HAERE RA AOTEAROA

I feel like I haven’t written anything in an age and I know the 5 people (I might be being generous to myself there) who ever read this blog will be missing me. Ha! I’m grateful for those few reads of my very self-absorbed ramblings. I’ve been busy: turning 25, travelling the South Island, applying for jobs, moving countries, voting (eugh) and cleaning the grotty but cute flat I’ve moved into.  So here we go…

I have been back in the UK for nearly two weeks. I live in central London and every day when I look out of my window, I say to myself ‘I live here now’ – often feeling both giddy and little confused. It’s almost sunk in.

It’s mental because I’d spent the previous month travelling round the South Island of NZ on my own, chatting to sheep and generally being an introvert. There are hardly any people on the South Island and heaps of natural beauty so it’s been a little culture shock coming back to London where there are people EVERYWHERE. It’s also mental because I don’t have a job yet and a dwindling overdraft. Finally, it’s mental because I’ve moved in with the boy (okay we’ve pretty much been doing that for the last 5 months anyway), but this is properly. I think I might be an adult now…

It’s amazing because I’m getting to explore a part of London that is new to me. And it’s amazing because there are so many people (I just have to get over the fact that not all of them will smile back at me when I grin at them like a loon). It’s amazing because the architecture in London is so varied, I walk down the street and see a building from yonks ago that’s still standing next to some fancy modern building and it all works perfectly.

On the whole I’m pretty excited to be back in the UK (aside from the shit storm that is brexit, the government and terrorist attacks). I’m excited to be able to hang out with my friends, see the rest of my family more, be able to visit Europe easily (love ya long time EU). I’m excited for a British Summer, to start working, to be living with the boy, to be figuring out what I want to do with this life of mine (a fairly constant deliberation ha!).

I am ridiculously happy that I spent the last 18 months in NZ. I met some fantastic people, got to hang out with my sister ALL the time, surrounded myself in the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen and cheesy but true…I think I learnt heaps about myself (like the word heaps has crept into my vocabulary). NZ you were a total babe to me and I will be back.

But now…HELLO LONDON.

HAERE RA AOTEAROA

UHM IS BLOOD THICKER THAN WATER? 

I have never really had a good relationship with my older brother. I remember feeling disliked by him when we were kids, although also can’t remember any specific interactions we had. As we got older our relationship seemed to improve until maybe three years ago when we had the mother of all fights about something that didn’t need to culminate in the mother of all fights. We are similar in many ways, but we have very different views on life.

I haven’t spoken to him for a good six months since I last saw him when I popped home for Christmas. The night before I left the UK the first time he told me to fuck off and I didn’t actually get to say good bye. He didn’t wish me a happy birthday this year, which sounds small and pathetic but it would have been kind. 

I’m writing about this because I learnt yesterday that my brother has expressed a hatred for me and is ‘not looking forward to me returning to the UK’.

Ouch.

This news has done wonders in making me feel like a TERRIBLE human being.

I also can’t help thinking how did we get here? 

Someone once told me they thought I was great because I give no fucks. But the thing is, I’m great at appearing to give no fucks (NB. sometimes I genuinely do give no fucks). However this time I do give a fuck, in fact I give lots of fucks. 

 This is my brother.

 I may not like the guy all the time or agree with everything he says but I do love him.

 I have no answers on how to fix this. Or if it even can be fixed. What I do know is that it feels pretty shit and ya know if you were thinking ‘hey I want to get in to a family feud’, I’d say don’t. It hurts. 

 

UHM IS BLOOD THICKER THAN WATER? 

THE VASELINE QUEEN HAS RENOUNCED HER THRONE. 

Recently I discovered I have an addiction. My close amigas have probably known for eight years or so. My family know. My boyfriend knew pretty early on. It would appear that I was the last to know.
It’s not an addiction that has caused me, or anyone else any harm. It’s not an addiction that interferes with my job or life. it hasn’t drained my money. Lost me friends. Prevented me from leading some kind of normal life. However it is something that can make me feel kind of anxious and uncomfortable when I don’t have it and big relief when I do. 

Are you ready to know? 

LIP BALM. 
I am a lip balm addict. 

I was in denial when the bf mentioned it. But then I classically did a wee bit of googling and discovered there’s a whole website dedicated to helping people with lip balm addiction. 

It even has a self-assessment quiz with about 30 questions and states that if you answered YES to one or more of these questions, you probably have a problem. 

Do you use whatever lip balm you have almost continuously until the supply is exhausted? HELLS YEAH

Do you have an obsession to get lip balm when you don’t have it? MAAAAAAYBE 

When you start using are you more in a hurry to get the first hit than you used to be? HANG ON. ARE WE TALKING ABOUT LIP BALM OR HEROIN HERE? (My answer is no to both by the way)

Can you apply lip balm with one hand? WHO NEEDS TWO HANDS TO APPLY IT? LIKE ONE HAND PER LIP? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

The lip balm addiction website also has a list of twelve steps (like the AA, right?) to giving up lip balm. They get very into talking about God quickly so I have a feeling the lip balm addiction website is actually a front for a cult (I think everything is a cult though). 

 I used to swim a lot and the chlorine did wonders for drying my entire body out – so maybe that’s when I started using lip balm excessively.  Vaseline was for many years my favoured lip balm (I thought the tins were cute). I don’t have heaps of memories from school but I do remember my friends hiding my Vaseline from me once and feeling quite distraught about it. (It’s okay guys, I forgave you within a nanosecond).

Until a few weeks ago, putting lip balm on was the first thing I did in the morning, after I’d brushed my teeth, multiple times throughout the day, and the last thing I did before going to sleep. With gentle encouragement from the boy and very stubborn blood running through my veins, I decided to cut down to using it twice a day. Shit, I do sound like an addict. 

The first day my lips felt super dry and cracked, like elongated raisins. This was totally my brain playing tricks because when I felt them they actually felt kind of soft and were not cracked at all. I spent the day licking my lips often, looking quite insane. I also thought about my lips for the entire day (what a waste of thoughts!!). But after a few days I wasn’t thinking about it all the time and I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable.

This is good because before I cut down I went for breakfast with bae and his friend and I used lip balm (paw paw magical ointment is lip balm of choice these days) about four times during breakfast. I felt really self conscious every time I got it out of my bag to use and that was the point I realised maybe I did have a small kind of trivial addiction to it. NOBDOY NEEDS THAT MUCH LIP BALM.  

 I’m freeing myself of the need to constantly slather my lips (and my philtrum and my chin – I’m messy) with lip balm. 

It feels bad. But also good. 
It’s the little things. 

NB. Since I wrote this, usage is down to 0-1 times a day. Boom. AND I haven’t become part of a cult. 

THE VASELINE QUEEN HAS RENOUNCED HER THRONE. 

NAMASTE.

Have you ever tried Bikram yoga? It’s a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises done in 40 degree celsius heat for 90 minutes. Sounds kind of like hell, no?

It totally feels like hell when you enter that carpeted, pungent, humid room for the first time. The teacher gently says you’re not allowed to leave the room. You panic look at your water bottle wondering if you have enough. You can’t decide if you need a wee. You hope you don’t fart. All the while breathing in and out through your nose only. No talking. Lights on.

When you finish the class and realise that you didn’t pass out or fart or die, you feel actually amazing. Like all those endorphins in your body are having a party. You feel as zen as this fox. Zen is the word I’ve used from the beginning and I’m sticking with it. Personally I felt kind of impressed with myself that I’d done the whole thing, good from stretching my muscles and I left wondering when I could go back and do it again. After about three classes I realised it was something I wanted in my life regularly.

I’ve never felt like a yogi. Partly because I felt I wasn’t flexible enough. Spiritual enough. Relaxed enough. I’m not a fan of ‘Oms’. I feel silly and don’t get any kind of release from it. I did a yoga class in Goa where the teacher told us we were bananas. Be a banana. And all I could think was…I’m not a fucking banana and what am I doing with my life.

Bikram is kind of perfect for me. The postures in each class are exactly the same every time.  What changes is how I feel. Most of the time I have a good class, sometimes a great-I’m-on-top-of-the-world class. There are times when I think the teacher is trying to personally torture me. Regardless of how I feel in the class, I pretty much always leave feeling energised and good. And sweaty. Always sweaty. It’s so hot in the room that you have to focus on your breathing, which in turn calms your mind and body and pushes away any thoughts of ‘get me out of this hell hole’. In fact, on a good day I don’t think about anything. The teachers often say it’s ‘moving meditation’ and they are so so right.

I’ve been going for over a year now – anything from once to four times a week. I’m slowly making progress in the postures. I’ve gone from being not at all flexible to a bit flexible. I can work with that! Plus, I can finally touch my toes without too much effort. Huzzah! The physical effects of regular practice are pretty cool. My posture has improved. My skin has improved (all that pore-opening sweating is working wonders). My body is getting more toned. But do you want to know the best thing I’ve noticed about it? My patience for people and life has increased enormously. I have this sense of calm about my life and the fact that I’m not quite sure what I want to be doing that I used to find totally overwhelming. I’m coping with stress at work much better. I think I communicate better with people. I’m kinder to myself and others. I appreciate this body of mine a hell of a lot more than I ever have. I feel like I could go on and on about how good finding this yoga has been for me. And maybe in a parallel life I’d be swimming or running or tennis-ing – you have to find what you like doing, look after your body and keep it active.

The other thing about yoga is that you have to practice kind of regularly for a long time to really see benefits. You can’t just go to one class and be disappointed that you can’t fold your body perfectly in half. Or that you don’t feel less stressed. Or if whatever you’re trying to achieve doesn’t happen instantaneously. It takes time. But it’s so worth it. The great thing too is that there are so many different types of yoga that you can try a few to see what you like. If being a banana works for you, go be a banana.

Namaste, lovely humans.

 

 

NAMASTE.

MY BREAK UP WITH MAKEUP.

Sorrynotsorry for the title of this! It tickled me and I’m the queen of making myself laugh.  So I wanted to write this post because I wore mascara today for the first time in ages (what a crazy radical thing to do I hear you whisper) and it occurred to me that I hadn’t worn a full face of makeup for several months. Rewind two years and I was wearing pretty much a full face of makeup everyday.

Almost every woman I know wears makeup or has worn makeup. My aunts signature style is red lipstick and she rocks it. My grandma frames her lovely blue eyes in mascara. My sister is a whizz with bronzer. They are all very beautiful. I think I was about 13 when I started lining my eyes with dark kohl. I have no idea where I sought my guidance for the eyeliner from – and I wish I was home and could share some pretty terrible pictures of my teenage years!!

Not long after using kohl I delved into concealer, foundation, powder, liquid eyeliner and mascara. In my late teens I discovered bronzer, lipstick and eyebrow pencils. It was normal for me to (as I’m sure it is to many people) to wear it errrry single day. I thought my face was unattractive without makeup. My eyes seemed too tiny. My skin pale and blotchy and spotty. It’s kinda sad that I spent a few years hating on myself so much. When I wasn’t wearing makeup I was often told I looked unwell or very pale by the kinds of people who probably have good intentions but should perhaps NEVER speak.

Having no real guidance on applying the stuff,  I taught myself the ropes. I never really got my head around all the brushes and applicators, the ‘right’ shade of foundation (thank you No7 for that colour match thing you do) or what to do with blusher (where do you put it? How much is too much?). I can do some pretty mean flicks with liquid eyeliner and apply almost flawless red lipstick (haven’t quite nailed not getting at least a dot of it on my teeth though). I remember concealer actually making spots look clumpy and dry and shit, my face being a slightly different shade to the rest of my body and mascara clumping my eyelashes together. I also can fondly remember a phase when I wore green eyeliner everyday.

I stopped wearing makeup when I did some travelling in India, not because I discovered myself, but because it was perhaps the sweatiest I have ever been in my entire life.  It was waaaaay too hot to wear makeup, it literally would have slid off my face. I was also starting the ‘no poo’ method on my hair and was trying to move away from using too much shit on my body. I did think my face was kind of icky at first but over the month I got used to seeing myself without makeup on. I realised my face wasn’t half as bad as I’d led myself to believe (the beauty industry can definitely take a large share of the blame here, buttheads). My eyes actually weren’t tiny pin pricks in my face, my skin wasn’t that uneven and actually if I didn’t eat heaps of shit and drank heaps of water I didn’t get spotty. Who’da thunk it.  The next time I put full makeup on I thought my face looked weird! I’d gone full circle in just a month.

I’ve found it personally liberating to not have that need to wear makeup everyday. It might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a small rebellion against the beauty industry’s desire for us to all look the same and ‘perfect’. I still like wearing it occasionally but have managed to minimalise the amount of products I have to a select few. I find the advertising of products kind of gross, more so now. The message that the beauty industry puts out there is that makeup (amongst a zillion other things) makes us attractive as women and we NEED it. Which is old and boring.

Gone are the days when I disliked my face so much I felt I need to cover it in makeup to make myself feel better about it. That reason for wearing makeup didn’t come from a good, positive place. Now when I wear it it’s because I’m going out and I want to feel jazzy. Or it’s Thursday and I just feel like wearing some mascara.

 

 

MY BREAK UP WITH MAKEUP.

GLOWORM MILKY WAY. 

This is a short appreciation post for gloworms. 

Gloworms are really cool. They hang on in the insides of damp caves full of stalactites (the hangy down ones) and stalagmites (the pokey up ones) – which are also really beautiful. They have little lights to attract their prey & the brighter the light the hungrier the worm. 

In some caves where lots of glowroms are hanging out, they actually look like the Milky Way and I think it’s definitely something you have to see for yourself if you can…I don’t have a camera good enough to capture it. Also, I’m not convinced I’d be able to capture the feeling! 

I’m the kind of person who never really gets bored of staring at something so beautiful in nature. I get a lot of happiness from little things like this and I’m glad about that. 

GLOWORM MILKY WAY. 

BEHOLD THE MOONCUP.

My love affair with the Mooncup started about 4 years ago and my love remains strong to this day.  For those who don’t know what it is…it’s a medical-grade silicone menstrual cup and an alternative to disposable tampons and sanitary pads. Menstrual cups that look like the ones used today were the invention of Leona Chalmers an American woman, who patented the latex rubber menstrual cup in 1937 . The first medical grade silicone menstrual cup, the Mooncup, was invented in 2002 by a British woman called Su, and is what I use.

So what made me want to start catching my blood in a little cup?

Well firstly, I HATE sanitary pads and hate is not a word I use lightly. I remember my first ever period, I was 13 years old, it was a school day and my mum gave me some pads to wear. I sat next to a boy in my maths class convinced that he KNEW I was on my period, that he could smell it, he could see the giant sanitary pad through all of my school uniform and he could even hear it (I have been accused of being an over-thinker and dramatic, I’ll take it). 13 year old me thought, NEVER AGAIN.

I quickly moved on to using tampons. At the time I was part of a swim club and training 5 or 6 times a week and didn’t plan on letting my period get in the way of things. My mum had tried to convince me that the water would stop my period and no-one would know. I was not prepared to test this theory poolside and risk a horror story. I chose the less risky option of having a tampon string poking out of my costume. Tampons and I had a good few years together and I never cast a thought to what they were actually made of (there’s stuff in them you don’t want in your body), where they went once binned (nowhere good) or that they were taxed as a luxury item by the UK government (damn the patriarchy).

I had no periods for almost four years (hallelujah) due to the contraceptive implant, which meant buying no sanitary products. When I stopped using the implant and my periods came back I started using tampons again and was super unimpressed with them. They were kind of awful – uncomfortable and expensive. I also became more aware of their environmental impact. This all led me to the Mooncup, which costs a one-off £19.99 and lasts for years (I should probably be a sales rep for them).

Tampons and pads are largely single use and disposable. Where do they all go after you pop them in those sanitary bins? My sister’s fear is that there are dolphins swimming the sea with tampons stuck in their blow holes. She’s probably not entirely wrong –  in Bali after a storm I was surrounded in the sea by pretty much everything disposable you can think of – sanitary towels, nappies, plastic bags, tampons, that fucking dead chicken which will probably keep coming up). It was a real shock to the system to see all this rubbish floating in the sea. The stuff that ends up in landfill will take years and years and years to breakdown. Like I will have died before those tampons I used in my teenage years have broken down. That is kind of hideous when you think of how many women there are in the world who have periods and who use disposable sanitary products.

The geek in me loves the Mooncup because it has a little measure on the side, so if you feel like it you can measure the volume to ml. This means that when it feels like I am having the life force sucked out of me , I know that really I lose a very average amount of blood during my period and I’m totally fine. I’ve had accidents with it where I’ve removed it and dropped it and covered a bathroom floor with blood. If any poor soul were ever to witness this screams of MUUUURDER would probably follow.  It also sometimes makes a weird squelchy sound when the suction is released as you remove it, which can be a teeny bit embarrasing in public loos for self-conscious dweebs like me. Aside from all that, I can never feel it when it’s in and it is way more comfortable for me than anything disposable I’ve ever used.

I can’t write about this without acknowledging that I live in a country where access to menstrual products of any kind is easy and that this in itself is a privilege. Period privilege. I have never been in the situation where I couldn’t afford to buy sanitary products. We need to ensure that globally women have access to any type of sanitary products they choose to use, because at the moment that isn’t the case. There are some companies, like Lunapad, who donate reusable sanitary products to women in Uganda when one of their own products is bought, which is great. I’m sure there are other schemes like this that I don’t know about yet! In my utopian menstrual world there would be reusable products easily available for all women, I’d like them to be talked about at school as way of both normalising periods AND getting people to think about their individual impact on the environment. The topic of period privilege needs to be a whole other blog post and I hope I don’t sound like a dick.

Periods are here to stay and I think people who can should start looking at what sanitary products they’re using and the impact this is having on the environment. The world is ours to look after and us humans are not doing an excellent job at the moment. This post isn’t intended to be having a go at women who choose to use disposable products.You have to make the choice that works for you, but it would be great if that was an informed choice. Some people don’t even know they have other options and the companies that make disposable sanitary products would like to keep it that way so they can keep making money. Start the conversation with the girls and the women in your life and be informed about what you’re putting in your body and the impact it has on the planet.

 

 

 

BEHOLD THE MOONCUP.