You’re going to read a lot of books, articles, interviews etc that will tell you that provided you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. While I totally understand this and strive to reach level of career satisfaction in my life, I can’t envision a day when Sunday night fear doesn't creep in and Monday mornings get any easier to face.
Morning person or no morning person, most people struggle with Monday’s even if it’s just briefly for the first half an hour as you process the fact that the weekend is gone again for another 5 days.
Mondays are for making life as easy and as painless as possible, seeking as much joy as we can as we ease ourselves back into routine. Try incorporating a few of the below suggestions to make the most of your Monday.
1.Dress to impress
While I try to take pride in what I wear every day (or as many days as possible) I apply this mantra to Mondays and Fridays in particular. Mondays for entering the week the best version of ourselvess (we all know our mood is much better when we like our outfits) and Fridays for dancing our way into a glamorous weekend.
Wear something new. Wear something dressier than normal. Wear something that you always feel confident in or an outfit that always reaps in the compliments. Just make sure you take the time to plan the outfit the night before in order to enjoy additional precious moments in bed first thing Monday morning. Unnecessary stress is the last thing you need on a Monday morning. Trust me.
2. Organise a treat for yourself
Again this is something I apply to my Fridays too although I try to alternate which day I choose in an attempt to save some money. Factor in some me time and treat yourself to a nice lunch or call your best friend to meet you on your break. Organise a date with your boyfriend after work. A trip to the cinema or a table at that restaurant you’ve been dying to try will give you something to look forward to throughout the day, help you justify your “dress to impress” approach and make Monday feel much less Monday. Having something to look forward to should lessen your Sunday blues.
3. Get stuck in
Use everybody else’s Monday lull in the office to your advantage and get stuck into your workload. Start your day with a to do list of all of the tasks you need to complete this week, prioritise and get going. It becomes a bit of a vicious cycle once you start getting through the list. The satisfaction you get from crossing something off your list gets a little addictive and before you know it you’ve got yourself into a productive Monday groove.
4. Make the most of your commute
I’m a serious creature of habit and work much better when I have a routine in order. Every morning I catch up on my favourite YouTube channels while getting ready, I then walk to work with my flask of tea listening to a good podcast usually about entrepreneurs or interviews with strong businesswomen. Upon arrival to the train station I squeeze in some reading time, something I’ve really been enjoying lately. By the time I’ve reached the office I’ve already taken the time to do the things that I enjoy, adding as much joy to my mornings as possible. Seek out the little things you enjoy most and see how you can incorporate them into your morning routine or commute.
5. Use your Sundays to their full advantage
Sunday is a day for organising and prepping for the week ahead so use the day wisely to do all of the mundane chores. I use my Sundays for shooting outfits for my blog, prepping posts and scheduling social media. Spend your Sunday wisely and you’ll really thank yourself later. Do your food shop and prep for as much of the week as you can and pack your lunch the night before. Do all of your washing and tidy your room. Starting the week on a clean and organised note is much easier than dealing with mess hanging over you for the day.
Hopefully these few tips will help lighten the load this Monday and in due course we’ll all start enjoying Mondays much more. What are your tips for making the most of a Monday?
Photos by Alex of This Beautiful Moment Photography
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Happy Monday! This post was originally written on Friday evening but due to having too much fun enjoying some quality time spent with the family, I'm only now getting a chance to hit publish. The post may be called Friday Favourites but who says you can only appreciate life on one set day? Better late than never, here's last week's Friday Favourites post.
I’m currently sat on the plane on my way to a weekend I've been looking forward to for the last 6 weeks. When Mum first suggested we go to London and finally visit the Harry Potter Studios as a family weekend away/ belated birthday treat, I’ve never had try so hard to suppress an excited squeal in public before in my entire life. A) London is my favourite city and B) to say I’m a fan of Harry Potter would be a serious understatement. We’re not just talking about religiously watching the movies or reading the books over and over again kind of fan. We’re talking hunting down the last Harry Potter book in the middle of Sri Lanka because I couldn’t wait to get home to read it - that’s dedication to the cause.
As I sit here with my earphone in, Spotify’s Feel Good Friday playlist blasting, on my way to spend the weekend with my family in my favourite city, it feels pretty impossible to be anything but happy right now. It’s Friday and you know the drill, here are this week’s Friday Favourites - a round up of what’s kept me smiling this week.
You’ve heard me bang on about podcasts in almost every Friday Favourites post since January and here I am again with a new discovery (this one’s been around for a while, I’m just late to the game as usual.) When it comes to reading magazines (something I do an unhealthy amount of) I love reading the editor’s letters at the start. It helps to bring the magazine to life right from the very beginning, providing the perfect set up for whats to come in the following pages. I also think with the digital age creeping in and threatening to take over, it makes people incredibly accessible. We watch their snapchat stories, we watch their Youtube vlogs, we follow their every move on Instagram. In print, it can be harder to get to know the important figures behind the beautifully curated content and so with the editor’s letter, you get the chance to get to know your editor a little better.
Taking that idea one step further is Glamour Editor, Jo Elvin, who hosts the Glamour Magazine podcast, Hey, It’s Ok. In each episode of the podcast the Glamour team invites a guest to discuss different topics. I know what you’re thinking - wow Niamh, thanks for the vague description, I’ll definitely take the time to download that podcast now (rolls eyes) but honestly I don’t know how else to describe it. Instead of inviting a guest on and interviewing them in the standard Q&A form, offering obvious plug opportunities for their guest, the Glamour podcast keeps things casual, letting the conversation flow in whatever way comes naturally and because both the hosts and the guests are such amazing women it ends up being a great conversation. There’s still that interview element to the podcast but it’s much more subtle in its approach and feels much more like you’re part of the conversation. Still not satisfied with that explanation? Just trust me on this - download the podcast.
2. Blogging pals
This week I had a little blogging visitor venture down to the South - the lovely Ashlee from Oh So Femme. I initially met Ashlee in December when I worked with her on the Victoria Square styling challenge which you can read all about here. I’m so glad that Gemma (the amazing That Belfast Girl) brought us together for that challenge and since then we’ve developed a little friendship.
You see all of these big bloggers on social media living what seems like a really glam, exciting life with all of these beautiful friends. While I’m not a ‘big’ blogger, from the little that I have experienced of blogging and from all of the behind the scenes articles I’ve read, this isn’t reality. This is the side of blogging that they’ve chosen to show you. In reality, it’s a very competitive, fickle and at times, incredibly intimidating industry. In my experience, you find yourself fending for yourself a lot and while there are a lot of helpful blogging resources out there, you have to figure a lot of it out by yourself. For that reason, it becomes incredibly helpful to have someone within the industry on your side from. Someone who understands how frustrating it is when people buy followers, how intimidating it is walking into an event not knowing anyone and how painfully awkward and a lot of the times cringe it can be when you take out your phone or camera to snapchat in public. Ashlee has become my little blogging agony aunt. She's been in the game longer than I have and her following proves that. She knows the score when it comes to a lot of the above so whether she likes it or not she’s become my go to gal when I need a second opinion on a blogging idea or when I just need a pep talk that the hard work will pay off someday.
I’ve been fairly lucky with my skin growing up which is both a blessing and a curse. It means that I’ve become pretty lazy with my skin care routine and up until recently really hadn't been taking care of it very well at all. While I’ve never suffered with acne, as I’ve got a bit older I’ve definitely noticed my skin changing. I’m much more prone to an outbreak of blemishes and spots than I was as a teenager and I’ve realised it’s time to wise up and pay attention to my skin.
Last week out of the blue my cheeks broke out in a few spots, something that very rarely happens to me thankfully. Usually when this happens I turn to a good face mask (Lush BB Seaweed one is my favourite), change my bed sheets and pillow cases and they quickly clear up but this time they weren’t up for clearing up. I’d been given the Garnier Anti-Blemish Clarifying Tonic a few weeks and it’s sat staring back at me up until this week. I thought I may as well give it a try and between the 3 products included in the package, my skin slowly started clearing up. While I was at home last weekend I went to Pure Day Spa to get my brows done and briefly mentioned about my skin to Elaine who to date is the only person I will let near my brows. She took a closer look and suggested I get a good exfoliator to clear up my skin and bring out any ugly blackheads lurking. Following her advice and using exfoliator she gave me, I can happily report that finally my skin has cleared up. I still se the Garnier products twice a day and will definitely be paying more attention to my poor skin from here on out.
4. Taking a step back
It’s funny, every time I move somewhere new, I throw myself into my blog like there’s no tomorrow. On top of that working on my content is something that I really enjoy so it makes sense to me that that’s what I should focus on. However, it seems finding a balance between socialising, trying to create a life for myself in a new city and building my blog up is something that I really need to work on finding.
Since December and up until last week I had been publishing blog posts 4-5 times a week, mostly daily Monday-Friday. Through December while I didn’t have a job, this was completely feasible and helped to bring some structure to my days. Now though, working full time, coming home every evening to blog until it’s time to go to bed is hard to keep up with every day.
I ended up off sick last week and then headed home for the weekend. Normally I would have felt the need to use that time to work on my website but I just didn’t have the energy or drive. Following that week I wrote a post about anxiety and how I was lacking in motivation. After publishing that post I decided to take the pressure off myself a little bit and take more time to enjoy myself fully and pay more attention to how I really felt like spending my down time. This week I’ve noticed a definite shift in my mood so for now I’m just going to go with the flow, focus on the quality of my posts over quantity and take more time to enjoy the company of friends and family while exploring the city of Dublin.
Stay tuned for this week’s posts with a lot of International Women’s Day content coming your way as well as what I got up to in London this weekend.
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Recently in work one of my colleagues was sent a thank you note from a client who had attended a recent event organised by the company. While my colleague gets sent things regularly, the main thing that caught her attention and really stopped her in her tracks that day was this handwritten thank you card. Her initial reaction was “How does she find the time?” - put simply, the sender finds the time because she makes the time to be nice, something we should all pay attention to. It got me thinking that about how really, it costs nothing to be nice (except maybe a stamp and some loose change for a nice card in this case) - something we all need to be reminded of sometimes.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of everyday life and our own problems so much so that we often forget about those around us. Every now and again I have to remind myself that I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in someone else’s life in the same way that they have no idea what’s going on in mine. You also have no idea how someone’s brain works. They may come across as a very calm and collected person but in reality the thoughts going on in their head could be telling a completely different story.
I’m not suggesting that we have to start sending flowers to everyone as this blog title would suggest but feel free to send a bunch if that’s what you feel like doing - no one is ever going to complain about receiving flowers. It can be flowers, chocolates or another gift of some sort but it can also just be a simple thank you whether that’s in person, over email or through a hand written card. You wouldn’t believe how little gestures that took 2 minutes out of your day, can make someone else’s entire day. Equally, you wouldn’t believe how much an insensitive handling of a situation can bring someone down.
We live in a society that can really feel like it’s every man for themselves sometimes which makes life difficult for all involved. I understand the need to practice self care and put yourself first but it’s important to strike that balance between practicing self care, not surrounding yourself with negativity, looking after yourself first and foremost and still being a good person. This is something that author Sarah Knight talks about a lot in her book The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k and at one point even provides her readers with a diagram of how to handle situations in a way that stops you from wasting your f**k budget on things you don’t care about while not appearing to be an asshole (her words not mine).
I may be naive about a lot of things but believe it or not, I’m well aware that life isn't all sunflowers and rainbows. All I’m suggesting is that next time you’re in a bad mood, think twice before snapping at someone irrelevant to the reason behind the mood. Next time you’re at a really beautiful event and you really enjoy yourself, thank the organiser. Next time you enjoy someone’s blog post/article/art/speech/music - whatever it is, take the time to tell them.
They may not remember your name and they may not remember what you wore that day but people will always remember how you made them feel. Positively or negatively, that’s what stands out to people and I don’t know about you but I would much rather the former. I’m thankful that my Mum brought us up to be polite kids and to treat people well even if that’s an attitude we need reminded of every so often. It costs you nothing to simply ask someone how their day went, make the effort to smile at them or offer to make them a cup of tea when you’re going to make yourself one anyway.
If you don't want to take my word for it, fair enough but at least take a second to appreciate Maya Angelou’s wise words on the topic - she’s much more of an expert than I am.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Photos by Alex of This Beautiful Moment Photography
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Today for the first time in a while I sat down to write my blog post and had nothing to say. There was nothing there. I had the outfit shots in front of me. I had Pinterest open with different article inspiration right there. I had candles lit. Tea in hand. The usual set up. And yet still, nothing.
I should have known from the constant procrastination throughout the day that creativity just wasn't going to happen today.
Firstly, I haven't slept.
Secondly, I’ve spent most of today and yesterday in bed sick.
Thirdly, my anxiety is sky high, worsened only by the fact that I have no idea why.
The most frustrating thing about the situation for me was the fact that, other than feeling physically sick for separate reasons, mentally I actually had no idea what was wrong. The only thing I did know was that I wasn’t ok.
I let myself cry. I painted my nails. I tried to nap. I turned my phone off. I followed all of the usual cures and mood enhancers, ones that I’ve have recommended to others here on this blog. Nothing helped. The girl who spends almost every waking hour of every day dreaming about what this blog could become, plans that I have for it and article ideas popping up every so often seemed to have packed up her bags and headed off to a faraway land. Something I felt like joining her on.
This all might seem very dramatic to a lot of you because it’s only one day and I really hope that’s what it is. But to me it feels more than that because when it comes to anxiety, for the most part you have no idea firstly, when it will rear its ugly head and potentially more stressful, how long it will stick around for.
I love writing and creating content on my blog. It’s probably very sad to a lot of you but I spend a lot of my time thinking about ‘blogging’ and the different pieces I could write, the different platforms I hope to expand to and how I can better my little corner of the internet. So this little period of writer’s block, though hopefully very brief, has been alarming to say the least.
In the midst of all of this and in an attempt to tidy up and revive my brain, I turned to my back up plan for those days when writing won’t save me and got reading. Hannah Gale’s blog was my therapy of choice. Turns out this did the trick pretty well and got a few cogs moving. Not all but a few.
I got to my laptop, did some rambling (see above) and came to the conclusion that this post was going to be about the resources to turn to when all inspiration/motivation/generally feeling lost and overwhelmed gets the better of you. They’re not all necessarily motivational speeches as such but instead relatable articles that remind you that you’re not alone and others have experienced similar things. Sometimes it’s about finding something that you can relate to rather than searching for the ‘cure’ or solution to whatever it is you’re going through. Other times it’s about distracting yourself as much as possible and reading think pieces that have nothing to do with mental health. And if none of these work? Turn on the news. That’ll put everything into perspective quicker than anything else.
The very post that helped me put pen to paper this evening (or finger tips to keyboard):
Knowing your own mental illness warning signs
PS. This post was supposed to be about my current love of beanies. That love is still ongoing and I almost dread the day that it's too warm to wear them for another few months. However, much as I love them there's really only so much you can say about a beanie...
Photos by Alex of This Beautiful Moment Photography
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Fashion definitely had a few things to get off its chest this season. Given the political situation in the United States currently, this shouldn’t have come as much of a shock. For a while it was all a bit up in the air how the fashion industry would deal with Trump’s inauguration as President. We knew there would be no happy medium because with fashion it’s all or nothing. Personally I’m so relieved and grateful that fashion houses went for it and spoke out about the political tension.
Fashion is such a massive platform for influence and truthfully, I would had been very disappointed had designers kept their mouth shout out of fear of how it would affect their sales to be controversial. With top names such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour in attendance, front row for many of the shows was made up of a lot of Hillary’s people. Not only that, but we sat back and watched as Nordstorm battled it out with the White House over Ivanka Trump’s line just as fashion week was kicking off. Realistically, there was no way political fashion could have been avoided.
Two of my favourite subjects, American politics and fashion coming together made watching New York fashion week coverage roll in even more interesting for me. A little surprisingly, their political approach to clothing this season made collections seem so much more wearable. London has a lot to compete with this week…
Now that New York fashion week has come to an end, here’s a round up of every political moment that hit the catwalk.
1.Support for Planned Parenthood
Ahead of fashion week, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) launched their Fashion Stands with Planned Parenhood campaign in order to raise awareness for the organisation and to fight against Trump’s campaign to defund Planned Parenhood because of “the abortion factor”. Badges were made with the Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood on them and distributed to models, agencies, influencers and attendees. Famous faces such as Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furstenberg among others were spotted proudly flaunting the badge in support for the campaign.
It didn’t stop with badges however. Adam Lippes took his support for the cause one step further posting the below shot of himself to instagram where the designer can be seen posing with models holding signs stating “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Girl Power”.
Business of Fashion launched the next campaign in reaction to current political context. The idea behind #TiedTogether was a white bandana to be worn in attendance of the shows and throughout fashion week as a symbol of unity, inclusiveness and solidarity. They claimed it not to be a poilitcal statement but “a positive statement in support of humanity in a time of turmoil and fear in many nations around the world.” This approach may explain Tommy Hilfiger’s involvement who having previously stated it to be an honour to dress Melania Trump, had his models walk down the runway of his Tommy X Gigi show wearing the white bandanas.
Raf Simon’s Calvin Klein show followed suit with the #TiedTogether campaign with each guest receiving a bandana and a note encouraging them to wear it as a sign of unity, inclusion and acceptance. Raf’s finale was possibly one of the biggest political statements of the entire event as his model walked down the runway wrapped in an American flag to David Bowie’s “This is Not America”.
3. Political Slogans Galore
It seems that Maria Grazia Chiuri’s famous “We should all be feminists” and “Dior Revolution” slogan tees were only the beginning. This season in New York, the runway was awash with political statement after political statement printed loud and clear across several designer’s collections.
Arguably most notable was that of Prabal Gurung. The designer, who is of Nepalese heritage sent out his finale with models wearing t-shirts stating “Revolution has no borders” and “I am an immigrant” along with several other statements. He himself walked the finale wearing a tee stating “This is what a feminist looks like.” Bella Hadid told Teen Vogue in an interview that emotions were running high backstage at the show particularly for herself and Gurung himself who was said to be teary before walking out onto the runway.
Christian Siriano, Public School and Creatures of Comfort were among other designers using their collections to voice their feelings on their new President’s policies.
4. The Women’s March Founders Take to the Catwalk
Written within Mara Hoffman’s show notes was the fact that she was inspired by “women constantly creating in the name of change.” Four women in particular were Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez - the founders of the Women’s March on Washington who Hoffman went on to invite to open the show. The four women read part of the Women’s March mission statement along with a quote from Maya Angelou "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Unsurprisingly, their appearance and their message was received with a mass of applause and cheers from the audience.
It’s not often that fashion is associated so strongly with emotion but I think it’s safe to say that this season of New York fashion week was an emotional one. It left us all with a lot of thinking to do and hopefully fuelled the determination to stand strong and protect America’s future. Although the incorporation of politics in fashion surrounded New York Fashion Week with an atmosphere of intrigue, fashion and politics created a bitter sweet reunion.
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