Featured Friday – Passion and Preening

Hello and welcome to this weeks (extremely overdue) featured Friday. I know I have completely sucked lately with regards keeping up to date with all things featured Friday. I apologise and promise to treat it with more love and respect. Being honest, everything blog related has gone to the wayside as of late. I haven’t been too good at all lately and seeing a steady decline in my health once again. The joys! Anyway I’m going to stop rambling on. I really have to stop doing that, it’s becoming a problem lol.

So today let me introduce you to one of the kindest, most thoughtful person I have ever met. As soon as I met this girl we completely hit it off. The only downside to the amazing friendship we have built up over the past year is that we live so far away from each other. It sucks as I know we would be an even bigger support to one another whilst battling our illnesses if we lived closer together but it is what it is and I can’t wait until I get a little better so I can go and visit her. The gorgeous Alison has a wonderful blog called Passion and Preening that is hitting the three-year mark soon. She blogs about all things illness, beauty and fashion and is very active over on Snapchat. She is as real as they come and extremely open about things. If you are a cat lover you’ll love her furry companion Scott, I mean Harlequin 😂. She lives in Coleraine with her wonderful hubby Scott.

Alison’s blog logo

Please introduce yourself? Do you blog, if so please tell us about it?

Hi everyone I’m Alison. I’m 33 and live in Northern Ireland. First and foremost I am a wife to my wonderful husband Scott and Mummy to a little furbaby called Harlequin. Harlequin is an 8-year-old tortie cat who is without a doubt the boss of the house. I don’t work due to medical reasons so my day is mostly spent resting, blogging, pottering about the place and I also like to do charity work as much as we can. So im pretty much always online whether it’s on my social media pages or the blog itself. My blog Passion and Preening is a real mix of beauty and lifestyle with some food and fashion thrown in too. I set up my blog in August 2014 and being honest I never thought it would be still going today. It has ignited a real sense of purpose and passion in me that I will forever be grateful for.

The gorgeous Alison and her wonderful hubby Scott

Do you personally or does someone close to you suffer with a physical and/or mental illness? 

I suffer myself with various illnesses and unfortunately it has prevented me from working these past 12 years. If I was to explain it all in full we would be here for days so i will try keep it short and sweet. So basically, during  my 1st week of uni, I slipped and fell on a wet dance floor, landing straight on my back and head. It resulted in me having a slipped disc in the base of my back and hence when all the back problems started. Now as of my recent MRI scan, I have a total of 8 discs totally gone from the base of my spine right up to my neck. I also have a lot of nerve compression. A few weeks after my fall, I experienced my first (what we call now) seizure and from then on have experienced them quite regularly. I’m thinking this all stemmed from the fall and the way in which I landed.

In 2005, a few years after my initial injury things took a pretty bad turn. I caught a very bad chest infection that resulted in me developing chronic fatigue syndrome. This left me completely bed bound. I gradually built up my strength to then be wiped out with severe depression brought on by a horrendous experience as a child. This period of my life was very dark. As I lived abroad at the time, my now hubby Scott and I decided to move back home to Northern Ireland and be close to family. Since then even with receiving help depression and anxiety has become an everyday part of my life. Just like all us warriors we try desperately to live our lives even whilst carrying the turmoil that we do. Mental Illness is a very important topic to me and I fully believe in the importance of talking about it in order to help break down stigma.

Alison with the two important men in her life, her hubby and her daddy

What has illness taught you?

Illness has taught me to be a fighter and to stand up to everything life throws at me. Most importantly I have learned that illness can hit anyone at anytime and it doesn’t care who you are or what you do. It will completely change your life.

Please tell us something not a lot of people would know about you?

Oh now this is a tough one, as anyone who knows me or follows the blog will know I am an open book.  The one thing that strikes me when asked this question is the one thing I rarely discuss. That is, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It has taken me a long time to be able to address this or even talk about it but I believe if I can open up and talk about it and if it helps even one person then it’s worth putting myself on the line for. In some way it gives me strength to know I am giving a voice to others too scared to speak. The abuse I experienced, the impact it has caused and what it took away from me will always be in my thoughts but the word survivor is my word and surviving is the key to living again. I am a real open book and sometimes think, jeez Alison people don’t need to see you cry on snapchat about your latest anxiety attack but I believe i should use social media for more than showing my latest lippie.

Who inspires you and why?

This question is the easiest to answer, my mummy inspired me and still does to this day. My mum was the life and soul of the party and was everyone’s best friend and confidante. She was also my best friend. At the age of 25 she developed diabetes and battled for years to try control it. She suffered her 1st heart attack at age 49 and from then on things went downhill until she unfortunately experienced another cardiac arrest on St Patrick’s Day 2011. Unfortunately she didn’t recover from this and passed away peacefully. Her strength and laughter through everything inspires me to push and strive to kick life’s ass each and every day. She suffered so much pain for such a beautiful soul and yes my heart aches every day for her. I find it tough to even write these words and it completely chokes me up but then I think this hurt inspires me to make her proud.

Alison on her wedding day with her hubby, mum and dad

Where is your favourite place in the world?

There is a little town here in the North called Ballintoy, it’s more of a little village and was our favourite place to go as a family. It was one of mums last days out with myself, dad and Scott. It is the most beautiful village and has a charming little cafe that serves the biggest slices of cake I have ever seen. This place really calms me as I have such beautiful memories there.

Outside of blogging what do you like to do with your free time?

Outside of blogging, I spend a lot of time with my Dad. We just chill out and watch the chase on tv or I love a wee coffee and gossip with my girls. I also love a nice quiet night in with a face mask and practicing some mindfulness.

If you could sum up your life in one quote what would it be?

Life in one quote, wow now this is tough! I think “Everything happens for a reason” would be one that I always try and live by. One reason that comes to mind is, mummy taking her 1st heart attack whilst I was living in Belgium on my gap year and consequently decided to come home. Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me give up on my education so I packed up and moved to Buckinghamshire and in my 2nd year of uni I met Scott, the most beautiful and kindest human being to grace this earth. This man has been through so much with me and mum but yet still stands firmly by me everyday. I truly believe my God sent him to me. OK, now I am crying again but seriously I try and tell myself that no matter how bad things may be they are happening for a reason. I have to try and take something  positive from negative situations that can and do happen. Even when mum passed I had to do something to put some light back in my life, so Scott and myself raised nearly £3k to put a defibrillator into our local shopping centre.

The defibrillator we installed in our local shopping centre in loving memory of mum

You can find Alison on the following links:

Blog: www.passionsandpreening.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/passionsandpreening/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/passionandpreen

Instagram: www.instagram.com/passionsandpreening/

Snapchat: @alison2603

I would love to hear what you think by commenting below.