Article for Wear Your Voice – 10 things I wish I’d known at 16

I wrote this article for Wear Your Voice. The link to the article is below where you can also subscribe to their website –

http://wearyourvoicemag.com/more/lifestyle/10-things-wish-id-known-16

At 16, I couldn’t wait to be an adult. I wanted to be taken seriously and I couldn’t wait to “grow up,” have my own place and have a career.

The past 17 years have flown by in the blink of an eye. Now I am older and somewhat wiser. But there are things I wish I had known at 16 that might have helped me while growing up:

1. You are more than the size of your clothes. 

At age 16 there was just as much peer pressure to have the perfect figure as there is today. I am from the pre-social media generation with all of its body shaming and trolling. But I still felt pressured to lose weight, deny myself food, over-exercise and stress about the size of my clothes. I wish I’d known that there was more to life than wanting to be accepted for how I looked. Knowing this at age 16 would have prevented many years of not feeling body-confident.

2. You are only young once.

Adults were right: don’t grow up too fast! Life flashes by in the blink of an eye and you cannot get the time back. Many times, I was told to embrace being young. I was told that it wasn’t all fun and games when it came to the responsibility of bills, employment and running a household. I wish I had embraced living at home more, enjoying family meals and trips out rather than thinking I was “too old” to participate.

3. Be kind.

I was a grumpy, hormonal, temperamental typical teenager. I still remember those harsh words I uttered to my parents as I stomped up the stairs and slammed my bedroom door. In my teenage angst I could be quite cruel, cutting and hurtful. If I remember these outbursts, I wonder if my parents remember them too.

4. Love your family.

You only have one family and life is short. Nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow. Love those around you, spend time with them, respect them, ask them questions, make memories and tell them you appreciate them. Smile in family photos. Go shopping with your mum. Look after your brother. Listen to your dad when he gives you words of advice. One day you will look back and wish you’d spent more time getting to know the family members who are no longer here.

5. Love yourself.

You are perfect just as you are. You are beautiful. You are not ugly. You are not too fat or too thin. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Do not allow yourself to think negative thoughts. Do not listen to negative comments from others. Speak about yourself confidently and positively. This does not make you arrogant. You know your own worth; do not sell yourself short.

6. Don’t follow the crowd. 

Do not say “yes” to others when you are really saying “no” to yourself just so you will be accepted. You do not have to change yourself to fit in with society. Peer pressure is something you will experience throughout your whole life – give in to it at 16, and you will give in for the rest of your life. Stand your ground and stand up for what is right. Do not people-please. Do not tiptoe around people to be liked. As you get older and realize you don’t need drama, your social circle will become smaller. Surround yourself with people who love your light and add to it! Find supportive friends and people who encourage — not discourage.

7. Don’t give up on your passion.

My passions were writing, baking, horse riding, painting and reading. Some of those I have since returned to, but 17 years of not doing what you once really loved and enjoyed is a long time! Stay true to yourself and what makes you happy. Your passion can be a hobby, a possible career or something you do in your downtime. Do not lose sight of what makes you feel complete, what makes you creative and where you express yourself. If you are lucky to find your passion in life and can earn a living from it, then that is something worth holding onto!

8. Your salary doesn’t necessarily define you. 

I remember when I was 16, my peers would talk about having a career where their salary would make them able to buy a fancy car, they would own a mansion and they would be rich. They would talk about only wearing expensive brands, only shopping at certain stores and refusing to work for a small salary. They believed that this would make them look successful. This is not realistic! While it is perfectly acceptable to have dreams and goals, your dreams and goals do not have to be based on how much money you earn. You can contribute to and be successful in society through many kinds of work.

Over the years, I have realized that working crazy hours for a decent salary is not what life is about. Life is about happiness, love, laughter and doing what you enjoy. I gave up a 40-hour-a-week city job that had a 15-to-20-hour-a-week commute on top. I also gave up a pretty decent salary along with it so I could work nearer home. I have taken a pay cut. But when you are able to spend more time with family and doing what you enjoy, can you really put a price on happiness?

9. Take care of the pennies.

“Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” I always remember hearing this when I was younger, and I never really understand the terminology behind it. Yes, it can relate to finances. Save for a rainy day, save for your future, save for your dream vacation, etc. But it can also be translated as, “taking care of the little things will amount to big things.” Take care of yourself, your skin, your body, your health. You will be thankful for it later in life.

10. If he is mean to you, it isn’t because he likes you.

We are told as young girls that if a boy is mean to you, it is because he likes you. This is terrible advice! Respect yourself. Do not stay with an abusive partner because you would feel like a failure if you left. You are not a failure. You would be inspirational to many other girls and women in a similar situation. Do not allow yourself to be worn down until you feel as though you are worthless. You are worth more. You deserve more. Domestic abuse is not okay. It is not love! You are not defined by being in a relationship. You can be a strong and independent woman. Do not jump into a relationship because you are scared of being on your own.

Article for Wear Your Voice – Living With Anxiety: How Kindness Can Help

I wrote this article for Wear Your Voice. The link to the article is below where you can also subscribe to their website

– http://wearyourvoicemag.com/identities/ableism/importance-kind-positive-living-anxiety/

Anxiety is overwhelming. Say you’re able to find relief through resources like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is a useful tool to reduce anxiety. You start feeling “back to normal” and get on with your life. But then, often with no warning, anxiety can return. And when it gets its claws into you, the smallest things can seem such a big deal. Trying to live a life with anxiety can be very lonely and negative.

Anxiety can result from experiencing an emotional trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder. After an emotional trauma in 2010, I suffered intense anxiety. That overwhelming and consuming feeling of unease, nervousness, fear, stress and tension can engulf you. It can affect your moods, your sleeping patterns, even your appetite. Once you learn some ways of taming anxiety (and for me it was CBT), you can use them to stop anxiety in its tracks.

But anxiety can return, sparked by triggers that you might not even be aware of. Triggers can subconsciously remind you of elements of a traumatic event, such as a smell, a song, the weather, a conversation or a person.

Severe anxiety can also lead to panic attacks. At my worst level of anxiety, I would experience panic attacks over the simplest of things, such as going to the post office, answering the door to a delivery man or going to buy groceries. The fear of facing people or a situation that I might not be able to “deal with” would make me anxious — and made me want to stay in the sanctuary of my home.  Sometimes, it would take me hours to pluck up the courage and strength to leave the house, only to get to the end of the garden and flee back inside. Inside the house was safe. I felt safe. I felt protected.

When you are also faced with people who are rude, obnoxious or nasty this can affect how you cope with anxiety. You might feel as though you have more to battle; the army of fears keeps getting bigger.

Anxiety comes from not being able to control certain events or not knowing the outcome. I would think back over the previous day, and as keen as I was to overcome my unease, I would fill with trepidation. I would build “what-if” scenarios that would increase my anxiety level.

Mental health issues still carry stigma. People are afraid to talk about them. They suffer in silence. Worrying about what people might think, do or say can initiate further anxiety. What a bubble of worry we trap ourselves in!

I love the 1940s and 1950s. Besides the glamor, I love the spirit; despite the horrors of WW2, people pulled together. They were neighborly. They looked out for each other. They were kind to those who needed it. They managed to be positive and upbeat. They picked themselves up and powered through. It was their way of surviving. They would help each other. They were aware of others’ needs.

This has been lost over the years. Even in the 1980s, I remember as a child that neighbors would speak to each other. They knew each others’ names. People would collect groceries for neighbors if they were sick.

Since then, that neighborly spirit has diminished. People rush around, lost in their own world of electronic communication. Nobody speaks. Nobody acknowledges one other except with a grunt, a sigh or words of irritation. These negative grunts, sighs and words of irritation are enough to negatively affect someone living with anxiety.

When I experienced my darkest and deepest pit of anxiety and depression, I never felt so alone. On my daily commute to work, strangers were rude, angry, negative and irritated as they pushed and shoved their way onto the train in their rush to get to work. These strangers had no idea what courage it had taken for me to get out of bed that morning. Was their behaviour necessary if it meant they got to work a few moments early? Is it really necessary to treat others with such disregard? When did we lose compassion and kind-heartedness?

Because of those experiences, I now try to treat everyone with kindness and consideration. You don’t know what someone else is going through, so you should always be kind. You don’t know how your words will affect someone.

I say hello to my neighbors. I will help someone with their shopping. I am always complimenting people. Kind words cost nothing. I recently told a lady that I really liked her handbag. Her face lit up and her whole body language changed. She told me that the handbag belonged to her mother and I had really made her day. A moment of kindness can turn someone’s day around. Your kind words may be the only ones someone hears in their isolated world of anxiety, depression or trauma.

On my blog, I have a mix of followers, men and women, but my work is aimed at empowering and inspiring women who need encouragement after experiencing situations similar to mine. I have been witness to women as they empower, inspire and encourage each other on social media as they try to put a stop to body shaming, fat shaming, skinny shaming and bullying. All of these experiences can lead to a life of anxiety, fear and worry that they aren’t good enough. By simply being kind and positive, we can lend strength to those who need it.

We shouldn’t let our preoccupation with technology make us forget that we are all human beings. We might crave human contact and communication. We might be lonely and living in a dark world of isolation. We deserve to be treated with love and respect, with kindness and integrity. We deserve to be treated with compassion — not frustration.

Unless you have experienced anxiety or something similar, you might find it hard to sympathize and understand. That’s no reason not to be kind and positive to everyone you encounter. We have the power to make a difference in someone’s day – let’s make it a positive one!

Interview with Paul Wartnaby of La Reine Vintage

Paul Wartnaby is one of my favourite people. There’s not a day goes by that we do not have a conversation of some sort whether it is a giggle over Facebook, exchanging photos of hairstyles and outfits or he kindly gives me advice when I have hair related questions!

Paul is a vintage hairdresser at La Reine Vintage. He is popular and respected within the vintage scene with many people seeking his advice, tips and tricks! He has also been featured in Vintage Life Magazine.

We will be getting together later this year for a photoshoot so keep an eye out for a feature!

I decided to ask him a few questions which he kindly agreed to answer as well as sharing some photos of his fabulous work.

You can find Paul by visiting the La Reine Vintage Facebook page

– www.facebook.com/LaReineVintage

How did you get into doing vintage hair?

I’ve always had a passion for bygone times, I loved 20s and 30’s music when I was five years old and had a wind up gramophone that I took everywhere!! I’ve also had a gift of being able to put the right combination of things for correct eras. When I was 12 years old my dad had a video camera and I used to make period dramas dressing up the girls in the street in authentic clothes from the attic and doing their hair in period styles. It sounds odd but it just seemed like a gift.

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Where did you learn?

After leaving school I studied Media, Theatre and Hairdressing at college also making costume. It was a great time in my life and where my gift came in useful. And all through my college days I collected lots of period hairdressing books, magazines etc and when people know you are interested in a certain area they often let you have things that they have collected themselves.

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Which is your favourite era?

I love the 1930’s and those fabulous finger wave styles which have become one of my trade marks but also have a soft spot for 60’s Bouffants as I won my first ever hairdressing competition at 16 by setting and dressing a beehive.

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What is your favourite hairstyle to do?

I think I covered above lol.

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Do you advise a wet set is better than heat?

I’d always rather use a wet set as you can mould the hair to whatever style you want and it is a lot more longer lasting, and many different techniques can be used on the one styling.

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If you could style a celebrity from the golden era of Hollywood who would it be?

I think with my beehive passion it would have to be Dusty Springfield at her peak in the 1960’s. I’ve based many her style on her classic dressings.

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Do you style vintage hair on men?

I’m not often asked to do mens hair very often, but have been known to blow wave some fabulous quiffs.

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You gave me a fabulous tip of invisible hairnets…what other tips can you offer?

My tips for vintage would be, if you want to be authentic only use what was available at that period in time as it gives you more of the exact look and remember that nearly everyone would have had a perm, which makes a big difference to the setting and the staying power of the style.

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What are your prices for vintage hair?

My prices start at around £25 for vintage setting.

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Are you at any events this year where people can come to you for their hair styling?

I’m at a local to me vintage event in March I don’t normally do vintage fairs because the equipment I use is difficult to transport to venues. My salon is in the planning stages after a few set backs but people can message me on my page for photo shoots etc. I work closely with Mike at Twistyfocus who takes my fantastic photographs!

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