I think most of us have been waiting for December for different reasons than usual this year - maybe not for Christmas and 'Holidays are coming' adverts, the standard ear markers we'd count as the winding down of another year - perhaps just to reach the end of what has been a trying time for so many.

Last month, we had a Thanksgiving meal at work (add to my ever-growing list of things in my life I'm grateful for), and everyone was tasked with writing their thankfulness on leaves and adding them to a Thanksgiving tree. So many of those notes said: 'I'm thankful 2016 will end' and 'I'm thankful for term limits' and 'I'm thankful Brexit wasn't the stupidest decision this year' - it's clear that everyone's scale of thinking was a lot larger than the usual 'I'm thankful for my home' and 'I'm thankful for my job'. 2016 seemed to be the year so much became unavoidable for so many who had preferred to live with blinkers on.

Yes, I'm looking forward to the year being at an end. But I have to believe that all of this happened to move us forward. Over the past few months, when I've been feeling heartsick or sad, I've kept a saying in my mind that I stumbled across a little while back. It said: 'We cannot become what we want by remaining where we are.' This has been everything to hold on to, because to me it says that change is necessary for our wellbeing. And this period of my life, and it would seem so many peoples' lives, has been nothing if not turbulent with change.

Rather than ruminate too much the hardships and struggles we've faced and will continue to, I want to propose that we enjoy this month. We enjoy the days left of our year, we smile big, we hold our loved ones close, drink and eat and share together, fill our time with everything we love. There is no greater revenge than happiness, and we can start now, today. I give you permission, even in the face of the biggest odds, to let yourself be joyful. I hope you have a merry month ahead.

SEE: I am beyond excited for Rogue One this month, so that is very high on the list. This time of year also reminds me of going to the ballet with my mum when I was a kid, so if you get the chance and that's your thing, the English National Ballet is bringing The Nutcracker to Liverpool this month. Perfect for Christmas! And have you all seen this H&M Christmas advert by Wes Anderson? I loooove it. 

LISTEN: There's so much good, new music in December, I feel like I'm being spoilt! 2016 definitely hasn't been lacking in the music stakes, and we continue the theme with Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino. It's SUCH a different sound for him, I'm blown away. What a multitalented and ridiculously good-looking human. My fave? Redbone

GO: Into the woods! I have the biggest craving to be surrounded by trees and woodland and nothingness - Norway is calling me, but until I can afford to plan a trip there, one of these cabins in Yorkshire will do? 

EAT: Gyoza gyoza gyoza - we discovered the Oxford Gloucester Green market's food section and oh my goodness the hot fresh gyoza there. So delicious. However if you're not local, I'm also so glad we finally have a Leon in town - try one if you have one nearby, pick up the meatballs! And 'tis also the season for the Pret Christmas sandwich which is, to be honest, worth waiting a full year for. 

DRINK: Every warm thing - England has been SO unseasonally cold - like minus 5 degrees every morning - which leaves you in need of many many warm things. I can vouch personally for the Fudge Hot Chocolate at Starbucks. All the sugar.

WEAR: All I want for Christmas is this red dress from Zara. Have you ever seen a more perfect Christmas party dress? It's perfection. I want to swish in it all night long!

READ: I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done over the holiday period, so I'll probably be working through my backlog of books I've been ignoring for too long, but if I were gifted anything this Christmas I would love to read The Light Between Oceans ahead of the film coming out!

THINK: Pause. I'm well and truly slowing down, clocking off and checking out for hibernate mode over the Christmas holidays, and I don't feel bad about it at all. I've let a lot of things I care about suffer over the latter half of this year, not least this blog, and I'm looking forward to taking some time to truly disconnect and re-evaluate what I want to put my energy into, where I want to spend my time and how that will look for the new year. I hope you guys will afford yourself the same!

November, I feel like I haven't given you a chance. Writing this post so late in the month anyway is almost setting you up to fail, but after everything... It seems you've got a lot to overcome. This is usually the time of year I start getting excited too early about Christmastime, about December and all the giddy happiness that month brings with it, but this year, after the past two months? I'd happily hibernate until 2017. Break ups, fall outs, family problems and global meltdowns aside, this has been a time about trying to find calm and peace of mind when everything seems set against that. It has been about looking hard at myself and trying to get right in my own mind, figure out what I need to move forward. And that kind of work can be tiring, especially when you're doing it alone.

Having said all that, this month has also shown me the importance of friends, of being able to take comfort in the support they'll give you. It has proved to me that I'm stronger than I think I am and capable of finding beauty and inspiration in even the most unlikely places. But most of all November has been about mess, living with it, and learning to love what's imperfect. Most importantly, in yourself.

SEE: There can only be one answer here - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! To be honest, there is so much going on, both at the theatre and in cinemas around this time of year, but I am so more than ready to dive back into Harry Potter world and J.K. Rowling's writing again. 

LISTEN: I'm going to have to admit my bias - Anne Marie recently made public my most favourite song of hers - all that existed until now was fanmade footage of her singing this song on her last tour. Peak is so hauntingly beautiful and so fully captures the way I've been feeling lately, I can't imagine recommending anything else (although the new the xx song is a very close second). 

GO: It alone. I've spent the past month living out of a suitcase on sofa beds, in spare rooms and renting airbnbs and whilst it has been unsettling and heartbreaking to be away from home, it has also kind of been wonderful, in a weird way. Take every hour you can to spend time alone, because you really find out who you are in those moments.

EAT: This month I tried Pomegranate in Cowley and let me tell you - this is LEBANESE. FOOD. From someone who has lived in Lebanon, this is as close as I have found in England thus far, Comptoir Libanais included. I have been missing it so much and going here right before Bonfire Night was incredible - try the fried cauliflower. Sounds wrong but SO right. 

DRINK: Mulled cider. Don't test me with the 'it's not festive season yet' crap, because Bonfire Night has happened and we can now all officially skate into Christmas. I've had around four mugfuls and I'm STILL CRAVING MOAR. 

WEAR: There's a 90% chance I am 100% obsessed with these knee high boots. I have no idea how they'll look on my leg but aren't they so fun? They make me think of the Spice Girls, which is A-OK with me.

READ: The list is quite long at the moment, but I think I've narrowed it down to picking up Swing Time by Zadie Smith and Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire. Can you tell I'm having a moment with feminist literature?

THINK: Me first. After spending the past month, or perhaps two, doing nothing BUT thinking it feels like I want to shut off and shut up but the truth is the hard part is where the hardest work starts. I'm thinking about myself, what I want for my life and what I need to be happy a lot this month and if you haven't lately? Give it a try. 

Oh, where to even start.

To say that this year has been a mindfuck is officially an understatement - since last we met, it feels as though we've buried down from rock bottom and are now discovering layers of hellishness that we didn't even think possible. Personally, professionally, socially - in every aspect of my life, I feel as though everything I held dear and believed in and treasured has been turned upside down. Waking up last Wednesday to another Brexit-style feeling of complete disbelief and horror (only escalated by a hundred), I felt bereft. I could feel panic rising in my chest again at the now familiar sensation of being a part of a world that I feel totally disconnected from.

I didn't often like to give too much attention to politics or my political beliefs. I was raised in a home where I was taught to be polite, respectful of others' views and to protect myself by keeping things to myself. We have always exercised our rights and voted, been conscious of our political rights - but as for debates, campaigning, being actively involved? That wasn't the house I was raised in.

Like too much of my generation, I have been asleep - asleep through endless scrolling of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, believing that the world and peoples' beliefs were reflected openly and evenly on these very niche representations of white privilege. My nuclear world voted Remain (with only a few quite articulate differences of opinion), supported Hillary Clinton, believed in freedom of speech and a world without discrimination, thought that the Trump rhetoric was damaging and unspeakable, couldn't fathom how he had even become a presidential candidate, let alone... Well. We were asleep. We were all fooled. And we're all here now, shell-shocked.

I cried listening to Hillary's concession speech. I cried for my future daughter, who may or may not ever come to be. I cried for all the women I know that inspire me daily, that would feel their hearts break just like mine was. I cried for women the world over that have suffered at the hands of sexual abuse, whatever form it takes, for rape victims, for women being told now: 'It doesn't matter who you are or what you've been through, men will be forgiven anything.' I cried for Hillary herself, who couldn't have been a more prepared, more diligent, or more hard-working candidate. I cried for last week when I (ignorantly) said: "I'm so happy we'll have our first female president, but isn't it sad that she's almost only winning by default?" I would take a default - I would take anything over this.

My father, an Arab - specifically a Palestinian, forced across the Dead Sea too young by Israeli soldiers who told him and his family that they couldn't live in their home any more - told me: 'The world is not perfect and we have to accept that.' My father the refugee. My father the Arab. My father the Muslim.

Do you mean to tell me that I, a woman of mixed heritage, born of an Arabic father, with Muslim family - that I am worth less in the eyes of the leader of the free world than I was two weeks ago? That one whole half of my big, beautiful, loud family aren't welcome behind some shiny wall?

Not in my lifetime. Not in any lifetime, and NOT in 2016. History has taught us too fucking much and too many have suffered to be pulling this shit now, and I'm not sitting pretty any more. It felt like enough to speak up 'when the time was right' and vote when I was called upon, but it has never been enough. The finish like was actually the starting point. We're further back than we ever thought, and I'm done being polite. I'm done being quiet. I'm done being asleep. So here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to EDUCATE myself. This post by the Man Repeller should be mandatory reading. Yes, as we aren't all citizens of the United States we can't do everything listed but where I can, I will help. Monthly, I will be donating what I can to support the organisations on this list, which will now need our help more than ever.

I'm going to GET INVOLVED. For the first time, I'll be joining a political party - I will be joining the Labour party and putting my support behind Jeremy Corbyn. If social change is going to be affected it starts with getting behind what you believe in, and I believe in electing the leader we choose, not someone who is in the role of Prime Minister by default. If you live in the UK and what to see where your political views place you in terms of which party you're closest aligned to, try taking this test: ISideWith.

I'm done SLEEPWALKING. This blog and what I publish on the internet is going to reflect a lot more of me, my life as a 28 year old woman, and my thoughts and beliefs. If you have a problem with that, I'd suggest now is the time to hit the bricks. This will be a mature space for a mature audience, and will be about celebrating women and everything that makes us women. Content will be varied but please don't expect everything to be sunshine and rainbows. For us all to be our fullest selves we have to really know one another, and I think that starts with me, right here.

So fuck yeah, I'm a nasty woman. I am a nasty woman that supports the equal rights of immigrants and refugees, the equal rights of the LGBTQ+ community, the equal rights of all races, creeds, nationalities, passports, backgrounds. I am a nasty woman that will oppose any move to leave the EU fractured, any move to eradicate the Human Rights Act. I am a nasty woman that will hold up other nasty women and bad-ass bitches the world over. And we all need to be nasty women right now. 

Allow me to paint you a little picture before I wax lyrical about how much I love this palette and how pigmented the shades are, how finely milled the glitter is in the highlight shades and how beautiful Amaretto looks on the cheeks as a blush/contour. This palette deserves a little more than the standard, box tick review.

It was my birthday, we drove down to Bath, and it was around a week or so after the release and general selling-out of the Jaclyn Hill x BECCA collection. Wildly successful as it had been, it had sold out almost instantaneously on Space NK online and similarly in stores, it was something of an enigma to get hold of. So, wandering in Bath, knowing there was a Space NK close-by, I drifted in thinking 'if it's going to happen, it'll be today, my 28th birthday - it's only fair'. And there it was - in the window! The very palette! Surely they wouldn't display the palette without stock, right? That would be barbaric.

In I waltzed, full of glee, to see someone checking out at the till with a palette in their hands - it was happening! All of my good wishing worked! Pleased as punch, I sauntered towards a member of staff with a cheeky (it was probably repulsive) 'I'll have what SHE'S having', only to be met with a solemn look from the cashier. "This is... er... this is the last one." I tried to be cavalier, but the look on my face must have been crestfallen, as the girl buying the palette started apologising profusely. "Oh well, it's hard luck! That's just how it goes!" I smiled back, but I heard her say as she left 'That girl hated me!' It left a sour taste. I didn't HATE her, but I was suitably heartbroken. This gross misestimation of my character just added salt to the wound.

SO, when mysteriously after months of being out of stock the palette magically reappeared online, it was in my basket faster than you could say 'redemption'. I didn't even think twice - click, purchase, collect. A little childish part of me did a victory dance at my aggressor from months before. Ha ha! Good things come to those who wait!

And this palette is beautiful - really, it's gorgeous. Champagne Pop is everything it is written to be - a beautifully subtle, angelic highlight which brings luminosity to the face and the most delicately milled glitter that doesn't clump at all but rather glistens in that irresistible, dewy way. Prosecco Pop is much the same, but with a stronger golden hue and less of a pink tint - great for summer months on bronzed skin.

Of the three blush colours Amaretto (the centre colour) is definitely my fave - a tawny browny peach colour which works beautifully as a blush but also to sculpt and define cheeks. Pamplemousse (far right) is also so juicy and gorgeous - the lightest of hands is needed for this as the pigment, like all of these shades, is super intense. Rose Spritz is a kind of highlight blush mix and whilst a little sparkly for me, still brings something effervescent and special to the face. Each is a glow giver in their own way, and I do still hear angel song whenever I bring this palette out to use.

The part of the story that doesn't get told? On the way to pick up this palette, right outside the post office, the front passenger side tyre on my car burst. I could hear it deflating sadly the whole walk into the collection depot. It would be £65 for the new tyre - not a whole lot more than the palette had cost me. Luckily, the depot was right next to a garage. It could've been worse. But it was an expensive day.

It got me thinking. What motivated me to act so quickly, to put that palette into my basket and checkout without a second's thought - that was want. Pure want. Intensified by the thought that I couldn't have it the first time around. Heightened by jealousy as I watched it walk out of the shop in front of me. It made me act without thought or consideration, this want. I could see nothing but how much better I'd feel once it was mine. It's a dangerous thing, that feeling of desire. Especially when what you need is the money for the tyre to replace the one you burst trying to get to what you want.

The irony makes me laugh, but the story remains the same - be careful about mistaking 'need' for 'want'. It could just leave you in a tricky spot.

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year - as if there isn't enough poetry in the skyline being lit up with fiery colours as nature sends itself off in one last beautiful, dying spectacle - I also love the slowing down of days, the crisper air, the allowance for warmer foods and warmer drinks, the way jackets and coats return to hooks on the wall. There's something special about this time where you can almost feel the seasons change, see them turn in front of you. And then, of course, the excuse to wear all black. And jumpers. You can't argue with that, right?

September was, as I mentioned in my last post, a month that kinda knocked me for six. It kind of turned everything I knew and had accepted on its head, and made me ask some difficult questions of myself. I think those times, even though they can feel the hardest to get through, once you start to come towards something that feels like the other side, you start to feel the benefit. We should be changing beings, we should grow, and 'growing pains' isn't just a phase you go through physically. Growing pains can be emotional too. But that doesn't mean that you don't weather the stormy days. And that doesn't mean that after the death and quiet in autumn and winter there won't be life in the same branches again come spring.

So here's to turning the heating on for the first time, wrapping your hands around a hot mug of something delicious, throwing a blanket over your bed, and knowing that whatever comes, there will be good waiting for you if you choose to find it.

SEE: Last month my girlfriends and I went to go see Bridget Jones' Baby, which was what we all needed it to be - fun, light and satisfying. We went to go see it at the Phoenix which is a picturehouse in Oxford where you can take wine into your movie, and that is A-OK with me. Seeing as we're in the season of staying in, I also thought I'd recommend Chef's Table, my latest Netflix binge series, but fair warning? DON'T watch this on an empty stomach. It will lead to you microwaving plain tortillas and questioning your life choices.

LISTEN: There's only one answer to this for me, and it came out yesterday - 22 A Million. One of my best girls and I got Bon Iver tickets early last month and the sound we made I'm sure must've only been picked up by dogs and dolphins. Too excited.

GO: Find a treehouse to snuggle up in. The idea of going into the wilderness and disconnecting from everything for a weekend is delicious right now. I can't tell you how many times I've opened and closed the Chewton Glen Treehouses page - dream on, kid. But there's gotta be a cute budget version of that, right? Anyone? Bueller?

EAT: I am low key obsessed with deli food (it's not really that low key) and last weekend I took myself on a walk to Branca deli to pick up lunch - I made myself a little plate - picked up a chicken with sriracha sandwich in a brioche bun, a butternut squash and rocket side salad and a teeny tiny Welsh rarebit bite thing. It was so good. And so cheap! Had a proper 'treat yo self' moment.

DRINK: I'm not about to use the PSL suggestion that you seem to see everywhere this time of year because I am not a basic bitch and neither should you be. Get yourself an old fashioned, get all the warmth, sweet and sour of Autumn and enjoy not having to refer to pumpkin spiced anything when you order.

WEAR: Around this time of year I'm always looking for the perfect flannel shirt because who doesn't want to cosy up in the softest shirts when it's cold and rainy outside? And I think I love this one. I will have it please. I just wish it was a smidge longer?

READ: On my to purchase list at Waterstones (my drug of choice) is Amy Schumer's 'Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo' which I'm sure is as hilarious as she is. 

THINK: Less. Too much thinking keeps us frozen and stops us from realising we have everything we need, and there is never a better time to do what you want to do and fulfil yourself than right now. 
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