A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016: My Year in Review

2016 – it has been a weird old year hasn’t it? Not only did we have to get used to the thought of us no longer being in the EU, we also had to try and get our head round the fact that Donald Trump is going to be the US President and around all this was also legends passing away, a handful of them some of my very favourites, the ones who I have looked up to and appreciated for years; Bowie, George Michael, Prince, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman and so, so many more. However, for me personally, 2016 has turned out to be a very different year to the one I thought I was welcoming back in January. 

When I looked back upon 2015 this time last year, I thought I had just been through probably the biggest year of my life so far. However, I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Yes, I had graduated and scored myself my first graduate job, but what had I really learnt from experiences? Not a fat lot to be perfectly honest. 2016 was the time for that. Back in January, I still lived and worked in Liverpool, was still pretty much still in love with my ex-boyfriend and was in a very, very bad place. I was unhappy with almost every inch of my life. I was struggling to get up in the morning and I couldn’t see the point in doing things that used to make me happy. Although I was in my favourite city and living the graduate life, for me, it wasn’t all it cracked up to be, and one morning mid-cry, I decided to quit my job and packed my bags. The same week I cut things off with my ex, drank a ridiculous amount of wine and threw my middle finger up to the mess I had become. It was time for a change. I moved home and changed my life, for me. 

With the constant support of my family and friends, I threw myself back into job searching and stumbled straight into not just what I wanted to do, the reason I had gone to university in the first place. The day I got offered my current job, a journalist, I sat at the bottom of the stairs and cried in disbelief: this was it, I thought to myself. I can’t tell you how much my job has done for me this year. I have got my confidence back, I have met all sorts of incredible people who have inspired me and left a lasting impression on my life and my colleagues feel more like best mates. When I look back at 2016, I will remember it for the year that my life truly began thanks to the job I accepted. 

In terms of my love life, I am, yet again, ending the year single. However, I’m not that bothered by the whole thing. I finally found the courage to let go of my ex at the beginning of the year and that let me see the whole dating thing in a whole new light; I was looking for someone for me, not just someone who would distract me from my previous boyfriend. I have been on several dates, which is considerably less than 2015, and I even met a guy who became my boyfriend. Yeah, it didn’t work out, but some things don’t and I coped with it MUCH better than last time – so that must mean I’m learning, right? But having that confidence to get myself back out there and show guys the real me is something that took over 2 years to get back, so although it didn’t work out, I haven’t lost my confidence with dating and being the real me. 

If 2016 has taught me anything, it is to hold your loved ones closer. I’m not the busiest girl ever, but I don’t get to see my family and friends as much as I would like to. But because I’m not always around the gang and the family, it has actually made me appreciate them more. Moments with them are more precious now and something to look forward to. I think we’re all guilty of taking our loved ones for granted, right? But I think seeing both of my parents get remarried this year brought it home just how special and uplifting those occasions are.  

For me though, 2016 has been the year where I have begun to understand what makes me happy in life. I have been fortunate to go on two holidays and various long weekends, which all made me immensely happy. I have thrown myself into record shopping again, reading books, and of course, writing – all things that I seemed to put on hold last year. I have even explored more with my hair and makeup, which is something I’ve always been just a little too afraid to do. Maybe 2017 will be the year that I change my style a bit – damn floral prints ALWAYS attract me, but maybe 15 floral dresses is probably enough for now. I have also began to accept the real me: yes, I’m impatient, yes I’m a bit of a drama queen now and then and YES maybe I am a bit of a control freak. But, that IS me. However, I’ve also learned that it works for me to spend time by myself and guess what have probably been the biggest compliments this year? That I’m funny and that I have a lovely smile (apparently!) – If I’m cracking jokes and smiling often, I think that is a sign of a very good year. 

So, what’s the plan for 2017? Get fit and be healthier, continue to grow my confidence, get away more and love more. Read more, write more and hopefully make some new friends along the way.  

Finally, a huge massive THANK YOU for reading my blog this year, it has meant the world to me! The feedback I have got on posts have reduced me to tears, in a good way, as many posts had taken a few years for me to actually sit down and write them, so thank you and I can’t wait to continue in the new year. 

Happy New Year! I hope you all have a very happy 2017.  


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Bethan Loves: Top 12 Albums of 2016

As if it has been a year since I wrote my 2015 albums of the year, where the hell have the last 12 months gone?! You can view last years here. Luckily, I am allowed to listen to music whilst I work in my office, which has meant that I have been able to listen to hours’ worth of new music! Like I said last year, I am not going to pretend to know everything there is to know about music, but here are my top 12 albums of this year and a little explanation of why and what my recommended tracks are, have fun listening…

12. Zayn – Mind Of Mine 

Probably my biggest surprise of 2016 (music wise, let’s not get into Brexit and the US Election) is how much I actually enjoyed Zayn’s debut album. It is safe to say that with this album, he is so far away from a clean cut boyband member that he once was. Zayn, in my opinion, has established himself as a pretty good singer-songwriter, and although Mind Of Mine isn’t the best album ever, it is well worth a listen.
Recommended tracks: Wrong and BeFoUr

11. The Weeknd – Starboy

Last year, The Weeknd was my number one! It is safe to say I had fallen pretty hard for him. I love The Weeknd. I think he is absolutely brilliant. However, Starboy is probably my least favourite of his so far. Saying that, I still enjoyed it enough to include it in my top 15. Starboy is a good album and worth a listen.
Recommended tracks: Secrets and I Feel It Coming

10. Beyonce – Lemonade 

I couldn’t not include Beyonce in this list, it is BEYONCE. Like 90% of the population, I too questioned who the hell Becky with the good hair was. What I enjoyed so much about Lemonade was that it was so, so different to not only anything she has ever done before, but different to everything else out there too. Beyonce on the celebrity spectrum is by far one of the most private, and that is why I enjoyed Lemonade so much, as it was like we learned more about her and what makes her tick, rather than just a ballad or two and a few dance tracks like previous albums.
Recommended tracks: Formation and Sorry

9. Viola Beach – Viola Beach

Another one I couldn’t not include in the list. I was heartbroken when I heard the news that the members of Viola Beach had been killed at the beginning of the year – the lads were so, so talented and I had been listening to them for a while beforehand. That’s why I was stupidly happy when their album was released and the world could hear just how great they were. The album is everything that makes me happy in music; upbeat indie vibes and the perfect summer soundtrack. 
Recommended tracks: Drunk and Go Outside

8. Jack Garratt – Phrase

Jack Garratt, for me, has been one of the most captivating artists I have ever come across. Sometimes I just watch videos of him performing on YouTube and get blown away with how much that boy is actually doing on stage! Phrase is a fantastic album and has the perfect mix of chilled and upbeat songs. There is so much going on in each song too that every time I listen to the album, I hear something different, which is what makes him so brilliant.
Recommended tracks: Fire and Surprise Yourself

7. Rihanna – Anti

I have loved Rihanna since I was like 11 years old and listening back to her catalogue of albums, you realise just how much she has developed as an artist, the girl has had a go at so many genres. Anti took a few months to grow on me, but once it did, I really began to appreciate it and realised that it is a great album. It isn’t my favourite from her, but I actually saw her perform the majority of the album on her tour back in June, which made me love it even more.
Recommended tracks: Consideration and Desparado

6. Honne – Warm On A Cold Night

I stumbled across Honne at the beginning of the year and fell in love with them pretty much straight away. For me, they are the artist that has made me the most excited this year. The way every single song on the album has been put together actually blows my mind. They are catchy, ridiculously cool and so good for every occasion. Someone That Loves You has made me smile, cry and sing along every time; any artist that make you feel ALL the emotions on an album is always going to do well in my eyes. If you haven’t given Honne a listen before, put them on right now. 
Recommended tracks: Coastal Love and Someone That Loves You

5. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

Someone asked me a while ago if I was a Bruno Mars fan. The thing is, I have loved every album of his, but Uptown Funk was SO overplayed it made me kind of hate him. However, 24K Magic is SUCH a good album! I read an interview with him where he said he just wanted to make people dance. You know what, I love that. As much as I love getting pretty deep when it comes to music, I also love to just listen to music that makes me dance, smile and makes me feel like heading out and having a good time. That is exactly what this album does; it is the ultimate feel good album. 
Recommended tracks: Finesse and Perm

4. David Bowie – Blackstar

An obvious one? I don’t care. To say I was devastated when Bowie died is an understatement. He is my hero and I have admired him since a young age when my Dad spent hours playing his albums on car journeys. Of course Blackstar is a good album, it’s Bowie! 
Recommended tracks: I Can’t Give Everything Away and ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore

3. The Hummingbirds – Pieces of You

This was by far the album that I anticipated the most. I came across The Hummingbirds almost five years ago when I moved to Liverpool and have loved listening to them, and seeing them live countless times, over the years. I interviewed them back in 2014 and they told me that the album wasn’t far away, so I got fairly concerned when it wasn’t around in 2015. When the album came out this year, I understood just why they took the time in creating it. In my eyes, the lads are perfectionists and it is so clear that an amazing amount of work went into the album. Check it out if you haven’t yet, it is perfect.
Recommended tracks: Knocking On My Door and Taking of Tomorrow

2. The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect

THIS ALBUM. I know I’m way too enthusiastic at times, but good god, I have played the crap out of this album this year. I love Alex Turner, I love Miles Kane, but the both of them together is one of my favourite things in the world. Their last album came out when I was just 13 and although I loved it, Everything You’ve Come To Expect is so different to any album I have ever heard before, I have been blown away by it in 2016. What I love most about this album though is the lyrics, they are so clever, catchy and make me break out in all sorts of moves you would rather not see me do. 
Recommended tracks: Used To Be My Girl, Miracle Aligner, Sweet Dreams TN and Pattern

1. Blossoms – Blossoms

I only came across Blossoms late last year, so I would have been surprised back then if anyone would have told me that I would put them as my number one album of 2016. But, this album is genuinely the one I have enjoyed listening to over and over again this year more than any other. Blossoms are some of the coolest lads I have ever seen and heard in my life and the album makes me dance, sing way too loud and has even reduced me to tears at some points. Each song has been put together so perfectly that is hard to not appreciate it in all of its glory. In my opinion, Blossoms deserve every ounce of success they achieve in the future. Not only are they a great bunch of down to earth lads, they create some of the best music I have ever heard. If you haven’t listened to this album, you absolutely must. 
Recommended tracks: Texia, Honey Sweet, Blow and My Favourite Room

Check out my Spotify playlist which contains all the albums (apart from Beyonce…) I have included in my list, all in one place. Enjoy!


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Bethan Loves: Bravissimo

I am not afraid to admit that I love my boobs. They are easily my favourite asset and I have never been scared to show them off in bodysuits and v-neck tops. However, I have also really struggled in finding a bra that properly fits over the years. I have had countless trips to M&S for bra fittings since I was at least 12 and I am even guilty of getting the tape measure out and doing it myself from time to time. So when Bravissimo invited me to visit their brand new store in Birmingham, I couldn't refuse! 

Bravissimo's aim is to give women with bigger boobs an 'uplifting' experience when purchasing lingerie - excuse the pun! It is funny really, because I have never classed myself as a big boobed woman. However, I started to find earlier this year when I measured myself at a 36D that I couldn't find bras that fit me well in the likes of H&M and other high street stores. I'm not exactly a skinny girl and don't tend to fit into the tiny outfits that Topshop and River Island display, so to have pretty lingerie as a big no as well is a super frustrating experience. 

I headed to the store an evening after work last week and was surprised at what I found. I genuinely though that Bravissimo only did lingerie, but they also offer swimsuits, bikinis and alongside Pepperberry, they offer a whole range of clothes to flatter your boobs. The store has a really stylish vibe to it and suits its surroundings very well. It is based on Cannon Street right in the city centre and is in a gorgeous building. I met with Laura once I got there who was going to do my fitting and I was blown away with how different the experience was. 

The fitting rooms have a lounge area to relax in, meaning you have time to look and think about what set you would like and what style you fancy going for. Each dressing room is also a different girls name, which I loved! There were also quotes from customers around the fitting area and pictures of those happy with their purchases. The whole store in fact felt very personal to its customers and felt more like I was joining some kind of boob gang rather than just looking at lingerie in a store. The staff were incredibly warm and friendly too and made me feel very relaxed in what can be quite an uncomfortable situation.

At Bravissimo, there are no tape measures involved with the fitting process and instead they look for these three things when finding the perfect bra for you: two fingers can sit comfortably all the way round the bra, the bridge is sat flat against the breast bone and the wire sits outside of the breast tissue. Laura explained these to me whilst she fitted me and then went off to pick out some bras for me to try based on what size she thought I was. 

After trying on a few, and picking a style I liked the most, I was told what size I really am; turns out my 36D's are actually 34F's! As you can imagine, I was gobsmacked. I guess I always thought that F meant BIG boobs, but mine aren't huge at all. But I found that 34F actually is my perfect size! I suffer with incredibly painful back pain regularly and it only clicked recently that my boobs are impacting it as well as my posture and time spent sat at a desk. So a good bra genuinely is really important.
The set I chose was the 'Etta Longline Bra' which came with either a brief, a thong or high waisted brief. I chose the high waisted brief, purely because they make me feel much more supported and more importantly, sexy! Bravissimo were lovely enough to gift me the set and I am in love with it. However, there are just so many options available and each set is beautiful, even the very simple bras and briefs. 

Bravissimo recommend that you have a fitting every six months, so from now on I have vowed to myself to keep my boobs in check and treat them to good fitted bras regularly. I'll be honest, Bravissimo sets aren't the cheapest compared to Primark and ASDA, but they are an investment and who doesn't love treating themselves to lovely lingerie every now and then? I always find that if I'm wearing a nice set, I feel much more confident. 

If you also fancy checking Bravissimo in Birmingham out, the team there are offering a discount to my readers, so treat yourself and find out for yourself just why I loved my time at the store so much! 

10% off full price Bravissimo purchases for readers of BethanTrolley
Quote ‘Love Brum’ in store.
39-40 Cannon St, Birmingham, B2 5EE
Terms and conditions apply. This offer is valid on full price styles only at our Birmingham shop until 16th October 2016. It cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount.

*Disclosure – I was gifted the Etta Longline Bra and matching underwear set

Sunday, 2 October 2016

7 ways to handle getting dumped...

I know you're probably thinking 'another relationship post?!' but I enjoy writing about love, relationships and dating because it is so REAL. Back in June I started seeing a guy and within no time he was my boyfriend and we were an item. This was a huge deal for me as he was the first guy I had actually been serious with since my ex, which I discussed in a previous post here. See, it takes a lot for me to really like someone and actually want to be with them. I've dated and seen a range of different types of guys, but it is rare for any of them to stand out so much that I want to spend my time with them and put effort into something.

I've mentioned this a few times on my site, but I really do enjoy spending time by myself. It is precious and I appreciate those moments to reflect and think about what the hell has been going on recently. Especially since I started my job in April, my days are very busy and a lot of my nights are taken up too, so those times by myself mean a lot to me. So when I am willing to ditch those moments and replace them with a GUY, it is a pretty big deal for me.

Two weeks ago, the guy I was actually 'in a relationship' with dumped me. Lets just say, you can always trust your gut can't you, right? I knew something was up and in a way had already mentally prepared myself to be dumped. So when he pulled me aside on a busy high street in Birmingham to tell me he wasn't happy, I can't say I was surprised. At first, I was pretty gutted. I was annoyed when he told me that he had felt this way for a few weeks, who wants to find out that the person you admired so much has been living a lie?! I was upset that YET AGAIN I was the dumpee and not the dumper. I was fuming that I had just given him a lip balm that I did actually need myself. But most of all, I was annoyed with myself. Because yet again, I had let myself be ruled by a guy. I had done what I tell all my mates not to do; I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend but by doing so, I was losing the real me in the process. Thankfully, this isn't the first time I have been dumped is it?! So I wiped the tears away and got a grip. Here are the five things I did to help myself get through the rejection...

1. I got away...
Thankfully, within a few days of being dumped I was off on holiday, which meant that I didn't really have time to cry and overthink things because I was off on my jolly days! Even if you can't get abroad for the week, go and discover a local town or village and try new things. By doing so, you will keep yourself occupied and inspired. After my last dumping, I spent months in bed eating ice cream. Do not do it! (Well, ONE tub is allowed) Spend your money on something more worthwhile and get away even if it is just for a day or two. I was fortunate to jet off to Crete for a few days which did me the world of good. There was something about chilling in the pool, eating Greek food and discovering the local towns that made me remember that there really is more to life than a guy you spent just a few months caring about.

2. I caught up on the things I had missed
I am incredibly guilty of putting my life on hold when something new and exciting enters it. I was half way through a book when I got together with my ex. I was just getting into the blogging rhythm and I was about to sign up to the gym and get my fat arse in shape. However, having the honeymoon phrase of a relationship is incredibly distracting and I found myself putting all these things on the bottom of my priorities list and him at the top. I think it is a pretty normal thing to do when you first start a relationship. But the moment I got dumped I thought, right, I'll get back to what I was starting then! Over the past two weeks, I have almost finished the book, I have a list of things I intend to write about and I am off to my first gym session on Thursday night. Lets do this!

                                                                  3. I pampered myself                                                                              I'll be honest, I'm so crap at being a girl. Although I try and look nice, I'm very guilty of not putting effort in. Whilst I was away, I made a list of things I NEEDED. I jumped on ASOS and ordered myself a new winter coat, a few cute dresses and a snazzy new pair of shoes to come home to. I booked myself in to have my hair, brows and nails done and LOVED my day of spending a ridiculous amount of money on my looks rather than a meal out or an uber or two because it is something I just barely ever do. I headed to Boots and treated myself to some new products and I also picked up a new perfume in duty free at the airport on my flight back. There is nothing better than treating yourself and putting your confidence up a bit. I am a pretty insecure girl, so anything that brings a bit of confidence to my life I am all for and I recommend that to girls and guys.

4. I got myself back out there
I didn't do it straight away, but I eventually put myself back onto a couple of dating apps. I'll be honest, I'm not looking for a boyfriend but what is the harm in keeping your options open, right? It is always fun talking to new people anyway, even if you fancy them or you don't. Also, a couple of hours on a dating app is sure to make you a bit confident again, it helped with mine. After all, just because your ex no longer thinks you're gorgeous and the best thing on earth doesn't mean some other guy won't! It is cool to get talking to people again and discovering more about what you like in someone, and what you could do without.

5. I made a list...
You know me, I love a good list! Not only do they give me a guideline and something to follow, there is always so much satisfaction in ticking things off a list. In fact, I think it is very under appreciated! On the night of getting dumped, I wrote a list of things I am fortunate to have in life and things I have to look forward to. I also wrote a list of things I like about myself and things I want to work on. By doing so, I remembered what was really important to me other than a love life and what I need to focus on in the future. It may sound like a corny thing to do, but by taking that time to reassess your current life situation, you're working towards something and evolving with yourself, giving yourself small tasks to work towards goals.

6. Make yourself a banging playlist!
Music has always been the first thing I have turned to in times of happiness and sadness and it is the number one thing that always works. Last week, I made myself a 'single vibes' playlist and I have no regrets! I have packed it full to the brim of tunes that just scream independence, with everything from TLC, Jennifer Lopez and Destiny's Child to Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon and Madonna. Not only do these songs put a huge smile on my face, they make me super happy and lift me right up when I have a 'oh I've just been dumped' moment.

7. I remembered what was important 
This was the exact conversation I had in my mind last week: "Beth, you are 22 years old. You probably weren't going to marry the guy and it was never going to be incredibly serious because you were both in such different times of your lives. Let it go and just roll with it." I would be lying if I said that I didn't want a marriage and kids and a home etc etc in years to come, but if these things are meant to be, they will HAPPEN! I think in times when you've been rejected and you're feeling down, you need to remember that you will not always feel this way. It is also important to remember that a quality an ex didn't like in you could be something that another guy adores about you, so don't bother changing yourself because you weren't good enough for them, because you are good enough for someone out there and if they are meant to be in your life, they will find their way to you.

A good way to think about it is this; all the lessons you learn in love mean something. In relationships, you learn about yourself and what you want in someone else. With each person, we learn more and more. All these lessons learned mean something and even if you can't point out why at this moment in time, in years to come you will learn to understand why some things worked, and others didn't. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Why getting my heart broken was the best thing to happen to me

I guess this is another post that I have been wanting to write for some time, but seeing as I am currently on a roll of getting things out in the open, lets do this! I wanted to share with you why getting my heart broken was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me, because who knows where I'd be now without that moment.

My ex-boyfriend was lovely, and I'd never say a bad word about him because he genuinely isn't a nasty guy and I know that he probably never meant to hurt me. Just like he probably never knew just how badly I would cope with it all. I met him whilst at university and after talking all day every day for like two months, we were reunited after a summer break and we made things official soon after. I can honestly, hand on heart, say that I fell in love with him. Although I had boyfriends before, this was different and I just adored everything about him. Things were great for ages but it started to go downhill when we were coming to the end of our second year at uni. However, because I was so in love with him, I failed to see what was going wrong where and how it could end, so quickly, so soon.

I am aware that I probably sound slightly ridiculous here, we weren't together for years, we weren't married and we didn't have kids and therefore, the pain wasn't half as bad. However, at only 19, this hurt me like nothing else ever had. I coped with my mum being a lesbian, which you can read about here, I coped with living with various characters at uni, I coped with friendship issues and family problems and bad grades throughout the years, but nothing that had managed to have such a profound affect on me more than this.

It was on a Friday evening when my ex started acting weird with me and I asked what was up. He looked at me for what felt like a lifetime and said that he didn't love me anymore. I never realised how much I craved love and attention until that point and the fact that I, and myself alone, had managed to make someone love me, but then fall out of love with me, it blew my mind. Obviously, I questioned him on everything; what had I done? where did it go wrong? how long had he felt like this? Just the night before we had snuggled and fallen asleep in his bed. How can someone switch their feelings off so bloody fast and why was this happening to me? Even after him answering them all, I was so confused. There were still so many unanswered questions. I traced my steps back to everything that had happened for weeks beforehand and thought, should I not have said that? Did he think that joke was serious? I got the first train home, cried on a elderly woman's shoulder before getting into bed and sobbing into my beans on toast, which I later threw up. I couldn't function and I couldn't handle living in a world where me and him weren't together. How was I going to get through this?

I was fortunate enough to have my friends and family be there for me in such a rubbish time and I'll be honest, I would have ended up doing something stupid if it hadn't have been for them. Back in Liverpool in my cold uni room which was still full of his things, I lay looking at the ceiling for about three weeks. If I wasn't in bed looking at the ceiling in disbelief, I was drinking countless bottles of wine and sobbing whilst walking home from nights out. I had nothing in me, I couldn't go to uni, I didn't want to spend time with anyone unless it meant getting drunk, I would ignore phone calls. All I wanted in life was him and I spent a good four or five months after telling him how crazy I still was about him. Lesson number one, you can't make someone fall in love with you.

Eventually, after not speaking to him over summer, I began to start acting fairly normal again. I pushed myself into a summer job, I started thinking about my third year of uni and what I wanted to achieve from it and I hung out with friends, sober. I stopped ordering takeaways and eating my feelings and most importantly, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. It was a difficult period for my family at the time, so I had to be there for various family members and soon I realised that I needed to just get on with life and that spending every day moping around, waiting for a phone call from him saying he made a mistake, was not doing me any good.

I went back to uni feeling much more positive about the future. Although I was hurt and would still cry at least three times a week, I was slowly getting myself into a better place. Soon, me and him met up for a catch up and it was surprisingly fine, and I went home thinking wow, maybe we could be friends here. Lesson number two people, trying to remain good friends with an ex isn't always the best thing to do, especially when one has feelings still, and the other doesn't. A couple of months later, we met up again. However, this time he was really flirty with me and I loved it. One night he walked me home and we kissed and it happened again a month or so later. I thought maybe we could be friends who...kiss? No, no, NO. I soon found myself spending Sunday afternoons in bed staring at the ceiling again. Because I was still in love with him and still craved his attention. We would text often and I would lie to myself and say it was all a bit of fun, but it wasn't. The feelings were still there and I needed him in my life.

I dated countless other guys, but they were never enough. They weren't him. I would find myself being sat on dates and thinking, how did I end up here? Am I doing this because I want to or because I'm just trying to put my attention into something else that isn't him? Although I was smashing uni, my social life was on a roll and I was feeling confident in my own body again, I hated myself because I wasn't allowing myself to move on from this person. Over a year later, and he was still such a prominent figure in my life who I needed. I graduated uni, got myself a job and a flat and started acting like an adult. But deep in my tummy were still these feelings and every time he would pop up on my phone, I would still get some kind of bizarre buzz out of it.
In January of this year, I bumped into him on a night out. The shock of seeing him in the flesh after 8-9 months knocked me sideways so much that I had to run to the toilet to be sick. I didn't know how my adult self should act around him after so long, despite the fact that we still spoke most days. However, something happened that night and I remember thinking at the time, that I would look back and be thankful for this moment. I lost my friend who I had been on the night out with and on a freezing cold night, I didn't know what to do. I rang him to ask for his help in finding her, but after three phone calls and a couple of texts, he ignored me. He ignored me in my time of need and suddenly, I had a moment where I thought, what am I doing?

The next day, whilst eating a sausage sandwich and watching Big Brother, I had the sudden urge to cut him off. Like I should have done years ago really. I text him an essay saying how I still really cared about him and I wanted us to be friends, but I was hurting myself and not allowing myself to move on. I can honestly say that plucking up the courage to do this was one of my strongest moments in life so far. I grabbed my headphones, walked down to the docks by myself and cried. I cried because it was well and truly over, the whole thing, and there was no going back. In the moment of tears streaming down my face, Whitney Housten 'I'm Every Woman' came blasting through my headphones and I laughed and cried tears of joy. It may have looked like I was having a breakdown, but who knew Whitney would help me in such a time of need. I think I even skipped for a few minutes and danced on a bench or two. I didn't care. I had given up on him and it felt so bloody good.

I had the feeling over the next week or so that he was going to get a girlfriend. I don't know why, but I saw him tagged in a photo and just knew it. It was just a waiting of game of when it would appear on my Facebook feed. A few weeks after, it appeared. I was sat on the bathroom floor after a shower and stared at the phone for five minutes. Tears started rolling out of my eyes, but it wasn't because I was sad. But because I was relieved. Finally, he was gone. I had no reason to have anything to do with him anymore, he had found someone. Over the two years since he told me that he didn't love me, I had imagined how I would cope with the news of him moving on. However, I never thought I would be glad to see him move on, but I was. That is when I knew I was over him, after years of putting myself through hell of why I wasn't good enough for him and wondering if we would ever get back together, it was over in a heartbeat. I deleted him off everything. Not in spite, but just because it didn't feel right to have him on my social media anymore.

I have written this post because I have since realised how having my heart broken was the best thing to happen to me, because it changed who I was for the better. I had always been the type of girl who needed love and attention and needed to feel wanted. I am no longer that person. If someone wants to love me, that is fine, but I don't crave it anymore. After years of looking at myself in the mirror and asking why I wasn't good enough for him, I looked at myself after and thought, just because you're not good enough for him doesn't mean you're not good enough. I have grown into a stronger person throughout the last two years; I have learned to look after myself, be my own friend and have respect for myself. I spend time by myself, which I never ever did before, and I enjoy it. I have thrown myself into work and falling back in love with Birmingham since moving home. All of this couldn't have happened if I wouldn't have gone: "You know what, what am I doing spending so much time and effort on someone that doesn't care, when I need to work on myself?" By working on myself and reassessing the way I am with others, what I shouldn't take for granted and what I want in a guy, I have discovered so much about myself and now, I am excited for the future.

All it took was for me to realise that by still caring about my ex, I was hurting myself. By putting effort into him, I wasn't allowing myself to move on and have another guy notice how great I am. By spending less time worrying about what he is up to, I have had time to think about work, success and my future and what I want from it. By no longer having him on social media, I don't get reminded of his existence anymore and to be perfectly honest, I feel like a different girl to who I was eight months ago. I am proud in what I have managed to achieve to this point in life and all this wasn't down to anyone else, it was because I did it, despite everything going on around me. Getting my heart broken helped me become who I am now, and I am glad it happened.

It was the best thing that has ever happened to me.  


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Being brought up by two women...

I guess I have been contemplating writing this post for a good few years but just never thought it was the right time or whatever. But then, when is the right time to write about something so personal? May as well just say it how it is right?! But I haven't properly written a post in a while because I have been lacking some serious inspiration and motivation (when you write all day at work, it is difficult to get into the habit of coming home and writing all night too) so thought, I'll come back with something a little different... I grew up in a lesbian household, surprise!

I know in this day and age, it is hardly something to make you any different, but I thought it would be worth sharing. I have a mum and a dad, my dad is getting remarried to a lovely woman called Jackie in November and my mum recently got married to her partner of 10 years, Clare. Let's get some back story here... My mum and dad were together until I was seven, so they have actually been separated 15 years now. I won't go into the reasons they separated because it doesn't really matter. Soon after my mum started spending a lot of time with a woman, who she was with before Clare. I guess being seven years old, you just think two women hanging out were best friends and the whole lesbian thing didn't actually cross my mind until I was 11. Being so young and naive when my mum came out meant that I didn't really get it and just went with the flow. I still don't know all what happened now but I don't care because it is in the past. However, my sister is four years older than me and she struggled with it much more as she actually knew what a lesbian was.

I think I was in year six when people in my class first started talking about gays. It wasn't something that had ever crossed my mind and I didn't like that other people knew what they were and I was so oblivious. For me, my mum was with a woman but surely she wasn't gay like the people in my class were talking about. I guess I also thought that because I had my dad and his new family who I spent pretty much every weekend with in my life, I wasn't an odd one out in my friendship group. However, with all this talk of gay people suddenly happening in what seemed like every classroom of my middle school, well, it started to drive me a bit insane. So one day I plucked up the courage to just ask my mum if she was. She cried and said that she was, and we hugged and that was it. I told my closest friends and they all promised that they wouldn't tell anyone, because at 11 and 12 years old, you can almost guarantee getting bullied at school because of it. However, I did tell someone who I thought was a friend but wasn't really in my group and my school life did change.

For a few months, people in my year would pop up on the likes of MSN (those were the days!) and say things, but the majority of the time, and god knows how, I managed to shrug it off because I knew I wouldn't be a loner at school because my friends still liked me. I wouldn't ever say I was bullied for it, I know my sister had a bit of a rough time at school so I was lucky in that sense. For a few years at school, a few would make gestures around the room but I would just ignore them. I ignored the one guy because I was convinced he was gay himself (I pride myself on having a particularly good gaydar!) and would you have it, he now is, so take that as you wish...

However, when people ask me if I had a difficult upbringing etc because of my different family situation, I laugh. I am aware of those who have been brought up by gay relatives and have related issues in their life back to it, but I never would. I was brought up just the same, even in a household of two women. The only slightly difficult thing was dealing with four hormonal women at the same time! I was lucky enough to still have my dad as a male figure in my life, but Clare has always treated my like her own and supported me through school, went to parents evenings, came to my graduation last summer, it has never been a weird situation in my eyes and if anything, being brought up in a different home situation has helped in a range of ways and lets face it, if I ever need woman advice, wow, I can take my pick of who I can go to!

Someone once asked me if I could have been brought up by a mum and dad and had a fairly normal childhood, would I. My answer was no. Who knows how life would have turned out if it would have gone down a different path. The thing is, my family have made me, me. Who I am today is because of them. The way I am with others, is because of them.

One even asked me if I was gay because of being brought up in a household of two women. After almost eye rolling myself into a different dimension, I simply told them that a) it isn't actually their business at all and b) no, I like men as much as any other straight girl. Thinking about the amount of dates I have been on since I was 18, I could even argue I probably like men too much.

The thing is, my mum genuinely is my hero. She could have lived a life where she wasn't happy just to please those around her, but she didn't. She decided to bring me and my sister up in a home still full to the brim of love and normality, despite the differences. I laugh when I read articles about how gay marriage is the worst thing in the world. Because it isn't, it is actually wonderful how far we have come in just 15 years really. Being brought up by lesbians is not damaging and definitely does not impact your future, I am living proof. Seeing my mum and Clare on their wedding day was one of the happiest days of my own life, because my mum finally had her happy ever after. I wouldn't take that happiness away from anyone.

My little world and the people I have in it would be very different if I hadn't have been brought up by two women, and because of that I wouldn't change a thing.

Have any questions on the whole thing?!
Send them over, I will be happy to talk about it! 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Mersey beats to the sound of The Jam

One of Britain’s biggest bands of the last forty years is being celebrated in Liverpool this Summer! An interactive exhibition titled ‘About the Young’ following the rise and influences of The Jam is on in the Cunard Building on Liverpool’s Pier Head. 

About the Young is in Liverpool following the success of the exhibition at Somerset House in London last summer which saw over 57,000 people attend. The exhibition in Merseyside however is the biggest event celebrating The Jam, who were together from 1972 until the early 1980s, with it being ten times the size as last summer in London. 

The Jam, who were arguably the voice of a generation, had an impressive 18 Top 40 singles and enjoyed a huge amount of success with the likes of Town Called Malice, That’s Entertainment and Going Underground. 

The event, which has been curated by Paul Weller’s sister Nicky, Russell Reader and Den Davis, will include memorabilia from band members and fans. Memorabilia will include everything from ticket stubs, clothes and stage equipment and instruments to Paul Weller’s doodles and poetry from when he was just 13 and personal photos from the Weller family archive. 

I spoke to Nicky Weller and she said that the response has been incredible so far. She said: “If you’re a fan, you couldn’t possibly go to another exhibition like this as it’s got every single thing a Jam fan would want to see, and more. If you’re just a music fan you’ll enjoy it and even if you haven’t even heard of The Jam, you’ll enjoy it because there’s quite a lot of social history within it too.”

“There’s something for everybody; fashion, music, politics and there’s footage that has never been shown. We have tried to accommodate everybody who would like to come along to it.”

The exhibition will also give visitors the chance to learn more about the band and items on display with a free app which they can download on a smart device beforehand. The app also gives viewers the opportunity to save their favourite parts of the exhibition for them to enjoy in their own time.

The exhibition will be the last in the UK. Nicky said: “If we took it overseas, we would only be able to take a fraction of it. So if you want to see it in its entirety, come up to Liverpool to see it for yourself!”

About the Young is on display at the Cunard Building until the 25th September. It is open daily from 10am-6pm and off-peak tickets are £5 with peak tickets being £9.50 per ticket. Will you be going underground this summer? Book tickets here

Sunday, 3 July 2016

7 things I've learned at 21

It's finally my birthday month! Well, I say finally, it only seems like yesterday that I turned 21 last summer. With my birthday a few weeks away, it's got me thinking about how life has changed since I turned the big 21 as this has been the biggest year of my life so far. When I turned 21, I had graduated from university a few weeks beforehand and was pretty much unemployed. I was spending my days applying for jobs which had anything to do with my degree. When I say that I was applying for jobs, like, I really was going hard on good old Indeed, applying for what felt like hundreds a day and not caring about what the salary was because I didn't really understand what salary a recent graduate should even be earning.

I was single, still am, but I did quite want a boyfriend at the time. Above anything though, I was terrified. I thought that I was on a roll in third year and suddenly, I didn't know what to do with myself and I was desperate to not make do. A few weeks after my 21st birthday, I was offered by first full time graduate role, and that's when I started learning, a lot, about myself and the world around me...

Don't make brash decisions
When I got offered my first role, I dropped everything and moved back up to Liverpool within four days and I had to find a place to live very quickly. I probably settled for a place I wasn't crazy about because I was in such a rush to move in so I could get fully settled at my job. Thinking about it now, the place where I lived actually was a bit of a rip off and I wish I would have had more time to search for somewhere which I preferred. And the bills! Oh wow, nothing prepared me for how much water and electric actually cost. Suddenly all the times my mum has had a go at me over the years for keeping all the lights on made perfect sense! Again, because I was in a rush to settle, I made do with signing up with any company and ended up spending a ridiculous amount of my wages on the flat and all the bills. When I moved home from Liverpool, I vowed to myself that I would do much more research in the future.

It's OK to ditch the plan
I have always been a big fan of lists and having a good idea about how I want my future to pan out. But if I've learned anything over the past year, it's that life just doesn't work out that way! Stop thinking about life in 10 years and focus on goals within the next few years, because you never know what's going to happen. It's OK to ditch the plan and focus on life at the moment instead of where you want to live, what age you want kids etc etc! It sounds ridiculous, but most girls do have these thoughts at some point. Just got to roll with the punches!

You are not a failure 
When I left my job in Liverpool earlier this year and decided to move home, I felt like a real failure. I was shocked at myself for allowing myself to do such a thing. I was embarrassed that the whole career girl living the city thing hadn't worked out and I was back to square one living with my dad in Stourbridge. But by making these changes, I'm such a happier and much more chilled person now. I know that I will eventually move out and start again, but what's the rush? I'm a hard worker and I'm definitely not a failure!

You probably shouldn't try and be friends with an ex...
Me and my ex continued to talk and flirt for almost two years after it ended. I tried to convince myself and others that I was over it, but I wasn't and I couldn't be, because he was still in my life and I still wanted to impress him and wanted him to like me. The moment I realised that by talking to him I was just hurting myself and wasn't allowing myself to move on, I became so much happier with my life! I soon realised that we weren't friends at all and the only reason I spoke to him still was because if he was talking to me, then surely he's not talking to another girl? Wrong! If an ex is bringing nothing but hurt to your life, ditch him.

Accept that everyone is at different stages in their lifeIt's incredibly easy to pass judgement on others but this year, I've learned where to draw the line. Your early twenties are the weirdest time because everyone around you is doing their own thing and everyone is at different stages. Some don't really want a career, others it's all they want. Some live with their boyfriends, some live with their parents. We're still at an age where we're trying to figure everything out, so you need to accept that not all of your friends are going to be in the same boat instead of trying to tell them how to live their life.

My parents are brilliant 
Wow this past year has shown me how much my parents really have done a fantastic job of bringing me up! It may have taken 21 years to realise, but thank god I have. I feel like I am more open and honest with my parents now and it's so great to know that I always have their support. The beginning of this year left me at several crossroads and I couldn't have got through and made the correct decisions that I did without them being there for me.

True friends stick aroundSounds cliche, but this year has proven to me who my true friends are. At university, you are in a bubble and think you're always going to be best mates with people. But life happens and you can't keep up all these different relationships as you once were able to. True friends stick around, check up on you occasionally and support you. I used to think that the best friends were the type who were always up for doing things and going out, but that's so not the case anymore. In fact, I would rather chill with my mates now instead of going crazy on a night out, and that makes me think I've suddenly got very old!

What did you learn about yourself when you were 21?

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Is social media more powerful than a degree?

When I began applying for jobs after graduating from university, I always thought that my degree and the experience I had under my belt would secure me a job in the designated industry I wanted to work in. I was under the impression that it was my degree that got me my current role of a Business Journalist and Social Media assistant, until I asked my editor. He told me that although my degree got me an interview, it was of little consideration once I arrived for the interview on that cold March afternoon.

He told me that there were a range of applicants with a degree, but it was more about how I set myself apart from them and it was my social media presence which eventually helped land me the role. I couldn’t believe that what I decide to tweet about and my profile picture on Facebook had such a profound effect on my future. It made me think, is social media actually more powerful than a degree for Millennials? Here are five reasons why...

1. Knowledge vs applied knowledge
During a degree, you’re encouraged to try and remember as many things as possible in order to pass modules and exams. You learn about all sorts and have a good amount of knowledge about the industry you want to work in. But if you can show on social media that you know about certain issues, you have applied your knowledge. You have a view on it and can tell others about it. By being able to show that you can apply your knowledge, you appear much more employable.

2. Networking skills

If you are active across social media platforms and are constantly building connections and increasing your following, this shows that you’re a keen communicator and probably someone that can create a good name and image for the company. Businesses like anyone who can portray their brand well and the more connections you have, the more people are likely to learn about the company themselves.

3. Shows what you’re really like
A degree can show that you’re interested in a specific industry, but doesn’t say much about your personality and what you like to do in your spare time. Although your CV may claim that you’re a keen tennis player, your social media can show how you interact with friends and colleagues and traits like your sense of humour and stance on particular issues. Employers will look at your social media to see if your personality would fit in with their brand.

4. What worker you could possibly be
The majority of jobs now require you to know a good amount about technology. Even if the role you are applying for doesn’t require any social media skills, it’s still worth being able to show to employers that you know what you’re doing online and that you do have an active presence on them. It will show that you’re outgoing and have connections, which is a skill that could be vital to your position.

5. Self-discipline
If you have a blog or take part in any online communities, it can show that you have good self-discipline. For example, if you update your blog three times a week at the same time, it shows that you are consistent and are able to do something on your own without being asked. If you have a keen interest in a certain subject and are tweeting about it regularly, it shows that you are keeping up to date with it, which is a very employable trait to have.

Has your social media presence helped you in securing a job?

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

I'm Listening To...

Here is what  I have been enjoying the last few weeks! Follow the links through to their Twitter accounts and the song I'm loving the most...


6 things I'd tell my 16 year old self

Next month I will turn 22 and just the other day I had a good 20 minute daydream just thinking about how much has changed since I left university and yet, that was only a year ago! Then I thought about what I was like in first year of uni and even before that, how I made friends with the people that I did at school and what has happened since I was 16 that has almost molded me into the person I am today. Then I got thinking about how different I'll be by the time I'm 30 and that's when my brain started to get frazzled so I just caught up on The Real Housewives of Cheshire instead. When I think back to my 16 year old self, like many others, I cringe about how dramatic I was about everything and how, like most teenagers, the slightest thing feels like the end of the world. This got me thinking, if I could go back to 2010 and have a word with Bethan, who at the time was just obsessed with boys, house parties and Tumblr, what would I say to her with what I have picked up over the years?

 Boys really aren't everything...
...and the chances are, it's not going to last. So stop taking everything they say so seriously! When I was 16, all I wanted was a boyfriend and to be like Lauren and Jason off The Hills, but even they broke up for very good reasons. I would put boys above anything else. When I was supposed to be revising for exams, I'd spend my time on MSN hoping that I would get a certain guys attention. Fortunately, I did and that boy did become my boyfriend, but that's not my point...I was obsessed with the idea of being an adult and the thought of being able to do spontaneous and romantic things like adults do. Now I am an adult, I've realised that it's really not that exciting at all. By putting boys above anything, I didn't give myself chance to just enjoy being young. If I could go back, I'd drag that girl away from the computer and send her round to her mates house to watch Mean Girls or something. Also, boys don't get any easier and you're going to end up heartbroken a few times, so stop thinking that this particular boy is worth sacrificing for, because the truth is, no boy is until you're like married with kids.

Be the type of friend you'd love to have When I was very young, I was blessed to meet a group of kids who have remained by best friends to this day and I'm so thankful that I didn't sway between friendship groups at school. Don't get me wrong, I had lots of friends outside of our group, but I spent the most time with those I'd known for years because I could be my complete self around them. However, this didn't stop the occasional squabble between certain members. Even if an argument didn't involve me, I would still find myself involved for unknown reasons. If I could turn back time (I knew it wouldn't take long for me to stick a Cher reference in here), I would say to not get involved with silly arguments and just be there for everyone involved instead. Those in the group who never got involved were always much happier, so I wish I would have done the same at the time.

Your job isn't that bad at all!When I was 16, I landed my first ever real job at McDonalds. At the time, I thought I'd lost my mind. I remember asking myself "Do I really need the money THAT much?!" But the reason I got that job wasn't for the money at all. It was because I just wanted a job and I didn't want to be the person at sixth form who didn't have one. Thankfully, a fair few from my sixth form all worked there, so there were people I knew who worked there. However, this job meant that I had to make loads of new friends and I learned what having a boss is really like. You might say that McDonalds is a walk in the park, but that's a complete lie. The job taught me everything from keeping my cool, to working with all sorts of people and customer service. It even taught me the importance of money (When it was MY money rather than my parents, I was fussier with what I spent it on), time management skills and gave me so much confidence. At an interview last year, they said to me that they actually look for people who have worked somewhere like McDonalds because they have much more skills than you'd think. So although it felt like the end of the world at the time, working those almost three years at McDonalds did me the world of good.

It's OK to spend time by yourself
Back then, I never wanted to spend time by myself because all I wanted to do was to hang out with friends or be out and about doing something. However, on the times that I did spend a Sunday afternoon in my bedroom with a book, I absolutely loved it, but yet, I wouldn't admit to anyone that I spent my weekend just chilling by myself. I guess I always thought that others my age all had such exciting social lives or spent their 'me time' trying out make-up products or getting their older siblings to buy them drinks at the local pub. But now I appreciate the time I have by myself more than anything really, because it's healthy to do so. Although I'm a sociable person, I'm not the type who wants to be surrounded by people every minute of the day. I was the same when I was 16, but I thought that made me weird. But it didn't at all. I wish I could go and reassure 16 year old Bethan that spending time by yourself is good for your soul.

You're really not that weird
Don't get me wrong, when I was 16 I'd say I had all the same interests as those around me. I got really into music and became obsessed with my purple iPod nano. I loved house parties and thought drinking Bulmers and Smirnoff Ice made me dead cool. I loved shopping and socialising and going on dates etc. But I also had interests that I didn't think were normal for a 16 year old. I absolutely loved home programmes like Grand Designs and Location Location Location (By the way, still do and I am no longer ashamed - Phil and Kirsty are THE best) and I also had a keen interest in politics. So not much has changed at all in that sense, but I remember thinking that I was a weirdo for caring about who won the General Election in 2010 and being devastated that I still had two years until I could vote. Now, I'm not ashamed of my interests. But back then, I didn't really discuss them with anyone because I thought I'd come across as weird. If I could talk to my 16 year old self, I'd tell her that everyone has different interests and that it's actually OK to not be like everyone else all the time.

Your mom is not your enemy You know that really awful teenage mood swing stage? Well I went through that when I was around 13-14 and I'd calmed down massively by the time I was 16. But this didn't stop me being a moody teenager every now and then and getting in a right mood when my parents didn't let me do something. It was always that 'why are my friends allowed to do it and I'm not?!' argument. But now I've realised that all my parents have ever wanted for me is to be the best person I can be and they only wanted the best for me. I know this is getting a bit corny, but I would without a doubt go back and tell myself to be nicer to my mom as she was just doing the best job she could at bringing two girls up. I would also tell myself to spend more time with my parents and put them before boys and mates. This hit me the moment that I first opened my door in my first year flat at university and I was alone in a city that I didn't really know. I knew straight away that my parents are amazing and have done an incredible job.

What would you tell your 16 year old self?


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Bethan Loves: Birchbox

 This week I was invited to see Birchbox's pop-up stand at The Bullring in Birmingham. Birchbox, which was launched by two genius female entrepreneurs several years ago, is an incredibly good idea that has grown massively over the past few years. The idea is that you discover beauty products that you probably don't have the time to go out and find every day if you're a busy working person, like myself!
You simply subscribe on their website, which I've linked above for you, and a box full of beauty products for you to try shows up at your door every month. I love this idea because although I like to take care of myself and enjoy trying new products out, I don't necessarily have the time to search Superdrug and Boots every single evening. So the idea that I could try out things and see if they work for me before heading to a store to buy a full sized version of the product is ideal.

Birchbox are currently touring the UK to give us all an idea of how the box works, and gives you the opportunity to build your own box. What's on offer? There are so many hair, skin and body care products available as well as a huge range of make-up like eyebrow pencils, mascara and lipsticks. The best thing is that in store, for six products, your box is only £15 and you get the service there of assistants who talk you through the products that will work for you the best.

 Alternatively, on the Birchbox site, you can purchase a 5 product monthly box for £10 or choose a 6-month option or even a yearly one - and don't worry, Birchbox don't just throw in any old tat, they find out what you like the most through your beauty profile.

I am currently loving the products which I chose at the Birchbox pop-up store, which is on the third floor of Selfridges in Birmingham. I picked up a John Masters Organics hair detangler which is an absolute dream and makes my hair smell amazing at the same time as doing a good job! I also chose Caudalie Paris radiance serum, Rituals foaming shower gel and BBrowbar brow pencil, all of which I am yet to use, but looking forward to cracking them open. I picked up two lipsticks, one Mirenesse Glossy Kiss in scarlet, which I gave to a family member as they have been after that shade for a lifetime and a gorgeous peach Laqa & Co Cheeky Lip which looks so good on my lips. So far, so good and I will definitely be looking forward to my June Birchbox box as I have registered on the site to try out more!

Birchbox is at Selfridges in Birmingham until June 11th, so get there quickly to see it all for yourself!

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