Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Divination and Decisions

I'd hesitate to call it a trend, but there's been a definite increase in interest in all things mystical in the blogosphere. Tarot cards and horoscopes in particular seem to be enjoying a resurgence, as bloggers far and wide invest in professional card readings and birth chart analysis. As to where this newfound spiritualism has sprung from, I'm at a loss.


Using tarot cards to make decisions


For the record, I am a pretty serious sceptic about pretty much everything, but I do enjoy horoscopes and the like in an idle way, and I intend no disrespect to anyone who believes in witchcraft. My personal belief is that rather than truly telling the future, they can help guide you in making decisions; the meaning we attribute to the symbols and words is more important than the the actual fortune or horoscope. When faced with a problem or uncertainties, tarot cards are one of the things I turn to to help me move past them.

I remember well when I was given my pack of tarot cards and a book to interpret them. I would have been about eleven or twelve, and I was visiting my grandparents in Scotland for the Halloween half term; whenever we visited we'd get a gift, and this time mine was tarot cards. I was very into all things fantasy at the time, and I always used to read the horoscopes in the local paper with my Gran and we'd laugh about them whenever it would be something completely inaccurate, such as the time we were both supposed to become pregnant in the next few months. That was likely the thought behind the gift, and I became really absorbed in the book and cards for several months. 

I always take my cards and the book with me when I move house, slipping it in with the piles of books that litter every surface. It's rare that I use the cards to help answer a question, but I usually reach an answer that tells me what I already know deep down but haven't yet acknowledged. I find them helpful in times of confusion or indecision, but in truth I don't really believe in a mystical element. I keep an open mind, and am prepared to accept evidence of the mystical or supernatural, but for me this is really just a method for uncovering what I really want deep down; a more complex version of flipping a coin and seeing how you feel about it. I really love my cards, and I depend on the comfort they bring me in difficult times.



Have you ever had a tarot card reading or tried it yourself?


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Using tarot cards to make decisions
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Monday, 16 April 2018

Monday Medley #32

Literally all I've been talking about of late on the blog and on Twitter has been my trip to Amsterdam, my first holiday of 2018, and when this goes live it will sadly be over! No doubt there will be an excess of Netherlands-centric content over the next couple of months, but I'm a little sad to be writing this ahead of time knowing it will already be over. My boyfriend and I intend to make the most of it, seeing as much as we can while also getting some much-needed chill time. For now though, these are the things I've loved watching and reading in the last week!


Manchester Library and Town Hall Mosaic Tiles

WATCHING

The second season of A Series of Unfortunate Events recently went live on Netflix, and since I loved the books as a child I figured I'd give it a watch. I enjoyed the first series but thought it had some problems with tone which have continued into the second one. It can't decide if it wants to be dark or funny, and unfortunately doesn't quite strike the right balance. It plays some of the absurdities too straight and they fall flat, and Neil Patrick Harris' Olaf cycles between a bumbling opportunist and a true malevolent force, and it doesn't quite work, in my opinion. I am enjoying the expansion on the world and the secrets that were left so vague in the book; I remember being very confused by the whole situation when reading it so it's good that it's being made clearer in the show. I'll no doubt watch the third series and the show is a major improvement over the film, but I don't think it's amazing or a perfect adaptation.

READING



I really struggle with slowing down, often taking on too much at once and ending up stressed and in a complete tizz as I feel my life sliding out of control. I've made progress of late by taking up painting by numbers, but I'm also taking some tips from Sophie's Slow Living Challenge, in which she tries to slow down over the next twelve weeks, and week one was all about making things with her hands. The post reminded me of my own childhood, doing cross stitch with my Nan and finding it really relaxing. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Sophie gets on with this challenge as it sounds like it's going to be really rewarding and relaxing.


There are so many blog posts and articles on the phenomenon of self care, and they're mostly fluff pieces recommending taking a bath and how it magically fixes all of your problems. Helen's post is far from a waste of words; instead she talks about confronting problems head on, and making the choices that are best for you in the long term, rather than fulfilling an immediate craving or desire that ultimately leaves you feeling crappy. It's well worth a read and extremely refreshing to have no-bullshit take on self care.

Sticking with the theme of self care, I really enjoyed Abbey's post on how she recharges physically and mentally. Her writing is always upbeat and positive, and this post is no exception, as she recommends catching up on sleep if you've been neglecting it, making time to properly stretch out with some yoga and going for a run to take your mind off life's difficulties. Definitely one to read if you're feeling a little overwhelmed. 

I absolutely loved Robyn's post about embracing her body. She talks about her struggle with self confidence and insecurity, and how she's moving past that. She's wearing something she normally wouldn't wear and I have to say she looks incredible. 

Despite the inevitable post-holiday blues, I'm really looking forward to the next week and the month ahead as I'm feeling really inspired to create content. Hope you're all having a great Monday!


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Friday, 13 April 2018

Creativity (By Numbers)

A week or so ago I was wandering around Fred Aldous, a Manchester icon that you should 100% visit if you're in the city or just fancy buying a bizarre plaster cast of someone's hand or 10,000 sheets of coloured paper, and I spotted the scraper foils I used to love as a child. If you're not familiar with them, it's basically a sheet of black card with silver or gold underneath and you gradually scrape away a pattern printed on the black to reveal the colour underneath; my Mum still has one of silver seahorses I did for her birthday when I was about twelve. Sitting next to them were several paint by numbers kits and similar guided artistic kits of kids. Long story short, I bought a paint by numbers set and it's the best thing ever.


Paint by numbers as an adult

Despite being aimed at children, it actually reminds me a great deal of the adult colouring books that were all the rage a few years ago. I had one of them back then, and used it a bit but my felt tips kept drying up so I abandoned it. Painting on the other hand, is much more exciting. I have teeny-tiny pots of colour coded colours that occasionally I have to mix and it's all very thrilling. I realise that to anyone who frequently partakes in any real artistic pursuits I sound like a complete buffoon, but I really am thoroughly enjoying it.

It's the complete antithesis of art, and isn't at all creative, but that's not why I bought it. Rather than being an expression of a feeling or thought in the way art is, it's a removal of it. I can tune out while painting, searching for every tiny instance of the number five, while my paint brush, dipped in green, hovers above the canvas. It's an exercise in relaxation and one I've been really enjoying. Sitting by the kitchen window with the light streaming in the early afternoon, some music playing in the background as I paint fields in three different shades of green: it's bliss. In many ways I find it similar to meditation; my hand moves almost automatically and my mind is focused on a single digit, meaning there's very little room for my thoughts to wander.

Sure, my hand cramps up and I've got blue paint on the wall, but I'm loving it. I also feel an odd sense of shame about it; I have a friend who is an accomplished artist and illustrator, and as much as I endeavour not to compare myself to anyone, the difference in our abilities is glaring. The pinnacle of my artistic achievement was a grotesque teapot in the shape of an elephant's head that I made in Year 9 Art. I'm not artistic but I am creative; in the gifted and talented school scheme I was classed as gifted but not talented, which I remember being outraged by. Ultimately, I can't compared myself to anyone or I'll go mad. I enjoy painting but don't have the idea or skill to execute it well, so paint by numbers is a perfect fit. 

If you're looking for a new way to relax, or just like playing with paint but don't have any actual artistic talent, I'd recommend it. Has anyone else found structured art like this relaxing? And who else still has things like scraper foils on display in their childhood homes?

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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Packing For Amsterdam

Packing for a city break is always tricky, especially at this time of year. Europe is walking that line between balmy Spring sunshine and freezing winds and April showers. Amsterdam's weather is not that far from the UK's, although hopefully, it will be slightly warmer than Manchester. I'm leaving tomorrow evening but I'm all packed except for toiletries, so these are the outfits I'll be wearing in Amsterdam.


Old Jumper, Similar | Old Skirt, Similar | Shoes, Primark Current Stock


The weather forecast is basically cloudy all weekend, but highs of 18 degrees! Exciting! I mean, this does mean I'm taking the factor 50 but it also means my pale pins are coming out for the first time in 2018. I've packed a few different outfits for the different things we're planning on doing, which is mostly cultural stuff. I'm super excited about the Keukenhof Gardens and the Van Gogh Museum, but also just for wandering around a new city. 



Old Black Turtleneck, Similar | ASOS Black Jeans | Kurt Geiger Boots


For short breaks like this, I tend to plan my outfits out day by day, with a mix of practical outfits like this all black one with boots because you can't go wrong with that. The cropped jumper and corduroy skirt combo is more for wandering gardens and blog photos because tbh I'm going to freeze unless I magically find some skin coloured tights that aren't thirty shades too dark for me. Coat-wise I'm taking my big pink raincoat and my giant green trench coat since the raincoat folds up small and I can stick it in my bag for emergencies.





Old Topshop Dress, Plain Version, Burgundy Version | Shoes, Primark Current Stock


For warmer days I'm really excited to wear these yellow slingbacks I found in Primark and absolutely love. They're completely impractical in the rain as I reckon a single drop of water will ruin them, but they're perfect for wandering around museums and gardens in the sun. I've worn this dress in a blog post before when I talked about how different clothes make me feel, and I always feel great in it. 



ASOS Jeans | Vintage Shirt, Similar | Old Shoes, Similar


For wandering around markets and the last day I'm going with this oversized shirt and my black jeans because I figure I can tie it at the waist if it's warm but it's loose enough and warm enough to wear on the 'plane. The shoes are ancient and from Clarks, and although they're quite pretty and dainty-looking, I can walk all day in them and have done many times. We're in Amsterdam for three full days, flying out late on Thursday and flying back late on Sunday. We've taken the Monday off work as well to do all the inevitable washing and catching up on sleep after several days of trekking around the Netherlands. I can't wait for this holiday as it's sorely needed, and no doubt you'll be seeing a lot of it on the blog over the next few weeks!

Hit me with any last minute recommendations!


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All the outfits I'm taking with me to Amsterdam in April
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Monday, 9 April 2018

Monday Medley #31

This entire week has mostly comprised me getting increasingly excited for my first holiday of 2018, as I'm heading off to Amsterdam on Thursday. Expect a whole load of Amsterdam content over the next few weeks as I will take any and every opportunity to write about travel. For now though, here are a few of my favourite reads and watches from the last week.




READING

I've been to Barcelona several times, but not since I was a teenager. I really want to go back and properly experience the city, especially since I've grown to love Gaudi. Charlotte's post on three days in this glorious city is a great read and definitely makes me want to see more of Spain. Considering she managed to forget her camera, her photos taken on her phone are stunning and damn that architecture is stunning! Here's hoping I can make it to the city sometime very soon.

Laila's post on sustainable vs high street fashion was a goody this week, as she talks about the many problems in the fashion industry and her experiences with trying to make more ethical fashion choices. She's got several tips for newbies to shopping sustainably, several of which I'll be trying out.

My good friend Danh recently wrote about her experience of meditation and the effect it's had on her life. I'm more of a casual meditator, only really making time for it when I'm really stressed out and need to recharge. Danh has persevered with it and has really found it makes a difference. This is well worth a read whether you meditate frequently or are just considering getting into, as she answers all those questions you might have but don't know who to ask.


PLAYING

I've been replaying the Uncharted games over the last few months, having purchased the remastered editions of the first three games on PS4. I'm emotionally attached to Nate and Elena, and I just love these games. 

My boyfriend and I have also started playing the board game Carcassonne pretty regularly; he's great and I'm okay at best, but he has been playing it for years. I'm thoroughly enjoying the weird combination of Risk and Dominoes.

Since I'm flying away on Thursday I'm ~attempting~ to actually plan and write posts ahead of time, which isn't really my strong suit, but it's all under control so far. Keep an eye out on Wednesday and Friday for what's coming up next!




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Friday, 6 April 2018

Fantasies of Childhood vs Realities of Adulthood

As a child, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. While the career varied greatly, depending on whether I fancied being a microbiologist or an author that, I always knew the kind of woman I wanted to be, but only in the most shallow sense. As a teenager and even as a young adult, I had a fake name that I used occasionally online and for long journeys when the taxi driver or a fellow train passenger decided to make conversation. I would pretend to be this idealised version of myself that I imagined vaguely in my childhood. I was always on my way to Paris for a night for a friend's party or heading to London to meet a boyfriend for a meal. It was more likely that I was heading back to visit my Mum because I was miserable at uni, but I enjoyed the fantasy. Even during uni, I clung to the image of the woman I wanted to be. The woman I pretended to be in my head was tall, she had hair of flaming ginger like I had as a child, she was model-gorgeous, she was from a more affluent area of Lancashire where a friend of mine lived and she lived a life of jet-setting and parties. The reality is I'm none of those things, but a few months ago I came across someone who was. 

Portrait of a hella pale girl in a hedge
Okay but how hilarious/great is this photo? I had to lie in a hedge while loads of fancy people who were staying at the Lowry Hotel walked past wondering who the lunatic in the shrubbery was. Shout out to my other half for the cracking photo.

She has the fake name I used for so many years, she's the exact image I pictured as a child and she's as accomplished as I always imagined I would be. It was surreal. It was bizarre just seeing her face, but then learning that her name was my alter ego, followed by the fact that she actually comes from the same town where I always wanted to grow up, and I was distinctly freaked out. If there was ever evidence for a Truman-style game show or a major glitch in the matrix, it's her. 

Since my initial discovery and genuinely questioning my reality, I've begun to separate myself from this woman. At first, I thought she represented what I hadn't achieved and how I've failed myself, but as I've seen her pop up on my social media now and then, I've realised how much of a disconnect there is between us. We are not the same person, but nor am I even close the woman I imagined I'd be, and that's a good thing. Aside from a very superficial resemblance to my childhood ideal, she's a completely different person, and so am I.

I may not be the willowy, ginger goddess I pictured as a child, but I'm not bad either. Tall and slender doesn't run in my family, but curves do and I love mine. I may be more auburn than ginger, but I whack a toner on it every now and then to brighten it up, and I really love it. I don't have a face like a doll or live in that gorgeous suburb, but I like in the centre of Manchester and I love it, and I think I'm pretty cute. Ultimately, this oblivious woman has helped me to let go of a past ideal I was futilely clinging to, holding myself up against and always coming up short (literally). I will never ever let the woman in question know because omg how creepy would that be? But I'm glad she's living the life teenage Bethany wanted because I don't think it's for adult Bethany at all.


Has your ideal self changed from when you were younger? And have you ever met someone who almost seemed like another version of yourself?


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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Six People You Find In Every Office

I've been working in an office for way too long now, and where I work there's a fair amount of staff turnover. As people have been and gone, gleefully fleeing through the doors I return to each day, I've noticed a pattern in the types of people that work in offices. These are six people you'll probably find in every office and I low-key hate them all.


Offices in Manchester

The one that won't shut up

The rest of the office is deathly quiet. If it was generally noisy it would be fine, but honestly I don't care about how your train on Friday was SO BUSY and oh my god I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE THAT ABOUT ANT AND DEC! Nobody cares. Please, please stop.

The weirdo trying to impress everyone

This is the guy who clearly wanted to be the class clown at school but isn't actually funny. Now you're in the adult world and most people are polite enough to pretend to laugh so you think you're the bee's knees. Whether it's the wild gesticulations or the Trumpesque declarations that you would run into a school shooting to help but you'd be fine because you're immortal hahahahaha so funny. We all hate you. Stop.

The one that works too hard

Please, chill out. The bosses are taking advantage of your hard-working nature and general congeniality. You DO NOT need to stay until 8pm when we finish at 5pm. Look after yourself, honey.

The odd couple

Him and her??? Really? Okay, whatever, but do you have to always be surreptitiously holding hands under the table? And please don't bang in the disabled loo because it would tarnish my one refuge from this hell hole.

The one who nobody knows what their job is

And neither do they. They've been here for longer than anyone can remember and they're related to the company owner, they arrive late and leave early and only ever seem to have a blank spreadsheet open. What do you do???

Beautiful yet aloof girl

You're stunning and occasionally deign to chat when forced to, but anyone who's remotely chubby or not "on your level" is beneath your notice. Get over yourself. 

Okay, rant over! Can you tell I wrote this on my lunch break? If you work in an office do any of these ring true for you? 



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Six People You Find In Every Office
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