“The Sheep That Helps You Sleep”

“The Sheep That Helps You Sleep”

I’m always one for a Lush bath and Baa Bar Bubblebar is just too cute to walk past; it’s a little sheep! Unfortunately when I took these pictures I’d already used half so you’re only seeing half the cuteness but it’s still adorable.

Adorable sheep shape aside, this bubble bar is all relaxation and purple dreaminess. It’s the perfect addition to a long day when you’re about ready to sink into a bath and forget everything else, and just half a bar makes a mountain of lavender scented bubbles so you can do just that! The lavender scent isn’t super overpowering either, it’s almost a powdery lavender that made my bathroom smell gorgeous.

Stepping out of this bath everything seemed better, I always underestimate the power of a good bath to change my outlook! It must be something about being almost wrapped up in the warm (almost boiling if I’m honest) purple water, with a book or my iPad and surrounded by bubbles. Add the obligatory cup of tea (spearmint green) and there’s my recipe for winding down at the end of the day.

So if a relaxing bubble bath with a calming lavender scent and a cute little sheep shape sounds right up your street, head to Lush quick before this limited edition cutie is gone for another year!

Why Isn’t All Make-Up Cruelty Free?

Why Isn’t All Make-Up Cruelty Free?

I received an order from Illamasqua last week which got me thinking; there was a message printed inside the box that read

Illamasqua are against animal testing. Many larger makeup brands are not. Of course, they don’t mention it. We only know because a little bird told us (and a few little rabbits).

B E A U T Y not brutality.

I was aware that many makeup brands tested their products on animals, but reading this made me realise that a lot of people probably aren’t aware. I see a lot of people talking about brands they love, using products from big companies such as MAC, L’Oréal and Benefit and I’m sure they must be unaware of the animal testing their products underwent to get to them. I am sure they are unaware because I think (maybe naively) that most people wouldn’t use the products if they were aware. Surely? I also know that before I became vegan and had my eyes opened to the horrors that are happening to animals everyday, I didn’t think makeup and beauty companies still tested their products on animals. I believed that simply didn’t happen anymore, but it does.

Some of these companies will state that they don’t test on animals, but they fail to mention that they hire another company to do it for them, other companies state that they don’t do this either however if a ‘regulatory body demands it for its safety assessment an exception can be made’ (taken from MAC’s website). What this usually means is that the company sells in China, where animal testing is mandatory. Any company who were truly against animal testing would refuse to do this, in fact many companies do not sell their products in China for this reason (Urban Decay, Too Faced, Kat Von D Beauty to name a few). The reason some companies still sell in China is because they care more about their profits than the cruelty and brutality suffered by the animals they test on. A lot of these companies will seem to be saying all the right things such as ‘working toward a cruelty free world‘ which simply isn’t true and doesn’t make sense when they sell in China. If they truly were working towards a cruelty free world they would pull their products out of China until their rules change, as all the real cruelty free companies have done.

There is no reason to be testing our beauty products on animals in this day and age. In fact animal testing is not only cruel, but it is also expensive and generally inapplicable to humans. New methods have been devised which cut out the need to be testing on animals, and a quick google search will throw up a whole host of results detailing the alternatives now available. I found these stats on crueltyfreeinternational.org:

• Crude skin allergy tests in guinea pigs only predict human reactions 72% of the time. But a combination of chemistry and cell-based alternative methods has been shown to accurately predict human reactions 90% of the time.

• The notorious Draize skin irritation test in rabbits can only predict human skin reactions 60% of the time.  But using reconstituted human skin is up to 86% accurate.

•The standard test on pregnant rats to find out if chemicals or drugs may harm the developing baby can only detect 60% of dangerous substances.  But a cell-based alternative (EST) has 100% accuracy at detecting very toxic chemicals.

• The cruel and unreliable shellfish toxin testing on live mice has now been fully replaced with a far superior analytical chemistry method that is better at protecting humans.

Luckily though, there are a whole lot of beauty and make up companies that really are cruelty free, and don’t test on animals, and if you’re ever in doubt a google search will let you know. Just be careful for phrases which don’t sound specific or mention ‘when necessary’. It’s not necessary, and the more of us that make the switch, the more likely companies are to listen and make a change.

Kick Starting Motivation (When All Seems Lost!)

Kick Starting Motivation (When All Seems Lost!)

Recently I have found myself struggling with motivation. Motivation for a lot of things; to get out of bed, to write, to go to work, to do the things I enjoy and to learn spanish just to name a few. I don’t know what it is, is it the weather? It’s been rainy and miserable here in England the past few days which we all know can effect our moods and motivation. Sometimes I feel like I’m just being lazy, or I just need an energy boost but those things are not always easy to fix either and I decided to embark on a mission to kick start my motivation (but how do I get the motivation to do that?!).

1) A Big Ol’ Cup of Caffeine.

This one probably seems obvious; caffeine to boost the energy levels! We all know that caffeine phsycally effects our biology to make us more alert, however for me I think that psychologically it helps too, almost like a placebo. I know that drinking this mug of coffee should make me feel more awake, so just the smell and taste of coffee now makes me immediately feel more alert. I know that’s just in my head but hey, if it helps! Also, a cup of something warm feels comforting. If coffee isn’t your thing, teas, hot chocolate or any other warm beverage you fancy may do the trick here!

2) A Walk.

We’ve all heard the advice that physical exercise can improve our mood and make us more productive. ‘Blowing away the cobwebs’ has been written about in this way for years, and that’s for a reason. Increasing the heart rate and getting our blood pumping more effectively around the body is bound to give us more energy. Not only that but there’s a lot to be said for a solitary walk to bring about inspiration or just give yourself some time to think. No matter the weather a walk can be beneficial, maybe more so if it’s a rainy, blustery day!

3) Setting Up Your Workspace

Even if I feel the least in-the-mood to work possible, setting up my workspace moves me closer to the real deal. Opening the laptop, getting out notepads and making your space comfortable will move you closer to sitting in the chair and getting stuck in. I find spraying some room spray/lighting a candle/plugging in an essential oil diffuser can also work wonders. Peppermint essentiasl oil can be used for mental focus and to get you feeling more awake.

4) Write Things Down

Writing lists is a technique that has been used by many people for years as a way to kickstart motivation and get things done. I like to start my lists off with simple things such as “make a cup of coffee” that I can easily check off and feel like I’m getting things done! The main idea is just to get the ball rolling so I can move on to the more important things of my day. Writing my list of things to do also helps clear my head and make room in there to think more openly, and it makes everything seem a bit less overwhelming. If it’s on paper it doesn’t need to be in your head!

However, despite everything, some days just aren’t productive days, and that’s okay! We can’t always force ourselves into work-mode as much as we try and sometimes trying to will have the opposite effect. It’s important to recognise when its just not happening and let it go. After all, everything is only temporary.

We Are All Stardust

We Are All Stardust

“I’m nothing more than recycled stardust and borrowed energy, born from a rock, spinning in the aether,”

“Nothing is real, love is everything, and I know nothing,”
Kesha, Spaceship

I find this lyric strangely comforting. The first time I heard it I got goosebumps and felt kind of tearful. I think it’s for the same reason I find looking up at the sky at night comforting too; the undeniable realisation that I am but a tiny, minuscule dot in the narrative of the universe. I don’t mean that in a depressing ‘I am nothing’ way, more in the sense that in the grand scheme of everything, the day to day decisions that I make don’t matter at all. I spend so much time agonising whether I’m doing the right thing, “what am I doing with my life,” etc, when really it doesn’t matter. We’re here for such a short time that all that really matters is that we are happy.

I’ve watched a couple of Ted Talks recently about the subject of us being made from stardust, and each one has made me feel different. One particularly good one is by Dr Natalie Hinkel. She talks about how crazy it is that we are here, that we are a ‘mathematical anomaly’. She explains that so many things had to happen just as they did in order for us to be here now, doing what we are doing in this moment.

I’m not going to pretend that I understand all the science regarding the universe and how we got to where we are, the main point is that we are here. Here I am, writing this, sat in a coffee shop with about 30 other people, all with different complex lives and relationships and troubles. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, but we are all essentially the same; confused jumbles of emotions and love and thoughts squeezed together in these remarkable bodies made from stardust.

 

Too materialistic

Too materialistic

I’m trying to figure out the difference between what is really important and things that aren’t, yet I give them a lot of undue importance. Although I think in the society we live in now it’s very easy and encouraged to give importance to things that don’t need it; such as material objects (what clothes we wear, our phone, how our lives are perceived by others online). It’s so easy to judge others by how much they are obsessed with material objects and others perceptions of themselves, whilst simultaneously doing it ourselves, although on (what we perceive to be) a lesser level. I might say I don’t care what others think of me, but then go on to choose the ‘best’ selfie or photo to upload to Instagram, and spend time thinking of what caption to put with it. Surely if I truly didn’t care what others thought of me I wouldn’t even upload to Instagram?

I recently read Derren Brown’s book ‘Happy’ and found a thought experiment within it by William B. Irvine. Irvine describes a situation where you wake up, and there is no one else on the planet (from what you can tell). However everything (houses, shops etc) is exactly how it was left the day before; electricity still works, cars are left where they were parked. Pretty much it’s just like the world we are in now, just you are the only person. He acknowledges that we would of course be lonely, however for the sake of this experiment we are to ignore the emotional aspect and only think about the material. We can live in whichever house we want, drive whichever car, have all the latest gadgets, fashionable clothes etc. What would we do? We might take advantage of this for a while, and maybe enjoy all these luxuries, however eventually all of these material objects will lose their meaning if there was no one else around. The interesting question is, without other people would we even want all these material things? What’s the point in driving a fancy car if there’s no one to show off to? We’d likely lose all interest in our physical appearance and only have the necessities to live (a small, manageable house, warm clothes).

I found this thought experiment extremely thought provoking. I think most of what I do is for the benefit of others more than myself, or to benefit myself because of what I want others to think of me. I would like to try living more mindful of this but I’m not really sure where to start. I think I must begin with researching this school of thought more in depth and remembering this thought experiment from time to time, so that’s what I’ll be doing. I’m in charge of what I give importance to.

 

When you find yourself blankly staring at a wall…

When you find yourself blankly staring at a wall…

I’m hoping I’m not alone in this, but do you ever just find yourself sitting down and staring at nothing, thinking nothing? Those times where you think “Hmm maybe I should get dressed and go outside,” but it takes you hours to get there?

This morning was one of those mornings. It took me, what felt like, forever to get in the shower, to get dressed and out of my towel, to actually get out the house because I knew being sat inside was only going to make me feel worse. I kept meaning to get a move on, but then I would sit down next to the heater and get lost inside my head again.

Sometimes certain events seem to cause this sudden state, but sometimes I don’t even know why I’m feeling that way; I then feel bad for feeling this way, which only serves to make it worse.

I don’t want to dwell in this mood anymore, it’s taken half this day away from me and I’m ready to leave it behind. Granted,  much easier said than done, but acknowledging that I’m feeling this way and knowing that it doesn’t have to last forever is a step in the right direction. I’m here, writing this post, drinking this coffee and I’m ready to start my day again.

I want to leave this on a positive note, which I will because I know I will turn my day around today. I’m going to take some time for myself, enjoy this coffee and do the things I know make me feel better; starting by changing this depressing music I’m listening to, to some Lady Gaga. I have lists, in countless notebooks, of things that make me happy so when ‘staring at the wall’ days roll around I’m armed with resources to fight back. Even though it can be so tempting to ignore them all and stay in my pyjamas, I know that for me that’s going to 100% make me feel worse, so screw that! I’m already feeling more myself with this new music, it’s amazing the difference that little things can make! Rather than thinking of all the big things I could do, which feel all too overwhelming right now, I’m going to keep focussing on the little tiny things, like little building blocks, that slowly but surely build me back up.

We’re allowed to have bad days, it makes us human, but learning how to deal with them is invaluable.
Goodbye wall!

Broken Camera Lens Teaching Me Life Lessons.

Broken Camera Lens Teaching Me Life Lessons.

I just dropped my camera. In fact I dropped my whole bag but the only thing that seemed to be effected was my camera. The newest addition to the camera lens family must’ve hit the ground at just the right angle, and as I picked up my camera I heard the dreaded tinkling of broken glass. Rushing inside I pried open the smushed in lens cap and saw what I’d suspected; the lens was history.

The tears came, I panicked, I got angry at myself, I texted a million apologies to my boyfriend (A); I imagined him getting super upset with me (he brought the lens and we share it), and thought of all the pictures I could no longer take with this lens. I scolded myself for not using my (more protective) camera bag, and for being so clumsy. “Why am I like this?,” I asked myself over and over, “I’m such a rubbish person,” my thoughts spiralled and I just felt worse and worse.

Until A replied, and he said “Don’t worry at all!! Don’t be silly, please don’t worry!,”. His lighthearted response shocked my mind to be quiet for a bit..he really didn’t think it was a big deal? Was I being ridiculous and over-reacting?

Now I’m rereading the top of this post again “In fact I dropped my whole bag but the only thing that seemed to be effected was my camera,”. In this bag I had my phone (which recently had its screen replaced..notice a pattern?), my iPad, wireless keyboard, and my camera. The ONLY thing that was damaged was the lens, everything else survived! I’ve always been a glass-half-empty type of gal, and when things go wrong find it easier to take it out on myself rather than look at the positives and feel grateful for what I do have. Rather than feel dismayed that my lens was broken, I could feel lucky that everything else was okay, and that I have other lenses I can use! I’m so grateful that my phone screen wasn’t smashed up again (cannot afford the ridiculous price for it to be replaced once more!), and my iPad is still functioning.

Camera lenses can be replaced, yes they’re expensive but I also have others I can use in the meantime. Objects only hold the meaning we put on them, and I’m choosing to let this one go. In fact, thank you camera lens for breaking and helping me learn to stop reacting to situations the way I do; it won’t happen overnight but the more I practice the easier it will get. This will not ruin my day, this will only serve me good feelings, of gratitude and thanks.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters,”-Epictetus