I have anxiety. Easy enough for me to type/ say that now but all my life it's been something that I've had to battle with right from a very small child. I didn't 'know about anxiety' or realise I had it until my early twenties. Up until then I thought I was just... I dunno I just thought I was not good at life like everyone else was. I have also always had OCD tendencies and nervous habits/ticks. In my mid-teens I went on the pill as we thought it was my hormones, and it 'seemed' to help. But by the time I was in 6th form college (about 17yrs) it was full blown and I was hiding it from everyone which made it worse. Despite several meltdowns at school I still never 'understood' what was wrong. I knew it wasn't right as no-one else seemed to be that way but I just thought I was weird and a big scaredy cat! In fact I'm pretty sure all my family thought I was just a very nervous and odd child. I was an odd child. It's a family joke, my brother always say he doesn't know how I've turned out so well given how odd I was.

I think despite still struggling with anxiety regularly, I have turned out well, because I've been working at it so so hard, everyday. 
Every. Single. Day. 
Week after week, month after month, year after year. I could write a thousand blog posts on how I've been working on controlling, tackling, managing, coping with, preventing and healing (etc etc) my anxiety, OCD, nervous habits and everything that comes with it. But today I want to focus on the newest aspect of my life that has helped me make the biggest and best leap in my life. The one that has been the quickest, easiest and most comfortable method for me - Meditation. 
In particular a programme called MINDSPO.
I've dabbled in plenty of meditation in the past, but I never felt comfortable with it. Didn't think I 'could do it', didn't 'get it'. Now I know I just hadn't found the right programme for me. I came across MINDSPO after following the gorgeous YouTuber Rochelle Fox. As someone who struggles with anxiety etc, her channel is all about positivity and health, and being real, open and honest which I love. Not long after she started videos regularly she started talking about meditation. Talking about it in a way I connected with. No cliches, just a very modern, easy approach. First came a 5 minute video which I watched and practiced over and over again and realised the potential of meditation for me. And then Rochelle along with her partner Chris, launched MINDSPO as a full course and I signed up the day it launched. 
MINDSPO is a very modern and cool and fun and accepting course that runs over a month. You get heaps of information videos and 4 weeks of meditation guides that start you from the very beginning to progress from 5 mins to 10 mins, 15 and eventually the optimum 20 minute meditation session. Rochelle narrates and guides you through every video, from the info videos to the actual meditation sessions. Once you've bought the course, you have it for life and can even download the audio files onto your phone etc so you can meditate anywhere anytime, which I've done and found invaluable.

At first meditation can be hard to get to grips with, you're always thinking 'am i doing this right?' but that's the beauty of MINDSPO, Rochelle talks openly about that and so many other things that you might be struggling with. There is no 'perfection', no 'right or wrong', it's an open and accepting course that lets you just do it without any worry and soon enough you find you're meditating for 20 mins and it feels like the most refreshing moment of your life.

Meditating 'with' Rochelle/MINDSPO has helped me in so many many ways. My anxiety is dramatically less frequent and less intense when it does occur. My mind is always so much clearer and more centred. It doesn't seem to buzz and hum and whiz about so much in a bundle of stress. When I have a stressful situation I find I can more easily step back from the situation or simply be  calmer and more rational during it than before. Previously my mind would freak, I would sweat, tears would come to my eyes and I'd breath too heavily and occasionally have full blown panic attacks. FYI I haven't had one single panic attack since meditating daily. Honest truth. 
My OCD is well under control, I can identify it so easily now. I used to have lulls and be fine then get stressed (whether I knew I was stressed or not) and it would trigger my habits to full scale. Now I can identify those feelings, that need for control and accept it but also accept that it isn't necessary. I'm not saying I'm 'perfect' or 'cured' but I'm in control and I'm ok with it. 

That's a huge change that meditation has brought to me - acceptance. Part of my internal stress with anxiety etc came from myself. Hating myself because I didn't think I was 'normal', thought I was stupid, pathetic, weak, weird. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I would mentally beat myself up over and over and over. That obviously would make my situation worse, but the worse I was the worse I beat myself up. A vicious circle. Meditation made me realise that I am none of those things. Made me realise that in actual fact, the very fact that I have got through so much in my life despite my anxiety, despite not knowing what the hell was going on in my mind and why it was, I still got through it, sometimes I blooming exceeded despite everything. Meditation has taught me to be kind to myself, accepting of myself and more open and honest with others. This in itself  has taken away a huge chunk of stress. Meditation has taught me control, and the fact that I can have control, without being over the top about it. At the same time it's taught me that I don't always have to have that control over some things, I will be just fine letting things flow.

With meditation I sleep better, enjoy moment sin life more, don't over analyse situations before and after they happen. I laugh more and pretend to be 'ok' less. i'm more open and free to saying 'yes' to things. I'm also so much braver about things like being personal on this blog. I could go on and on about the positive effects but I think you get the picture...the benefits are HUGE & ENDLESS!

MINDSPO and meditation has taught me so much already and I know I still have A LONG WAY TO GO but the change in me is pretty profound and I know that I always have MINDSPO as my guide. I know it sounds strange to credit so much to a course that on the surface doesn't seem to 'have much to it' other than sitting and 'not thinking' but honestly it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. A million trillion times more than that. It both gives you so much and helps you take away so much. The only way to understand is to try it yourself, commit, be open minded and try.

I've written the post purely motivated by my experience and have no affiliation with Rochelle or MINDSPO at all, other than the fact that I LOVE the course. I paid for the course myself with my own money and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't managed to find a meditation course that they have clicked with yet. The latest MINDSPO course is now open to sign up to and I believe there is even a cheeky discount available, so take advantage. MINSPO is not expensive at all but every penny helps.

Check out MINDSPO: website- https://mindspo.com Instagram & Facebook -@mindspo #mindspo
Check out Rochelle: Instagram & Twitter - @rochelle_fox

I want to do another post on meditation that looks into it a bit more about techniques I've learnt etc so let me know if you'd be interested in that too. Happy meditating!

Self-Care Sunday // Meditation ~ Mindspo

Personally when I first started exploring natural beauty it was for purely selfish reasons. I didn't want to be pumping crap into my body. Over time though I realised that often what was bad for me was also bad for the environment. I think due to my upbringing I've always been quite an eco-minded person, but this has definitely become more of focus and conscious aspect of my life since I made the switch. In the industry as well there is certainly more of a focus on making products that are both less toxic for humans and for our earth, which makes everything that much easier. More and more these days packaging is becoming more eco friendly, more paper and glass and less of the 'beast' in beauty - plastic. 

The 'war on plastic' is doing wonders, most plastic used these day in green/natural beauty products is recyclable and often made from recycled plastic, as are products such as razors and toothbrushes. Plastic windows in packaging are being swapped for biodegradable veggie cellulose windows and brush handles made with sustainably sourced bamboo or cork (research on these is key as it's not always sustainable) Plastic micro-beads are being given the boot. Heck even bikinis these days are being made out of recycled plastic. But there's still some areas where plastic creeps in and gets over-looked. Cotton buds, Q-tips, Baby Gays, Cotton Swabs - whatever you call them we all know what they are and use them for a large variety of reasons, beauty, cleaning, personal hygiene etc etc. But often we don't consider that those tiny sticks of plastic can be adding up to cause big trouble for our environment, polluting our rivers and seas, poisoning wildlife and ending up back in our food. Scary. 

For a long time now I've made a conscious effort to recycle my cotton bud sticks (a task both time consuming & a bit gross), only to find out a few months ago that they are non-recyclable! Genuinely you can't recycle them. Doh! Clearly I wasn't as green as I thought & I wasted time and effort for nothing. So to clean up my act I went a few months without using any cotton buds at all - I figured that I could easily get by without them. Unfortunately I realised that without them I was more wasteful in other ways, overusing and wasting cotton wool and tissues. 

My salvation came in the form of Organyc 100% Organic Cotton Buds*. As the name suggests the buds are made from 100% certified (by GOTS & ECOCERT) organic cotton which is one of the most environmentally friendly option out there for cotton. The stems are made from recyclable cardboard as is all the of the external packaging. What isn't recyclable is biodegradable. How do these compare to other cotton buds in terms of use? They are exactly the same! They do the exact same thing as traditional cotton buds do, the buds feel just as soft and the stems just as sturdy. It's a win win situation, they perform just as well while being better for the environment and potentially ourselves was well as there's been no contact with pesticides or bleach/chlorine.

Since making more of a conscious effort with my cotton buds I've come across two great UK projects that focus on tackling the plastic cotton bud situation. The first project I came across was The Cotton Bud Project and most recently the #SwitchTheStick campaign. Both want to tackle the problem of the plastic stick, firstly to stop people flushing cotton buds down the loo (I didn't even think people did this, so that was an eye-opener for me!) and second to get manufacturers to make all cotton buds from cardboard instead of plastic. Both schemes are well worth checking out! Thanks to these schemes, (in association with FIDRA) a large number of major brands and retailers including Waitrose, M&S, Co-op, Aldi, The Body Shop, Johnson & Johnson, Tesco and Sainsburys (plus more) are all switching or have switched over to recyclable cardboard stems. Most may not be organic, but it's a huge step in the right direction! 

Greening up my beauty routine // Cotton Buds

Time to heart to heart.

Let's face it, being green and clean is not easy. Sure the market is booming, more people are getting interested and wising up in the industry. More shops are selling natural alternatives to traditional offerings and online websites are abundant,  but it still isn't something you can do without thinking. 

With traditional beauty, lifestyle, fashion etc etc you simply walk into a shop or hop on a website and your only tough decisions boil down to the most simple aspects. Colour/pattern/fabric, scent/taste, size/fit and price are top of the list, every individual will have other personal preferences but these sum up the vast majority of areas to debate during purchasing.

In the green/clean 'world' it just isn't that straightforward. Heck we can't even agree on the terms, words, phrases and names to use for it. There's a whole lists of terminology out there that are used and often abused and we're all trying to find one that fits just right, but there isn't one. 
Because like with everything else in life it breaks down to being about personal preference. Never in a million years will everyone ever agree full heartedly on the exact same thing. 
Then add into the mix; brands, ingredients, do's and don'ts, research/new research/old research, application techniques, ethics, environment, humanity, trends, experts, bloggers, opinions, facts, opinions, research, studies, opinions, facts....aaaaaarrgh. One day, one research study says ABC about a topic of choice the next month a new study says XYZ about the same thing! It's enough to make you question every. single. little. thing. And that ain't easy.

Step in blogging for newbies. So you've jumped on this, lets be real, MAMMOTH journey of exploring and transitioning to natural living and if it wasn't tough enough you've decided to blog all your successes and all your pitfalls and everyone will be reading and having their opinions on your opinions.  Well.....when you think of it like, as the phrase goes; shit just got real. 
Over time you feel confidence grow, you get to grips with all those long complex ingredient names, can trot out facts and figures to anyone asking. You merrily blog away until out of the blue something, or nothing as can sometimes be the case, comes up and makes you start to question everything you thought you knew or your decisions, your choices, your ethics. All of a sudden you feel like the newbie on the block again. What a sucker punch to the gut that feeling is.

So this is where I find myself again. After years and years of blogging I seem to have come full circle again and feel like I'm back where I started on the natural journey. I'm talking most specifically about beauty as that is my strongest area of focus for my blog. I've felt lately I've really found my niche and my passion with makeup, I've always loved it and gaining the confidence to really bring it to my blog has been amazing. However, along with this I've started to now question and struggle with my choices, molehills becoming mountains. Should I be/do/say/choose this? Should I be/say/do/choose that? I've had this in my head for a while and feel it's only honest to share on my blog. As I say my blog is about successes and failures and I've never claimed to try and be perfect, so this is real and honest. I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing right now! I'm wading through options and feeling torn in so many directions. That's the honest truth.

I feel like I can write this now because I've finally settled in my mind what I want to do about my 'inner turmoil' and that is to except the fact that there is no perfect, there are no rules, things are always going to be changing, conflicting and that is just part of it all. It's part of the journey and I'm going to try and incorporate that in my blog a lot more. I always wanted to find a set guideline in my own mind of strict rules that I follow, but with the ever changing industry, new ingredients and research popping up daily, having a set guideline or rules in my head isn't realistic. So my new personal mind project is about flexibility and COMPROMISE. Not being scared to compromise, to make choices, to choose a 'lesser of two evils' approach if I just don't want to give something up completely.

And so leads me on to my next  lengthy heart and soul searching, slightly ranty post, about 'compromise'. But that is for another blog post, another day.

HEART TO HEART // It's not easy being green

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