Monday, 27 February 2012

Words to Live By #179

Image thanks to tomoyuki

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Anaïs Nin

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A Peek at the Week: Sunshine, Frocks and Amazing Views


Today was the first really beautiful day of the year in Bristol, a good reminder of how stunning my hometown can be! I justly spent it trying on equally beautiful dresses and climbing Cabot Tower with a boy in a cardigan. How was your week?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Choose Your Choice: Why I'm USA-Bound

Image thanks to amy

Friends and loves: I quit my job. And on the 20th March I will board a plane bound for New York City. Holy McMoley.

But let's start at the beginning.

The other day I got to thinking about choice. I've been working the 9-5 grind for five months now. Living in the city which I've lived in almost all my life. Hanging out with the same faces (as lovely faces as they are!) and generally feeling pretty disappointed with how my life is looking. None of this has felt very me. None of it has felt very Make Your Life Amazing.

Now, it's always easy to blame less-than-desirable scenarios on exterior circumstances, and I did, momentously. My boyfriend broke-up with me! I can't afford to travel! I'm stuck in a dead-end job! Yadda-yadda-yadda. Then I realised: I'm the one making the choices here. My life is looking exactly the way I've illustrated it to look. I chose not to beg my boy back. I chose to move back to my hometown. I chose to get a 9-5. And that was quite a liberating realisation. I thought life was getting in the way of my dreams, and then I realised I was.

And you know what? Since I committed to changing my choice, to choosing what I really want to do - everything has been slotting into place. As SATC's Charlotte says, "I choose my choice!"

  • I boldly quit my job. They offered me three months extended leave.
  • I bravely decided to abandon the flat I'd have to continue paying for even if I wasn't living it. I found a girl to sublet (and pay me all the rent in advance).
  • I started living with a new spirit - an excited, enthusiastic spirit - because I had something to look forward to. I've been meeting new people left, right and centre - and am actually feeling excited about returning to Bristol after my trip...

You make the brave decisions and you get the ball rolling. Life says "oh, cool, you're finally open to that?" And you nod along with vigour wondering what took you so long.

What now? First on the agenda is a soul trip, and where better than the land of true be-sure-to-wear-flowers-in-your-hair soul: San Francisco, California (via NYC, naturally). I will be going for two months, with the endeavour to walk amongst redwoods, write, study, drink lots, take photos, kiss a few Americans and dip my toes in the ocean. I'm attempting to sell my clothes (not all of them!) on eBay to afford the flights, and hoping to rely on the generosity of Couch Surfers for most of my accommodation. 

Why a 'soul trip'? Because there is nothing like a break-up, followed by a five month stint in a dead-end job, to leave your mojo running a little dry. So this is my medicine. It's a trip to feed my imagination and light me back up. (No, it won't include one of those kinds of 'trips'.) 

I've wanted to take an extended trip to the US for the longest time, and very much feel I need to 'get it out of my system.' Should I happen to love it? I'll move there. Should I not? I'll have an amazing holiday and return to the UK with my inspiration-well fully topped up.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?
If you want to throw me a high-five for my bravery, please toy with the idea of grabbing the eCourse or buying an ad for March - every penny counts! Alternatively, you could fling me a tip via Paypal using megan@charadestyle.com - guaranteed good karma - and more money in my lil'coin purse means more bloggy goodness. I hope you already now how supremely grateful I am for every reader-coin that comes my way, you truly set my life alight!

AND if you live in/nearby either NYC or SF and want to meet me / go dancing / let me sleep on your couch, I want to know about it! Let's be friends - like - fo'real. Drop an email in my inbox.

It's my main intention to use the time away to up my blogging ante and make miraculous plans for money-making and life-living on my return (when it will be late Spring/Summer - yay!) Naturally, you're invited on the journey. 

In summary, I think George had things pretty spot on:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.”
George Bernard Shaw

Ladies, gents, I implore you to get the ball rolling with your own big dreams; to choose your choice.

Questions? Cheers of encouragement? Got your own big dream to share? Comment!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Words to Live By #178

Image thanks to erin

"Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for."
Bob Marley

I hope this doesn't come across as pessimistic - because it isn't meant to. We are all capable of hurting each other, whether carelessly or intentionally. That is the nature of our world: yin and yang, push and pull, pleasure and pain. And sometimes the lines get pretty blurred. What we can hope for is to eventually find someone who will make the ricochet between love and hurt, and satisfaction and desperation, worthwhile - the magical, miraculous, meant-to-be people. At least that's what I'm hoping for. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Peek at the Week: Vintage Maps and Familial-Festivities


I now have a vintage map of the British Isles in my front room. Friday it was my dear sister's birthday, so Saturday we 'did' lunch and went shopping. Tonight I'm keeping it cosy-chic with spotty socks and listening to Cat Power. Hope your week was marv.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Saturday Salute 18.02.12

Image thanks to hillary

Woah-ho-HO, 2012, would you chill the heck out?! I simply cannot keep up with you. The year is just heating up for me, though, and I will share why this coming week!

// Want a fun thing to do today? Replace the word "sex" with "socks" in whatever songs you can thinks of, personal favourites of mine being Kings of Leon "your socks are on fire" and Tom Jones' "socks bomb".

// Practical help for hungry writers.

// Travel-bug-age.

// Hair-spiration: 100 amazing hairstyles.

// Go wow for Anaïs Mitchell (thanks to Ellen):




Have a delightful fin-de-semana, guapa!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

10 Survival Tips For Changing Your Life

Image thanks to jennifer

This riveting (I was hooked from first word to last!) and insanely useful survival guide for changing your life comes from the lovely Claire, you can visit her at www.clairebonello.com. If you would like to guest-post on Charade, it would make my day to hear from you! Drop me a line: megan@charadestyle.com

Have you ever clung onto something that may not have been very good for you? 

I certainly have. When I initially went to university at eighteen, I wasn’t very sure about what I wanted to study, or “what I wanted to be when I grow up”. So I took what I thought was a responsible choice and enrolled into the Law course, promising myself that I’d give it a year and then decide whether I loved it or not. Four years later, I was still in the clutches of the same course, and hating almost every minute of it.

Something had to give. I was at a point of utter despair. So I finally took the leap. I looked beyond my tiny home country’s shores (I’m from Malta) and planned out possible escape routes to lead me to what I was truly yearning for: a radical change in my life.

Long story short: I moved to England to study History (my true love) at Master’s level (and at a fantastic university to boot!). Yes, I warned you. It was quite a radical change from the humdrum life I had become used to at home. (The lowdown: in Malta, there’s just one university, and most students still live with their parents – yep, I was one of those too.)

Suddenly, I found myself packing a bursting suitcase (which included my pillow and favourite soft-toy, obviously) and stepping onto a plane which led me to my new life in the United Kingdom. It was all very scary. There was more than one moment where I wished I could simply stop all the change and take back my ambitious plans. The first day there, I felt unbearable fear and dread. My room was tinier than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t know the location of any university or college buildings. It was all very overwhelming to say the least.

We all encounter similarly terrifying periods in our lives; some are through our own conscious choice, and some are thrust upon us. The plunge of radically changing your life – where you live, how you live – is, essentially, a great leap out of your comfort zone. Despite this being very scary and intimidating, such change can invigorate your body and mind, and can ultimately increase your overall happiness, independence, and sense of adventure! (All very important things to have.)

Before embarking on this quest, I was fortunate enough to source a bunch of great advice from family, friends, and bloggers, of course! Megan is the queen of excellent, insightful, meaningful advice about making your life amazing, and I found many of her posts to be incredibly helpful (especially because she herself has lived and studied in a place which is not her home country).

The following are a compilation of the best survival tips for changing your perception of fear, taking hold of your life, and surviving in a completely new environment:

1. Have the right attitude 
It’s not always possible to put on a brave face, but fostering the right mind-set about your long-term and short-term goals is essential. From the very first moment of taking the decision to change your life to (for example) study abroad, keep your endpoint and ambitions in mind for on-the-go encouragement. And once you’re well into your radical change, keep thinking positively: I find that getting involved in student societies and other university-related activities really keeps me happily busy and content.

2. Budget
Once you’re out in the big-bad-world, your relationship with money has to take on a new (more mature) level. Look up budgeting tips online, make sure that you have everything that’s required to set up a bank account (especially if you’re moving from one country to another), and discover whether you can elicit any further sources of income (such as sponsorships, funding, or finding a part-time job alongside your academic duties).

3. Flex your culinary skills 
This was a toughie for me. I had resisted any form of basic culinary knowledge for years, but when you’ve plunged into a lifestyle where your parents are no longer around to make your meals, you need to learn to feed yourself. Compile a list of healthy, hearty meals to dip into whenever you’re peckish. Start practising way before you actually need to prepare meals completely solo, so you allow yourself some trial-and-error time.

4. Be street smart
In a different environment (or even a different country), you’re bound to be unaware of the “dodgy places” in your new neighbourhood. Speak to your landlord/landlady about these issues (ideally before you even decide to move in). Apart from these sorts of smarts, you’ll also want to create a little “self-help kit” for yourself while you’re settling in. This could include useful phone numbers (emergency, ambulance, police, an Indian takeaway place – vital!), some basic First Aid supplies, essential toiletries, and friends’ or neighbours’ details.

5. Ask for help 
Please don’t be afraid to do this. Societies everywhere have so many institutions and entities in place that are (mostly) designed to aid anyone who needs guidance in a variety of instances. If you’re at a college or university, then this is even truer, since you’ll find a number of sources for support, such as counselling and career guidance. You can even simply chat to a classmate for some student-to-student tips.

6. Prepare for language problems 
If you cannot speak the main language of the new place in which you’ll be living, then you’d better start easing yourself into it as quickly as possible. You can easily make a head-start with online guides and courses (take a look at Megan's article on How to Learn a Language for Free). Alternatively, you might need to brush up on your new language of instruction if you’re not as proficient as you’d like to be. For example, most English-speaking universities offer Academic English lessons which can be exceptionally useful.

7. Explore your new environment
Living in a new place is always an exciting mini-voyage of discovery. First, pinpoint all the important places: grocery store, coffee shop, and health centre/doctor/clinic. Then make sure to devote a day or two each week for exploring different parts of your new town, and relish in the differences between your old home and your new one.

8. Appreciate your new academic environment
If you’ve moved to a new place for studying purposes, then you’ll also be faced with a new academic environment. Don’t fall into a huff about how your old university was miles better. Every new school has its own charm, and you’re bound to find certain facilities to be exponentially better than what you’d been previously used to.

9. Get people-skilled
Even if you’re usually pretty shy, it’s almost impossible to get through the first few weeks of a new course or job without speaking to a few people. During my first English Freshers’ Week, being surrounded by scores of strangers actually urged me to randomly introduce myself to similarly-alone students. The classic “what do you study?” or “which is your college?” questions will always get the ball rolling, and you’ll have made a new friend in no time at all.

10. Develop a renewed sense of adventure
You’re in a completely different place, and while you might have moments where you’ll feel homesick and aching for the familiarity of your native country, you’ve also got a million and one new adventures just waiting to be enjoyed in your newly-adopted home. Get out and enjoy every bit of it. It’s what life is all about.

Have you survived living abroad? Changed your life in any other way? Trying to muster the courage to take the leap? Share your story with us! An don't forget to go and say hello to Claire.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy V-Day!

Source unknown

True story. 

I spent a successfully romantic day wearing plastic heart earrings; planning adventures; smiling like I meant it; and sharing a de-lish meal by candlelight with an old friend. If you start with heart, you end with it too - remember that. Maybe he loves you, maybe he doesn't. Maybe she does, or maybe she doesn't. But, damn it, the universe loves you - it invited you to the party. You love you. And man, oh man, do I love you.

Now go spend the rest of the year with love...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Words to Live By #177

Image thanks to cari ann

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
Viktor E. Frankl

Quiet weekend on blog = a busy one for Megan in the real world. Some goodies coming this week though!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

20 Ways To Be Glamorous On A Budget

Image thanks to nemariella

This quick and dirty guide to glam comes from February sponsor and new internet-accomplice, the super sweet Stephanie of theglamguide.com. If you would like to guest-post on Charade, it would make my day to hear from you! Drop me a line: megan@charadestyle.com

1. Get groomed.  
Take your grooming standards to the next level. To be glamorous you should be pristine, with an extra coat of gloss in order to stand out. Master the basics and you’ll go far. Use Wikihow and Youtube to master DIY professional blow-drying, the art of a manicure or eyebrow grooming.

2. Sell your things on Ebay. 
Don’t underestimate the amount of money you can make by selling lots of little items. Sell any perfumes you’re now bored of. Sell clothes you’ve been seen a lot in (damn Facebook!), even if they’re still in style, so that you can freshen up your look at any time by buying other clothes off ebay with the money you make. It’s like swapping clothes! [Note from Megan: This is tres timely as I'm currently selling a veritable booty of vintage goodies myself!]

You can find unworn shoes, great bags, amazing jewellery and silk scarves if you look in the right areas.

4. Ask department stores about new fragrance releases
Show your interest and they may give you free testers, that way you can wear a new scent everyday and never get bored.
Glamour is more of an allure than a solid thing to have or experience, so practise your manners, confidence and even social skills.

6. Grab a coupon
Visit groupon.co.uk or, if you live in Scotland, itison.com. Here you can find amazing deals on glam places and experiences - examples can include 50% off champagne and cake, afternoon tea, a haircut in a top designer salon or an acrylic/gel manicure.

7. Hire a personal shopping service
Most shops offer this service for free. It’s a fantastic way to develop your style.

8. Enter travel competitions
You never know, one day you just might win and jet off to an exotic location. Take lots of photos!

9. Offer to review things for free
Whether your thing is hotels, cosmetics, services or food - a lot of businesses strive for good exposure and word of mouth.

10. Can’t afford a haircut? 
Could you be brave enough to buy a pair of professional cutting scissors? They are available from any bigger chemist for around ten pounds. They’ll last you forever and you won’t need to throw money away in a salon every six weeks. This is a good tutorial for cutting hair. You can also use a razor for your fringe.

11. Shine on
If it’s the shine from a professional blowdry you’re after - use a shine spray! Pantene Pro-V do an excellent one for £4.49. You’ll only need a couple of squirts per use.

12. Use a primer
This will help your makeup glide on effortlessly and give a flawless appearance. GOSH’s primer is very reasonably priced, as is Sleek’s!

13. Look for “dopes” 
Or rather, copies of the best-selling beauty products on the market. Often copies perform just as well as the real deal. See here and here.

14. Develop your own unmistakable personal branding and style. 
Only you can do this. Know what colours, patterns, details, and shapes flatter you. Develop signature colour combinations. For more help on this, see Megan’s article here.
These are key to a glam look and will last much longer than other cheaper offerings of which you will buy many. Know what to invest in.

16. Don't pooh-pooh Primark
It's a great first call for glamorous additions such as lingerie and heels.

17. Become a fan of Johnson’s Baby Oil
A 99p wonder that can be used for many things: a moisturiser, makeup remover, bath oil...

18. It's all in the details
Simply investing in a nice scarf can pull a whole look together and make it look much more glam. If you have the chance to bulk buy with a discount, do it, ie. 1 top in 6 colours. A glamorous look is sophisticated yet accessorized.

19. TK Maxx
Designer brands at high street prices? ‘Nuff said.

20. Get into the glam-groove
You cannot be glamorous if your surroundings are not. Tidy your space ‘til it gleams like a palace. Make sure your friends reflect who you are and who you want to be.

What are your thoughts on being glam without the big price-tag?

Visit Stephanie at The Glam Guide for more advice on how to be glamorous and have a successful life. Aspire to be great this year!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Words to Live By #176

Image thanks to haojan

"Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed."
Corita Kent

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Peek at the Week: 新年快樂!

That is, I hope, Happy New Year in Chinese! In celebration, some visiting friends and I went to Mshed to make lanterns (us and about 50 children!) and then for a tasty Chinese lunch.

In other news, a cheeky little outfit from last weekend. I'm all about spotty tights.
And I got a new mug. Winner. I hope you had a lovely week!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Saturday Salute 04.02.12 PLUS Winners!

Image thanks to jennifer
 
Well! It feels like a while since I did one of these bad boys! Had a grateful few days blogging-free after the mammoth month of Make Your Life Amazing 2012. Thank you so much for all your wonderful feedback - it really means a lot to hear it and encourages me to cook up more exciting projects. 

Before we go any further, here are the FIVE winners of totally fweeeee copies of Ambitious Happiness (numbers generated via random.org):

Comment #41 - Ally
Comment #7 - Jessica
Comment #27 - Liz
Comment #40 - Sara
Comment #28 - E*V

If that's you - yay! Email megan@charadestyle.com and I will reply with your copy of the eCourse. If you didn't win, please do consider buying one, your support makes the world of difference and it's good stuff - promise!

Now, here are some fun, distracting links ripe for the clicking:

// This may make you want to change your definition of 'The One.

"We convince ourselves that in the arms of ‘the one’, our lives will be complete and we will be able to live happily ever after. This kind of thinking is likely to keep us away from our true source of inner love."

// What's for you won't pass you by.

// “No one cares what you do. They care why you do it.”

// Yes. Yes Please.

// This is good reading. Will be buying the book fo'sho.


You're lovely. Besos!