Self Care Sunday 14th January

How is it already the end of the second week of January. Last Monday I went back to work after just over two weeks off. I struggled to get out of bed and I really didn’t feel ready to face a new term at School. My brain didn’t really function properly and it felt very strange to be back in work clothes and heels. After what felt like I very long day on Monday all I wanted to do was crawl into bed with my hot water bottle and a cup of tea. I have to admit to feeling a little low and had not planned any self-care activity for the evening. But my mood was lifted when I walked through the front door after work and found January’s Birchbox had arrived. It was just what I needed.

I have only been receiving the monthly beauty box since November when I received a one Year subscription for my birthday. I am trying to make the effort to use the products as part of my self-care routine and to give myself a little treat with new products that I would not normally purchase myself.

I opened the pretty flamingo box after my shower and immediately used the Restorative Night Cream. My skin is not looking great at the moment, too much sugar and alcohol over Christmas combined with late nights and a cold/sinus infection has left it looking very red, dry and dull. It says it is the ideal boost for tired skin, so it is a treat rather than one I would use every day. But I tried it every day this week. I’m not sure if it made a difference. My skin did feel a little more hydrated but I had a break-out of spots which could be due to the cream. I am going to keep using it for another week to see if the condition of my skin improves.

On Wednesday I tried some of the new make up that was in this box and last months box. I always wear the same make up because it is just quick and easy in the mornings to just go with what I know works. I don’t have time to test out new products or shades and then risk having to either go to work unhappy with how I look or having to remove make up and start again. But this time I decided to spend a little extra time on my make up and try something new. I was really pleased with the result and I had several comments about my new look at work.

To create this new look I first used the Lord & Berry Blusher Pencil. I received the peach shade and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t normally wear a blusher because a) I always feel I look a little like Aunt Sally and b) I’m too lazy. This blusher is very easy to use. It blended into my skin well and it left my cheeks with am subtle rosy glow, which I really loved. It made me look a little healthier. I may now be a blusher convert.

Next I used the Marcelle Charcoal eyeliner. Most days I wear a Navy eyeliner as it works well with the colour of my eyes. I tend to wear black eyeliner on a night out but it can be a little harsh on me. So I figured that the charcoal may be somewhere in between. I can’t describe how much I loved this eyeliner. It gave a smokey look to my eyes and made them look really different. I will definitely be using this again.

Finally I used the Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm. I opted for the nude colour and it was actually a little more tinted than I expected. This was ok but I would have preferred no tint. I would still use this product though as it really moisturised my lips which are incredibly dry at the moment.

Whilst I was in the beauty treat mood this week I also used a couple of items from previous months Birchboxes. Tuesday was the turn of the Kebelo Clarifying Shampoo. This is meant to be used as a monthly treat to cleanse and rejuvenate hair. My hair re-colour is due in a couple of weeks and it is about this time that my hair starts to feel dry and look really dull. Immediately after using the clarifying shampoo my hair actually felt squeaky clean. And I really mean that when I say squeaky. It was a very strange feeling. I don’t think my hair had ever felt so cleansed. I used my normal conditioner, which is a inexpensive one from Aldi. Later that evening when my hair had dried naturally it felt so soft and silky. I didn’t have to use any styling products or straighteners on my hair the next morning it just fell into place and was lovely and “swingy”. I couldn’t stop touching my hair all day. This shampoo really worked well on my hair and definitely gets five stars.

A couple of days later I decided to use another new hair product. Sugar Texturising Spray by Number 4 (High Performance Hair Care). My hair is very thick but fine. It never has much body and I struggle to get it to hold a style. In the past I have used Seasalt Spray to gain some texture on my layered hair, which is great for those in-between washing days. I thought the sugar Spray would be much the same. But no it was better. I put a slight curl in my hair at the front and side using my Babylis wand and then applied the spray. Usually by lunchtime any style I have done will have dropped out. But not this time, the curl and the texture remained until I got home in the evening. I loved how my hair looked. I may even buy a full sized version of this product purely because it is the first styling product that has actually worked on my hair. You can buy it here at Birchbox.

It was a hectic week at work and on Friday the husband and I decided to pop to our local pub for a couple of drinks. Unfortunately it now turns out that I am allergic to their new puppy. I woke during the night struggling to breathe with blocked sinuses. Fortunately I had my new Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser (featured on my last blog post) to hand and a morning of Eucalyptus Oil misting into the air helped clear my sinuses. By Saturday evening I was feeling much better.

If you read my post last Sunday you will know that my husband and I are using a “self-care jar” this year to make sure we spend quality time together each week. This week we randomly picked out “Movie Night”. So Saturday night comprised a takeaway, prosecco, a box of Maltesers and the movie 9/11 on Sky Cinema.

Today saw the arrival of new book. (all hail Amazon Sunday deliveries). I had been waiting for this book, Happy by Fearne Cotton, for two weeks. I ordered this to compliment The Happy Journal which I received for Christmas. So as you can imagine I am eager to start reading it. I will find the time thus evening to curl up in the sofa for an hour of reading before heading off to the bedroom to watch McMafia on the TV.

Happy by Fearne Cotton currently £3.99 at AmazonSo this week’s self-care revolved around beauty treatments and actually using those products I receive each month in my beauty box subscription. It has really helped give me a boost during my first week back at work. Next week is going to be all about Health & Fitness after a lovely surprise I received last week. All will be revealed on my Instagram account throughout the week and on the blog next Sunday.

Thank you for reading and I hope you managed to find some time for a little self-care this week.

Melanie xxxx

Self-Care Sunday No. 1

How was your first week of the New Year?

Mine was a bit of a mixed bag. Mostly good but with a couple of low points throughout the week. It may in part be a little bit of post holiday blues but luckily I didn’t have to rush back to work, as both the husband and I are not back until Monday 8th January. This is longest break from work I have had since I started my job as a School Business Manager in September 2016. It felt a little strange not going into school or working at home. I was very tempted at times to get the laptop out and get some work done but I had promised myself that I would take a proper break for once and try to relax. Something I am notoriously bad at.

It is something I really need to learn to do this year. I always keep myself busy. Too busy really. I rarely stop and just enjoy being at home or being with my husband. My health and fitness has taken a back seat this last year and I am suffering from small recurrent illnesses, particularly sinus and ear infections. Which I think is my body’s way of telling me I need to slow down and switch off. I am fully aware that I cannot keep living life at the pace I do.

So whilst I don’t set New Year Resolutions this year I am setting Intentions for 2018. The main one being to take better care of myself. Both physically and mentally. This week I have tried hard to start the year on the right track.

I am using social media to motivate myself to do something to promote my own wellbeing each day and I am using The Happy Journal by Fearne Cotton to record my year and hopefully encourage me to stay on track. Which you can purchase at Amazon for £14.99

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Last year I felt I failed at being a good wife to my amazing husband. I have to admit I took him for granted. He has never said anything and has actually been really supportive of me chasing my new career. He looks after the home and me without any complaint. But because I am always busy being busy I have not given him the time he deserves. Actually if I am honest I really have only given him my full attention once a week when we disappear to the pub, which is a bad habit I have developed as a way to relax. I have found it hard to do this at home because I end up working or busying myself around the house. The result of this bad habit is one too many drinks, an unhealthy takeaway and a late night which results in a wasted Saturday morning and abandoning trips to the gym. This is one thing I really want to stop. I have found I am not even enjoying it anymore. It has just become a weekly habit that we do without any thought. This was highlighted this week when after being at home all week and feeling a little bored, we went to the pub Thursday night. I felt awful Friday morning and can’t say I even enjoyed it. So I think that has reinforced the need to stop and find another way relax and switch off from work at home.

One idea we have come up with is doing something we enjoy together every weekend. We have written 52 things to do on slips of paper and popped them in a jar. We will pick one out every Monday and then plan to do whatever it says at some point over the weekend. This is such a simple and inexpensive thing to do and would work well for families too. We have nothing extravagant in our jar. We have selected two different coloured pieces of paper, one for Autumn/Winter and the other for Spring/Summer as the activities can then be tailored to the weather. We have included things like going for a walks in the countryside, visiting the beach, bike rides, pub lunch, movie night and the one we picked out for this weekend…. Box Set Sunday. Which will consist of an afternoon & evening of cosying up on the sofa, with sweet treats and hot chocolate, to binge watch a TV series together.

I have also been taking steps to kick start my healthy lifestyle. I have been meal planning with some great new books. I am a big fan of eating for health. It is something I have researched and done in the past when I had some health issues due to a reduced immune system. I am so glad that there are Medical Doctors now releasing healthy lifestyle and recipe books. So much better to eat this way rather than following fad diets aimed at weight loss rather than health. Check out these books and Instagram accounts.

The Food Medic Amazon £13.56 (@thefoodmedic)

The Doctors Kitchen Amazon £7.49 (@the_doctorskitchen)

Dr Chatterjee – The Four Pillar Plan Amazon £8.49 (@drchatterjee)

I also made a couple of purchases this week to help me

Savisto Fruit Infuser Water Bottle. Amazon £5.99

I always start the day with hot water and lemon and try to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. I use an app on my phone to remind me but quite often fall short, especially when I am at home. This is a much more versatile way to drink more water. I love flavoured water and there are so many options using this and you can use different fruits and herbs depending on wha you feel your body needs. I’m using cucumber at the moment. It’s refreshing and aids your body’s ability to detox.

Ultrasonic Night Lighting Aromatherapy Diffuser. Amazon £12.88

I have bought this for two reasons. One to help me learn to relax/mediated and also to help with my sinus problems. I have tested it this week using Eucalyptus Oil when my sinus infection was particularly bad and it really helped. It also has an automatic shit off so you can use at bedtime and not worry about having to switch it off before falling asleep. I also bought a starter pack of aromatherapy oils.

Essential Oil Starter Pack. Amazon £10.95

This pack contains five oils: (I am not an expert myself and the information below has been gained through research from qualified aromatherapists. Always check with your doctor before you use aromatherapy and follow the instructions for use).

Eucalyptus – Great for respiratory health and can help alleviate coughs and congestion

Geranium – Helps balance hormones, promotes emotional wellness, alleviates anxiety.

Lavender – Helps improve sleep quality and promotes better concentration

Cypress French – A very powerful Oil and care needs to be taken when using this. In a Diffuser it is good for stress relief and alleviating coughs and congestion but combin d with a carrier Oil it can be used on the body to aid muscle and joint pain and it also as an antiseptic.

Ylang Ylang – A natural antidepressant. It has a positive affect on emotional wellbeing, blood flow and immune health.

So that is the round up of my first week of self-care. Why not try and set aside a little time each Sunday to do something for yourself that makes you happy or enhances your well-being. Sundays are perfect for this as it is a nice way to end a busy week and it also sets you up for the week ahead. Post your self care pictures on Instagram using the hashtag #selfcaresunday and tag me (@wigglewhenyouwalk) in your posts.

Have a great week and thank you for reading.

Melanie xxx

2018 Intentions

After a fabulous Christmas break in the sunshine with my husband I am feeling motivated and excited about the year ahead. After a very busy 2017 which was spent mostly working I am looking forward to a more subdued year with my focus being on my home and personal life.

This year is all about SELF-CARE.

Looking after my physical and mental wellbeing and spending quality time with my husband and completing some of our house renovations.

Obviously my work is a big part of my life but now they I gave proved my worth and gained the promotion I have been working so hard for I can step back and let me new team take on more of the day to day tasks while I focus on the strategic side of my role and get a few new projects up and running. This means that I won’t have to work such long hours and will be able to create a better work-life balance.

I don’t do New Year Resolutions. I usually set myself a few goals to achieve throughout the year. This year though I am not setting goals. I am outlining my intentions for the year ahead. Intentions seem more flexible and achievable and there is nothing more demotivating than when you don’t meet so specific targets.

My intentions this year are all focussed on my own wellbeing. And cover health, fitness, happiness, contentment and my marriage. It’s about looking after myself and appreciating the people that are important to me and take care of me.

This year I have bought myself a journal. Not any old journal. The Happy Journal produced by Fearne Cotton. It is designed to help you stop and evaluate each day. To record what makes you happy and bring joy and balance into your life. I am a sucker for anything like this. It is not for everyone but for me these kind of books help me focus and help me create a routine of self-care.

Self-care covers a number of different areas. It can be anything from eating a healthy meal, having a face mask, going to the gym, getting outside in the fresh air, having an early night or spending time with loved ones or friends.

I am gong to record my year of self-care on my wellness Instagram account @wigglewhenyouwalk using the hashtag #365daysofselfcare and also will be posting various articles on my blog throughout the year.

It is not about changing who I am. None of this New Year New Me business. At 47 years old I do realise that I am never going to change who I fundamentally am. 2018 is about enhancing my best bits and appreciating what I have. By the end of 2018 I intend to be the best version of myself I can be.

In addition to self-care I am also intending to complete the renovation of at least two rooms in my house and also make a big dent in the garden renovation during the summer (which is huge project). I plan to continue to push ahead with my career but reduce the number of hours I am working so I can enjoy some time at home. I am going to continue with my lemonade lifestyle and continue with my “Shopping My Wardrobe” challenge which I created on Instagram and will be posting outfit pictures on @melanie.lemonadelifestyle. Thus also links into my self-care plan as I felt a little disillusioned with the whole fast fashion culture on social media and upset by the anxiety and self-esteem issues it causes for some people.

Ultimately I do have a future goal of being a life coach and if I can succeed at creating a more balanced life for myself this Year then next year will be the year I look at making this happen. I already have a couple of courses that I have identified to help me on my way but first I need to succeed in coaching myself.

So what are your intentions for 2018? I would love to hear what you have planned for this year. Are you planning to practice a little self-care this year. If so why don’t you join me on Instagram with #selfcaresunday a weekly promise to do something for yourself and the perfect way to end one week and set yourself up for Monday.

I will be posting a new blog each Sunday about my self-care journey if you want to check in and see how I get along.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxxx

2017 Reflections

2017 was the year of work. It was hectic and intense and for most of the year I was working 60 hours a week and spending very little time looking after myself, getting anything done at home or spending quality time with my husband.

The hard work was necessary for me to succeed in a role that I had never worked in before and to progress to a level where I would have the potential to increase my income, after taking a substantial drop in salary to start at the bottom of new career. I finally got promotion in September and a revised contract and salary package are now being negotiated. So money will not be as tight as it has been this last year.

It has not been all bad though. Having less money has made me realise that I don’t need to spend so much on material things. It made me sit up and take stock of what was really important. I also realised that I was unhappy with the buy buy buy culture of Instagram that I had got sucked into over the last couple of years. I became more aware of what was good for me and what wasn’t.

I did manage to find time for a little enjoyment and the high point was a fabulous weekend away at Summer Camp with two instagram friends.

However I wasn’t very good at practicing self-care. A pretty bad foot/ankle injury halted my fitness journey for a couple of months, coinciding with the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I finished the year feeling tired and unmotivated

I have been reflecting on 2017 with the view to making changes in 2018 and I have asked myself 15 questions about the past year:

1. If you had to describe your 2017 in three words, what would they be?

Busy. Chaotic. Challenging.

2. What or who are you most thankful for?

My husband. For supporting me in my career and taking care of me and all the household chores without complaint and allowing me to be a little selfish.

3. What new things did you discover about yourself?

That I love working with children and that I can succeed through hard work and dedication.

4. Which new skills did you learn?

Leadership. For the first time in my career I have taken on a role where I a, responsible for managing a large team and that I am an inspirational leader who motivates and empowers the people who work for me.

5. What was the best compliment you received this year?

That I good at my job and being given promotion to become a member of the Senior Leadership Team at my school.

6. What had the biggest positive impact on your life this past year?

Having to live on a smaller income forced me to re-evaluate how I spend my money and made me realise that I don’t need material things to make me happy.

7. What new habits did you cultivate?

Going to bed earlier.

8. What was your favourite moment spent with friends?

A weekend at Summer Camp with two good friends covering our faces in glitter and dancing non stop until 2am in the rave tent.

9. What experience would you love to do all over again?

Summer Camp.

10. What was the biggest problem you solved?

Dealing with staffing issues at work when restructuring the support services in the school. I was subjected to some very unpleasant behaviour by staff I had to line manage. It made me develop a thick skin very quickly.

11. What one thing would you do differently and why?

Maintain a better work life balance that would have enabled me to spend more time on my home and personal life and achieve the fitness goals I had set myself and have progressed further with our home renovations.

12. What was the best gift you received?

A Christmas holiday to Portugal paid for by my husband to give me a well deserved break and to enable us to spend some quality together.

13. What single achievement are you most proud of?

Succeeding at a job that I never thought I was capable of doing and getting a promotion and making a name for myself in School Business Management in my local area.

14. What difficulties did you encounter this past year?

Having an accident that left me with a severe ankle sprain and ligament damage to my foot which meant that I could not exercise for over 8 weeks. It left me in pain for weeks and made me very reliant on others. I felt depressed for a while and found it hard to get back on track once the injury had healed. I lost confidence and motivation.

15. How did your relationships with your family develop?

I feel that I didn’t spend enough quality time with my husband and took all the things he did for me for granted. I did not appreciate him enough. I had a tough time with the rest of my family as old unresolved issues finally came to the surface. However I did finally sit down with my Dad and discuss some things from my childhood that had left some deep rooted insecurities. Things are starting to improve and we are working at rebuilding a relationship.

It has been interesting looking back and answering these questions. It has made me realise that the year wasn’t bad but it did fly by in a blur and I only have a couple of worthwhile memories of spending time with friends and family. I did achieve an awful lot in my career in a short space of time. I didn’t realise I was ambitious or that I would ever be totally immersed in a place of work. But I have realised that working in a school is not just a job, it is a vocation and when what you do impacts on the lives of young children you give it your all to ensure that they have the best possible opportunities in life.

I am hoping to create a little more balance in 2018 and achieve as much in my personal life as I have managed in my work life.

Why don’t you have a go at answering the questions above. I would like be to hear the outcome and how 2017 was for you.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxx