbled upon a hairbrush, searched for hair pins and prepared to look like Daenerys Targaryen. Hair tutorials completed? 0.5 - the Dany dream ended in a bad case of Bellatrix Estrange!
Nevertheless, after stumbling upon this flower-braid tutorial on A Beautiful MessI may be tempted to put that jinxed experience behind me. Surely even I can master a tutorial with "easiest" in the title? My only hesitation is the age-old, "what will people think?" But perhaps I need to take my own advice and divorce NOA (Negative Over-Analysis). After all, life is much merrier when you channel you inner Luna, who I'm pretty certain would love this post too!


I often see Lake Bled pop up on my Instagram feed; along with Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Disney ("imagination has no age"), it seems to be a 'place of the moment' and is definitely on my bucket list. That being said, after reading this post on Jasmin Charlotte, it may have manoeuvred its way to the top! 
Her photography is breathtaking - true to the "fairytale" description - and was especially intrigued by the comparison of different areas. Anywhere that can transport you from "Italian Village" to the "Swiss Alps" in a heartbeat sounds magical to me! I was also sold on the idea of rowing your own boat around the lake. I've seen the obligatory #instashots  of Lakeside bike rides, but never knew you could get a boat... bare with me while I go and book my next holiday!


As if the return of #GOT7 wasn't enough, I've now discovered that King's Landing is an ACTUAL PLACE.... Kind of! To the non-Westerosi tongue, it's simply known as Dubrovnik, Croatia. Luckily for us, Melissa (aka The Incogneatist) is a fellow GOTer, so she captured all of the fandom in her photos - including a CATleesi! 
Perhaps I've taken it too far on this last one... that's what GOT life does to you! Which also includes a bit of allegiance-switching, in the style of House Lannister. I know that I said Lake Bled was next my bucket list, it turns out I know nothing. Just like poor old House of Cards, Slovenia may also have been dethroned by Dragons. Oh, and on that note, I think I've found the perfect opportunity for those Khaleesi-ready flower braids!

Okay, I may be developing a bit of a theme here... fantasy lover and not ashamed to say it! As if King's Landing wasn't enough, my go-to travel blog - Hand Luggage Only - has created this crown jewel of a post on European castles. 
The ones that  jump out for me are Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, which could make all my Disney dreams come true, along with Semur en Auxois in France - If I had been a location scout for Beauty and the Beast, this has all the makings of a time-old tale. And if your inner Princess isn't as excited as I am by this, perhaps your #blogginggal eyes can be persuaded: just look at the water reflection of Chateau de Chenonceau. Taj Mahal has competition... 

There is a PUPPY ISLAND. I repeat there is a PUPPY ISLAND! And no, before you panic, it's not a puppy farm on steroids. Quite the opposite, as cruelty-free me was very relieved to hear (I was apprehensive at the start!) Potcake Place is a dog rescue charity, which responded to the growing number of homeless puppies on a Caribbean Island.  
The "job" of locals and tourists is to help the puppies socialise; in other words, run around with them on white sands and snuggle to your hearts content. Trust me, this post will turn you into the real-life version of the love-eyes emoji. It's definitely made me reconsider my relationship status with Dubrovnik. That's PUPPY POWER for you!


It wouldn't be a fortnightly favourites without a post from A Beautiful Chaos - the harder question is always which one! Nevertheless, this one in particular jumped out. 
"Who do you remember in your life fondly with the most undefinable feelings of warmth?" I think this should be a question at the top of any Graduation programme, whether it be from Primary, Secondary or University Education. I'm no stranger to talking about values, as it's a subject I've encountered lots during CBT.  As we grow up, we adopt many beliefs through what we hear; as Nicole says, "success, fame, money and power are engrained within our minds".
Through CBT, I've learnt that these 'beliefs' are NOT Values! For example, when I think of the character traits I admire most in Harry Potter, it isn't Dumbledore's Power, Hermione's intellect or even Harry's bravery. Of course, they're all hugely admirable traits; nevertheless, the moments I value most are  acts of kindness. When Hermione creates SPEW and defends the rights of Magical Creatures; when Dumbledore trusts the voice of childhood over  'superior' adults. As for Harry, it isn't bravery that sends him into that forest; it's love for the friends he leaves behind.
For this and so many reasons, the world is a better place with people like Nicole. The advice, courage and compassion she shows through her blog, are exactly the values we need. 

I'm like a duck to water on this subject, so this post on Dizzy Brunette was both a comfort and a huge motivator. The part where she talks about "having to justify myself all the time" particularly resonated. Even as a child, during the Summer Holiday, I would never 'admit' to spending the entire day on Sims 3... I always had to 'sanitise' it with something more productive. It was hardly the catalyst for a mental breakdown; nevertheless, it's symptomatic  perfectionism, which can ultimately leave you "feeling unsuccessful, or a failure." 
I was really thankful to see Corrie share her realisations from CBT, as they sound very familiar to mine! For example, it was "feeling guilty for doing things I enjoy" that prompted my weekly homework of "exposure response prevention." This can be anything from reading a book, buying myself a flat white... or playing on Sims 3! (I may just have to do this now.) As Corrie realises, "it's no wonder I was suffering from low moods" - self-care is not an indulgence, it's a prescription!
In a society that has never been more "go-go-go", we have never needed the doing vs being debate  as much; after all, "you can't perform 100% if you're running on 10%." Before you decide what to do,  learn how to be. 

Rebecca (From Roses) is one of the first bloggers I ever 'followed' and, to this day, leads back with her relatable, eloquent and meaningful content; amidst a wave of eyeliner reviews and and "how to gain 1000000000 follower" posts, she has always stood out, yet never is this more true than her recent post on loneliness.
It is feeling I can understand all-too-well, particularly since leaving University and the social sphere it brings. Though I'm making steps to change this, it's never easy and I admit to days where I feel utterly lost. I read Rebecca's post on one of those days, and her advice genuinely rescued me from hours of rumination. My personal favourite: 
2. Podcasts: I've tried to get in the habit of popping the radio on over breakfast, as an alternative to Victoria Derbyshire (who I still adore, don't get me wrong!) Nevertheless, I've started to feel the emotional drain of both News and the UK Charts (what happened to real music?!), so podcasts could be the answer I need. I've heard brilliant things about Emma Gannon and also want to try Ted Talks. The next step? Commit! Do you have any podcasts recommendations? 

This post by Hannah is the virtual answer to an arm around your shoulder, or that heart on your coffee when you're having a rough day. If there's one message we could all benefit from hearing more, it's this: "I have the ability to change a situation". Hannah's post resonated a lot with my work in CBT, which focuses on how I life my life. On reflection, it's quite a self-centred approach... but for GOOD REASON!  
When your own wellbeing is dependant on others, it is far more likely to be disrupted. It is the reason you'll force yourself to a social event, when your mind is crying out for rest. It may try to lock you in toxic friendships, because the alternative is too risky. Yet, as Hannah says, maybe it's time to be brave: "do I have the courage to remove myself from this situation? I did, and you do, too."
Conversely, my lack of confidence has led me to become quite isolated. Recently, I've challenged this by starting my school placement and, more simply, replying to texts! These were both steps only I had the power to take. They were my feet that walked through those school gates; my hands that  type  those responses. So as I get ready for my final day in school, and sense my hands get a little shakier as I press "send", Hannah's post came at exactly the right moment: "Whatever it is you want to do, you do." Thank-you!

What blogs have you been loving lately? 


The July WonderList

Bonjour Mes Amies, it's been a while since my last trip to Wonder List Land - so long, in fact, that I've become fluent in 3 words of French. Nevertheless, as part of my 'operation-proper-blog-schedule', which I created last night, the Monthly Wonder List is here to stay! 

White Rabbit's pocket watch was so kind to remind me. So I thought it was about time to reinstate this very important date in my blogging schedule, starting today; after all, with Sale Season shining its bargain rays upon us, it would be rude not to! 

I'm not typically one to stay on-trend with the times - hello giant bear slippers and more bows than a Birthday present. Yet I must confess that I've been swayed... hello embroidery and cold shoulders! I haven't gone completely to the dark side, however, as my beloved bees, trees and Yankee dreams are all covered too. 

So before I am completely late for another important date, let's conclude this ramble and dive down the rabbit hole...

     Baby it's Cold Shoulder Outside...    

Oh, the cold shoulder.... this was a U-Turn that would make Mrs May blush! For the best part of a year, I was stone cold sober on the cold shoulder. Not so much as a pea-sized hole found its way into my wardrobe, and the hype left me utterly perplexed. What did our arm-tops ever do to deserve the cold shoulder?! Literally. Nevertheless, the days of the January sales arrived, along with Mr Hollister, and my shoulder was turned. I am now the bashful owner of not one, not two, but four cold shoulders. Well, technically eight, as I'm yet to be convinced on the 'one-shoulder' trend - no odd numbers here!

In terms of the cold, however, I'm practically Queen Elsa So let's imagine that the trend never bothered me anyway and celebrate the beauties below! I am particularly in love with the embroidered Miss Selfridge top on the left, along with the fairytale Needle and Thread blouse; sadly, unless the Sale Snail snail picks up his pace  the latter may have to remain in Wonderland. Perhaps I will leave that honour to real-life Princess Elle "Aurora" Fanning, who I could see wearing the entire Needle and Thread collection! Even the name makes you think of Beauty's Spinning Wheel... 

... as you can probably tell, I'm just about as enchanted by Elle as I am the cold shoulder, but for now we'll stick with fashion. Are you hot or cold for this trend? 

You are Sew Beautiful... me, Embroidery. Everything you hoped for and need is right here, if the high-street/Instagram and Pinterest are anything to go by! In hindsight I'm amazed it took me this long to join the embellished Tee party. Not only am I a fan of all things quirky and vintage, I also spend 99% of my life buried in a craft box, tangled in yarn and hunting for my sewing needle (they're more flighty than Trevor the Toad!)

I also have embroidery to thank for bringing me BACK TO JEANS. I avoided them like the plague for years, but grew curioser and curioser over recent months by the Topshop embroidered Mom jeans.   Sadly, my late arrival meant they were completely sold out in-store and nearly lost hope; however, with a little faith, trust and eBay Pixie dust, I became the proud owner of the instal-famous jeans three weeks ago.

Since then, my eyes have been turned by all-things embroidery. Zara and Mango are especially good for the trend and top of my "go-to" list; I particularly like the look of the iron-on patches in Mango, perfect for fashion DIY. I also found these "oui-non" espadrilles and cute-as-a-button bag from Pink Poodle - the brand name alone has me sold!

      Let it Bee     

After two lots of trendsetting, it's about time we returned to my roots. Not that my blog name is any giveaway, but I'll always have time for the powers that Bee. Along with being Queens of Mother Nature (hello pollination), they provide an endless source of puns and make especially BEEautiful fashion statements.   

My Alex Munroe Bee necklace has been a constant companion since Christmas. It is a daily reminder to BE and, most recently, adopted a new role as Teaching Assistant! When the girls at school asked why I loved Bees, I gave a very short introduction to pollination and why "Plants need Bees, like Tree Houses need Trees!" Five minutes, the entire Bee population had six new fans, while my own little Bee had a new name: Vanessa. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but it now reminds me of my Little Matildas and that is what matters! 

Along with my necklace, I also have a bee bag from Accessorise and am considering a Bee Tattoo...  I'm still in the very early stages and I'm terrified of what others may think, but I know it is what I want and would be a permanent reminder of my recovery - before you can DO, you must learn how to BE. On a more transient note, I want to see if I can get an Olivia Burton Bee watch with a vegan strap. I was so excited when I saw their new range of Vegan watches, as I'm currently transitioning out all leather from my wardrobe. What are you thoughts on keeping leather products you already own?  

    Zen out of Ten           

If you can't have an actual Zen garden, fashion can offer a helping hand. Let's start with Cactuses (or Cacti, if the Latin Grammar police are reading). They are EVERYWHERE! It's like there's a competition on the High-street  for the biggest prick. Either that, or Somerset has morphed into the Sahara Dessert. Perhaps I'm a little scarred by the baby cactus i bought last year, which led to a soil explosion on my new bedding.

I feel far more at Ohm with other pieces of Zen, such as the Alex and Ani bracelets (I have the "Elder" charm) and "Grow your Own" kits. When I worked at Joy, we had nearly a dozen varieties of these, including "Grow your Own" Coffee and Wine. I'm also pretty sure we had a "Grow your Own Boyfriend", but unless he's Jon Snow/ Newt Scamander I'll give it a miss.

On a more serious note, mindfulness is far more than what things you see - it's how you see them. So For me, part of this process is taking time each day to write down a "high" and "low", checking in with myself and my emotions. I also find it's the little things, like fresh sunflowers or the smell of coffee, that can be worth a thousand times their weight in gold. That being said, perhaps that's where a Yankee Candle comes into play... Sun & Sand on a Rainy Day ? They may be onto something... 

     What are you loving this July?