Sunday, 30 April 2017

You're Never Really Lost..


‘What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you’

'Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dream; who looks inside, awakes.'


I have to be honest that  I’m not hugely into inspirational tumblr/insta quotes. They’re a bit too cheesy for me, and they just always feel a bit too simplified and idealist. I understand they’re succinct to deliver instant positivity , but I just can’t help but think that they need to a bit of fleshing out to be apply to the complexity of our lives. But the root of what they’re trying to tell us is helpful, and they do serve as quick-fire reminders of how we could be living our lives a bit more effectively in terms of feeling fulfilled.

This year is very much about realising stuff. The kind of people I want in my life (and the ones I definitely don’t), the things I want to spend my time on, the environments I want to be in, the energy’s I want to be around, and the messages I want to send out to the world and so on.

The most significant thing I've realised though, is that many of the queries, wonderings, and confusions I've felt over the last few years, were actually things I knew the answers to already, but were perhaps not ready to admit, or accept, for a number of reasons.

What I’m saying is, that I’ve known inside what was right for me for a while now, the direction I should have been heading and the people I should have been spending time, but there were emotional traps preventing me from acting on that knowledge.

Our generation are often saying things referring to ‘how lost we feel’, when in fact we know exactly where we are, and where we should at least be attempting to go. Yes it might be hidden my layers of crap, insecurities, fears, external opinions, or require some exhausting and intensive soul searching, but our gut generally knows what’s up…or down.

Think back to some pivotal life moments, now that you’re equipped with the benefits of hindsight. I guarantee a lot of them you’ll be able to recall a moment when you knew something felt wrong, or at least not right for you.

For instance, when I look back to some past relationship, which were either horrendous, or had simply run their course, I knew I needed to leave, or find a way to end them. The signs were ridiculously obvious, as were their impact on my happiness, or lack of. But I didn't leave, well not straight away at least. I hung in for months, if not several soul-destroying years. Even though I knew staying would have some extremely negative impacts on my life, or mean that I wouldn’t ever be as happy as I possibly could be. I was worrying about the consequences of escaping that living hell, in case it would deliver me to an even hotter one. I was worrying that I'd be in some sort of danger if I dared to finally do what I should have done a long time again. I was anxious about witnessing someone else’s heart breaking. I was worried about losing the person that had been such a huge part of my life, even if it had been a largely toxic element. I was worried no one would love me again. All valid fears that many people feel in these fork in the road relationship moments, but still not a reason to ignore what I knew was the right thing to do. And I can confirm that when I finally decided to be guided by the knowledge I had in my head and my gut things changed for the better. It wasn't seamless or without heartache and severe depression, but it still set me on the correct path towards the life I should have been having or seeking out. 



YouTube - another truth I’ve been aware of but not been responding to accordingly.  I’ve know for so long that it’s not really for me. It goes against so much that I hold dear and it just doesn’t sit well with me….a fact that rears it’s head in most blog posts I write, because the industry and my part in it,  has had so many negative effects on my mindset since I started thinking of it as a career. I was also trying to be a type of YouTuber I thought people wanted me to be, one that didn’t really capture who I am or the stage of life I was/am at. I was comparing my content to to those that thought very differently to me, who were at very different stages of their lives. Why was I convincing myself I needed to make content like the cool earl twenty-somethings, when really that isn’t where I’m at or what I'd want to watch? So I’ve had to tell people who were attempting to guide my YouTube career that I’m not that interested in certain elements of being a YouTuber, that many of their younger influencers would be. Instead I’ve asked them to think more about the brands a late twenty/early thirty person would likely be into, and I’ve started to create videos that capture issues that come as part of my generation. I’m not fresh out of uni, I’m not wanting to douse myself in glitter the whole time…I want to be comfortable in the clothes I wear, and explore things that my twenties have educated me about or created a passion for. And you know what I shouldn’t worry that this would make me unappealing to the ‘youth’ market, because I truly hope they could see me as that big sister, cousin, mum figure that they can listen to hark on about the mistakes I made when I was growing up that helped me develop or learn in some way. Who knows maybe my mistake littered youth will help someone travel across the tricky terrain of twenty-something life with more comfy and stable boots. 


Then there’s the music interviewing stuff. Last weekend yet another much-needed relaxing weekend was wasted because I’d prepped for a couple of interviews that ended up being cancelled…and I didn’t even get told they were cancelled on this occasion. Sadly this isn’t a rarity. And while I can often sympathise with some of the reason why this flakiness occurs, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you’ve spent hours researching, charging cameras, clearing SD cards, switching your schedule around to make it work, and sometimes even saying no to another opportunity. Factor in already coping with grief, being perennially exhausted, and feeling like people always feel ok about mucking you about because, you know, ‘Soph, won’t mind’ and the let down can feel very powerful. I was reminded about a tough talk I’ve had from a couple of people in my life, that kind that tell me how it is in a plain and brutal, but ultimately helpful way. They said no matter how many interviews you do, whatever great response you get from respected industry people, commenters or even the artists, you’ll never going to progress in this job because you don't fit the mould people in power are looking for. Basically I’m not pretty enough to be hired based on my looks, I’m not edgy/alt enough to be ‘on-brand’ for certain channels/mags/brands and I’m not ‘in’ enough with influential music bigwigs that I’d get a chance based on connections. So they ask me if it’s really worth my time, effort and passion. And I had to agree that if over 500+ interview hadn’t lead to any substantial work opps or money it probably never would. So from this point onwards I’ve decided I'll only do interviews if it’s easy, not gonna cause me extra stress that won’t be balanced out by the benefits of doing it. I’ve also decided that next year, and specifically next summer, is going to be spent very differently to the way it has been the last 15 years and I will be saying goodbye to a part of my working life that has eaten up a significant amount of my time and energy. Hint - wanderlust.  


Then there’s my artwork. I had abandoned doing anything for the last few years, even though it was I studied at uni, and had always hoped would be the basis of my career. I had a brief return a few years ago , but commissions  for mates (with mates rates) brought stress into the process and eventually lead to me hating creating work. Then a few months ago I was out walking the streets of London while shooting my pal Amanda, and she started asking me about drawing and why I don’t do it anymore. I told her about how creating commissioned pieces had kind of killed the joy of it for me, but  she continued to question why I didn't just pick up the pen again and give it a go under the header of ‘why not.’ As soon as I started to draw again, for me, and put the ideas and thoughts in my head on to paper, or just sought relaxed via the dot work technique, I remembered why Ihad  loved drawing so much. Since then I’ve posted them online (which was a scary thing to do), opened an Etsy store, and actually been able to make some money from my creations. It’s given me more joy and self worth than I’ve felt in a over a decade of working my ass off creating for other people’s platforms, and I finally feel like I’m on the right path.


There were some people I really wanted to be friends with, because they wanted to be friends with me, we had a lot of mutual friends, and appeared to be into the same stuff. But the reality was that I didn’t feel in tune with their approach to life, what they value, what they put emphasis on - so I knew it wasn’t going to be a friendship that would truly enrich my life. I already have so many friends (that I don’t dedicate enough time to) that are those stunningly rare but treasured low maintenance friends, who aren’t your mate for anything remotely superficial, cool, or convenient, who will be there for you when you, or the period of life you're in is ugly, and who won’t add needless drama. I’m not saying we don’t go through stressful times, and that the relationships aren't ever hard because of the stuff either of us are facing, but you are there for each-other because you know the core is good.I  could have really pushed to cement some ‘cool’ friendships, which would have benefited me in other ways, but instead I‘ve preferred to have down to earth realness with people I simply feel at ease with, and who I share common ground with. So I’ve been spending the very small amount of spare non-work time I have, with the friends that have proven to be absolute gold over the years, those gems that couldn’t give a toss about social media numbers or guest-lists. 



So this year I’ve listed to my inner voice more than ever. Where possible I've focused more time on drawing, in the hope that will be my primary source of income, as well as the main place for venting thoughts. In doing so I hope YouTube will just be somewhere I upload videos I want, when I want, which will simply be in support of my art or any other important messages I want to express. I no longer force myself to be in social situations I know won't make me happy, and hope to continue to avoid people or scenarios that make me stressed out moving forward.

So before you utter words similar to ‘I feel a bit lost’ or finding yourself stagnant because your lacking direction, please take some time to seek the answers inside. The inner voice might be extremely quiet, or muffled by the noise of fear, but it's there (promise) and it knows what you need to do. Strip everything back, turn the volume down on external influences and self doubt, and listen to to what your moral compass, personal experience and natural inclination is telling you is right. 

I’m not saying by following your gut you’ll avoid everything sad or tough - after all that’s an integral part of living. Ghastly stuff will happen, no doubt, but they may be things you were meant to experience, for reasons that may not be completely obvious at first. There will also be rubbish things that happen that are out of y/our control, but at least the stuff we do have a grasp we can shape to our advantage and could put us in a better position to cope. Sometimes your inner script will be telling you stuff you don't want to hear because it means you gotta makes some tough decision and even tougher actions. Maybe the truth will be ugly, or make you realise that your behaviours have become ugly. But im confident, as hard as it may be, that we'll end up on the right track.

This isn’t about an easy life, this is about the right life…for you. 

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Monday, 24 April 2017

NEWS: Bury Tomorrow Revealed As Secret Special Guests For Slam Dunk 2017




It's about a month away now guys. Can you believe festival season is upon us again! 
Unfortunately for me it falls on the weekend of my brothers wedding ( no offence bro) so I can't get as immersed as usual, but there's nothing stopping you all from attending one or more of the dates and kicking off festival season in fantastic style. 

Today began with the joyous news of another exciting edition to the already spectacular line up, in the shape of Bury Tomorrow, who have been announced at the secret special guests. 

They will be tearing up the Main Stage/Jagermeister Stage with the likes of Don Broco, Deaf Havana, Crossfaith, and highly anticipated headliners Enter Shikari. 
 
After enjoying the success of their latest Album ‘Earthbound’ and returning straight from UK headline tour , including their biggest show ever I believe (which featured heavily on my instagram feed recently) they are sure to make their presence known over the bank holiday weekend.
 
Slam Dunk’s Ben Ray says ‘I’m so happy to have Bury Tomorrow back again! Although they DJ’d at last year’s event we certainly missed them live! It’s actually the first time this year we have had heavy bands on the main stage, so it was only right we include them!
As well as deliving ardent alt fans an unparalleled display of pop-punk icons and buzz bands across 8 stages, Slam Dunk Festival is also offering an unique and one-off anniversary performances from British musical legends Enter Shikari. Already lauded for their live experience this is a set sure to deliver serious regret for anyone who misses it.
We will also be treated to debut albums in full with American pop-rockers Cute Is What We Aim For and We The Kings, a special reunion performance from Madina Lake -who I haven't seen or spoken to since 2010 - and the final-ever shows from We Are The Ocean (booo). 
Whether you’re at Birmingham on May 27th, Leeds on May 28th or Hatfield on May 29th, Slam Dunk Festival 2017 this is the perfect way to kick off your summer. 

If you haven't been before and want a taster of what you're in for check out my little vid from last year...Panic at the Disco were soooo goooood. 






FULL LINE-UP TO DATE
Enter Shikari, Don Broco, Bowling For Soup, Neck Deep, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Deaf Havana, Beartooth, Tonight Alive, We Are The Ocean, Crossfaith, Against Me!, The Bronx, With Confidence, Goldfinger, Mad Caddies, Waterparks, The Movielife, Frank Iero & The Patience, Decade, Bury Tomorrow, Zebrahead, Counterfeit, We The Kings, The Ataris, Fenix TX, Milk Teeth, The Maine, Cute Is What We Aim For, Memphis May Fire, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, Madina Lake, Set It Off, Citizen, Black Foxxes, Turnover, Crime In Stereo, Seaway, Fort Hope, SHVPES, Trophy Eyes, Boston Manor, WSTR, Like Pacific, Puppy, Sorority Noise, The Gospel Youth, Stray From The Path, Ocean Grove, I Prevail, Vukovi, Ice Nine Kills, Area 11, Oceans Ate Alaska, Sylar, Too Close To Touch, Casey, Makeout, MC Lars.
TICKET INFORMATION
Advance tickets £44 or £49 with after party are on sale now. www.slamdunkmusic.com
Twitter - @slamdunkmusic
Instagram - @slamdunkmusic

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How I relax (when I do)


I know a more click-worthy blog title would be ‘Tip on how to relax’- but what I’ve found in preparation for this post, and when asking others about what they turn to for relaxation, the answers have proven that what is effective can be very individual.

For instance, Si said he’s at his happiest and most relaxed when cooking up a storm in the kitchen. But I can tell you right now, that me attempting to rustle something up would deliver quite the opposite effect for me…and for anyone having to consume the results.

I know some Dads that would escape to the golf course when needing a break from the chaos and noise of the family home. However whenever my Dad used this technique in an attempt to wind down, he’d come home a bit gruff, feeling frustrated due to having a bad round or grumpy having had to drive and putt through with miserable British weather.

So I’m going to be honest about what relaxes me. Only me. You may not understand some of them, in fact there’s a chance some of them may disgust you or make you think I’m a weirdo (even more so that you do already). Hopefully there will be a few that will make you nod in a agreement, or intrigue you enough to entice you to give it them a try too.

Soak it up

I know, it’s a bloody obvious one, but it’s only obvious because it’s true. A shower doesn’t do the trick, because for a start you have to stand which means you’re having to use some of your body’s strength. I turn to a shower for speed of cleaning or if I’m looking to the pace and pressure of the water to perk me up in the morning . A bath means you can let your body flop and allow to water (and whatever you put into it) to soothe you aches and pains. If money was no object I would of course incorporate some sort of Lush product in that water, but plain steaming hot water still does a lot in terms of making me zone out for reality for a bit. I know many escape to the bathroom for peace and quiet, but I like to rest my laptop on the loo and put something on whether that be a Netflix show or an Iplayer favourite like the Great Pottery Throwdown.

Watch Some Trash

Talking of watching screens, As you know I love to watch thought provoking films and shows, the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching  but they get the brain wurring too much, and we don’t want to have much thought going on. I find a good approach for relaxation is either finding a show you’ve watched so many times it doesn’t require any brain power to follow it anymore. The sort of show that you could drop of and snooze through half of it and wake up being able to talk along with the script. For me that would be shows like The Office, The Trip, Friends, Ally McBeal, Sex and The City. What would yours be?

Headspace

It's not breaking news that meditation works wonder and that it is something we should all be finding time to do it each day. if you're like me you will have made excuses for years about not having time to put 10-20 minutes aside, but if we are brutally honest with ourselves there is always something we can trade out - a session of Netflix viewing, time scrolling Instagram, chatting on Whatsapp, a bit less time spent on doing our hair., less general faffing.Till recently I had been using a CD that my therapist had given me but I’ve now moved on to the popular Headspace App. The first time I used it I found myself still going to those thoughts of stress and anxiety, but the calming voice assures you this is fine and perfectly normal.



Neutrogena Mask

The brand recently released their revolutionary Light Therapy Acne Mask, a wearable LED device that delivers red and blue wavelengths deep into the skin at the speed of light to disrupt the acne cycle. The blue light kills bacteria while the red light reduces the inflammation linked to acne - at a push of a button for ten minutes per session. This is a technique that has been used professionally for years, but Neutrogena has now delivered a product that utilises the same demtagolist technology at an energy level that's safe to use at home. An obvious and noteable bonus is of course the difference in cost too. But I'm not going to refer to it's effectiveness in terms of reducing acne here, I'm going to tell you about a surprise benefit I found from using it every day. Okay aside from the fact it makes Si jump out of his skin when I walk in the bedroom with it on, it's actually provided me with an excuse to lie down and zone out for ten minutes each day. I guess in a way it has encouraged me to stick to my meditation and use the the sessions of light fuelled spot zapping to prepare myself mentally for the day ahead. 
RRP MASK - £59.99
ACTIVATOR -£14.99 (LASTS A MONTH)
Available for Boots and Amazon

Taking pictures

The best part about taking pictures is that it concentrates your focus on that moment, that subject or thing you’re trying to capture. At no point do I find myself thinking about anything but the photo and capturing an image. It's another form of Mindfullness really. It also encourages you to change your environment which I think it's very important particularly if the space you are in is causing you stress. You also get that feeling of satisfaction which no doubt releases some positive energy into your body. There's nothing better than looking through your photos and being excited and happy with what you've managed to document or create.

Visual stimulation on my ceiling/relaxing lighting

I’ve have insomniac episodes for years now, so much so that I’ve been left with a necessity which impacts Simon’s sleeping habits. I don’t like sleeping in the dark, if it were up to me I’d have the TV on at low volume every night. Si has indulged me in the past, but these days he complains about the distraction when I attempt to keep the TV on when we go to sleep. So it came to a point where either me or him would suffer from a lack of sleep. Then I got these light products from Prezzy Box, we found a solution that would deliver a happy medium. I know it will make me sound like a toddler that needs a mobile above their cot to drift off, but the movements of the coloured lights really do help me fall into dreamland. It’s still quite new so it has that novelty value too and I get quite excited about the prospect of turning it on each night. It's has too ways of using it too. It can be more soothing if the lid is kept on and placed on the bedside table but I prefer to get mesmerized by the ceiling projections that occue when you unscrew the sphere top. 

£26.95
http://www.prezzybox.com/laser-sphere-projector.aspx

I use this one for my naps as it doesn't matter that it isn't pitch black and I tend to have naps in the day time. I find the change in the colour really soothing to have in the corner of my eye when settling done for a brief siesta. This one comes with sound effects too including the sound of a stream rippling, frog noises, sea waves, Bird-song and then bird song twinned with the sound of water. I find the sound too loud, maybe because my rooms are a bit small, so I opt to just use the light, and there's a switch that easily allows for that.

 £14.95
http://www.prezzybox.com/stress-relieving-relaxation-light-with-soothing-sounds.aspx

Spot Squeezing videos.

Okay, I know it’s a bit niche. Okay maybe that’s being kind, I know some of you will think I’m a bit of a wrongan, but judging by the view counts I’m not alone in this - maybe I’m just foolishly loud about my fondness. But if you think about it, it’s not that far off from other visual aids we turn to for mindfull-ness purposes. Although my friends send me the odd link to an article they’ve seen on the Daily Mail  showing a phone video of a guy/girl who’s had a spot for years which has finally been squeezed, but on the whole I watch the professionals, you know, the skin doctors. That makes it a bit less wrong right? Please….guys??  



A head massage/leg/foot massage.

I’ll take any sort of massage at this point. I remember in the early days of my and Si’s relationship it was offered up fairly regularly, these days I have to beg and usually put up with it being postponed on three separate occasions before it actually happens. But when it does, boy is it a glorious occasion. If money was no object I’d go to spa’s and have regularly professional ones, but in absence of any funds whatsoever Si will have to do. I guess having your partner do it makes it a bonding experience too? It’s just annoying that the session of relaxation is always followed by work…Si now demands back scratches as a thank you for his massaging efforts.

Organising

I’m not talking about tackling a project like my bedroom, which some you will know has been christened ‘The Cesspit of Doom’, no, I’m talking about those manageable tidying tasks that brings a huge amount of satisfaction in a relatively short amount of time. It might be taking on that miscellaneous draw that houses everything that either needs hiding or doesn’t seem to have a proper and rightful place. Perhaps it’s sorting through your nail varnishes and chucking out the ones that have gone gloopy or hard. Maybe it’s sharpening all the pencils in your pencil case. Maybe its shredding your receipts and pretending you didn’t spend that money you don’t have. Whatever it is that does it for you…my friend Barn actually uses the excuse that she’s doing her paperwork as an reason not to come out, she bloody loves it!


A Walk.

Sometimes it’s just a short walk round the corner to this tiny enclosed park which always has a few doggies in, so we have the opportunity to get some fresh air and stalk some furry friends, and other times we got to our favourite spots like Hampton river, Bushy park, Virginia Water or Shere. I just think fresh air does everyone some good, and its particularly helpful if you’re suffering with some sort of work block. You always seen to come back refreshed and ready to get back to it for of ideas and ways to advance. I think being around nature also has a hugely positive effect on me I definitely smile a bit more and relax those shoulders.


Drawing

I know a lot of people turn to colouring books for this sort of relief, and if you’re one of these go and buy a lovely one by my pal Anastasia Tasou. For me it’s drawing something from scratch thats just for me. I like the satisfaction I feel if i manage to put onto paper the idea I have in my head and have something tangible to show for my efforts. I said just for me because when I started doing commissions a couple of years ago I certainly didn’t find the process relaxing.


Doing my make up.

The important factor here is that it is only relaxing when it’s done in the right conditions. I don’t like to be hurried and I don’t liked to be talked at while I’m doing it. I prefer to sit on my bed with one of my fave morning shows like Frasier in the background, with absolutely nothing to interrupt me. I like to take my time, which isn’t very long these days as I don’t wear much make up anymore. I think having products you enjoy using helps this process to be a relaxing one. The satisfaction of seeing the transformation from pre/post foundation application adds more than a few pleasure points too.



Film Scores.

Music is another subjective one, because I know many people who listen to Heavy music and metal to wind down and it appears to genuinely work. While I definitely think it helps me get through some stressful moments during the day( I love listening to Architects, Machine Head and BMTH when tackling the crowds on the underground) I think for proper chill time or to create a relaxing environment to work in, classical music and more often than not, film scores, tend to me what I turn to. Some of my favourite composers include Hans Zimmer, Aaron Zigman, Craig Armstrong, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Ilan eshkeri, and Peter Vronsky if you wanted to check them out!

A video about some of my faves - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi6M9yx55i8


Going out for dinner.

Now that I don’t have to be on my restricted diets all the time, going out for a meal can be relaxing (if it still caters to my personal difficulties a bit). Of course there’s still stress caused by the fear of an IBS attack, but as long as I know I’m going home straight after or that the restaurant has decent facilities I can still gain a lot of pleasure and chill from eating out. Not only does it mean you don’t have to cook or wash up, you get the escape the house which for me is integral as it’s my place of work.

  
Doggy Cuddles

Signing up for Borrow my Doggy was probably the best thing Si and I did in term of our happiness levels. Rosie the Cockapoo has brought so much joy into our lives since we met her through the website when she was a young puppy two or so years ago. We see her as regaulrly as our conflicting schedules allow, and every time she improved our moods by at  least 50%. With her licks, and unwavering love she manages to lift me out of the deepest of funks.



Getting off Social Media 

A few months ago I decided I wasn't going to watch YouTube videos. I realised any benefits I got from watching them were heavily outweighed by the negative ones. I didn't want to feel crappy that I didn't have money to spend on clothes, that I wasn'y going on holiday for the forseeable future or getting the same amazing opportunities as many of the other YouTubers I watch. I decided I'd only watch video's if I needed to find something out, do research, or if I truly felt it would enrich my life in some real way. I also decided to spend a smaller percentage of my day scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and I neglected Facebook entirely. Boy, do I feel much better for it. I definitely don't miss all the rants about ex partners or the not so humble brags of people on Facebook. If your not quite ready to take as drastic a step back from social media as me, I would very much reccommend turning off the notifications on your phone and perhaps limiting yourself to a few checks a day. A reduction will still benefit your ability to relax, as I feel like technology often interrupts the flow of chill time. How often are you watching a film and find yourself suddenly stressed because you've read an email or message about work?


Low Maintenance Friends

Spending time with those sorts of friends that don’t make arranging things stressful. The sort that wont care if you haven’t showered or if you come with zero banter that day. The kind of mate that you feel completely comfortable sitting in silence with, but you know you won’t because you’ll feel so relaxed and like you’ve escaped work/home stresses, that you’ll talk their ears off.


So that’s some of the things that work for me. Please share in the comments what things you do, or what techniques you use, to relax and zone out for a bit. Let's help each other combat the intensity of living in these crazy times.
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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

FRANK BODY LIP SCRUB AND BALM REVIEWED


The insta-famous Frank Body. If you've followed models, hot females, or bloggers over for the last few years there is no doubt in my mind that you will have come across this brand. It is perhaps most well known for it's body scrub which was promoted frequently by influencers, via sexy shots showing their sun-kissed skin being given a much need exfoliation with the product. The brand soon became synonymous with this sun-kissed body-beautiful aesthetic and it was one of the brands to be seen using/promoting the influencer community. 

You associated use of this product with an exotic lifestyle that incorporated a lot of travel, and a year long tan, and quite frankly you(I) wanted to be part of that.  I was totally sucked in and wanted a piece of this coffe infused skin-smoothing action.


A few years older, a bit less vulnerable to savvy branding and a lot more jaded about most things connected to social media,  I need a bit more convincing in regards to the brands that appear to to be much-loved and lauded on Instagram. 

I have to be honest though, even though I have that perspective that only comes with age, I was still quite excited when I got the review package in the post. Part of it was because I knew that once and for all I would finally be able to wake up and smell the coffee and find out if all the love the brand attained online was deserved, or whether it was just people jumping on that appealing and aspitational band-wagon. The other part, the part I'm not proud to admit, is that I finally felt part of the cool insta gang.


First up the packaging is so pretty, and right up my visual alley. I love the brown paper it comes in - that choice of material not only mentally links you to the coffee ingredient but it has those natural connotations too. The combination of the brown paper teamed with that salmon pink and white is feminine without being overly girly - and it looks great in pictures. Having to rip or cut open the paper the bag before you get to the actual product also increases the antiscipation of trying the scrub and balm. There's also some cute text on the back to with sentences like ' Give a little lip and talk dirty, babe' and 'Only Tested on Babes.' The first makes you feel a bit sassy (and I need all the sass I can get) and the latter tells you in a less scientific way that this is a cruelty-free product - yay!


The layout of the rest of information should be a guide for other brands too designing packaging. There's all the information you need without any extra long winded boring stuff. Within a few glances and via some cute illustrations you know where the brand is from (Australia), how to store it (cool and dry) and that it contains nuts. It also details all the ingredients should you want to know for reasons referring to your ethics or your allergies, as well as all the brands social media handles.


First up is the 'sugar, hi'  as they cutely have scribed on the side of the lip scrub container. I love the large and simple logo on the top of this circular pot, you can't help but think of high end brands like Chanel when you see it. 

Like many of the lip scrubs you may have tried prior this, it also utlises the exfoliating powers of sugar grains, and it is very proficiant at filing down any loose or rough bits of lip texture.

There are naturally derived and sustainably sourced ingredients in the form of Coco Caprylate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride as well as it's naturally derived Fragrance. The products aroma is like a sweetened coffee due to a combination of the sucrose, coffea Arabica, Cofee Robusta Seed Powder, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) and Fruit Extract, and it's absolutely amazing. I have to be honest I was tempted to swipe it all on my toast instead of my usual Nutella. It also contains Tocopherol (vitamin E) which is great at helping to heal and soothe damage lips.

With just a few scrubs back and forth my lips felt noticeably smoother, and I very much enjoyed licking it off. After it's always nice to taste the coffee as well as smell it!

  
At our 'slick service' is the smoothing lip balm which smells just as divine as the scrub.  It's a very thick consistency due to the beeswax, and the lanolin, which is that yellow viscous mixture which is used for the base of a lot of ointments. This firm nature of the product makes its exit from the tube very tidy and efficent, and it makes you feel like you are using something with powerful and longlasting qualities. I've found super thin balms tend to disappear after a few minutes of conversation or with a couple strokes of the tongue. This has some staying power. It's beneficial thickness doesn't hinder your ability to glide it across your lips those, with the combined warmth of your fingers and lips, it instantly creates a pleasingly smooth coverage.


So in short, I loved this set of Aussie lip reviving products.
So Frank...I'm so sorry I was so skeptical, blame the other buzz brands who haven't lived up to the hype. I'm so glad to find that your popularlity was justified, and I can't wait to try out more of your aromatic products. No wonder so many wonderful and beautiful women were proud to endorse you on social media!

Now I've just got to decide which to try next...one of them has to be their iconic Coffe body Scrub doesn't it?? I mean...it's time I did one of 'those' shots too.

Here's to a summer of the smoothest skin,  flesh that that will be so touchable it will have the same pulse racing qualities as a cup of coffee. Hope you're ready Si!


The set is for sale on their site for £12.95 and would make a lovely gift!
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13 Reasons Why.... the show got it right…..


This isn’t a post to review this much talked about show. In fact a day after finishing the series I’m still not sure what my overriding feelings are towards it. I do know that I found it very hard-going and that it had a very obvious negative effect on my mood. The relentlessly dark thread throughout the 13 episodes meant I had to take regular breaks from it, which is very different to my usual bing watching approach to a Netflix series.’ While I still take some time post-viewing to formulate my opinion, and decide whether I think they should have even put this show online, I did want to talk about some of the elements that the show highlighted that I feel ring very true for young adults and/or people that struggle with mental health issues.

1.The cumulative effect of events, moments and feelings is often what leads to that point of hopelessness and feelings of wanting to give up on life altogether. For some it may be one significant event or battle that has lead to finding oneself in this state, but for many the frequency of negative moments can contribute to a feeling of ‘Maybe I deserve this’, ‘Maybe I’m the problem.’ ,’I’m not sure I fit in with this world’. Some just feel numbed or exhausted by the conveyer belt of negativity.

I know that when I am in a particularly dark phase with my depression that it can be a small moment, one sentence uttered, one tweet posted even, that can tip me over into that worrying area of wanting to give up, or not having the ability of seeing a way out. This is why it’s so important we are mindful of all the interactions we have each and every day.

I was watching a few episodes of the show with someone else, and numerous times throughout the they’d say things like ‘Hannah’s overreacted there’ or ‘whats the big deal’. Completely understanding why the situation was becoming so overwhelming for the main character, I made sure to point out that Hannah was already at a point where she was feeling ostracised, misunderstood, lonely or let down, and that this ‘trivial’ moment was another thing piling on top of that existing vulnerability or source of sadness.

2. There is still a scary amount of misunderstanding about what behaviour/actions constitutes sexual assault, abuse and rape. The fact that some people (including characters in this show) excuse this abhorrent behaviour with comments like, ‘She’s easy’ ‘She was giving me the eye’, ‘We were all drunk’, says a lot about how much education is still necessary in this area not just for kids for adults too. This misunderstanding is undoubtedly contributing to many victims not feeling like they can report the crimes (like Jessica/Hannah), meaning they find it hard to get any sort of closure( if that’s possible anyway) and the attackers are free to continue to commit these crimes.
The arrogance displayed by Bryce is something I’ve seen/witnessed before too. I've sadly known guys that can’t fathom that a girl wouldn’t desire them in that way…

3. Everything slightly bad/embarrassing that happens when you’re a teenager feels like the end of the world. When you’re in school, the people within those boundaries and their views of you and your social standing are what matters the most, it’s the most intense social bubble. If something happens that becomes talk of the school for that day, you believe you or your life has been ruined and that this will continue to impact the success of the rest of your life…which we know in a lot of cases isn’t true. When you're young you don’t have history and experience back up what the adults are telling you, you know, that everything will be forgotten and when you’re older you’ll look back on this and realise it didn’t matter, or that it actually helped you become who you are (in a positive sense).

3. Sadness, guilt or anger can have a huge affect on your behaviour. Clay was a good kid with a kind heart but you saw him become increasingly angry and finding him self in uncharacteristically potty mouthed or in violent situations. Grief has a profound effect, and because Clay took so long to get through the tapes that period of confusion surrounding the suicide was extended and his spiral of depression and lack of control enhanced. I think the show displayed how different people cope with loss and devastation too. Some seemed in complete denial, some sought comfort in finding answers and fighting for justice (Hannahs mum), some wanted to act like nothing had happened, others, like Alex and Clay found it very obviously difficult to live. The character of Justin also points out that often bullies are cultivated by a negative environment at home.

4. You need to make amends to move on. I think Sheri finally ringing the police and reporting her own crime was a good reminder to us all that you have to own what you do (good or bad), and take the consequences. She tried to make amends by looking after the older gentlemen that was injured but you could see she was still struggling to move on knowing that she hadn’t done the right thing. With Clay pushing her to confess you got the impression she’s find herself in a much better place, and that honesty would be the best thing for her in terms of moving forward and finding forgiveness in herself.

5. The people you open up to can have a huge effect on how you face your challenges. There are moments throughout the series when people say flippant things that seem fairly insignificant and banal, but they provide enough ammo to the vulnerable person in question to clam up, retreat and and put that guard firmly up. When Hannah makes the brave decision to visit the counsellor the phone keeps ringing. The he opts for a few perhaps unhelpful questions when trying to discover what event has lead Hannah to visit him. His choice of words/questionings makes Hannah believe that he may not qualify/believe what she was intending to tell him. When a teary Hannah attempts to tell Clay what’s she’s just gone through, he snaps presuming she's making the death of Jeff all about her, and in so makes Hannah believe another channel of comfort has been closed to her. If we are tackling anything emotionally taxing or stressful it can often take a lot of bravery and trust to be able to share that. If someone gives us reason to think they’re not listening, understanding or taking it seriously it can make us go back to internalising .

6.Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is struggling with something. Just because someone’s rich, in the cool gang, or very good looking, it doesn’t mean they hold the ability to avoid any of life struggles or pitfalls, nor does it mean they exist without any insecurities or worries. You saw in the show that popular Jock Zac was extremely lonely. He appeared to have a lot of friends but it appeared to me at least that he lacked those meaningful deeper friendships, the unconditional ones that are based on knowing the core of the person rather than the superficial surface stuff that was always given precedence at school. Another popular Jock, who on the outside may appear to have it all was Justin, who was actually struggling for money and having to rely on the Bryce for new sports shoes as well as a safe place to stay. He was having to deal with a very turbulent home life due to his mums drug habit and her unsavoury choice of partner. I think the show reminds us that appearances can be deceiving and there’s always a lot of layers to make up a being - all contributing to the person they show to to the public.

7. Yes we’ve come a long way in lots of way, including acceptance when it comes to the LGBTQ community, but my word does the news serve as a regular reminder of how far we still have to go. Characters became frustrated with Courtney for not coming out, stating that these days it’s not even a big deal. This is sadly a generalisation which isn’t necessarily true. Coming out for Courtney was difficult because she grew up with two Gay Dads and she thought that it would confirm what a lot of disparaging people had said about her family unit - when she was young theirs was quite a rare family arrangement. How stressful the concept of coming out is to an individual can be due to so many different influences. Where in the world they reside, and how accepting and open they are to different sexualities. What their family or friends views are on it and how they think the news will go down. Where they are in your own acceptance of your sexual preferences. Sadly even what work they may  want to go into and their perception of that industries views on the LGBTQ community may effect how ready/able you feel to come out. I think it's good that they pointed out that despite the giggles and sharing around of the photos of Hannah and Courtney, that none of their friends actually had a problem with either of them being gay.

8. You make mistakes as a teenager, things you’ll regret - this is normal and everyone does it. Alex is one of the only characters featured on the tapes that really owns his mistakes early on, although as the series progresses you see some of the characters start to make amends and work to rectifying some of them in the best way they can. When I was a teen I think I fell into two categories when it came to the bad decisions and mistakes I made. I either beat myself up about the shoddy ones I made, letting them consume me for far too long and effect how open/confident I was moving forward. Or I'd refuse to acknowledge them as my own mistakes, finding blame in others, or thinking that the universe was out to get me. That’s if I’d got to the point of accepting I’d done something wrong. Now as an oldie I realise that it’s entirely necessary to make mistakes in your teens and twenties, as it enables us to evolve and live a bit more wisely when we reach proper adulthood. I wish I could have told my teenage self that mistakes don’t mean I’m a bad person, they just mean I’m human.

9. Communication is so important. There are so many frustrating moments, via the dream /what if sequences where we can see clearly how carefully chosen or just more words could have drastically changed the turn of events and the happiness of the individual. One thing the show really highlights well is that if the characters were more aware of each others unique pressures, worries and situations, they would have created a more empathetic and understanding social circle and school community. They would have understood why each behaved a certain way and in turn chosen not to take it so personally, or done something to make the person realise how their actions impacted them. I felt really sad about the Zac/Hannah situation because it was obvious to me he had just been extremely hurt by Hannah and was acting out of that hurt rather than anything really nasty. He decided to do something fairly risky when choosing comforting her after Marcus’ awful behaviour in the diner, considering it wasn’t siding against the influential Jock crew. I was watching that episode and willing him to keep trying with Hannah and felt really sad when he tore up the letting trap she left - I thought they could have had a nice friendship. Courtney shouldn’t have distanced herself when the pictures leaked of her and Hannah. You could see Hannah wanted to unite and was going to support Courtney, but due to Courtney’s fears regarding being outed she pushed Hannah away. Talking about communication, when you take an overview of the entire series, its obvious that every single character would have had more friendship and love in their lives if they’d been less fearful of communication. It was also interesting when you saw some moments from different points of views. When Clay is talking to Hannah at the party, he says she’s telling it all wrong on the tape. He remembers how awkward and uncool he was when trying to finally woo her, but she remembers how he put her and ease and made her feel comfortable despite being nervous. I think this capture how we shouldn’t be so fearful of talking to others because we people don’t always see you how you see you. Those things you replay in your head and feel mortified about are the things that made that interaction warm and lovely.

10. Unkind use of Social media/technology can be extremely harmful. When the picture of Hannah at the park get sent round the school mobiles, something extremely private and intimate becomes public property. Something which was meant to be fun and actually fairly innocent also becomes sordid and paints an image of Hannah that is very different to the reality. Pictures never tell the true or full story, so they allow people to make assumptions and judgements without the integral ingredient of contextual information. These scenes also highlight how fast these events can snowball. Technology has gifted us with the ability to do everything in an instant, which when put in the wrong hands can be extremely damaging, extremely quickly.


11. Parents don’t always get things right. When we were watching the series we kept squirming at how Clays mum dealt with his obvious deterioration in mental health and behaviour. From our point of view it was glaringly obvious that she was going about things the wrong way, and actually causing Clay not to want to open up. I think it’s a reality that parents find it extremely difficult to deal with some of the issues that arise as a a result of growing up in today’s modern world. They have no idea about social media and the impact it can have, or the pressures it puts on them/us. If they’ve been lucky enough to avoid mental issues themselves, they also don’t know what the right approach to dealing with that is either, often pushing too hard for the teenager to share with them rather than just building a relationship which lets the child know that they are a safe someone they can come to if needed. We can see how unhelpful Zac’s pushy mum’s constant boasting is. When she gushes about his achievements you can tell it doesn’t make him feel any better about himself. He’s looking for something else to give him that feeling of self worth…rewarding and real relationships for example.

12. Loyalties area a big deal in school. Despite the awful things that Bryce did to Jessica, Justin doesn’t feel he can do anything about it due to boy-code, school hierarchy and so on. We saw a lot of relationships suffer due to the betrayal felt due to a lack of loyalty too. When Jess and Alex started dating, ruining the balance of the trio they had with Hannah, you could tell she felt incredibly hurt. When Jess dated Justin, despite what he did to Hannah and Hannah warning her that he was bad that would have effected Hannah’s feeling of worth. Did her friendship or opinion  have any influence at all? She may have thought. Tony was very loyal to Hannah’s final wishes, even when he had doubts about whether it was the right things to do. He also persevered with Clay, turning up ALL TIME TIME to check in with him and see that he was alright.

13. Teenagers/young adults are under so many different pressures these days. In the show you see a few characters discuss where they are going to go for College, Hannah’s decision made a bit more complicated by her deterioration in grades and her parents lack of money to pay for tuition. Not only are they contemplating their future and trying to work out what career path they should take and where to take it, they are juggling with changing bodies, having some of their first romantic relationships, worrying about social standing, finding out who they are and where they fit in. It's a hell of a lot. Add-on top of that rumours, misunderstandings, violence, bullying, technology/social media….it’s not surprising that they feel completely overwhelmed.

So there’s a few themes/topics I think the show caused us to contemplate through the telling of this tragic story. I may be back with another 13 Reasons Why post, which may focus on what the show didn't do right. There’s been a lot of talk about how damaging this show could be for vulnerable viewers and this is something I want to consider, as someone who suffers with mental health and who has previously had suicidal thoughts. I may be back with that if I feel up to it….
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