The Ultimate Glow Up

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On Wednesday (1st November) I turned 22!

Eeeeeek. That sounds so old in my head! 21 seems like an age where it's still seen as acceptable to be a little wild, a little out of control, a bit of a party animal. 22- in my head, at least- sees so much older, so much more mature. I feel like I actually have to start being a responsible adult now, and like I need to start getting my shit together (for lack of better terminology!).

As with all birthdays, I did spend some time surrounding my 22nd birthday reflecting on the kind of year I'd had being 21, and the kind of things that being 21 had brought to me and my life. I feel like I say this most years, but I genuinely feel like 21 was my best year yet. Honestly, this year has shaped me like no other. When I was 20, life turned into a learning curve for me. I was experiencing things I wasn't used to, dealing with emotional turmoil that sent me to breaking point that I felt like I would never bounce back from and so, for the most part, being 20 was all about dealing with that. It was about recovery, it was about building myself up from the bottom and it was about rebuilding almost my entire life and starting over again.


"You've got to have the bad days so that you can love the good days more"


21 was the ultimate glow up. By the time I reached my 21st birthday, I was pretty much unrecognisable to most people. I mean, for the most part I physically looked the same (aside from the weight loss and the new found love for makeup and fashion), but as I person, I was totally different. I was better. I then spent the next 365 days in total bliss; I was happier than I've ever been, I had learnt to love myself and really was in such a good place, mentally, physically and emotionally. My life was at it's peak and was honestly the best it had ever been.

I achieved so much whilst I was 21 too. Not only did I accomplish so many 'small' achievements myself, like learning to love myself completely, or reaching inner peace with demons I had been battling for some time, but I also achieved some bigger things too- I landed my first 'proper' job and kickstarted my brand new career as a Communications Officer. I did more work with 4Music. I began working in collaboration with one of my favourite brands of all time, Elegant Touch. I had more freelance work, brand collaborations and sponsored posts on my blog than ever before. I interviewed Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney for my little magazine, Love from... magazine. Finally, I finished off being 21 by speaking at an event as a 'successful business woman', alongside one of my heros, Remel London. This was such a huge achievement for me and I felt so honoured.



So yeah...21 was pretty great. It was the exact kind of year I needed, because it was all about me. Every damn day was about me. Doing what I needed to do, doing things that benefited no one but me. 21 was my year of being selfish. 21 was the year I made myself happy. And I honestly think that the end result by 22 was incredible. I really am the best version of myself that I have ever been- and I think the fact that in the last couple of weeks leading up to my 22nd birthday I heard on almost a daily basis that I was 'glowing' and 'gleaming' with happiness speaks volumes.


 


"You lose a lot of people when you're focusing on yourself. Don't feel sorry for evolving"


Of course, there were other highlights that contributed to my ultimate glow up while I was 21. One of these is definitely due to the fact that I cut off so many people. And I mean, loads. Some of them not all by my choice, but all of them turned out to be for the better. I actually cut off almost everyone I had previously considered a 'best friend' when I realised I was just surrounded by so much toxicity. The people you surround yourself with really do matter- in fact, studies suggest you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with! So it's always important to make sure you're surrounded by nothing but the best, and I have to give some credit to the fact that I'm so God damn happy all of the time to my friends. I've still got my ride or die girls, Poppy, Abs and Bobbie, as well as my other brilliant pals, Lauren, Dee, Tiff and Cal. But now, I have some brand new people in my life as well- I don't need to list them all out, because they know who they are. But I can confidently say that I'm currently surrounded by the most wonderful, lovely, considerate, mature, thoughtful and just generally great people I have ever had in my life and I feel incredibly fortunate. 




"Become so filled with happiness that it heals every part of you"


My career is going great. All my writing, my blogging, my Communications job- it's all just going pretty much exactly where I want it too. I've also got some exciting projects on the horizon for 22 so that's all to come, which I'm really looking forward to. There's going to be two brand new ventures from me if all goes to plan, as well as the revival of some old projects and continual progression and growth of my business and my magazine. I really can't wait to see where it all goes- honestly, I just want nothing but endless success.

I'm so full of self confidence and self love and this really has had a huge impact on my life too. Life is so much better when you're not counting calories the way I did, when you're not stressing over how much exercise you need to do, about 'good' and 'bad' foods. Life is 10x better when you just embrace yourself for exactly who you are, eat what you want to when you want to, exercise if and when you want to, make choices that are the best for you and no one else and stop comparing yourself to other people. Learn to love yourself and watch how your life changes.

Finally, I fell in love again. I won't apologise for being 'cringey' or 'cheesy' because it is absolutely true that my boyfriend brings out the best in me. He really helps bring out the best version of myself and the fact that everyone else can see this too means a lot to me. An old school friend commented on a photo of the two of us saying I was really glowing with happiness, and it's true. He makes me happier than I thought I could ever be. 





"Celebrate your personal victories, because no one else understands what it took to accomplish them"

I've been through a lot of shit up until now. Some things I've spoken about publicly, others I haven't. But life hasn't always been the best to me. It's not always been an easy ride, and more than once I felt like I had hit absolutely rock bottom but that that was it- that was my lot and I had to live with it. 

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. Life can always get better, but for me I found that the only way it was going to happen was if that change started with me. You can rely on friends and family, teachers and therapists, even strangers for help. And for the most part, they will help. But ultimately, the change needs to come from within. You need to want more for yourself, you need to try for yourself, you need to like, if not love yourself. . I don't speak for everyone, of course, but I think acknowledging that change needs to begin from within is a pretty solid start for anyone. 

I'm living my best life right now. I feel like I've gone through the ultimate glow up. The sad little teenager who hated herself, was full of insecurities and self doubt, felt unloved, worthless and unwanted is nothing more than a sad memory. The woman I am now is everything she wanted to be- everything she should have been. I'm happy, I'm confident, I'm driven and ambitious. I'm successful and secure in the person that I am and in my capabilities. 

I wish I could go back in time and make everything better for the sad, broken version of myself. I would change so many things for her, tell her to make so many different choices- 


- and yet, every choice I have made up to this point and brought me to the point I am at today. Sometimes, you have to go through some shit to get to the good stuff. Star's need darkness so that they can shine, and that's exactly what I am- a star. I needed all the dark times, the low points, the negative experiences to really blossom into the person I am today. While my journey to this point may not have been an entirely happy one, I don't regret it and I wouldn't change it, because it's made me the person I am today, it's brought to me the people I am surrounded with and it's taken me to the point that I'm at now. An incredibly happy one. 

I am living for being 22. I'm ready for more of everything; more success and more blessings, more opportunities and more good fortune, more love and more happiness. In fact, I'm ready for an overflow of it all. If 22 is half as good as 21 was, I know it's going to be a great year. 

Love from,
Florence Grace

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A Stay At The Manor*

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Last weekend, my boyfriend and I were invited to spend the night at The Manor Country House and Hotel. The hotel is located in Oxfordshire, just a short drive away from Bicester Village, which is pretty handy if you're looking for a mini weekend break that involves luxury shopping and a luxury stay! I was incredibly excited to have been asked along to do a review- it's probably one of the most exciting opportunities to have come out of my blog and is definitely not something I'd done before. Prior to our arrival we were told we'd be staying in the Chapel Suite and be receiving a complimentary dinner and breakfast. I honestly couldn't wait. 

I suppose from the name 'The Manor', and from the brief look at the website, we should have known how posh the hotel would be, but I'm honestly not sure anything could have really prepared us. As we drove up the long, tree lined gravel drive towards what looked like a miniature stone castle, we honestly couldn't believe our eyes. Was this really where we would be staying?! I was suddenly glad I hadn't put my huge hoop earrings in, but my boyfriend did panic about his choice of Nike trainers...


       Inside The Manor

The entrance hall was incredible, with a gorgeous open fire. We were greeted straight away with a friendly smile and I was impressed when the receptionist knew who I as without me having to introduce myself! She walked us to our suite (something else that impressed me!) whilst pointing out where the bar was and the restaurant, reminding us what time our booking was for- which was very handy! 

The interior throughout the hotel was fitting with the exterior of the building! What looked like an old castle from the outside was adequately decorated inside- thick red carpets, ornate mirrors, large paintings and mirrors in golden frames, stuffed animals and deer antlers on the walls- it was all very regal, very grand and so unlike anywhere else I've ever stayed. 

When we reached our suite, we were handed a key- not a key card like in an ordinary hotel, an actual key, attached to a wooden keyring with our door number on. I love small, intricate touches like this and I think it really added to the feeling of The Manor! Having an electric keycard on the door would have ruined the fact that our front door was  heavy wooden one with a metal latch! 
       
      Our Suite

I tend to be a little over dramatic at the best of times, but let me tell you that I am being absolutely accurate when I say that the suite was absolutely unreal. The main room was generously sized with a desk, a chest of drawers, two large mirrors, a large TV, a sofa and- my favourite thing of all- a four poster bed. I was so excited as I have wanted my own four poster bed my entire life, so getting to sleep in one in a manor house that looked like a miniature castle really did make me feel like a princess! 

The bathroom was almost as large as the main room, with a large cupboard-wardrobe with dressing gowns and slippers, a full length mirror, heated towel rails, a decent sized shower and great lighting for selfies! (Always important, right?)

The only thing I would say was "wrong" (hardly) with the room was that even with the lights on, it was quite dingy- as it gets dark quite early at the moment, we were straining our eyes a little and it was quite tricky to get any high quality photos to show you guys just how brilliant our room really was...I guess you'll have to book a night there to find out for yourself, hey!






         Dinner at The Manor

Dinner at The Manor was something else. Let's start with the layout of the table because there was so much cutlery- I actually said to my boyfriend "thank God I have watched The Princess Diaries so many times and know what most of this is for!". See, pretending to be a Princess my whole life has come in handy!

We were provided with a set menu, with starters, mains and desserts and three different options in each category to choose from. There was also a complimentary basket of bread to snack on while we waited. In all honesty, the starters weren't really my boyfriend and I's kind of thing- we both despise almost all vegetables and the options were:

- Raw Sweet Potato Noodles with marinated wild mushrooms, sweet mino sauce and micro herbs
- Chicken Broth with chicken julienne sliced vegetables and homemade pasta
- Smoked Duck with carrot puree and fig relish

Aside from the fact that we didn't know what all the ingredients were (what the heck is a micro herb?!), as far as we could tell there were vegetables in every dish. I settled for the noodles and my boyfriend went for the broth. It was pretty amusing watching him gag over the vegetables he was given, but my noodles were actually a lot nicer than I expected! It was - essentially- like a cold Chinese dish, so I was happy! 

I can confidently say that the main course was a lot nicer! The options here were:

- Pan Seared Venison with celerlac, beetroot and braised venison bon bon
- Pan Seared Sea Trout with creamed potato, peach and pea puree
- Quinoa with caramelized cauliflower puree, onion textures and braised fennel

As soon as we looked at the menu, we knew what we were getting; the venison! And boy oh boy was that a good decision! I think that it was probably without a doubt one of the nicest pieces of meat I had ever eaten. I'd never tried venison before so was worried I wouldn't be a fan, but it was absolutely gorgeous, and both my boyfriend and I really enjoyed the meal.






Dessert was a lot more tricky to try and choose, as all three dishes sounded incredible: 

- Strawberry Brulee with strawberry sponge, gel, mint meringue and jasmine ice cream
- Chocolate brownie with popcorn ice cream 
- Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee sauce, chocolate soil and vanilla ice cream

My boyfriend chose the brownie whilst I opted for the sticky toffee pudding and both dishes were honestly incredible. My boyfriend said how the brownie was pretty much melting in his mouth, and my sticky toffee pudding was just dreamy. 

The setting for the meal was lovely- the room had incredibly high ceilings and a large chandelier lighting the room. However, I would say again it was a little dingy and so we were often struggling to see things, but this was a very minor point. They had a great 70's playlist playing too which created quite a romantic atmosphere! 

After dinner, we went to the bar for a bit, were the lovely Lucas served us for about an hour and a half. He was an absolute star, chatting away about the hotel, about his work there, about the alcohol behind the bar (there was a bottle worth over £2,000 on display!) and just about his life- he was really, really lovely and I'm very glad we got to meet him! 

Our night in the suite was very comfortable- the bed was absolutely amazing, the room was very sound proof so we weren't disturbed by outside noises and we both had a great nights sleep!


         Breakfast at The Manor

Although I used to say that without a doubt dinner was my favourite meal of the day, one thing I absolutely love doing is going out for breakfast! Breakfast and brunh dates are just the best and I will never turn one of those down- and now I actually think I'd rather go out for breakfast than dinner sometimes!

Breakfast at The Manor did not disappoint. Obviously- after everything else being so brilliant, why would it have?

There was a buffet of non cooked breakfast, cereals and fruit, toast and juices etc. which was eat as much as you like- you could just go up and help yourself. However, neither me nor my boyfriend chose to use this as there was actually quite an extensive, delicious sounding menu full of cooked breakfast options! 



First of all, can we appreciate how cute it is that the menu says 'good morning!'? Like I said earlier on in the post, I really do appreciate small touches like that! 

I was so spoilt for choice and found it quite hard but eventually settled for a classic full English, 'The Manor Breakfast' minus the black pudding! When it came, you could tell the eggs were fresh and of an excellent quality because the yolks were quite large and very, very orange! 




I do wish I'd maybe broken out my comfort zone and tried something that I wouldn't have usually had, but I guess that just means I'll have to make a trip back in order to try something else, doesn't it! 

Luckily in the light of the morning, the dining room was lit much better and so I could get a good photo of our food (hashtag blogger problems).

After breakfast, we decided to take a nice walk around the large gardens, which housed an outdoor pool, tennis courts and a croquet lawn (pitch? arena? What is the terminology here?!) and even a secret garden which really felt like I was walking straight into the settings of The Secret Garden book. The gardens were gorgeous, even if the weather was a little grey and drizzly- I can only imagine how lovely it must be to take a stroll around the grounds in the summer! It would definitely be a brilliant spot for a blog-based photo shoot and a wedding! 






I was really sad when it was time to check out! Our stay at The Manor was actually the final part of our nine day holiday, and it was such a fabulous way to round off our break away- neither of us wanted to go! We truly had been treated like royalty, living in the lap of luxury for the weekend and we were sad to be going back to reality. We have definitely said we will return for another trip though, because it really was such an excellent hotel.

There are a lot of great deals at the hotel, particularly over the course of Christmas and New Year! My boyfriend and I have already had a quick look at them, and I highly recommend you do too! It might seem a little costly but for a special occasion and for the service you receive it really is worth it- I promise. And to appeal to any bloggers, it is such an Instagrammable place- you'll be able to create at least a weeks worth of content here!

Thank you so much to The Manor for their hospitality over the weekend and for being so accommodating of me and my boyfriend- I am truly grateful and I really do hope to be back soon!

What do you think of The Manor? Have I tempted you into visiting for a weekend break?

Love from,
Florence Grace

This trip was gifted to me by The Manor Hotel in exchange for a review but all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more info on sponsored content, please read my disclaimer at the top of the page.
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5 Things I'm Happy About Right Now

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There's absolutely no denying that right now, life is pretty sweet for me.

I think a lot of people have noticed a change in my tone of voice when I write over the last year or so. In 2016, I was blogging every single day- there were a lot of posts about the heartbreak I was going through, about how miserable I was feeling and about some really low points I was going through, particularly near Christmas time. December 2016 was probably the lowest point I hit that year, and I couldn't even explain why. Whilst overall, 2016 was my year of self discovery, the year where I really began to love and appreciate the person I was, there was a lot of low points for me. A lot.

2017 has definitely seen a new side of me- in fact, I'd even go as far to say that it's seen a brand new version of me! I have had a truly spectacular year and if I thought I couldn't be happier than I was in 2016, I was wrong- 2017 me has reached new levels of happiness altogether. I made new friends, I worked harder on my business and freelance work than ever before, I met new people who are now some of my closest friends, I cut off toxic people who were dragging me down, I got a new job that's kickstarted an entirely new career for me and, now, I have a new relationship too.

I am so happy. I can barely express it in words just how elated I am with my life, how in love I am with my life. I was worried to keep harping on about it, but you guys told me you wanted to hear it- so here I am, telling you all 5 things I am super happy about right now!



My Career
I am so happy with where my work is at right now. My magazine is developing all the time- the latest issue just come out (cop one for yourself here: lovefrommag.bigcartel.com), I'm continuing to do really well in my 9-5 job, I've had some exciting writing opportunities recently, including getting to spend a weekend at a 4* hotel for a review, and have more lined up, I have a presenting gig coming up next month which I can't wait for, even if I am a little nervous... and to top it all off, this weekend I am going to be speaking at an event in London about my business- because I've been recognised as a successful business woman.

That really puts a huge smile on my face. That kind of recognition is unlike anything else! People have doubted me from day one. Sometimes I've just had to clap for my damn self when no one else would in order to keep on going with it all. The fact that it's paying off, with opportunities like this coming up, really makes it all worthwhile. I couldn't be happier about it!

I am so excited to be speaking about being a successful business woman- it's a huge step for my career, and also out of my comfort zone!


The People In My Life
I am honestly surrounded by the best people right now! People who support me, uplift me, are honest with me when they need to be and don't let me take any shit. Some of them have been around for years, some of them have been around for less time than that, but I still love and appreciate them all the same!

It is so important to surround yourself with good people. Negative people who bring toxicity and drama to your life just drag you down and really do have a damaging impact on your mental health- surround yourself with only the best of the best! I took some time to think about who I really needed in my life, who I wanted in my life, and while this year I have definitely made some losses, they're only short term! In the grand scheme of things, these choices are better for me, my mental health, my sanity and my happiness- truly!



My Plans
I've recently just come off of a nine day break, in which I stayed in Manchester for a weekend, Amsterdam for the week and then Bicester for the weekend with my boyfriend- those nine days made me incredibly happy. Especially my time in Amsterdam! It really is my favourite place in the world.

Now, I have a lot more plans coming up that I'm looking forward to- Makeup Revolution's Halloween Party, my birthday weekend with my pals (which I am so excited for!), my friends baby shower, my actual birthday, going to see Tom bloody Hanks in real life (kill me omg), baby Bobbie's first birthday, a presenting job I have coming up, my boyfriend's birthday, another friend of mine having a baby...and that's all just November!

In addition to all that I'm looking at endless mini breaks and holidays for next year, I'm seeing Anne-Marie next year, looking into more presenting gigs and so on. I am just so happy to be fortunate enough to be able to keep my life as busy and exciting as it has been/is!




I'm Seeing Tom Hanks
In less than two weeks, I will be in the centre of the front row at London Southbank Centre listening to my favourite person in the world, Tom Hanks, read from his book and give a talk. Tom Hanks. In person. In real life. In front of me. Did I mention it's also happening on my freaking birthday?!

Anyone who truly knows me will know that this really was a case of the stars aligning for me!! I am so excited I can barely breathe and I am absolutely determined to get him to notice me and say hi- or, better still, happy birthday! I will cry and cry and cry with happiness and would absolutely never ask anything else from life ever again. Ever. (Someone, somewhere please make this happen).



My boyfriend
Alright, alright- if you're opposed to a bit of cheese and a bit of cringe, stop reading now. You must have known this was coming right?

Obviously my boyfriend is making me very happy right now! He's honestly a God send and somehow still manages to surprise me every single day with just how bloody lovely he is. I've honestly never been treated so well or known someone to be so nice all of the time! He absolutely puts the biggest smile on my face every single day, without fail! It is quite a contrast to the way I've been treated previously and he genuinely doesn't get it when I get so emosh/happy over him doing things that he thinks are so simple and insignificant. But it just means so much to me to be treated the way he treats me, and I honestly don't think I've ever been so happy. (Cute, aren't I?)





Someone told me the other day that I am "glowing" with happiness nowadays- glowing! That really made me smile that not only has my life switched right up and made me so happy that I appear to be glowing, but also that other people are noticing too! I get a message almost every day from someone telling me how happy they are for me that my life has turned around or that I'm finally in a good place with the right people.

It means so much to me that people pay attention to me enough to notice changes in my life and in my happiness- it means even more when people leave me lovely messages and comments telling me just how happy they are for me. It's almost overwhelming.

Okay, enough from me- now I want to know what you're happy about right now! It could be anything, 5 things or 1, share them with me in the comments below! Let's all be happy together!

Love from,
Florence Grace
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SURVIVOR

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Earlier on this year, I wrote “I wish younger me had known that it was possible to be this happy all of the time”. Since then, my life has become even happier, if you can believe it! Yet earlier on this week, I shared a post with you that opened up about a time when my life wasn’t quite so happy.  A time when things were far bleaker, where I hit rock bottom and fully believed that that was as good as it was ever going to get for me.

I am a firm believer in the fact that your past does not define you, in any way, shape or form. Sure, it can influence who you are and the choices you make in life, but it doesn’t have to define you and your future, not at all. My past certainly influences the person I am today but it absolutely doesn’t define me. Rather, it has taught me a lesson I won’t ever forget. It taught me how to survive. Because even when I was at rock bottom, when I was torturing myself over the behaviour of others, when my parents were going through a divorce that was breaking my heart and I was being bullied at school by people I believed were my friends and I was being abused by someone who I thought loved me, I survived. I pulled myself through on my own. I made sure I achieved the grades I needed to get into university on my own. I made career choices, worked my butt off to get where I am today and pulled myself through all the hardships on my own. My past, if nothing else, made me a survivor. It taught me how to be strong, how to look after myself, to not let the nasty people in this world drag me down- and today, I am a far better person because of it.




I get called mouthy now. I get told I’m too big for my boots, that I have an attitude problem, that I have my walls built too high around me. Can anyone blame me? After everything I’ve been through, I spot one sign of trouble from someone and I’m out! It’s a defence mechanism that I developed at the age of 15 when my life first began to tilt upside down, and I have used ever since. My ‘mouthy-ness’ isn’t because I don’t care, or want to be a ‘bitch’- it’s because you’ve started to give me shit and I’m not prepared to deal with it, so I’m shutting it down in the only way I know how; by getting defensive, parring you off with some sort of savage comment and cutting you out of my life. It might sound brutal but it’s the way I am because of the things that have happened to me- my brain wants to protect me from everyone.

I don’t mind though. It means I don’t take shit, which means that I am only surrounded by the best people possible. It means no one messes with me, because I don’t give them the chance to. The people in my life are genuine, true friends who are deserving of being there. I couldn’t appreciate them more.

From the age of 15-20 I was bullied, I was abused and I was left with a broken home. Now, I’m 21, with a dream career that I love, alongside running my own business, an incredible group of friends around me who I absolutely love, a settled family home (give or take a few bust ups with my mum…) and an incredible boyfriend. I am happy almost all of the time, happier than I can ever remember feeling before in my life. I honestly couldn’t ask for much more.

I’m a survivor and I'm here to tell you that it always gets better. Life gets better. I can promise you that.

Love from,

Florence Grace
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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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*Trigger warning. The following content discusses domestic abuse (physical, emotional, mental, sexual), self harm and eating disorders. If that content will trigger you, please do not read on*

I've never had a partner hit me. I've never had a partner kick me. I never had a partner leave me with a black eye, or a bruised face that I needed to cover up with makeup in a desperate attempt to look 'normal'.

What I have had has been far more subtle. Pushed in the stomach so hard I was sick, pinned to the bathroom wall by my throat, arms twisted up behind my back, 'restrained' on the floor, bruises on parts of my body that no one would see. Not once but twice, there ended up being a hole in the wall where my partner tried to scare me as though he was going to punch me, before veering off at the last second. I've had items of mine broken, a door slammed into my face, doors literally burst through because I'd locked myself away on the other side, resulting in the door being totally destroyed. Let's not even begin to speak about the emotional and psychological torment I endured either, plus other forms of abuse I really can't bring myself to address just yet. I suffered at the hands of someone I loved blindly for far too long, and for so long I believed that that was what love was. It didn't matter about this guys behaviour, because he loved me, right? For every bad month there was one good day that seemed to cancel it all out, make it all okay. This was how mature, serious relationships worked, right? There were bad times and you worked through them, but you stuck around for the good days because that was why you loved them and that made it all worth it. Right?

Wrong. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong.




       Being broken


Being in an abusive relationship is something I very rarely talk about. In fact, only four people in this entire world know the full extent of it. My parents know very, very brief details. It's just not something I felt I could share. In fact, I'm still not fully comfortable sharing it now- but it's definitely an important topic that needs discussing. Now that October is here, it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and so now seemed a good a time as ever to discuss something that has played a huge part in my life that really isn't discussed a lot. I've wanted to speak up for so long...

...But it feels almost embarrassing, you know? To sit there, with me being the tough, sassy, outgoing individual that I am, and have to confess to people that once upon a time, I let somebody break me. I let them grind me right down until I firmly believed I was nothing. I developed body dysmorphia and odd eating habits, I followed 'rules' to please my partner, I cut all my friends off, I even self harmed at one incredibly low point, I did as I was told. I let him break me.

And while obviously I haven't stayed broken, the scars of what I endured have stuck with me forever. My past doesn't define me, of course it doesn't, but it's always going to be a part of who I am. It plays a massive role in creating the person I am today, impacting upon my relationships with everyone, even if I don't want it to. It just happens.


         My support system

I think having a good support system is absolutely crucial, to all aspects of life really, but particularly if you're going through something like domestic violence. Even if the people you tell can't help, just being able to offload so you aren't carrying the burden alone can make you feel so much better. I tried to tell people before it got too bad, once or twice. Funnily enough, none of them believed me- needless to say, none of them are in my life now.

I distinctly remember showing a friend bruises on my thighs and him saying "You could have done those yourself, how do I know if it was him?", while another friend said "What do you want me to do about it?". Those people? They weren't my friends.

I'm fortunate enough that now I have the right people around me who dragged me through it. They didn't at the time, because I didn't tell them. But when they did know, they proved themselves to be the truest of friends.

Friends who cried because they had no idea what I'd gone through until I confessed. Friends who held me while I cried for hours on end because I thought I'd never be fixed. Friends who have listened to me time and time and time again, always giving me advice and reassurance that, while it might hurt now, in the end it will be okay. Friends who tolerate the fact that sometimes, I need a shot or five of vodka to numb my brain, because while alcohol certainly doesn't solve problems, it sure as hell makes them feel better. Friends who have supported my good decisions and drawn me away from my bad ones. Friends who have believed that I would get better. And I did. 



            Surviving


I'm one of the lucky ones, because for me, it has turned out okay. I managed to leave the relationship, I've managed to process what I've been through, work through it (for the most part) and fix myself. I was left feeling destroyed, unwanted and unlovable and now feel quite the opposite.

But that isn't the case for everyone.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it's important that this is something we all observe, if even for a day. So often cases of domestic violence go unnoticed. People learn how to hide any physical injuries, abusers learn how to be secret about their violence- sometimes, the abuse can go on for years and years. Sometimes, it can end in death. It's absolutely not acceptable and it needs to stop.

It isn't just women who suffer, either. Domestic violence doesn't discriminate. A huge number of men also suffer in domestic violence cases, but so often they're afraid to speak out for fear of looking weak, or appearing to be less of a man. This simply isn't the case- domestic violence can happen to anyone- even children.





      What now?

Well...what now?

We need to talk about it more, that's for sure. I know growing up, I had no clue about domestic violence until I began reading about it quite frequently in Jacqueline Wilson books, and then in movies and TV shows like Hollyoaks as I got a bit older. It's not something that was discussed at home, or at school. It's not something anyone I knew openly spoke about- but I guess, why would we? We had no reason to.

Often, the domestic violence in pop culture is glamorized, spreading the message that this is love, that this behaviour is normal. We see people forgiving their abusers, being too afraid to speak up, and while this is definitely an accurate representation of real life situations, it also enforces the idea that that's all someone being abused can do- forgive and forget in silence.

Domestic violence can only thrive in silence. The more of a conversation there is about the topic, the more we will be able to pick up the signs of it, help those suffering through it, try and prevent it from happening at all. Everybody deserves to feel safe in their own home, man or woman, adult or child. It's taken me years before I've been able to say anything beyond my little safety net of trusted friends, and obviously if you aren't in a safe situation to speak about it, or don't feel comfortable doing so, then don't. But just know that you don't have to suffer in silence. There is always someone ready to help you, be that a friend, a colleague or a stranger at the end of a phone. You really aren't alone.

For so long I felt like I was alone. I let people disbelieve me, make me doubt myself. I was walked all over, tormented for far too long. Now I'm free, and I'm happy. I'm okay. Don't you think every man and woman in this world deserves the same?

Love from,

Florence Grace

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Making changes

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Alright, alright- don't act like you didn't know a post like this was coming!

If you follow me on social media, you'll know that recently I got myself a new boyfriend. Yep, for real. The ice queen with her stone cold heart who absolutely vowed to be single for another year at least actually cracked and somehow ended up with a boyfriend. For. Real.

I won't lie to you all, I'm pretty happy. In fact, I'm so unused to feeling the way that I feel that I sometimes wonder if I'm actually okay and if the way that I'm feeling is normal. My girlfriends are probably sick of getting my panicky messages at all hours of the day and night saying "but is this normal to feel like this?!" (always my messages are met with eyeroll emojis and reassurance that I'm absolutely fine. Sorry guys)

I just can't help it, you know? I was left so damaged and felt absolutely broken beyond repair after my last relationship that I just really can't get used to being with someone who actually treats me properly. It means that when he does something tiny, insignificant almost (like turning up at my house with cookie dough ice cream), it means so much more to me than it would anyone else because it's just not what I'm used to from anyone. A lot of people keep telling me how upsetting that is to hear, but I'm trying to look at it like a good thing- it just means that I can fully appreciate every single thing about my new boyfriend all of the time!

It's been a pretty scary experience, getting to know someone and deciding that I want to let them into my life and actually start a new relationship. There were so many times where I freaked out and wanted to run away, texting my friends typo-filled messages written in a blind panic about how I couldn't do this, how I had to cut him off because I couldn't cope with a relationship again and could feel myself getting attached, I couldn't let myself be hurt or ruined all over again. One time I got so worked up I had to leave work to go for a walk and call my sister in the middle of a melt down because "I just don't know how to do this". Being so happy, letting someone make me so happy, freaked me out big time. Like I said, I was- and sometimes still am- so unused to it.

Luckily, I have the best people around me who kept me fully grounded, verbally slapping me through the phone and telling me to get my shit together, reminding me that "he's not the same" and that I couldn't be alone forever (to which I would always protest, I won't be alone, I'll spend my life surrounded by cats...yep, my friends weren't buying in to that one). My friends are honestly great- they always pull me through everything that I try to run from when I freak out and I always end up okay. Thankfully, they helped me to realise every single time that it was okay to let someone else make you happy, to open up to someone even when you are totally terrified to do so- and so I ended up being overly happy with a new boyfriend who is nothing but absolutely lovely to me (and who tolerates my horrendous snoring- what a babe).


     Opening up

One of the hardest things I've had to deal with so far is opening up to this new person. After the colossal heartbreak I went through, I vowed to myself I wasn't ever going to open up to anyone again. I wouldn't make myself vulnerable to being hurt again because I just couldn't deal with the pain of it all. And while I absolutely tried my best to be closed up and, ultimately, unattached, guess what? Relationships are never going to work if you're like that. I've had to force myself to open up to this new guy, make myself completely vulnerable and just trust that he's not going to be like every other asshole I've encountered before now. It's incredibly hard- he's easy to be myself around and I'm totally comfortable around him, so that's not the problem at all. The problem is the internal battle I face every day when I go to open up and my brain tries to make me shut down as it goes into its defense mode. But hey, I'm taking baby steps and I'm getting there. It's difficult but it's absolutely worth it.


      Finding balance

Okay so I definitely forgot how time consuming being in a relationship is- and I mean that in only the best way. I'm so used to being by myself, doing what I want, when I want, going out every weekend and to the gym with Alex and seeing the girls for dinner dates all the time, coming home and writing, working in the days...now I somehow have to squeeze a boyfriend in to the equation too! Thankfully, my boyfriend is a lot of fun and always wants to go out and do stuff, which just means that I'm having to sacrifice, dare I say, 'less important' things, such as blogging and the gym, to spend the time I want to with him. I think so far, I've got the balance pretty spot on- I'm seeing the girls at least once or twice a week, squeezing in the gym where I can, writing while he watches football and still finding time to do so many fun things like going to the zoo, going to play mini golf, going shopping and booking weekends away...it all seems to be working fine for me, which is fab. Finding time and altering the balance in my life has definitely been such an easy change for me to make.

 
         Self-love

Yep, it goes without saying that loving myself has definitely had a positive impact on this new relationship. This isn't something that anyone else will really be able to comment on, as it's something only I really notice. When I was in a relationship before, I was so unhappy within myself and that, combined with a few other factors, made me incredibly insecure, bitter, tense and just generally not a great person to be with. Now, I am 100% confident within the person that I am, I love who I am and how I look and it's made me so much happier, which means I'm a better partner to have than I was before. A lot of people criticised me for being single for so long, telling me that I needed to "get back out there" and other such cliches, but I am so appreciative of taking time to just be by myself. It's really shaped the person I am and now that I've been genuinely happy on my own, I know that I can be genuinely happy with someone else too.


      Being happy

Obviously, the most important thing about being in a relationship is being happy, and that's definitely what I am- ecstatic, elated, overjoyed, every other word you could use to describe being absolutely over the moon happy. I honestly believed that I was the happiest I could ever be over the last 18 months or so. I spent so long working on myself, for myself, by myself, learning to completely love myself and embrace who I was and I was genuinely the happiest I've ever been. As you'll know from previous posts, so often I stopped and thought "I am genuinely at peak happiness. This is as good as it gets". I had great friends and family around me, started a new career that I love, my blog and magazine were taking off and I had some amazing opportunities... I honestly couldn't have been happier!

Except apparently I could be, because now I am! I'm at a new level of happy I have honestly never felt before and I love it. It terrifies me that one person can make me so God damn happy, because to have that power is quite a big thing! However, I'm trying not to worry about that too much and instead, I'm trying to just 100% enjoy feeling this way, all of the time. I am so bloody happy.






A while ago, I shared a quote in a blog post from my best friend Alex, who said "you need to start removing the bricks from this wall you've built up around yourself". What I didn't share with you guys is that she said this quote to me in relation to my new relationship, but what I can tell you is that it's advice I've definitely taken on board. It's important to be able to surround yourself with people who make you happy, and if that means I have to knock down this circle of protection I've surrounded myself with, then I'm more than prepared to do that. I had my time to discover who I was, to learn to appreciate the person I am while being by myself, and now I'm more than happy to share that person I've become with someone else who actually deserves to know her. (God, I really am cringey now aren't I? Bet you guys don't even recognise me...)

Don't worry though, guys. Sassy Flo who rants about fuckboys, preaches about loving yourself before you love anyone else and is all about girl power is still right here. I have a lot of life lessons to share about all of those  topics, so while I'm making a lot of changes in my life, the person I am and the things I write about aren't included in those! Hang in there...there'll be more sassy content coming soon.

Love from,
Florence Grace
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Why you should quit smoking *

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Quitting smoking is super hard. I'm not a smoker myself but I have watched one of my sisters try (and fail) numerous times to give up smoking, several friends and even my Dad. While some of them have been successful, others have not, and this is probably due to the fact that giving up smoking is just so hard. However, there are so many reasons why you should! If the health scares about cancer, lung disease and everything else aren't enough for you, how about the physical side effects of smoking? Smoking causes premature aging for one thing, excess wrinkles around your mouth for another. Here are some of the physical changes you'll notice in yourself if you quit smoking.

Better Skin
Changes in diet and in lifestyle can really have a huge impact on your skin, and this is no different when it comes to smoking. Smoking affects the collagen in your skin, and collagen helps the skin to stay flexible. When it becomes damaged by smoking, you end up looking a lot older than you are, and your skin begins to look tight and unattractive. Smokers can even find that sometimes, smoking leads to outbreaks of eczema on their hands. Give up smoking for good and you can be sure that your skin problems will begin to clear up and you'll look ten times better in no time!

Healthier Eyes
Smoking can cause dryness and redness in your eyes, due to the smoke causing irritation. You don't even have to smoke a lot to feel the effects of this. It can be combated by eating a lot of fruit and vegetables to make sure your body is getting a good amount of minerals and vitamins but really, it's ideal just to not smoke at all.



Brighter (and whiter!) Teeth
Nicotine is found in cigarettes, and it has the ability to turn your teeth and fingernails yellow if you smoke too much. Worse still, it can lead to gum disease and tooth loss too, which nobody wants! Giving up smoking means you can give your teeth a chance to become brighter and that also, your breath will smell better.

Revives Your Taste Buds
Smoking can really damage your tastebuds, which means smokers don't enjoy food as much. Giving up smoking means that you give your tastebuds the chance to revive themselves so that you can begin to fully enjoy food again!

If you really are serious about qutting smoking, it's a good idea to speak to your doctor or another kind of health advisor about it. People are four times more likely to give up smoking when they ask for the help of someone else, rather than when they do it alone. You don't have to go cold turkey either- there are some great tools you can use to help you quit, such as gum, Nicotine replacement patches and electronic cigarettes.

Have you given up smoking before? If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Love from,
Florence Grace

This post is sponsored but as always, all views and opinions are my own. For more information on my sponsored content, please read my disclaimer at the top of my page. 
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