Photo via SheerLuxe
Sleeping in the heat while tucked up in bed in Northern Ireland isn’t something we usually have to be worried about but there I was, night number 2, 3, 4, (I’ve lost count I’m so tired) tossing and turning struggling to battle the heat in pursuit of falling sleep once again. The windows were open and the duvet was off. What’s a girl supposed to do? AC isn't an option given the rarity that is heat in Northern Ireland but it’s rare occurence, doesn't make it any easier to deal with when it comes to sleeping. Even when their is AC available while on holiday, who really enjoys sleeping with cold air on blast only to wake up with a blocked nose and foggy head anyway? And that’s without taking into account any alcohol consumption that went on the night before. So after a few hours of tossing and turning, I did what any technology addicted millennial would do and got scrolling on my phone to find the answers. This is what the internet had to offer. They're weird and wonderful while others are just downright obvious and I'm holding myself back from getting picky. There’s only so many sweaty sheep a girl can count in one night.
Get your hands (and feet) on some cold water
We’ll start with the most obvious and one of themes accessible tips. A quick rinse (soak, depending on just how warm and impatient you’re feeling) of your hands and feet in some cold water right before bed is said to do the trick. The closer before bedtime that you do it, the more effective. We’re talking a quick soak then legging it into bed allowing the motion of running to dry excess water off. If you’re a real pro you’ll keep a cold damp cloth by your bed, ready to be placed on your forehead all night long.
Freeze your pillow
Either I’ve been missing a serious trick the last few nights or the internet is winding me up. Rumour has it if you stick your pillowcase into the freezer before going to bed then allow it to thaw out while you sleep you’ll be cool as a cucumber all night long. I don’t know how to feel about this one but it sounds refreshing. They tried telling me to do it with all of my bed clothes but that's where I draw the line. The act of stripping my bed, finding space in my freezer then remaking the bed was a sweat inducing thought in itself.
Get out the hot water bottle
What I've gathered so far is that the key to surviving sleep in the heat is basically to throw every kind of sleeping accessory into the freezer and you’re on to a winner. While clinging to a hot water bottle tucked under your dressing gown may seem like a thing of the distant past at this point, the trick this time is to put your hot water bottle into the freezer so that it acts like an ice pack. Having heard hot water bottle horror stories over the years, I’m sceptical and have been taught to be wary of the bubbly little creatures. Couldn't we just use an ice pack and wrap it up in a tea towel or is that not glam enough?
Get creative and build your own AC
Good luck convincing your parents or landlord/lady that air conditioning is a necessary instalment in your home (unless you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that doesn’t rain 75% the time). When they inevitably turn down your well thought out presentation as to why you need AC, get resourceful and build your own makeshift version. My internet scrolling informed me (more than once) that by placing a pan or bowl of ice in front of fan, you can create your own cooling mist. Fab-u-lous.
Shut it out
Like most normal people I tend to open all of my blinds and curtains as soon as I’m up and about in the morning. During the summer time when the weather is nice the doors and windows are flung open and I’m lapping up all of the sunshine that I possibly can. Pursuing normal behaviour seems to be where I’m going wrong in my approach to sleeping in the heat. The wise old internet recommends keeping blinds and curtains shut during the day in areas where the sun shining. Tell that to the rest of my family as we endure the stuffy heat of the house.
Despite my reluctant and definitely grumpy attitude that, funnily enough has been provoked by a lack of sleep, beggars can’t be choosers so guess who’s going for a cold dunk before bed time tonight?
Niamh ♥Read more link text
New York has consumed my thoughts for so much of the last 2 years. Being the cringeworthy cliche that I am, I’ve obsessed over Sex and The City like no girl has before. I’ve watched the entire series over and over and over, again. I will defend Carrie and her selfish behaviour until the end and while I appreciate every meme made around the series, any laughter is endured through nerves, accompanied by thoughts of how misunderstood the characters are. I digress - my true love for Carrie and her crew will be kept for another post (lucky you.)
I decided 2016 would be the year that I would follow my dreams of going to New York and becoming Carrie Bradshaw for just a few days - a dream many a fashion gal has had before me. I talked about it non-stop, I thought about it even more. I ate, slept, breathed New York and I still do.
As the year synonymous with many a shitty experience, 2016 came and went and New York didn’t happen.
Dun, Dun, Dun.
Given my financial situation at the time (uni drop out, unpaid intern, struggling freelancer), I know I shouldn’t have been surprised but this is the same girl who thought that one trip across the ocean would make all of my dreams come true, have me writing for Vogue and buying expensive shoes with my rent money.
Then came good ol’ 2017. Good ol’ 2017 with a certain 21st birthday. A 21st birthday being the perfect excuse for a big present like a trip to NYC. Jackpot.
Honestly, it felt surreal up until the first morning that I woke up in New York. For the months leading up to it, people would ask if I was excited and I was, obviously but I’d talked about it for so long that part of me couldn’t believe I would actually be there. The entire time I was there it felt like a complete bubble, separate to the rest of the world because with everything going on in New York, where else would you need to be? I secured my NYC bubble in those few days by avoiding any social media that wasn’t NYC related. Watching Irish snapchatters took a back seat. Reading UK blogs took a back seat and replying to messages from home took a back seat. The obsession grew and grew.
I don’t know whether it was the confidence or the anonymity the city offered but I felt the trip should be documented so I took the plunge and attempted my first ever vlog. Attempt is the key word here. Creating video content is something entirely new to me but between watching snapchat and Instagram stories and keeping up with my favourite YouTubers, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot in recent months. The editing isn’t the smoothest and the content itself may not be up to everyone’s standards but we all have to start somewhere and so I’m starting with New York. Let’s see where it takes me.
I'd love to hear your feedback and as a YouTube newbie, any advice is more than welcome.
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I’ve recently confessed my struggle with blogging, my lack of inspiration within the industry and overall, lack of motivation with my blog. I’m still really lacking in motivation and inspiration and unfortunately, I’ve got into one very lazy rut but I'm working on it. At the moment I’ve mostly escaped the guilt (mostly, not completely or I wouldn’t be writing these posts) that comes with lack of motivation. This comes down to the fact that for the last 6 months, my internship has become a much bigger priority than my blog so with a reduced amount of time to commit to my blog, met with a reduced amount of energy, I’ve much more readily made excuses as to why I haven't been putting in the effort with little niamhserena.co.uk. However, in two weeks time my internship comes to an end (where has the time gone?!) which means no more making excuses. Sadly, it’s not as easy as just flicking a switch and bam, you become a dedicated content machine. With the end of my internship looming and a promise to myself that I would give my blog the attention and commitment that it deserves and once had, I got thinking about the different resources I’ve turned to in the past when I need a little boost and thought maybe, just maybe, a few of you out there might find them helpful. I’ve broken them down into three sections - books, websites, and videos - all of which are things I definitely bang on about at one point or another on my social media.
Whether directly related to blogging or fashion or just motivational books in general, I find it so helpful reading other people’s stories about how they’ve made their career a success. At the start of the year I went through a phase where every book I read, one after another fell within this genre. Then I suffered a little bit of book burnout and felt a need to switch it up with a little fiction. While I love reading fiction and think it’s important to keep a little variety on the go, there’s a definite correlation between my levels of motivation and effort and my choice of non-fiction, career focused book. Personally, it feels a bit like when you filter the people you spend time with, only including those that build you up and encourage positivity within your life only in this case there’s the added bonus of boosting productivity. If you’re in the market for a few motivational books, these are the ones that I’ve found most helpful over the last few months.
Man Repeller: Seeking love, finding overalls
(while not exclusively about her career, she’s someone I admire so naturally, her writing inspires me)
There’s probably nothing surprising about the fact that the websites that inspire me are mostly written by other bloggers. There’s no denying that the blogging industry is getting more and more saturated and a lot of people turn their noses up at blogging. The same people will most likely think I’m crazy for dreaming of making my blog a business one day. It’s easy to let those people get to you and affect your motivation but if we spent all of our time listening to them, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Every so often (usually on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea) I let myself get lost in the atmosphere of amazing blogs out there. Through blogging and my internships, I’ve become more aware of media sites that aren’t blogs nor mainstream sites but their quality of writing and creative voice brings enough content to spend your entire day devouring. Looking at those bloggers and writers out there who have successfully boosted their websites to the top fills me up with faith that it is possible, despite those that doubt the industry. The below websites are the ones that have gone from a Sunday scrolling session to refreshing daily, subscribing to newsletters and trusting to help dig me out of most creative ruts.
We all need a pep talk every so often. Today in particular I was in desperate need of a few. As I checked through my emails, I thanked myself for forwarding on the below video featured on My Domaine recently. It hit the nail on the head considering it’s entirely focused on making blogging your business, something I’ve been daydreaming about more and more frequently. Most of the videos embedded below are directly relevant to bloggers but the likes of Gary Vee, who I’m sure a lot of you are aware of, are great for giving you a little tough love career motivation, guaranteed to get you out of a rut regardless of your industry.
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Niamh ♥Read more link text
I would say for the most part that I’m an introvert. I like my own space. I like to keep to myself in public situations. I usually end up being the quietest member of the group. Often I find myself craving time alone to ‘recharge’ after socialising. I like to keep my social circle small. And god forbid you’re able to get a timely reply should you try and contact me (potentially a little more to do with being disorganised...). Take these traits and judge them as you will but one thing I’m recognising more and more, is my desire to be fiercely independent, a desire that isn't exclusive to introverts, extroverts or ambiverts.
There’s one side of me that didn’t think twice (until actually stepping on the plane and it was too late) about heading to Dubai for a month for the sake of an internship. Somewhere where the culture was completely different, where I didn’t know anyone bar my godmother and her family, to start a new internship in a field I hadn’t ventured into yet (even though I had been dreaming of it for years) - in hindsight, pretty independent. There’s also the side of me that gets my mum to check all of my emails, to approve many a decision and to help financially support me while I hop from internship to internship (thanks, mum). That side of me? Still grappling with the concept of independence.
I had never really considered myself to be independent until last Christmas. We were playing with that little plastic fish that’s supposed to be able to predict your mood by lying in your hand. We all gave it a go and once said little fishy reached me, I was predicted to be independent. I remember my Mum snorting and saying “You got that right!”. Honestly, I thought she was being sarcastic. To this day I’m still unsure if she was being sarcastic or not (Mum, if you’re reading this, please feel free to clarify in the comments below. It would save me a lot of overthinking time.) But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In the last few years, while I still have a huge issue of constantly seeking the approval of others (insert eye roll), there’s been a lot of marching to the beat of my own drum. This blog for instance. Dropping out of university to follow a less conventional route. Interning in London. Living in Dubai. Moving to Dublin. Admittedly, a lot of these things came about by completely chancing my arm, not actually believing they would happen but they did and here I am.
The moving around has obviously boosted my ability to be independent. I shop and cook for myself. I’ve discovered that actually, I really enjoy cooking. I do my own washing. I clean my own bathroom. I manage to get myself from A to B without too many disasters. With a busy housemate, I live alone a lot of the time. Now, you may be reading this thinking - “Niamh, you’re 21. You should be doing these things anyway.” And you know what, you’re 100% right and yes, 500 words is far too long an intro into a topic but if my rambling writing still surprises you at this point, you’ve got some catching up to do (I could do with the extra stats so please feel free to scroll through the archives. No, really. Do it.)
As I sat and wrote last week’s blog post all about getting back into blogging and writing (link included to make the archive research easier for you) I noted that I was writing the post in Nandos. On my lunch break. By myself. Going back to the introvert thing, I find by the time lunch time comes around I’m exhausted by being surrounded by others within a busy office and in desperate need of some time alone to recharge the batteries. Most of the time I can’t even handle virtually spending time with people and turn to my book or writing rather than scrolling through social media. It means I spend most of my lunch breaks by myself unless of course it’s the designated day for a lunch date with the other interns, a lunch break I actually look forward to spending with others.
Once again, I’m rambling.
So, as I sat and wrote the post, head buried in my notebook, I looked around and suddenly questioned just how socially acceptable is was to be in Nando’s, alone, writing. If it was Costa, Starbuck’s or the library, I wouldn’t have questioned it for a second and wouldn’t be feeling the sudden wave of self-consciousness that I felt as I sat in my booth.
Imogen of YouTube channel Imogenation recently put up a video about how she gained confidence. She talked about how comfortable she is within her own company and how she went from being so dependent on others, unable to be left in her own company to feeling comfortable enough in her own skin to do things like going to the cinema alone. Then as I was catching up on my snapchats this evening, Michaela O'Shaughnessy of Life of a Lady Bear was chatting about her plans after work to go to The Weeknd’s concert alone. On both of these occasions, I’ll admit to turning my nose up a little, thinking why on earth would these girls do that?! But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that these were my own insecurities and issues speaking. Insecurities and issues that I shouldn’t project on others that are comfortable doing those things alone. If there's a movie or concert you want to go to but have no one to go with or would just rather go alone, then why shouldn't you? It’s funny how I have no qualms whatsoever about taking my laptop, a book or a new notebook to a coffee shop by myself and settling in for the afternoon. No issues with eating lunch alone, going shopping alone, travelling alone but anything more ‘adventurous’ than that and I’m completely out of my comfort zone.
The only reason my initial reaction to Michaela going to a concert alone and Imogen, to see a film alone is because I envy them. I envy their confidence in themselves to be able to do those things and while they’re only small things in life, someday I hope my independence levels match theirs and slowly but surely, we're getting there.
Once again, over and out. Hope you enjoyed another little rambling insight into my daily thoughts.
P.S I’m aware of the controversy and memes this dress caused when first released last year. It’s a guilty pleasure but I’m going to own it, thank you very much.
Photos by Lucy
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Niamh ♥Read more link text
Did I realise that when I woke up in my cosy hotel bed on 11th April that that Tuesday in New York would be a game changer? Definitely not.
If I had I would’ve chosen a better outfit, that’s for sure. I would have been wearing my sparkliest of shoes, brightest of red lipsticks and quirkiest of accessories. Instead I was wearing the infamously dirty (but very much loved) pink adidas gazelle trainers (day 4 of NYC venturing had got the better of my little feet), a boring old t-shirt and a very standard, very predictable, “I want to be comfortable” pair of black skinnies.
Lesson one: Always be prepared. I learned the hard way that you never know who you might bump into.
Did I realise that as I walked around that corner, busy gawking at the film crew in the park that I was about to turn into a flustered fan-girling fool? Definitely not.
If I had, I would have prepared something clever and witty to say. Something that would have led to an amazingly lengthy conversation about her amazing writing career, about my own aspiring writing career, about her INCREDIBLE ability to throw together the most random items of clothing to create something sent from the sartorial heavens, about how she’s my dream shopping partner - believe me, I could go on. There are so many things I’d like to talk to her about but did I use any of the above as an excuse to start a conversation with the one and only Leandra Medine? No, no I did not. Instead, ladies and gentlemen, I stood (at a distance) and stared in awe. I stopped in my tracks and just stood there, watching her like a weirdo on the street. I mean, yes I did sneak a little Instagram video of her but all that did was add to my status as weirdo on the street. Leandra, I’m sorry that I’m such an ignorant little social media creature.
Lesson two, kids: Suck it up and say hi. You never know where it will get you. On that note though, use your common sense in the situation and judge the situ accordingly.
Let’s take into account that this all happened almost two months ago. Almost two months ago I was living my best life in New York and I really wish I hadn't just reminded myself that that’s how long it’s been since the dreamiest of dreamy trips in my usually, not so dreamy life. In those two months the Leandra Medine/fan girl situation has only worsened. Ask me how many times I've replayed that moment in my head. Ask me how many different scenarios I’ve created in how differently it could have gone. Go on, dare ya. At this point I feel like I could write a book about it but that would probably be the tipping point into weirdo stalker land and I’m not a stalker, I swear. I just have an appreciation for Leandra’s work and style. Since the famous spotting moment, I’ve become even more addicted to Man Repeller than I already was… They offer a different kind of editorial. It’s all kept very real, as if you’re having a conversation with friends. There’s no judgement and no pretentious editorial attitude and mostly, a lot of honest writing. If you don’t refresh their feed at least 10 times a day, you should.
Anyway, less of the kiss ass, more of the scene setting of how this fascination has grown (seriously, I’m struggling to find words that don’t make me sound like a stalker but I swear I’m not…). My main fashion loves in life have so far been Carrie Bradshaw (spot the cliche), Lauren Conrad (she was an editorial intern, I’m an editorial intern. It makes sense) and now, Leandra Medine. I’m sure these aren’t people Leandra would necessarily be thrilled to be compared to but what can you do, the fashionable mind respects who the fashionable mind wants to respect and I have justifications for each and every one of them. Having just read Leandra’s book, I can confirm that the Carrie Bradshaw comparison definitely isn’t her fave but we’re here now.
I’m currently on the last few pages of Leandra’s book (Seeking Love, Finding Overalls) and I’m not overly sure what I’ll do once I finish it. Start sending fan mail? At this point I wouldn’t be surprised…
Over and out. Day 2 of getting back out of the blogging rut = complete.
Niamh ♥Read more link text