DEAR 2016

"Your value doesn't decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth"

Oh 2016, you were a real bastard weren't you?

No wait, I take that back. For the most part, you were the biggest babe imaginable; full of travelling the world, opportunities I never dreamed possible, laughter, love and a dream career that grew from strength to strength and filled my heart with so much happiness and fulfilment. But then you scattered little raindrops of shite - or you know, more specifically, grief and heartbreak - all over it, and sadly, those little droplets took the best year of my life to potentially the worst and this is where we're at right now. Which is a bit grim because you know, you want to go into the New Year being like "watch out world" but actually I'm kinda crawling into 2017 like, "oh please be nice boo, I actually can't cope with any more shit".

So let's start with the good because I'm feeling all moaning myrtle and I'm trying not to be about that life at the minute. I started the year full of positivity. My blog had just started to be recognised a little, I'd been invited to a couple of press trips and rather than feeling like I was drowning in a sea of massive fish that didn't have a clue I existed, I felt a little bit like I was doggy paddling and definitely not drowning and maybe sometimes a lot of my much bigger peers even knew who I was too. At the beginning of the year, if you'd have told me I'd go on to work on a mammoth - and maybe slightly ridiculous - 68 brand collaborations (sponsored, for the sake of transparency), I would never have believed you. If you'd have told me I'd have collaborated with some of my favourite brands like Max Factor, Loreal, Elizabeth Arden, Clinique, Cartier (I know!), Primark etc. I'd have never believed you. If I had one tiny little inkling that I would travel the world and see Dubai, Paris, South of France, Italy, New York, Spain etc. ... that I'd have stayed in some of the dreamiest London hotels (including The Shard), I actually would never have believed it for a single second. And if you'd have said that I would've been the face of a brand and my moosh would've been in Superdrugs all over the UK I actually would lol'd so hard in your face.

Because I'm an ogre, so lol, no pal that surely never should've happened!

I am so aware that that probably sounds like the arsiest (not a word), braggiest (100% not a word), most self indulgent paragraph that has ever been written but please know, the only reason I'm saying this is because this year I somehow managed to achieve things I could never even dream of, so if you are that person that has a list full of dreams and goals but never thinks that they're possible... they are absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt achievable if, basically, you work your arse off like you never have before! 

Other than work, my life was good. I loved my new house, I loved my relationship... I was happy, I was settled, I was comfortable. This for me, was pretty much it. I have also made some of the best friends this year, and my relationships with some previous friends has developed into one of those god damn awesome "whatsapp basically everyday" kinda ones and honestly, this year has taught me that friendship is everything. It's also taught me that you can have people that you would've classed as one of your best friends, that you talk to all the time, and then when shit gets real and you're in a real bad place, they will just disappear off of the face of the earth. But you know what, that is absolutely OK. Because, without sounding like a tryna be sassy knob head, this is 100% their loss because why would I ever want that kind of flakey, "I'll chat if I can moan about something insignificant and not really listen to your rock bottom struggles" person in my life? I wouldn't, you're so right!


Forward to June. I remember this day so f**king vividly. I'd travelled to Rayleigh to meet Hannah to shoot a campaign together for Fat Face and I just had such a good time. We got the shots, demolished chips, dips, houmous, all of the meats and basically all of the cheese and carbs and good things in life. When I got home from the shoot, my Mum called me to say that my Grandad was ill. I've gone through this a little bit in a blog post here, but in short, he had a major stroke and I spent the next 3 days by his side. Every second of every day. We "slept" on windowsills, the floor, the edge of the bed, a chair... it was just the most horrendously horrific time in my life and I just remember feeling this constant state of panic that I hadn't told him I loved him enough, I hadn't seen him enough (I think I actually probably did both of these things more than enough but when you know you don't have much of a chance left you just regret everything and anything don't you?), and honestly, when he finally passed away, a small little piece of me just went with him because you see, my Grandad was just one of the best people to have walked the planet, let alone be in my life. He was a gentleman. He was funny, kind, witty... he was a provider and he treated my Nan like royalty and if I'm honest, he is one of the biggest reasons why my standards for men are almost set unreachabley high. And even though his passing was categorically the worst thing I'd ever gone through, I just feel so endlessly grateful to have known him for 23 years. And to have known that men like him actually exist.
I thought, after going through such heartache with losing my Grandad that nothing else in the world could make 2016 any worse. I am absolutely not going into any details - and I never, ever will - out of sheer and utter respect for that person, but at the very end of 2016, my engagement/relationship came to an end and I felt a kind of pain that I never even knew was possible. Shock, anger, hurt, devastation, disappointment, hope, failed hope, failure, confusion... emptiness. They are all emotions that I felt so strongly that at points I genuinely couldn't even breathe. I was always one of those "independent women" that just thought they would be OK if anything happened, but I was not OK. I felt sick, I couldn't sleep, I was a complete and utter mess and I just want to put it out there right now that if it wasn't for my family and friends (in particular, Ally, who was the brightest star in the gloomiest night and actually saved me. Hayley and Meg were also just the best people ever).. I have no idea how I'd have gotten through. Of course, I'm not through it already, I am beyond aware that I have a long, painful journey ahead, but the difference now is that I know that, in the end, I'll be OK. I can accept a situation that was entirely out of my hands and I can finally look in the mirror, in spite of all the lack of self worth/confidence that you feel when you go through something like this, and I can tell myself, with complete and utter sincerity, that I deserve better. I deserve happiness. I actually may never find it (in a man), I actually might end up on my own for the rest of my life but I would rather do this than settle for a situation that's less than I deserve. The thing is, when you have a near perfect relationship - and it was, it was full of love and laughter and pure friendship - and then it quite literally gets thrown away, it completely eats you up inside about the fact that; surely I clearly wasn't good enough? Maybe after years of happiness I just wasn't enough any more? But what I soon realised is that is isn't a reflection on me, and actually, I get to walk away from the situation with absolutely no regrets and my head held high... I am not the one that has to live with regrets and never being able to forgive themselves and I am endlessly grateful for that.

"Your value doesn't decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth"

Do I feel like I failed at love because I was engaged to be married and that didn't work out? Yeah, of course. Do I feel absolutely gutted that I couldn't/wasn't allowed to say goodbye to a side of the family that had taken me under their wing and got on with so well? Devastated. Do I question most days how two people that were on the most part so perfect for each other didn't work out? Yeah, in the bad moments (which are less and less frequent every single day) it kinda eats me up inside. But the thing is, I've always thrown the quote "everything happens for a reason" around, but this truly tested my beliefs in that quote, and actually... I still believe this to be utterly true. I guess really, I just felt the absolute need to talk about the relationship side of things as a) every single meeting I go to I am constantly asked by PR's/brands when I'm getting married and let me just tell you that when I was going through the worst of the break up, I literally just held myself together enough to pass off the question and change subjects (before going home and crying hysterically about the fact that said wedding will never happen). And b) I guess because so many people just see Bloggers/Youtubers/Influencers Instagram feeds and therefore they must live the perfect life, right? They see me go to shoots, they see me with the biggest smile and the loudest laugh and they just think that life's perfect and carefree. And I think it's incredibly important to realise that you just never know what is going on in people's lives behind the scenes, so please just be kind, and never judge. Everybody is fighting a battle you know nothing about.


I honestly don't know what, or maybe even who, is out there for me in 2017, but I hope and pray that it involves adventure, experiences of a lifetime, hard work paying off, family health, the pain of this heartbreak fading (preferably as quick as possible!), constant laughter, new friendships, old friendships thriving. And happiness. 

Through everything I've been through this year, the highest of highs and lowest of lows, all I ever really want in life is happiness.

I want to end this in a sassy way like, here's to making the next year the best one yet but realistically, 2016 taught me that you never, ever know what's around the corner. And life can change, inconceivably, in a single moment. So rather than attacking life and planning out world domination (said completely ironically because I've definitely not turned into one of those really annoying "sassy, take over the planet, bossing life" bloggers that think they can own the world), I think I'm just going to take each day as it comes and trust in the fact that what's meant to be will find it's way.

So thank you 2016 - and soz for calling you a bastard at the beginning - for giving me experiences of a lifetime, and teaching me life lessons that'll last me a lifetime. 


Ellie
xx

WHY IT'S OK TO NOT BE EXCITED ABOUT CHRISTMAS!

I feel like the vast majority will probably read that title and be like "U k hun, do you need your head checking because I think you just said you're not that excited about christmas?" but I also feel like there are a lot of people that can totally relate to this but are probably quietly shying away from social media in the hopes that all of the OH MY GOD I'M WATCHING ELF messages will be missed.

Because here's the thing... whilst usually, I love christmas, so much, this year and in particular this month has been absolutely horrendous in every single way. I've never really mentioned it on here before, just alluded to it maybe, but I went through a horrendous break up and so, actually, I give zero fucks about Christmas. Have I been through the worst and am slowly, slowly on the up? Yes, absolutely, but it's still the saddest, loneliest, scariest time and so prancing around like Buddy the Elf is not at the top of my list.

On the other hand, we also lost my Grandad this year, so Christmas will be the first one that my Nan - who now lives with us - and the the rest of us will have to go through without him and honestly, just the very thought makes me want to explode in an overwhelming bubble of grief. But these are just two examples and just for myself... all over the world, there are people out there going through the worst kinds of pain and missing the most special people to them. There are soldiers fighting for our country, there are their families that won't get to see their soldiers fighting for our country... basically, life isn't fandabbydozy for everyone right now so Christmas isn't looked at as "the most wonderful time of the year", it's actually the most horrendous because there is this insane pressure to be so goddamn happy, and you're surrounded by people that are so contagiously happy (which I love FYI and do not begrudge in any way), and, well, you just feel like you need to put on a big fat smile and say "yay, 10 more sleeps and counting" even if it's the opposite.

Now, I am aware that this sounds morbid AF and please don't think that I am in any way frustrated or annoyed at anyone excited for the festive season, this absolutely, 100% could not be further from the case, I just think that it's important to remember those less fortunate in these kinds of times.
Talking of those less fortunate, this chunky knit - which I am absolutely obsessed with - is from the brand Gandys and if you haven't heard of them before, here's why you absolutely need to know about them. Gandys is a brand started by two brothers Rob and Paul, who tragically lost their parents to the boxing day tsunami that hit Sri Lanka. Rob and Paul's parents - who had previously sold everything they had and removed Rob and Paul from the structured school system to travel, explore and volunteer around the world - had brought them up with a keen interest in exploring the world and intended to raise all four children with a powerful understanding of the world and this gave the brothers a burning desire to create something special in honour of them.

Rob and Paul founded Gandys to support their Orphans for Orphans foundation by donating 10% of all profits to help underprivileged children that were affected by the Tsunami. Their aim was to build a children's home by the end of 2014 to mark the 10th anniversary of the tsunami and this is exactly what they did. Over the years their story has touched so many hearts, including those of the Royals where they were invited to Buckingham palace for the launch of the Queen's young leaders program where they shared their journey with Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge. 

Their vision now is to build children's homes all over the world - Malawi is their next stop for 2017 - and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they will do this with complete and utter success.

I know this was a bit of a random mention but honestly, not only am I obsessed with the brand - if you have any Winter sun holidays coming up, check out their flip flops because they are a dream. But for winter, you absolutely have to check out their knitwear and jackets - but I am also just in awe of what Rob and Paul have achieved considering the horrendously sad circumstances that brought them to it. ???

It's also just another reminder that Christmas isn't a great time for everyone, with the anniversary of the Tsunami coming up, my thoughts go out to all of the family and friends who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

Hat - Accessorize / Scarf - Accessorize / Jacket - Stradivarius / Leather look trousers - River Island / Boots - River Island / Jumper - Gandys / Bag - Accessorize

So that brings me to the end of one of the most sporadic and random posts I've ever posted. I know the vast majority of you are buzzing your tits off insanely excited for Christmas and I love seeing that so, so much, I just think it's important to remember that life isn't a bunch of roses for everyone right now and Christmas may actually be the worst, loneliest time imaginable. And if you are feeling like that, I hope this post made you realise that you're not alone. You never are!

Regardless, I do hope everyone has the most incredible Christmas - or as good as it can be if you're in a sad place right now - eating all of the pigs in blankets, drinking all of the wine and completely slobbing out for a whole day straight.

For me personally, I'm mainly looking forward to 2016 just being over. My friend recently told me that "New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings" and I am whole heartedly going to believe that. Come on 2017, let's make it a goodun!


xx

7 PIECES YOU NEED IN YOUR WINTER/FESTIVE WARDROBE

Annnd all of a sudden it got real cold. I left for Dubai last month during a time that we were all like "cor it's November and still really mild" and returned to it being freezing (I mean, not actually freezing, but dramatic, over the top kinda freezing which really means that it was pretty frickin cold). And to be honest, my wardrobe was not prepared for it. My denim cut offs and tshirts were still on standby and my knits/coats/[insert your own choice of warm, practical clothing here] were so far back in my wardrobe they were basically chilling out in Narnia.

So I had a little revamp of my floordrobe wardrobe and picked out a few key pieces for everyday with an added mix of the most babe'in pyjamas/loungewear that ever walked the planet [insert heart eye'd emoji's here]. Oh, and also a christmas jumper that's festive but not at all gaudy and totally chic AF to the point of.. I actually want to wear it all winter long.

Is that OK to do that? (please say it's totally acceptable to do that?).

(I'm kinda gonna do it anyway...)


EVERYDAY WINTER BASICS

Winter Coat (that you need in your life)/ Tea Dress (that you also need in your life)

For me, this is my "I've just demolished a roast dinner and fancy a walk but need to be super cosy and basically feel like I'm wearing pyjamas" outfit. I mean, I wear it for many other occasions but nothing beats finding the perfect comfy - but chic and wearable - dress that's perfect for layering, and a coat that actually feels like a hug from Hagrid but has the added addition that it's extremely practical, warm and perfect for laid back weekends. The dress is a beaut of a red paisley number and I especially love the little open back detail to sass up quite a daytime look. There is so much that I love about the coat but the classic khaki colour and the shearling collar are the details that make me wanna include all the heart eye'd and hands up in the air emojis right here.

And then we have the accessories which sweet baby jesus might just be my fave ever! Let's talk about this bobble beanie... I love the stone colour because it's neutral and goes with every outfit but the bobble, the bobble, the dusky pink/grey/beige combo is something that makes me very very happy. It's the perfect size for having that cool slouchy effect but isn't too big (you know the ones that end up halfway down your back? Yeah, not about that life) and I basically just love it and will happily take the ridiculous hat hair in return for wearing this 24/7! And then we have a scarf that I might have fell in love with at first sight. First of all, the size is perfect, one of those beautiful blanket scarves that just has all the material and all the cosiness! But it's the colour and pattern that I really, really love... there's something about the white/gold/brown effect that just feels so wintery to me and I genuinely look forward to bundling myself up in this before heading out.

If that makes me a loser then I don't even want to be cool...




THE NOT TOO CHRISTMASSY CHRISTMAS JUMPER

I mean, this jumper... I really do feel like it speaks for itself. It really is the festive jumper that doesn't scream CHRISTMAS! That doesn't scream tacky and that I actually think I could get away with wearing all winter long. It's ridiculously comfy and cosy (no you went to sleep in it last night) and honestly is just that piece that makes me really happy (on a scale of 1 - saddo, I'm aware I'm not shaping up too well here). I love that the aztec print is vaguely generic too meaning that I will 100% chance my luck at pulling this off all winter long (and risk the wrath of pervy builders shouting "Christmas is over love" at me)

P.S I hope no builders were offended in the making of this post.


The "Loungewear Goals" look



Dear Fat face, thank you for making my loungewear dreams come true. Elle. OK, so what we have here is a dressing gown that has reindeers on it and it might just be the prettiest thing I've ever seen (those colours though!!). Yes Reindeers are festive but I'll be rocking this all year long because I am obsessed with the warm but light cotton material and the colours that my purple/red/pink dreams are made of. As for the Starry Pyjamas, somehow... they have managed to tick the boxes of comfortable (100% necessity), completely gorgeous and Instagrammable (100% necessity) and, dare I say, even a little bit subtly sexy? (100% not a necessity as I'm single af). But either way, these pyjamas just make me feel good. They're beautiful but also flattering and that is always a combo that I can get on board with.

So that brings my festive/winter essentials to an end and I officially feel all warm and fuzzy and cosy because WE ARE SO CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS. I'm also imagining wearing literally every outfit featured here at some point on christmas day (post roast walks, all day christmas jumper sessions and post roast coma film binges... I got you covered) and that makes me very happy.

I would love to know if there was any items that you loved in particular? What are your winter essentials right now? I always love hearing your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx

*This post was sponsored by Fat Face but all thoughts, photos and love of cosy but cute winter essentials, my own.

© the Elle next door

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