• Stalf

A Guide to Self-Love...



(Words above by Syreeta Challinger, photograph taken at her home.)

Happy Valentine's Day wonderful readers! When I chatted to people about a Valentine's post here on the blog, it struck me that we all have such different views on this Day. It polarises people.

The Traditional View of Valentine's Day: A day to celebrate the feast of Saint Valentine?

The Cynical View of Valentine's Day: A day to spend a stack of money on whatever current commercial trend is thrown in our faces most proficiently?

I remember when I was at secondary school, Valentine's was actually quite exciting, perhaps more akin to how it was originally celebrated in the 14th Century courts of Chaucer's time. Lovers revealing their previously close-kept emotions. Bold confessions of secret intentions. A red envelope on your desk placed there by someone who snuck in before the bell rang. The teenage guessing game behind every biro-scribbled "?"

These days I have to admit it's much more "oh shit, forgot it was Valentine's Day, ah well we never bother anyway!"

And so, with all the above reflections thrown into the balance, I present to you-

The Stalf view of Valentine's Day: A day to celebrate love in all it's forms, but particularly self-love! Use today as an excuse to have a word with yourself, remember those things you get just right, the things you love about yourself and adore them unashamedly!

If, like me, you feel that a little inspiration is required at this point, here are three wonderful women. First of all, I want to tell you exactly why I love them and then they'll tell you exactly why they love themselves, how they make time for themselves and hopefully inspire you to do the same.

A Mother's Guide to Self-Love...

Charlotte Jacklin

32

Blogger and Podcaster.

bettymagazine.co.uk

@charlottejacklin


It was a gorgeous January morning. A wintery Thursday with a crisp chill and my breath clouding up the windscreen of the car. The sun was shining already as my car sped up the A15 towards Lincoln to shoot Charlotte at her home.

I LOVE Charlotte. There, I've said it. I wanted to open with that statement, but felt the need to add in the above sentences to appear less full-on. I'm 100% sure you all follow her over on instagram already and read her wonderful blog, but if you don't (WHAAT?) I give you the gift of "Betty Magazine."

Here's what I love about Charlotte (in no particular order)...

She's a pastel queen with a side of floral and a huge dollop of kitsch and it really is sooo pleasing to browse through her photography.

She's from Lincolnshire and has just moved back to Lincoln (big up the 'shire, oy! oy! oy!)

She's just as wonderful in person- smiley, happy and that fringe!! (it's a 10!)

She writes beautifully. As the owner of a brand who collaborates with people like Charlotte all the time, I find her content genuine, funny, useful and also perfectly eloquent.

I couldn't write a conclusive pros list without mentioning Charlotte's daughter June- she is the most adorable bundle of toddler-shaped gorgeousness. (She also rocks the cutest outfits, humoured me when I tried to find common ground with a hundred photos of Jude on my phone and LOVES a satsuma- what a gal!)

Charlotte, her fiance Jack, June and I stood for a little while propping up the kitchen units, chatting about how nice it is to meet your insta-colleagues in real life. About ten minutes later, June's Grandma and Grandad whisked her away, arms filled with O-R-A-N-G-E-S and a packet of C-R-I-S-P-S, (I too, as a mother of a toddler, am forever spelling out the names of all the temptations instead of living on the edge and saying the words out loud.)

Charlotte makes you feel at ease the instant the conversation begins. Within half an hour of me arriving, she'd given me a full tour of the house and had insisted that I take away two bookends that I'd happened to mention were exactly what I was looking for for my kitchen shelves (true story! Jack informs me that she's forever giving things away!) It's a little quirk that I hadn't expected, but is totally symptomatic of Charlotte's character. She's beyond thoughtful, so understanding, always seeing the positives and keen to share all the good things about every person who comes into conversation. Don't get me wrong though, she tempers this gorgeous thoughtfulness with a quick sense of humour and happily mocks the situations she finds herself in (her insta-stories are always uplifting with a side of witty sarcasm.)

We chatted changing body shapes, becoming a mum for the first time, all the huge transitions that this phase of life brings, making new friends, connecting with like-minded creatives and when I shut her gate behind me a couple of hours later (corny alert!) I really felt like I was taking a new friend away with me along with two reaaaally nice Oliver Bonas bookends!

Making time for yourself.

In Charlotte's Words...

A Meal for Two with our Best.

It's so easy to sit down on the sofa and eat dinner in front of the TV after June has gone to bed. I love the sense of occasion and ritual of getting my best plates, glasses and candles out to make it feel special. I have lots of different things in the garage (sorry Jack) and I try to not save them for best, and use them weekly for a lovely dinner at home.





Quiet Time with a Book.

I've really let reading take a side seat since having my daughter, it's something I really am trying to encourage myself to make time for as I was such a book worm before.

Giving myself permission to sit down and not worry about any of my to do list, it'll never get done, so might as well enjoy a few pages of a good book.




Self-Care, a bathroom Ritual.

As I spend a lot more time at home now, I really love the ritual of skincare and looking after my skin. I've always been one for taking my make up off, but after I learnt some good advice that your skincare regime should be a bit like a wardrobe and reflect what your skin needs at the time. In the dark winter you don't need the same products as you would in the middle of August, at the moment I love quick face masks to hydrate my skin in the colder weather.





Quick Q+A...

Self love, my definition...

It's been a long road and one I am learning more about everyday. It's not something we are taught about in school, and learning to listen to myself and what I need are what I'm making time for everyday.

One thing I've achieved today...

I got showered, dressed and put my make up on. When self employed and working from home it can be too easy to stay in your PJs and not make an effort, but this is a promise I made to myself last year to do and it puts me a in a much better mood and ready for work.

Two things in my life I'm grateful for...

Family and friends, a cliche but it's so true. They make this life.

Three things I do regularly that are just for me...

Light candles, buy flowers and

Four things I love about myself...

My hair, my lips, sense of no f*cks when it comes to wearing what I want and I think I'm quite kind...

Tell the person reading this something they should love about themselves...

All of you, even the bad bits. No-one is perfect, we all have negative traits but they make you unique and you're so worthwhile.

Every time you hear that little voice in your head telling you otherwise, tell it to go the hell away, or counter balance it by saying something nice.

A simple reflection...

Life's not a dress rehearsal, wear whatever you want and live to please yourself not others!

What Charlotte Wore in these Photos...


Tie Midi Dress

Black


Overalls

Ice Cream


Sweatshirt / Sweatpants

Black + White Stripe

A Single Girl's Guide to Self-Love...

Jade Thompson

25

Workshop Coordinator, STALF.

@jadeevelynt


You all know my top Stalf gal, Jade.

She's at the centre of everything we do here at the Pink Studio. She's the one with the pink hair who answers all your emails and is at the heart of every single studio process.

She knows me almost better than I know myself, pre-empts what I'm about to say or do, never reminds me when I do things wrong or forget things and when she rolls her eyes at a hair-brained suggestion I put to her, I know I'm onto a good thing (and secretly, she knows it too!)

She's the first person who forced me to delegate, to let go of areas of our wonderful business and to trust that another person "gets it" and cares just as much as I do.

Don't get me wrong, she's responsible for almost every smashed pot, unwatered plant, coffee spill and swears like no one else I have ever met. Ever. But she also instigates the many, many giggles, dance-offs and crying-with-laughter moments we have on the daily here at Stalf HQ. (Get yourself on Insta Stories to follow along.)

I really mean it when I say I'd trust this one with my whole world and every single thing in it. There are very few people who occupy that kind of space for me. Quite frankly, when she's away, it's just not the same- there's a Jade-shaped void in our day-to-day.

I asked Jade to take on the "Single Girl's Guide".

For me, she represents the kind of woman who has really grown to love herself over time. I get a real sense she's been on a journey with accepting herself, mind body and soul and at 25, she's come to the realisation so young that she loves every single part. I really didn't start accepting myself in a similar way until I fell pregnant and had my baby (what a journey that takes you on!)

This girl knows her mind, and knows how to tell you exactly what's on it. She knows how she feels and what she needs. She knows she can eat what she wants and dress how she wants and look how she wants exactly when she wants. Sometimes she turns up to work looking like Einstein had a run in with a Cocoon Jumpsuit and a box of pink hair dye. Sometimes she channels a more groomed look! Either way, she always turns up with her gorgeous smile, wild laugh, wicked personality and a huge dollop of empowered WOMAN!

Making time for yourself.

In Jade's Words...

A Walk with your Love.

Walking Mabel is up there with my favourite things to do. Her tootling along beside me with the tail that never stops waggling and views of the Lincolnshire wolds. She has got a penchant for going to the toilet in the middle of busy zebra crossings though, so you can’t have it all.



Letting your Hair Down.

The best part of a night out is getting ready. I love it. Getting out all of your fancy makeup that never usually sees the light of day, the ultimate get ready playlist (I’ve got loads, would recommend my Spotify) a large gin and 2 hours to play about with false eyelashes and highlighter.




The Morning after the Night Before.

Wake up, feel fine, think ‘hmm I didn’t even do anything bad last night’ and then it hits you… Welcome, a whole day of deleting messages, pictures and insta stories. The only saving grace being my Stalf sweatpants, sweatshirt and a cuddle from my dog who doesn’t care about my terrible insta stories but does seem to be judging me from the sidelines (the bathroom floor).




Quick Q+A...

Self love, my definition...

Self love is accepting that your hair will always be a little bit frizzy, it’s eating that second sandwich, allowing yourself to think ‘I like the way I look today’ and realising that you do not have to be friends with people you don’t like. It’s also sharing your bed with your dog, obviously.

One thing I've achieved today...

I put a brush through my mane.

Two things in my life I'm grateful for...

  • My dog, Mabel. She’s part of me (whether she likes it or not!).

  • My job. It came just as my life was steering in a new direction and it’s possibly the best thing to have ever happened to me.

Three things I do regularly that are just for me...

  • I like to buy myself a nice book once a month. Usually poetry.

  • Go for a run. Even If it’s just for the smug feeling afterwards.

  • I like listening to podcasts on my way to work. My fav is The High Low.

Four things I love about myself...

  • My boobs.

  • My name, just think it’s nice! Thanks Dad.

  • My smile.

  • I’m really good at making béchamel sauce.

Tell the person reading this something they should love about themselves...

We have to put up with ourselves forever so why not embrace who we are? You should love everything about yourself, even the things you’re not so keen on. You should start by loving those things first. Also, you’ve definitely got a really great bum!

A simple reflection...

Simple reflections remind me of my Nana, who is always full of reflective wisdom and one liners. She once said to me out the blue, sat on the floor of her living room by her open fire with a cigarette in hand ‘as long as I’ve got my fags and my fire I’ll be happy’. Which made me think, it really is the simple things in life which make us the most content and we should be more content with the things that we have instead of always trying to achieve the next thing. Live in the moment, be more Nana Pat. (Less the smoking, I don’t condone that).

What Jade Wore in these Photos...


Cocoon Jumpsuit

Parma Violet

A Romantic's Guide to Self Love...

Syreeta Challinger

37

Owner of MOSS (Moments of Sense and Style.)

momentsofsenseandstyle.co.uk

@momentsofsenseandstyle


I arrived at Syreeta's flat (which she shares with her husband and business partner, Rob) just after 1- a little late, flustered from attempting to back my car into a spot it didn't want to go into, "Sorryyyyyyyy, sorry, sorry!!"

If you've not met Syreeta, she's very level, graceful. Very serene. If you've ever met me, you'll know I'm none of those things. Yet the Paris who walked back out of Syreeta's flat 2 hours later imbibed with a little of her magical calm would have you fooled!

After a big hug in the chilly January air and a quick trot across the car park out of the cold, I found myself 5 minutes later sat in Syreeta's kitchen, grazing on a bowlful of cherries and sipping a hot cup of tea. I feel these details are important. Syreeta is such a wonderful, subtle host. Very caring, very thoughtful, but not at all showy. It's an extension of her wonderful character and her approach to the way life has played out for her and Rob. In 2014, Rob suffered a brain haemorrhage and stroke. The couple's life changed forever, slowed down. Over on her website, Syreeta cites her life before as being "nomadic; always on the move, flying at an insane pace and never still. As they say; a rolling stone gathers no moss. The old adage rings true. After years of travelling and working abroad, the time to stay still has come." Since then, Syreeta has shared their story. Finding ways to cope with such huge change, seeking solace in the little, the everyday, the simple and working together with Rob to create lifestyle store and studio, MOSS (Moments of Sense and Style.)

Syreeta is now Rob's full time carer. In her own words, she says they both lost their homes, their jobs and their identities. Theirs is a fairy tale turned on its head, but is no less full of love and romance.

Now if I can transport you back to this January, both of us sat in the kitchen as we chatted about this piece- my ideas for it, her natural response, and what she'd like to share of her and Rob's life. I mentioned that rather than focusing on Valentine's Day as an excuse to spend money, I wanted to pull together a piece about self-love, and using the day as an excuse to make time for it. A small smile crept across Syreeta's face. I knew why it was there- as soon as the words left my lips I knew I agreed with that small smile. An excuse to make some time for self care? An excuse to love yourself and show a little appreciation? Surely that should be happening every single day, in small, simple ways? A solo cup of coffee. A quiet flick through a favourite book. A few reflections written on a page. Syreeta's graceful, wise, simple appreciation of every day is contagious, she's much more of a love EVERY DAY kind of girl.

"So I thought you could tackle the Romantic's Guide?" I asked. Syreeta nodded. "Yes, I've aways thought if myself as a romantic. A hopeful romantic."

Making time for yourself.

In Syreeta's Words...

"It’s hard to make time for ourselves in this ever switched on world, more so as a care giver, whether it be like me, for your partner or even as a parent. For me, I’ve learnt the hard way, that no one else can do it for us; we have to create our own time and space. Which ultimately is the most wonderful act and gift of self love there is. Cherishing your own time, honouring yourself.

I’ve created something of a daily ritual.

I get up at least an hour earlier than Rob. The flat is super quiet. I make tea or a juice, before lighting a candle. The ceremony of striking the match, announces my time."



"I tend to start the day nestled on the sofa with my tea, at peace, sat contemplating the day ahead. I try to keep at it and write my daily gratitude list first, no more than three things to keep me grounded and with a full heart for the day. So simple, yet can really help shift your mind to seeing the good in what you have rather than what you lack. And it doesn’t need to be deep, some days I am thankful for maple syrup on my porridge!

If I feel the urge, I let my thoughts out on the page, allowing the words to free flow. When going through challenging decision making, it can really help. Or even when feeling good, it can be a release and a way of calming a chatty mind."


"I’m sat on the sofa for no more than half an hour, before I move my body, whether it be a yoga stretch or a dance with my head phones on! But that sets me up for the day, content that I’ve had time and space that’s truly mine.

Some days though, I feel so weary, it’s simply nice to sit and be with myself. I’m only human after all.

Towards the end of the day, I do my utmost to cook from scratch. It sounds daunting but you can make it quick and easy, especially good for when on a budget. Cooking is almost a meditative creative practice for me too. Not only that, but nourishing your body with wholesome food is the ultimate act of self love. Feeding your soul, you can taste the love that goes into homemade dishes! There are many recipes that you can rustle up without much hassle and are super healthy. It tastes even better if you have someone to share it with too.

The art of sitting at a table to eat is being lost. To sit down together, at a table, sharing what you’ve been up to during the day with your loved ones is underrated. It creates connection and spreads love, the simple act of being able to enjoy food slowly, mindfully and beautifully. It doesn’t have to be fancy either, even humble cheese on toast tastes all the better for being at a table."


"I had the pleasure of cooking for Paris when she popped over. A super simple soup made with love.

I roughly chopped 2 red peppers and 6 large tomatoes and mixed them up in a baking dish. Crushed two cloves of garlic with skin still on, covered in olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Roasted in the over for 30mins/until the peppers are slightly charred. Once done, remove the garlic skins, add everything to 500ml of veg stock, simmering for 10mins. Blitz with hand blender and voila! Tasty homemade soup for a winters day. Serve with brown bread and butter. Why not stir in a spoon of yoghurt if you like a creamier option."

Quick Q+A...

Self love, my definition…

Knowing my needs, making sure they are met.

One thing I've achieved today…

Sitting down quietly, without interruption and writing this for you :)

Two things in my life I'm grateful for…

Love and a second chance at life with Rob.

Three things I do regularly that are just for me…

A quick swim.

A walk to blow the cobwebs away.

A catch up with friends, cake or food optional, laughter most definitely included.

Four things I love about myself…

The grace I managed to summon when things get tough.

My smile.

The positive outlook combined with a dark sense of humour.

My long legs.

Tell the person reading this something they should love about themselves…

Every inch of you! You’re a beautiful human being who is worthy of all your hearts desires.

A simple reflection…

No matter what you’re going through, there is always a way through.

What Syreeta Wore...


Overalls

Black


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