Winter Goals: REVISITED

Can you believe I'm once again revisiting my goals for the season??? My last goals post is currently one of my most popular posts ever and I'm so so so thankful because I always put a little extra effort into these posts (read my previous seasonal goals here and here). I've been thinking whether I should carry on doing these posts or stop them completely, and I'm still unsure, but I wanted to revisited my winter goals anyway to see how I got on. I haven't checked the goals I'd set for myself in quite a while but I know before even looking at them that I've done really, really awful. Onward and upwards though, right? 

If you've read these posts before you'll know the layout. I usually discuss my goals I'd set previously, see where I'm at and whether or not I feel as though I've accomplished them and then I set new goals (which I won't be doing in this post, but maybe at a later stage). Looking at the goals I'd set I feel really let down because I didn't do anything I'd hoped I'd do but I pride myself on being open and honest with my readers so here we go.

Goal #1: Take part in Blogmas:
So this definitely didn't go as planned. I wrote a grand total of six Blogmas posts and then gave up. I was very busy around Christmas with different things and I wasn't feeling up to blogging at all. I discussed all this in a blog post after Christmas about the pressures of blogging and after writing that I realised how much I missed blogging. Since then I've been more involved and more excited about my blog again.

Goal #2: Talk more openly about my problems:
In my winter goals post I talk about how I too often take on other people's problems as well as having to cope with my own personal struggles. I find it difficult to talk openly about my mental illness in person to my friends and family, and often pass it off as a joke but in reality it's not as easy as I make it out to be. Over the past few months I have opened up a little bit more to my sister, Dearbhla (@dearbhlagalla), my mam, Laura and, of course, my counselor but I'm still working on feeling comfortable with most people. 

Goal #3: PASS my Christmas exams:
I was hoping to at least pass my exams at Christmas but I actually ended up not even sitting them. I decided I had to defer my exams until the summer as I was so unprepared and would've 100% failed them without a doubt. I said the New Year would be my chance to try again and that I would do better this semester but I don't know if that's going to happen and I've started to rethink a lot of things, but we'll see. 

Goal #4: Focus on myself:
I talked about how I had been worrying and thinking too much about what my father has done in my last post and as a result I haven't allowed myself to feel okay about it. I've tried forgiving him but at the moment I'm too hurt to do that so over the festive period I did my best to not think about him. I briefly saw him on Christmas Eve, which stirred up a lot of anger, guilt and sadness but for the moment I'm happy just being selfish and looking after myself. 

Goal #5: Work towards a mentally healthier me:
I was really worried when writing my last goals post because I was coming near the end of my sessions with my current counselor. In the end she applied for an extension for me so I am still working with her. At the moment my mental health is in a very awful place which I may touch on in an upcoming post. I have a lot on my mind and many things to think about. I feel slightly in limbo at the moment in my life and I don't know what's going to happen, but my counselor is so good so I'm hoping we can continue to work on my mental health together. 

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out my other similar posts: Selfishness & Mental Illness and My OCD & Me

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Bloggers I Look To When I'm Lacking Inspiration

Blogging is one of the hardest hobbies I've ever taken on. So much time and prep goes into every post I publish and even more time goes into thinking of, and planning the posts I want to write. The amount of post ideas I have that never get written is unbelievable. Every month I sit down and think of ten to twenty posts I want to write and usually only two or three make the cut (if I blog at all!). It's an extremely difficult thing to do. Sometimes I have a brilliant idea and I try to imagine the finished product and I simply can't. So much thought goes into each one - what will my photos look like, how will the post be laid out, what will I call it, do I need to do research - and too often it becomes too much for me and my blogging notepad and laptop get pushes aside for days and days.

It's hard because it's something I really enjoy doing. I'm passionate about it and it's the only hobby I've ever properly stuck at, so I try to stay inspired and motivated at all times. I'm always taking notes down in my phone of possible posts and ideas and scribbling my thoughts on scraps of paper so that I have a back log of ideas for the next month. However, at times I lose all inspiration and I have no desire to write or even think about my blog. I guess this is 'writer's block', although I don't actually see myself as a writer. During this time I like to take a step back and find inspiration from my fellow bloggers, and I always find myself going back to the same ones. The ones who inspire my creative side and get my ideas flowing. I thought today I would share these blogs with you, so that you can hopefully get inspired from them, too.

veryberrycosmo (@veryberrycosmo)
Kayleigh was one of the first 'smaller' bloggers I started to read, and when I say 'small' I mean she didn't have thousands of followers at the time (look at her now!). We used to talk quite a bit, but not as much now but she is still one of the nicest and friendliest girls I've ever spoken to. Her blog is absolutely gorgeous and I find myself checking it more often than would be considered normal, haha. Kayleigh's wonderful personality shines through in every post and she really engages with her readers. Although Kayleigh and I started as friends, I now hope to someday be half as good a blogger as she is!

dorkface (@dorkfaceblog)
Jemma's blog is a literal burst of colour and creativity. As soon as I click onto her blog I am instantly filled with happiness simply because of the appearance, but as you look into and read her actual posts you will find high quality, informative and beautifully written posts with loads of tips and tricks to help with blogging, creativity and positivity which all really helps when I'm trying to get inspired.

robowecop (@robowecop)
Like Jemma, Rhianna's blog is filled with helpful information to improve your blog in every way imahinable. As well as that she has so many other lovely posts including my favourite kinds of posts which are lifestyle. This is where I get most of my inspiration from and Rhianna hits the nail on the head with these posts. I particaularly LOVED her post on creating your own happiness. Her Instagram is also a dream and I find myself stalking her photography every time I click into the Instagram app.

aislingsbeautybytes (@aislingsbbytes)
Aisling's blog is filled with everything beauty and lifestyle related, with mental health and wellbeing posts thrown into the mix, which makes our blogs similar in content. This really helps when I'm stuck in a blogging rut. Her photography is also so so so beautiful. Every single photo she takes is literally perfect. I'm seriously so jealous of her talent!

retro-flame (@retroflame)
I first found Erika from her beautiful fashion posts on Instagram and since then I have been obsessed. She is so talented. Her posts range from fashion to travel to lifestyle. I love that her posts are all fashion based but incorporate other aspects of blogging in them. I would love to do this but outfit pictures are hard and I'm too awkward to pose. Still, I love seeing what Erika posts and taking inspiration from her content, and maybe some day I will be confident enough to include my outfits in more of my posts!

What blog do you read when you need inspiration?

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out my other similar posts: Blogging Pressures & Update and My 2017 Blog Goals 

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Small Steps I'm Taking Towards Mental Well Being

A New Year brings new challenges and although my mental health has been overall pretty okay recently I'm terrified of it crumbling again. I'm always okay-ish when I'm at home and because I've been home for around three weeks now I feel good. I'm not pushed to do anything and I pretty much don't have to see anyone or do anything if I don't want to. However, I am going back to Galway on Sunday and starting lectures on Monday and I'm very scared. Semester one was the definition of a huge fail and although I think hope I passed, I don't think I can keep doing this 'bounce back' routine. If I don't pass everything this year I really don't think I will be going back for third year because it's too hard being a constant let down to my family and to myself.

DESPITE ALL THIS, I'm going to try reeeeeaaaally hard this semester, and with the help of my counselor, who has been the best person ever these past few months and the very limited support from my college, I will get through this year. With all this in mind I decided I would write a little post on the small things I like to do when my mental health is getting me down.

Drink more tea
When I'm down in the dumps I try my best to avoid caffeine. Coffee, in particular, makes me painfully anxious. I used to drink 5-6 cups per day, around the same time I was having 5-6 panic attacks a day. I don't think that's a coincidence. However, there's nothing like a cup of tea to make you feel better. I love green tea, chamomile, peppermint and the old reliable breakfast tea.

Talk more openly
It's a well known fact that I am not big into talking about my feelings and emotions, (despite the fact that I spill everything on my blog), and this can really take its toll. It really helps to talk, especially when, like me, you are an ear for everyone else's rants and problems. It's definitely something I'm working on.

Do more yoga
When I was at the pit of my mental health problems, mainly anxiety, I did a lot of yoga. I became a little bit addicted, which I now realise is how I lost so much weight at that time. Since going to college I've been doing yoga less and less but I really want to take it up again, just maybe not as intense, because it really helps manage stress and keeps you ~in the moment~.

Write more
I love writing. It helps me gather my thoughts and clears my head which is something that is so important to me. With anxiety and OCD comes racing thoughts and my mood fluctuates constantly. Writing keeps this under control and keeps my mind at ease.

Focus on completing goals
There's nothing more satisfying than checking off your goals as you accomplish them. This year I've set out some blogging goals which I want to carry out. As I said above, writing is so important to me so completing these goals will be a big step in the direction of a positive state of well being.

Are you taking any steps towards a happier you in 2017?

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out my post on: Bad Mental Health Days or Relaxing An Anxious Mind

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REVIEW | Beauty Essentials 'Shadow Switch'*

I'm not one to regularly wash my brushes. I try to do it as often as I possibly can but to wash all my brushes is such a task and I'm SO lazy when it comes to getting around to doing it. I can talk for days about how 'I'll wash my brushes this evening' but it takes a lot of motivational pep talk for me to finally sit down and actually start the seemingly endless chore. So, when Beauty Essentials (@BeautyEssUK) contacted me about their Shadow Switch Dry Brush Cleaner*, I was so excited to try it out.

The aim of Shadow Switch is to make chopping and changing your dark and light eye shadow shades a lot easier. With this tool you can use the same brush over and over without having to wash it between uses. I never realised how much I needed this product until I actually got it. Now I can swap shades as many times as I want without having to use every brush in my collection.

This beauty tool is extremely easy to use. All you have to do is swirl your brush into the slightly rough, wire-like sponge and all traces of the product on your brush is removed. It eliminates any possibility of transfer between colours and shades when applying and blending eye shadow. The wire-like sponge is gentle on your brushes and doesn't damage them. It makes cleaning my brushes so quick and simple. When the sponge gets dirty all you have to do is rinse it under warm with some soap (if you wish!) and leave it to dry. 

Obviously, I wouldn't recommend this over a deep cleaning of your brushes due to hygiene reasons but, for on the go use the Shadow Switch is a must-have! The Shadow Switch is available for purchase from Amazon for £5.99/roughly €6.70

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out my other reviews on: TanTastic Self-Tan Lotion or The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer

* indicates products that have been sent to me by brands however all opinions are my own and have not been influenced by outside parties. For more info, check out my full disclaimer.

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With 2017 finally here I decided I would sit down and think about what I would like to achieve blog-wise in the coming year. I'll admit that the last few months of blogging in 2016 have been a disaster but before I went back to college I was doing so well with my blog so I want to carry that out consistently throughout 2017. I am so determined to work hard on my blog this year as I got a boost of motivation and inspiration when I looked at my monthly stats for December and saw that I reached 10,000 page views in that month alone!!!! Usually I would manage to get 2,000 to 5,000 so I absolutely smashed my record and I really want to keep that up. 

Post more often
It's well known that I talk a lot about my post schedule and how I plan my posts. I'm so organised when it comes to planning content for my blog but finding the time to actually sit down and write is near impossible. This year I really want to post on a more regular basis, like I did during the summer, so I hope to do at least four posts per month. If all goes to plan that will hopefully work out as one post per week, but knowing me it'll probably go more like four posts in one week and then none for the rest of the month. We'll see...

Work with more Irish brands
When I'm lucky enough I get to work with some lovely brands and as my stats grow I get to work with more. I feel weird discussing this as it feels like I'm bragging but this year I'm hoping to work with more Irish brands as I work with a number of great ones last year including MyLadyBug and Olis Skincare, along with some other really nice non-Irish brands. 

Redesign aillyx
I've had the same header on my blog since I basically started blogging and my template is so boring and out of date. As other bloggers progress in their blog designs I feel as though I'm stuck in a rut and I hate the look of my blog. I literally never go on my own blog because I find it so boring. Not only that, it looks unprofessional. It was fine when my blog was a lot smaller but now that I'm making more money off it I want it to look better too. I hope to do this before summer. 

Work on my blog photography/Instagram 
I am so lazy when it comes to taking pictures for my blog and Instagram. I take them in bulk and usually just take generic photos so I can match them with whatever blog post fits best. I also never, ever edit my photos. This is something I really want to change as it is something that I find so important when I'm reading blogs. I'll be more likely to read your posts if you have pretty pictures so I need to start putting in the effort. I have tried a lot more on Instagram recently by using more hashtags and actually attempting some form of a 'theme' and it HAS made a difference so I hope to keep that going. 

Attend the events I'm invited to
This is something that I really, really want to do. I got invited to a number of events throughout the year and I didn't attend ANY OF THEM. I always feel so lucky to be invited to these events, and I usually have hopes to go but my anxiety ALWAYS gets the better of me and I pull out last minute. In 2017 I want to attend at least three events that I'm invited to. 

Do you have any blog goals, or goals in general, for 2017?

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out my post on: Blogging Pressures or My Life With Trichotillomania

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