• WEEK IN REVIEW 19/8/19-25/8/19

    HARD TIME

    The last week has been a rough ride. The word “triggered” gets tossed around a lot these days but that is what happened at the end of last week; someone let me down and it sent me back to past feelings, back to a past life. My anxiety was the worst it has been in a while. Most of the time, it just hovers; it’s there but it doesn’t stop me doing things. Well this was different, this was debilitating. I am grateful for my ability to soothe myself, for my ability to work through those emotions and come out the other end quite quickly. It took me a few days but I was able to move forward and get back to myself, maybe a slightly more battered version, but myself none the less. I’m grateful I was able to have a productive week and I’m grateful I could find comfort in the small things again. But I’m also exhausted, physically and mentally. It’s so tiring having to take hits because other people can’t handle their own emotional baggage. Sometimes you don’t want to be grateful that you made it through, you just want to have not had to go through it at all.

    DOGS ARE GREAT

    I love dogs. That’s all.

    PLANNING AS SELF CARE

    I’ve been doing a lot of planning this week, mainly planning future trips. I have a work trip next week and then I’ve off to Wales do the fastest zip line in the world. The timing is actually quite nice, as I need a bit of a distraction after the last week. I’ve also been planning a big trip for next year that I think I’m going to book next month.

    I enjoy planning. I don’t do it deliberately but I think it is a form of self care for me. It’s important when you take an emotional knock to be kind to yourself; I can be kinda hard on myself when I feel I’ve been unproductive, but I need to remember that sometimes being productive means just making it out of bed. I like to focus on things I enjoy doing as they’re easier to get done and I can start to feel like I’m accomplishing something. I think planning is also good because it forces me to focus on the future, not the past.

    GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE

    I am trying to be conscious of my consumerism so I hate to advocate retail therapy but last week I just needed reasons to get myself out of the house so I decided to head into town and peruse the shops. I’m not really a physical shopper anymore, I mostly shop online. But it was nice to see things in person, get some inspiration and mostly importantly, just move my body and be out in world with other people. I tried on a bunch of stuff in & Other Stories (on a side note, while retail therapy may be nice when you’re feeling down, being in a changing room with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit or look good, doesn’t do much to help your mood. 0/10 would not recommend). I ended up just getting these earrings (well, I also bought an umbrella but that was a practical purchase) and I’m very happy with them. After, I went to a coffee shop with the intention of working on this blog, but I ended up watching YouTube videos. I know I could have done that at home but again, there was something nice about being out in the world. I wasn’t quite in the mood for socialising but just being around people made me feel a bit less anxious, less isolated. I also took myself on a couple of walks and while they were sometimes a bit of a struggle with my anxiety, I was glad I did them.

  • PAYING ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS

    I’ve been watching this vlog on YouTube recently made by a Chinese woman who lives in Australia. I don’t know her name and I can’t understand what she’s saying but that doesn’t seem to matter, the point of the her videos is to convey a mood. They are just very calming and focus on small everyday things. She does everything very intentionally, taking time to put flowers in a vase slowly or lay her food out nicely. Her videos have made me take note of the small pleasures that are easy to miss when you’re rushing around and pay attention to the mundane sounds that surround us daily.

    The other day, I sat out on the steps in front of my building in my tracksuit bottoms, with my natural curly hair and no make-up, and just enjoyed the way the light hit the ground. I listened to the cars passing, as well as the silence in between each vehicle. I watched people going by, paying absolutely no attention to me. I felt the warmth on my skin and inhaled the fresh air. It was just a nice moment, it wasn’t spectacular or new or groundbreaking. But it was peaceful, it was soothing.

  • IMPLEMENTING MY NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

    One of my New Years resolutions this year is to be more adventurous. By that I mean putting myself out there more, focusing on trying new things and having as much fun as possible. I know this may seem like a weird time to be thinking about New Years resolutions but this is normally the time that people start to lose sight of them. I was never really one for resolutions until last year, where I really took time to make a list in my bullet journal at the beginning of the year and made a point to check in with them every month. So this year I wanted to do the same thing.  

    For some reason recently I’ve felt such a a strong urge to just do things. I want to explore more, try more new things, have more life experiences. I’m not 100% where this feeling has come from; honestly it’s quite new to me. I never had a rebellious stage, never went through that stage where you go a bit wild and do some crazy things. And that’s okay. Those kind of things never appealed to me when I was younger. I was happy just doing my thing, hanging out with my friends and playing board games. I was probably a bit boring but that’s what I enjoyed. However recently, I’ve wanted to start being a bit more crazy. Now, I don’t mean I want to go completely off the rails. But I want to be a bit less of a home body.

    I think in the past, I’ve sometimes held myself back from being a bit reckless for two reasons. Firstly, I genuinely enjoy being at home. I always have; so it’s never really been a case of regretting not going out, I don’t really get FOMO. But I think sometimes I hold myself back because I don’t have confidence in my ability to do things. I’m generally not great at doing practical things. Or at least that’s how I think about myself, reality or not. I’m not very strong (yet, I have just started going to the gym), I’m not very good at sports and I absolutely freeze up when people watch me do anything, even something I know how to do.

    But it’s a vicious circle because I don’t feel confident because I don’t have the experience of putting myself out there, but because of that I don’t put myself out there and build that confidence. It’s also a bit trickier now that I’m a little older. For starters, I’m an adult with responsibilities. I don’t have kids but I do have a job and rent to pay. I also constantly seem to have errands to run. What is that about? Why does adulting involve so many errands? Also, a lot of my friends are more interested in staying in nowadays. And that’s perfectly fine, it’s just unfortunate that my timing is off.

    So in order to see through my New Years resolution, I’ve been making a conscious effort to do two things. Firstly, I want to try at least one new thing every month. So far, I’ve tried skiing, sledding, a pottery class and ridden on the back of a motorcycle, just to name a few things (some things are better left off the internet haha). I’m also planning a trip to Wales in September to go on the world’s fastest zip-line and hike up Snowden. And in May I’m doing a fundraising challenge with my dad, where we’ll be sailing from Cork to Southampton on a tall ship. I’ve really focused on finding new things to try and actually giving them a shot. The second thing I’m doing is saying yes when my friends ask if anyone is up for the cinema, to get a drink, to hang out etc. Yes, I am here and I am up for anything.

    Jane x

  • DIALING UP THE FEMINISM

    I’ve been feeling so inspired by women lately. They can just be so powerful and badass. I know I keep vaguely mentioning this, but I have been going through a hard time recently and I’ve been trying to expose myself to things that bring me joy and make me happy. Because of that, I’ve been drawn to strength, drawn towards inspiring people, and so many of them are women. And honestly, as my love and admiration for women grows, so too does my frustration with men. I feel like I’m supposed to hold back on my hatred for men, like that makes me one of those radical bra-burning feminists who the media love to focus on to discredit the cause. And trust me, I get it, I know all men aren’t bad. For example, my dad is the best. He’s just great.

    But let’s be honest, in general, men kinda suck. And I feel like the argument that not all men are bad that people like to yell when a woman starts talking about how awful men are, well, it’s not really the point, is it? It feels like a distraction tactic, like instead of focusing on what matters, we’re going to bicker about semantics. But there is this fear of being seen as crazy, as a crazy feminist. It’s ingrained in woman from a young age, that they shouldn’t be too over-bearing. And it’s funny because that idea, of the hysterical woman, has been used for centuries. Even the word “hysterical” comes from the latin for ovaries, that word is inherently female. It’s been consistently used to discredit woman throughout history.

    But of course we’re angry. Of course we’re frustrated.

    I remember seeing the new Blade Runner film last year with my friends and the conversations we had afterwards. To be honest, I didn’t think the movie as a whole was that great. I mean, I don’t dislike Ryan Gosling but there was a lot of him in that movie. Like it’s literally just 3 hours of his face. I can’t think of a single scene he wasn’t in. But my main issue with the film was the portrayal of women. It’s bad. Really bad. I don’t want to give any spoilers but essentially they’re pretty much all sexualised and/or computer generated. When we came out of the cinema, my friends and I discussed the movie and one of my male friends said ‘well aside from the portrayal of women, the story line was good’. And it’s not that I disagree completely, but the thing is, I can’t put the portrayal of women to the side.

    My best friend Aoife and I agreed while walking to the bar, we can’t get past a negative or damaging portrayal of woman anymore. We’re just tired. Tired of coming out of films feeling so hopeless about society. Tired of feeling bad about ourselves even though we know the problem is with society, not us. So, instead of falling even further into that hole of self-loathing, I’m trying to feel empowered by the anger I feel. I won’t let it get the better of me. I will use it to be productive.

    And so, as I said, I feel myself being drawn towards inspiring women. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long, but I suddenly discovered that I love the band Haim. They’re so amazing. Their music is great but I’ve also loved watching interviews with them and stalking their social media. They are confident and unapologetic about who they are and what they believe. I’ve probably been a bit too inspired by them recently and may or may not have spent some time daydreaming about becoming the 4th sister… I mean, I already have the hair, right? I’m kidding but their style is what inspired my latest boot purchase from NAE Vegan. Maybe I was consciously hoping that walking in HAIM inspired shoes will help me feel more confident in my feminism. Plus, they’re ethically made from sustainable vegan materials. What more could you want?

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    I came across the image below on twitter while I was procrastinating earlier today and it really hit home. That’s what I need to do. I have to ignore the pressure I feel to tone it down and not entertain the stupid semantic arguments. Instead, I need to focus on women who are turning up the dial and follow their lead. Focus on how amazing and strong women are, how amazing and strong I am, because that’s the only way we’re going to make waves and create change so that we don’t have to come out of films feeling angry about society and depressed about ourselves.

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    Love Jane x

     

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  • GOING BACK TO COLLEGE AS A POST-GRADUATE

    I never knew getting a masters degree would involve so much free wine. Seriously, at every event the college provides so much wine. It’s crazy. At the last one, they literally gave people bottles to take home at the end because they had so much left. So it’s safe to say, I’ve really been enjoying college.

    When I finished my bachelors degree, the thought of doing a masters was the last thing on my mind. I was finished with education. Done. Over it. But after being away from it for nearly 2 years, I started to miss it. When I was college, my classmates and I talked about critical theory and different social issues over lunch like people chitchat about the weather, and I just assumed that that was how life was. That bubble was quick to burst after graduation and I soon realised that a lot of people didn’t want to talk about Judith Butler’s writings on performativity or Michael Foucoult’s thoughts on the Panopticon while eating their Chinese takeaway. So weird, I know.

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    So it feels nice to be back in a learning space; to be talking about things that I find interesting. I’m really not an academic though. I like being in class and hearing other people’s thoughts and opinions, but I have a terrible memory and I don’t work well on the spot. I also have some learning difficulties, so it’s not easy for me. Despite that, I’ve found being in college oddly comforting. It’s almost a form of therapy, learning about new concepts and talking about different social issues; it really is amazing how powerful that can be. Engaging with things that are bigger than yourself is like chicken soup for the soul. Or vegetable soup I guess, since I’m a vegetarian.

    I’m also really trying hard to be social with my classmates. It’s not a natural thing for me; I mean, I’m capable of socialising but I find it so exhausting. I get so anxious and nervous about everything, especially at the beginning. And I hate small talk. Although, I actually do rather enjoy talking about the weather, I feel like that’s an Irish thing, even if some Irish people won’t admit they actually like it. But I want to make the most of what I’m doing.  I’m surrounded by so many different interesting people from all around the globe: China, India, Denmark, the U.S., Italy, Switzerland. It’s really cool.

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    Being immersed in this new bubble makes me feel inspired and motivated. Well, most of the time I feel that way. I’ve had a lot happen in my life over the past 3 months and it’s been hard. Amongst other things, I had a person I loved and supported in every way cheat on me and just generally be horrible to me, and as much as I wish it didn’t, sometimes I feel that dragging me down. There was just so much pain and confusion, and just when you think you’ve gotten rid of it all, you find a spot (or multiple spots) that you missed. But I have been going to therapy and most of the time I feel like I’m healing. I try to focus on the positives and being back in college has put things into perspective.

    The free wine helps too.

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     Outfit info:
    Jacket – Misguided
    Shoes – Public Desire
    Bag – Matt & Nat
    Dress – Aritzia
    Hoodie – H & M

    Love Jane x

    P.S. This probably only makes sense in my head, but I feel like the coat combination I’m wearing here is the perfect post-graduate student outfit. The coat is professional, while the hoodie reminds people I’m still a hip causal student… Is that a weird way to think about clothes? Yes, yes it is.

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  • THE NEW NORMAL

    It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my blog, and although I do want to return to regularly scheduled programming soon, I felt the need to address my absence. Not because I think anyone cares or noticed, but because it would have felt weird for me to continue on as though everything was normal, as though everything was the same as before.

    Normal is an odd concept.

    Society thinks that it’s common sense, that’s it’s fact. That it’s always been and will be always be. But the truth is it changes constantly. It’s relative. It depends on the year, the location, the country, the culture, the family. Everything changes. Society changes. Normal changes. In the personal sphere, normal is what’s known, what’s comfortable. What we do everyday. Normal life. But normal changes. Sometimes it’s expected, it’s slow, it’s predictable. But sometimes it’s none of those things. Sometimes things change so quickly it causes whiplash. Suddenly you’re plunged into the unknown, the new. Abnormal life.

    But that’s the funny thing, it may seem abnormal at first. It may seem so foreign and strange. But soon it simply stops. It stops being foreign and strange. Soon it becomes everyday life. And it’ll surprise you how fast that happens, how quickly it all becomes normal: going in and out of hospitals to visit, talking about insurance, joking with the guy in the opposite bed about cancer after finding out that he had the same type several years ago. It’s now the new normal. Things have changed, and not the slow gradual change that most of us experience throughout our entire lives. This had been sudden. A sudden new normal.

    That is not necessarily a bad thing. You learn things; you learn about yourself, about life, about the people around you. You figure out what this new normal looks like; what you look like in this new normal. And thankfully in this situation, things may eventually go back to being, for the most part, like they were before. We may need to make a few adjusts, but at the end of the day we’ll have the same laughs, watch the same quiz shows together, argue the same petty things. No matter what happens, it’ll become normal. It always does.

    I’m sorry this post has been vague, but it’s not my story to tell. I just wanted to get this off my chest before starting to post again. As I said, regularly scheduled programming will resume soon.

    Jane x

  • SUMMER IS COMING

     

    Okay, I know everyone loves summer. The longer days, the sunshine, the heat. But I’m not convinced… For starters, I’m Irish. Do you see how pale I am? I was not made for the hot weather. I can only last about 10 minutes in the sun before it really starts to affect me. I actually don’t burn burn as quickly as you would think, unless I’m around water, but I get headaches and sunstroke symptoms pretty quickly. My eyes are also super light sensitive which doesn’t help anything. And my hands swell up pretty bad in the heat and that can get painful. I told ya, clearly not made for the hot weather.

    All of this gives me a lot of anxiety around summer. I want to love the nice weather, experience it the way other people do, but my body just doesn’t process the heat well so it’s harder for me to enjoy it. I get nervous about doing things outdoors because I know I’m going to over-heat and feel sick. But there’s another reason that summer gives me anxiety. I’m just not happy with my body. I want to be. I’m working on it. But I struggle with how to dress for the heat and feel comfortable. I spent all of last summer trying to figure it out but honestly I just feel so gross all the time. I get sweaty so easily and my thighs rub together which is one of the most painful things to experience.  There’s so many cute summer clothes our there but I know I would just feel horrible in them.

    But I’m trying to be optimistic about it, focus on what I know I like. For example, I love wearing my Birkenstocks. I like wearing flowy dresses with compression shorts underneath to prevent “chub rub”, so that’s what I’m going to look for. Hopefully by focusing on the positives, I can find ways to make myself more comfortable and relieve  some of my anxiety, while also working on how I feel about my body. Sounds easy, right? Urrrggghhhh…. Wish me luck!

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    Jane x

  • ALL ABOUT BED OF NAILS ACUPRESSURE MATS

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    I know the spikes look scary. They look like they hurt. And they do, a little bit. But you do get used to it very quickly, I promise. You can always put a layer of fabric between you and the spikes to ease yourself into it if you want. But honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say I have the biggest pain threshold and I can handle it. Now that that’s out of the way….

    What are acupressure mats and how do they work?

    The mat is based on the theory that the body is lined with pressure points which, when stimulated, release the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, similar to acupuncture but this doesn’t involve breaking the skin. The idea for the mat comes from the bed of nails concept which originated in Asia over 1,000 years ago and was used by gurus in the practice of meditation and healing. These gurus would lie on sharp metal nails with heavy blocks stacked on top of them and while this idea can be a bit shocking, it’s not as painful as it may seem as the weight of the body and the blocks is distributed evenly across the nails. The same is true of this modern day equivalent, which is made up of a thin foam mattress with more than 8,000 non-toxic plastic spikes, harmless to the skin, but boosts the same numerous healing benefits, inducing deep relaxation.

    In fact, the Bed of Nails website states that if used regularly for a long enough period of time their products can:

    • Improve circulation
    • Increase energy level
    • Reduce blood pressure
    • Reduce stress and anxiety
    • Alleviate headache
    • Relieve tension and muscle aches
    • Improve sleep and relieve insomnia
    • Relieve chronic neck and back pain
    • Activate the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Benefit weight loss by reducing cortisol levels
    • Improve heart rate variability
    • Revitalize and rejuvenate
    • Improve skin complexion
    • Relieve constipation
    • Alleviate malaise

    That’s a hell of a lot of benefits. I haven’t used my consistently enough to see all of them, but I’ve found even occasional use can help. I got my mat over a year ago because I was having trouble sleeping. I’ve had sleeping problems on and off for years, so I’m always looking for things that can help. And this definitely helped. It’s a weird sensation at first, not quite painful but you can feel the spikes. After a few minutes though, I always start to relax. I would love to be someone who meditated but I struggle with being able to shut off, however this mat helps me feel more at peace and allows me to just lie still for a while.

    After about 10 minutes, I can feel my circulation start to increase as my back starts to heat up. Honestly, the experience is hard to describe but I really enjoy it. Although the sensation when you sit up after lying on it for a while is so bizarre. I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it; it’s pain and pleasure all in one! Speaking of pain, I’ve also found the mat really helps when I have a sore back. My boyfriend’s job involves manual labor and he’s also used it to help reduce tension and pain in his muscles.

    I only recently purchased the neck pillow because I’ve been experiencing pain and stiffness in my neck but I hate massages (weird, I know…). After using it 3 tries, I’ve already noticed a difference. I really do want to start using both the pillow and the mat as frequently as possible because I don’t doubt that their products can produce all of those benefits they state on their website.

    Note: Both my pillow and mat are from the company Bed of Nails. I haven’t done a ton of research but I think you can find cheaper options out there, I just like the quality of their products.

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    Jane x

  • MY SCRAPBOOK

    I’ve always loved the idea of scrapbooking. I literally have boxes of tickets and other mementos at home. I have such a terrible memory so I think that’s part of the appeal, I’m just drawn towards different ways to keep records of events and things that happen to me because I know I can’t rely on my own mind. The problem is, I also love crafting so I always get carried away and in the past, I’ve spent over a week working on the first 2 pages of a scrapbook before getting distracted and not continuing it.

    However, I was really inspired by Gabriella Lindley’s (VelvetGh0st) scrapbook, which was mainly pictures.  It wasn’t as detailed as the ones you see on Pinterest but it was something I felt was achievable. Last year was pretty crazy for me; I moved to another continent and did lots of fun new things, so I decided to back track quite a bit and make a scrapbook for all of 2016 using the photo stream on my phone as a guide.

    I order a bunch of photos from here and sorted out all the mementos I had. I bought a black paper sketch pad (here) and a silver gel pen (here) from Amazon. I also used multiple glue sticks, super-glue and the label maker my boyfriend got me for Christmas (here). I love scrapbook paper and washi tape but I knew if I started down that rabbit hole, I would never get it finished.  It still did take me a bit of time but I’m pretty proud that I managed to complete it.

    PLAYING AROUND WITH LAYOUTS

    When I printed my photos from the Social Print Studios website, I got 5 different types that they offer: Mightly photos, Miniprints – Rectangular layout, Miniprints – Square layout (these are the ones that look like polaroids)  and Squares. I tried to play around with different layouts, some pages have a lot going on, some are more simple. I dedicated multiple pages to bigger events, but put multiple smaller fun times on the same page. I used my label maker to make headings for different events and used the silver gel pen to write little things to explain the photos. I wanted someone who wasn’t me to be able to look at my scrapbook and know what had happened to me.

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    KEEPSAKES

    I also tried to add texture by adding all the little mementos I collected through-out the year. Tickets are the easiest thing to keep but there’s a lot more you can add into the mix.

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    Lanyard from a work conference

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    I cut out different parts of the ferry schedule pamphlet and added a picture of us on the boat.

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    While we were in the metro parks one day, my boyfriend picked this flower and gave it to me. I pressed it for a few months so I could keep it.

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    My cousin, my boyfriend and I won tickets to a Cavaliers game, so I included the tickets as well as our winning raffle ticket.

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    During the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Champions parade they shot confetti everywhere and I saved a few pieces.

    INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS

    I added some interactive elements, different cards and things like that so that there was some fun movement in the scrapbook.

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    A Thank You card from a friend

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    Map from the hotel I stayed at in Florida

    CAPTURING A FEELING

    As well as capturing the big things that happened, I wanted to capture the atmosphere and the feelings I had as well. This proved to be a bit difficult but I played around with a few ideas. I think if I want make another scrapbook for this year, I need to make a conscious effort to photograph the little things around me.

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    I included a page showing some of the little Christmas details around our apartment to remind me of that time.

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    Unfortunately, my cousin had a miscarriage on Christmas Day. Everything else in my scrapbook is about happy times and I did struggle with whether or not to include bad things that had happened. This had a big impact on me and my family, and I wanted to make sure the baby was remembered so I decided I had to include it. 

    Jane x

  • FOCUS ON THE LIGHT

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    I’ve been struggling with anxiety the past few weeks. It ebbs and flows but it’s seems to be always there these days, lurking in the background or banging against my rib cage. I’ve had anxiety issues for years, that’s nothing new. But it seems like every time it gets a bit better, my brain magically forgets what it’s like when it’s bad. And then it gets bad again and I feel just as helpless as I did when it first started. I have to learn all over again how to manage it. There isn’t one cause to my anxiety, but I guess that’s normal. I just feel over-whelmed with everything and it all just keeps coming. But I’m going to try to focus on the positive, focus on the light. Because really what else is there to do. With anxiety, it’s often sink or swim, and even though it feels like swimming against the current nearly of the time, that’s the only choice.

    In an effort to shake myself out of this feeling, I’ve been trying to experiment with my style. I love clothes, I love style, so it’s a good thing to use to distract myself. Focus on things you like, focus on the light. I was really attached to my skinny jeans for a long time but last year, I found the Kimmi boyfriend jeans on ASOS and they changed everything. They’re comfy and super flattering. I do find that the different denims they come in changes the fit and style a bit; the black ones are a little stiffer (I sent them back) and the 2 pairs of blue ones I owe have a slightly different fit. However, they are so much more comfortable than skinny jeans and I really like the way they fit.

    This top is also from ASOS, the ASOS WHITE collection to be exact. I wear it a lot with black skinny jeans to work but thought I would try give it a different feel. My Doc Martens are new but I’ve been loving them (they’re the vegan ones). I like the juxtaposition between the top and the bottom of the outfit. It’s a bit unexpected. It’s hard for me to wear a baggy top and baggy jeans, I love the oversized look on other people but on myself I find it difficult to make it work. I also just end up feeling a million times bigger than I normally do. But it’s fun to experiment and figure out what could work for me.

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    Jane x