Why I am Over Comparing Myself To Myself

Hey Hey Guys!

Everyone is guilty of defining their own life’s according to the quality of the lives of those around us. What does that mean?

Basically, we spend way too much time comparing our own lives to those of the people around us. And we have to stop.

I am most guilty of comparing myself to… myself. It’s true what they say, that we are own harshest critic.

I find that I’m forever going over old ground. I’m forever critiquing my own life and comparing the me now to the me then. It’s awful! There are times when I genuinely feel like it’s ripping me apart, like the old me is desperately scraping at the new, gouging great ditches in me as I desperately pull myself away. But I have made a decision. I’m going to stop. Not stop trying to distance myself from my past. More like, stop trying to force myself to not be that person and just content myself with being the me of now.

The me from a few years ago isn’t the same person as the me now. There are vast differences to the point where I barely feel like I am the same person at all.

Be one with nature and one with your soul...

Be one with nature and one with your soul…

Over the past 4 years I’ve been dragged backward through hell by my heart strings and I’ve taken all of the people I love most with me. But I have changed. The experience has changed me. My mind has been through turmoil of a kind I never thought possible and in many ways, I still can’t believe all that has transpired.

I want to be honest. I’ve been a sufferer of a myriad of Mental Health issues since I was about 18. I am now 22. But I will never call myself a victim. Because that implies that I have done nothing about it. And as much as I also hate to admit it, it implies that I am entirely innocent in the continuation of my ordeal.

I have spent the last 4 years fighting for my life. Against myself. I’ve brought pain, anger, sadness and despair upon myself and those around me. It would be easy to blame myself, just as it would be easy to blame other people for my problems.

Mental Health is the same as any other illness. No one asks to become mentally ill, just the same way that no one asks to get cancer. I’ve described it this way to my dad, but he doesn’t really understand. No one wants to be ill, whether that be something visible or invisible.

And that is what Mental Illness is; it’s essentially an invisible illness, but with some very physical symptoms. People with mental illnesses can die, just the same way anyone with a physical illness can. Eating Disorders kill 70% of severe sufferers and I have twice, very almost, become a part of that statistic. I was “saved” with only hours to spare. Had I not gotten the help I did, then I would have certainly either died from mass organ failure or have killed myself. It wasn’t like I hadn’t already tried.

I don’t want to get into all the hairy scary details because honestly, I am trying to leave that part of my past where it is. It will always be a part of me and I will never be ashamed of what has happened to me, but I don’t want to dwell on my pain. Because doing that is no more effective than picking at a scab; it’s ugly, it hurts, it won’t make anything better and while there is a masochistic gratification in scratching at it, you are just making things worse in the long run, instant gratification isn’t everything.

So, here I go; my recovery journey: Round 2.

My new superhero mask for my new super powers of healing!

My new superhero mask for my new super powers of healing!

I hope you will join me on this journey. I would love to have you with me, be that as a sufferer of Anorexia or Depression or Anxiety, or just as someone who’s interested. I want to reduce stigma and show people that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that recovery is a journey we all must make. Join me! 🙂

See you soon!

Also, just for the banter, here’s a pic of me at Halloween! Off to the pub! I mean, to drink responsibly, of course XD

Halloween 2015! I went as... absolutley nothing, a girl at the pub with glitter on her face, that;s who xD

Halloween 2015! I went as… absolutley nothing, a girl at the pub with glitter on her face, that;s who xD

SSDD

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I Failed #Stoptober

Hey Hey Guys!

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We’ve all heard the fads; Sober October; give up booze in October; Movember; grow a moustache in November (generally speaking this one is just for men, but I daresay there is the odd woman who might participate!) to name just two.

In October, I participated in #Stoptober, where I attempted to kick the fags. And I am going to tell you why I failed.

I was never a heavy smoker, at most seven or eight a day, so I thought it would be easy to give them up. Turns out I relied on those little white devils more than I thought.

For the first 15 days I was doing pretty well. I had given them up for two months in the summer with absolutely no problem, going cold turkey, not even caring. This summer I was forced to give them up. I had no choice. So with that decision taken entirely out of my hands, it was easy! When there is only one path, you take it.

But this month has been a time of stress and my freedom has been returned, with University work picking up and an internship on the horizon, drama with family and friends and just a lot of general business heading my way. I had not anticipated quite how much I would be craving that little roll-up, those precious stolen moments when I could slip outside for five minutes, take a second to myself and get some (debatably) fresh air.

When my head is abuzz and my life in a perpetual sort of organised chaos, my schedule planned to the minute and all my time devoured by commitments and obligations, I pray for those times in transit, the only times when I am really by myself because it gives me the excuse not to think about anything. It is in those times that I am at my weakest.

We all know when we are at our weakest and most likely to fall off whatever health wagon we are on. For some people it is when you are tired and hungry and the urge to hit up a fast food joint is strong. Often that ever-reliable excuse of “convenience” is brought out, with the justification that you are on the move, you need something quick and easy and oh look, how fortunate, a burger bar, cheap and quick, is right on the corner there. For others it is the “I’ve been at work all day, I don’t need to go to the gym” mantra. For me, it’s the “I’m stressed and tired” excuse, that sees my hand snaking it’s way to my right pocket and my pre-rolled cigs.

My Face When I Am Stressed

My Face When I Am Stressed

That is where I fell down. I got very stressed and very sad one evening towards the end of the month and snapped. I was in a corner shop, frowning in exasperation, having had it with the world and before I knew it, I was asking for tobacco and I walked out of the shop with more than just a bottle of juice.

And do you know what; it was the most relief I have felt in all that long month. Sure, I feel guilty for breaking my vow to keep the air in my lungs clear, but in that moment, it was worth it.

But what really gets me is that it was not really my choice to quit in October. I was set up for failure by attempting to chance a lifestyle habit at a time and in a timeframe that was dictated by others, rather than by me. I wanted to quit but I should have done so in my own time, not because I was jumping on the band waggon. It was as convenient for me to quit in October as it is for me to light up when I am stressed; but that doesn’t mean that either of those things are good for me. We are conditioned to perform all actions in the most convenient way, even if it’s not the best option in the long term. Maybe I should have meditated or something. But that wouldn’t have given me the immediate gratification that I was desperately craving in that moment.

It makes me think about addiction and stress. We all have ways of coping and most of the time, they are not too good for us. As people we are susceptible to destructive behaviour and it’s something that we have struggled with since the dawn of time. We crave things that are not good for us, whether that be alcohol, cigarettes or dates with “bad boys”. But the important thing is to persevere and try to recognise that these things are bad for us and limit the negative effect we allow them to have on us.

I do regret not sticking too my word (not least because my dad promised to match whatever I saved!) but at least not I know that it is my relief mechanism. I need to find a new way to get that same hit of immediate gratification, something healthier. It is possible to give up the things that are not making our lives richer, but perhaps it has to rake something more than will power. It may be that we need to know there is a definite positive outcome. I didn’t factor in a reward system, meaning that I was losing something I enjoyed and getting nothing to replace it with.

So my advice to anyone trying to give up something less than good for you is this; make sure you have a reward in place for all your efforts. Never take something away and have nothing to gain from it, because that selfish, craving part of you will simply implore you to give up.

Read the article HERE!

So, treat yo self! Good luck!

SSDD!

Radio Show Glasgow Adventure Time

Hey Hey Guys!!

Today has been a good day.

I had my first ever Radio Show, What’s Up With Gem?, on www.radiocaley.com, I got some life changing news and I saw (potentially) the love of my life. Yeah, y’all heard it! I’m making it  more than FBO; I’m taking that s**t to the BLOG!!

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

So today I have a lot to be thankful for. It all started this morning, early (too early for my student brain to get it’s tiny little temperament around, if I’m honest). My doctor gave me the news I’ve waited 106 days to hear. I literally skipped down the corridor from his office with glee that would make McKinley High School proud.

Then I got an email from Scotcampus (shout out, by the way!! Follow them dudes on twitter!!) saying that they would like to meet me for an interview for an internship! At a magazine! A real one, not just one that is online! I was about this excited last time this happened, with Source Magazine pity that one didn’t quite go as planned…

Then I had my first show on Radio Caley! Well wasn’t that something! Honestly, it was great. I’ve been on the radio before but I have never hosted my own show. Now, I have one every Tuesday! On my way to Uni (where the studio is) I passed by a girl busking. But she wasn’t just busking. Oh no, she was busking my first song!! FLEETWOOD MAC, GO YOUR OWN WAY!! This lovely lady was playing it 🙂

Lovely Busking Lady

Lovely Busking Lady

I saw a man playing a violin while on a tightrope… so that was a thing… (see above) Pretty standard practice on Buchannan Street, to be fair…

I bumped into an old friend on my way to the studio (which was lovely) then I got to present my show with one of my best friends as a guest, which was such a relief! He’s far more technically minded than me and fixed all my little (*ahem* potentially disastrous *ahem)* technical hitches without a thought. Which I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do without him. Because I am so technically challenged it’s legendary. ( The tech guys in uni won’t let me borrow equipment without a tutors’ say… I try, guys, I really do…)

On the show there was a major topic I wanted to discuss. For the past 4 years I’ve been heavily involved in the Mental Health services of Scotland, mainly as a patient, but also as a volunteer. It’s a subject close to my heart because it’s affected not only me, but my family and friends, as an extension. I’ve been going through what my dad describes as “a little blip”, but what my psychiatrist would probably call “the reason he has a job“.

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I’m not sure I’m 100% comfortable revealing exactly what I’ve been going through, but I’ve hinted at it in previous posts. My point is, though, that this is Mental Health Awareness Month an I am a survivor. I’ve been through the worst (twice) and now, look. I survived. I’m back at Uni. I’m (hopefully) going to be interning at a magazine. I’m on the radio. There were only 5 listeners but still! That’s 5 people who I hope have been enlightened a little bit, amused, heartened or even just mildly entertained. If one of those 5 got any kind of enjoyment or education from my heartfelt statistics, then I consider that, job done.

What could have, and with my luck might well have, been a catastrophic black hole of a day, was actually something rather wonderful. I’m cherishing this day because there are so few like it for me. There are so few days when things actually go relatively to plan. So often there is something that plagues me, that s**ts all over everything, no matter how hard I try. I neglect self care because if I don’t love myself, then I can’t be disappointed when I receive no love in return.

Keeping it real

Keeping it real

I don’t seek attention, I seek to attend to others. But now, maybe it’s my turn. Maybe I will get the chance to be happy. So I’m going to work hard to make that happen.

SSDD

Blame It On The Weather. No, Seriously, Blame It On The Weather #depression

Hey Hey Guys!!

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Depression is something that can change like the weather. Think I’m joking?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a genuine illness. Not gonna lie, I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure if you would class it as a mental illness or a mood disorder, but it is classified as a varied form of depression.

So what actually is it. Well, the NHS UK website says this:

Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.

In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the:

  • production of the hormone melatonin

  • production of the hormone serotonin

  • body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period)

It affects an estimated 2 million people in the UK, commonly affecting people between the ages of 18-30 and, like other forms of depression, is more common in women than in men. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding the condition, mainly because it can be difficult to understand how someone can feel depressed simply because of the weather. It’s one thing to say that you change your mind like the wind, another to say that you can’t face getting out of bed because it’s raining.

Symptoms include lethargy, insomnia, poor concentration, negative thoughts and mood, unwillingness to socialise, decreased libido and weight gain.

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This is what 12 million people across Europe are facing. Again, I’m not an expert, but as a sufferer, there are a few words I can impart on the subject.

There are days when the thought of having to choose one pair of socks over another seems like an insurmountable problem. Can you imagine the implications of going outside when it is anything less than radiant out there? As if were not bad enough that the world already seems like one of the blackest corners of hell; what if it’s raining as well!? The fact that the weather reflects damp, cold in your soul, preventing you from feeling the glow of all the good things in around you is just confirmation to the depressed side of your brain that there is nothing good out there to admire. That everything really is as horrible and out to get you as you suspect.

But if the sun is out…

Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-Infographic

I’m a total fire baby. I was predisposed, being a Leo (m’on the August-born troops!!) and if it is anything short of swelteringly roasty toasty, then I am inconsolably miserable. I’m talking, in tears, shaking, terrified of even the slightest baby’s breath of a draft. Lemme put this into context for you; I was in Ibiza during a heatwave and wore a cardigan. Yeah. So the fact that I live in BLOODY SCOTLAND, one of the coldest places South of the Arctic, is a hellish situation to be in. I don’t think people realise quite how many layers I wear on a daily basis. Maybe it’s a useful thing that I’m so skinny; all those layers don’t look so thick on a skelatal frame.

The past few days we have been experiencing a random heat wave and I know several people with varying forms of depression and anxiety who have (seemingly inexplicably) seen a lift in their mood. I swear, Blame It On the Weather! Being in the sun can literally feel like bands are being removed from your chest and you can breathe and in hail the sweet scent of real oxygen. Not just tolerate the stale air you’ve tasted recently.

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However you want to call it, Sunny Side Up, Everything’s Better on the Other Side, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Mr Sunshine, Light of My Life, Build Me Up Buttercup, Mr Golden Sun; attribute any cheesy song lyric you like, the summary is still the same – EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN THE GODDAMN SUNSHINE!!!!!

The irritating thing, is that it has not been sunny all day. It comes and goes. The problem with this is that my mood has been going up and down as well. Literally, the sun being out one minute means I’m relatively happy, not too bad, occasionally I’ll giggle. Then it goes behind a cloud. Maybe there is a smattering of rain. And suddenly that cloud burst seems more like hell is spitting like icy shards of glass at me, determined to extinguish that ember of happiness fighting to burn hot enough to light so much as a candle. It’s exhausting.

Here is a link to treatment advice on SAD as well as some lovely handy dandy websites for mental health issues. Seriously, i have used some of them and even the info you can get online these days isn’t half bad.

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Remember though; the sun can be thought of in the same was as those middle aged women/students think of booze – if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s mid day somewhere else! The sun is always up somewhere, even if it isn’t where you are. If you are a sufferer of depression or SAD, do the daytime version of what Oscar Wilde liked to do; instead of looking at the stars, look to the sky. See the sun, love the light, feel the glow.

Mind.org

NHS treatment of SAD

Samaritans

SSDD

Reconnecting With the People That Matter

Hey Hey Guys!

Travel is exciting. But it has a down side.

my parents and I

my parents and I in Barcelona

It’s been 4 months since I saw one of my best friends. Since I came home just over 2 weeks ago I have tried my best to get back in touch with all the people I’ve missed most since I left, which hasn’t been easy given, you know, people having lives and all that.

And one of my lovely ladies has been particularly elusive given that she works every hour of the day and never takes a break. But today, we had a wee lunch date! As soppy as it might sound, but when i say that 4 foot 10 little lady walking towards me, I really felt happy. I have felt this way another three times since I landed back in Scotland. The first time was when I saw my parents coming towards me as I waited in the airport lounge. Granted, my grin was likely to have been marred somewhat by the frigid air blowing in from outside, but the sentiment was the same.

The second time was when the knock, knock, knocking on my door, a week after I got home, announced the arrival of two of my other best friends. I was dressed in all my glamour, bobbin’ robin pyjama bottoms, no make-up and messy bun, of course. 😉 When you see friends like that, you cannot fake the grin that pastes itself on your face, nor the rosy glow that flushes your cheeks.

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The third was when my best friend at uni and I caught up. The first thing I did was laugh at how much I missed her Northern accent and, other when she broke the news that her radio show was being cut (R.I.P Fred McCauley show!!!!!) I didn’t stop laughing til I realised I wouldn’t be getting another hug from her til after the New year! Noooooooooo!! (Love you Lambie 😛 )

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So when I saw said friend today, it was much the same feeling. I knew she has been working hard, knew her beloved dog had been sick, yet here she was, with me, and it was lovely.

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Ew, whipped cream... dat Carrot Cake though!

Ew, whipped cream… dat Carrot Cake though!

Present exchanges and several hours of gabbing and puppy adoration later (her dog was sick but is back being a bundle of joy again! This coming from someone who hates dogs…) and we both had other places to be. Life is a pain sometimes.

But seeing her today made me realise something. That is me, now. I have seen everyone I care most about since my return home. I have reconnected with the people who have stayed in touch with me, despite the ocean of distance that separated us for so many months. Just in time for the new year.

I hope that this is a sign. I hope that this is a symbol that these are the people I am going to travel into 2015 with, hand in metaphorical hand, no matter whether we bring in the bells on Hogmanay together or apart. I’m not really one for the whole, new year, new me, business, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be a new year, same people to share it with, kind of deal.

I have made so many new friends this past few months and I hope that I will encounter many of them again in the future. But I have also missed the connection I have with those I left at home. I have been with my best friends since I was 5. They are a stirling group of gals and I wouldn’t replace them for the world.

We have seen each other through the elated highs and most proud successes. We have stressed over every exam and bitched about every teacher. We got drunk together for the first time and held back hair when the times that came after went a little too far. Boys had no secrets and every outfit for first dates was a group decision.

They held my hand when I literally thought I was going to die and we have no secrets. I want to share the rest of my life with them because they have saved me and brought me back from the brink when I was on the verge of my sanity. It’s a bigamist marriage, of sorts. Each one of them is a gem and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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Love you ladies.

SSDD

Post Christmas – How Ya Feeling??

So how y’all doing?

The festive season is struggling to maintain purchase as the madness sinks in and people reaslise they have to stop being merry soon and return to their general humdrum lives. After the psychotic ravaging of stores that miraculously have re-filled their shelves with wares for the Boxing Day/that-odd-nameless-time-between-Christmas-and-New-Year sales, we are left bereft, despite our many fresh items.

We have less booze, less money, less yummy food, less presents, less visitors, less days off, less lie ins… Generally just less of all those rare goodies we allow ourselves to indulge in excessively at this time of year.

On the other hand we get more of a lot of things.

We get more work, more time out of the warm house and in the cold outdoors, more time spent travelling, more bitchy co-workers, more worries over money, more micro-meals, more stress coffee, more… General crap. And crap that is only crap because you experience it every day, not because it is particularly bad, just that we tolerate it so often that we come to not really care all that much about it. Like work. Most people can’t be bothered half the time. Uni/college. Too tiring when there are warm beds and XBOX in existence. Travelling. Instead of being a peaceful time of reflection it becomes a place of rampant road rage and body odour, if you are not fortunate enough to be part of a carpool. Reality bites back, soon.

We are alright til January. It is acceptable to pull the “aw, Ok, since it’s Christmas” excuse for being just that little bit decadent but only because we have that all important big part-ay coming up known as New Year (sure to be a messy one if you live in Scotland).

Now, while this started off on a bit of a bum note, I like to be a little unpredictable when I write these posts, so here’s me pulling the old switcheroo on you.

I don’t care that we are metaphorically going from a time of excess to a time of… normal? (because I live in the commercialised Western society so we are always living in a time of plenty and there are too many people who already live in excess) I don’t care that I am going to have less money, less free time and more stress. I don’t even mind the thought of my three hour round trips to Uni every day starting again – the bus may smell bad but I always like the journey and I like Uni. I can’t do anything on the journey so it’s a great place for a little downtime.

Sometimes the world of boundless bounty (not the chocolates… though I suppose sometimes the chocolates. At this time of year, certainly. Those little tiny ones. Who actually eats Bounty’s except at Christmas anyway? Who eats chocolates that size at any other time of year? Alas, tis a pondering for another day) is a little too much. Too much of a good thing, and all that. Then again…

I have just had a few of the best days of my life.

Those of you who have followed these interweb pages for a while will know that I used to  detest Christmas. Loath it. Hated it with a passion that would make hell piss itself with shame at its own feeble flame as it pales in comparison to the passion in my rage. But all that has changed this year. It was AWESOME!!

I know that is hardly the most eloquent of ways to phrase it but it is the truth and I am still young enough to get away with such pithy sayings.adored every second!

Last year I did not really have a Christmas. It was one of the worst days of my life and I will never forget it. However, I cannot regret, now, that it happened. Because, had I not, I may not have fully appreciated the marvelous affair that has been the Clark family Christmas, 2013. These shall forever be hallowed days to me.

And these feelings of peculiar warmth have nothing to do with the fact that I have spent a great deal of time in the last wee while drinking excessive, yet not altogether socially unacceptable volumes, of fermented, brewed and distilled liquid, all with the intent of slowly pickling my liver as well as warming the cockles of my heart. Oh no, it is all to do with my family. And the fact that we were all at home. Together. Having Christmas. For the first time ever. And I meant, ever.

I have never had a Christmas at home, just with my parents, and that is something I have always craved. As has my mum, which, means that since we were spending it at home, she has been in an infinitely better mood of late. Actually we all have. There has been an unfamiliar buzz of general merriment colouring my life in the run up to Christmas. I have been a busy little fritter and filled my time by whole-heartedly flinging myself into the spirit of the event. I’ve never really partaken so I wasn’t really sure what to do. But the fact that I was bouncing around like a workshop elf on crack seemed to help everything run smoothly. Go with the snow-flow,  I thought, see where you end up. Following my celebratory savvy, I reckon.

My life this December has been a blur of bows and bells, elves and electric lightstinsel, tassels and tell-tales signs the Great British weather is taking a turn for the terrible.

I won’t go into details, but will instead allow you to fill in the blanks of your own accord. I don’t mind how you envisage the three of us, but here is a guideline.

Image three people sitting down to a fantastic spread that we are all not quite sure how we managed to produce. Imagine us elated and confused at the fortune of our own situation. Listen to the sound of clinking glasses, popping crackers and belly laughing. Feel the warmth of the oven and the heating blowing a rosy glow onto your skin. Smell everything from booze to parsnips and turkey and perfume. Feel full, spiritually and physically and emotionally. Cover everything in soft lights and glitter. Now imagine a slight haze over the whole image as we have all had a little bit to drink

Merry Christmas.

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Homemade table decoration

Homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

me and Percy

me and Percy

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine... food baby??

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine… food baby??

pretty candles

pretty candles

Percy

Percy

SSDD

It’s All in the Packaging

Linda Macdonald sent me another package!

PACKAGE!! :D

PACKAGE!! 😀

This time of year is all about the wrapping paper, the bows the bells and whistles. Whether you are receiving or giving, it’s all in the way it arrives. Everyone likes a nicely wrapped little something, no matter that that little something is.

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Gifts are ubiquitous at this time of year. “Christmas is the time of giving after all. And this one is a super special example of how some people put in just that bit extra effort.

Victoria's Secret Bag

Victoria’s Secret Bag

Some businesses at Christmas stuff things in a bag, scrunch a receipt in your hand along with a glum Ho Ho Ho“, and send you on your not-so-merry way. But then there are places like Victoria’s Secret. The fancy little stripey bag, the pink, the box, the intimations of contents a little more than ordinary.

Linda Macdonald is one of those places. And aside from her usual lovely packaging she is providing a special extra addition. Everyone loves a little indulgence at the festive time of year, writing it off as “It doesn’t count, it’s Christmas! (what kind of an excuse is that, by the way, exactly what difference to your metabolism is there during this particular stretch of the year that makes it better equipped to handle extreme amounts of rich and sugar laden foods, alcoholic beverages and cold weather??).

LindaMac1

Anyway, Linda has played into the hands of deliciousness and decadence and every order includes a lovely Lindt chocolate treat to please the tongue as well as the person.

package and CHOCOLATE!!

package and CHOCOLATE!!

Nestled inside my little pink organza bag was a ring that has been custom made to order for me. A gold heart set in a spotted silver band, on top of a solid one. Stunning!

RING!!

RING!!

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Even better, there is a sale! Lots of items under £50. Snap them up before your heart snaps in sadness at having not snapped them up!

Do you think they’re busy?? 😀

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SSDD