Wednesday, 19 July 2017

SLAVES PHOTO GALLERY: 2000 TREES


As with all of these 2000 Tree's sets they were taken from within the crowd as I didn't have a photo pass to allow me in the pit. This of course has had an effect on the outcome of the shots. They were taken further away so they're less crisp than I'd like and I definitely wasn't able to get the greatest compositions as I was unable to get myself central to the stage. They had some fantastic visuals including a lit up SLAVES sign which looked great behind the two band members in the shots I've seen from people in the pit, so it's a shame I couldn't capture that. Despite their mediocre nature I still wanted to post this just to prove that even if you don't get a pass you can still enjoy snapping some live music, don't let it stop you!

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INTERVIEW/PHOTO GALLERY: THE XCERTS 2000 TREES


The Xcerts of one of those bands that music industry people adore. Bands, journalists, PR's, and random people like me, believe they should be considered one of our most treasured rock bands. They get consistently gushy reviews for their records as well as their haeartfelt live performances, and now it finally feels like they are going to be appreciated by the masses. 
Their new single 'Feels like Falling in Love' has quite rightly caught the ears of those that have an inquestionable influence on musical releases in 2017, with Spotify featuring the track on numerous go-to playists.
I was so pleased to see that they've clearly been given a budget to deliver a  slick video to accompany and enhance the single, with wondreful palette of red and pink, freehand text and squiggles, and great new clothes and haircuts, this phase feels contempary and more importantly commercially viable.  
And thing with The Xcerts is that no-one would begrudge them success, or even consider the term sell-outs, because they've grafted, paid their dues, and quite frankly a greater success at this time of their career would simply be getting what they've always deserved.
I can't wait to see where this song helps to take them...

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My Blogging/Vlogging Mistakes


Today I thought I’d take a look back over some of my blogging/vlogging mistakes, which there are plenty of. Some are the really naive ones made when I first embarked on this journey of attempting to make blogging into some sort of career, and others are ones I still make to this day, and will probably continue to do so because I’m an idiot/stubborn.

Don’t believe everything: When a new industry appears to be booming and a good little money maker you’ll inevitably get people wanting to be a part of that, whether they know what they’re doing or whether they have good intentions or not. I’ve had numerous phone chats with Influencer Talent managers, YouTuber Agents etc over the last few years, and have been completely shocked at the sheer balls of these people masquerading as experts or people that can carefully guide and nurture your career. After a few questions regarding their experience and other clients it was clear they had no qualification, expertise, or contacts, to deliver what they were promising people via their websites or social media. So I’ve learned you really need to be careful when considering whether you seek outside help to boost your career, as teaming with the wrong people could harm your reputation and damage existing relationships with brands that you may have….that’s before you consider the 20% they will take whether they’ve earned it or not.

Worrying about cliques: I’m too old in the tooth to worry about being in the cool gang, I have enough amazing friends in my life that don’t care I’m the biggest geek going, but a while back it did hurt my feelings when people would have group blogging photos at events and I’d be left out because I wasn’t part of the same blogging aesthetic or have the same sort of reach. But there’s a lot of good eggs in the world that don’t come part of an intimidating team, and as a natural shy person I’ve always preferred one and one interactions anyway.

Quantity of Quality: When I first started blogging I had zero awareness it could be a career, I didn’t share the posts anywhere or even upload images to make the post aesthetically pleasing. It was quite literally an online diary, a place where I got thoughts out of my head and onto screen. By the time I was clued up and thought I’d take the blog in a career direction, I had so many bad habits deeply ingrained, ones that I have to tussle with till this day. I’d post willy nilly, whenever I felt I had something I wanted to put online, whether that be 4 blog posts in one day, or making one live at 2am. The posts were unstructured, without header images, some were barely there others were rambling. When I started to attempt to make YouTube a career having used to that simply as a place to store my video files for many years, I repeated my offences, posting at least 5 videos a week if not daily. This works for some people but it wasn’t right for me, my views are subs are in a far better way when I upload less and put more time into the videos.
It’s only in the last year I think I’ve started to work out how my content should be and how often I need to post (which is less often but better thought out) and my views on my blog have gone up by 20,000 a month, so it’s clearly working.

Not all Rules Apply: Every week a post goes up about how to succeed at blogging, how to make a career out of blogging/youtube etc. A lot of the information featured are great and effective rules of thumb, techniques that would be beneficial to most to consume. But you have to be careful, because with anything there are anomalies, people that buck trends, people who are forward thinking, or have the influence to drive things in a different direction. We also have to be extremely mindful to the fact that we are part of a new industry one that is unpredictable, relentless, continuously changing and evolving, so rules are likely to need constant amendments. For instance my network have often told me my videos should ideally be at 4-6 minutes, any longer is unhelpful to my growth. However my long chatty videos (near the 16 minute mark ) always seem to do the best and get the most engagement. With the rise of weekly blogs, the likes of Brogan Tate coming in at the half hour mark, it’s clearly longer content can reap rewards too, with many sitting down to catch up with their fave bloggers rather than watching a soap on TV. I’ve learned it’s important to know your audience, why they tune into you and what content they they appreciate the most.

Cheating: I don’t think I would have ever gone through with this, as I’m someone that prides oneself on honest content and doing things by the book (goody two shoes in other words), but I will admit to clicking on some of the links that came into my inbox regarding increasing followers. The trail of intrigue stopped when I realised they wouldn’t be genuine followers, but it still haunts me that I even bothered to check it out. I’m one of those people that believe you always get found out, so I could imagine I’d be living in fear that it would be uncovered and I’d be outed virally on twitter or something (although I’m probably not big enough to cause a social media storm). Also it’s such a great feeling to be proud of something you achieved, growing your channels in this fake manner  completely eradicates the potential for feeling genuine pride. If I do well I want to know it’s because of something I did well…and I don’t mean being good at getting away with things.

Photos: It’s crazy how much your tastes change and your skills progress in this industry. I can even look at photos I’ve put on my blog a couple months ago and dissect and rip them apart - whether it be the colour grading, the crop, the composition, the outfit choice, the hairstyle. I could get really cross with myself when I think of the photo elements of my blog just a year or two ago, as it was so evidently below par and undoubtedly preventing me from progressing, but weirdly I don’t remember acknowledging it as much as I do now. I know the sleek and professional nature of blogging aesthetic has risen by a huge extent in the last few years, so maybe it’s mainly down to that, but I just can’t believe I was ever happy to upload some of that unintentionally low fi dross, it’s simply embarrassing. I’m not just talking a few bad outfits and some cringe myspace poses…they were taken on an ancient phone, grainy, blurred with some awful filter that actually made them look even worse. What was I thinking? I genuinely would have got better result taking the picture with a potato. Realistically this area still needs improving though and I need a way to work with photographers (even without a budget to do so) as my self taken shots aren’t ever going to be up their with the best bloggers.

Embarrassment: I know it’s pretty obvious that you need to share your posts/videos if you want people to see them, but this is still something I struggle with. I don’t quite know what the root of this issue is. I think it’s a combination of factors. Sometimes it’s because the posts is extremely personal and I only want people searching for that topics to read them (as I know it will come from a place of understanding) rather than every person who follows me. Sometimes it might because I’m not overly pleased with the quality of the video due to my equipment limitations. I think the main thing is probably because I don’t want to be annoying on social media, as I know a large amount of my followers aren’t followers or blogs/YouTube as they were pressed the follow button before it became my primary work focus. I know that I find the regularity and heft of some people’s self promotion a bit much on Twitter, and I guess I’d just hate to be that ‘too much’ person to someone else. I do need to get over this though, how on earth do you become an influencer if you’re not willing to offer anything that could have an influence.



Imitation: When you growth feels a bit slower than you’d like you start to question yourself - don’t I dress well? Am I even more uncooler than I thought? Am I making the wrong type of videos? You can’t help but look at the other bloggers/vloggers you follow that are bigger than you and start to think you should be doing what they are, as it’s clearly working for them. My problem is that I was following bloggers who were in very different stages of their lives, some over a decade younger than me and fresh out of uni (or even still in uni). Because I’ve slightly regressed due to my health/financial position and because the music industry turns us all into man/womenchilds I do or wear things probably a bit younger than a lot of other people in my age bracket would do. However  the reality is that the worries, thoughts, interests and opinions are more aligned to the older bloggers, and if anyone is going to help guide me it’s more likely to be them. I think my days of glitter tutorials and Primark Hauls may be over and a video about a new kitchen appliance may be more likely. Sad but true. Further than this though, I’ve learned how important it is to find your own voice, the subjects that make your words ring out with passion or truth. Working out whether you’re more about visuals or messages, or whether you’re a mixture of the both is very important. I’ve learned not everyone has to put out cinematic masterpieces for success, but similarly you also don’t have to bare your soul and put out ultra relatable content to achieve either. Simply, just do you. Authenticy is key.

Being Negative: The problem with making the decision to be a transparent and honest blogger who shares a large part of their personal life is that you don’t sugar-coat things so your stream of outpourings and uploads take a particular form. If you happen to be in a phase of your life which is depressing or tricky, your content will likely mirror that. This isn’t particularly business savvy though. Brands like honesty and a blogger who has an audience that trusts them, but they won’t necessarily want to work with someone that puts out largely negative or sad content. They’re looking for bubbly, enthusiastic, grateful and positive. I use twitter to vent, and because it’s been a tough few years realistically my feed is probably harming my ability to attract work. I’m currently trying to find a way to express how I’m genuinely feeling while not be an off-putting proposition. I think they key is improving my life away from social media, so that in turn my tweets/Instagrams content will be elevated mood wise.


Not sticking up for myself: Even at my relatively small size you get numerous offers a week for sponsored posts and other posts that are touted as sponsored posts that turn out to be people pushing for free advertising. I’m an innate people pleaser, it’s an Eggleton thing apparently, so I stupidly used to help brands out with free posts and shares, when I really shouldn’t have. While I still have a way to go, always finding negotiating money a very painful to and fro, I have learned the importance of valuing your work and the time you put into it. I realise that by offering my services free to people who knew they really should be paying, I was doing my fellow bloggers as well as my a disservice and my actions were very unhelpful in terms of the industry being respected and taken seriously. More importantly though I also make sure I don’t feel forced into creating content I’m not happy with and make sure I am transparent about the fact that the video/blog/Instagram has to fit seamlessly with my style and ethics.

Skinny Teas: I used to get a lot of sponsored request through from branded tea’s promising to help you shed weight. I started negotiating a fee with them because they seemed to have good science to back them up and even if weight loss wasn’t the reasoning for drinking them they seemed a healthy drink option. Then I felt uncomfortable about it. Considering the tone of my channel and the things I want to promote and draw attention to I wondered if it be right to promote this - to put a  product in front of potentially vulnerable and impressionable people who could abuse it’s function. I didn’t go ahead with it. A couple years later within the blogging community it is definitely a type of collaboration that gets judged by other bloggers, which confirms I made the right decision in this instance. I think your gut usually tells you which opportunities to grab hold of which to politely decline, so I’ve learned to listen to it. The problem usually lies when they arrive at the beginning when your a bit giddy about someone being willing to pay you. Excitement takes over, because this sort of transaction makes you feel official and legitimate, but trust me a more suitable opportunity will come along. You also tend to feel a bit weaker when you find yourself a bit financially stretched. But I’ve learned that the damage to your moral compass isn’t worth it and you’re better off holding out for something that fits you and your ethics a little better.

Not engaging: I didn’t realise how integral it is to engage, not just with your readers/viewers but with other bloggers/vloggers. I’m not too bad at this on Instagram these days because it’s a platform I genuinely enjoy looking through and do so regularly. But because I don't read blogs or watch videos I don't really comment on those, so therefore I'm not building relationships that way. Other bloggers are more likely to come and read your blog if they know you visit their's and make an effort to commment on their posts.It also means you are on more people's radars which also helps things move forward and grow.

Flying Solo: I don’t socialise with other bloggers nearly enough. I’ve always been lucky enough to have lots of great and dear friends in my life but because of the amount of time work eats in to my life and the amount of events I have to go to do with blogging/youtube, I already feel like I’m being a terrible friend to those. I live with constant guilt from being so absent from Whatsapp groups and for missing so many birthdays etc, so I’m almost at a point where I actively try not to connect with more people. I know it sounds silly, but I kinda don’t want to have more people that I know I’m going to have to let down on regular occasions. Of course there’s also a lot of bloggers that just aren’t my sort of people too, as would be the case in any industry you work in. However we are constantly told that collabs are the best way to grow your channels/blog. Not only does it mean you get showcased to someone elses audience, you build a relationship which will mean they will be more likely to retweet your posts, engage with your Instagram and so on. Of course it’s lovely to go to blogging events and see lots of friendly faces you can hang with too.


This is merely scratching the surface, my career is a comedy of errors so if you’d like a part 2 of my blogging mistakes I have some other howlers ready and waiting to be shared. If you’re a blogger and related to any of my mistakes, let me know in the comments below!
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Monday, 17 July 2017

DECADE:2000 TREES:GALLERY


This was the first time I've actually managed to catch a live Decade performance, even though we're often at the same events. Annoyingly I've always been caught up doing an interview in a press tent, so I was chuffed to finally hear their tracks live. If you've not heard them before I thoroughly reccommend you listen to their album Pleasantries, it will sound particularly strong over the next few months. I find it gives me the same summer vibes as a classic Weezer record. 
Also while we're talking all things Decade, you should also check out the artistic endeavours of their talented vocalist Alex Sears. Head to instagram and search DeathandMilk_ to find his evocative illustrations. 
Here's some of the shots from their show on the main stage - not edited how I'd like because Lightroom has gone doolally and decided not to work on my computer, so I've had to do a quick job on my phone instead. Ideally I'd reduce the orange tones in the skin and increase some of the shadow in some of them, but you get the idea. 
All taken on my little LUMIX GM1.

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

M.E and Festivals...Making it work


Yesterday I posted a video about my weekend at 2000 Trees. A few hours later when I was reading through the comments and found one from a fellow spoonie  (Hi Melanie) asking how on earth I manage to go to festivals with M.E. I tried to answer as succinctly as possible in the comments, but I thought the subject deserved a blog post, one that I hope will be useful for those suffering with an illness but who are yearning to experience the joy of live music over the summer months.

Here are my thoughts, tips and experiences.

1.Acknowledge what phase of your illness you’re in. Most people will have bad patches and slightly better patches with chronic illnesses. There are some periods where attending a festival is pretty much impossible or even potentially dangerous to attempt. This summer, despite making lots of work plans, I had to abort attending Download due to a Kidney Infection I’d left a bit too long and it has developed into something more serious. I’m luckily in a helpful position where I can attend festivals fairly last minute by using my contacts to get press passes, but for those purchasing tickets well in advance this isn’t is simple, so you may want to have in mind that if you’re gonna hope for the best and buy a ticket, you may end up having to sell it if the festivals dates end up falling on a bad phase.

2. Do your research. Speak to people with similar illnesses who have attended the events to find out the strengths and weaknesses of each festivals in an attempt to seek out their suitability to your particular difficulties. Most festival websites will have some info regarding disability access, but don’t be afraid to ask more questions and get in touch with them. Being anxious won’t help your enjoyment of the weekend, so having any questions answered will hopefully reduce the potential for this. While in contact with the festival explain your particular needs and requirements to see how well they are able to accommodate you. Don’t buy a ticket unless you are satisfied with the answers you get and feel the event is one you can be safe and comfortable at. 

3. I know for many it’s a huge part of festival-ing, but for many of us camping is just not practical or sensible. If I have to camp I will make the decision to no longer attend the festival, it’s as simple as that. I know that camping will leave me feeling horribly unwell. If I do the standard form of camping it’s the hard floor that will leave me with an extremely painful back, neck and limbs. But even if I do glamping I’ll be in a bad way as it’s so important that I try and get quality sleep, and there’s still disturbances even within a luxury camping environment. The main thing for me is the toilet situation. with kidney issues and IBS I need easy/regular access to the loo is essential and this is fairly unlikely in a camping scenario.

Booking hotels is fine if you’re rolling in cash, but if like me you don’t have it going spare you’ll need to save or find a way to get some money from somewhere (I worked on a star while at 2000 Trees to cover my expenses). You also have to consider that being in a hotel/b&b will also mean taxi’s to and from the site each day, so you’ll ether want to make sure you’re in a popular hotel where lots of other festival goers are so that you can share costs with them .


4. Painkillers. On the whole I try, where possible, not to rely on medicine that mask how I’m feeling. Not because I want to feel pain, or think that it’s weak to seek remedy and peace through medicine, but with some aspects of my illness I worry I’ll do myself more damage by not feeling when I’m pushing myself too hard. From trial and error I’ve learned that to get through a weekend at a festival I do need a regular supply of strong painkillers. Due to my work and the severity of M.E other people perceive me to have, I have spent many hours on my feet during my days at festivals, and at many times been in excruciating pain. This pain didn’t subside when I got back to my hotel rooms either, before deciding to numb with strong painkillers I’d have uncomfortable nights with buzzing legs and feet, a blinding headache, and terrible lower back pain, as well as shoulder pain where I’d spent the day carrying tripods, cameras etc.

5. Clear your diary. I know it’s hard for people with careers and other responsibilities to do this, but if you’re putting your body through 1-5 days of being outside, consuming loud noises, regular social interactions, bad food and lots of standing, you need to expect the days that follow are going to be pretty tough. You really have to weigh up whether the repercussions of attending the festival are worth dealing with for the happiness and joy you’ll get from experiencing the festival. I’m at the point now where I feel I’ve had some beautiful moments at festivals, but it’s not longer the right thing to do which is why I have kinda have decided this may well be my last season doing festivals, at least in the way I have been doing them for the last ten years or so.

6. If its the first time you’re attempting a festival, don’t be over-ambitious, perhaps just dip your toes into the experience with a day ticket to a local event. It has always felt far less daunting for me to attend Surrey festivals like Guildfest and Redfest because I know if I was to feel too unwell to carry on I could get myself home fairly easy, and I would only lose the cost of a day ticket which is usually fairly affordable. London has a vast amount of day festivals appealing to all manner of musical persuasions, so why not get a cheap hotel (or a nice one if you can afford) and go to one of those to see how you get on. Hampton Court Music Festival is a very civilised affair, and you can sit down while enjoying the musical delights in the historical setting, and there are many others with seated options.

7. Think carefully about who you go with. Try and make sure you have someone with you who will be happy to queue up and get you food and drink while you sit down. You also don’t want someone with you who will make you feel guilty if you feel unable to rush to one of the tents to see their fave band, or who will get frustrated if you’re being slow or even find yourself not able to leave the hotel for one or more of the days. I think for your own peace of mind in honour of fairness it’s important that you make the person you are going with completely aware of what could happen and what sort of help you’ll need, just so they’re mentally prepared and definitely up for the task. Make sure they’re clued up on your medicines too and that you always have clear meeting points/rules of action should you get separated. At the start of the festival you should both locate the tents you may need (First Aid tent, the stall that sells imodiums etc).


8. At Reading and Download in particular, I notice that many people set up with their group of friends somewhere in front of the Main Stage and just stay there all day. They’ll have chairs, maybe an umbrella, snacks and refreshments, and make it their makeshift temporary home in the field. Yes you may miss some of the gems performing on others stages, but it does mean far less exertion and you’ll end the day in far less pain.

9. This leads nicely onto my next point. Be frugal about the amount of bands you’re going to see. If you don’t want to stay in one spot, and want to enjoy all the different stages the festival has to offer, try and work out what bands you really want/need to see, and don’t push beyond that. Keep the list as small as you can so you can enjoy those bands feeling as well as energised as possible. Don’t feel like you need to get deep into the crowd either. Many of the smaller tents have areas outside where you can sit and still see the stage and hear the music just fine. Many even have screens on the backend of the tent (the NME RADIO 1 Tent at Reading usually does) so you have a great view of what’s going on a few metres away without the discomfort or sweat.

10. This one is surprisingly troublesome as a blogger who’s meant to showcase new outfits and promote a stylish aesthetic with their festival outfits, but I HAVE to think about comfort and practicality when it comes to what I wear to festival. I don’t need any other factors contributing to discomfort or pain. I make sure I wear the most comfortable shoes I own (ones that will protect me in all foreseeable weather conditions). I make sure I have a layer that will keep me warm when it gets chillier, as I tend to feel the cold a lot. I have sunglasses for if my eyes are feeling particularly sensitive to light….you get the idea.

11.Festivals like Download give people the opportunity to pay a bit extra for tickets that give them the privelages VIP’s and Guests get (RIP). I would thoroughly recommend this for people who would benefit greatly from shorter toilet and bar queues, and a place away from the intensity of the main arena to sit and catch your breath.

12. Have information on your person that outlines the specifics of your conditions, the medicine/dosage your on, and where you’re keeping your medicine while you’re at the festival. It would be helpful to have any phone numbers of relatives/partners and the person your at the festival with on you too, should you fall into difficulty if separated from them.

13. I’ve always found travelling to a festival one of the most exhausting aspects, How inconvenient to be so drained of energy before the fun of the festival even kicks off. If you can get a lift, this will be the kindest on your body and preserve the most energy. Lugging your heavy bags on trains and trekking to site will take it’s toll, particularly because a start of a festival usually involves some queuing and some lenthy/tricky terrain. Thick mud is the worst, after all some of us find even and solid ground taxing, imagine having to use your pathetic muscles to pull yourself out of the sludge with each step you take. I was lucky enough to get a lift to 2000 Trees last weekend but unfortunately it turned out they were going to go straight to the site. I needed to get to my hotel to check in first and drop off my bags. So this meant lugging all my weekends stuff (I packed quite a lot as I thought I had lifts both ways and wouldn’t have to carry it more than a couple metres) from the car park to where you pick up the passes and then up to the entrance of the site to get a taxi. This was largely uphill and in 30 degree heat. I ended up in panting with exhaustion and in tears because of the pain - feeling completely ruined and defeated before I’d even seen my first band. This is my fault though, I didn’t speak up when they said they were going straight to site. I should have had the guts to ask whether they could drop me at my hotel on route. That’s the thing with invisible illnesses, it’s not so easy for others to know what’s needed or how damaging those small decisions can be to your well- being. Sadly it’s up to us to constantly explain, however tiresome that can be.

14. Many people with CFS struggle with stomach issues and allergies. A lot of us are on carefully tailored diets, which can be hard to manage at festivals. They food options have improved greatly over the last few years though,  but some festivals are considerably better than others. If you’re unsure equip yourself with some slow energy releasing food you can snack on throughout the day, and stay hydrated. I don’t drink, and I think staying off alcohol has made things a lot easier for me at festivals. Adding a hangover and even more trips to the loo isn’t going to help! 2000 Trees had some great food options, with plenty of veggie and vegan options and food that didn’t feel doused in grease and msg. 



15. Lastly, listen to your body. I know you’ll go with a level of determination and the fangirl/boy in you will want to ensure you’re there for when your fave bands storm the stage, but you don’t want to push yourself to such an extent on day 1 that you’ll ruin the chances of your enjoying or even being able to attend day 2/3. Think of it like getting sunburnt on the first day of holiday and then having to sit inside while everyone’s by the pool. Let the people you’re with know what you’re struggling with so they can help (if they can) and don’t be afraid to utilise festivals angels, the stewards, the first aid tents and so on who are there to help should you need it.

So that’s just a few things that come to mind. I really hope this post helps at least one person see that there’s a way they can make a festival work for them and their unique situation. It may involve more research, thorough planning, and even a large wad of cash on top of the usual festival ticket, but I’d love everyone who wants to experience a summer festival to be able to try it at least once.

Do let me know if this has helped or if you’re planning on going to one soon…
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Monday, 3 July 2017

Can you ever really escape?




We often talk about escapism, how necessary it is to our a ability to cope in modern times, and how we must try out best to allocate some of our day in the pursuit of it. The word is defined by seeking distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy. This is one of YouTube’s greatest attributes and something it delivers in a word more substantial than abundance. We have an unrelenting stream of videos giving us just that , whether it's  via a beauty tutorial, a haul, a prank, or a fairly pointless but nonetheless entertaining Tag video. But this opportunity of joyful avoidance and distraction is temporary, unless we glue ourselves to the blue light of our screen all day, but even then thoughts relating to real life would undoubtedly creep in.

Everything’s relative of course, but if you knew the ins and out of my year I think many of you could summarise that it’s been another relatively shitty year so far. I think what’s made this one particularly hard is that I’ve not been able to escape from it and run away to a more carefree environment for a week or two. My finances are such that a holiday has been taken off the agenda, and even little trips in the UK have not materialised. Si and I did have a weekend trip to Liverpool scheduled earlier in the year but it turned out that we’d been conned and lost the money and the weekend escape we had planned. I’m very lucky to have travelled as much as I have in my life, I promise I don’t take that for granted, I’ve been spoiled really. But off course my industry doesn’t help those feeling. When your feed is full of being jet-setting and holidaying, and you can’t even manage to get yourself to Liverpool, you not only have that ache of wanderlust but a dollop of failure and inferiority on top of that.

It’s not something my boyfriend can completely relate to either. He’s had a few weeks away from home this year through his work in the band, and although I doubt escapism is the right term for touring and living with fellow sweaty boys in the confines of a bus, it’s still a change of scene and time away from our fairly stressful living situation. Then he got surprised with a trip to LA for his birthday by his generous pal Ben. I was so pleased he had a fabulous time but of course it stung, because it fell at a time I found myself unexpectedly living alone in a strange house while dealing with a Kidney Infection. I usually revel in alone time  housesitting for people gives me. It's such a treat when you're someone who lives with their parents at my age and in turn lack privacy and independance. But in that moment the things I needed desperately to escape from weren't things that changing location would deliver. The dark thoughts in my head, and my troublesome kidneys were part of me, and there was no escaping that.


Let's fast forward to last Friday. I had been offered a luxury trip abroad as part of a press trip that was due to comme on Saturday. I had turned it down as this weekend was meant to be full with some other work events which were probably better suited to the content, and the wheels were already in motion with the PR so I didn’t want to confuse thing or sever ties. Sods law the weekend’s events didn’t come into fruition and I was facing the depressing truth that I could been sunning myself in a bucket list location, but instead I had a weekend on my ownwith no plans.

Unacceptable, I thought. I’m not going to let other people's actions steal aweekend’s potential for relaxation or happiness. Si was due to be driving his mum to Devon to visit relatives in Devon, so I very quickly packed a rucksack and decided to jump in the car and join then. With more than a slight dash of ‘f*** you’ attitude I decided this would be a no-work weekend. I wouldn’t be vlogging or communicating with people about work and I would attempt this ‘escapism’ malarky.The fact that I had used 80% of my phone’s data by watching Naked Attraction on 4 OD when I mistakingly thought I was connected to wifi, certainly helped in my abandonment of communication.

As I gazed out of the window of the car on what would end up being a 7 hour long journey, I pondered a few things. Should I dare to ask to stop for a wee AGAIN? Was it time for that pub lunch ye? But more relevantly I wondered whether I could truly escape this weekend. Would my stress, worries and frustrations follow me to the tropics of Devon? Would there be new/different anxieties and difficulties? Would I end up worrying about the emails piling up and the fact that I wouldn’t be using these days to reduce my work to-do list?


After a long drive and devouring a yummy meal Si’s sister had cooked in perfect time for our arrival, we went to bed shattered and looking forward to a night in their bed, which is so soft it genuinely felt like that cliche of sleeping on a cloud. But within 5 minutes it was clear at least one of our issues from home would continue on this supposed ‘escape’. Si tends to thrash in bed, it’s as if he’s trying to get away from the grasps of Jaws. This is bad for my sleep pattern at the best of times, but his tendency to frequently and swift change position in bed of this smooshy nature meant it would be near enough in possible to achieve any shut eye. He graciously offered to sleep in the lounge, thus delivering the same less than ideal situation we have at home, sleeping apart.

Then I started to get the urgency to wee again. The same feeling I’d had two weeks prior when I came down with a Kidney Infection. Then soon after that the fairly terrifying heart palpitations began again. Twenty pees later and no sleep later Si came into the bedroom at 8am to find me in a fairly worried state with news that would potentially screw up the whole weekends’ plans. I wont’ bore you with the details, but after phoning 111 and then receiving a call from a charming local Doctor I had the medication I needed that would allow me to attempt to keep up with originals plans, even if bed would have probably been more sensible. This was a pesky reminder that you can’t escape your health issues. Some environments will be better suited to your conditions, or put you in a frame of mind where you find it easier to cope with them, but generally they’ll still rear their ghastly heads.

Undefeated I said we should still do the coastal walk we had planned, reassuring myself that if things took a turn for the worse Si would look after me, hang at the back with the straggler or take me home if it came to that. The first view we were greeted with upon parking up made it all worthwhile, and any pain or fatigue I was feeling a lot less easier to bear. Then we mooched on down to a pub with the most incredible views. I perched on the wall gaze at all the boats outlined agains the lush green backdrop and gliding across the aqua waters. If it wasn’t for the aroma Devonshire cuisine entering my nasal cavity, the Cider glasses and local accents chatting on a nearby bench it would have been Greece. A few moments in this location I genuinely felt relaxed and dare I say…happy. I don’t think any negative thoughts bullied their way as I raised my forehead towards to suns glare and breathed in the sea air. However the realities of my everyday life did surface as I soaked in my surroundings. I found myself asking questions. Could I be happy living somewhere like this, away from the city and the life I’ve made for the last ten years?
Could I be content with a simpler and more laid back lifestyle? Would I miss the bright lights of the city and the buzz it delivers? These queries deserve a blog post all of it’s own….


We continued on from the pub, stopping for ice cream on the way, letting Henry the dog off his lead to have a swim in the sea once we reached one of the picturesque bays. Although in company at all times, there were some solitary moments when there were breaks in conversing and I could appreciate the stunning vista again in silence. Once again I felt completely detached from person who resides stressed and sad in Surrey. When we did converse while walking it was largely about the present, the scenes in front of us, the cute things Henry the Spaniel was doing, or laughing at one of us tripping up on the rocky terrain. It’s only when we sat down for meals or a rest that conversation would lead to the normal topics. How’s work? For instance.

Of course being forced to think about work immediately lowers my mood and causes me to reflect on an area of my life I am hugely dissatisfied with. I try to keep it light and optimising in tone, but that of course drains energy as it’s not the natural or genuine feeling and requires some acting.

A huge chunk of my friends have made away to new parts of the country or completely different countries incredibly far from the place they’ve always called home. They weren’t just looking for temporary escapism or rest bite, they were looking for a fresh start. They were looking to say goodbye to aspects of their life they felt were hindering their ability to be happy or bringing undue stress. Did they get the new life they were hoping for? Did they leave the notable negatives behind them?

One friend who worked in the music industry and did similar work to me fled a new country to continue to the same work but a very different lifestyle and quality of life thanks to it’s location. The incestuous London music scene, and the frustrating way it functions, had been wreaking havoc with her confidence and anxiety. While anxiety hasn’t disappeared, fear of the new contributing to its appearances in her new home, she finds her ability cope and recover is much more efficient, and in general her mood, self worth and happiness has been elevated. Of course new issues will arise with any drastic move. Missing important family moments, both celebratory or heartbreaking. You’ll feel forgotten by friends you thought were forever cemented on your lifeline. You’ll get pangs of fomo when you see your old friends partying at one of your old haunts. But do they outweigh the positives?

Another friend escaped their tired, draining and financially unrewarding career, moved abroad and now has a fiance, a house and from the outside…pretty much everything you could ever want. They’re pretty much blissfully happy but of course they miss their friends, the longstanding ones they became an adult alongside . You can make lots of great new friends but those friends that have seen you in those tricky years of growth are irreplaceable. 


So what have I learned about escapism from my weekend away and from friends experiences?

Holidays and short trips away are good for the soul, no doubt. The have a way of reminding you about the positives of the world we live in, the beauty of nature, the value or enjoying the moment and spending quality time with either the environment or the person you’re with. The effects are all too fleeting though. They’re like a pause on reality. They don’t tend to make significant enough changes, which is why we feel we need to do them regularly to maintain happiness. It’s as though their effects run out, then it’s time for the next one again. Then there’s the issue of that feeling of delaying the inevitable. It’s hard to shake the awareness of knowing everything at home will be the same when you return and potentially worse because you’ve neglected certain things while you’ve been away.

YouTube videos and similar methods offer much needed distraction of course. But could we find a way to do achieve distraction in a more beneficial way. If you’re adamant on sticking to YouTube for your escape you could hunt out videos that teach you a new skill or enlighten you about something that could enrich your life. But perhaps instead of staring at a screen to forget your life, you could enrol in a course, take up a hobby, do something for someone else that will put the focus on someone else rather than you for an hour.

I think it’s important we access whether we should be finding escapism from certain things. There are things that happen in our lives that deserve attention and should be dealt with rather than being  put to one side or running away from.

I can’t help but conclude that we need to do what we can to make our lives one that we don’t feel requires escaping from, to such a degree at least. There will always be things that cause tention, stress, tiredness and heartache, that’s life, and of course it’s helpful to give ourselves times of where we can seek peace or pleasure. But we need to look at our lives in their entirety and work out what contributes to our lows, battles and difficulties. Are they things we can change? I suggest in many cases the answer is yes.

In some cases moving away to a different location may solve some of the most prominent difficulties - perhaps a location with a lower cost of living may reduce money related stress for instance. Some health issues (like CFS) will be improved in sunny locations.

I suggest you do what I have done. Look at what you are wanting time out from when in pursuit of escapism. In my case it’s my living arrangements and work stress. Yes I’m slightly limited in terms of options when it comes to work due to my health issues, but is there something else I could do? Yes there is. What aspects of work stress makes me want to run away? Well that’s unreliable people and the pressures of social media/numbers. So could working for myself in an industry that isn’t about followers, subscribers and cool points make me want to stay where I am a bit more? Yes, I believe so.

So that’s how I’ve ended up where I am now. Something which this weekend away delivered in a moment of clarity when basking in the seaside sun. I’ll share my new career epiphany with you soon. In the meantime please ponder your own need for escapism, find the root of that need and compulsion. Are you seeking out the right remedys? Is there actually a solution to eradicate that particular need for escape? I wish you luck. Wouldn’t it be nice not to want to flee your situation?
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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

SUMMER FEMININE HYGIENE



In the last few weeks my vagina has been a focus of a lot of my attention. No I've not been seeking solo pleasure in protest as Simon swanned off to LA to devour lots of scrummy vegan food and be a lad. No, I've been taking good care of it in terms of hygiene. I know, not quite the juicy blog post you were hoping for, this isn't going to be an erotic lookback at summer sexual escapades. Instead this is going to be a  a little chat about keeping your bits as fresh and healthy as possible in the sweatier months (and all year round). Afterall If you can put effort into making sure the food you buy and store is  looked after and kept fresh, you should probably be mindful of the conditions you keep your part in too. 

As I write this I realise I don't really know how I want to refer to my vagina in this post. Should we stick with the basical medical term or should I make it a bit more fun and throw in some slang ? I think I'll mix it up


We've all heard phrases and jokes referring to the state of one's lady part according to the conditions it's found itself in. They are referred to when people are questioning whether it was ready/pleasant enough for sex in terms of it's odour. There's pub p***y, club c****, Gig G*sh, and so on. When you think of the anatony of that area, the fact it's often sat on, shrouded in fabric, hidden by skin, it's unsuprising that it's not always/ever smelling of roses...unless you've foolishly used a rose scented shower gel, which will eventually screw up your PH level and wreak all sorts of havoc.


Throw in a heatwave, one so ferocious is causes you to sweat from areas you didn't know had glands, then you find yourself even more conscious of it's aroma and cleanliness. 

In the last month I've struggled with a kidney infection. It has been horrendous. When it started out I presumed what I was experiencing was just Cystitus, as I'd had it once before on holiday as a teen in Vegas, and remember having to go into every hotel in the strip to attempt to wee, even though there was no wee to come out. This started off with this exact same feeling or urgency, so presumed it would be cleared up by one of those sachets courses you can get from Boots. Two courses on and there was no change and I had severe pain in my lower back. Cut a story short - after 5 days of leaving it, I was running a high fever and my pulse was so scarily high the nurse thought I should go to A and E as there was a fear that Sepsis might have occured - which is the danger when the infection goes up into the system and enters the rest of the body. 

A few weeks on now and I think I'm pretty much better, but it's definitely left me feeling a little paranoid about my that area and how I treat it, and also in a position of wanting to be particularly attentive to the needs of my special area. 


When the nurse was giving me advice about what I should do while I recover she advised the usual, drink only cranberry juice or water, avoid citrus fruits, don't use any showergels or anything else down there, wear loose clothing, pee straight after sex etc. 

So I wore floaty dresses, only bathed in water (no bath salts or oils), and drank more water than I probably have in my whole life prior to getting ill. 

I think a lot of us don't feel satisfied just washing with water though, we want to feel like it's been probably cleaned, and I feel like many of us don't feel that been acheived without the use of a soap like product. So moving forward I wanted to find something that was specifically for that area, that woudln't put me at risk or irritation or any other problems with regaular use. 

Luckily I rememberd that I had a sample on route that would hopefully be the solution. 
 I would be about to receive some products from Yum, who promise to tackle the symptoms of ailments like acne, athletes foot and vaginal infections quickly and effectively  

:“Our products work in two ways: On the one hand, we add friendly bacteria to problem areas of the skin. On the other hand, we provide lasting protection for the microbiome, our skin’s most important protective layer.”



The science info...

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, YUN Probiotherapy has launched a range of revolutionary skin care products based on friendly bacteria. The Belgian biotech start-up is the first in the world to successfully incorporate live probiotics in commercially available skincare products. YUN Probiotherapy constitutes a whole new category of skin care products, offering an important scientific break-through in the fight against overuse of antibiotics. 

Tom Verlinden, Managing Director at YUN Probiotherapy, explains: “As a former pharmacist, I have often wondered why we kill good bacteria trying to fight off bad ones. With YUN, we started from a simple, yet radical idea: What if we just add the right kind of friendly bacteria? That way, we wouldn’t just be treating the symptoms; we’d also be strengthening the skin’s protective layer over time. This is exactly what we have managed to do today!”

Sarah Lebeer, Professor in Microbiology at the University of Antwerp, adds: “The microbiome is our first line of defense against new and recurring skin conditions.  Most harsh soaps and personal care products do not only destroy the harmful bacteria causing these issues, they also kill the good bacteria that live on our skin. A strong microbiome is essential in keeping skin concerns at bay, and it needs good bacteria to do so.”

YUN skin care products add nothing but natural ingredients to the skin. Friendly bacteria, so-called probiotics, reinforce the skin’s protective layer and restore the skin’s natural balance in the long term, while keeping the good bacteria already on the skin alive. Since they don’t contain any harmful preservatives, these personal care products are 100% safe to use on your skin.

Although the idea of adding friendly bacteria, rather than killing all bacteria, may seem simple, its execution was not. YUN Probiotherapy is nothing less than a scientific break-through in natural skin care, based on more than 10 years of research, under the guidance of renowned scientists from the University of Antwerp. So far, no other company has managed to successfully incorporate the right living probiotics in commercial skin care products.

Dr Ingmar Claes, one of the scientists involved with YUN, says: “We’ve seen excellent results in our lab, and the preliminary results of our clinical trials only seem to confirm what we already expected: probiotherapy helps restore the skin’s natural balance and makes the symptoms of common ailments disappear within four weeks, and often much quicker. We have not only managed to determine which probiotics are right for our skin, we have also developed unique microcapsules that allow us to incorporate these probiotics in skin care products. Probiotherapy offers an important breakthrough in reducing the use of antibiotics to treat skin conditions.”

 
 Without being a scientist the theory behind the products makes complete sense to me given my medical history. As someone who has been diagnoses with a Candida overgrowth in my gut, and who has relied heavily on antibiotics over the years, I know the importance of probiotics in terms of getting your bacteria and PH levels back to their rightful state. 

However just because the concept sounds right on, it doesn't mean you are going to enjoy using the product, so how did I find it?  

It's instantly become a part of my showering/bathing routine. It feels extremely effective at cleaning the area and making you feel fresh.There's no tingling or stinging, and feels gentle yet proficient. 

What the biggest revelation is that it maintains a feeling of freshness for far longer than days when I haven't used it. It has actually prevented what has been referred to as 'Tube Twat'. A condition that is far more noticeable when the underground is digustingly moist as it has been the last week or so.

The best thing it's given me is peace of mind though. Knowing that I'm looking after my delicate region with the care it needs and deserves ,and not putting myself at risk by using harsh or acidic products intended for use elsewhere on the body. 

On a superficical level, I like the design of the bottles too and I don't mind keeping it out on display in my bathroom. Out of principle I want to keep it visible to others that frequent my bathroom but we shouldn't be embarrassed about looking after ALL areas of our body in a wise manner. This post shouldn't be embarrassing or taboo. This type of product should be seen just as normal as a body or face wash, and if I can reccommend a good product to other girl's who might have struggled in this area I'm very happy to do it. 

So here's to a carefree summer season, where our vagina is hopefully one less thing to cause uneeded worry or insecurity.
I will be reviewing more of their products very soon, so watch this space.

YUN’s Biotherapy products are available at yun-probiotherapy.com/buy and through selected retailers and pharmacists. 

P.S They company have just received a massive new grant, so expect them them to deliver even more exciting products to add to their revolutionary range. 
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Monday, 19 June 2017

Money Can't Buy You Happiness, But.....



This is another subject many people have said I should avoid talking about publicly. This tells me that people still view money issues as something you should feel shame or embarrassment about and ONE thing I said I would always do with my blog is to talk about those ‘unmentionable’ topics. So here goes…..

I’m not in the position where I’m getting intimidating knocks on the door from debt collectors, or bills stamped in angry red letters through the letterbox, in fact U don’t allow myself to use a credit card,  but I’m definitely in a poor financial position compared to that of the majority of my friends, and that difference can lead to lots of tense or frustrating scenarios that I want to touch upon today.

I’m very lucky that I have support of my family, so that I know I’d never be left in a position of danger or malnourishment, but not being able to look after yourself and being so reliant on others feels like a precarious position.

Tensions

In the last few years I’ve realised how a lack of money can impact a relationship. Neither Si or I are superficial, or feel the need to  be drowning in designer goods and five star holidays. We’ve never been rich nor feel a huge desire to be, but we’d both love to be simply comfortable. The soul destroying realisation that even after the hardest of working weeks you only just about cover your direct debits, and you don’t have anything left over just to have some frivolous fun, inevitably effects the mood. We are in the situation where both of us struggle, so we can’t act as a buffer for each other and compensate for our other-half’s lack of comfort in the financial department. If one of us suggests that we might treat ourselves it can create tension because it feels like such a guilt- ridden or foolish thing to do. The fact that are financial situation means that we have to live with my parents, which in turn means a lack of privacy or independence only compounds this friction too.

Regression

Being forced to live with you parents at age you’d imagined you’d be living a full adult life can undoubtedly stunt your personal evolution.When they’re asking you if you’ve got any washing, questioning what time you’re going to get home, and even criticise your outfit choices, it feels like your a frustrated teenager again. The whole living with parents thing will be covered in a blog post soon….



Lack of Confidence

Even if you don’t put a huge emphasis on money and things, money is still a symbol of acknowledgment of hard work and effort. So if you’re busting a gut and not getting any money it’s pretty demoralising. Feeling unappreciated and unrewarded can really affect your confidence and you can help but to start to wonder what you’ve done to deserve it, or wonder why you aren’t able to bring in the cash and provide yourself with a stable life. I’ve also noticed that the males in my life have also felt emasculated because they haven’t been able to fulfil that stereotype of ‘the provider’ too, which is an added pressure on top of worrying about merely looking after yourself. Then of course your inability to keep up with your contemporaries in terms of the things they can afford to buy (whether it be clothes, a car, a haircut, or a holiday) can knock your confidence, or make you worry about certain conversations arising. Ive often tried to avert a looming conversation topic to avoid having to admit to not having something.

Shattering the Illusion

You success in the age of social media can be impacted greatly by your social media persona. Although relatable content definitely has a vital place today, being aspirational definitely encourages a following. People love to live out a luxury life through others. Maybe they hope by watching them they may gain the tools to get there themselves and get to live that life for themselves. If I’m honest about my lack of funds I’m not exactly going to be a role model for others, they’re not going to want to emulate my career/life are they?!

Positives Attract

You’ll notice a lot of the successful bloggers/YouTubers will post regularly about their achievements. Whether that be that they’re going on another press trip, won an award, got sent some freebies, got to meet a celeb, simply doing well in one way or another. While some just enjoy patting themselves on the back, for some it’s an integral part of the game.

Bloggers that have reached a certain level of success are very savvy. It’s almost unnerving at times. They’ll know what to do tweet to make them attractive to the watching brands. If brands or PR’s see that they are doing well and getting opportunities with other brands, they are going to see them as an attractive commodity that they will also want to utilise. Seeing that they frequently tweet about the opportunities makes them feel a collaboration with them will be beneficial too.

My point here is that in tweeting or blogging about my lack of money I instantly become a less attractive potential influencer to work with. By saying I’m struggling money wise, it rightly or wrongly gives off the impression that I’m not doing well career wise and therefore their sponsorship money would be better used elsewhere. The reality is that even when things are going quite well, the nature of freelance life is that you are constantly chasing payments, I still have hundreds of pounds owed from six months ago and more. Then there’s the fact I live in the most expensive place in the UK, so earnings don’t last as long as they would elsewhere. Then there’s the lost earnings due to ill health.

It’s an age thing

Right now I’m in that stage of life where weekends are consumed by weddings, baby showers and hen do’s. The gifting element alone is expensive, factor in travel costs, contributions to group kitties, drink funds and more, and before you know it the total costs have eaten away all of your earnings.

Ahead of a baby shower or hen do there will invariably be a group chat where shared gifts, surprises and itineraries will be discussed. Eventually there will be a discussion of how much we should all donate to the overall fund. What if the majority agree on a number that isn’t affordable(or sensible) for your personal cashflow? Should you be honest and say it’s too much, in turn revealing that you aren’t as flush as them? Should you just agree to it and find a way to earn some extra money (or make extra cut backs), just to avoid awkwardness?

The big problem these days is that everything is more elaborate, because we are in a social media age where you feel you have to show everyone what you are doing, and everything you do has to be as impressive as possible. You feel a pressure to not only keep up with the Jones’ you want to completely trump them. Presents are meant to be instagrammable, events should be aspirational, and you should be sourcing incredible details from pinterest to ensure it’s talked about and envied.

Thanks to bloggers and celebrities we follow, excess has been normalised. It's common place to expect people to get on a plane for a hen do/wedding and get involved in more purse draining activities once you’ve reached the destination.

What if you have a lot of dear friends that would expect you to attend their event? Do you sacrifice your quality of life so you don’t let any of them down? Do you limit yourself to a certain number per year? Do you decide which ones to do according to how your finances are that month or do you choose the people you consider better friends?

Some people are very understanding and would never hold a grudge if you truly felt you were unable to take part in the festivities due to financial reasons. Others will take it extremely personal, they won’t see the bigger picture and won’t understand why you can’t find a way to make it work, you know, for them.

So in summary once you reach late twenties/early thirties if you’re not raking it in your constantly making decisions about whether to overstretch yourself, or risk upsetting people you love. It’s tricky.


Resentment

On the whole I don’t resent people for enjoying their riches. Of course there are pangs of jealousy but if I like the person and they work hard I think well done you, and even find their lush lifestyle  motivational. What I find harder is those that aren’t sympathetic to other people’s situations.In my opinion you should never make anyone feel less than, and that applies to people who may have less money than you. Some people seem completely oblivious to other people’s situations . My current peeve is the tweeters that complain that they’re not on holiday, even though they’ve been away numerous times thus year already.

Eating Out

I try and accept invites to dinner when I can because if life is stressful it’s important to have these windows of joy - they help you to keep trooping on and punctuates what sometimes feels like relentless misery, with some light. That said I’ll make some purposeful decisions if I know it’s a time when I shouldn’t really be spending money on going out. Maybe I’ll have less courses, find the cheapest dish, or ask for tap water (which the waiters usually greet with an inner eye-roll). In the meantime your dinner mates might be getting through bottles of wine and salivating over their fillet Steaks. You’ve carefully calculated how much your meal has costs and start counting out the money utilising the shrapnel at the bottom of your handbag (which are covered in crumbs and melted chocolate in my case). Then someone suggests that it would be easier to split the bill. When this happens I desperately try to hide the fact that I've gone into full on panic mode and just prey to god that someone empathetic soul with speak up and point out that ‘Soph hasn’t had any alcohol though.’ The last few times that has happened (thank you to those angels) but I’d much rather it didn’t get the point where someone had to draw attention to my inability to be carefree about the situation.

But what do you do when no one speaks up, even worse if someone points out that it’s ‘insert name’ birthday and we should pay for her/him too?

Judgement

Sometimes you’ll decline an invitation citing lack of money for the decision. From that point onwards people will think they have a right to an opinion on how you spend your money. I’ve heard numerous friends slag off other friends because they’ve noticed they’ve bought a new pair of shoes  (for example) after backing out of their social arrangement. What I wish people kept in mind is the things they don’t know about the way that person’s managing their budget. Perhaps they sensibly divide their incomings allocating a certain figures to bills, going out, food shopping etc and therefore perhaps in this case reached the allocation for ‘going out’ for that month. Perhaps they were able to get those shoes because they’d be putting money aside for them each month, had a voucher, or found a really good deal. Maybe they needed to have that impulse purchase and in turn that temporary high, to get them through a really tough day….and that’s important.

Inappropriate questioning.

Some days I feel quite prepared to talk about the ups and downs of my career and the resulting financial lackings, but on a bad day when it’s a struggle to stop of my chin from wobbling it’s enough to tip me over the edge.

I was brought up not to ask about earnings and how much people money have, but some of my friends/family members clearly were not. They’d don’t even give it a thought when they probe how much I got paid for a certain job, or how much money I make a year. When my reaction let’s them know that I’m uncomfortable talking about it or that they shouldn’t ask it then creates an uncomfortable vibe, which I hate.

Like I said most days, and with my close friends I’m happy to divulge the frankly embarrassing figures, but with people that fall under the acquaintance bracket I’d really rather not share. That said I’m an inherent people pleaser and try to avoid awkward moments where possible so the likelihood is that I’d still tell the nosey parkers the information they’d like to know, sacrificing my happiness in the process. Let’s face it, sharing something that makes you feel crap about yourself with someone who doesn't understand you well enough to fully understand the reasons why your in that position, is hardly mood booster. You feel like you’ve been forced to admit failure.


 
So that’s just a few ways a lack of money effects my life. Can any of you relate to any of these things, please leave me a comment below!
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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Real Self Care


I’ve created similar posts like this on my blog before. My recent ‘How I relax’ post comes from a similar pursuit of peace and chill. However, a tweet thread I saw today compelled me to give this further thought, and approach the topic from a slightly different angle.

The thread which was brought to attention by a fabulous girl called Poppy Field, a fellow blogger who also deals with chronic illness. She pointed out that all too often our online self care posts include things like ‘pet a fuzzy cute animal’ or ‘watch Disney movies.’ While I’m not saying they’re not helpful, they definitely fall under ‘cliche’ and ‘tumblr’ in their tone.

Another couple of quotes she tweeted also struck a chord with me -‘One of the most empowering types of self care is responsibility, but Tumblr just want to sit in a closet strung with fairy lights….’ and ‘Cute’ selfceare for ‘cute’ mental issues. That’s not reality. '

It made me think. Are the things we think are great self care activities genuinely so, or have I just seen them repeated so frequently online that I just believe that to be the case. They sound logical and like they’d deliver some positive feelings or comfort, so they must be the definition of efficient self-care right?

Tonight, as I lay comfortably on an L-shaped sofa feel quite content watching a Brad Pitt movie and nibbling on chocolate fingers, I realise I have temporarily been distracted from my current and rather hefty woes. I start to ponder what other activities help me to feel a bit more human, feel like I have the ability to cope (and even feel happy). So here’s just a few things I’ve done, or do, that didn’t occur to me to be a form of self care till now. 



1.Cutting my hair. I’ve spoken frequently about the tiresome realities of having long hair. How time consuming it is to maintain. How it gets stuck in my handbag strap and turns into matted mess of cartoon scribble.How daunting the prospect washing and drying it is. How it puts me off even attempting it to be hygienic. How my boyfriend will find bits of my dinner in it, or smell the aroma of yesterdays. How it will get stuck under his arms when we attempt bed snuggles and he’ll end up nearly balding me when he attempts to move away (which he will because of the greasy smell). Although of course I wanted to feel more attractive and confident with my new cut and colour, the root of this decision didn’t lie in vanity. This is probably the most significant move I’ve made in terms of self care. My weak arms are so grateful for the reduced times with the hairdryer.

2. Life admin. This isn’t about enjoyment of the tasks included under the bracket of life admin. NOT AT ALL. This is about knowing that having loads of things outstanding, like bills, emails, thank you letters, ignored Whatsapps, post office trips etc, makes me feel restless and under pressure. I hate the feeling of not being on top of stuff, or being overwhelmed to the point of not coping. Or worrying that people think I’m ignoring them (therefore rude or unprofessional). So if theres any opportunity to allocate a day to getting up to date then I know it is in my interest to do it and if I’m focused I’ll feel a great sense of relief and achievement at the end of the day.

3.Clearing my bedside table. My makeshift bedside table which is constructed from an old puff with an attractive silk pashmina put over the top, is meant to be a useful spot for my glass of water, my phone, my morning pills, a candle etc. It's meant to be a practical chill station. Unfortunately it often becomes an unstable terrain on the verge of spilling, breaking and dropping all that rests on it, which are all those annoying objects that just don’t seem to have a proper place. In the end there’s no space for that glass of water, and my pills get lost in the receipts that are stuck together by old sweets and chewing gum etc.

4.Going to the Doctors about those things that are worrying me. I never want to be a burden and I never want to feel like I am bothering people. This means that I don’t speak up or act on things I probably should. This means they remain contained within my mind and add to the chaos of stress and worry that permanently consumes me. This week I left things too long and ended up with a Kidney Infection, so it's been a valuable wake up call about my neglect of the health focused side of self-care. From this point onwards I will try and stay on top of things rather than let them linger for the sake of my mental AND physical health. 

5.Sorting out any unease I have within my relationships (work or personal). Today I felt my shoulders relax when I got a message through from someone I'd worried I had annoyed. As per usual my paranoid self has assumed wrong, and there was absolutely no issue, but the relief I felt when I got evidence of this lack of rift made me realise how important it is to sort out any relationships issues you have (if at all possible).

6. Taking stuff off my bed and changing the sheets. My bed has been my workplace for the last few years. It’s often littered with tech paraphernalia, art equipment, as well as evidence of regular snacking. It would not be uncommon for me to fall asleep with all of the aforementioned objects still on the bed, for lack of energy to remove them. We all know how an environment can affect how you feel, and it’s undeniable that having a messy bed could not have been beneficial to my consistently messy brain.



7. Saying No. I’ve started to reduce the amount of times I put myself in anxiety inducing situations. I used to worry about missing out on opportunities, but these days I know that feeling of fomo is much better for my health (and bank balance). I think the feeling of control I get from feeling strong enough to say no to people makes me feel better about myself too, or at least like I have progressed.

8. Comfortable Clothes. I’ve not worn skinny jeans in months now and it’s been a revelation.Truly. Not only is my vagina liberated ,and the back of my knees unchaffed, culottes have made walking a dreamy experience. They hair whooshing up between the fabric somehow makes me feel lighter. What more can I say it’s joyous not to feel restricted, tightened, lifted or bunched up.

9. Sleeping in the other room. Doing what I can to improve my ability to sleep is probably one of the most important efforts of self care. We all know how lack of sleep can lead to all sorts of bizarre behaviour and an inability to cope with things we would normally be able to handle. I date a very loud snorer who moves around a lot in this sleep. Combine this factor with the life-long sleep battles and it’s an almost hopeless situation. It’s not ideal and it’s probably not great for a relationship but I choose to spend regular nights in another bedroom just to ensure I get a few nights a week which are a bit more restorative. I also find it easier to fall asleep to the TV, which is something I can do if I’m on my own.

10. Having a cry. I can’t pretend to have a handle on my emotions and be able to govern when and where the tears fall. And sometimes I don’t feel like they deliver any sort of tonic or remedy to what’s caused the upset, but on occasion embracing a cry can release something for me. I definitely feel a tightness ease, it just sort of takes the edge of whatever sadness or pressure I’m feeling. I think it allows me to keep going a bit longer through whatever that difficult thing is, but I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not.

11.Being Alone. As I write this I am on my own and will be for the week, -aside from visits from lovely helpful people delivering things like loo roll and microwaves to help me survive. On this occasion I’m not on my own out of choice though. Si is in LA on holiday and some issues have meant that it would best for me to stay at a friends house (while they’re on holiday). So even though for a lot of the time I’ve been that sad and rather tragic type of alone, there are still some moments where I realise that I’m enjoying the lack of company. I like that I can walk around looking fairly disgusting with hair in a top knot showing my receeding hairline, with make up thats melted or completely absent. I’m enjoying that I can get the optimum spot on the L shaped sofa,completely hog the rug and watch whatever mush and trash I want on Netflix. Then there’s being able to eat a bowl of Spaghetti for breakfast with a side of chocolate buttons without anyone judging my choice. Can’t say I’m minding the fact I can let off some IBS steam (fart in other words) at will too, rather than doing my usual holding it in and causing severe trapped wind cramps. 



So that’s a few of those almost unnoticeable things I do which nurture, mend or soothe me in  small and big ways. They may not be Tumble-cute or grand in process, but they make a positive difference. Tell me what simple acts of self care contribute to a happier and more well looked after you.
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