Some Girls Are Just Born With Glitter In Their Veins

Today marks the end of my 10 months at The Leith Agency.

I’ve had an absolute ball during my time here and I am very sad that come Monday morning I won’t be back in the office with this wonderful bunch.

Can’t say the same about my 7am alarms, right enough. Or the mental requests I’ve dealt with as a community manager. The comedy value was worth it though.

The knowledge I’m walking away with is invaluable; the experience has been equally first-rate. I’ve worked on accounts for top Scottish brands and can throw out some great random facts from the masses of research I’ve done.

Fun fact: A video equates to over 1 million words in communication terms.

It has been great to use my Linguistics degree and get my knowledge nerd on every week.

To be able to say that I began interning with one of Scotland’s biggest, best and boldest advertising agencies before I’d even been donked on the head with the manky hat and given my certificate of graduation is an achievement I’ll always be proud of.

In 10 months, I have worked on more than 85 powerpoint presentations, 126 word docs and have been on the Barge a grand total of 7 times.

I’ve made some wonderful friends, annoyed the hell out of my best gal and work wife Philippa and “left a lasting impression” on the people on my floor (which I’m fairly certain is code for “noisy and hard to forget”).

I’ve grown up a lot too. Much more certain in my capabilities and the caliber of work I produce, I no longer feel the need to check everything off before completing it.

Not to mention my rapidly improving GIF game. I’m sure I’m the only one who will miss my GIF inputs in response to all-staffers.

At the moment, I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but I do know that wherever the next step lands, the people I work with have very very large shoes to fill and the highest expectations to top.

I haven’t cried yet, but it’s not quite half 5 – there is still time. I do know that I’ll be sad to pass through Leith’s doors as an employee for the last time tonight and not know when I’ll next see the brilliant, talented people inside – but I won’t stop pestering them just because I’m out of sight.

And I must admit, my colleagues do know me well. My leaving cards were full of glitter, pugs and pizza. What more could a girl want to be remembered for?

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I have cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far

Since accepting that I am less than happy with my body and general well being, it has been something of a conscious decision on my part to start exercising.

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Healthy eating has gone right out the window since I found out I needed to start job hunting again. I’m a comfort eater, so sticking to vegetables and cutting back on carbs hasn’t quite gone to plan. All too often I’m binging on pasta and garlic bread and ice cream and chocolate and maybe a packet of crisps later on in the evening. It’s not healthy, it’s not helping and it’s got to stop.

In terms of exercise, then, yoga seemed like a good place to start. I’ve done it before and enjoyed the deep stretches. It is one of the few forms of exercise that doesn’t trigger my asthma. There’s a class round the road from work that’s 2 hours of Ashtanga practice which offers a good workout as well as meditation. The meditation seemed like a good thing to try and get into the habit of too, for maintaining good mental health.

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But yoga isn’t helping. If anything, so far it has only succeeded in making me feel even more self-conscious and defeated by my body’s inabilities and limitations. Despite my teacher maintaining the mantra that “yoga is a practice that can always be improved upon”, I can’t get past the shame and the upset of the situation here and now.

Now I am overweight, I have a belly I can’t stand the sight of and thighs bursting out my jeans. My double chin is back and I don’t look or feel like me. What I see in the mirror isn’t what I see in my mind. I expect something different, something more.

Changing, becoming a better version of myself, is such a big aspiration for me. To see myself and think Yes, I am happy and comfortable in my own skin. Getting to that point seems to be impossible though.

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It all feels so hopeless sometimes. I have no motivation to get myself to a place where I’m happy, but I’m desperate to already be there. I suppose it doesn’t help that my hormones are running haywire just now and I’m exhausted from a week of less than stellar sleep (read: next to none).

This leaves me in a place of real confusion. I am a firm believer in body positivity, but feel like a fraud because I struggle with my own body image. I champion people everywhere to love themselves the way they are and accept themselves, but am a hypocrite when I cannot do the same.

Yes, body positivity is a journey. It is a mindset that can only be achieved through hard work and tenacity and love. Keeping up with that can be exhausting and it can feel unattainable. For someone who can be a bit of a perfectionist and hates hypocracy, this can make my dealings with and understand of my own body image all the more difficult and confusing. But body positivity is an empowering force in my life and I do desperately want to arrive at a point where I can happily stand up and appreciate my body for all its flaws and deviations from societal perfection and constructed beauty ideals.

I suppose I felt the urge to share my experience because I know I’m not the only person in this position. I’m not alone in feeling unhappy with my body and frustrated with its limitations. Shameful of the lack of breath climbing stairs, embarrassed when I squat down to the bottom shelf in a shop and struggle to get back up. Mortified when a pair of jeans a size bigger than I’d normally buy won’t button over my belly.

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the rest of them are filled with motivational messages, success stories and aspirational healthy lifestyles. Like what was highlighted with the See Me “My Unfiltered Life” campaign, what people rarely show is the true struggle it can be to get to that place and just how difficult it can be to maintain long-term.

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Where are the selfies of red-faced, tear-stained men and women who have left a gym session early because their bodies couldn’t cope with the “beginner’s class”? Where are the Insta photos of the unhealthy meals – sans #cheatday – instead captioned with the truth, that sometimes you just can’t ignore the cravings or the need to hide behind junk food or not having the energy to prepare a healthy, filling meal after the day/week/month you’ve had.

Yes, these are all excuses for unhealthy behaviour. But we’re all human. Even the healthy stumble along the road. They just dress it up as a cheat day or a treat or over-emphasise the slip up to the point where it just feels fake.

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Finding motivation doesn’t really seem to be enough. I’m not too sure yet what is enough, but when I find it I will be holding onto that thing for dear life because serious changes need to be made. I will, however, remain real about my situation and realistic about my expectations. No more searching how to lose 3 stone in as many weeks, no more lemon and salt water fads and definitely no more obsessing over social media accounts.

I’ve cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far. If I cry at every yoga class I ever go to in the future I can at least be proud that I’m still going.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Give Me a Job – Number 4 is Amazing!

It can be difficult to get people’s attention. There is so much noise out there, making being heard or seen a challenge if you’re lacking a megaphone and platform boots.

My time at The Leith Agency is coming to an end and I am ready for my next big adventure. I have been contacting other agencies, hoping to chat with digital strategists and social media execs and planners and copywriters to gain a better understanding of how different agencies — and indeed, different people — approach advertising and marketing in innovative, loud, noticeable ways.

The problem was that I wasn’t being noticed myself. Countless emails and requests and LinkedIn stalking sessions later, I was scunnered. It was time for a new, bolder approach.

The following is a modified version of the very real clickbait efforts I sent out to people and agencies I wanted to get to learn from and get to know better. What better way to convince them that I’m a fun, motivated, interesting person they’d like to have a chat with than to capture them with intrigue and the human inability to ignore the big neon sign (or in this case clickbaity title)?


Amy King. Linguistics graduate, Digital intern, lover of pretty stationery. She’s ready for her next adventure in the working world of social media management and digital strategy. Want to know why not employing her would be a HUGE mistake? Read on to find out…

1. I’m a millennial (setting aside the controversy of the term for now). I’ve downloaded Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, BuzzFeed, Pinterest, Tumblr, Giphy, LinkedIn, WeHeartIt, YouTube and Reddit. Not to mention supporting apps like Boomerang, VSCO, Layout… I use Hootsuite for my personal accounts as well as clients’ social media profiles. I’m committed to the cause.

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2. I’m the keenest of keen beans when it comes to learning. I often find myself on a QI binge. Fun fact: Not every language can deal with metaphors. One of these is Navajo. The Navajo word for The Elephant’s Feet (mountain pillars on Navajo land) translates into English as “two rocks standing vertically parallel in a reciprocal relationship to each other”.  This makes me a pretty great pub quiz teammate. Or researcher. Whichever you think is more important.

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3. My Linguistics degree set me up for big research projects, quantitative data analysis and understanding communication. Advertising is all about understanding communication. We’re a good fit, really.

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4. I prefer a GIF to an emoji. Emojis have their place, but GIFs really tell a story. Some people have Snapchat streaks, my boyfriend and I have baby animal GIF-offs. You tell me which is better.

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5. Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Twitter insights— I’ve dealt with them all. Community management and content marketing make up the bulk of my working week, but other projects I’ve completed include researching internal social media engagement strategies, writing Best Practice guides for social media platforms, learning about the psychology of clickbait and keeping up to date with the latest technologies and advancements in the digital sphere. #Trendy

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6. My life revolves around lists: To Do lists, shopping lists, Do Not Forget These Important Things lists, ‘please talk to me about your industry’ lists – the list goes on. They help my productivity, are cathartic to write and work through and are a productive form of procrastination. What’s not to like?

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7. My Digital Strategist internship with The Leith Agency was originally 10 weeks. When my contract ends in February, I will have been with Leith for 41 weeks (that’s just over 10 months). I must be doing something right, right?

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So, there you have it: 7 reasons why you should want me on your team (albeit not an exhaustive list, but I have to keep some things up my sleeve for the interview!)

Amazingly, this method has proved successful. People tend to notice a headline screaming at them in their inbox when the rest rarely make use of an exclamation mark, never mind block capitals.

It’s funny how keen people are to share their pearls of wisdom with you, yet how difficult it can be to get their attention. Advertising, especially, requires a certain outside-the-box approach to show you’re suited to the industry (not to mention a wee showcasing of my copywriting abilities — added bonus).

Clickbait (aka ‘fake news’ aka ‘alternative facts’) often comes under fire for misadvertising the contents of an article — a prime example being this less than gracious article Piers Morgan published after being stood up by Ewan McGregor (I’m staying away from the politics this time).

However, I’d like to think this article stands up somewhat for the little guy in this particular scenario. Sometimes a catchy title for an article or an introductory email, despite its same-old-clickbait appearance, really is as great as it seems.

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Smells Like Teen Angst

Communicating my thoughts and feelings through writing has not always been my strongest skill, but it has been a cathartic release for me from a young age.

While packing up my bedroom at my parents’ house over the Christmas break, I came across an old notebook I’ve owned for years.

It’s a pretty little hand-stitched number from Paperchase that I bought many, many moons ago.

As teenagedom hit with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the emotions began running amock, I took solace in the pages of this notebook.

I always fancied myself as a poet or novelist, and unfortunately I was less than talented in the poetry department.

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d share some of the greater works (and by greater I mean those that induced the most stomach-churning cringe) of my adolescence.

Fact and Fiction

Sometime I feel like a character from a book
with no choice of path.

It seems to me that
we are all characters from God’s latest novel.

It seems to me
that we are all characters from God’s new best-seller

Apparently I was struggling with religion…

Act I Scene III

You’re the Lady Macbeth
of today.
Your tongue is your dagger
You seek revenge, need to
satiate your thirst.
Your anatomic sword pierces
hearts; spilling tears and
killing dreams.
Bloodlust courses through your veins
and yet you lie
ever silent, ever dreaming,
until the day the dagger
plunges.

It would also appear I was both ridiculously pissed off with someone and had a flare for (what I considered at the time to be) dramatic structure. Thank God there are no rhyming couplets or I’d be at this page with a rubber and a lot of elbow grease…

And, God Almighty, I seemed to think I could write humour into my ‘poetry’:

Optimism

My glass is half full
of an exciting new drink
that colours my day.

Optimism is
the new pessimism but
more optimistic

Give me strength.

One of the final entries in this notebook is also a short one, but it has a lot more meaning to me. And yes, this one rhymes:

Roses are red
violets are blue
I cannot fathom
this world without you.

Yellow’s for daisies
purple’s for heather
I’ll love you and miss you
forever and ever

I wrote that in 2012. It was the first Valentine’s Day after one of my dearest friends died in a car crash. It was such a devastating time for me. Probably fuelled a lot more angst, but fortunately I stopped writing so much poetry and focused my energy on journals and fiction. I can assure you they were better.

So, there you have it. I was an angsty wee thing, but God loves a trier.

There are still empty pages in this notebook, as time and other distractions left it sitting on the bookshelf for years. I am going to attempt to fill them all. No doubt there will be some angst still there – gotta get it out somehow – but I’m determined to finish this book on a happier note (and maybe without so much terrible, painful poetry).

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New Year – New Approach

Happy 2017!

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It’s been a bustling start to the year for me, work came round pretty quickly and there was no easing back into the routine. We hit the ground running with a live stream to prepare for and a huge research-and-write project to get stuck back into.

With life being pretty hectic, I hadn’t really had the chance to put much thought into my New Year’s Resolutions.

In the lead up to Hogmanay, I had thrown the usual remarks

“I’m going to get skinny”

“I’m going to stop eating so much”

“I’m going to exercise more”

But as expected, January 1st rolled round and I didn’t touch a single vegetable. Quelle surprise.

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A few days later, I had a really interesting conversation with my flatmate. She told me she doesn’t believe in New Years Resolutions because they’re damaging. At first I didn’t understand, but for some people – myself included – it makes perfect sense.

New Year New Me is a slogan cashed in on by many a brand. It’s everywhere in the run up to Christmas. People lamenting how much food they ate on Christmas Day, but it’s okay because they’ll start being healthy again in the New Year.

This is a problem for 2 reasons.

Firstly, it can breed illness. This sounds a tad dramatic but for lots of people the build up and quasi-determination and nothing-but-lettuce diets and extreme exercise regimes are unsustainable. This is an exaggeration, for sure, but you get the idea. This punishing and super strict mindset ends in disappointment and – more often than not – a negative self-image. I know I’m guilty of it. For some, this will result in illness, poor mental health and often poor physical health too.

The second problem is the now societally-accepted ‘festive overindulgence’. There are articles all over the news just now about sugar being the most readily available drug on the market, but as we draw closer to December 25th, we throw all good intentions about healthy eating out the window in favour of Chocolate Oranges, Christmas cocktails and fancy nibbles.

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This “I’ll be good in the New Year” mentality makes excessive overindulgence not only acceptable, but expected. This is almost worse than the gung-ho diet and exercise overhaul people put themselves through afterwards, because their minds and bodies have gotten used to the sugars, fats, alcohol and unnecessary treats they’ve allowed themselves. This makes falling off the bandwagon so much easier.

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These are both things I have been guilty of in the past. The very recent past. But it gave me a lot to think about. I still wanted to be healthier, but maybe I didn’t have to buy into the whole overhaul-your-life philosophy? While it fits some people and they see real, sustainable results from their new resolution efforts, it obviously hadn’t been working for me, so why not take a new approach?

My flatmate gives herself goals without a specific deadline. They are achievable processes that won’t mean she goes into the following year having ‘failed’, because instead of completely changing something, she focusses on improving or learning more. So I decided to do the same.

I have decided to focus on kindness (thanks to a wonderful colleague for giving me the idea).

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I want to be kinder to myself, especially with the nonsense my brain has been putting me through recently. I will actively give myself more time and patience to work through things, and focus on relieving stress in productive, fun ways.

To keep up the self-kindness, I’m going to carry on doing things that make me happy. One thing I am absolutely determined to do is to pour more attention and energy into my blog. I enjoy it, similar to journalling, and it’s a good way to force myself into new situations so I have things to write about. (As a side note, watch this space for some teenage-angst-born creative writing that I’ll be sharing with you next week. Trust me when I say they make me cringe.) I do struggle sometimes to think of things to write about, but I’ll be getting my planning cap on over the weekend to map out some potential convo topics. I say convo, but it’s really just a one-sided ramble…

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Crafting is another thing I want to get better at. Hobbies are a soothing, productive passtime and provide the downtime I need to maintain a healthy work/play balance. The repetitive, but brain-engaging nature of my chosen activities will be kind to my mental wellbeing (although at times, perhaps not my sanity…). So far I have knitting, calligraphy and photography to be getting one with. There is definitely huge room for improvement on all creative fronts and I’m determined to take up my passions again and fill my evenings with little rays of sunshine in crafty forms.

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Finally, I have a goal with a deadline. I want to, after 6 months, be able to say that I’ve sustained a manageable exercise routine. Kindness to my body is as important and works in tandem with my kindness to my mind. I sounded so sage and wise there…I think.

I have signed up for a 2-hour Tuesday yoga class and am hoping to drop into a dance class every Wednesday. For someone as unfit and asthmatic as me, that’s enough to get me started. Plenty of achievement and progression to be seen from those activities if all goes well, so sticking at them when the going gets tough is the first hurdle!

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So, there you have it. My first post of 2017. Kindness through happy thoughts, crafting, exercise and a hell of a lot more writing appear to be on the horizon for me. I hope you have big dreams and high expectations for the year ahead – no matter what form of resolution, goal setting or planning you subscribe to!

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Me and My Brain

Brains confuse me.

I mean, they’re great. But I don’t understand how they work. I’ve studied them to a certain extent in relation to how they handle language, but that’s just one tip of one iceberg in a world full of Titanic-sinking lumps of frozen water.

They’re extraordinary and mind-boggling and scary. They control us, and we control them, but we also have no idea just how powerful they can be sometimes.

I get on with my brain most of the time. I’m kinda thankful for it, because it makes sure I carry on breathing and living and thinking and doing the things I like to do.

It lets me sing and fail at dancing and concoct recipes from a countertop full of random ingredients that shouldn’t really go together. It helps me think up presents for people and create art projects in my brain that will likely not translate well in the real world, but it’s the planning that I enjoy the most. It lets me laugh and love and surprise myself with things I remember and things I forget.

It also makes me obsessively try and learn the last 4 digits of every car’s reg plate I pass. It sometimes forces me to count my steps in 10s. Lists become a necessity in my daily life when I feel like I’m not completely in control. It convinces me I’m a burden and too difficult for people to want to spend time with me. It tricks me into believing that I have done something to upset people, unrelentingly convincing me until I’m suffocated by the guilt and I feel their frustration hang tangibly in the air, even though it doesn’t exist to them. Every so often it lets my imagination run so wild I struggle to leave my flat for fear that some unknown thing will happen to me and it will be bad.

My brain is a fickle friend. It’s always there with me, but I can’t always trust if it’s working with me or against me.

I have lots of good days. To read the above you’d think I was mostly unhappy and a bit crazy. Crazy, yes, but not unhappy.

I feel happiness the majority of the time. And joy. And love. I am able to appreciate the little things and have a heart so full it feels like it could burst.

But when I’m not feeling those things, when I am sad and low and scared, I get frustrated.

See, my brain doesn’t just cloud my judgement and pull wool over my eyes. I am kind of aware that I’m being tricked. I just don’t have the power or energy to fight it. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming, I am completely convinced that I am being rational in my beliefs and that person really doesn’t want to spend time with me because I know in my heart of hearts that I am being annoying.

My brain is an extraordinary thing. Even when it’s working against me, I’m in awe of it. I am aware but not aware, I believe but I’m incredulous. How can one small organ have so much control? How do I regain it? Maybe I don’t. Maybe that’s the way everyone’s brains work. Or even just some people’s brains. But how will we know that until we start talking about it?

How can we learn about what’s okay and when to ask for help if no one will talk about their personal boundaries and breaking points?

Talking is a gift my brain allows me. It’s a gift I want to use to help myself and anyone else who needs it – reassurance that brains are the weirdest, most frustrating, most brilliant things we could ever have. And we can still get angry with them for tricking us and tripping us up and upsetting us.

We can get pissed off that we still have to sleep with the duvet over our shoulders and no limbs hanging off the mattress because it’s so good at convincing us that monsters live under the bed even though we’re too old to believe in ghost stories.

Because where would you rather they lived? Under the bed? Or in your own head?

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My 2017 To Do List

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I love a list.

Seriously. I write lists for everything. Work, Christmas presents, project ideas, clothes to pack for going home at Christmas. I’ll even admit to having written one or two lists of lists. It’s never-ending.

We’re now in December, so naturally I’m planning ahead.

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Making lists calms me when I get overwhelmed (and the future is a rather overwhelming concept at the best of times, so obviously planning-the-future lists are a common occurrence in my life).

I have come to realise that a lot of the things I want to learn and do get sidelined or forgotten as time passes and life happens, so I’m making a bigger effort to help myself achieve more of my goals.

As such, in no particular order, the following are skills and projects I would like to have accomplished (or be working on accomplishing) in the next year:

  • photography and photo editing
  • calligraphy – when I was younger I loved using my calligraphy set and it’s something I’d like to take up again
  • knitting – my friend Sarah knitted me a teddy for my birthday (I named him Alfred and he is amazing) so I’d like to get back into knitting. It’s a really productive way to spend my time – and key for justifying my occasional Netflix binges.
  • reading – my mum used to take my sister and I to the library just about every other week. I devoured books and I miss the excitement of finding a new book series or author to get stuck into.
  • graphic design – I downloaded the free trial of Adobe Illustrator and fell in love. My unicorn and camera were beasting and I want to get better. Working in social media and the digital world more generally, it is a great skill to have.
  • video editing – like design, video editing is a crucial skill for working in digital with so much of social media content being video (FUN FACT: it’s predicted that by 2018, 69% of worldwide internet traffic will be video!).
  • travelling – this is more of a dreamer’s ideal, but I would love to visit 3 new countries next year. My trip to Lisbon in October sold me on city breaks and how much culture you can soak up in just a few days, so I’d love to be able to explore a couple of new places over the course of the next year (pennies permitting, of course).

It might not be the longest of lists, but it should keep me plenty busy and hopefully out of trouble(?) as I head into the new year and beyond.

Another plus is that I have been inspired for my Christmas present from my parents which is always a good thing!

I guess I can only end with watch this space.

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The Key to Happiness

I have a morning routine. I check for my purse, phone, keys and bus fare every day before I leave my flat. It’s a slightly obsessive routine, but it gets me outside without continuously worrying whether I will be able to function in the world.

I have successfully done this every morning without fail – except Friday.

My flatmate was going away on holiday on Friday so I’d asked my boyfriend if he wanted to stay at mine so I wasn’t all alone in the flat (I scare easily in this old, creaky building). We were looking forward to a weekend of home cooking, some baking and visiting friends.

5:30pm arrived and I went to meet Tam. It had been a fairly busy day and we’d decided to make curry for dinner. I was really looking forward to coming home, filling the flat with delicious spicy aromas, munching on poppadoms and skyping my dog-I mean my parents.

We shopped in the big Tesco in Leith, failed to pick up an aubergine and decided to nip into the Sainsbury’s round the corner from me after we jumped off the bus before getting settled in the flat. Easy peasy.

We were standing at the traffic lights, laden with shopping bags, laptop bags and handbags when I reached into my left pocket for my keys. Keys which weren’t there.

What followed can only be described as a tantrum.

Yes, I – 21 year old bill payer and working woman – stamped my foot and wailed. In public. I was tired, okay!

You know when you’re ill and you contemplate all the times you weren’t feeling rotten? That’s how I felt without the keys to my flat.

We got a taxi back to Tam’s and ordered Chinese food to soothe my soul. My boyfriend knows me well – food solves all problems.

The next problem was clothes. I had the clothes on my back and that was it. So a Primark trip was in order. I picked up underwear, tights and a cosy grey jumper for work on Monday (see pic) and stole one of Tam’s tees on Sunday. While this was supposed to be a frugal month, even slipper socks became a necessity. Shopping is good for me in the same way chicken nuggets help King Curtis through life.

I did also introduce Tam to the Men’s section of Zara and helped him buy a new pair of jeans and the cosiest coat I’ve ever seen (but unfortunately couldn’t steal because it’s so long it would probably end at my ankles – sad times).

Retail therapy and a soggy Sunday wander around Edinburgh certainly cheered me up and prepared me for work today.

To improve my mood even more, my flatmate and most favouritest person ever managed to find my keys as she dropped off one suitcase and picked up another to continue her holiday, so I was reunited with my silver and gold beauties this evening and can happily report that this is being written from my own bed!

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🎵 Reunited and it feels so good! 🎵

Moral of the story: ALWAYS check your pockets for your keys. And look into getting a spare set cut. Because it’s Sod’s Law that you’ll only forget them when there’s no one in to help you out.

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Halloween Treats 🎃

Dressing up and themed sweet treats are my two biggest reasons for enjoying Halloween.

So what better way to spend my Halloween Eve than making sweet things for a Halloween Bake Sale at work raising money for a charity that benefits children orphaned by HIV and TB in South Africa?

Obviously I stuck to the autumnal Halloween theme. I popped my Pumpkin Pie cherry this weekend. Who knew you could buy tins of pumpkin puree online!? (Well, Tam did, because he bought 3.)

The pie went down a treat in the office, and looked so professional someone asked me which bakery I went to. Yes, I am gloating. But can you blame me?

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Pumpkin Spice is now my absolute favourite thing. Ever. I may have gotten a bit heavy handed when I made my Pumpkin Spice Crispy Cakes, but good grief they taste good!

Melt 85 gram of butter and 2 bags of mini marshmallows until gooey and scrumptious – technical term.

Add a whole tube of orange food gel colouring and pray that it goes orange enough. The baking gods will provide and you will be rewarded with a gorgeous coral hue.

Throw in 5 cups of rice crispies and get mixing. Your mixing arm will get the best workout of its life, let me tell you.

Grab a handful of the mixture and roll into balls.

Break off an inch of of an orange flavoured Matchmaker and hope the marshmallow hasn’t cooled too much so you can give your pumpkins a suitable stalk.

Scrape the pot clean and soak in water for 2 days to remove all remnants of marshmallow.

Take a great Insta pic of your pumpkins to make everyone else jealous.

And you’re done!

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The bake sale was fabulous and we’re still collecting money for the charity. It operates in Sweetwater and provides support for the grannies – or gogos, as they call them – who foster their grandchildren and sometimes great-grandchildren whose parents died of HIV or TB.

To continue my Halloween festivities, I spent Monday night Trick or Treating round the wards at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children with the Sick Kids Friends Foundation. A group of us handed out Halloween-themed crackers with gory present and terrible jokes, jigsaws, masks, charm bracelets and more.

It was an emotionally exhausting evening but it also filled me with so much joy being able to coax small smiles from the children.

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All in all, it was a very busy and glitter-filled Halloween. I can’t wait for next year!

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Weight Off My Mind

I am 5’6". I have mid-length, dark brown hair. An average nose. Eyes that aren’t any one colour.

The dimples that grace my cheeks when I smile are so pronounced people can’t help but tell me I have them (which has never made much sense to me, but I’ve always enjoyed how much joy they give other people).

When I was a teenager, an elderly woman stopped me in the street to tell me I had lovely long legs I should be proud of (which also confused me because I didn’t plan for them to be that length, it just kind of happened.) Nevertheless it put a spring in my step and I thanked her for the compliment.

The day I realised I’d outgrown my B-cup bra was an exultant day, indeed.

My boyfriend is the first to tell me I have a great butt and he peppers conversations with compliments, truly boosting my ego massively.

Grandparents are also great at compliments: mine are no exception.

I adore the body positivity movement. The idea that society now praises lumps, bumps, size, shape and colour really fills my heart with pride. I get so much satisfaction seeing others happy in their own skin.

But I am currently not happy in mine.

I love my shape. It is soft and feminine and it silhouettes beautifully. But I, like so many others, have major hang ups.

My belly upsets me the most. It sets my shape off balance and makes dressing very difficult at times from the belly button down.

Food is not my friend in this instance. Partly because food is my best friend. I am a stress eater. A comfort eater. A binge eater. A “let’s celebrate with cake” eater. Food has always been there for me, whatever the occasion. This has, over time, and with little exercise to combat the intake, resulted in a part of me that causes many shed tears and the foulest moods.

I champion people all over the world who are embracing their bodies. I admire and envy those who can accept that their bodies are not perfect by society’s unattainable standards, but love theirs anyway. The people who work hard to get their bodies the way they want – they impress me greatly.

I just am not there yet.

I am not comfortable in my bodycon dresses now. I cry if my jeans are too tight. I feel gross when I sit on my bed and feel my stomach rolls. Shopping for trousers and skirts fills me with dread. When my stomach touches my thigh I immediately put clothes on to build a barrier.

The biggest problem, though, is my lack of urgency to change anything. Therein lies the ugliest, most frustrating contradiction of all. I am unhappy with how I look, but I am doing next to nothing to change it.

I dance once a week, practice yoga halfheartedly every so often and maybe walk for 2 hours a week if I’m lucky. I did cut back on unhealthy foods, only to binge and undo what little work I had managed.

It’s a constant tug-of-war between satisfying my perfectionist tendencies and fear of not achieving my potential in every aspect of the life (the struggle is real) and my apathy to my situation.

I am overweight. I am unhealthy. I am unhappy. Those things need to change.

Body positivity and self acceptance are hugely important. Self love and care create such a healthy mindset and breed positivity and happiness elsewhere. It makes sense.

I started writing this post having just stood on the scales and measuring at my heaviest weight yet. I initially was trying to find myself a path to follow that would lead to accepting myself, but I’m now realising that I won’t accept until I start committing to making a positive change.

While my weight is the issue, I know it’s my lifestyle that needs to change. It’s a hard change to make for someone who thrives on habitual living, but some habits really need breaking. I guess I’ll just have to ensure I make more of a conscious effort and watch this space for improvement.

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