Monday, 30 April 2018

The lovely people at Simply Soaps sent me some products to sample and I must say that I love them! They use 100% natural and organic ingredients and they take care to make sure that their ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced. Their website is a treasure trove of information on how they keep their company as environmentally friendly as possible and it is lovely to see! They clearly take great care to ensure their business has as little negative impact on the environment as possible!

As for the products I got to try out, here are my thoughts...

Hedgerow Herbals Rosa Passionata Moisturising Facial Serum

I'm not gonna lie, I was sceptical. I am very picky when it comes to skincare and I have a strict routine when it comes to serums. However, I am so glad that this serum was sent to me because I absolutely love it! Due to the fact that my face is a literal oil slick, I tend to use a good serum before bed and that is what I did with this. I was struck by how nicely it absorbed into my skin and how soft and smooth my face felt in the morning! It worked wonders and I will definitely incorporate it into my usual nighttime skincare routine, as I tend to alternate between a few serums with different effects.

According to the Simply Soaps website, this serum has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties. They give a great amount of information on the different active ingredients, telling you exactly what each ingredient does to the skin!

Geranium Rose Balancing Soap

This lovely soap has quickly become one of my daily essentials! I use this all over my body in the shower and I am struck by how healthy and soft my skin feels! Especially on my arms, which have always been quite dry and bumpy! In the shower, this bar lathers up beautifully and goes onto the skin nicely! I have found with soap bars that they can be too solid and hard, but this soap is lovely and soft! The smell that wafts into the steam of the shower is wonderful and soothing, it feels like a fully aromatherapeutic experience!

The lovely handmade soaps from Simply Soaps are so affordable and clearly made with care! I fully plan to repurchase this Geranium Rose Soap, as its natural ingredients feel so soothing and healthy on my sensitive skin! I am also desperate to try their Lavender Soothing Handmade Soap (we all know how much I love a bit of lavender) and their Guys Bar since I kind of love smelling a bit manly. I may also gift the Guys Bar to my man because these soaps would be the PERFECT gift! I would also love to try their Lavender and Orange Blossom Bath Bags, which are supposed to help with sleep, and their Lavender Toner (yep, I just love lavender)!

I am mentally making a list of what to order from the Simply Soaps website after trying and loving their products! I am also putting together a little gift basket for an upcoming birthday and I definitely think that a couple of these handmade soaps would be perfect for this!

What do you like the look of from this lovely brand? x

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* I was sent these products to review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own

Thursday, 26 April 2018

I was brainstorming for blog ideas this morning and it struck me that I haven't talked about my body confidence and how it has changed and shifted over the years. I also have some advice that I want to share on the subject and also a little bit to say about how getting my first tattoo has affected the way I see my body.

I don't think I really thought about my body shape until high school. In primary school, everyone just got along and I only have good memories from that time in my early life. However, it wasn't the same in high school, which I think is quite common. I was beginning to see, and hear, negatives about my body that I just hadn't considered before. I felt fat and I began to dislike my features. In PE, I felt useless. I was told that I just wasn't trying at sports and needed to get on with it when what I really needed was the encouragement to improve rather than being completely terrified to go to another PE class. Comments were made about my nose being 'massive' and 'huge'. I remember one instance when I was told that I would never find someone who would go out with me unless they were blind.

Towards the end of high school, I obsessed over body image and tried all the home workouts in the world. In time for prom, I had slimmed down quite a bit and felt slightly better about myself that summer. I even wore a bikini once, but I was still pretty terrified and didn't wear it for long! It was the beginning of my on/off relationship with working out and fitness bursts.

College was a bit better in terms of my body image. I was riding the wave of the body positivity movement and I started my first part-time job so I was able to buy all the clothes I wanted to wear and dress exactly how I wanted. Gone were the days of having to wear a school uniform five days a week and then normal clothes twice a week. I was wearing MY clothes five days a week and then a fast food uniform twice a week. Even when I was putting on weight from stress eating during my A-Levels, I still felt super cute. I started experimenting more with makeup and funky clothes and I even cut my hair super short! I felt individual and suddenly my weight didn't seem like my defining feature.

College was a stressful but great time and I don't think I've ever had such a long period of body confidence! It was wonderful!

My first year of university was a really exciting and interesting time, as well as a stressful and scary one! I was in a new place with new people and I had to learn to be way more independent! During my first year, I started to enjoy cooking and I would make soups and curries and generally eat pretty well. Thanks to this, I lost a bit of weight and felt pretty good about this. However, my low mood started to become an issue and this had an apparent effect on my self-esteem in the second semester and heading into my second year.

In my second year so far, I have begun to seek help for my low mood and anxiety. I am on antidepressants and they did have an effect on my weight. I am bigger than I was last year. However, I have been working so hard on myself and my self-esteem that it doesn't seem to trouble me as much as I would have expected. I dress nicely and focus more on being present and being a good person and less on looking a certain way. At the beginning of the academic year, I hated the way I looked but now I have come to accept it as the way it is. I look like this and I will for a very long time.

I think the thing that helped me the most with my body confidence was seriously questioning my priorities. I believe that I am a fairly good person who is kind to others and works hard. This, to me, is more important than the way I look. I focus hard on my inner self, rather than my appearance, and I gain so much more joy from this!

I also learned that self-compassion and self-care are so much more important than tearing myself apart for the way I look! I wrote a post on 'Treating Yourself How You Treat Others' and I live by that phrase. If you wouldn't tear your friends down for the way they look, why would you do the same to yourself? It's all about treating yourself with the respect and kindness you treat others with!

I got a tattoo very recently too. It's still healing and I can't wait for it to be healed, I love it so much and it is beautiful! I have a tattoo of lavender on my thigh. I was never very fond of my thighs but now when I look at them I see this beautiful (albeit unfinished) bit of artwork and it makes me feel so good. It makes me feel pretty.

My self-esteem is a work in progress. I have a lot of days when I look in the mirror and think I look absolutely hideous. I look down at my body and see rolls and lumps and bumps and imperfections. However, sometimes I see a fairly well functioning body that serves its purpose and doesn't deserve to be hated and put down so much. Sometimes I think my curves are beautiful and soft. I hope to get better at thinking in this way more often than not.

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

All through my education, I was taught that my academics and my grades determined my employability. I was told that if I were to ace all of my exams, my future would be bright, and if I failed them, then I was throwing my life away. The reality is, you can have great grades and not get employed, and you can have poor grades and still be super employable. Yes, the grades are important and it would be ideal to ace your education, but it isn't the be-all-and-end-all of your career!

So, what are soft and hard skills? Hard skills are skills which are easily measured. These are your grades, your typing speed, your mathematical ability, your training. They are things that you can be taught and things that you can easily prove to a future employer. Soft skills are harder to measure and harder to prove. These are your personality based skills which can only really be shown over time and by observation and interaction.

So if it's harder to learn and prove soft skills, why is it necessary or important to build them? It's important to learn them because you will be able to use them in the workplace to better your career, as well as use them to treat others well and in your day-to-day life. While they are harder to prove, they will be key points in references from your employer and can be shown by experiences (eg. if you have experience in counselling, it connotes listening skills).

If the way to build and display soft skills is through experience, this is what we need to focus on in order to show them to a potential employer. I decided to focus on building my soft skills this year in my second year in university, and it led me to things I had never considered before. I started this by saying 'yes' to a bunch of opportunities which came my way. I had used my university counselling service in order to attend group therapy and to get on top of my depression. This led to them offering me training to facilitate mutual support groups within their service. I also applied to be a 'peer mentor' for my degree programme, which involves connecting with first-year students and giving them support to helping them settle into university life. This involved more training and more connecting. I also volunteered as a 'Welcome Hero', welcoming new students to the university and coordinating trips to local tourist spots.

TopResume listed 6 Soft Skills Employers Are Looking For In The Workplace and all of these opportunities which I said yes to helped me to develop and display all of these soft skills.

  • The fact that I had taken up these opportunities and put in the time and effort outside of my already time-consuming studies displayed my strong work ethic. I was working hard and dedicating much of my free time to the student community around me. 
  • Working in peer support really helped me to work on my communication skills and helped me to come out of my shell. I am quite an introverted person and I would go out of my way to avoid meeting new people and putting myself out there. However, I am suddenly open to connecting with others and have found confidence in my ability to communicate my ideas. 
  • A lot of the opportunities I took required a lot of creative problem solving, as I was spending a lot of time dealing with people and coordinating events, each of which presented their own set of problems. If a facilitator had called in sick and I needed to take over from them, I had to come up with a quick plan of action for the session. If we were on a tourist trip and someone had taken ill, I needed to deal with the situation whilst also ensuring the enjoyment of others. 
  • Time management has also been a big factor in what I do, as I juggle a lot of projects and events around an already busy student schedule. I also work part-time and was already involved in some peer support programmes and a lot of what I do goes into my calendar. Scheduling and time management has become key!
  • It goes without saying that teamwork is heavily involved in most of what I do. It's so important for most projects and jobs that you are able to work within a team! I have been working in great teams of like-minded people in peer support and it's great to see the passion and commitment that goes on behind the scenes of all the schemes!
  • Next academic year, I will be able to gain a lot of leadership skills as I have already been given opportunities for next year to advance in a number of the projects and schemes I am working in! I am so glad that I took up the opportunities when I did because otherwise, I would not have this chance!

Since starting to say 'yes' to the opportunities that come my way, I have taken a certified first aid course, excelled in my peer support roles, taken great blogging opportunities and connected with lots of lovely people! My CV has also benefitted and my soft skills have developed greatly!

What do you plan to do to develop your soft skills? x

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Monday, 16 April 2018

That's right! I miss my teenage emo days! It seems like yesterday that I was listening to all the music I could find in Kerrang and dreaming about a time when Hot Topic would bring its beautiful stores to the UK, specifically near me in Wales! It was a good time! When My Chemical Romance was still together and I could solve all my problems by listening to Carolyn by Black Veil Brides over and over again! Here are a few more reasons why I miss these days!

I felt a part of something

The music that I listened to felt like part of my identity! It was all I thought about and pretty much all I talked about. Whenever I met anyone wearing merch from a band I liked, I instantly felt connected to them! I would find any way I could to be their friend and I met so many people like this! People I am still friends with! I wore my band tees with pride and loved it when people noticed them. Going to shows and signings felt incredible too because I felt a connection to each and every person there.

Having a sense of individuality

I thrived on sticking out in a crowd! I loved having a sense of individuality and causing a stir. I was in a more confident place than I am now and felt like making a statement with my clothes or hair or makeup made me different to everyone else. Unique and someone who could not blend into a crowd! I felt like a total badass and loved every minute of it! I miss that feeling!

My Chemical Romance was still together

Undeniably my favourite bad at the time, and possibly ever, was My Chemical Romance. I loved following them on social media and also finding fellow fans of theirs on social media! It was a massive fanbase and interacting with them made me feel like I had a massive community of friends! I would wait eagerly for new music, lose myself in the worlds that they created with their concept albums and listen to them non-stop!

I lived from gig to gig

Whenever I wasn't at a gig, I was thinking about what the next one would be! Granted, because I lived in a small town, gigs were few and far between and difficult to arrange since I would have to travel to get to them. However, the feeling of being at a gig was my favourite! My favourite bands were right there in front of me and they were actual REAL people. It would blow my mind! I also found being shoved around in a massive crowd very exhilarating. I want to go to see more live music like I used to.

Pulp stores and signings

On the odd occasions in which I could afford to travel to cities, my first destination was always Pulp! The clothes, the merch, the music; it was like heaven! Plus, I once went to a signing held at Pulp and it was all I could talk about for months! I had met and hugged the members of one of my favourite bands and it was amazing! The excitement that I had felt back then just being in these stores is funny to look back on. I do miss that feeling!

The makeup

My makeup skills were very questionable but I loved the way I made myself look! I would use white powder on my already pale skin to make sure I looked extra pale and I would apply thick eyeliner better than I ever could nowadays! I would buy this powder from Claires every time they stocked it for Halloween and it was my top makeup trick! I felt amazing! Sometimes in my room, I would put on makeup worn by my favourite band members! Especially those who wore a lot of costume makeup in their music videos!

Exploring my emotions

I would listen to a sad or angsty song and feel a sense of relatability. This would make me ask myself why I felt that way and led me to think a lot about my own emotions and really understand them! I became more in touch with my emotions than I ever have been and I think that was a very good thing! It made me more self-aware and definitely made me feel way more alone to listen to a song and know that the person who had written it had gone through a similar thing!

What do you miss about your early-mid teen years? Do you ever wish you could go back? x

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Supposedly, everyone has hobbies and things they love to do! I love to read. It has always been a passion of mine and I used to find myself lost in other worlds and other times. However, recently I have neglected this hobby, always telling myself that I don't have the time or that I have 1000 other things I need to get done before I can chill with a book. I have now come to realise that this is utter bullsh*t. I don't have the time because I don't make the time. I don't have the time because I spend hours scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds and watching YouTube videos that I'm not particularly interested in or learning anything from.

I don't mean to be the one who is blaming social media and the internet for all the ills in the world. I do learn a lot from social media and online media, and I do love to use them to connect with others and learn something new. I watch a lot of different YouTube channels and read a lot of blogs and feeds that do bring me joy and teach me a lot of new things about the world around me. However, this is a case of getting stuck down the rabbit hole and forgetting how to stop.

This isn't about spending a bit too much time on the internet, this is about spending entire days or weeks stuck on my laptop, taking breaks only to walk to and from uni. I don't even cook that much and tell myself that it's because I don't have the time. In reality, I have plenty of time.  Psychom have written an article on Internet Addiction Disorder and, although I know that I have not reached this level at all, I find it incredibly interesting (maybe even interesting enough for my dissertation, who knows?) and I definitely see how this could develop! We gain a lot of instant gratification from internet use, so much so that it becomes a massive part of a lot of our daily routines!

I have come up with my own little strategy for kicking myself off my laptop and into some 'better' activities or hobbies, and I think it could work for you too! You need to ask yourself whether the way that you are spending your time is worthwhile and fulfilling? Are your actions bringing you enjoyment and satisfaction or are you just in a routine that's difficult to break? I ask myself this every time I feel myself just occupying my brain by scrolling or passively watch something. It generally helps me to facilitate a task change to better use my time. Last night, I switched off my laptop early and read the entirety of Rosemary's Baby, a book I had intended to read for months. If I hadn't have done this I probably would have rewatched several YouTube videos before falling asleep on my laptop, a regular routine of mine. I found jumping into a book so much more rewarding and fulfilling and I hope to make it a regular thing.

Do you have the same issue of getting lost down the rabbit hole of the internet and how do you combat this? I would love to know your thoughts! x

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

I'm having one of those days.

This is me right now:

A bit of a different image from the ones I usually post of myself, right? It's 1pm and I have a GP appointment at 3:30 so I really should get up and have a shower. I'm just not feeling it. I've eaten three pain au chocolat and chugged a coffee and other than a quick trip to the kitchen, I haven't left my bed. I've been sat here doing my best to be productive since I woke up at 10. My hair has been scooped up into a scrunchie unbrushed and I've written part of a blog post and taken some pretty flat lays of whatever I can reach from my bed. For the rest of the time I've been up, I've mostly just been overthinking and curling up back into my bed, hoping that the world will disappear for a little while. I've been thinking about how I've gained weight, about how my health (mental and physical) is all over the place, and about all of the things I'm supposed to have done since I started my Easter holiday. My self-esteem fluctuates a lot and today it's totally and completely lacking.

The reality is, I was supposed to leave the house by 8:30 this morning. I was supposed to go to the library and get some studying done before the GP appointment. I woke up super late after turning off all my alarms (I can't remember doing this but I assume I did) and I immediately felt a familiar tightness in my chest. I forgot to take my meds (I should take those now) I don't want to leave my house at all today but I have to go to this GP appointment since my health is really worrying me at the moment and I promised my mum over the phone that I would go.

In the next 10 minutes, I need to get out of bed and throw myself into the shower. Or maybe in the next 15, 20 or even 30 minutes. Maybe in an hour. I am a pro at putting things off. When I have days like these, it's a miracle if I leave the house. I tell myself that I'm just lazy and a bad person. That i'm lying to everyone who thinks that I spend all day every day getting things done and being incredibly productive. I tell everyone around me that I'm fine and that I've been very productive today. I got up at a decent time and I am coping very well today. 

To be fair, most days I get myself up and out of the house at a decent time. I am good at getting lots done. I am very productive when I want to be and I successfully juggle several projects at once. However, when these days come I am absolutely useless. Thankfully, I had a free morning so this crash didn't exactly ruin my plans for the day. Once I'm out of the house and walking to the GP, I'll likely feel different to how I feel now. Once I'm out and about, it's way easier to push myself to get stuff done. I'm going to pack my bag for the library and hope that I can get myself to go and do some work this afternoon. 

I have no idea if this post 'flowed' at all or if it's a worthwhile read, I just wanted to show that we all have those days and it's okay to show others. It's just a part of life and not something to completely sweep under the rug.

See you soon for some positive content and lots of tip and advice! x

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Time for a new series of posts! I'm attempting to make some changes in my life and I'm going to set goals at the beginning of each month in order to implement these changes! As this post is the first (hopefully of many) in this series, I won't be reflecting on the (nonexistent) goals of last month. Instead, I'm going to reflect on some of the changes I want to make and why I am making this changes!

The whats and whys

There is an overwhelming amount of changes which I would like to make in the coming months, so I'm going to try to divide and conquer them so that I do not overwhelm myself! I'll start with the most pressing matters and a couple of realistic goals and work from there. However, in the long run, I would like to change a lot about my life and how I go about my daily life! I want to get out of the rut that I've been stuck in for so long! These are my general long-term goals:

  • Get to a better state of physical health
  • Take control of my mental health
  • Smash the rest of my degree
  • Take steps to reach the career I want so badly
  • Keep up with the blogging, something that makes me so happy
  • Step up my productivity game
  • Sort out my money problems

When looking at setting goals, motivations should be questioned. It's all well and good making a list of what you want to achieve, but you really should look into why you want these goals and whether they are really necessary, needed or achievable! I want to flourish. I am setting these goals because I am dissatisfied with the way I live my life day-to-day and I want to make changes to get all I can from where I am in my life at the moment. I'm not going to be in university forever! I am in a great position to sort out my life and to chase the opportunities given to me through university. After all, it is supposed to put me in great stead for the future!

My goals this month

Time to think about what I can do this month! I'm going to go through my list of long-term goals and pick an action for each of these that I feel I can keep up this month! So, here is my goal list!

  • Keep up my physiotherapy exercises - do these every day!
  • Get back into yoga and really take time to notice the mental benefits it affords.
  • Catch up with university work and stay caught up!
  • Apply for internships and (hopefully) get one!
  • Write for at least 20 minutes per day! It feels good and it also feels productive!
  • End each day feeling like I have achieved something and have been sufficiently productive!
  • Stick to my budget and minimise the excessive spending.

I will check in next month to see if I achieved these and to see what I need to switch up for May!

I hope that April is a wonderful month for you all! I can't believe it's here already! What are your goals this month? x

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