Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Round-Up!

A note from Joelle... 
Sorry, it's been a bit quiet on here this month. I really needed some time away from blogging and social media.
Anyway, this is a quick post highlighting
I've enjoyed reading similar round up posts, so I thought it would be cool to do my own.

In January, I was had a school for my first magazine feature - a whole page in I-on, a Scottish lifestyle Magazine. It was a total honour and I STILL can't believe I chose to wear that jumper AND wellies! It was a snowing day in Aberdeen, so chose practicality over fashion!

In February, I celebrated my 21st birthday. I usually opt for quiet drinks or a tiny gathering, but my friend convinced me to throw a join BALL! It was a wonderful night and I still can't believe we pulled it off so well!

Healthy eating was a big deal this year and I hope I can keep it that way. With the help of eating more veggie meals and, of course, 50 deals trekking in Syke, I lost over a stone.
I feel great, but there's still a long way to go until I feel more body-confident. 
Oh and I also got to see McBusted with my sister, which was pretty awesome!

A big part of my Geology degree was doing 7 weeks of independent fieldwork. I went to the Isle of Skye and honestly had a great time. It was really, really challenging, but I am really proud of myself for getting through it (even if I did witness a lamb die in my arms and cry every other day).

One thing I promised I'd do in 2015 was to get rid of toxic relationships - no matter how hard it was. It was really hard to let go of some people, but for my own sanity, I had to. Something was a bit off with both myself and the people I was surrounding myself with.
Towards the end of this year, I became a bit of a recluse both at uni and at home in order to figure out a few things.
It sounds so vain and a bit mean, but I really did have to work out who my real friends were. And I worked it out rather quickly and ended many friendships. Sure it was brutal and upsetting, but I am not a fake person and never will be - I've seen what fakeness can do to people and it's not for me!
I know a lot of them still read this blog and will read this. But I can't have friends who aren't actually supportive or have an agenda - it's a waste of everyone's time.

2015 was also a year of trying new things and being more open-minded. So I introduced a poetry segment on this blog. Most of it is really spontaneous (aka written about 10 minutes before I upload it) and it's been really fun. I don't know where I get inspiration from, but the words just seem to form and my head and I just run with it! I also read so many more books and enjoyed loads of action and YA novels.

I  read some incredible blogs this year and can't wait to see what they all do next year. Please check out my Blog Love of the Week 2015 list to find all the blogs I loved this year. 

2016 is definitely the Year of the Unknown and that both terrifies and excites me:
 -  I'll graduate from uni!
- I'll leave Scotland (*cries*) and move back to England 
 - I will go travelling for at least a month and figure out what I'm doing with my life!

I hope you stick around for the ride - it's going to be bumpy and adventurous!

Right, it's time to pick an outfit for tonight, so I wish you all a very happy New Year! See you all in 2016!

Friday, 18 December 2015

"Goals" Culture: Don't Believe the Hype

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪ Love Yourself - Justin Bieber ♫♪

Relationship goals, body goals, makeup goals, hair goals, career goals, family goals, food goals, interior goals, wedding goals, LIFE goals.
After typing "goals" so many time, the word now looks really weird to me!

This is a word we are use to seeing in the comments of someone's Instagram, YouTube, blog or Twitter, am I right?

It's a form of compliment that means: "I aspire to have what you have". But it is easy to start looking at people's lives through their rose-tinted filters and believe their hype.

I don't mind holding my hands up and saying that I spent waaaaaay too much time believing other people's hype. Even though I knew that no one was perfect, I bought into the whole "goals" complex and started to adjust my life to make it look all glossy and, dare I say it... "likeable" *shudders*.
I often looked at my allegedly boring life and couldn't help by be jealous of all the girls with flatter stomachs, glossier hair and perfect vegan salad bowls.
Yes, I was inspired, but a part of that inspiration involved me knocking myself down in the process of bigging them up! Was that healthy? I don't think so.

If I, a 21-year-old woman bought into this crap, just think about all the teenagers who are growing up with social media engrained into their souls? 
One can only hope that they are able to separate real life from virtual life, but something is telling me that that's not the case.
We are surrounded by our favourite models, celebs, YouTubers on our phones 24/7, so it can feel like our lives are shit compared to theirs.
We believe their hype and compare them to our own situation.
And then we spend so much precious time and money glossing over our looks, opinions, thoughts, etc, to look as polished and "perfect" on social media.
And then we all become the same - watered down versions of each other, all trying to look as clean-cut as possible in order to feel a part of the "liked" crew.
Where's the fun in that?
We want to create a hype and have people believe it, just like we believed other people's.
Everyone is creating their own virtual "brand", after all.

It's so easy to look at Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram and think that people are living a whimsical. Even though we all know it's not true, there's still something at the back of our mind that makes us follow them out of curiosity (and slight jealousy).
We are all guilty of this one - myself included.

It's okay to admire other people and get inspired, but for our own sanity we must:
1) Remember we are individually awesome - even if we are not where we want to be in life right now.
2) Know that we only see what people want us to see, therefore it's not a full representation of themselves!

We have all spent the past year making other people's "lives" our goals, but now it's time to be our own "goals".

Let's go into 2016 knowing that behind every Insta snap is a fed up friend/boyf/girlf who just wants to go back into a warm room.

Behind every perfect instagram meal is a really hungry person, who now has to eat a soggy/cold lunch.

Behind every "perfect" selfie are 100 wacky ones that will never make it onto the Internet!

Life is too short to build your life off the back some someone's looks/success/ideals of beauty.
The grass isn't always greener on the other side. It's only green where YOU water it!
You are enough!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

21/94: Sarah, UK

A note from Joelle... 

1. What was your month of birth in 1994?

2. Where were you born?
Epsom, Surrey

3. Who were your idols or role models when you were a child?
The one I remember most significantly was Hilary Duff. Didn’t everybody want to be Hilary Duff at some point or another?! 

4. Name your favourite singer/band from your childhood?
Westlife. Westlife. Westlife. I had posters all over my room, I knew each of them in detail, and of course Westlife were my first concert. Ahh.

5. What did you want to be when you were younger?
A vet, a singer, a writer, an actress, a waitress, a photographer, a teacher, a musician… I always wanted to do everything!  I always admired those who could tell great stories about all the different experiences they have gone through, good and bad.

6. Do you still want to go into that profession?
With the exception of obvious qualifications needed to be a vet or a teacher, I honestly don’t believe I’ve become more focused now on a ‘profession'. This, to some, is seen as a bad thing or me evading my inevitable ‘job’. I have so many passions and interests, and I've always strived to be like the people in my life who had found their THING that they could talk about for hours with such passion that it made you interested as well. I just graduated university with a degree in Theatre & English Literature so perhaps mine is purely to create stories.. I wouldn’t want to shut off any of my interests and passions because there is just so much time to try all of them!

7. What were you like as a teenager?
I'm not sure whether my perception of myself as a teenager was the same as those who knew me, but I remember being always quite serious and mature, which often was detrimental to a teenage life! But at the same time I was still far too concerned with boys, friends, school, TV, homework etc. of course. 

8. What was high school like for you?
I remember very little from high school, apart from my final years.  I enjoyed school as anyone enjoys school, I am grateful for what it gave me socially and educationally but I don’t particularly look at it as a happy time.  

9. How have your dreams and goals changed through your life?
I haven’t had a lot of life yet, especially life independent of the goals that education enforces.  I think my dreams changed as any do with the appreciation of reality and the world we live in! My goal now is just to try and be as happy as is possible and not take any days for granted, cheesy as that is.   If I had that goal when I was younger, instead of constantly looking ahead to the weekend, and holidays and the independence of being an ‘adult’ I think maybe I would have enjoyed myself a little more.  'Growing up' has taught me the hard way to appreciate what you have, because there is no guarantee for any of it!

10. How do/did you feel about turning 21 this year?
I didn’t have much of a chance to comprehend it happening until after because I had a crucial part of my dissertation to present the day before and I was heading into exam season, it was just another birthday but I was overwhelmed by the kindness I was shown this year from new friends and old.  

11. Is turning 21 a big deal in your opinion?
I think any birthday should be a big deal to anybody, it is a day to enjoy, give and celebrate being able to enjoy another year.  There are so many normal days in the year that birthdays and holidays should always be a big deal! I believe that specifically turning 21 isn’t as big of a deal as before especially in other countries, but in England we tend to hold onto it as the beginning of ‘adulthood’. It isn’t really anymore, I think 18 is more of a milestone.

12. What's one thing you are looking forward to doing in the next few years?
I look forward to everything, I've spent most of my life in education knowing exactly what is coming next, knowing that september brings school, spring brings exams, and july/august are the only time for travel.  Now I can do whatever I want when I want, obviously within monetary reason!  It's easy to be terrified now, wondering what on earth to do next but I'm an educated, able individual and in our world that is too much of a privilege to waste on worrying!  I look forward to learning, travelling, growing, making new friends and seeing those I know and love do the same. 

13. Has anything shocked/surprised you about adulthood so far?
Probably that it is not really ‘adulthood', many of those older than me still look at me as a girl and they probably always will! Often I feel younger now than I did when I was a teenager!  When I was a teenager everyone always thought I was older than I actually was (I have vivid memories of being charged an adult price in Pizza Hut, aged 12), but since I've turned 21 suddenly everyone thinks I’m younger for the first time...

14. Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
Yoga, reading, travelling, exploring, writing, drawing, photography.  As part of my dissertation I ‘vlogged’ everyday of my life for 6 months and it stuck, so I make videos of my life and small stories and post them on YouTube.  Now I'm living in Rome for 3 months working and I make weekly videos, I do it purely because I enjoy creating video ideas, finding interesting shots, seeing myself grow through the videos and being able to show my family and friends my life abroad in a  way they could never see otherwise.  Social media has given us so many ways to share creatively, I like being able to ‘meet’ people through Instagram or YouTube with the same interests on the other side of the world. I don’t want to loose my creativity, it's easy to stop writing when we stop preparing for exams, and stop being creative when we have a work week to stick too. 

15. What would you say to a teenager who is worried about adult life?
Don’t worry! You will regret every minute spent worrying about something when you could have just been enjoying every moment of where you are now, you can’t postpone adult life its going to happen so just be happy about it!  Work hard, read more, find what you enjoy, cherish the people around you, don’t be afraid of what people think and enjoy being privileged enough to worry about small things.

16. If you could give your 13 year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t worry so much, if only you could see what you will face soon you’ll know it will all get worse, but it also gets so much better. 
Friends and boys will come and go, but your education won’t.

17. Whats the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘future’?
Im excited, really truly excited.  

18. Who are your idols or role models now?
 I don’t think it's healthy to try and model yourself on another person completely when, though you might not see, they have their faults like anyone else. I admire many individuals for things they have said or done but that doesn’t mean I would model my life on them, as I once did with Hilary Duff!
Amongst many others I admire Mimi Ikonn (entrepreneur & YouTuber), 
Emma Watson, 
Meryl Streep, 
Marie Curie,
Karlie Kloss, 
Amal Clooney
Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York)
MANY of my friends, 
and Casey Neistat is a huuge inspiration! 
It's good to surround yourself with people who spur you on to be better in whatever way, even if they’re just friends or strangers you meet.
As I mentioned before, I admire those that have inspired me to find something that I can wake up everyday and look forward to doing.  I watched people look down on my parents for doing what are seen stereotypically as ‘simple’ or ‘common’ jobs, but I've seen the difference they have made to the lives of various individuals and I see them come home after 30 years everyday with a new story to tell or a new technique they’ve learnt.  If it makes you happy, if it motivates you to move forward then it doesn’t matter what it is.
  All those who have found their THING and made a living out of it, whatever it may be.  

19. What steps are you going to take to make your twenties a smoother ride?
I don’t think anything I can do will make it smoother but I can choose how to react to it! Im trying to see the best in every dark moment, say yes to every opportunity possible and not stress over the things I can’t control.  If one year ago you told me what was going to happen in the next year I would never have believed it, let alone that I would be sat here in Rome typing this now, graduated, single and still videoing everyday! There is no knowing so there is no point stressing over it, I just look forward to where I'll be next year! 

20. In 2015, do you think that life for young adults is optimistic or full of pressures?
50/50.  Its all in the perception, you can choose to allow the pressure to freak you out, or you can choose to be optimistic and use the fear to drive you forward.  I think life is full of pressures for a 21 year old in 2015, but if you’d asked a 21 year old in 1970 they would have said the same, the world changes regardless making it easier in some ways and harder in some ways.

21. What sets your generation apart from everyone else?
I think the most obvious answer is of course - technology.  If you’re considering how our generation is different to any other then it has to be technology because we grew up in the moment that computers and mobiles were about to boom.  I remember buying our first computer, and how completely different it was to the laptop I am writing on now. Technology has advanced so dramatically in my lifetime which I think is negative in so many ways for the education and well being of the next generations who have grown up only knowing a world of technology.  It has created so many negatives for the way in which individuals now rely on it to support their everyday lives, which was never an option for previous generations.  However it also has so many positive aspects and has given our generation possibilities to grow and explore and create through outlets that never existed before.  Technology is there for us to use and adapt to our lives, and I always find it interesting to see how individuals use it to broadening aspects of everyday life now.

Thank you, Sarah for sharing your thoughts with me.

If you'd like to take part in my final few interviews, please send me a blank email with '21/94' in the subject line, and I'll get back to you :).

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Party Prep with BlanX Original Range

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪'Shine' - Years & Years♫♪

It's been a ages since I've done a review, so today I bring you Blanx - a whitening toothpaste.
I've dabbled a bit in teeth whitening before, but even though I saw results, my sensitive teeth reacted badly to the harsh chemicals. So this time, I'm interested to see how Blanx works as a non-abrasive whitening toothpaste.

What is Blanx?
This 'Classic White' toothpaste claims to "clean, protect and whiten teeth", so I used it daily for four weeks to not only put those claims to the test, but to also see how many shades whiter my teeth got.

Cleaning method
It's not a gel, but a thick, smooth paste. I used a pea-sized amount twice a day and let it do it's thing.
To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't expect to see a different on the first day. That was a nice surprise!
My teeth are quite sensitive, but this didn't cause any pain throughout the whole trial, so that's was another nice surprise.

Blanx uses lichen extract grown in the Arctic - now, as a scientist, I tend to research into these claims that some beauty/dental companies use to attract customers.
A lot of the time, it's nonsense and they just use a complex scientific/Latin-sounding "formula"  that will make people think "ooo, it sounds sciency, so it must work!".
Interestingly enough, my flatmate studied lichen over the summer as part of her degree, so I asked her about their relevance and whether the use of algae extract can help our oral hygiene. She had never heard of that before.
So I looked elsewhere and found the specific lichen used in this toothpaste: cetraria islandica (aka Iceland moss), has been known to help fight gum disease.

Probably the best around. Sleek, white and clear is so effective and stands out really well.
Another good thing is that the tube itself stronger. That means that even when you finish the toothpaste, the tube doesn't go all thin and weird-looking.

Does it work?
It definitely restored my teeth to its natural whiteness"AND (with an electric brush) helped to get rid of tricky plaque. My entire mouth felt fresh and polished after every brush and I did notice that my the light stains on my teeth had been reduced.
To be honest, I'm still not too sure what this lichen thing is about, but if it's been scientifically proven to help with oral hygiene, then who am I to diss it?
It's easy to think that those dodgy gels and UV kits are the way to go with teeth whitening, but I dare you to consider a more gentle, natural solution like Blanx.
UV light teeth whiteners may make your teeth technically whiter, but excessive use can really damage them - especially sensitive teeth.
So Blanx is a great alternative.

Buy it HERE
What are your thoughts on Blanx or teeth whitening in general? Let me know below!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Lover of the Light

A note from Joelle... 
There's a light in the distance and it's flame's fading fast.
Its friendly warm flicker we all know can't last.
Should I leave all I know, like my heart tells me to?
Or trust my head and come home to you?

It's not easy, you know. What if this is fate?
This glow is so close, but I know it won't wait
For me, it glimmers, a sight for sore eyes.
Within its heat I know my soul truly lies.

I turn my head and refuse to look back.
Faint laughs, as I notice the remorse that I lack.
Steps turn into sprints and I chase down the spark.
I stride towards the light, and let go of the dark.

My heart burns like kindling,
engulfed by the fire.
The flames dance like folk men,
and my flesh, the choir.

It burns, yet I'm dancing.
The fire is my friend.
The more it consumes me,
on it, I depend.

I'm Queen of the Light,
but need no crown.
For my glow shines like rubies
and lights the whole town.

So do what feels right,
 don't just stare at the view.
For there's a light in the distance
And it's waiting for you.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Festive Feeling

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪ Uptown Girl - Billy Joel ♫♪

Hey there!
It feels like it's been ages since I chatted on my blog. How are you all doing?
Basically, I have been really bogged down with uni work, so clearly haven't blogged as much as I would have liked.
But I guess the silver lining was that I have decided the kind of work I want to start doing next year.
I've been all about Geology since an early age, but I've done a complete U-turn and am ready to move onto pastures-new after I graduate next summer? But I'll tell you more about that another time.
Right now, I'm taking time off uni (five weeks, to be exact) and am working on a lot of exciting projects and stuffing my face with all kinds of festive food. #NoShame!
Jumper - Boohoo - Can you believe that this is my first Christmas jumper? I was not about the hype until I bought this one on impulse on Black Friday. I am no longer a Scrooge and happily wear it with pride!
Skirt - ASOS
Trainers - Nike
Aint she a beauty? There's even a special compartment for my tablet!

Anyway, I hope you're good and are getting into the festive spirit!
Stay tuned for lots of different posts over the next few weeks! I've been dabbling in a bit of poetry on my blog and I hope you don't mind. I've always loved reading it and have just caught the bug. I now write about three poems a week and post them on here even if I think their rubbish. What do you think?

Snapchat: Joelle.Owusu

Friday, 4 December 2015

The Price Of Pride

A note from Joelle... 
art, beauty, and pink image

THEATRE: Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical

A note from Joelle... 
I saw the film 'Bend It Like Beckham' once when I was about ten. I enjoyed it, but didn't think there was anything truly amazing about it. A Sikh girl defies her traditional family to become a talented footballer and gets with her best friend's crush. 
It was a good film, but not exactly a timeless classic, in my opinion.
So when I heard that the film's director, Gurinder Chadha was turning her film into a West End musical, I was like, "why?".

Then after reading the rave reviews from the preview shows, I knew I had to buy tickets and see what all the fuss was about for myself. 
What would the original songs be like? How will the actors stop footballs from flying into the audience? Can the charm of the original film be replicated on stage?
I wasn't sure.

In all honesty, I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. The cast's energy was really refreshing.

However, throughout the show, I kept thinking to myself "I don't think I've seen a West End Show with an Asian in a leading role. In fact, I don't think I've seen a show that stars South East Asians in main roles. That really shocked me.
Diversity in theatre has indeed progressed, but still has a very long way to go.

- the songs were catchy and memorable (very rare with new musicals)
- the choreography was excellent 
- The (often dry comedy) was genius
- The beautiful Indian costumes
- The fusion of Pop and Bhangra was wonderful and not the cheesy mess I was expecting.
 - Jamie Campbell-Bower is in it. Some may say that's a really random casting, seeing that he's a big film actor, but it works! 

Most importantly it felt like I connected with the storyline again. I understood Jess' determination to follow her passion, but I totally  understood her father's concerns about the challenges Jess would face, not particularly as a female, but by being a minority in the UK.

The music isn't cheesy (I honestly thought it would be!) and the special 
No doubt, the star of the show is Tony Jayawardena, who plays Jess' dad, Mr. Bhamra. Those notes he was hitting gave me goosebumps all the way up in the grand circle. His comic timing had the audience howling too!

A solid 4/5 from me.

I recommend you come to London and see it for yourselves. I'm really glad I took a chance on it and can't wait to see it again this Christmas!

It would have been a 4.5 if the theatre wasn't an absolute nightmare to find and if there hadn't had been a fire drill straight after the curtain call!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Give With Love Blogger Secret Santa | John Lewis

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪ 'Warm This Winter' - Gabriella Cilmi  ♫♪

So a few weeks back, I let you into a little secret about John Lewis' awesome blogger secret santa.
I was paired with the lovely Meg from Meg Says and we picked out gifts based on blog personalities. I really recommend you check out Meg's blog by the way!
Before I searched for the perfect gift, I took some time to thoroughly read her blog (even the early posts!) to get a sense of what she's about and what she likes. 
Meg is incredibly fashionable, with a warm girly style,so I picked managed to whittle the gifts down to three incredibly beautiful bags. In the end, I went for this stunning Ted Baker bag and I hope Meg likes it!

And then it was my turn.

A few days ago I received my parcel and couldn't believe what was inside...
Give With Love Blogger Secret Santa | John Lewis
How nice is this Radley bag? It's funny because the day before, I was saying to a friend that I am loving Radley at the moment, and then I got this!
Meg got what I love down to a tee, so I'm really thankful and happy that she took the time out to pick this bag out for me.
Thanks so much, Meg. That was really kind of you!

As always, John Lewis have a fab selection for gifts. From super-affordable, to super luxury, they have it all covered. I'm off back on the site now to nab a few more gifts for the family. Race ya over there?


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