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27.6.17

A Fresh Start


Long time, no see! I have returned from a four month break, with a clearer head and a newfound enthusiasm. I temporarily stepped back from Thunder and Threads in February to concentrate on the last hurdle of my degree; it was inevitably the right decision. Putting some aspects of my life on hold to concentrate on finishing college was essential for me for maintaining a calm mindset and giving it my all.

I'm thrilled to let you all know that I got an honours in my degree! I put my heart and soul into my course, despite knowing it'd hinder my online work, as I wasn't able to work on my blog full-time during the academic year. I knew I had to juggle my priorities around. I'm incredibly proud of myself and my classmates. Completing a degree surrounded by likeminded, feminist women was an honour and it made my college experience extremely special and worthwhile to me. 

I finished college in May and hastily escaped to Paris and Rome for a week each, to give myself the headspace and break to think about future endeavours. I was determined to get straight back into blogging but I was lacking the confidence and drive, somewhat.

This industry has changed dramatically over the last few years, which I've discussed before. Although many see this as a negative - I admittedly did and sometimes do, too - I think it's the perfect opportunity to reinvent and renew yourself and your content. Blogging is an oversaturated world but in an oversaturated world, uniqueness stands out and shines bright. 

I've been planning my blog relaunch for a while now. I didn't want to start blogging immediately last month, as my goals weren't clear and my head was still spinning from countless essays and a thesis. I knuckled down recently though and with the help of Ann-Marie Deady, a fantastically talented budding Irish graphic designer, I started to see Thunder and Threads in a fresh light. 

Thunder and Threads' new design is clean and crisp, offering a blank canvas to my content. It's also incredibly easier to navigate (on both a desktop and mobile). The layout of blogs is changing, alongside the industry. I wanted to keep my blog looking like a 'blog', without it morphing into an online magazine hybrid. I hope you'll all agree that it looks great! I'm over the moon with it.

I'm approaching my 8th blogging anniversary and it's a brilliant feeling to see myself still adoring all of this and planning ahead, nearly a decade on. I'll end this post and keep it short and sweet by saying a huge thank you to my readers for sticking around - and your constant support. It doesn't go amiss.

I hope you enjoy the new Thunder and Threads as much as I do! 

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18.2.17

Time Off & Repeal Chain


Greetings, dear blog readers! I've been so out of touch with everyone on my blog for the last while due to college, that I thought I'd address it. I'm currently halfway through my final semester of my degree and to say I'm drowning in work (and stress) would be an understatement.

Unfortunately my blog and the like have "suffered" over the last year or so due to my studies; my degree has been a priority of mine since the get-go and being able to work in an industry such as blogging/ social media has been a student's dream: I can work my own hours, I'm my own boss and I can control my own content. However, it also means I've had to say 'no' to a lot of incredible opportunities because of college and most content has had to be put on hold for now.

I don't see this as a negative, as such. My blog and platform have always been there. I'm always interacting with my followers; I haven't lost touch with it. I've just had to rejig my time and priorities. I'm excited to launch into everything full-steam ahead when I finish college. I have so many ideas, that I've a pile of notebooks packed full of projects and blog posts building up beside my bed.

We're coming to the end of February so I thought it was an appropriate time to give you guys a big heads up: from now until early June, my blog will be put on hold(ish). Not entirely, I'll still do a blog post here and there if I can. (I also need to earn an income, of course, so if a 'blog job' pops up that's doable for my schedule, I'll welcome it with open arms!) 

I'm forever tweeting, forever snapping and forever instagramming so do follow me on those platforms if you want to stay updated and whatnot! Thanks for your patience, as always.


You might have noticed a new page tab above. I'm collaborating with my wonderful friend Dearbhla for a final year project called 'Repeal Chain'. It's a social media awareness project aiming to spread the message about Irish women's current fight for abortion rights in 2017's Ireland. We're determined and passionate about educating those in Ireland, and abroad, about our current struggle for safe, legal and free abortion services: a right and choice every woman should have.

Irish women are currently seen as vessels and it's wholly repugnant and a extreme breach of human rights. We cannot wait any longer for a right and service that should be available without judgement, without fear and without the weight of a 14 year jail sentence hanging over our heads.

Please do check the page out for further information and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We have so many exciting things planned for the project and we hope to get as many people involved in it as possible. #repealthe8th 

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4.1.17

My LASIK Laser Eye Surgery Experience with Optilase


2016 was an exciting year for me in many ways. The biggest event to occur was undergoing laser eye surgery with Optilase* in early October. Still to this day, just under four months later, I'm in disbelief that I have immaculate eyesight - minus glasses. Laser eye surgery was one of the best things I've ever done for myself, which sounds wholly cliché and dramatic but it's the plain and simple truth. It was a scary decision for me to make, as I'll explain in due course but I'm beyond proud of myself for developing the courage to go through with it.

I was a glasses-wearer for most of my life so experiencing life minus them, with my own eyes, is a new and exciting experience. I feel like I've been given a new lease of life and sense of freedom. I hope this blog post encourages those thinking about having their eyesight corrected to get it done or that it at least informs those who don't know much about the procedure.

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My first 'eyesight memory' as such isn't a nice one. It was an occurrence that set the ball rolling for many years to come of optician visits, deteriorating eyesight and a lack of confidence.

When I was 2 years old, I was running around the sitting room, hyper as kids are at that age. I ended up running into the arm of a chair where someone was sitting with a lit cigarette in their hand. I landed on the lit cigarette, eye first. I remember little of it personally but I was rushed to hospital where my parents were told that I was lucky it didn't go further into my eye than it had.

I wore a bandage patch for weeks, which I vaguely remember. I remember my Mum sellotaping it on and how horrible it felt when my hair caught on to the stickiness. Apart from that, I recall nada.

The years went on and my left eye's sight was terrible. I was brought to my Grandparent's trusted optician at around the age of 5 or 6 and I do remember this: I was so terrified of anything going near my eye since the accident, that my Nana and the optician had to physically hold my arms and legs down on to the optician's bed so I could get a simple eyedrop put in.

I was prescribed glasses as a child, along with a patch (pictured below) that I had to wear over my right eye, in an attempt to build up the left eye's strength. I despised wearing it and felt mortified anytime I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. 


Unfortunately the patch did little to boost my left eye's strength so we ditched it. I had a period of wearing no glasses at all from 9-12. I just sucked it up. Until secondary school arrived..

I noticed as each year passed in secondary, that the board would get blurrier and blurrier and I'd have to move a row up constantly to see it. It got to a point where I was developing headaches from squinting so much so we booked an eye appointment in Specsavers.

(I'm making a point of mentioning that my opticians were Specsavers because they've always been extremely caring and understanding for an incredibly nervous teenager/ young adult. Thanks Specsavers Grafton Street for putting up with me, you're the bomb dot com.)

My results were hereditary short-sighted vision developing in my right eye and my left eye was just as banjaxed as ever. I was prescribed my next pair of glasses at 13 and my eyesight dropped so dramatically as the years went on, I'd sometimes need my lenses changed twice a year, up until the age of around 22, when the changes started to slow down.

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Fast forward to January 2016. I received an email one morning from the PR team at Optilase enquiring about me undergoing laser eye surgery. Honestly? It hadn't crossed my mind before. My accident meant that for 20 years, I was absolutely petrified of anything going near my eyes - mascara wands, eyelash curlers, water - let alone a laser! Laser eye surgery wasn't even on my mind because I never thought I'd develop the strength to go through with something like it.

My Mum talked me into booking a consultation appointment. What harm would it do? It was possibly the biggest opportunity to come through my inbox and it'd be foolish to say no.

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I attended my first consultation in Optilase's Dublin clinic; I went in terrified and walked out enthusiastic. The staff were extremely patient and knowledgeable. I was given a routine eye check, nothing dissimilar to what you'd get done in an opticians, bar a few new machines.

When the laser eye surgery procedure was explained to me in detail, for the first time I really wanted to have it done. No blades were involved (older systems of laser eye surgery can include blades) so that fear was put to rest. After learning how quick the surgery itself would be and how transformative the results were, I was sold and said a big "YES" to going ahead with it.


There was a slight complication for me though: because my left eye was so damaged and weak, understandably Optilase weren't confident to go ahead with the surgery immediately. I was instructed to get a new pair of lenses put in my glasses; an updated prescription for my short-sighted right eye and for the first time ever, a strengthening lens for my left eye.

Prior to this, opticians never bothered putting a strong lens in for my left eye because it simply wouldn't really improve anything. For laser eye surgery however, it would awaken my eye muscles after 20 years and prepare them for eye sight - post-surgery. If I was to go ahead without the "training" lens so to speak, I could risk developing migraines due to my brain and eye muscles going into shock because of them being inactive for most of my life.

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October arrived and I had my third check-up appointment since January to keep an eye (had to throw a pun in somewhere) on how my eye muscles were doing. I was told that my eyes were finally ready to go for surgery and that my left eye's muscles were finally back in action after so long. 

When it comes to laser eye surgery, if you're ready to have it done, you can have it done ASAP. I was offered a date for the next week and took it. I wasn't prepared to build up nerves for weeks on end and I wanted to get it over and done with because I was impatient for eyesight (and still nervous).

It was decided that I would undergo LASIK laser eye surgery, which is the most commonly performed procedure globally. It's blade-free, has a significantly faster recovery time than other procedures and it involves little pain or discomfort afterwards. (Please note that you're advised on what procedure will work best for you and your eyes - it all depends on the individual.)

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BEFORE SURGERY

Prior to your surgery day, it's advised that you wear no eye makeup on the days leading up to it so I wore nothing for the full week beforehand, just in case. I also practised putting eyedrops in daily because I was still incredibly jumpy doing it and I was wasting product. Other than that, I waited patiently for my life to change and happily said farewell to the stack of glasses beside my bed.

SURGERY DAY

My surgery was booked for a Friday morning and I was told to eat beforehand, take any of my day-to-day medication and to bring sunglasses (and painkillers if necessary) along to the clinic. The only thing I wasn't allowed was caffeine so I had to skip the usual morning cuppa.

My appointment slot was 3 hours but the majority of the time was given to my final eye check up with the surgeon, to make sure everything was perfect, and to prepare myself for the surgery itself.

I was offered a relaxant (one Valium) and I happily took it. They're optional to take but I'd highly recommend doing so if you're nervous or in any way anxious. It relaxes your body considerably.

I was honestly quite terrified walking into the surgery room, my legs were shaking and I was pretty emotional. I want to say this before I continue and I want anyone out there to remember it, who's considering getting this done: I was PETRIFIED of having anything near my eye or going into my eye. If I can get through laser eye surgery, anybody can. Absolutely anybody.

The surgery took a total of 15 minutes (yep, 15 whole minutes). Approximately 7 and a half minutes per eye, with my left eye taking around 20-30 seconds longer. The surgeon and nurses were so calming. They were aware of my nerves due to the accident and were beyond patient with me. 

Everything was painless. It was just odd. Your eyeballs are numbed with drops and held open (you don't have the urge to blink as your eyes are numb) so you feel no pain. The sensation of the laser and the surgeon is a tad weird (nothing to be scared of, just an unusual experience). 

The laser correction was similar to some of the machines I was examined with before, just a bit brighter. You're required to look at certain points of the laser machine above you for the laser to correct your eye (hence why you have to be conscious and fully awake for the surgery).

It was over before I knew it and in typical Leanne-fashion, I started bawling crying afterwards, overcome with emotion. One of the nurses told me to look at the clock and for the first time in years, I could read the time minus glasses. (I'm getting super emotional again just typing this!)

I was told to put on my sunglasses immediately and I was collected by my Dad to ensure I arrived safely home. I was given a bag of aftercare instructions, eyedrops and safety goggles and I was ensured that I was to ring the clinic at any time if I was worried about something.

AFTER SURGERY

It was advised that I slept immediately when I got home, to rest my eyes and the flap that was created during the surgery. You're given safety goggles (pictured below) that you have to wear for the week post-surgery; they weren't uncomfortable at all and felt just like an ordinary sleeping mask. The goggles ensure that you don't rub or bang your eyes in your sleep. (They look like Lady Gaga's 'The Fame' album cover glasses, don't you think? Hence the pose, ahem..)

Eyedrops were to be taken throughout the day (again, each individual is different) and I made a chart in my notebook for each time I was required to take them. I advise doing a similar chart as you have to take the drops various times throughout the day and it can be hard to keep up.


You're booked in for an appointment the next morning after surgery, to make sure everything has gone to plan and no complications have appeared. I advise bringing someone along with you, just in case you're still a bit wobbly with your sunglasses on and not used to your vision so soon after.

I wore my sunglasses anytime I stepped outside of the door for the first month, to prevent dryness and anything getting into my eyes. Prior to my surgery, sunglasses worsened my eyesight so it was a completely new experience walking around wearing them and not just for photos.

Showering-wise, I wore swimming goggles to protect my eyes from water and product. I wish I could insert a "when I went to the gym" line here but I don't go to the gym. If you do go, you're advised to avoid exercising for a week to avoid sweat entering the eye/ accidents occurring.

Physically, my eyes looked terrifying due to bruising. This is completely normal and the red streaks you see below aren't blood (I definitely asked this) but merely the equivalent of bruises on your eyeballs. Yes, you may look demonic like I did for a few weeks but it was worth it and I got over it.


I didn't wear eye makeup for over 3 weeks after my surgery, it's advised to not wear any for 2 weeks but to be extra-safe I pushed it out longer. Again, I didn't care too much. My family and friends knew I had undergone the surgery so nobody fainted at the sight of me. Thankfully.

I experienced very little discomfort afterwards and I gradually began to enjoy putting eyedrops in because they're extremely soothing for the eyes when healing. My eyes themselves were a tad sensitive to bright lights at night-time but too nothing dramatic at all.

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Skip on to today, January 2017, four months later and I'm currently writing this blog post without glasses and with (almost) perfect vision. Amazing, eh?

I've had several checkups post-surgery and expectedly my left eye is taking a tad longer to heal. (Again, this is in an individual problem because of my accident.) My right eye now has 20/20 vision and my left eye is 80% there. Due to the time of year (darker days, more wind) and the amount of time I spend on my computer (college, work) my eyes took around 2-3 months to heal. (3 months is the average time for most patients but some people can heal within 6 weeks).

I can see perfectly, just about, but my left eye is still catching up. It's nothing noticeable until I do eye tests to be honest. Even having sight in my left eye after 20 years is mind blowing to me. 

Without getting too mushy here, I cannot reiterate enough how life-changing this has been for me. It has given me a new sense of confidence I never thought I'd experience and it's freed me. Being able to see my notes and the screen in college without a lens in front of me is a dream. Sporadic cinema trips are a reality because glasses don't hold me back anymore. Travelling is already a million times better; being able to appreciate architecture and art with your own eyes is truly special.

If you're thinking about undergoing laser eye surgery, please, please, PLEASE just go for it. Book a consultation (Optilase's are free) for the new year and be prepared to have your life changed. I never thought in a million years that I'd have the luxury of eyesight back, yet here I am at 23 with it. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made hands down and if I can do it, you can too. Trust me!

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#ad Disclaimer: I received complimentary laser eye surgery treatment from Optilase in exchange for this blog review and social media mentions. As always, this hasn't affected my review and I've been 110% honest with everything above. Laser eye surgery is the greatest 'perk' to my job that I've received to date over the last 8 years and I will be ever-grateful for the opportunity and immensely thankful to the Optilase team for quite literally changing my life. 

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31.12.16

2016 | MY TOP 5 HIGHLIGHTS


1. HERE I COME, AMERICA!

2016 was a truly memorable year for me, as I accomplished my wish of travelling to America - twice! I ventured over to San Francisco with Airbnb on a press trip in April and fell head over heels with the city. I adored the architecture, the atmosphere and of course the amount of dogs everywhere.

I saved up and booked a double trip to New York and Los Angeles during the Summer. It was a dream of mine to visit both and I knew I'd get the most out of the experience if I went at it alone. I went sightseeing, tasted amazing food, met up with friends here and there and most importantly, I developed further confidence and trust in myself by going solo. I can't wait to return!


2. GAP CAMPAIGN

This September, I was asked to be involved in one of my biggest blog campaigns to date. Gap and I teamed up for a 'Do You' blog collaboration and a personalised event, which involved a window display showcasing me and my curated Gap outfits, on one of Ireland's busiest shopping streets. 

It was one of my favourite jobs to date and alike to my America travels, it really boosted my confidence and belief in myself - and my "brand". 

3. HELLO EYESIGHT!

The most "life-changing" of all events this year for me was by far undergoing laser eye surgery, thanks to Optilase. I have a full experience blog post coming up next week but to summarise, I feel like a new woman. I haven't had decent eyesight since I was a toddler and my quality of life has improved dramatically since October. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.


4. CHANEL BAG TICKED OFF THE LIST

Another big goal of mine was to buy a Chanel bag. It might seem daft to some but the entire reason I'm involved in fashion and adore every aspect of it, is down to Chanel itself. My Nana is Coco Chanel reincarnated and I was always 'aware' of the brand and its aesthetic since I was a child.

I did my first projects in primary school on dogs and the history of Chanel (no surprise there) and ever since, I've been determined to save up and own my very own Chanel bag. I was finally able to purchase my 'Classic Flap' in October and the entire experience was so special. It felt like an enormous milestone for me to reach professionally.

5. OLD HOLLYWOOD DREAMS

I worked in Newbridge Silverware's Museum of Style Icons for my college final year work placement. It's a highlight for me because over the 12 days, I worked alongside the team on the unveiling of Marilyn Monroe's Jean Louis "Mr President" dress. I visited their archive room, studying pieces worn by greats such as Grace Kelly and Greta Garbo up close. On my final day, I even helped with the display of newly-bought Marilyn Monroe pieces including her medal above. 

My work experience there was an honour and I doubt I would have had the opportunity to stand alongside or hold an object belonging to one of my idols otherwise. It was an Old Hollywood nerds dream! I'll never forget it.

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2016 was no doubt an extremely negative and upsetting year for the world - between a Trump presidency, the heartbreaking refugee crisis, the death of icons and many more, it really shook a lot of us to our core. Despite the above achievements and highlights, 2016 was a wakeup call for me; personally and politically. I hope 2017 sees an increase in compassion and empathy for all.

Here's to a new year - my eighth year blogging. Thanks for sticking around!

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11.11.16

5 Tips On How To Find The Perfect Balance Between Work & Studies


It's been a while since I wrote a lengthy, chatty post but that's because I'm currently staying at Camp Thesis. I'm nearly halfway through the final year of my BA degree and to say I'm finding it somewhat a struggle to balance my blog and social media with everything would be an understatement.

I'm usually pretty good when it comes to stress-management. Due to anxiety, I've had to learn coping skills and they're a blessing when it comes to this. However, as you'll understand if you've been in this position, it's difficult to try and balance studies with your job - whatever that may be.

My blog means I'm self-employed so I dictate my own hours and work flow. It's a blessing and a curse. It means I'm not tied down to a job where I'm running to and from college between times but it also means it gets very easy to get overwhelmed with a pile-up. I don't have someone telling me to do X and Y and being your own boss can often make it easier to procrastinate.

I thought it'd be useful to write down 5 of my current coping tips on how to balance your work life and studies. It's essential to not let anything drown you. That leads to stress, stress and more stress. Both your work and studies will then be affected and it's difficult getting out of it, once you're knee-deep in a backlog. It becomes a cycle that's hard to leave. I hope this post helps!

1. TAKE A STEP BACK AND BREATHE 

Pretty obvious but when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with life, it's majorly important to step back and breathe. Take one big inhale and exhale, and tell yourself you're going to get through it. Having a good attitude when it comes to facing stress is so important. Heading in with a negative, tired and stressed mind will only show up in the work at hand.

Give yourself a full day (if possible) to recuperate. Sleep. Run yourself a bath. Don't open your laptop. Switch off your phone. Rest your brain and body for 24 hours and mentally prepare yourself to get stuck in to whatever's stressing you out the next day. Don't see it as laziness or procrastination - think of it as as an essential breather.

2. BREAK UP YOUR TASKS

During your breather day, organise your work load. Create timetables for both your job and studies, stick them on to your bedroom wall. Place your timetables somewhere that you look at first thing in the morning. Read over them and make a mental plan in your head for what's happening that day.

Breaking up your work is essential because if you don't, you're handing yourself unnecessary stress on a plate. Timetables work great for me; I use physical ones and I also keep note of lectures/ events/ tasks in my phone's calendar so I can always can check back on the go. Which leads me on to..

3.  WRITE IT DOWN 

I'm a big fan of notebooks and lists. It's all well and good printing things out and jotting notes down on your phone but the reality is, we often forget what we've written within minutes, by doing so. Writing things down, pen and paper, will not only enable you to release stress but it means you'll have a greater chance of remembering the information.

I have separate notebooks for college, blog work, my personal life and to-do lists. Writing everything down in the one book would make me feel overwhelmed so the physical separating of them, means I can approach it all individually.

When you're initially overwhelmed by everything, start by writing down a to-do list for both college and work in a separate notebook. List down what you need to do for both and for when. Prioritise what's stressing you out the most. Write down your timetables and see what overlaps or clashes.

Checking your notebooks every day will ensure you're on top of things and trust me, it feels great ticking things off. Start off small with one or two tasks a day (or week, depending on you) and aim to complete a list within the month (again, dependable on your situation).

4. CATCH THEM ZZZZ'S

Again, a no-brainer but this is one of my personal downfalls. When I get really stressed, my sleep gets disrupted. I can lie awake for hours overwhelming myself about the next day. When the next day arrives, I'm sleep-deprived and can't approach many of my tasks with a clear head.

Breaking up your work with the above tools will aid you in sleeping. You've already put your thoughts and tasks on to paper so you can settle your mind by knowing so. If something is keeping you awake, keep a small notepad beside your bed, write it down and look at it again in the morning.

Sleep-deprivation is my biggest killer when it comes to balancing my life, in all aspects. It makes me a weak, uncreative, jittery and unenthused person. If something is disrupting my zzzz's, I try and nip it in the bud as soon as possible.

Aiming to get at least 6-8 hours sleep is essential for many people. If you're like me and take ages to fall asleep once you get into bed, get in a little earlier. Opt to read a book or listen to a podcast instead of endlessly scrolling through Twitter before you sleep. Your brain will rest easier.

5. REEVALUATE YOUR TIME MANAGEMENT

This ties in with writing your tasks down and breaking things up. Time management is key when it comes to a successful work and college life - especially if you're struggling to balance both. As I mentioned previously, if you find college and work are clashing or are causing you stress on certain days, see if you can fix that. Speak to your employer about switching times around and be clever when selecting the likes of electives in college - be wary of the times and see if you can opt for one that'll slide into your day without hassle.

Panicking and running to and from X, to get to Y, causes you to fuss and overthink. It creates anxiety and it physically tires you out before you even arrive. Allowing yourself at least an hour break in between college and work is fundamental. You need the time to switch off from a lecture, grab some food and travel to your job/ destination with a settled mind.

I usually dedicate the mornings and afternoons to college and leave the evenings for anything blog-related. I update my social media here and there during the day but focus on work when I come home. Splitting up my day means I'm never confused or feel like anything's building up.

If I do need to 'work' during college hours - a scheduled social media post for a brand, for example - I'll set a reminder 5 minutes before the planned time for it. I give myself the time to grab my caption (usually pre-written in my notes), edit the photo and make sure the information is all correct.

If something comes up during the day/ week that screws up your plan, find a solution on how to approach it with as little stress as possible. Reminders on my phone help me a lot because my brain can rest for the day knowing I'll be reminded about whatever it is in advance.

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Your mental health is so, so, so important - particularly when it comes to major life factors such as education and employment. Allowing yourself to get stressed and overwhelmed can be dangerous and detrimental to your overall happiness. It's crucial that you allow yourself the time to find a solution to making your life as easy as possible when it comes down to it.

I hope my advice helps albeit it might seeming a little obvious to some. However, I know many a blog post has helped me when it comes to similar situations. Take the time to breathe. It is possible and you can do it. Be smart, be wise with your time and know when enough's enough.


“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."  – John Lubbock

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