Opening Up Online: The Concept Of Vulnerability

I was 13 years old when I created my first blog. In the dim light of my messy teenage bedroom – with its scribbled-on walls and clothes strewn across the floor – I logged onto Blogger, designed a pink-themed homepage and started typing away. However, it wasn’t long before the desire to publish my thoughts online was trumped by the ever-growing fear that someone I knew IRL would actually find them. I loved writing about myself and my opinions but only if I could remain anonymous to the people who came across them. That pink-themed ode to my tween idols, favourite fashion trends and travel photos soon got scrapped.

I hadn’t given up on blogging though. In fact I would spend the next eight or so years trying to build up the courage to publish a website that had my name and face attached to it. Thankfully this summer – happily holed away in that same bedroom with its now bright blue walls and clothes *still* strewn across the floor – I finally grew those blogging-balls and did just that.

To share or not to share?

If I’m totally honest, sitting down to draft up a blog still fills me with anxiety. Not only have I dedicated time, energy and dolla $$ to this little corner of the internet but I have AcTiVeLy PrOmOtEd it across my social media for everyone I know to find and see (😱). However, this time around that anxiety is outweighed by the unadulterated joy I get from talking about the things I love and learn, owning my own little online space and connecting with people whom I would never have had the opportunity to had I not created Joie de Velvet. It’s still early days in my blogging journey but something I struggle with, and probably will continue to for a while to come, is being wholeheartedly open. I think the root of this is that good ol’ disconcerting concept of ~vulnerability~. I’ve written about how to maintain curly hair and the benefits of exfoliating skin brushes, but I don’t think I’ve shown much more than a glimpse into the ups and downs of a typical 22 year-old’s life – the trials and tribulations of a woman who still thinks of herself as a girl, who has no idea what she’s doing, why she’s doing it or where she’s going to go. Don’t get me wrong – writing about beauty products and the latest fashion trends is something I could do, and really really want to do, for the rest of my life. But I enjoy connecting with people too, both in person and through words on a screen, and I think this is done most successfully when one’s writing contains little pieces of the writer.

Being vulnerable doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds

When I started building Joie de Velvet back in September, I intended for it to become a sort-of portal for fashion advice and style inspiration, with some beauty / lifestyle / travel tidbits thrown in occasionally too. This isn’t a plan I intend to stray far from but if I am to make this blog an authentic representation of me as a person – which is something I both need and want to do ☺️ – then things have gotta change!

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My fear of opening up and appearing at all vulnerable to anyone other than my nearest and dearest (and even that is a feat in itself) will have to be actively smushed down, little by little, with each post I hit ‘Publish’ on. But by vulnerable, I don’t mean regurgitating the raw contents of my brain – I’m neither interesting enough nor have the desire to do that. I just mean there needs to be a bit more colour, a bit more personality, a bit more of me intertwined in the things I write about. I think surrendering these psychological blog-barriers (is this a thing? I’m making it a thing) will also help me feel closer to my blog in general (we’ve been drifting apart lately and are need of a bit of a relationship revamp).

I’m determined to make my mark on the blogging world an authentic one, however big or tiny it may be. Not just for those who stumble across my monthly musings, but also for my 13 year-old self who wished she had grown some blogging-balls a lot sooner.

Baby Ellie, we got this 💪

4 Ways To Treat Your Mum This Mother’s Day

Mothers – we chat with them for hours about our latest life dramas, they listen to us rant about annoying siblings or work or our lack of money, we bicker with them when they want us to wear a coat when it really isn’t that cold outisde and, ultimately, we adore them through-and-through.

The 11th of March is Mother’s Day in the UK and a wonderful excuse to show our mums how grateful we are for the years of love and labour. It’s also a day that comes with a bit of pressure – what are you meant to buy the woman who’s done so much for us and loved us unconditionally over the years (even when we stain the bathroom with hair dye, vomit in the front garden after one too many or beg for lifts to the station late at night)?

If you have the means and desire to drown your mum in pearls and roses and diamonds then go for it, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds to make her smile. A homemade card and plate of scrambled eggs on toast bought to her in bed is often more than enough to show your mum that you’re grateful for the love and life she’s given you (although I’m sure a nice Michael Kors bag or box of gold eternity roses wouldn’t go amiss 🙊).

If, like me, you’re a bit strapped for cash this month and are looking for some sweet but personal gift ideas, this blog might give you the bit of #inspo you need…

Cute stationary

God knows how but mothers are wonderfully organised beings. How they coordinate family mealtimes, dentist appointments, maintaining a respectable house and knowing where everyone is all the time is baffling, but they do it bloody well.

Often, behind every organised woman is a very large collection of stationary and tools (or bits of scrap paper all over the house, if it’s my lovely mama). Why not add to her toolbox with some cute new notebooks and pens this Mother’s Day?

Forget 50p spiral bound notebooks from the corner shop and those pads of paper you steal from hotel rooms (just me?) – this vibrant set from Studio Sweet & Sour is the perfect accessory for any organised mum.

I got gifted these for my birthday this year and they’ll be staying firmly in my cherished notebook collection, but a set of pads along the same vein are the perfect little gift. Kate Spade have a gorgeous set of three wired notebooks and Pull and Bear are selling a pretty marble one.

Sentimental lockets

Whether it’s in the form of a necklace or bracelet, lockets are an ultra-personal addition to any outfit. Every year, from age 12 when I saw my cousin wearing one, to age 17, I would remind my mum that the only present I really wanted for my “big 18th” was a locket. I’m a sucker for personal, sentimental gifts and I’d always imagined a locket being the perfect way to mark my entrance into adulthood.

I get to carry my family (and doggo!) around with me whenever I wear this pretty heart-shaped piece and I guarantee any mama will love it for the same reason. This one is from The Locket Tree but Littlewoods and Beaverbrooks have lovely ones too.

Lots of jewellers let you personalise the piece too for that extra bit of sentimentality – get the names of your other family members engraved on the back or a simple ‘thank you for letting me live rent free while I save money for a flat‘.

A “scent set”

For some of us, the whiff of a certain scent can feel like a big mama’s hug. Does your mum gravitate towards floral scents like lavender or rose? Maybe she’s a fan of that cliché ‘fresh linen’ smell or has a favourite Estée Lauder perfume?

Go hunting for products with her favourite scent and create a basket full of skincare, fragrance or beauty products. Think hand creams, talcum powders, perfumes, body washes, soaps, candles, diffusers, room mists… Every time she spritzes a little on her wrist or gives the living room a couple of sprays, she’ll think of the angelic child that gave it to her 👼

Flower subscription

Treat your mum every month with a flower subscriptionThis gift idea will cost more than a few pennies but if your mum is a big fan of blooms, a monthly flower subscription is a sweet way to treat her all year round.

Flowerbx lets you choose from weekly / fortnightly / monthly deliveries of white or coloured flowers, and Bloom & Wild will send your stems in letterbox-friendly boxes so you don’t have to worry about being home when they’re delivered.

If, like me, you’re completely clueless about which service is best to go for, The Telegraph have a great run-down of the best subscription boxes available.


I hope this mini gift guide gave you the inspiration you needed to treat your mum this Mother’s Day – what are you going to get her?

Love,

skitch

22 Things I Learnt In 22 Years

It’s been over a month since I last published something on here and I’ve really missed it!! Writing – whether it’s about clothes or makeup on my blog or the latest life drama in my diary – is sooo therapeutic and I’ve neglected it for too long. I won’t say it’s because I’ve been too busy – the hermit crab life has truly sucked me in this month – something has just had to give while I attempt to get the balance right between work / catching up on what feels like 3 months-worth of sleep / keeping in touch with pals / eating properly / stayin’ peppy.

Last Tuesday I took the day off work to help J with a health thing and found myself sitting in a cafe for three hours without internet. There had been no better time to try and get back into the swing of blogging!

It was my birthday the day after and while I normally dislike the actual day (annual unprovoked bday blues, yay), it’s a good time to reflect on the past year and think about what can make my next trip around the sun a better and more enriching one. “X things I learnt in X years” is a blog I’ve seen floating around the internet and I thought I would jump on the bandwagon to document my first birthday celebrated on the blog 🎂

So, if you want to find out what insightful / inspiring / interesting / probably utterly useless bits of info I’ve picked up over the past 22 years, read on…!


1. It’s OK to leave university without a plan

Yeah, I know having things planned out to a T dampens that natural fear of certainty, but it’s OK (and normal) to not know which direction to take after uni. It’s also absolutely OK to change that direction after realising the path you thought you wanted to go down didn’t feel quite right after all.

2. Saving money is great but don’t deprive yourself of a monthly cocktail or that sexy pair of shoes you can’t stop thinking about

You’ll get that dream Australian apartment / shiny new car / family of dachshunds one day (let’s cross our fingers for age 60 🤞).

3. “Too busy” isn’t an excuse not to stay in touch with friends

It takes two minutes during your commute to work or while you’re waiting in a queue at a store to drop your mate a text after a couple months of silence. You’ll feel all the more happy ‘n loved for it.

4. Always put bread, a glass of water and makeup wipes next to your bed before a night out

Your very-hungover self will thank your kind-and-supportive-night-before self a lot.

5. Invest in yourself

If a fresh manicure, blow-out or indulgent new face cream once in a while will give your inner radiance a boost, just do it.

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That goes for clothes, friendships, Instagram posts, food…

7. You and your sibling won’t hate each other forever

Your relationship will improve ten-fold when one of you moves out of the family home 😂

8. Time will heal any bad mood

And pizza. Pizza helps too.

9. Eat the frog

A wonderful phrase I learnt at work – putting off things you really don’t want to do will only make it more painful when you eventually get round to it. Just eat the frog, get the annoying / scary / cringe-worthy task over with and focus on the next great thing to come.

10. Worrying about the future or past is an enormous waste of mental and emotional energy that could be better used to pursue happiness in the present

Use “the now” to alter your perceptions of the past and set yourself up for a more enriching future.

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11. You’re the average of the five people you spend most time with

Make sure they radiate the positivity, passion and attitude that you would like to too.

12. Don’t run yourself into the ground trying to get perfect A Level and/or GCSE results

Poorer grades won’t hurt you half as much as poor mental health will.

13. Your previous fashion / hairstyle choices will definitely come to haunt you…

…but those neon leg-warmers, tutus and self-cut fringes will be the source of much laughter and bonding with mates years later.

14. Trust your instinct

If your gut is repeatedly telling you that something isn’t quite right, listen to it.

15. Others’ success is just as important and worth celebrating as your own

Also, any excuse for a glass of ‘seccy.

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16. It’s OK to feel lonely and sad, and to make yourself feel worse by listening to melancholy music or by watching a Nicholas Sparks movie

Just don’t forget that you’ve got lots of people around you who will relate, who care and who will listen to any string of mumbling, jumbling self-pitying words you’ve got to say.

17. Eating that crème brûlée or bowl of macaroni cheese or entire share-bag of Doritos in one sitting will not make you fat

If you do it every day for a week perhaps you’ll put on a pound or two, but after one odd treat or to celebrate a pal’s birthday? Stop fussing gurl.

18. Doing things alone will teach you a lot about yourself and your capabilities

You can do it, and you’ll be fine.

19. Unlike the characters in the American high school dramas you grew up watching, most people do not have bad intentions

Everyone (including you) will say things they don’t mean. You will judge others’ actions in ways that they never intended them to be perceived and others will do the same of yours – we can’t read each others’ minds, after all. Negative words do not always equal negative intentions and you’ll be a lot better off if you accept this from the start.

20. It is absolutely OK to still enjoy Disney / Dreamworks movies and sometimes favour them over a night-out

You’ll get to uni and realise everyone else is just as obsessed with them too… stick one on the box, grab a bowl of popcorn and you’ve got an excellent girly bonding sesh.

21. People will comment on your excitement over the smallest things – embrace it

The ability to grasp joy from the tiniest action or smallest sweet comment will pull you out of lows and help bring others up into the clouds too.

22. Take time to step back and realise what your priorities are

It’ll save a lot of time and a lot of energy.


Love,

skitch