22, you've been fun...

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I dunnoooo about youuuuuu but I'm feeling twennytwoooooooo

Sorry guys - it's the last day I can sing that and mean it, because as of 3:29pm tomorrow, I will be turning 23. 23!! I can't cope, that just sounds so old to me.

Growing up I thought that by now I'd be married, own my own home and have at least one baby, probably with another on the way.

L

O

L

Can you imagine me with a baby right now? Jonny takes up enough of my time and energy as it is, let alone with a baby too...

But seriously, here I am at 23 and nothing about the life I'm living now is as I planned or expected - or, in some cases, even dreamed. Being 22 has been amazing for me. I've achieved so much - things I would never even have considered being within reaching distance for me. I've cut off some of the most toxic, poisonous people you could imagine and surrounded myself with only the best people in life. I've worked longer and harder, I've found peace with body image and self love and begun working on helping other women (and men!) to do the same.

Life has been treating me so well and some days I can barely believe it's all real - I really am fortunate enough to be leading a very, very good life and I almost feel like it must be a bit of a joke, and any day now someone's going to shout GOT YA! and announce to me that my life is a new series of the Truman Show and nothing that's happened is real.

The last twelve months have seriously flown by, and when I look back on them individually, my mind is blown by all the things I actually did. I really underestimate myself sometimes, but reflecting on the last year has shown me just how much I am capable of achieving, as long as I never stop believing in myself. Since my 22nd birthday last year, I have:

- Met my ultimate hero in life, Tom Hanks (albeit very briefly) and had him say 'Happy birthday!!!' to me, as well as sat and listened to him talk about life for a couple of hours... now that was a great way to start 22!
- Presented my first live gigs, six shows of 1,000 people at a time for Safe Drive, Stay Alive
- Presented the annual staff conference at work to the entire company, including the Managing Director
- Managed to get a promotion at work, upping my hours from 16 to 40 and almost tripling my salary
- Taken on more freelance clients and work
- Turned Love from... magazine into a monthly magazine
- Been to Ibiza, Barcelona, Bristol, Manchester and - as of tomorrow - Rome
- Met Anne-Marie (my hero, my idol)
- Saw Beyonce and Jay-Z (my Queen)
- Become the most confident and happy with myself than I've ever been in my whole life
- Begun working in the radio industry again, even getting to speak on air, and meet some incredible guests
- Starred in a music video for Blushes
- Became a bloody published author!!
- Started taking care of my body and regularly exercising, including doing a weekly workout class
- Moved into my own home with my boyfriend (major omg!!!) and just renewed the contract for another two years
- Celebrated my one year anniversary with Jonny


Wowza. I mean, I moved out of my family home and into my own home - crazier than that, it's a home I'm sharing with a boyfriend. Crazy. I thought 21 was the best year of my life but 22 was seriously good, and if every year can be as good as this one I'll be happy for the rest of my life!!

I'll be celebrating my birthday in Rome for a long weekend and I am so looking forward to alllll the pizza and pasta. Plus, I've wanted to go to Italy forever, so I am seriously excited. 23 is going to be another great year for me I hope - I'm not setting myself any major goals, because I find that now, when I just go with the flow, great things just tend to find their way to me... so let's hope that keeps on happening! However, I already have a couple of sick things planned and several holidays and gigs, so even if nothing else happens besides those, I know that it's going to be a good year.

As I step out of 22 and head into 23, I'm leaving behind all the shitty people I thought had a place in my life, I'm leaving behind toxic thinking regarding my body and weight and I'm leaving behind anything that doesn't bring me happiness and inner peace. No bad vibes over here please! More money, more success, more good health and even more good vibes please! Roll on being 23...

See ya on the flip side gang!

Love from,
Florence Grace


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No such thing as 'too much' love

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The other day, I shared a post on Facebook that really hit home with me. It said:

"My ex used to scold me for wanting affection & my current boyfriend just squatted down next to me to give me kisses JUST because he is getting in the shower. He goes out of his way every single day, SEVERAL times a day just to make sure I feel loved. I prayed about that & I got answers. ‬I always thought the problem was me, that I was just “needy”. No ladies that’s not the case, the person that God designed just for you is out there. Be patient."


I honestly related to this post so much - and I know I'm not the only girl, or even boy, who probably can. So I thought it was time to speak about this a little bit more. 


Some days, I feel needy. I've spoken about how my previous relationship was an unhealthy, abusive one, but whilst I try to suppress memories of what it was like, the other day I discovered a diary from 2013, full of pages that provided intense detail into the ins and outs of my relationship, including the abuse. Sentences such as "I don't know what he'll do next" and "He told me it didn't matter if he hurt me because I hurt myself" were two of many that felt like a punch in the chest as I read them. When trying to read a daily entry out loud to Jonny, I had to stop and turn away, my chest going so tight I could hardly breath. Day in, day out, I was writing the same thing. "He didn't text me today", "he lied about where he was", "he didn't want to see me today", "he cancelled plans with me today". It was heartbreaking to read, and as I was forced to think back on the relationship, I simply couldn't believe how much I had allowed myself to put up with. 

As a result, some days I feel needy. Asking for help, of any kind, feels needy. Wanting to spend time together, feels needy. Wanting to make plans for the future feels risky, uncertain, leaves me fearing I could be cancelled on at any second. It took me a very, very long time to learn that this isn't needy at all - it's called being in love, and it's what a real relationship looks like. 

The person you're with will be happy to hang out with you, to drop you a text, to build a relationship with you. They won't lie, they won't make excuses, they won't ignore you for days on end. They'll communicate, they'll be honest and trustworthy - everything a great partner should do and be.

It's no secret that I was more than a little bit scared when I started a relationship with Jonny last September. I had wall after wall after wall up to protect my stone cold heart - but he smashed through them all and melted me. 

He makes me see that in fact, I'm not needy. I love him the exact right amount, and he loves me. We cuddle all the time (seriously, it's almost all we do I swear!), I often find myself lingering in the doorway of the bathroom whilst he's showering and having a chat, and him me. He calls me all the time, at lunch, on his way home from work, on his way to picking me up. We tag each other in cute dog pictures and funny memes. He kisses me randomly, he kisses me when he's leaving, when he's home from work. I let him sleep on my chest like a big man-baby when he's tired, and baby him when he's sick or sleepy. He makes me hot water bottles when I have cramps, he drives me wherever I need, I make him sandwiches every night. He's never laid a finger on me in a violent way (other than we're pretending to be UFC fighters and he's trying to break free of my death grip) and I am confident he never would. 






He has shown me there is no such thing as "too much" love. 

There's no such thing as "too much" affection. 

I've loved before and been told it was too much, only to then be left feeling like it wasn't enough when he cheated on me. I was told I was clingy, needy, pathetic. I was told I "didn't need to be cuddled all the time", I was denied love and affection almost every day and, because it was my first relationship and I was so young, I just believed that was how it was meant to be. 

And when I came out the other side of that relationship, miserable, unhappy and feeling totally defeated, I vowed that "love" sucked and I wouldn't participate in it ever again. How wrong was I?


‬I always thought the problem was me, that I was just “needy”. No ladies that’s not the case, the person that God designed just for you is out there. Be patient.


I was patient. Patient for 18 months. 18 months of endless fuckboys, of having my feelings walked all over, of building up walls I never wanted broken down because I didn't want to get myself hurt ever again. I prayed to God for some kind of happy ending, and 18 months down the line, he gave it to me. Boy, did he give it to me. 

Jonny is the person who was designed just for me. He was never my type, I never planned to be interested and I certainly wasn't looking for a boyfriend...but it happened anyway. Aren't they always the best kind of relationships? 






Ladies (and gents!), be patient. If the person you're with makes you feel like you have to battle every single day for their love and affection, I'm telling you now, they're not for you. The right person will give you all the love and affection you want, and more, for free. No hassle, no stress, no need to ask or even beg for it. They will love you freely and will accept your love in return, no questions asked. That's the relationship you deserve to be in. Not one where you're always left to second guess. 

You're not the problem. You're not needy. You're not "too much". And the right person will agree with me on that. 

Love from,
Florence Grace


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International Day of the Girl

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Since 2012, we have been marking the 11th October as the International Day of the Girl. It makes sense, when we have an International Women’s Day, to have one for girls too, and the day aims to “focus on the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of human rights.” Each International Day of the Girl comes with its own theme or focus, and this year it’s With Her: A Skilled GirlForce.


There’s absolutely no denying that there is lack of equality in the workplace for women. Of course it varies from job to job, but generally speaking women are paid less, pitted against each other, have men selected over them time and time again and have frequently less opportunities to pursue their dream career or advance in their current career than men do.

The United Nations said that “Of the 1 billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay and exploitation are common.”

They also stated that, of the quarter of young people who are currently not employed, in training or in education, most of them are female. It’s a sickening statistic that in 2018, women are still struggling to get the same opportunities as men.

Of course, there are a number of reasons for this; some women are expected to be caregivers and therefore can’t go to work or school because they’re looking after siblings, parents, their own children or other relatives. Some can’t get a job because they didn’t perform well at school. Some women are struggling with mental health problems, some have had their confidence knocked at school and don’t feel like they can achieve anything now. In developing countries, young girls are being married off from sickeningly young ages and expected just to be a wife. Their education isn’t supported, they’re raped multiple times a day, expected to carry babies before their bodies are even fully developed – and so education, and as a result, work, takes a back seat.


And there’s still people who sit there and proudly declare that they’re not a feminist.


We need days like International Day of the Girl to remind people exactly why feminism is so important. It’s not about hating men; it’s not about being more important than men. It’s about making sure that women – and girls – have the same opportunities provided to them as men and boys. That at school, girls don’t feel inadequate compared to their fellow boy students. That when trying to get a job, women don’t feel like they’re being treated as lesser than their male colleagues and competitors. And even if you've never experienced this kind of discrimination or struggle, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist and that therefore feminism is unnecessary - feminism goes beyond you, it's important worldwide for women.

Sometimes, yes, a man genuinely does deserve the job more than a woman. He has more qualifications, more experience, more achievements.

But that’s partially where the problem lies – he had more to offer. More that he had the chance to obtain that a large number of girls and young women do not.


Growing up, I’ve always been incredibly fierce, stubborn and independent. I have always gone after exactly what I wanted, with the full support of my parents behind me.

When I wanted to join judo, they were right behind me. I fought a couple of girls, but mostly I was fighting boys. As I got older – and heavier – I was fighting men, literally throwing them over my shoulder across the mat. When I moved up a group to match my age/weight, I was put in a group of men. I was the only girl, but did I let that stop me? No. I won trophies, I won 5 medals, I fought at the Bucks Youth Games representing this county. I was really good at what I did.

When I took up guitar – and then bass guitar too – my parents didn’t stop me. My dear old mum carried my two guitars to school every week (plus pushed a pushchair and sometimes had my sisters saxophone too!) and allowed me to join every band and group going. I performed at the Royal Albert Hall on numerous occasions, I performed at (and won!) the Music For Youth Festival with my school’s jazz band twice. I performed on TV for a kids programme about young children with musical talents. And when I was taking my guitar lessons, just me and one boy who’s Dad played guitar, I surpassed his grades and smashed my own with higher levels and went on to win my schools Music Trophy for my contribution to music at the school.

I aced swimming classes, I attempted ballet lessons and street dance classes, I was cast in school plays, I was in the local paper representing my school more times than I can count, I’ve won awards and certificates and trophies – I’ve been an obnoxious over-achiever my whole life and as a result have been able to build a very successful future for myself (so far, anyway!)


I was confident in myself, independent and strong, because I’d always been fortunate enough to have a support system around me that believed in me, and made me believe in myself. Whether I was throwing boys over my shoulder, beating their grades or just sassing them in the playground at school, growing up I’ve always made sure I was better than the boys – and no one, least of all a boy, was going to stop me from getting what I wanted and being the best.


This won’t be the same for every girl though, far from it. I’m privileged to have achieved this. My parents supported me and all my ambitions no matter what. Whether I wanted to be a singer, an author, a zoologist, a radio DJ, a photographer, a journalist… it doesn’t matter, they supported me in any way they could. They paid for classes, courses, offered encouragement and help. I was really lucky.

But not all girls are this lucky. Not everyone has supportive parents like mine, and not everyone has the motivation to get through school without supportive parents or family members. Not everyone is pushed to achieve, and not everyone has the same doors opened to them as a result of this. That’s what we need to be focusing on this International Day of the Girl, and every day going forward.


The UN have pledged to spend this October 11th – and every day for the next year – “bringing together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability”


We need to help girls and young women as much as we can. We need to help them see their own brilliance, their own strength. We need to encourage them and support them when they might not be getting that encouragement or strength from anywhere else. We need to be building them up, boosting their confidence and empowering them to the point where they feel comfortable going after the same opportunities boys and men do.

On this International Day of the Girl, let’s take a moment to think about how fortunate we might be, and think about those who might be less fortunate than us. Let’s also spend some time thinking about what we can do to help those in need. Could you donate to a charity, get involved with a local school to do some work with female students? Could you make up some care packages to send to girls in developing countries, give a sister, niece or even a daughter some advice?

Women are strong on their own, but we’re even stronger when we come together. Female empowerment is quite unbreakable and definitely a force to be reckoned with. In a world that’s so determined to break us down, let’s fight back and make sure we’re standing up to it instead!

We don’t just need to encourage girls to chase a future bigger and brighter than they could imagine – we need to pave the way for them too.

Love from,
Florence Grace



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