HAVING TO COPE WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE CRUMBLING

I don't know what this post is. I really don't. It was going to be a "what grief feels like" type post, and then it was going to be a "holy fuck it's been pretty tough being a full time blogger and grieving" - more on this later - type post and then (because I write all posts in my head first, most likely sat on a train, or if I'm being totally honest, on the bog #classy before tapping away on here) it kinda just turned into a virtual outcry of how totally horrendous the last 2 weeks have been with a bit of the former two options thrown in for good measure.

Basically, this post is for me. It's my own form of therapy and you're kinda just unlucky enough to read it.

Sorry.

For those who don't follow me on social media, I'm gonna run through the story real quick because it's not something I want to dwell on. In fact, it's not something that I ever really want to think about ever again but oh hey, thanks brain for replaying every second over and over in my head.

A couple of weeks back - here or there - I headed to Rayleigh to shoot a campaign with Hannah, we laughed, we ate strawberries and brie and houmous and so many effing tortilla chips I genuinely think I gained a good half a stone in one sitting. I have no regrets. Oh, and then we got locked in a park because lol, of course you lock all the gates 2 hours before closing time. Basically we had a lot of fun, got some content I'm really proud of and I headed home to continue work and bitch about the 39474834 emails I had to reply to. But when I got out of the train station, I received a phone call from my Mum saying that my Grandad had had a stroke. To cut what could be quite a long story short, I went to see him, I stayed in his room for all of 2minutes and then ran out hysterically crying because at that moment, I knew that that wasn't my Grandad lying there, unable to communicate, thrashing around and ultimately looking so frustrated and scared... I ran. I fucking ran.

But here's the thing, despite the fact that it was pretty obvious that things were bad, there was a naive, slightly nonchalant part of me that still thought "you know what, he's survived a stroke once, he's a fighter, he'll be fine". He wasn't fine. My Mum woke me and my brother up at 6am the following morning and told me words that I couldn't possibly tell you because the whole thing was a blur. Those words basically said that my Grandad had had a bleed and there was no hope - for want of a better phrase.

I've been through some pain in my time but never in my life have I experienced pain like the moment you realise someone so special to you has effectively gone. Or will be gone. Imminently.

I could tell you about all the next few days but to be honest, it's all a bit too raw. In short, I sat by his bed for the next 3days with my parents, brother, Nan etc, sleeping on the floor/in a chair/I even tried the windowsill at one point, and watched a man that I love so dearly slip away. I cried - well, hysterically sobbed until my face literally turned purple and people genuinely stared because my eyelids had swollen to 3 times their usual size - I spoke to him constantly (soz Grandad, a drippy, soggy mess of a Granddaughter telling you how much she loved you probably wasn't the rest that you needed) and held him. I held him until he took his final breath, and then watched him go.

And I think, without sounding Kim Kardashian melodramatic, that that moment changed me. It really did change me as a person. Watching someone die before your eyes is the most heartbreakingly devastating, most traumatic thing that you could imagine, but it also gives you a sense of perspective like no other. That, ironically despite the fact the my Grandad lived to the amazing age of 90, life can actually be very short. That you should take chances, do whatever you want to do - I mean, within reason, don't go killing your boyfriend's psycho ex-girlfriend or anything - be whoever you want to be, and just live your life unapologetically. Be your best you and never ever settle for anything less than you deserve.

Now that I have the hard part over, I wanted to touch upon the blogging part during all of this and I really hope that I manage to do it in a way that's informative, sensitive and without judgement or lack of gratitude for what I do but I always think these things are good to know. Whenever situations like these happen, lots of people naturally think "it's so lucky that you work for yourself because you can take time out" etc. etc. but here's the thing that nobody tells you.

When you have a "normal" job - again, for want of a better phrase but in my emptiness/tear ridden state, "normal" is the best I can do - you call in sick, or tell your boss you can't go in.. and you're done. As a full time blogger, in my experience anyway, I had around 9 meetings/events that I immediately cancelled for the next few days because being by my Grandad's bedside was the only place I wanted to be. And that wasn't a problem, it really wasn't, but the worrying, the having to run outside to get signal and hope that the PR's read their emails in time to know that they wasn't meeting me for breakfast the following morning, that was the problem.

The sponsored posts. I have been extremely lucky that I secured a lot of sponsored collaborations with some of my absolute favourite brands in June. I thought I'd hit the jackpot, I booked a holiday, I eyed up the Gucci Diyonus and then life came crashing down around me and all of a sudden, I was having to type up a post on the day that I heard the worst news I've ever had to hear. And two days after my Grandad passed, I had to write a post about happiness.

Happiness.

At a time, if I'm being totally honest with you, when I really didn't care if I was alive or not, let alone happy.

But I had to write it because it was a collab with one of my friends and one of my favourite brands and I didn't want to let them down. I had to reply to emails pestering me - not from the that brand might I add, they were absolutely fantastic - about random crap, ones that had absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. And one brand, that offered condolences for my loss and then proceeded to ask if I could promote their website 1 sentence later. Let me just tell you that I am not a violent person but if I saw that brand owner, I could quite easily have drop kicked her in the head.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that despite being lucky enough to have the most awesome job in the entire universe, sometimes, just sometimes, it's the worst job... because you can't switch off - although in the end I did put on an out of office and went AWOL for a week -  you can't just not work, you do have to post that specific instagram at the specific time even though you'd already scheduled that time for your solo breakdown so that your family don't have to see you crying again.

The blogging world goes on and when you're a full time blogger, and it's paid work that's on the line, you kinda have to as well.

I'm going to wrap this up now because jesus christ this is the longest post I've ever written and that is coming from somebody who writes an essay for a simple outfit post. I guess I just want to end with a huge thank you, to all of you on Instagram, on twitter and on here for the loveliest messages. Nothing makes the horrendous grieving process better but it's so unbelievably comforting to know that I'm lucky enough to have the support of a whole load of you. So thank you, for being by my side at a time when I had to cope, but felt like crumbling.

Oh, and live your best life. Never take it for granted. Because one day it could be over before you know it. Or one day you could be looking at your husband of 64 years, asking if you could go with them. Or you could be holding your Dads hand, the man that has always been such a strong figure in your life, until he goes. Or you could be a granddaughter. A granddaughter letting her Grandad know that he's not alone, we're all with him and that he's been such a light in her life and such an example of what a real gentleman is.

So live your best life and tell the people you love that you love them.

Grandad, I know you're not reading this because you never understood what I did as a job no matter how many times we explained it. But I love and miss you every second of every day. 

xx


[edit: reading this post back 5 days later instantly made me a) cry a river and b) have a pang of uncertainty to post as it's so raw and so personal. But I want anyone in a similar situation to know that you're not alone. It's OK to be devastated and heartbroken and on the verge of a breakdown. You can do this, they'd have wanted you to do this.]

MY SUMMER MUST HAVES - PART 2

As the title and my previous post suggests, this is part two of my Summer must haves in collaboration with Fat Face and I'm so excited for you to see it because it was pretty clear to see in the comments that you lovely lot were just as "omg gimme that striped dress, heart emoji's on fleek" about the pieces as I was. 

But a lot has happened since I pre-wrote that last post and if you follow me on twitter and Instagram, you'll already know what. I don't want to keep mentioning it for so many reasons but I will because this campaign is about sharing happiness and if I'm being totally honest, I haven't felt happiness since the day that I actually shot these photo's.

The night of snapping these with my sasspot Hannah Gale, my Grandad, who was without a doubt one of the most special people in my life, suffered a major stroke, passing away 3 days later with us by his side, holding him, watching over him. I don't want this post to be depressing or morbid, or to take anything away from the fact that these Fat Face pieces are a bloody beaut, I wholeheartedly recommend every single one of them and I genuinely think the Coastal whites collection is one of the most beautiful I've seen in a very long time... but how on earth could I possibly talk about happiness when I feel, well... empty.

I feel sadness beyond belief, I feel devastation, I feel like I'm not sure I'll ever experience happiness again (I know I will, in time, but it feels a long way off) but most of all, I feel empty.

So I'm going to attempt to talk you through these pieces, I'm going to attempt to do it with humour and laughter because the last thing my Grandad would've wanted was for me to be moping around like Moaning myrtle and a mega drip. But if I'm not my usual self, then that will be why.

I know from your amazing messages that you'll all understand and for that, I am so incredibly grateful. If there's any happiness I can pull from this situation, it's that I have the most insanely amazing community of you reading my blog and following me on social media and today I'm sharing the love for you. 
Fat face ditsy jumpsuit - the elle next door
Fat face ditsy jumpsuit - the elle next door
Fat face ditsy jumpsuit - the elle next door
Fat face ditsy jumpsuit - the elle next door
Lots of you will know that I've been travelling a lot recently and lots of you will also know that comfort comes first for me on board a plane (I'm usually about 2 seconds from flinging on pyjamas and giving absolutely no sh*ts) and I honestly think that this little gem, the Fat Face Jenny Batik Ditsy jumpsuit is the most perfect travel/"omg I need to be comfy but chic and as sassy as Beyonce whilst I'm at it" piece. Navy is always a go to for me in summer because it gives me all the nautical vibes and the ditzy print just gives it that little somethin' somethin'. Plus did I mention that it's so comfy it feels a little bit like a hug from Hagrid? I mean, if that's not a reason to buy it then I don't know what is.
Fat face strawberry shorts
Fat face strawberry shorts
Fat face strawberry shorts
When these Garment dye shorts in Strawberry first arrived I had one of those "erm, Han, I think I've just committed social suicide and picked out salmon colour shorts" but oh my goodness I actually bloomin love these. Despite the colour being called strawberry, they're actually a really gorgeous pinky/coral shade and are officially my favourite "I need to feel like I'm abroad on a beach in really hot weather so hey there strawbs" pair of shorts and look so fresh and clean paired with a simple, sleek vest like this Cara broderie cami. Again, as with every single piece that I've ever owned from Fat Face, they're extremely well made and ridiculously comfortable and totally, totally effortless.

I am lazy AF so gimme all the effortless things please and thank you! 
dungaree dress
dungaree dress
dungaree dress
So, I was going for cool and chic with this outfit but I think I may have managed to make the prettiest dress look like a 4 year old's wearing it. (BRB while I braid my hair into two plaits and grab a barbie doll). But in all seriousness, I adore the Fat face Lyla denim dress and how versatile it is. Roll necks, bardot's, vests... pretty much anything looks good underneath this. It also looks just as good with tights and some ankle boots for the winter too (there's my old age practicality sneaking in there, lols). The only thing I'd do differently next time I wear it is belt it in at the waist as it can sometimes sit a little bulky at the front, but it's really only a small price to pay if you're a fan of the ole dungaree dress.

And there we have my final part of my summer must haves with Fat face. I always love, love, love these collaborations because they're a brand that I love, they promote happiness and all round good vibes, and each item is wearable, practical (whilst still being extremely stylish) and just comfortable. Strong basics that you can wear everyday but also really easy to dress. I'm all about that life.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it's been without a doubt the hardest time in my life over the last week but if there's one thing that it's given me, it's perspective. And I do think that searching for some happiness in any situation is really important and right now, the support of the entire blogging community, getting to work with brands that I love, memories of days like this with friends I love and being able to share pieces that I know you'll all fall in love with too are just some of the little things putting a very rare (and small) smile on my face.

So again, thanks so much for the love and apologies if I go missing for a little while. Right now life is all about spending time with family and I hope you're all OK with that.

I'd love to know what your favourite piece from this post was? Have you discovered Fat Face yet? Let me know your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx

This post was kindly sponsored by Fat Face but all thoughts, photo's and love of dungaree dresses that bring out my inner 3 year old, my own.

MY SUMMER MUST HAVES - PART 1

Fat face Kirsty dress
Ask me my favourite colour, and I am that awkward turtle that turns a subtle shade of red because, LOL my favourite colour is White (closely followed by black, both of which I'm not sure are even colours?) because as basic as it may be... there is nothing like the clean, crisp shade of white that screams fresh, that screams chic, that screams summer (I mean, nothing screams summer in the UK at the moment but, you get the gist) and for me, it kinda just screams "pair me with some denim or chambray and I will make you look like a sassy, effortless queen".

So that's what I did, I picked out my absolute favourite pieces from Fat Face's Coastal Whites Edit - which took me far longer than I care to admit, go on their website and you will see why #Babein #CanIHaveItAllPlease - I called my gal pal Hannah (who's also picked out her summer must haves from Fat Face so go over and check out her babein looks), and we both headed to Essex - Oh my god, shutuppp - for a picnic and photoshoot because we're bloggers and it's totally OK to set up a self timer and snap yourself shoving your face with brie and strawberries. The Fat Face campaign is a High Summer version of their Washed in Happiness campaign and let's be totally honest... what says happiness more than friends, cute Instagrammable picnics, Strawberries, sexy drinks and brie?

Spoiler; don't waste your precious time trying to think of an answer for that question because the answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing says happiness more.

Maybe add a Harry Potter audiobook or Grey's Anatomy marathon into the mix and you might have yourself a winner but other than that, the jury is out...
Fat face hettie stripe vest
Fat face hettie stripe vest
Fat face hettie stripe vest
Fat face hettie stripe vest
As I've got older, my style has definitely relaxed a little. No longer are the days when I fret about what dress I'm gonna whack on for Mahiki - lol, as if I've even been to Mahiki since my jaunts there at 16 - and generally I'm just a lot more relaxed day to day. This Fat face Hettie stripe longline tunic is one of my absolute faves for giving off the whole "yeah, I'm casual, I'm chilled but I'm chic AF too". It's super light and cosy - jesus christ, you know you're old when cosy becomes a requirement - and the freshness in the colour and texture makes it perfect for summer.

If you've been around me for a while and the conversation has moved onto jeans - when you're with a bunch of bloggers, it's not that rare - you will no doubt have heard me wax lyrical about how amazing the Fat Face jeggings are that I featured in a post a long time ago (how on earth has that time flown by so quickly?). They're by far the most comfy, stretchy and well made jeans that I own so I knew immediately that I'd be inserting all the heart eye'd emojis for these Fat Face Opal Blue super skinny jeans. Like the jeggings, they're extremely thick and stretchy and ridiculously comfortable. I absolutely love the denim wash too, the perfect not too dark, not too light (medium then...) tone, just nice and fresh (promise I'm not being paid to use fresh a thousand times) and perfect for everyday. Paired with a pair trainers or sandals, this'll be my everyday casual Spring go to look.

You know, when the weather finally stops being like "lol, suck it b*tches, you're having rain in June".
Fat face Kirsty dress
Fat face Kirsty dress
Fat face Kirsty dress
Fat face Kirsty dress
Fat face Kirsty dress
Fat face Kirsty dress
Fat face Kirsty dress
I love this outfit, mainly because it made me feel all elegant and cute and "I mean, pretty much a princess twirling around in this" and also because I got to hold a bunch of weeds flowers and indulge my inner 2 year old. This Fat Face Kirsty Stripe dress though, is seriously a mega babe. The cut is so girly and feminine and really just does all the talking. I'm all for an accessory but the bow and slightly pouffy skirt means it doesn't really need them (although, Hannah rocked a choker and hat with this and looked like the world's biggest babe, so whatever tickles your pickle). Like the rest of the colour scheme/textures in this post, the blue and white chambray/linen makes this so unbelievably perfect for summer and I may* have worn this twice since photographing this already.

*We all know that means that I'll wear it so much that by the end of summer my cost per wear would be £0.00000057p. #sorrynotsorry
Fat face Carrie Denim mini
Fat face Carrie Denim mini
Fat face Carrie Denim mini
Finally, for this post - I have another coming on thursday which I'm so excited for you to see - is this look which I'd say is my go to summer outfit. As much as I love pretty dresses and jumpsuits, there's nothing quite like an A line denim mini and let me just tell you that this Fat Face Carrie A line Denim mini skirt is up there with my all time faves. Not so short that your Dad would spit out his coffee when he see's you/you show off all your goods every time you move, but short enough to keep you cool and feel sassy and sexy - major, major lols, I'm as sexy as a bin bag - and most importantly, stylish! It's stretchy so is comfortable AF and houses a major food baby which of course, is my number 1 priority.

Just don't do up the top button and forget that you undid the rest of them because I did that and genuinely did all the cry laughter at people's horrified faces!

So that brings me to the end of the first part of my Summer must haves. As you can tell by my excessive fangirling, I am a huge, huge fan of Fat Face's new Coastal whites collection. Fashionable but relatable, easy to wear but instantly chic. I am all about that kinda life...
Have you checked out the Coastal whites Fat Face collection? What's your favourite piece? I always love to hear your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx


This post was kindly sponsored by Fat face. All photographs, thoughts and extreme love of Fat face denim and dresses that make me feel as princessy as K Middi, my own.


DO WE REALLY KNOW WHAT'S IN OUR PRODUCTS?

There is so much I adore about this world and so many reasons that I love travelling around it. Eating as many cuisines as possible - I mean, you knew that was going to be at the top of the list - learning and discovering new cultures, learning about yourself and making memories that absolutely no amount of money can buy... but the one thing that I truly love the most, the thing that gives me all of those "ahhh, I'm home, this is my happy place, I'll just stay here then yeah?" vibes, is the Ocean.

There is something so chaotic but simultaneously calming about the Ocean, it's the place that puts everything into perspective and helps me completely zone out and figure out where I need to be going in life (my answer to that neverending question is nearly always "to the fridge, then to the laptop with the Grey's anatomy loaded") but despite me being the Ocean's very own biggest fangirl, I've never ever thought about the fact that just going about my day to day life I could be unintentionally causing a huge threat to it, and considering that today is World Ocean Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to start.

I had absolutely no bloomin' idea that most of my "harmless" cosmetics products contained microbeads. You know those things that you're like "oooh lovely, I'm totally going to be an exfoliated goddess after using this so move over Victoria Secret's angels?" (no, is that just me then?) they're actually tiny pieces of plastic that are causing such a threat to our planet's ecosystems and wildlife, it's even led to California banning microbeads in cosmetic products alongside the launch of a campaign that I feel so passionate about - which, in case you're a bit confused by my slightly geeky science lesson, is actually what I'm talking to you about today - called #BeatTheMicrobead.
One brand that has always been, and will always be free of plastic microbeads is Trilogy, and I am so unbelievably happy about this as not only do I have the most amazing exfoliator - the gentle facial exfoliant, containing natural and biodegradable alternatives to those pesky little plastic things - to tell you about today, but I've also fangirled an embarrassing amount about the brand as a whole numerous times before (in particular about the Makeup be gone cleansing balm *insert heart eye'd emoji's here*). So thank you Trilogy, not only for making the most babein products that makes my skin feel sassier than Beyonce, not only for providing products with natural ingredients that are kinder to our skin and our world, but also for helping to promote World Ocean Day as I for one definitely didn't even know it existed. Now for my fangirl - don't say I didn't warn you - of the Trilogy gentle facial exfoliant.
Trilogy's mantra is "Maximum effect on your skin, minimum effect on the environment" and I feel like that sums up the gentle exfoliant perfectly. It's such a simple product but makes such a huge difference to my skin. The first thing I noticed about the exfoliant was that the exfoliating particles are so much smaller than any other I've tried which at first made me sceptical whether it would actually do anything, but gal pals, this seriously does. It makes my skin look so much brighter, glowier and more radiant and I am all about those "I look like I've eaten all the fruit and veg and water in the world but lols, totally haven't" kinda vibes.

It also has an extremely thick and creamy consistency meaning that whilst gently sloughing away at your skin - always such an attractive phrase and thought - it also keeps your skin completely moisturised and nourished and I really find this so important for my slightly sensitive skin because for once, I can exfoliate it without leaving it a big red tomato mess (pretty much the dream tbh!).

So, if Trilogy products don't contain any plastic microbeads, what's actually in them that exfoliates your skin? Well, in the gentle exfoliant for example, Trilogy uses Jojoba wax microspheres, a natural and biodegradable alternative but this really is just one example and one thing I've learned through this campaign is that natural alternatives really are much more available to us than we probably even realise. For me, somebody with a very busy lifestyle that really doesn't have the time to be researching specific products, I find it so reassuring to know that by sticking with a brand like Trilogy - thankfully a brand that I've always adored anyway - every single product will be free of plastic microbeads. And despite me being just one little person on this planet (or one kinda big person after last night's Indian takeaway) I'm doing my bit for the Ocean. Something that the vast majority of us adore but probably don't actively protect.
TRILOGY GENTLE EXFOLIANT
TRILOGY GENTLE EXFOLIANT
So that brings me to the end of this post. I would absolutely love to know your thoughts on World Ocean Day; did you know that it even existed? Will you be changing up your products to Beat the Microbead? And have you ever tried any Trilogy products before? I always love to hear your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

P.S Happy World Ocean day <3

xx

*This post was kindly sponsored by Trilogy but love of the Ocean and gentle exfoliators that make my skin feel like silk, my own.
© the Elle next door

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