Friday, 22 February 2019

4 Meditation Apps


Something I've begun to integrate into my daily life is meditation. It is helping me learn how to manage my feelings, become more mindful, and calms my nerves. As it's such an important part of my life, I thought I would share my favourite meditation apps, and their pros and cons to help anybody who fancies giving it a try


Headspace


Headspace was the first meditation app I ever used and where I learned the basics of meditation. The meditations are all guided by Andy, whose voice you soon become familiar with. The app is great for learning about why meditation is important, and to help you understand how your mind works. There are instructive animations which make the process of meditation and it's importance easy to understand.

There is the option of different courses on this app, from Reframing Loneliness, Creativity, Managing Anxiety and more. The courses tend to have 10, 10-20 minute meditations to complete over 10 days. There is also the option to do the meditations or view the animations as one-offs.

There is a sleep section of the app, with different sleep sounds, and meditations to wind down before sleep.

You can also add buddies and track your progress.

A lot of the features are available for free, however, to unlock all of the meditations you can either pay £74.99 per year, £9.99 weekly, or £399.99 for a lifetime.

This app has a friendly feeling to it, it's inviting and easy to use.



Happy, Not Perfect

Happy, Not Perfect is my current favourite meditation app. I find the graphics across this app are aesthetically very pleasing, which just make it nice to click on, and inviting to explore. 
Alongside the meditation tool, there is also the option to do a mind 'work out', which contain 7 steps to help manage your thoughts and feelings. Some steps in the work out include keeping a gratitude journal, writing down what is bothering you, playing a soothing game, a quick meditation and more. It doesn't take long, which makes it very easy to integrate into day to day life.

There are many different meditations featured including sleep well, break up S.O.S, crush comparison and more. The meditations have many different guides who are experts on the topics (you can also read more about the guides on the app). The meditations themselves last different amounts of time, so you can choose what will fit best into your schedule. You can 'heart' your favourite meditations to make them easy to find again.

There are also many other tools, such as some games which are good for the mind and the option to send good vibes. 

To unlock all of the meditations and features it's £52.99 per year.




Stop, Breathe, Think.



I mainly use this Stop, Breathe, Think when I've not got much time as there are tonnes of great 1 minute meditations.  On many of the meditations, it gives you the option to choose which voice you'd rather hear it in and there is often the option of longer or shorter versions of the meditations. The app asks you how you're are feeling both mentally and physically, and recommends several meditations based on this. I've always found the recommendations to be suitable, and it saves the hassle of scrolling, wondering what would be best. You can then record how you are feeling post-meditation so you can see the impact of the practice. There is also the explore option if you wish to choose your own meditation. The meditations are sorted into sections including One Minute, Fresh Start Challenge, Heal and Forgive, Pregnancy and more. I find this app has fewer features than the others, there isn't much beyond the meditation feature and the tracking of your feelings and meditation habits. You can also earn stickers which encourage you to meditate more often. To unlock all of the meditations on this app it's £54.99 per year or £9.99 a month.



Calm

I'll be honest, this is the only app I've included which I don't regularly use. The main reason I don't use Calm all that much as there aren't very many features available on the unpaid version of the app. 

I really love how this app looks, it feels as though it transports you to a whole different place. There is also the option to change the background scene and sound effect which comes with it if you wish, personally, I'm happy with the mountain scene and sound of the water. 

Alongside meditation on this app, there are tabs for sleep and music. Under the sleep tab, there are tonnes of sleep stories told by different narrators. There are stories such as The Velveteen Rabbit and The Little Mermaid or soundscapes such as Symphony of Rain. The story narrators include Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey, Leona Lewis and more. 

The meditation section of the app contains many 7 day courses, such as  7 days for Calming Anxiety, and 7 Days of Happiness.

The meditations are sorted into categories such as Beginners, Less Guidance, Relationships and Personal Growth to make it easier to find what will work for you at the time. There is also the option to heart your favourite meditations, and have them appear in a 'liked' sections so they're easy to find. 

The music tab of this app contains different types of relaxing music and soundscapes, such as Piano Healing and Great Ocean. Again it's sorted into categories to help find what is right for you at the time. The categories include Nature Melodies, Focus, Lullabies and more.

The app cost £34.99 per year to unlock all of the features.


 I hope this was useful! Please let me know if you've used any of these apps before and how you got on with them!

Love C x

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Monday, 18 February 2019

A New Outlook on Love.




In my 27 years, I've been in one long term romantic relationship. Aside from those 2 and a half years, I've taken on the role of the single friend amongst the couples. I'm the one who likes to shout that she doesn't need a man. For someone with an obsession with love, I've been pretty cynical about it, with my feet firmly planted in the ground of I'm not going to be sad about being single, and I'd rather be alone than with somebody because I'm lonely. In other words, my attitude completely took dating off the cards. I didn't want to be somebody who relied on a relationship for happiness. I guess I didn't feel that spending the majority of my life single was evidence enough to prove I'm not reliant on relationship hopping. The thought of romance left a bitter taste in my mouth, and for someone who reads a lot of romance novels, and watches endless romcoms, I wouldn't allow for my own love stories.

I'd written a narrative for myself which ultimately left me alone because I somehow got the impression there's was a weakness in wanting to spend your life with another person. And this rule I made up, applied to nobody other than myself. I didn't think badly of friends in relationships, although occasionally I might feel a little jealous pop-up. I didn't judge people based on their partner and they didn't lose their personality or become half of a person when they were coupled up.


Something has switched in my mind recently; I realised the way I've been looking at love is ensuring I'm alone through fear. A fear that dating will impact who I am, that I'll become weakened if I'm open to feeling.

It's time I go back, erase some of what I decided, and brave being open to romance. Nobody actually wants to go to bed alone, and people seem to glow when they fall in love. I miss the childlike butterflies of first kisses and the possibilities of where another person can take you.

When two people are in love, they don't take from each other, they compliment each other, enhance their lives.

I might not find the love of my life anytime soon, but I think it's time I drew in my claws and realised there's no weakness in wanting more, in wanting somebody. And if it all goes to shit, maybe I'll end up with some funny date anecdotes along the way.

I don't think lesser of people who are in love. Relationships are hard, it takes growth, self-awareness and compromise to keep them afloat. Those are qualities to be admired rather than afraid of.





I read this poem, and I haven't stopped wondering what it must feel like, to know, to have that security, that the one person you want to see, no matter what, who will be there when you get home.

I guess, I wouldn't say no to that.

I'm learning that, craving intimacy doesn't make me weak. It makes me human.


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Friday, 15 February 2019

Just because I'm out of love, that doesn't mean love is lacking.


With Valentine's day yesterday, I found myself reflecting on love. Valentine's day is one for couples. There are those who throw Galentines or anti-valentines day events, but all and all it aimed those in a relationship, those in love with each other. Single people don't tend to get a look in.

But why? It's about love. Just because I'm not in a romantic relationship, that doesn't mean I don't love. It doesn't I'm not familiar with the feeling of butterflies, and there isn't magic in my average day. Being out of a romantic relationship should not reflect that love is lacking for me because it isn't. 


I love as often, and deeply as anybody else does, despite my lack of a partner. Like those couples buying each other cards and planning their date nights, I deserve to celebrate the things I love, no matter how big or small.


So here are some things I really love:

1) Laughing until my stomach hurts

2) Capturing moments through the lens of a camera

3) Gilmore Girls

4) 500 Days of Summer

5) Harry Styles

6) Painting. Looking at a picture full of colour which I've created, and knowing that page started blank. The therapeutic feeling of mixing colours and making marks.

7) Reading in bed on a Sunday morning

8) Cups of tea

9) Reading poetry aloud, putting words in the air

10) Realising I've made a friend

11) Remembering I'm brave enough to attend events alone

12) Lattes and poetry writing

13) Natural pretty lighting that enhances everything

14) Sunsets

15) Watching a cheesy movie for the first time

16) Falling in love with the character in a book

17) Walking through nature with my friends

18) Receiving cards in the post, paper reminders that I'm loved.

Maybe it seems a little sad, that there's not a person who made the list. Sure, there's not other half me of me, but I'm whole without it. There is so much more to love in life, and my life is full of a lot of love, despite my single relationship status.

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Monday, 11 February 2019

Things I've Learned in 5 Years of Blogging | Blogging Tips | AD



March this year, will mark my 5th year of blogging. Over these years, my blog has come a long way. Find myself both cringing as I look back at old posts, and proud of how far this little website has come. So I thought I share of some things I've picked up along the way, those things I do differently if I started a blog today.

Photography matters: 

When I began my blog, I used to take one iPhone photo, which little thought went into. The picture would often be poorly composed, out of focus, and basically in the dark  (see old posts here and here for a lol). Over time I've developed my photography style, taught myself to use a camera, and got better at composing images. I fell in love with photography, and my blog saw the benefits - my views went up, my branding improved, and I found myself feeling more confident when telling others about my blog. Improving my photography, meant everything looked more professional, and myself and others began to take me more seriously as a blogger. Improving and learning about photography is made accessible with the right tools. The Panasonic Mirrorless camera is at the top of my wishlist, as it's the perfect tool to keep pushing my photography further, to continue improving and create better imagery than ever.

Make friends and help each other out:

Blogging should be fun, it should be social. Find a local event to go to. Make friends, don't be afraid to reach out to other bloggers. You already know you have plenty in common, and this industry will give you so much to talk about so there is no need to worry about awkward small talk. Not all blogging friends you have will work out (have I ever mentioned the time I got ghosted by a blogger?) but the ones that do, will absolutely be worth it.  Another good thing about having blogger friends is you can help each other out. My friend Madi and I often play photographer for each other. Not only has having a blogging friend been the source of many good days and lots of laughs, but it also offered me support, made attending events less daunting, it's also allowed me to practice my own photography but also get some pretty decent outfit shots myself.


Use Other Social Media Platforms:

Post to your Instagram, tweet etc,  don't be afraid to share your work.  Nobody will know your blog exists if you don't tell them. I've often fallen into the trap of working hard on this little blog and hoping people stumble across it rather than shouting about it. Sure, it can feel a little cringe at first, but everyone starts somewhere and putting your energy in something creative, no matter where you're at with it, it's something to be proud of. I've recently been trying to interact more of my social media channels, commenting on other people's feeds, letting them know when I like their work, with the knowledge that it might just make them feel good, and in turn, I've seen my followings grow. I've also recently decided to start using Pinterest to see if that can drive a bit more traffic to my blog.


Post what you want, not what you think you should post:

Your blog posts won't be as good when you're posting for others, rather than yourself. Good writing tends to come from a place of passion. Sure look elsewhere for inspiration, but post what you're interested in, not what you think others will want to read. There are bound to tonnes of people who like the same things as you, that will want to read your blog.


Be organised, be consistent, be realistic:

Plan your content realistically - don't say you're going to post three times a week when you can't keep it up. I've made the mistake before, it led to burn out, poor quality posts missed blog posts and guilt. Figure out a posting schedule which actually works for your lifestyle and keeping in mind you want the blog post to be the highest quality. Try to get ahead, blog when you've got free time, find the joy in blogging, and being organised will come hand in hand. If you're inspired and enjoying the blogging process you'll be ahead before you know it.


Recognise when burn out is coming:

There is, of course, such a thing as too much hard work and we're all prone to burn out once in a while. Catch it before it's too late. If you recognise burn out coming step away and give yourself a break. The likelihood is, you've been working on posts so hard that you deserve one.


Do something creative when you're lacking in inspiration:

Go for a walk with your camera, paint, write in your diary, anything which doesn't require thinking about blogging, when you come back to blogging you'll be feeling refreshed and inspired. Sometimes stepping away from the computer and living in the real world for a bit is all we need to find that spark again.


Be proud.

Where ever you're at with blogging, you should be proud. Whether it's your full-time gig or you're a complete blog newbie. Blogging takes hard work, often being vulnerable online,  and putting yourself out there and that is something you should find pride in.




Outfit Details:

Boilersuit: New Look similar here
Lipstick: MAC Ruby Woo



Photography: madeleiinegraceblogs
*The post is a paid partnership with Panasonic.
*Affiliate links are used in this post.


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Friday, 8 February 2019

On Being An Unsuccessful Blogger, and Why I Still Blog.




Recently, on my twitter timeline, I saw a tweet by Lauren which got me thinking. The tweet read:

 "the term “aspiring blogger” makes me sad. if you have a blog and you post on it — you’re a blogger!


My first thought was that I completely agree, I find it so frustrating when someone refers to themselves as an 'aspiring blogger', or an aspiring anything. I think the word aspiring, is one which puts you down, disregards all that you already do. Once you do something, you do it.  What level you're at, doesn't take away from the fact that you're doing it. And by definition, you don't have to be earning a living, have a certain amount of followers, and x amounts to success to become a blogger - the act of blogging is what makes you a blogger.

But then, the devil in my back of my mind, whispered in my ear "but you're an aspiring blogger, though really Chloe, aren't you" Why? Because despite having blogged for years, I don't feel my blog is particularly successful. I've regularly written on the little website of mine since 2014. Sure, during these years, I've enjoyed coming to this place to write, to share my photographs and my thoughts. Also, in this time, I've watched the blogging industry grow in front of my eyes, seen the successes of women and men who have been working with international fashion designers, and releasing books, and my Instagram feed has become full idyllic press trips and the people who are making blogging there full-time gig, earning a pretty decent wage.

In my time blogging, I've watched others become successful in this industry. I've admired them as I worked hard, and after all these years, it's still a passion project for me, I do it for the love, and I'm still yet to earn from this blog. My life is so different from all these blogger and influencer I admire.

When I tell people I have a blog, there are a couple of questions they tend to ask... "do you get sent free stuff?" "Do you have loads of Instagram followers?" Oh, so it that your job?"

The questions are flattering frustrating and embarrassing all at once, I usually find myself blushing and mumbling something about how they're overestimated me, and it's just a little hobby.


Why? because on paper, I'm not a successful blogger. I'm not saying that so people feel sorry for me, I'm saying that because that's how it is. I know of influencers, who started Instagram accounts a year ago, and they have a following which I can only dream of. I'm as it stands, not a very attractive blogger from a brands perspective. I've not yet reached 1000 followers on Instagram, let alone 10s of thousands. I have loyal readers on my blog, but I'm not being invited on exciting press trips or meeting with impressive people, and I'm not sure anyone actually cares if I really love Gilmore Girls or my undying need to writing about my feelings.  It often feels I'm too average, underwhelming, and invisible in the industry.


Yet still, I blog.

I dip in and out of blogging purely for me and trying to make something of it.  I still blog, because I write, I'm trying to get better at writing, and improve my photography. Having somewhere to share these things makes it feel like they matter. I enjoy spending my Sundays typing and dreaming of what my life could be if I were to become 'somebody' in the blogging world. I still blog, because I read blogs when I need to escape and feel inspired, and I hope this website can be that escape someone is looking for.

I feel in the past year, especially, there were some people, I watched online, who were, and still are killing it. They've got the whole #girlboss thing down, without the slightly outdated 2014 reference. These girls made something of themselves in this social media-driven world and achieved more in a year than I'd achieved in (almost) five. I hope if I keep working one day, I can achieve so much.

Blogging shouldn't just be about numbers and brand deals, it should be about heart, enjoyment and determination - and I know I've got those.


I'm a blogger, not an aspiring one, sure. Maybe I'm not a particularly successful one, but I don't think that matter, I've got all the time in the world to build that success. I'm still showing up, and I think that counts for more than we give it credit for.


I am a blogger, but I'm aspiring to be a better one, and I think that's really something.















Outfit Details:



Coat: Topshop - similar here.

Top: Primark. Similar here.

Bag: Coach

Shoes: Doctor Martens. Similar Linked














*Affiliate link used in this post
Photography:madeleiinegraceblog

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Monday, 4 February 2019

A Photo Diary From Lacock.


 Some friends and I recently spent a Sunday wandering through Lacock, exploring the beautiful village. Living in Bristol, it wasn't too far to pop to for a day trip on Sunday, and it's definitely somewhere I'll be heading again.  

Our morning included exploring the village, which left me feeling as I stepped into another world. We headed to the Abbey where wandering through the corridors which offered a familiar comfort from the Harry Potter films. And then breathing in the freshest air, taking in thriving plants in as we looked around a greenhouse.




For a lunch stop, we headed to the restaurant Sign of an Angel,  where we had the yummiest food. Being pescetarian, there wasn't too much for me to choose from - I was told, there's a veggie/vegan menu throughout the rest of the week, which unfortunately isn't available on Sunday's.  The disappointment of not being able to have a veggie roast for me, soon wore off as I realised the fish I opted for was delicious through every last bite. The service was friendly, and the atmosphere was inviting, making it the perfect way to break up our day.



We then headed for a slightly muddy walk. Blessed by the crisp winter's air, we wandered through the fields, chatting, catching up, snapping pictures, and taking in the nature surrounding us.
When I returned home, I warmed up in a bath and realised how much more content I felt, than I had before the stepped foot out of my house that morning. There's something wonderful in exploring somewhere new with close friends and appreciating all the nature, architecture and food around.


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Friday, 1 February 2019

January Round Up and IPhone Photos.








What I've Been Up To:

Vision boardingAt the beginning of the month, I spent a bit of time vision boarding, being creative, and getting some clarity on what I want from the year.

Doing a Jigsaw Puzzle: A Christmas tradition in my house which I truly love is doing a jigsaw puzzle, so when in mid-January, my mum came home with a puzzle she'd be gifted, I couldn't help but 'waste' a couple of days completing a puzzle, pretending it was the festive period all over again.

Shooting with Madi: A day with Madi, taking photos and having a catch-up. It was great, as ever.

A Morning in Clevedon with Mum: I and Mum spent a morning wandering around the little one off shops in Clevedon, strolling alone the Peer and having lunch in the cutest little cafe.

A Day Trip to Lacock: There's a full blog post on this one coming soon, so I'll keep this short. I and some friends explored Lacock, have a pub lunch and a muddy walk.

Bullet Journalling: The start of this year has really got me into bullet journalling again, as it's the perfect time to get organised. I've written a full blog post on it here.

The Anna Edit's Book Event: I wrote a bit about this in this Instagram caption so I'll keep it short. I went to Anna's An Edit Life book tour in Bristol.  There was a Q&A part, where Anna answered questions, which was both insightful and funny. I met many lovely girls, including Anna herself. I left the event feeling really inspired.





Reading:

Books:

The Rule Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy - I wrote a  bit about this in this Instagram caption so I won't talk too much about it here. I really enjoyed this memoir, I thought the writing was stunning and it felt very true to life.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: It took me a while to get into this, but as soon as I did, I was hooked. This book revolved around two families but contains lots of different stories which are all entangled. It's clever and the characters have so much dimension to them which makes them feel very real. I would really recommend this.

Articles:

What is  Love by Natasha in Red magazine
Losing and Finding in Love by Gabrielle Minkey in Red magazine

Blogs:

Wonderful You - Why I Live Alone
Madeleiine Grace: Things I Learned From A Decade in Retails
The Little Plum: Little Love Rituals
Poppy Deyes: How To Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed


Watching:

Gilmore Girls: Still, I'm making my way through Gilmore Girls, I've just reached season 7 so I'm nearing the end.

Riverdale: I think probably one of the only people who is enjoying this season of Riverdale more than the others. I know, it's a bit more 'out there', but I'm finding it so more interesting than I did, back when Cheryl seemed to have a weird crush on her twin brother.

Listening:

Gilmore Guys: I am well and truly deep in my Gilmore obsession, listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast as I watch the show. It's hilarious and interesting.



I hope you have a great January!
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