30 Years to Know Me

The funny thing about getting older is it's almost always a catalyst for reflection. I don't know if it's because I finally hit the big 30- honestly an age I wasn't even sure I'd make it to at one point- or if I'm just feeling particularly introspective at the moment, but for whatever reason I sat down on my break at work a few weeks ago and just started trying to figure out who I am. Now don't read that and think "Uh-oh is AJ about to pack in her job and go all "Eat, Pray, Love" on us?" I can promise you that while I would love to spend my days communing with nature, and smoking weed I have no plans to in the near future. But I do want, for lack of a better phrase, "to find myself". 

I'm not sitting here telling you that I don't know what I enjoy, or what I think about the world but I am saying that I don't know who the complete me is. I know parts of me, almost as if my soul is fragmented and spread across time and I've only collected some of the parts-maybe that's what life is though-maybe it's not just me, and we are all travelling through time collecting pieces of our soul and when we catch them all we're done. Achievement unlocked-off to the afterlife with you! 
I know that my views and politics make up a big part of me, these are the foundations of the "real" me. I am my politics, I am a feminist, I am living with chronic pain, I do like big butts and I cannot lie about it! Okay that last one was a joke but you get me. All of these are things that I can confidently state I am. These are things you would know about me just by reading this blog, or following me on social media. But the foundations of a person aren't the things that make them unique. The little things that swirl around a persons brain, that chop and change over time, the things that are fleeting and they may not even notice themselves, these are the important things. 
Like the songs that make a smile involuntarily spread across my face, or the books that stop my tears in their tracks, or the movies that quiet the noise in my head, these are the things that matter to me.
There was a moment when for the 9 millionth time I was asked "So what kind of music do you like?" and I once again answered with "oh a bit of everything really" that I realised that whilst I do love many many different genres of music, movies, books etc my answers were vague because my personality was vague. There was no clarity, no precision, no completeness. 

How many of you have "tried on" a 100 different personas over the years? I know I have! I was the prim & proper schoolgirl, the loner, the bad-girl, the stoner, the slut, the emo (before emo was a word), the stripper, the "cool girl", the "I'm not a girl's girl" girl, the party girl, the I don't give a damn girl, and so many, many more different girls. Over the years I let everything from friends and boys, fun and money, confidence and low self esteem to shape who I apparently was. But sitting here now, being completely honest with myself, I'd say each persona only had about 10% of the real me in there-and that's really not okay! How are we ever supposed to know who we are, and what we want from life if we are showing the world a different face at every turn? 

I can't tell you why I felt the need to change suppress myself, just to fit into friendship groups, just to be loved, just to be liked. I could blame it on my anxiety, or I could admit that I was just weak and easily moulded into something new. 
For every new persona I found new friends, new hobbies, new "favourite" bands, and bars, and clothes, but through all of that I never found myself! Don't get me wrong though, I look back at those times and I remember some of the best moments of my life, I smile fondly thinking of those friends, I still smile and bop  my head when I walk to work and one of the songs from "back then" comes on. But I also look back and barely recognise the girl in those memories. 
It took me far too long, far too many years of tricking myself, diminishing myself, and changing myself, before I finally decided enough was enough. No more changing, no more learning to like things just to make other people like me, no more of not knowing me. I wanted to get to know me, so I could eventually let other people get to know me. 

4 years ago I left an unhealthy relationship that I had been in from the age of 19- I spent most of my formative years with this one man (although there was a one year break where once again I put on a different persona like it was my new favourite jeans) and it took our final break up for me to realise that I'd spent almost 7 years trying to be enough for a man that was never going to be good enough for me! I left that relationship,moved back in with my parents, and spent the next 6 months doing stupid things, and stupid people, just to clear my head. All the personalities I'd tried on over the years sat in a pile on the floor of my childhood bedroom, muddled together wondering which one I was going to put on next. I gave party girl another whirl-I made some questionable decisions under that influence, I even pulled on my total bitch persona and dated my ex's work colleague for a while! 

Then I met Damian. I don't know what it was about him, or why I felt so unconcerned in his presence, but not long after we met we all went out with friends, ended up in the casino, and the two of us sat chatting until about 5/6am. But the most important part of this night was all throughout that conversation, I told the truth. I didn't pretend to be anybody I wasn't, I didn't actively try to make this new person in my life like me. I just answered questions as honestly as I knew how, and I learned more about myself that night than I had in the years previous. 

Leaving that casino I felt lighter, almost like I'd shed this cocoon of need-the need to be loved, the need to be liked-I started to want to like myself, I wanted to love myself. I took me another 3 months to agree to date Damian btw, I really actually made sure I knew who I was bringing into this new relationship. 

Damon Hill actually says in his new book "in order to find out who I am, I first had to realise I wasn't my father..." and I think that is true of everybody (not just famous F1 drivers who followed in their father's footsteps). In order for me to know who I am, I first have to realise that I'm not the person I have been pretending to be. So of course I didn't find myself that year, I just found out who I wasn't.

So in January 2013 I started collecting the correct pieces of my soul, I started pulling myself back together. So far I've discovered that I am the girl who loves and hates the rain in equal measure. I love staying in over going out, BUT will be the first to shout "SHOTTTTTSSSS" when I do drag myself out to the bar. I'm the woman who watches Disney movies at least 3 times a week, who carries her stuffed teddy Jonjo with her whenever she has to stay away from home, and is sitting with an actual zoo of stuffed toys above her head right now. I have read Wuthering Heights over 100 times and still get confused in the middle, I buy a new copy every time they release a new cover even though I understand it's just a marketing ploy. I'm surly and unapologetic, I'm fiercely loyal, and always put my friends needs before my own. I HATE talking to people about my problems and feelings, but also maintain that counselling saved my life. I'm a creature of habit, I can be lazy, I love to run, and miss it desperately. I am proud of my intelligence and won't hide it to make anyone feel superior, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, I want to go back to university and do at least 3 different new degrees. I want to own a store filled with muslin, and incense, and sell Native made dream-catchers but only to people that actually understand dream catchers. I want to create a million different things, but I also just want to be calm and quiet. I hate when there are two different noise sources at the same time. I'm snappy, and soppy. I love my body and hate the way it looks. I'm care about other women but won't support them just because they are women. I'm a bisexual woman that married a man. I'm a fiercely independent woman that sometimes needs her husband to help her brush her hair. I'm complicated and messy, and i'm still learning. I'm worthy of more than life has given me in the past, and you better believe I'm out to get what I deserve. 

I was a victim but now I'm a survivor.
I was naive but now I'm experienced.
I was everybody else's to shape but now I'm in charge. 
I was somebody that nobody really knew but now I'm someone who knows herself. (So far).

I'm enjoying collecting my pieces, enjoying getting to know myself, and learning new things everyday. Oh and now when someone asks "So what kind of music do you like?" I can answer with a confident, no shame "well mostly 90s pop, early 00s emo, rocking power ballads, and anything by former Disney actresses that have discovered they are sexy as hell-shoutout to Selena, Demi, and Ariana!"

Now look I know this has been long, and some of it probably didn't even make sense, but I had to get it out of my system so sorry! If you read this far THANK YOU!! Leave a comment if you wish, you know I love them. 

What I got for my 30th

So you may have read my post about what I wore to my 30th birthday dinner, then again you may not have, and thus you should totally do that when you are finished here! If you did you will know I promised to do a follow up, What I Got kind of deal...GUYS I got a frigging LOT of stuff. Like I was genuinely stunned with the generosity and love I felt this year #sospoiled. I mean I've always been spoiled not gonna lie but it turns out turning 30 notches that up a level (lifehack). So what did I get??

From my Parents

Perfection folks! Utter perfection. My mum saw me talk about all of these things on Twitter, and promptly went out and bought me them for my birthday! How sweet is that?? The record is an original 1978 copy of The Kick Inside by Kate Bush. Shall I repeat that...AN ORIGINAL 1978 COPY!! It's in perfect condition too, not a scratch to be seen. I'm so excited to pop it on the record player, and flounce around to Wuthering Heights, barefoot. 

I collect Disney Showcase figurines BUT only Rapunzel and Aurora. Once they add my girl Moana to the lineup I'll add her in but for now these are my gals. These actual figures are Rapunzel from the Art Deco line, and Aurora as Briar Rose. I am so in love with the details on Briar's cloak and dress 😍 like I can't stop staring at her. The Rapunzel figure just screams 1920s to me and that's defo my second favourite decade so that's a win! Fun fact: Briar Rose has been my favourite Disney character for so long that I genuinely want to name one of my (hopefully) future daughters after her.

From Damian (my husband)

We have a rule in our house when it comes to birthday's and Christmas, it's The 4 Gift Rule. There are supposed to be budgetary stipulations and such but honestly we are both ridiculous cheats when it comes to the rule! The basic understanding though is this: 

Something you want
Something you need, 
Something to wear, 
and Something to read.

I love it, and it really helps when you're standing in the middle of the city centre trying to figure out where to go and what to buy. 

So I wanted Daisy Dream Kiss by Marc Jacobs because it's pretty as hell, and smells so good. Also I have a thing for pink perfume bottles. This bad boy is joining Ariana Grande's Sweet Like Candy, and Prada Candy on my dressing table. 
I needed the blue Instax Mini because I'm basic AF, and I have a corkboard on my wall screaming out for polaroidesque photos.
I'm really in to "American" sports, which is a shame for Damian because you can't just pop down to the local sports shop and pick up an Oakland Raiders (NFL) snapback (you CAN get them from Littlewoods online but they are so expensive over here) and you definitely can't get your hands easily on a Charlotte Hornets (basketball) jersey, so you can imagine how happy was to find out my something to wear this year was exactly that! Fun fact: I had a whole list of American sports stuff I wanted to pick up in Florida but NOPE this shit ain't easy to get anywhere!! 
My to read is Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams but our local bookstore didn't have any in stock (sold out Laura you go girl!!) So i'm waiting until next payday for that one. 

The cake! I wanted the Ravenclaw crest but apparently that was too complicated for the artist (fair enough) so 4 days before my birthday I sat up trying to design something they could do and I came up with this bad boy. Ravenclaw colours (none of this Blue and Silver tripe from the movies), dark chocolate, and blue and butterscotch flavoured icing..so fricking yummy! 

From Fiona (my bestie)

So we've already talked about how much I love Sleeping Beauty-but there is something that really annoys me about the merchandising for her. WHY IS SHE ALWAYS IN THAT PINK DRESS THOUGH?? Watch the movie and tell me what colour dress she is wearing most? It's blue people, BLUE! Rumour has is that she is marketed in Pink because the blue was too similar to Cinderella's dress, and that is just ONE of the reasons Cinders is known as TBC* in our house. Anyway the beautiful and talented Tarnya from Sweet Allure Shop does these beautiful Disney Princess paintings and one day I tweeted her to ask if she'd do me a "custom" Aurora in blue instead of pink...minutes later my bestie popped up with a loud "NO she wont!". Turns out Fiona had ordered the exact same thing about an hour earlier 😂! She also got the delightful Jemma from Dorkface Shop to do me this awesome nameplate print with a few of my favourite things-how sweet and personal is that?!
On top of all that she got me the Zoella body spritz I've been lusting over for forever (it is the only one that Superdrug never put in the sale, so I didn't buy it on principal haha) and in true AJ style it's pretty and pink! AND this cute cosmetics case (because we can never have too many) which just makes me want a glass of wine every time I look at it!

From Zita and Nico (my ride or dies)

Who doesn't love the Merc with a Mouth!?!? I have fully embraced my geekdom in recent years and I'm starting to build a lovely little Comic Book/Graphic Novel collection, and a terribly huge Funko Pop collection, so these are perfect. Not to mention that the book is Deadpool Does Shakespeare which is definitely a collaboration I didn't know I needed until now! The Funko is one of the Mercs for Money that worked for/alongside Deadpool-if you don't know about Terror (or Shreck) you need to read about his character it's both gross and fantastic. This is the 41st Funko Pop to enter our collection...maybe I should do a post on them 🤔!

From Cheryl and Neil (my sister and her man)

Cheryl is crazy and I love her!! I'm going to have to do her section a little differently and not write too much because the mad woman only went and got me 30 things for my 30th!! Of course they weren't all huge presents (some were my favourite candy, skittle and drumsticks FYI) some were small, some were big, ALL are loved and so gratefully received! 

The Disney Stuff! There goes Aurora in her bloody pink Dress again lol!! I was desperate for this Tee AND this Sebastian coin purse but both weren't available when I went to our local Primark, so I was so buzzed when I found them in my birthday box. 

The big stuff! This Quidditch Ball set is one of those things every Harry Potter nutjob like me wants, but can never really justify buying for themselves. I honestly consider it every time I'm in Waterstones and now I have it!! Wine explains itself amiright? 

The stationery stuff! Well duh, would it be an AJ birthday box without some stationery? In yet another example of how well my little (big) sister knows me she bought me the matching set of pens to a set I'd bought maybe 2 weeks earlier! 

On top of everything else my beautiful sister also MADE the cutest Turtle out of buttons! Isn't he cute? I have decided to name his Sylvester. Also in the box but not pictured were Harry Potter wand  makeup brushes-which aren't in the photos because I'm too lazy to wash my first set so I used the new ones to get ready for my night out!! 

So yeah, see what I mean by spoiled!

I would just like to take a minute to point out that I understand how exceptionally lucky I am in this life, to be surrounded by beautiful, kind, and generous people- to receive so many wonderful things, and to have the luxury of celebrating my birthday however I like. So many people aren't so lucky and that makes me sad every day. In our area there is a Giving Tree at Christmas where lucky people like myself can buy a gift for children and teenagers who are less fortunate. I just wish there was something like that than ran all year round, so the less privileged in our society could experience the same sort of birthday joy I do. While there isn't a Birthday scheme though, why not think about giving any of your unwanted things to a local shelter or woman's refuge. I'm going to put the link for Shelter, and Cash for Kids down here so maybe we can spread a bit of my joy about.

Thanks for reading guys! And please please do share your thoughts in the comments/on twitter. What I really want to know is What is the best gift you ever received?

*That Bitch Cinderella 😉

My Life in Movies Tag

I love a good Tag. Maybe it's because I'm a a total over-sharer and will jump at any excuse to answer questions about myself, or maybe it's because it's a great way to get to know other people!

The wonderful Danielle from Underland to Wonderland  tagged me in this one, and as it combines my two favourite things- movies and me- I couldn't wait to give it a go.

So without further ado let's take a trip through my life via the medium of movies :-D

1) First Steps: The first film you remember seeing as a kid?
Despite knowing it's not the first film I saw as a kid I cannot think of another answer other than The Swan Princess. It's the first film that really made an impact in my memory because seeing it was one of my best days. There used to be a cinema called The Canon in Aberdeen and I went to their Canon Club at the weekends. It was my first foray into collecting loyalty stamps-and you got your 5th movie going experience free...great childhood memories.

2) Teenage Crush: Which actor/actress did you have a crush on?
I mean come on surely we've all had crushes on more than one Actor/Actress! My FIRST crush on an actor was Patrick Swayze. God how I loved that man. To this day, I still get tingles watching his movies, although they are all tinged with a side of sadness. Fun fact: my ex bought me Patrick's autobiography after he died, and I still cannot get past the first chapter because I sob my heart out every time I try.

3) Bad Choices/Good Outcome: A movie you wanted to hate but actually enjoyed?
The Force Awakens. I know it's probably sacrilege to say I wanted to hate a Star Wars movie but I'm a Star Trek girl! I've never actually seen any of the original Star Wars movies if I'm honest (although I have promised D that I will watch them soon) so as a matter of principle I hadn't intended to enjoy The Force Awakens, but it's really good! And I'm kind of in love with Poe Dameron.

4) First Date: When you went on a first date, what movie did you see?
Hahaha not gonna lie I've been on A LOT of first dates, HOWEVER the only one that really matters is my first date with Damian. Luckily we did actually see a movie on our first official date and that movie was Moulin Rouge! Because we are a giant cliche our first official date was on Valentine's Day 2013, and our local cinema was doing a special valentine's showing of one of my all time favourite movies. Oh God now I want to watch it again, and again, and again.

5) Home Comforts: What movie reminds you of time with your family?
Bluebird of Happiness, Tom Thumb, and Thumbelina! We watched all three, all the time when I was younger. Taped off the telly, onto VHS, and watched over and over again they were absolute favourites for Mum, Cheryl and myself. My particular favourite was Bluebird of Happiness, but I'm sure Cheryl would probably choose Tom Thumb.

6) First Heartbreak: What movie really upset you, or affected you more than you expected?
About Time! This movie though! Honestly the day Netflix removed About Time, I almost rage cancelled my subscription. I was so late to the About Time party because I assumed it was just another soppy British romcom but OH MY GOD it is so much more than that! I laughed, I cried, I actual heavy sobbed at a couple of parts. I am the girl with the cold black heart but this movie melts it every time. Petition to get Netflix to bring it back!!

7) Leaving Home: What was the first movie you watched without your family?
There are so many ways to interpret this question! I believe the first movie I watched away from the family home was Dirty Dancing or it might have been Clueless. I watched both with my childhood best friend Michelle-at my first ever sleepover. The first movie I "watched" after moving out of the family home was Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and by "watched" I mean my boyfriend put it on and I fell asleep *yawn*.

8) Good Times: What movie do you watch most, and why?
It's a toss up between Moana and Tangled. Why? Because they are both brilliant brilliant movies that Disney should be super proud of. Moana came out in November last year and instantly jumped into my Top 3 Favourite Disney movies, it is bloody amazing. I think I watch them both so much because the soundtracks are amazing, and I really love a good movie sing along when I'm trying to fall asleep.

9) Learn a new Language: What is your favourite non-English language movie?
HumTum. Channel 4 did this strange festival type thing where they showed random Indian movies every night for about a week at 3 in the morning. I am an insomniac so this was a very eye opening week for me. Hum Tum is fantastic, it's basically the Indian "When Harry Met Sally" but with dancing, and music, and weird animated bits a la Lizzie Maguire. Honestly I watched this movie 12 years ago and I still remember how enjoyable it was.

10) Can't Leave the Sofa: What series on TV got you hooked?
Um where do I begin? Do I go all the way back and remember my love for Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Or do I reminisce about sobbing my heart out when Prue died on Charmed? I could talk about the fact that I've watched 4 and a half seasons of Pretty Little Liars in the last 16 days, or that I binged every episode of Scream over the course of 4 nights. I bloody love TV, and by that I mean I bloody love Netflix (even after the About Time debacle).

11) Sick Day: What movie do you watch to cheer yourself up when you don't feel well?
Serendipity. What a wonderful movie this is. I'm not even going to get started on my love for John Cusack because Oh my sweet Lord I love him so much that if I get started I'll never stop and I'll just keep rambling about his gorgeousness!! Sorry got distracted 😍. Serendipity makes me so happy I kind of just sit there with a weird grin on my face whenever it's on.

12) Looking to The Future: What movies are you looking forward to seeing?
I still have not seen Wonder Woman and I'm so excited about that-despite my reservations about its somewhat problematic star. In the same sort of genre I am also super excited for the rumoured upcoming Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy movie! I just really hope they don't get Megan Fox to play Ivy!

13) If Only: What old movie would you like to see remade?
Literally none of them. Remakes do my absolute head in. My favourite old movies are classics, you wouldn't rewrite Wuthering Heights so why would you remake a classic movie!?

14) End of the Road: What 3 films do you think you will always enjoy watching?
This is probably the easiest question of all: Dirty Dancing is my all time favourite romance movie. Patrick Swayze is perfect, Jennifer Grey is fantastically naive (and she tweeted me once-I died) and the soundtrack is AMAZING. She's Like the Wind still gives me chills (NOT the 2017 version that was trash)!
The Shawshank Redemption for being the first movie that I went in expecting to be bored and came out wanting to watch it again immediately. Fantastic movie!
And finally, Labyrinth. How underrated is this movie?? Sure, it's creepy as hell, and the premise is super fucked up, and some of it makes next to no sense, BUT, David Bowie in spandex, juggling crystal balls and singing...if that's not enough to make you watch a movie over and over stay for the jokes about knockers, and iconic insults like "your mother is a frackin aardvark"!

Well that was fun! And now I just want to spend my weekend binge watching movies with D.
This is a tag post so I tag:


Note: Spellcheck only recognised TWO of those names 😂!

If you do the tag please comment with your link so I can check it out!!

My 30th Birthday Look

I promised on Instagram I would do  a little post about my 30th birthday. A what I wore, what I did kind of thing so here we are. 

This year's soiree was quite a bit more subdued that previous years'-there were no costumes, no crazy themes, no 3 day benders in Newcastle. It was just me and my favourite people, having dinner in my favourite hotel, and drinking into the wee small hours, and it was fabulous! I loved it, and as a reformed party girl I think I might have been missing a trick all these years (who am I kidding I loved every minute of those too)! 

So what did I wear? 
Well my absolute favourite piece of my whole outfit was this last minute addition...isn't it gorgeous 😒

Yeah so I managed to totally bugger my arm the week leading up to my birthday so this beauty is my new accessory de jour! Luckily for my mood the outfit underneath this bad boy was so perfectly me.

 I spent about 20 minutes picking dresses to try on from the sale (ya girl's not made of money you know) rail at New Look only to spy this dream on the way to the fitting room. Honestly I don't think there is a single other item of clothing that sums "ME" up quite so perfectly. Annoyingly this one has actually been added to the sale since I bought it *sob* and can be yours for £24. Thankfully for my bank account the shoes were in the sale when I got em and they are actually surprisingly comfy. Damian picked them though so I can't take all the credit-they aren't online anymore but these are quite similar.

I know as a blogger I am supposed to document everything but I think I maybe took a maximum of 3 photos all night so I don't actually have one of me all dressed up :-/ but I did take this one in the dressing room when I bought it!

Time for Makeup:

I am totally obsessed with my Anastasia Beverley Hills palette that I picked up when we were in Florida so that is the base of every single makeup look I have done recently! If you've never heard of Manny Mua I highly recommend checking out his tutorial for these eyeshadows he's a genius, and even I can follow his videos. 

I love all of these products so much, so imagine my despair when half way through the night Fiona told me that Estee Edit were shutting and I wouldn't be able to get my beloved Flash Illuminator every again :-O! Apparently I don't like to make it easy for myself because my favourite lipsticks are only available from the US and customs charges are a bitch!! 
On birthday night I wore:
  • Urban Decay All Nighter in 1.0 (this stuff oxidises about 2 shades darker so shop down a shade or two), I actually like to mix in a touch of liquid highlighter with my foundation to give my face an all over light. 
  • Estee Edit Flash Illuminator
  • Sleek Soltice
  • Modern Renaissance: Golden Ochre mixed with Burnt Orange, Venetian Red, and Vermeer. 
  • Kylie Cosmetics Koko Collection 2 Shade Bunny with a dot of Sugar Plum gloss on centre of bottom lip. 

I was going to do a bit about what I got too but it turns out that I was spoiled this year, that I have enough to fill a whole other post! So stay tuned for that if you are into that sort of thing. 

I also absolutely promise that the next time I do my makeup, or wear this outfit I will make a concerted effort to take decent photographs for you all. Or at least take some before I'm drunk! 

What did you do on your last birthday? Did you know that W7 Cosmetics have come out with this amazing dupe for Modern Renaissance? Can anybody find me a replacement for my Estee Edit illuminator 😭?

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