There's something about heading off on holiday that makes you want to run in the direction of the shops and treat yourself to all the pretty things. Nothing says 'fresh start' like some new togs, right? Now, obviously, little things like pay and not wanting to be totally wasteful mean that I'm not about to advocate that you run out and buy a whole new wardrobe every time you go away. But, consider this a little wish-list or 'best in show' of what's available on the high street right now, and what I might pick up if I was starting from scratch with a trip to Dubai in mind.

I'm heading out in April so the weather will be mid to late thirties most days, with bright sunshine and maybe the odd bit of cloud cover or breeziness, but really a cover up or light jacket will do the job, if you need anything. Modesty laws are in place but in general, it's just about being culturally sensitive and using common sense. If you're wearing a skirt, make sure it hits your knee at least, and don't wear anything too revealing on top. If you're wearing a sleeveless dress, take a cover up with you to the malls - you'll probably want to do this anyway, as everywhere has the air conditioning on so high!

Beachwear is obviously a must, and I've been loving Topshop's holiday shop offering lately - this swimsuit and beach kaftan are just beautiful. The gorgeous swimswear at Topshop is coming in thick and fast, so I'd check back on their website regularly if you're jetting off somewhere warm and beach-y in future!

Dubai, unlike England, is a place where the less layers, the better - tissue thin fabrics, all-in-one outfits and flowy, loose fitting pieces are the order of the day. For do-it-all outfits, you can't get much better than a jumpsuit, and I love this one from H&M which doubles as a lovely piece for evenings out, as well as something I could easily get a lot of use out of in my office. The elasticated waist and tassels add such pretty detail to an otherwise pretty standard piece. H&M also deliver in the shirt dress department - I'm seeing shirt dresses everywhere right now! This khaki one caught my eye as it just looks so easy and effortless, but I'm not sure about the pocket placement with my hips and upper thighs being the widest part of my body. One to try on, perhaps.

Another piece which can take you easily from beach to dinnertime is this embellished cold shoulder dress from River Island. I can imagine this looking amazing with a floor length duster coat and some heels, equally with gladiator sandals and a kimono. If dresses aren't usually your thing, this playsuit from Zara is so deceptive - embroidered, flowy and girly to the max, the concealed shorts make this a lot easier to slip on as an all-in-one look and a lot more comfy to wear. 

Building outfits through simple pairing pieces is another sure-fire way to save space in your suitcase - add a pop of colour, a deceptively 'plain' white tee and a blouse to pair with a black denim skirt and a pair of wide-leg trousers and you've got yourself six outfits for day and night, ready to go. 

Accessories-wise? Dubai is pretty 'go big or go home'. Spare no embellishment in the details and if you've ever wanted to take a sartorial risk with anything bedazzled, now's your chance. I am head over heels for this Mejuri Evil Eye bracelet (in fact, the whole collection is pretty sick) and this gorgeous Estella Bartlett pineapple necklace, her stuff is just too cute. Beach bags are also the norm for sandy days not moving from your towel, but I love a backpack for grab-and-go ease when city exploring. These golden sunglasses from Quay are also a little too much but totally lust-worthy, just like much of the UAE itself. 

I've pared back footwear to the bare essentials, because I ALWAYS take too many shoes (does anyone else have this problem?). Evening and day appropriate patterned mules - I'm gonna be honest, I'm not sure I can resist these. They're just too gorgeous, and they look so much more expensive than they are! And to finish off your necessities - a pair of ridiculously gorgeous pom pom sandals. Because what is life without a pair of embellished sandals to trot around in? No life at all my friends. No life at all.

I hope you guys enjoyed this fun little post and it sparks some inspiration if you're off on holiday anywhere warm - I've got some more packing and travel-themed posts coming your way throughout the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled! 

Full-time workers, particularly those of you in retail or office work, will understand the struggle. Staying creatively inspired when you're in full-time employment that might not be in your chosen creative field is tough, and it can drain you if that inspiration isn't satisfied regularly. I like to think of creativity like getting enough water in a day - if I don't keep myself 'topped up' and I'm thirsty, my brain doesn't function at its peak.

I have a full time job and, whilst it is in digital and I'm lucky that I work within a creative field in publishing, it can still be a grind. There are days when I just want to make something, even if it's just a one page doc of free writing. I let it all get on top of me a little recently and it was rubbish, so rather than reaching that point again, I've decided to try and implement more of these little creative exercises in my every day work. I hope you find them useful!

1. Host a brainstorming session with 5 of your closest colleagues to problem solve obstacles that might arise at work, rather than going back and forth via email. Grab different coloured post its, put ideas up on the walls, visualise and collaborate.

2. Pitch a Skillshare account to your immediate manager. It's cheap, the skills are super useful for most digital industries and very transferrable, and accounts can be (unofficially) shared between users.

3. Take 30 minutes a day to work outside. Take your laptop, or just a notepad and pen, and head to the nearest outside space to where you work. Even if this is just your lunch break, breathing in fresh air and taking in your surroundings can refresh a work day.

4. Spend time the evening before your next working day thinking through your clothes, styling and beauty look for the next day. It sounds superficial, but I have loved doing this for the past week. Every day I get to express something different about who I am by how I present myself. It's my own form of 'personal brand' creativity.

5. Use one lunch a month to host a movie club. If your workplace has meeting rooms with projectors, hook up your laptop (or just watch on screen!) and host a rotating movie club - it doesn't have to be anything to do with your work - perhaps you just want to share an interest, or take an hour out a month to watch something creatively inspiring. We watched 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' at work a few months ago and you wouldn't BELIEVE how inspiring it was!

6. Brain dump. Man, do I love a purge. Write out everything on your mind, no matter what form it comes in, just get it out, write and write without judgement until you come to a natural end. I always feel so much lighter after I've done this, and once you see everything you're focusing on and stressing about on paper, it never seems that important.

7. Start a journal. A bullet journal, a scrapbook - whatever you want to call it, keep it by your side at work and whenever you feel the need, scribble. Doodle. Tear out things from magazines and stick them into it. Journal. Make lists. Wherever your mood takes you, just follow it.

8. Refresh your space. You'd be surprised what a difference bringing in some life and some greenery makes to a desk. Pin up motivational quotes in bright colours, give it the Pinterest treatment. Even just giving your workspace a spring clean, the surprisingly cathartic act of shredding a bunch of shit you no longer need. Highly recommend this for getting some new perspective and energy around you.

9. Flip your day. First thing you do every day is to answer emails? Flip it! Get started with a tea break (shocking) or pop a big meeting into your calendar first thing. Answer your emails at 10. The world won't stop. Making sure to switch up your routine is really important - even if that just means walking to a different part of the building to make a cup of tea or get some water.

10. Suggest a summit. Are there any start up businesses or organisations you admire who might be willing to come into your office and talk, or do some networking? It might seem a little cheesy, but I've found these types of things, no matter how far away the industry is from my own, are always so useful.

11. Job swap - most companies are supportive of their employees picking up transferrable skills, and of employee retention, so it makes sense to enquire about these kinds of schemes. Even if you're offered a swap to an area of business that seems as though it has nothing to do with you or your goals, take the opportunity. You never know where you'll use the things you pick up.

12. Start a volunteer group, or find out if your work is affiliated with any charities that you could do some sponsored work for. You might be able to lend creative skills to organising things like fundraisers and socials if your organisations and committees are lacking in helpers.

13. Host a book club with fellow employees. You can organise meet-ups one lunch a month to discuss what you've been reading and swap notes and ideas. Fiction or non-fiction, no holds barred, a different host every month. Book clubs have a weird way of drawing out peoples' passions and, personally speaking, I find it so invigorating to be around passionate people discussing what they care about!

14. Keep a personal working doc for any creativity that might strike during your work day. I see nothing wrong in taking the equivalent of a tea or loo break to write down a few paragraphs if you're feeling it. Just call them 'sanity' breaks. Disconnect from the internet, focus solely on the creating, and then get up and do a lap of the office to clear out the cobwebs. I love these little 'creative laps' when I'm having a really slow day where everything seems to be going wrong.

15. Help a friend. Okay, this might not apply to everyone, but if you find yourself continuously zoning out of your own tasks and feeling fidgety, ask your closest colleague if they have anything on their list that you can get done for them, or if they need someone to bounce ideas off of. So many good things for me at work have come out of: 'Actually, I wonder if I could get your opinion on...'

16. Laugh more. I talked podcasts at the beginning of the week, and I meant what I said - these keep me going when I need it. But comedy podcasts really give me a lift if I need to lighten up and get out of my head. I love listening to old Ricky Gervais Shows from XFM (plenty on YouTube!) if I need a quiet giggle to myself.

17. Practice mindful breaks. If you're the type that can meditate at work then more power to you, but sometimes it's enough for me to just head to a quiet corner and listen to the Headspace app, or some soothing music. Clearing your mind leaves you a lot of air for new ideas!

18. Find one beautiful thing - again this might seem superficial - but if you had the task to 'social media' or 'make Instagram worthy' one thing about your day, what would it be? Seek out the beauty in your surroundings and fuck it - if you want to get your phone out and photograph the cherry blossom on the tree, you freaking do it. Just, no selfies in the office, k? K.

19. Make yourself a killer playlist and stack up loads of songs that get you pumped up or wiggle-dancing to yourself, put them in a Watch Later on YouTube and then let loose. Productivity win, and helps you get out of monotonous work patterns.

20. Don't kill your daydream - take time at work to visualise what your goals are. There's nothing wrong with spending half an hour on personal development - what are your next steps career wise? What is the tiny thing you can do today to move you towards those goals? Breaking things down into actionable steps and seeing this written down in front of you can be massively affirming. GO GET YOURS.

There's something kind of beautiful about the fact that when Mitch McConnell spoke these words, a reprimand to Elizabeth Warren, intended to shame, belittle and undermine her, what he actually gave was a rallying cry and a voice to a movement bigger, more enduring and more important than anything he has ever done or ever will do.

For some time, feminism was a dirty word. To be a feminist was to be a sullen woman, an 'emotional' woman, a 'hysterical' woman. The word couldn't be used without Thatcherist style matriarchal imagery - the buttoned-up, frigid and agitated middle aged lady, shouting and 'hen-pecking' to make her feelings known. Well, wake the fuck up 2017. This is what feminism looks like.

I could not believe over the past week, whilst promoting 'Beauty and the Beast', that Emma Watson, a grown ass woman, was having to defend her creative choice to pose topless (whilst, let's note, being completely covered - no freeing of nipples here) in Vanity Fair magazine. Guys, once again - it is TWENTY SEVENTEEN. We are working on BIGGER THINGS TOGETHER HERE. I don't think I can say anything quite as eloquently as Emma does herself in that video but, rest assured, feminism has a lot more to concern itself with than someone's - anyone's - tits, and what they choose to do with them.

It's a wake up call we keep receiving over and over again in these recent months, it seems - no matter how far you think progress has come, there is work to do. The work starts first with yourself, but it is so important to extend that work outwards, in a positive way. Extend your work to your friends, your family, your community. Meet prejudice and misinformation with kindness and empathy. Take time to talk. Get frustrated but use that energy to get active. And, if you could, allow me thirty seconds to tell you a little personal story before I say more encouraging things.

As recently as seven or eight years ago, I didn't want to call myself a feminist. In fact, I remember saying to my mum: 'I don't want equal rights. There are some things that I just can't do as well as a man.' It makes me shudder now, but I was young, and acting school does funny things to your head. Later that summer, I was walking down the street in Liverpool, elated, having finished one of my favourite shows in my final year of my degree. We nailed it, standing ovation - I was on cloud nine. I was dressed up, heading to a pub to meet my boyfriend, flanked by two female friends. I came across a group of drunk men - much older than me, maybe just shy of my dad's age. One stepped aside and gestured to let me pass, bowing down a little in courtesy. Just as I was thinking how polite it was and parting my lips to say thank you, he smacked me on the ass, hard - hard enough to leave a mark, and yelled out: 'JEEEESUS CHRIST!'

My reaction was pure shock. I didn't say anything. I looked to my companions for some kind of cue, but neither of them spoke at first and then - to my humiliation - they both laughed. As did the group of men. So I laughed too. Because I didn't know what to do, and I was scared of looking 'hysterical'. Know what I should have done? Slapped that guy and told him where to get off. Why didn't I? Because I wasn't secure enough to seize an equal platform to this drunk lech who was perfectly fine victimising young girls.

The worst part? It wasn't the first time. And probably, won't be the last. And whilst each time I get a bit more confident and able to deal with those awful situations - what about the girls that don't? What about my beautiful friends, about my Arabic family - my baby cousins. How many times have they been too scared or humiliated or silenced? I decided in that moment that feminism wasn't a stance - it was a right. This isn't political. It is the simple acknowledgement that everything afforded to a man should be afforded to a woman. It is the promise that no matter where she is, she knows her own skin is enough. That she won't be treated differently because of her body parts.

This International Women's Day the call from the ever-inspiring Women's March is to embody 'A Day Without Women' - for women to strike the world over, and take part in no paid or unpaid labour, and/or to consume nothing commercially for the whole day, and/or to wear red in solidarity with our fellow woman. Here's how you can get involved. For my US ladies, you can sign up in solidarity at this registration page.

To my male and female readers, my kick-ass, feminist, woke and passionate readers - I hope you'll join me in celebrating each other today, and taking a tiny step in solidarity, however insignificant it might seem. You don't know whose life you might change for the better.

Nothing quite helps me get through mundane tasks and the day-to-day grind of working a 9-5 like a podcast. Perhaps it's something lingering from childhood and listening to audiobooks, but tuning in to someone speaking to me is one of the most soothing things as I work, I find. If I have a little '4 notifications' sign on my Podcasts app on a Sunday night? I'm fine with Monday morning, tbh.

So I figured what better way to kick off this week than to share five of my absolute faves right now because if you're anything like me, you'll need that extra su'in su'in to get you through this week. I've gotchu boo. I tend to listen to more motivational, career-focused and lifestyle-focused podcasts, but I will literally give most things a fair hearing (soz, had to). If you see anything not mentioned on the list that you think I'd love or that you really enjoy, please leave it in the comments! Let's share the podcasting love. Here are my picks!

1. The Slow Home Podcast - This one is actually new to my playlist and was a recommendation from my girl Jaye, who rarely does me wrong. Hosted by Brooke and Ben and their gorgeous, soothing Australian accents, this podcast focused on slow living and minimalism is a great one for mornings where you want to be eased into a workflow. I tend to listen to these first as they give me a great gentle focus for my mornings, and most of their messages are very grounding and affirming. These are almost like a moving meditation to me at this point! Absolutely love them and love what they're about.
Start here: Rituals: Unplugging

2. 2 Dope Queens - OK this one might seem way out there in the context of these more career-focused podcasts, but listen - this shit is fucking hilarious. Like I have to stifle my laughter and my desk hilarious. I feel like Phoebe and Jessica are just two friends of mine who happen to be simultaneously the wittiest, funniest, coolest women on the planet. I'm obsessed, and every time I see a new episode I'm like: 'Tami, save this for your 2pm slump when you know you're going to need a higher power'. These girls are that.
Start here: Barbara Did My Cornrows

3. Ctrl-Alt-Delete - I'm sure this will surprise exactly 0 people given my field of work and the demographic I fall into, but I'm a huge fan of Emma Gannon's and really love her no-nonsense, relatable, easy-to-listen-to interviews. Her subject matter is always relevant to my life, my career and my interests, and she has such a wonderfully listenable demeanour. She's both relaxed and relaxing, makes her guests feel welcome and at home, but asks the questions you know you'd be dying to! Love this and can't wait to see where Emma goes with it in future.
Start here: Liv Purvis - Comparing and Despairing

4. Women of the Hour - Lena Dunham's podcast just rejoices and takes pleasure in what it means to be a woman of this time in Western society. This podcast has made me laugh and made me cry, it's made me angry, it gave me a little much-needed hope and humour after the election last year. Say what you want to about Lena herself, you can't deny the woman has a beautiful manner of storytelling, and a unique perspective and voice. I think that really comes out in the pulling together of each show within this podcast, and I'm a fan. Highly recommended feminist listening.
Start here: Faith and Spirituality

5. Hashtag Authentic - I spoke a little about this podcast in my 'On My Mind' post last month, but let me speak to the reasons why it's awesome again - Sara is down to earth, lovely to listen to, has a beautifully relaxed manner and gets to her point quickly about the knowledge she has about Instagram. In what could be a trite teaser to her much-respected Instagram courses, Sara is insightful, endlessly resourceful and charmingly still excited and inspired by the platform from which she grew a business. I find this listen SO motivating for me to put some extra love and care into my own feed!
Start here: The Best 5 Ways to get More Instagram Followers

I hope you guys love these and they make your working week a little easier. If you have any recommendations for me, be sure to leave them here! I'm always looking for a new listen.

Today, I turned to one of my closest friends as we were walking to grab our morning tea (rituals that you cling to on especially cold, dark mornings) and sighed: 'I hate these days'. I didn't mean for it to sound so dramatic, but I really do find myself at a loose end as to what to do with the in-between days between winter and spring - those last few, horribly cold, dreary mornings and the tiny promise of sunshine that all too soon dips behind the clouds again. Snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils are just starting to bud and there's this sense of total anticipation, like both yourself and nature are joined in one long, held breath, before the release of a new season.

February was that, to me. Unexpected, trying, and fast-footed - a continuous ache in my shoulders that I was trying to stretch out of, or a coat I couldn't shake off. That's not to say it was all bad - there were definitely really great nights with friends, days wandering to new places. But there were also goodbyes, and a lot of times I wanted to crawl into bed and not get out, and little illnesses and coughs and colds that hang around too long. It was not to be my month, and sometimes? That's okay. We can let it pass, if we let it go.

So I'm happy to see March appear! I'm hopeful for some warmth, and some more natural light, some brighter mornings and longer days. I'm so excited that I get to see my mum this month, and start planning for holidays. I'm also really wishing you guys a wonderful one. Let's treat ourselves to some bloody flowers and smack on some lippie, because the cold days are soon gone.

SEE: Aside from all the Oscar stuff (oh God, how much did you cringe at THAT Best Picture moment?), the live action version of possibly my favourite Disney film, Beauty and the Beast, is out this month. Now, I'm quite adamant that Emma Watson is not my Belle, but I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, because I'm just too excited about seeing this. Sir Ian McKellan as Cogsworth?! Come ON now. Plus, every time I hear that soundtrack I just well up. 

LISTEN: Pretty sure I've already talked about A Seat At The Table but it bears repeating. I'm totally, 100% obsessed with Weary. Another stand out is Mad, and I'm sure everyone's heard Don't Touch My Hair and Cranes In The Sky by now. Such an incredible album and well worth the revisit.

GO: On a spa date. I visited the Oxford Belfry Hotel recently with work and, honestly, it was so nice! It's a spa hotel and the rooms were fantastic - huge and so nicely furnished. It made me sad I wasn't there to get a treatment and have a really relaxing break, so I'm looking at booking one for J and I! A little spa staycation never hurt, did it?

EAT: This month, we tried out our new local Gail's Bakery and I have to say, the experience was pretty special. I got the brioche french toast with maple syrup and bacon and OH WOW, it was moving. I'm planning to stop in on my way to town this weekend and grab a pastry because much like Depeche Mode, I just can't get enough.

DRINK: Might've mentioned this before, but the Rebel Kitchen Chocolate Mylk gets me through most everything. It's dairy free and made from 4 ingredients and tastes SO FREAKING YUM.

WEAR: Here it is - you know THAT Zara biker jacket. The one everyone has on Instagram, that just looks so beautiful and comfy cozy and perfect. Yeah well I had it. In my size, in my hands. And I was umming and aahing about it. And I put it back on the rack. And I will live to regret that decision for some time, because it's now, predictably, sold out. However! There is light at the end of the tunnel - I love this one from Urban Outfitters, and it's currently on 30% off. HOORAY.

READ: I'm halfway through The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood and I cannot. put. it. down. Also, how disturbing is this article about how chillingly relevant 'A Handmaid's Tale' is right now? 

THINK: Through. I let a lot of 'problems' and 'obstacles' and just plain down moods get in front of me in February. I've been thinking a lot about how to climb over them or whether to sink under them, but I feel frustrated, fired up and strong enough now to punch right through.
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