Filters + Their Impact

Filter means to pass through a device to remove unwanted material. 

They are designed to ensure that the consumer/viewer gets a refined, perfect perception of the product – or the person. 

Water filters: get rid of dirt and tiny bacterial particles – removing impurities. 

Snapchat filters: don’t allow the story viewer to see anything that doesn’t keep within the highest beauty standards. They also remove ‘impurities’. 

So, as a consumer, all we see is a ‘perfect’ picture. We don’t get to see what flaws, according to our unattainable beauty standards, were present before. We try out the filter ourself, noticing how it sculpts our jaw to a perfect point, adds blush to our pale cheeks, ensures freckles are dotted on the nose to make it look ‘somewhat natural’.

Filters are deceiving, especially those that change our outward appearance.

Notice a Year 7s Instagram, and how every selfie has a Snapchat filter on it? Apps such as Snapchat, and even Instagram now, prey on people’s insecurities. Young teenagers who are only just beginning to notice these negative inward thoughts are being provided a solution in the click of a finger. A flawed solution, might I add. Because filters only contribute to a further downward spiral.

Where the Internet used to provide a happy escape from these insecurities, now people have to escape from the Internet. The Internet, social media in particular, has become so experienced at looking sharp, refined and ‘perfect’ that it’s hard to distinguish what is fake and what isn’t. 

Without the ‘before’ images, how will we ever know what has been changed?

And Instagram posts – they have filters and presets too.

I use my own Lightroom preset to make my feed look coordinated. It lifts the brightens of my photographs, changes reds to deep browns, affects the way people see my life. Because everyone does this, we think we can get away without sharing the before.

But no.

Every now and then, its important to display the raw, unedited photographs compared to the ‘after’. Otherwise your followers are receiving a warped perception of your life – which leads to declining mental health over time.

And you wonder- how can an edited photo do so much?

Despite our efforts to prevent it: comparison. 

You look at your desk – and it doesn’t look like the photo with 1000 likes on Instagram… “am I doing something wrong?”

“My garden never looks that green… ugh why is my life so dull?”

“I wish my face looked that glowy. My only glow is my greasy acne scars.”

“I can’t understand why their life looks so aesthetic.”

We know that what we’re seeing on Instagram is purely a highlight reel, yet we can’t help that part of our brains that believes their life is perfect all of the time. 

When you are catching yourself having these thoughts regularly, step down from social media for a bit. Enjoy life. Unfiltered life. Appreciate the beautiful trees that dot the landscape on your daily walks – even though they’re not bright green or ‘beautiful’. Understand that what makes life special is its imperfections: the things that don’t go to plan, and the spontaneous solutions to unexpected problems. 

Learn that nothing is ever perfect. 

Any long term readers of my blog will know that this isn’t my regular style of post! My friend Rachel reached out to my a few weeks ago, about her project on discussing the impact of filters. After forming a group chat – where there were many submissions – Rachel brought snippets of everyone’s writing on the topic together, to form a short, impactful video. You can check that out my clicking here. I really stretched outside of my comfort zone, discussing something I never have done before. It was really testing of my writing ability, too! Of course, Rachel couldn’t include all of my piece. So I thought it would be nice to post the full thing on here for any of you that haven’t seen the video.

I really hope you like it. Let me know if you want to see more posts in this style in the future!

Catherine x

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How I Personally Approach Self-Care

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well and safe. Excitingly, today’s post is a group collaboration with some amazing teen bloggers. I will link them right at the end for you to check out!

The announcement of a national lockdown last Monday sent ripples all across England. It’s been a difficult few months – suffering through the winter of a pandemic with the future being uncertain. My Instagram feed has, thoughtfully, been saturated with self-care posts. The group has decided to hop on to this bandwagon, although some of us are going to be taking a different approach. 

Over a year ago, a post of mine ‘These Aren’t Your Regular Self-Care Tips’ gained a mass of attention. Looking back, there are points to further explain and add on to. Consider this post the ‘sister’ of last year’s. I’m going to share ways I personally practise self-care.

Everyone should accept that they have different perception of self-care. Where a relaxing bath works for one person, a walk works for someone else. Personally, I find ticking off to-do lists and reducing procrastination therapeutic. It’s hard for me to ever relax when there are deadlines to be met. Of course, I don’t over-work myself. By 6pm I try to shut off from all forms of work. I just find getting things done now helps my future self feel less stressed – which is a form of self-care. Occasionally it’s important to not care at all, make your future self cope with the consequences, and have a day off. 

Although I did in the past, now I don’t think I should share ‘self care ideas’ on my blog because it is so individual – and without knowing the circumstances it’s hard to advise what people should do. This post is going to be a little list of things I do to take care of myself, and you can take away what you want, but this is just what works for me. 

  • Have a bath pamper
  • Put on a comfort programme (namely Doctor Who, Miranda, Downton Abbey, Gavin and Stacey)
  • Watch YouTube under a blanket
  • Read a book
  • Journal
  • Do some colouring with an audiobook as company
  • Go for a walk with a friend
  • Have a One Direction dance party (this really boosts my mood – just to dance like no-one is watching)
  • Bake! Trying out new recipes is always fun
  • Watch comedy with my family on the sofa downstairs, perhaps with a fire lit
  • Knitting 
  • Scroll through Goodreads and add yet more books to my TBR
  • Video call a friend
  • Go for a solo walk
  • Explore a place I haven’t been before

There is no routine to my self-care, I just do these things whenever I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Normally I take Saturday as a complete day off social media and schoolwork. Although throughout the week I will do something for ‘me’ every day so I never hit breaking point. Of course I absoutely love being on social media and interacting with everyone! Fortunately my feed is such a postive space, and I have cultiavted to be that way. However, being costantly updated with 100s of people’s lives does get exhausting. Taking a step back allows me to appreciate my return. But from a health perspective, online school increases my interaction with screens so there is a certain point where I just need to say ‘no’ and be less digital for a day. I have had frequent problems associated with blue light in the past, even white paper and lights makes my eyes water sometimes. I don’t know why they’re so sesntive to light (I’m a vampire?) but I put precautions in place – like my day off social media!

I really hope you enjoyed today’s post. To see more self-care related posts as part of our group collab, simply click below!

Beth Lucy Blogs

Infintely A Day Dreamer 

Imaan Aziz (her’s will go live as an Instagram post!)

Meghan’s Teen Life

Pati Cool

Christina And Camera

Isabella Kate Blog

Zainab Chats

I love these girls so much and their blogs are (in my opinion) some of the best teen blogs out there. Enjoy your visits to their awesome websites!

How are you going to care for yourself today? 

Catherine x

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Self-Care | Chats With Cath

Welcome back to blogmas day 16!

A couple of weeks ago I posted this to my Instagram story. It had a very positive response and I think it is worth sharing here of WordPress too.

Because my blog so often talks about productivity, it’s important to define what productivity is. 

I would say it’s using a given set of time effectively in any situation.

For example, I have a headache but I have lots of school work to do. In that situation, I would take a rest and wait until the headache goes away before I tackle any work. It’s listening to my body. And if I need to rest, I need to rest.

On Saturday I had a lie-in until 9 which is very unlike me. I was disappointed in myself for not waking up at the right time, but then I winded back a few steps. My body needed that rest. My mind needed that lie-in. And without it, my day would have been less energised. 

I felt it was important to address this as my blog so closely focusses on studying! I’m not always working at my desk. I’m not always happily working at my desk. Everyone has bad days.

By the time you’re seeing this, it will be my last day of school in 2020. That’s crazy. 

This year has flown by. There have been some moments that felt slower than others and they stay alive in my mind.

I can’t wait for the new year. Though of course, I don’t want to wish away the end of this one. 

2021 excites me with its uncertainty. Hopefully it will be a better year for the world. But if not, let’s support each other. Love. Kindness. I will be carrying those two on my back in 2021 like wings. 

Enough about the future, let’s talk about the now. More specifically, self-care.

I asked you in my post the other day how you like to practise self-care. Your comments were a joy to respond to. 

This time last year I shared a post named ‘these aren’t your regular self-care tips’ and it’s a post I am still to this day proud of! 

However, in 365 x 24 hours a lot changes, so let’s talk about how I practise self-care these days.

  • Eating nutritious food, less of the processed stuff that makes me feel rotten
  • Waking up and going to sleep at consistent times
  • Always preparing for the following morning
  • Exercising. Making myself go outside even when I don’t feel like it.
  • Taking breaks form social media guilt free
  • Journaling
  • Taking photos of precious moments, or by taking photos turning things into precious moments

Self-care isn’t a face mask on a Sunday. It is what you consistently do. 

This post flows like a stream of consciousness, and stutters and stalls like a conversation. 

I just wanted to write something from me. Almost like a letter. And I hope you enjoyed reading.

What have you been up to today?

Along with some boring things that you wouldn’t care to read about, I baked some gingerbread men! I am yet to ice them but I think I’ll do that when the Strictly Results come on. 

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Catherine x

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10 Casual Magic Moments This Week | Collab With Ella’s Rambles

Casual magic? What is it?

Casual magic is a term cultivated by the successful conscious living/wellness blogger UnJaded Jade. Her successful YouTube channel based on self-improvement is a huge part of my life. Jade is an inspiration to me and one habit she implements that I took into my own is casual magic. Casual magic is synonymous with gratitude, but it’s more about the small simple pleasures in life than larger concepts (as you will see in this post).

Casual magic makes every day different. In times like lockdown it is especially important because other wise the days never differentiate. I’ve had severe cases of ‘every day is like the one before’ but casual magic does set it apart a little!

I apologise for the appalling quality of these photographs. As the laptop still isn’t working, I have to take photos on my phone and can’t export any I take on my camera 😭

My beautiful blogging friend Ella is also a casual magic advocate; today we bring you a collaboration! I will share 10 moments of casual magic with you, then you can click here to see Ella’s ‘casual magic’.

Appreciation for the little things is an essential part in your mindset. It sets you up for success, keeps you grounded in overwhelming moments and allows time to pass ‘slower’.

The concept of casual magic has kept me sane this year.

I hope reading my moments of thankfulness will inspire you to take a few of your own. 

1) Moonlight shining brightly through my window

The other night I woke up, around 5am, and the moolight was beating down on my bed like sun. It’s rare that light gets into my room as a beam so this was very precious and special. It felt like I was in a horrow film, Twilight, or a being reborn like a werewolf in a fairytale. This was pure magic – literally. My friend who lives nearby also recognised the wide and bright moon and put out her crystals to bathe in it. How cool is that?

2) Washing my hands with a really nicely scented soap

Molton Brown soap to be precise – very boujee! I don’t want to complain about hand sanitiser because it is a convenient way to stop us getting corona. But the constant application thorughout the day gets a bit boring, especially with the stinky hand sanitisers (if you know you know). Washing my hands with posh soap was so *cleansing* and I loved it. 

3) My Instagram DMs

Today I flicked from my personal account to my blog account. The personal account was dry and a bit depressing, but my blog one was full of lovely messages down to even your colourful profile photos. You make me so, so happy. Thank you – even if you just say hi ❤

4) Vibing to ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ as I replied to blog comments

It’s probably my favourite Christmas song! I was in my dad’s ‘office’ space spinning around on his chair because spinny chairs are superior, singing to Band Aid. Considering all the stress of end of term assessments, this moment felt extra happy. I’m drowning in schoolwork and even more worried about these tests. But we can do it. Turn up that Boy George!

5) Heavy duvet

This makes no sense, really. But you know how sometimes your duvet feels heavier than normal and you’re compltely sunk into your bed? I had one of those moments one morning. I had to get up early haha, but knowing I’d slept well was defintely *casual magic* because it made me more confident in conquering the day ahead. I had slept well. There’s no better feeling.

6) Sunset at 4pm

A magical moment – the school bell ringing and walking towards the bus park while sunset colours adorn the sky. These last few moments of daylight are really magical, and also important to remember as the nights get colder and darker. There is beauty in darkness!

7) Getting my Christmas decorations early

On Friday I was sent home from school due to a positive COVID test in my year group ‘bubble’. We were ushered out of the school around 12. There were no lessons in the afternoon, no set work at all. So mum brought down a few Christmas decorations! We’ve not got the big tree up yet, but my mini one went up and I strung some multi-coloured fairy lights all along my picture rail. It was very magical and I’m so grateful I can spend Christmas with my family this year.

8) Conversations with friends

Talking with my friends is so lovely. They’re kind, patient, funny and the perfect company. Linking back to be sent home from school, there were a few moments when we were talking that I really felt grounded and happy. As we were walking out of school, I was so surprised by the events of the day that most things felt surreal. Except this. I’m so glad I had a final in-person conversation before my 14 day quarantine. 

9) A drizzle of snow

As I was putting up my decorations that Friday afternoon, a bit of snow started to fall! It didn’t stick because it had previously rained but that doesn’t excuse how special it felt. Christmas music, Christmas decorations, Christmas weather!

10) Helping my mum set up her business Instagram page

Last night I was helping mum set up her Instagram page for her business. I ran through what needed to be in a bio, how to attract customers, why your profile photo and headline is like your ‘store-front’. It was fun! And it’s something that I’m good at – at least she thinks so – and that was very reassuring. A nice boost of confidence 🙂 Now I’m locked up for 14 days, I’ll be spending more time with family and I’ve got to appreciate those little moments.

Writing this post was really refreshing. Thank you so much to Ella, the person who is collborating on this post with me, for the idea. When I did my face reveal, I refreshed my niche to ‘conscious living’ so that I can focus on topics I am really passionate about such as wellness, lifestyle and sustainability. 

One thing I advocate is gratitude. Gratitude for the little things. It is so important to appreciate where you are now, in spite of your difficulites or goals. Through practicing thankfulness you can truly fulfil your potential, and reach mental wellness. 

This post was beneficial to me, but I also hope you enjoyed reading it.

What is your casual magic today?

Catherine x

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Remember 2017 When I Used To Share My Deepest Thoughts? Well We’re Doing That Again. Let’s Chat… About Grief

I’m not sure where to start. There’s a lot to unpack.

Sometimes, as I clean my teeth, I write a whole blog post in my head. I did that today, and now I need to get the ‘toothbrushing’ thoughts on to paper. Does anyone else do that? I’ve been in this blogging trade for 3 years, 3 of the most important years of my life, so it’s ingrained into me at this point.

Today I wanted to unpack. That’s an analogy that I will be using a lot in this post. First, my mind wandered to journaling. I thought it would be best to journal this. Then I realised, as I put literal pen to paper, that it would be too emotionally challenging. I know that sounds weak ‘you can’t even write, eww’ but honestly. I almost started crying.

As we head into a new month, you might be thinking about unloading the negativity, and only carrying through the good bits.

That, I’m afraid, doesn’t always work.

Right at the start of the year, I lost one of my closest relatives. I thought of telling you, but my blog at that time was so ‘professional’. To be honest, it didn’t really feel like me as I sat and wrote at the keyboard. I was ‘Erin’. Erin was almost like an alter-ego, but to a point where it felt kind of toxic. I loved the content I was writing, of course, but it didn’t feel like I was writing it. Erin wrote it. Erin received praise and accepted it gladly, but it all these lovely comments never felt like they were for me. I still struggle now. I AM Catherine. People DO care about and love my blog. It’s so hard to accept. But yes, I can be awesome sometimes. 

So I never told you.

It didn’t hit me until just today, 7 months after she had died. When I was first told, Mum said ‘grief comes in waves’ and I completely understand that now. 

Granny was probably the member of my family I was closest to, outside of Mum, Dad and Jon (my brother).

But when I heard the news I was completely unbothered and went on with my day. 

For 7 months I pretended everything was okay, and everything felt okay. Of course I was sad, but not as sad as I ‘should be’. 

Then came around mine and my brother’s birthdays.

She wasn’t there.

She won’t spring back from the dead to say happy birthday. What was I expecting? There was just this absence. It didn’t really feel like my birthday without Granny. And I know this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me. I know people who have lost their parents at a young age, and I know that must feel 10x worse. But when it’s your first ‘proper’ loss, you are foolish, naive and don’t know what to expect. 

Today is my brother’s birthday, and my best friend’s. I should be happy. I had zuccini bread for breakfast, camped in my friend’s field, ate a ton of cake and spent time with family. Although I am content, it doesn’t stretch further than contentment. I am so incredibly grateful for today. I got to live another 24 spectacular hours on this planet.

I just feel a bit empty. 

Yesterday I was brimming with life and fun and excitement. That version of Catherine is still inside somewhere, just not today.

I find it hard to accept that in my perfect life, things can be less than perfect. I have everything a teenage girl could ask for. I live happily with my family. I have clean water, a bed and a roof over my head. A beautiful cat, a platform to share my thoughts and receive responses from like minded people.

On some days, though, you won’t be okay.

Now I would like to return to the analogy I mentioned at the beginning of the post, about ‘unpacking’.

We’re catching a flight to September. You have one suitcase and hand luggage. What are you going to take with you? What will you keep in your hand luggage, right by your side as you’re flying? And what will go below the seats, in your suitcase? 

No-one goes on holiday with all of their possessions.

You have a suitcase to pack. So pack it wisely.

You’re probably going to put in all the happy things and leave the negativity behind. You might take the good experiences with you and forget about the seemingly ‘bad’.

That’s what I did.

I moved on from January, the month my granny passed away. I’ve taken 6 flights since then, my suitcase being unpacked and repacked so many times. 

Really, I should have taken Granny’s passing with me.

It has made me stronger. 

It has taken 7 months for it to eventually hit me. I needed those seven months. But if I hadn’t gone back to pack grief into the suitcase, I would never be able to understand it.

I hope those metaphors don’t scare you away from my blog. I love using things like that though.

Whatever you carry into September, I hope it serves you well. Many good things will come to you in September, that you will be able to carry in your suitcase to October. Maybe your suitcase will expand in size, maybe it will shrink. Leave behind the things that don’t serve you. Just NEVER forget to pack in the mistakes and the hardships. You learn from them and they will make you stronger.

Grief isn’t negative.

It’s a natural part of being human and living in a mortal world.

Grief isn’t positive either.

Grief is beyond comprehension. It’s just so complicated. There’s no quick fix, and even if you could find one don’t use it. Let the wound heal naturally and give yourself time to recover. But if, like me, it takes seven months to deeply sink in, allow time for that too. 

I’ll love you and leave you. Wishing you all the best for September,

Catherine xxx

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