chloehelenmiles

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Step One – Does it fit? 

If it’s too small or too big, forget it. Oversized works on some items: boyfriend shirts, baggy t-shirts, floaty dresses, big ol’ woolly jumpers, it’s all good. But it has to be oversized in the right way. If it should clench your waist but it doesn’t, it’s bound to be unflattering. If an item’s too small, making bulges in places they don’t belong and stopping you from being able to lift your arms up, it’s not a good look.

So, step one: make sure it fits.

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Step Two – Do you feel comfortable?

This has long been my number one question when choosing an outfit. Nothing looks worse than constantly having to pick up your straps or tug on your riding-up skirt. Whatever you wear, make sure you can move. Make sure nothing feels restricted or uncomfortable. Obviously, we can’t always be baggy t-shirt and trackies comfortable, sometimes we have to wear figure hugging dresses and heels, but just make sure you can walk in those heels without looking like a horse doing a Spanish Walk.

Spanish Walk Horse Gif

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Step Three – Do you feel confident?

Confidence is key. When you look in the mirror do you feel good? Feeling confident in what you wear will make you happier, it will make you stand tall and it will make you walk with a spring in your step.

If you can say yes to these three questions, I can guarantee, you will look great.

Shot by Ryan Winterbotham

Dress – Magali Pascal / Shoes – Forever 21 / Bag – Zadig & Voltaire / Sunglasses – Rayban / Rope Belt – Forever 21 / Name Coin Necklace – Bethany Joy London / Karma Necklace – Lily Who / Long Pendant Necklace – Katie Mullally Silver

 

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The ‘Naomi’ – Novah Swimwear

I got my first Novah bikini over a year ago. It’s been on many holidays and spa trips and impressed me with its ability to maintain its original shape and colour. They are the highest quality bikinis I’ve ever owned.

In February I received an email from Maddy, founder of Novah Swimwear, proposing making a charity piece together. Of course I jumped at the chance. Naomi House came to mind immediately. We chose the colour based on the Naomi House logo and staff shirts.

Naomi House opened on 27th June 1997, two days after Dylan was born. We first visited when Dylan was 10 months old. I was only two at the time and I was so excited I pooed on the floor. Let’s keep that between us.

Naomi House is a children’s hospice based in Winchester. They provide respite support for families of children with life-limiting and terminal conditions. I know the word ‘Hospice’ can carry some negative connotations, conjuring up images of sadness and death. But our experience at Naomi House was the exact opposite, their aim being to make the most of life. In addition to the support given to Dylan and my parents, my sister and I were privileged to have been invited to do many sibling activities that we would never have had the chance to do otherwise. From sailing trips to helicopter rides to hover-crafting.

All families were allocated 14 nights a year. Sometimes Dylan went there on his own but normally we would all go together. Naomi House provide food and accommodation for the whole family.  Their motto was “A home from home.” which is exactly what it felt like. We always knew a warm welcome was waiting for us and we always felt relaxed, comfortable and knew we were going to have a lot of fun.

We went to Naomi House for over 16 years and we’re still friends with the families and staff we met there.

Undoubtedly, the greatest support we received from Naomi House was when Dylan died. We knew we wanted Dylan to be at home in his bedroom with us around him when he died and that we wanted him to then go to Naomi House. They have a special suite there where children who have died can stay and be visited by their families until their funeral. Dylan was there for almost two weeks and we went to visit him every day. This time was very precious to us. We read his favourite books, sang his favourite songs and cried a lot.

The staff gave us so much support and helped us with all of the official requirements and funeral arrangements. We asked the Naomi House Chaplain to give Dylan’s funeral service.

Naomi House costs 5 million pounds a year to run and they rely almost entirely on fundraising and donations. All profits from the ‘Naomi’ bikini will be donated to Naomi House. I know first hand that this is a truly amazing place and have many great memories here with Dylan and my family that I will cherish forever.

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Boots – Tony Bianco / Bag – Skinny Dip / Sunglasses – Karl Lagerfeld at Specsavers

Black Maxi Dress – ASOS / Blazer – ZaraZip Dress – Boohoo  

Skinny Jeans – Dorothy Perkins / Turtle Neck – New Look

 

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The 24th October marked a year since Dylan passed away. I was only a year old when Dylan was born so I don’t remember life without him. He was so much more than a brother to me, he was my best friend, my soulmate.

The love I feel for Dylan is unconditional. There wasn’t a moment of his life that I felt anything but pure love for him.

For as long as I can remember I’ve known that if by some magical chance I was offered a gun and told if I killed myself there and then Dylan would live a healthy, happy life, free from the restrictions of his wheelchair and his gastrostomy, I’d do it. Without a shadow of a doubt. Without a moment of hesitation. I’d do it. Even if I knew there was no “other side”, all that was waiting for me was a long black emptiness. I’d do it. I’d embrace the darkness with open arms safe in the knowledge that Dylan had a chance to experience all of the things he couldn’t before. That’s what unconditional love is.

Some days I let the grief build inside of me until it’s unbearable. I think about how much it hurts and it makes me think about everyone else who ever has or still is going through what I’m going through. I carry their pain as well as my own. My limbs feel heavy, my heart like a led balloon, my head goes foggy. Day to day tasks become chores. Washing, dressing, even eating. There’s no way to shake it, it consumes me. I have days where getting out of bed feels like enough of an achievement.

I’m not who I was before. My passion is muted. I was crazy for art, photography, music, literature. All of these things sparked a fire within me. Now it’s only as much as a dull flicker. My smile isn’t as wide, my laugh isn’t as loud and happiness doesn’t touch my eyes like it used to. Even with a smile my eyes are sad and dark. I can’t remember the last time I felt excited. I feel empty. Night time is the worst. When no one else is awake, there’s no one to talk to, no distractions.

Distractions, I’m pretty sure that’s all coping with grief is. You “cope” by filling your time with anything and everything that can keep your brain busy.

I have days where I beat myself up for not doing enough. Not going to events, not writing enough blog posts, not taking good enough pictures, not working hard enough. I forget to remind myself that I never thought I would make it a week on from Dylan, never mind a year. Dylan made me strong and losing him was the biggest test of my strength. I am strong and I’m doing well for myself. I have my hobby as a career, a family I love, a handful of irreplaceable friends and my childhood sweetheart.

A piece of advice I’d like to share with anyone going through grief is don’t consider crying a weakness. Cry. Cry your eyes out. Get angry with the world. It’s not fair, bad things happen to good people, people who deserve the best. Get it out now so you don’t bottle it up and break down later. But do remember it’s these moments and these experiences we go through that shape us as people. I can guarantee the greatest people you know have been through terrible things. We can let these terrible things push us over the edge or we can let them build us, help us grow. These moments teach us strength, teach us empathy and teach us love.

I know everyone deals with grief in different ways, what helps me might not help you. I think this next piece of advice should hopefully be relevant in all cases. This advice is for the people who are close to you. Friends & family of those who are grieving. Don’t try to find the silver lining on someone else’s cloud. This was one of the worst things for me. I know everyone’s trying to help but it’s honestly better to say nothing sometimes. “Think of all the good times.”, “He wouldn’t want you to be sad.”, “At least he’s at peace now.” None of it helps. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there.

When you’re suffering from loss it’s impossible to “Thing of all the good times.” It’s impossible to think of one good time because the good times bring the most pain. The good memories are plagued with loss and grief. As irrational as it may sound to anyone who hasn’t been through it, when you’ve lost someone, thinking of the good memories only reminds you there won’t be any more good times with that person. Memories are all you have. I can’t wait for the day I can have all of my beautiful memories with Dylan back without unbearable pain crippling my body and my brain.

There’s no time limit on grieving. The initial pain is difficult but you enter a foggy phase, for me it lasted months. It hurt but it didn’t feel real. I would convince myself Dylan was on holiday, he was coming back. His room didn’t change. The fairy lights above his bed remain on to this day. For weeks I’d instinctively tell Sam to turn the volume on the TV down at night because “Dylan’s sleeping”. For weeks I’d come through the front door and burst into Dylan’s room forgetting he wasn’t there. Responses that have become automated through habit are hard to shake. The hardest part of grieving is when this phase ends. You’re no longer in the fog. Everything’s clear and everything’s real. I will never hold Dylan again. Never kiss him. Never cuddle him. Never hold his hand again. I know Dylan isn’t coming back and it hurts more with every day that passes. Sometimes it gets too much for me. I do things that anyone who hasn’t suffered from loss would probably find psychotic. I take Dylan’s ashes with me into the garden on a sunny day and we play with the dogs. I sit Dylan’s ashes next to me in his room and watch his favourite films. I read Dylan’s favourite stories to his ashes. It’s all I have left. The worst thing about this phase is that everyone else has moved on. Friends, distant relatives, colleagues, acquaintances, their worlds are still moving as fast as before. Worst of all, a lot of them will wonder why your world still isn’t up to pace. If you are suffering from loss I can’t stress enough how long it takes. I can’t imagine my good memories being good again for years. It’s individual, take as much time as you need. There’s no such thing as too long and I don’t think it’s anything you will ever “get over”. It gets harder before it gets easier and although I’m not there yet I really do believe it will get easier. It will take time but I know I can get there.

Don’t think that you can’t talk to me about Dylan. Don’t think you’re going to make me upset, I miss talking about him. I love talking about him! He was my world, my whole life revolved around him. I love him as much as ever. Don’t be scared to bring him up because he’s constantly at the front of my mind anyway, it would be nice to be able to think about him out loud for a change.

All my love and support to anyone who is suffering. And a massive thanks to everyone who has offered their love and support to me and my family. It means so much.

Thinking of you always, my gorgeous boy, my best friend.

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Anouska / Lydia / Elena / Andreea 

Leanne / Yanin

When I got the invite to Disneyland I knew I would enjoy myself, especially when I found out who else was coming. I couldn’t have asked for a better group. These lovely ladies are some of the most well-rounded, warm-hearted, like-minded women in the industry.

As much as I was looking forward to this trip I completely underestimated just how much fun I was going to have. Like a lot of people, I had a preconceived misconception that Disneyland was for children. I was initially surprised to hear that 40% of people at Disneyland go without kids.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Disney has so much to offer for adults. A stay at the Disneyland Hotel should be added to your bucket-list if it isn’t there already. There’s a pool, a gym, a spa, a games room, it is pure luxury from beginning to end. Not to mention you’re right at the gates to the park. From the nostalgia of your favourite characters in the Disney Parade to cocktails in Cafe Fantasia, there’s endless entertainment for all ages. The highlight of my trip has to be the Disney Dreams light show. It’s on every night and it’s truly overwhelming to watch, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the park.

There is a magical aura at Disneyland that is quite hard to describe. I must admit it was a bittersweet trip for me. 99% of the Disney films I love are films I used to watch with Dylan. It’s almost a year now since Dylan passed away so he’s on my mind even more than usual. I couldn’t count the amount of times we walked past a shop and I saw something and instinctively thought “I need to buy that for Dylan, Dylan would love that!”. Although all of my memories of Dylan are beautiful, pure and happy, I’m not yet at a point where I can reminisce without the overwhelming pain of loss and grief. I know how much Dylan would have loved this trip and I’d like to think he was there with me.

I would go back in a heartbeat. Many thanks to Disneyland Paris and The Blogger Programme for a truly unforgettable experience.

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