Monthly Archives: October 2014

Review – Pop Bands London

October 18, 2014

I am a sucker for any new beauty gimmick, particularly the hair kind.  The latest funky delivering in the world of hair ties is the ‘Popband’. The Popband is a new generation hair tie, or ‘bobble’ as we like to call them. The idea behind them is that they do not leave a kink or crease in the hair, when used to tie the hair up. This is thanks to the hi-tech stretchy fabric. But the best bit for me is that they are so cool to look at, they look fab on the wrist as an accessory.

kate joc holiday

I am always wearing a hair tie on my wrist in case of ’emergencies’. So to have something that is functional and looks really cool too is always a winner in my book. I ordered mine from Amazon who have a huge selection from plain blacks and browns, to red polka dots and gold embellishment.

kate joc holiday1                                               kate joc holiday2

 

The packaging is spot on too. They arrive in a cute neon pink padded envelope and inside you find your treasures. You can buy single Popband’s that have a gem or charm attached. Or you can buy a pack of 5 in your choice of colour or pattern. That’s what I opted for.  I’ve been using them for months now and they get a big thumbs up from me. No kinks, no tangles just cool ponytails and even better wristbands. Order yours here

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Huge hugs, K x

 

 

 

Love yourself unconditionally

October 12, 2014

 

IOS 2013-oct2014 771

 

LOVE yourself. Every single part of you. Warts and all. In order to heal mentally and physically you have to give yourself a break. Every pain, mistake, opinion of yourself that is negative, MUST go!

How can anyone love another if that person doesn’t see their own worth? You cannot expect good healthy relations with another who tries to love you, if you don’t love yourself first.

God made us unique. No one ever has been or ever will be the same as you. You are a special individual created just to be you, even with all your perceived flaws. No matter whether you think your flaws are physical or emotional, please believe that all those flaws add up to make you. They are the very things that make you beautiful, special and loveable.

Loving yourself unconditionally is the first step to healing. Forget all that has gone, all that has been. Just be glad to be you. Tell yourself on a daily basis how amazing you are. If you can, try thinking of all the good things about yourself, all the things that you are proud of. Write them down so you can refer back to them when you need it. This could be pretty blue eyes, and lovely smile, a kind heart or giving of yourself to others. It might be difficult at first to make the list. You are changing your thinking and its likely you have spent years saying only negative things to yourself, but with daily practice, you will learn that there is always more to love than there is to not love.

Every person has something about themselves that they may dislike or want to change. That is pretty normal. But we are talking here about a deep love in your core. Look inside and remind yourself of the wonder you bring to this world and those around you. I’m sure if you asked your best friends to describe you, they would come up with plenty of reasons as to why they love you. You must love you too.

You can do it! I’m still trying too. I work on it constantly but its gradually getting better and I am noticing differences in my thinking and certainly in my confidence. I worry less what others think. This has given me freedom and a realisation that my life is better for the good I think of myself.

Good luck. Huge Hugs K xxx

 

FIBROMYALGIA// From social butterfly to the meditation pillow.

October 10, 2014

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (fibro)  in 2012. Prior to this life was full. Full to the brim. Even though I had suffered depression and anxiety since 1995, it had never held me back. Not to any great extent. Family, friends, a career, socialising, networking and travelling. I owned my own home and loved nothing more than having friends over, throwing parties, dancing at the weekends with my girls and fabulous weekends away. I travelled the world including the USA and South Africa. Then life changed.

I had had another long period of illness where anxiety had been pretty bad and my mood was just the same. For the first time I was noticing that the symptoms were affecting me physically. It felt like the depression was manifesting itself in pain and chronic fatigue.

I eventually went to the Dr and explained the physical symptoms I was suffering. My blood work was done and they came back showing that my inflammation markers were extremely high. Way higher than was considered normal. I was referred to a rheumatology specialist. Following much investigation, the diagnosis was fibromyalgia.

Whilst I was very disappointed by this news, it was also a relief. I was beginning to think I had a constant virus and I was getting lazy! To know there was a reason for the pain and fatigue was a freeing thought. How life would change though, I could never have imagined.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that results in widespread pain and fatigue in all muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fibrous tissue builds all over the body. There is a crippling lack of energy, flu like feelings and no endurance. Mental health is affected too. Brain fog and lack of concentration are the most prevalent. Confusion, head aches, memory loss and mental fatigue are also very common. The immune system is constantly compromised so viruses and common colds can wipe you out for weeks. The list of symptoms is literally endless and new evidence comes out all the time.

Fibromyalgia has been around since biblical times. In the past it was known as muscular rheumatism and it is also now known as Fibrositis. Recent research has found it a disease of the central nervous system. It is a complex chronic illness with no known cure.
There are tons of sites on the web that explain the medical aspects of fibro. One of my favourites at the moment is Pro Health’s fibromyalgia online health centre. Check it out for full breakdowns of each symptom.

There are various schools of thought as to what causes fibromyalgia. I had been advised that it is likely due to trauma. This could be physical or emotional. I accept that 20 years of anxiety and depression may well have taken its toll on my body. It is also linked to hormone changes. I also came into this world in a traumatic manner and research has suggested that early damage to the brain can lead to mental health problems in later life. And there is a known link between the brain, the central nervous system and responses to pain. I also had acute glandular fever at age 20. Very often those who have the Epstein Barr virus, also develop fibromyalgia.

Since diagnosis, I will be honest, the fibromyalgia has gradually got worse with every passing month. Even though I generally take good care of myself these days and I am much better at saying no to the demands of every day life, it is not enough.

I decided to finish employment due to ill health, in January 2014. It was the best decision I ever made. I had no idea at the time that the condition would become so disabling. So with the freedom of not having to work the stresses of the 9-5, I am able to pace my life. To take enjoyment from small things and care for myself.

My doctors and family have supported me and without them I would not have been able to make the changes to my life. I am single and I don’t have a family of my own. This means that I can focus only on my health without the added pressure of looking after a family. And whilst there is a small part of me that wonders what life would have been like with a family, the greater part of me knows that physically there is just no way I would have been able to provide for them in the way I would have wanted.

As with my mental health issues, I treat the fibromyalgia exactly the same. I try anything and everything to feel good, or just a little better. I try to remain positive and always have hope! This is so important when you have been diagnosed with something like this. Its easy to become quite low with the prospect of a lifelong condition. But there is nothing to say things will always be this way. I always believe that things will get better, I take every day, I don’t plan too far ahead and most importantly I PACE myself. By making small adjustments to my life, it has made a huge difference. For example, if I  have an occasion or event to go to or get ready for then I PACE it. I Take my shower early in the morning. I Rest afterwards. Then maybe I blow dry my hair. Then rest again. Don’t get me wrong, there are many days when even this is impossible. When I can, I do. When I can’t, I don’t.

The key for me is to try to do things in small bites. Rushing around and trying to fit everything in, in a small space of time stresses me out and burns me out really quickly. My adrenal system is fatigued, so I go slowly and steadily. Such a stark difference to my old way of life where days flew by and I lived at 100 miles per hour.

If I do try to attend a social occasion occasionally,  then I also expect some pay back the next day. I always need time to recover. This will usually be days, sometimes weeks.

Its so hard to make plans though. I do still try, but when you live with conditions like these, no two days are the same. Whether I am battling chronic pain or chronic fatigue, or I am disabled by anxiety, its not always possible for me to meet the same demands of the social life I once had. I am always cancelling plans as I just don’t have the energy to get ready never mind socialise. At first, cancelling all the time really got me down. I had never been one to miss out. But over time I have learnt that I have to take care of myself and my needs and those closest to me understand this.

Making sure those around you know about your condition, is so important. It is real and it is happening to you. Because its inside and cant be seen its not always easy for those around you to understand the pain and distress that you’re in. Educate them if you can. Point them to online advice or books or forums.

Some approaches that I have taken have been really beneficial and improved my day to day life. I have made changes to diet.  I take magnesium and vitamin d supplements that have definitely helped. I have done a whole blog post on nutritional supplements. I also still take prescribed medication and there are several good ones that are specifically for fibromyalgia sufferers. Pain killers are also a life saver. So talk to your doctor or specialist.

Having supportive family and friends makes life much easier. Those that have stayed with me through this journey, understand the condition and my limitations and will do anything to support me. At one time in my life, my friend circle was huge. I was a social butterfly and life was filled to the max. Today my life and my social circle is much smaller. Sometimes when you suffer chronic illness, not everyone will understand. The illness is invisible and therefore people will not always understand what you are going through. That’s ok. This is your journey. Be grateful for those that support you, and worry less for those that don’t. Join forums and support groups to get comfort from those that understand your pain and what you are going through.

These days my life is very quiet. This social butterfly takes pleasure in the smallest of things; playing with my niece, curling up with a good book, a trip to the supermarket, cups of tea, online shopping, taking a short walk, meditation, writing. Writing is my everything now.

So whilst to the outsider it may seem that life is nothing compared to what it was, I am very happy for the most part. In most respects I am happier than I have ever been. Having a chronic illness has meant that I have spent a lot of time with myself. I have learned to love myself and honour what my body now needs. Living with constant pain and no energy is exhausting in itself and is a full time job. So taking care of yourself and being your own best friend and advocate is the most important thing.

Having said all that I keep trying. If there is something, anything, that may make my life easier then I try it. It’s hard trying all the time, particularly when your new approach does nothing. There are still plenty of days that I lie in my bed and think ‘Why is all this happening to me?’ but I don’t stay in that place too long. Its natural to feel sorry for yourself occasionally and you should definitely do it, have a rant and a cry and meltdown. Then get up and fight on in your small way.

There is certainly a period where you have to grieve for the life you had and the life you thought you would have. Thats normal. I would imagine you did not expect it to come to this. I didn’t. Take the time to grieve, you’re entitled to that. Then when you feel some strength again, change your focus. Think of your strengths, think about what you love to do, and find ways to bring joy into your life, even in the smallest of ways. I truly believe that by being grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have, changes the chemistry of your soul and you immediately feel better.

In my opinion, anyone living with chronic illness is a warrior, social butterfly or not. Fight on my loves,

Onwards, Kiki xox

” You are smart, you are kind, you are beautiful and you are important.”

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For more advice:

Depression & Anxiety

Well-being techniques

Fibromyalgia

 

Who’s that pretty face? – My journey with self esteem

October 10, 2014

Kate about me 2

 

 

So lets start at the beginning. I wasn’t always this pretty face that you see in this picture. In fact I was quite the opposite.

 

 

 

 

I had fuzzy curly unruly hair that did its own thing. I was 5 ft 10 when every girl around me was5 ft 2. I was a ‘big’ girl’. But to be honest with you none of that bothered me. I kind of knew my place. I excelled at academics, I was funny, I was great at sport and had lots of friends. So not being a beauty in those days was, although noticeable, it was not my priority.

Kate high school final

I always loved style and dressed to the latest fashions. I was popular among my peers, but nobody ever wanted to date me. My strengths had always been based on my personality and brains. In my heart I can honestly say that I was never the girl dreaming of a white wedding and children. I was surrounded by children as the eldest of 11 cousins. Kids were aplenty. I came from a wonderful family background, raised as a catholic and had my mum, dad and little sis. Four wonderful grandparents who doted on me and a very large extended family. So this was all the family I needed (It remains so too.) So my dreams were always focused on me becoming a respected, effective and strong business woman.

I graduated high school with great results and moved on to sixth form college to study A Levels. At this point I was around 17.

Kate 17 jb final

Life was good. Friends, parties and boys had started to notice a difference in me that I hadn’t noticed myself. I applied for university in Southampton to study business. In the summer of 1993 having got good results at A Level I went on girls holiday. On the second day in I called home to check all was ok. To my complete disbelief my paternal nan had died. This changed my future forever.

I was left heartbroken. And as you know from my post, Where have I gone? Life changed in every aspect after this.

But we are talking about self esteem here. At 19 I had my first boyfriend. He pursued me quite intently and at the time I had no idea why? I was not used to this type of attention. I was no beauty. Looking back at the photos now, I can see why.

Kate age 21 final

We started dating, and looking  back he was a very good man and I will always be grateful that he was my ‘First’. Our relationship was great overall but we struggled when my mental health problems started. We lasted 3 years and during that time my confidence in the way I looked had improved.  However, wen I started taking the anti depressant medication I ballooned in weight. I gained 3 stone in 9 months. I didn’t care about anything else other than feeling so well again. Plus I was in a loving relationship I just didn’t notice.  But my boyfriend did. And so did his friends. Soon the taunts and jibes about my weight started. Still, I remained strong of character and it didn’t effect me. Then finally when our relationship was coming to an end due to countless arguments, I took a look in the mirror. It was like I was seeing myself for the first time and I thought ‘Oh my goodness, you are fat!’ This had an immediate effect on me. I immediately felt ashamed. I immediately thought, ‘Well no wonder he doesn’t find me attractive any more’. From this point on, and still somewhat to this day, I associated being loved with the size of my waistline.

What’s ridiculous about this is that this is completely untrue. I have known and still know so many beautiful women with a fuller and curvier figure who have had success in life and love. So why then does this thought still taunt me occasionally? Why am I afraid to show my face without makeup? Everyone around me tells me I’m beautiful with or without it and no matter how large or small I am.

It maybe because I remain single? It maybe because of the countless other relationships over the years that didn’t end up working out. It might be because I have a ‘brainlock’ on this issue. I have lost and gained weight so many times over the years and I know exactly what works and what doesn’t. The problem is that when you are dealing with numerous health issues, turning to food for comfort is sometimes inevitable.

I’m here writing this post from a much better and healthier perspective today. I have worked hard to LOVE myself. I already loved the person on the inside, it was just the outside that was giving me problems. I no longer am afraid to look in the mirror. In fact I now use an affirmation where I look in the mirror and say ‘I Love You!’. This was so very hard at first when I had spent years saying some pretty awful things to myself. I remember reading a Trinny and Susannah book, back in the day: ‘What not to wear’. They had the opinion that too many of today’s women do not appreciate themselves just the way they are. Everyone always wants what they cant have. It seems that us ladies say some pretty awful things to ourselves – things we would never dream of saying to a friend or loved one – so why is it ok to put ourselves down in this way?

 

IOS 2013-oct2014 105

I urge you to start looking in the mirror and saying ‘I Love You’ and to keep checking your internal dialogue. Some of the most beautiful and confident women I know are beautiful because their good heart shines through their eyes. Some of the ugliest people I know, are actually quite beautiful on the outside, but the inside is not worth knowing. So please, and I promise to continue to do this with you, be kind to yourself. Love yourself, no matter what the outside shows. Be grateful for all you have instead of always wanting something else. Don’t be so cruel to yourself. You are one of God’s perfect and unique creations, and we need you just as you are. You can achieve anything you put your mind to, just believe in you! I Do!

Good Luck. Huge hugs from me to you K xxxx

 

DEPRESSION// What do I do if I think I’m depressed?

October 7, 2014

Depression is something that can be controlled and you can reach a place of recovery and peace again. Understand that depression is the same as any other health condition. Just because its happening in the mind does not make it any different to a condition of diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure. Each condition needs special medical attention. Depression is the same and your brain is an equally important part of your body. Try not to be afraid. Try not to fight it. It will get better but it might mean some changes for you.

Important

If you are having suicidal thoughts you need to seek help immediately. Understand that if you are having these thoughts then it is generally an indication that your depression is worsening. Visit your GP as soon as you can and tell them exactly what you are thinking. This will help your doctor to give you the help that you need.

Please remember that however bad you are feeling, when you seek help you are one day closer to freedom from these thoughts and feelings. Suicidal thoughts are a very common symptom of clinical depression. As the depression gets better, so too do the thoughts. Please talk to someone. Mind can help and if things are really bad then talk to The Samaritans. They are also trained and equipped to help you.

Here are my steps for getting you feeling well again and on the road to recovery:

Talk to someone

You will probably feel very scared and very alone right now. But if you can, talk to your family and friends about how you are feeling. You may be surprised to learn that they have had similar feelings in the past. If you can’t talk to them or you do not get a supportive reaction, then think about talking to Mind. They are a mental health charity who specialise in making sure that anyone who suffers mental health, does not suffer alone.

Speaking with someone who understands is probably THE most important thing you can do in the early days. You are not alone. There are literally millions of people worldwide feeling exactly as you do. Being told by anyone, to ‘pull yourself together’ is both ridiculous and unsympathetic and shows a complete lack of understanding. If you could pull yourself together, then believe me, you would have done it by now. I know.

Seek Medical Help

Next stop is to visit your local GP. They are equipped with a basic understanding of all mental health issues. Your practice may even have a GP who specialises in mental health. If so, make sure you make an appointment with them. Be open with your doctor about exactly what is happening to you both mentally and physically. The more you can describe your thoughts and feelings, the better chance of an appropriate diagnosis. And don’t be afraid of this. Whatever the diagnosis is, you will be given the right support to get through it.

If medication is suggested then seriously consider it. In the short term it might bring you welcomed relief. Enough relief to start making inroads into getting well and staying well in the future.It doesn’t mean that you will always take medication. It just calms the mind and body, bringing you emotional strength again, so you can get the help you need long-term.

If the depression is anxious depression then you might find it hard to concentrate, to sit still, to sleep or eat. You cannot carry on for any length of time like this. That’s why its so important to get medical help.

Educate yourself.

Once you have sought out the medical help and have a basic understanding of what condition you are dealing with, in time you can start to become more proactive about managing your condition and staying well in the future. Read books, online advice, join forums. Educate yourself with anything and everything that teaches you about your condition.

Therapies

Seek counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychiatry, alternative therapies. Take advice on exercise and nutrition. My advice is try anything that is offered to you.  Anything is worth a try to give you a break from the awful place you find yourself. I have tried all these therapies at some point in my journey and each has given me something different; a different tool to use in this fight for freedom from horrible thoughts and finding a sense of peace again. I will talk about my experience of each one in later posts.

I personally had quick and lasting benefits from prescribed mediation and I still do. But I accept that this is not for everyone. So consider the other therapies. Vitamins and minerals also had an excellent affect on my general well-being and mental health. Read my blog post on Diet & Nutrition.

Be kind to yourself.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself! In all likelihood you are mentally and physically exhausted. I am sure you have been in a battle with yourself and your mind for some time. Understand that you are not responsible for the way you feel. Do not blame yourself. Be kind to yourself and offer yourself the love and kindness that you so desperately need. Rest if you can. Take time out from every day stress if you can. Get loved ones or those you trust to help you.

Employment.

If you work and are struggling to get through, speak with HR. In today’s world, although there is still some stigma attached to mental health issues, most good employers will accept your condition and work with you. Legally they have to make reasonable adjustments for you if you are suffering from depression or any other mental health condition.

Move

Go for a walk if you can. Stepping outside may be scary at first if you have been at home a while. So maybe get a loved on to go with you.

Breathe.

Breathing has so many incredible benefits. It is key to well-being and should be something you focus on. Take a look at my blog post on breathing.

Have patience.

Recovering from depression is not a quick process. Recovery takes time. If you need medication you may have to wait several weeks to notice any improvements. The same with talking therapies and any changes to diet and nutrition. The key is to have patience. Know that depression is a real illness. Acknowledge how you are feeling but then remind yourself that it is the illness making you feel this way, and things will get better. Take it slow. Try to allow yourself the time to heal.

I still check in with myself on a regular basis and I’m extremely proactive in doing anything that gives me strength and most importantly peace in my mind. This has taken many years of practice. Your journey may be different, but whichever road you take, being well, being yourself again, is guaranteed with the right choice of approach.

Onwards my loves, Kiki x

Haul – Charlotte Tilbury Treats

October 6, 2014

 

ct group 1

I have been watching from the sidelines as Charlotte Tilbury’s new make-up range has catapulted into the world of premier make-up.  Charlotte is a world reknowned makeup artist with over 20 yrs experience working with the likes of Kate Moss, Penelope Cruz, Cara Deleveigne and Liberty Ross.  So with all these years of experience and success at the top, Charlotte’s make-up range surely has to be among the best in the world, right?

Charlotte has created, among other things, 10 faultless looks. Depending on the look, the occasion and the type of colouring, you get to pick from any one of 10 amazing looks.

Having done my homework and with naturally fair skin, freckles and bluey/green eyes I opted for the ‘Dolce Vita’ look and purchased the Dolce Vita palette. This palette as with all of Charlotte’s eye shadow palettes, has a complete look. The prime, the enhance, the pop and the smoke.

dolce vita open 1dolce vita closed

I have been using the palette daily for a coppery, smokeyish daytime eye. I will report back again fully in a few weeks, but I have already had numerous comments from family and friends about how my eyes are so bright and the colour of my eyes is really strong. Only one thing has changed in my daily make-up routine and that is Charlotte Tilbury’s Dolce Vita palette!

dolce vita full view

Also in the haul are the coveted Rock n Kohl eye pencils in Barbarella Brown and Bedroom Black. Lets face it, everyone loves a good long lasting kohl and these pencils already have a reputation of soft, smudgeable goodness that last all day and all night. I am excited to try. I’m going to test the Barbarella Brown for the daytime and the Bedroom Black for the evening looks.

CT lip and kohl 2

lipstick lipliner

When it comes to lips, Charlotte has really thought everything through. From the Lipcheat lip liner designed to fake the fuller lip, to the K.I.S.S.I.N.G. and Matte Revolution lipsticks and the Lustre Lip Laquer’s. All wonderfully and aptly named with a nod to beauty icons of the past and current day. So of course I had to try all three. I’ve purchased the lip cheat in ‘Iconic Nude’, the Matte Revolution lipstick in ‘Very Victoria’ and the Lip Lustre in ‘Sweet Stiletto’.

Keep your eyes peeled for a review soon. Hugs K xx