Yoga for body confidence.

A few weeks ago I read a really interesting blog post about yoga and body image.  The post really tugged on my emotions and got me thinking about how people of different shapes and sizes experience yoga and I feel compelled to respond to it.

I should start by saying that I’ve never been fat.  I’ve only ever had a thin body with varying degrees of fitness.  However I’ve struggled quite profoundly with my own body image and perception of my body.  I’ve gone through long periods of hating my body and periods of tentative tolerance.  Only recently have I begun to make peace with my body’s appearance and ability, and I truly believe that yoga has played a huge part in that.

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I have spoken with many friends who are bigger than me, and they have told of similar experiences to those described in the article mentioned above.  Hearing those stories was heartbreaking for me.  Not only because I don’t like to hear about people being shamed or discriminated against because of their size, but because I find it upsetting that these people are being excluded from a practice that could truly help them to accept and love their bodies.

I find yoga to be an exceptionally healing and energizing practice.  The reason I’ve stuck with it for so long is that it not only exercises my body, but it calms my mind as well.  I’ve found so much peace and acceptance during sessions on my mat.  It sounds a bit silly, but it’s the truth.  Here are some of the ways that yoga has helped me to create a better relationship with my body:

-  I’ve learned to focus on what my body can do rather than what it can’t do.  I’ve learned to appreciate all the amazing things that my body is capable of and rejoice when I manage to reach a little further or balance with a bit more stability.

- Yoga is very introspective.  It’s not a competition to see who can bend further or get into the most mind-bending poses.  It’s about scanning your own body and working with yourself to create space and ease in each pose.  It’s about noticing pockets of tension and gently working them out. It’s about easing into a pose over time, rather than cranking yourself into a certain shape.

- Over time, yoga has helped to tone my body.  I’m much stronger, my posture is better and I feel more balanced than I did before I began practicing regularly.

It is my belief that yoga should be for everybody.  There are so many different styles and types that there should be a variety of yoga that is suited for your particular body and abilities.  It shouldn’t matter what shape or size you are, or how old you are, or if you have limited mobility.  Yoga is a wonderful practice that should be accessible to anyone who wants to give it a go. And I find it upsetting that so many teachers and classes have turned it into a competition, or are peppering their classes with discrimination and shame.  If you’re interested in trying yoga, but are worried about feeling left out, self-conscious or being discriminated against there are a few things that I can suggest.

- First of all, research different yoga classes in your area.  Some gyms and yoga centres offer a variety of classes which target different groups.  You might find that there is an awesome Fat Yoga class in your area, or a group that specially caters for people who are recovering from injuries.  Do your homework and see what’s available.

- If you can’t find a specially targeted class, consider arranging a meeting with the teacher of a beginners class in your area.  Chat with them about your concerns and highlight any areas that you are likely to struggle with.  Then ask whether they can keep these in mind when planning the class.  If they are rude to you or if you feel like you might be treated poorly during the class, don’t go.

- If there are certain poses that you find difficult or impossible, try researching some variations to common poses.  Many of the most basic yoga poses can be targeted to different levels of fitness, strength or flexibility.  Use these variations during class when you come to a pose that is difficult for you.

- Try practicing at home.  I find it much easier to practice when I’m by myself.  I’m less likely to compare myself to others and I find that I’m more focused on my practice when I’m by myself.

- Look for at-home yoga videos that are size positive.  One of my favourite channels which I recommend to everyone is Yoga with Adrienne.  I love her videos because she gives loads of variations of poses for different levels and her videos focus on achieving the sensation of each pose, rather than attaining the perfect form.  She uses body-positive language and is really laid-back in her approach.

- Add a short meditation to the end of each practice, where you thank your body for all that it’s done and congratulate yourself on any progress.  I find it’s also helpful to give myself a little pep talk on days when I feel as though I’ve gone backwards with my yoga.  Taking the time to nurture yourself and doing that positive self-talk is very helpful.

Yoga is something that has helped me so much with my self esteem and body confidence.  It truly angers me that certain groups are being left out of this practice because of their size and abilities.  Yoga is for everyone, and nobody should be made to feel less-than when giving it a go.

Things I Love Thursday 25/9/2014

Wooo-hooo!  We’ve nearly made it through another week.  I’m feeling pretty darn good as I sit here thinking about the things that I love.

This week I love:

- Treating myself to a facial after work.  I was so relaxed that I nearly drifted off to sleep.  The best part was that the woman who works at my beauty parlor knows I like spooky things, so she chose a soundtrack of forest noises, wolf howls, thunderstorm sounds and soft organ music to lull me into a trance during my appointment.  It was blissful.

- Chowing down on Indian food with my family.

- Playing Mario with my beau, even if I do suck at it.  I went through twenty five lives in four levels.  Good lord!

- Wario’s Smooth Moves.  If you’re looking for a fun game for the Wii, I definitely recommend this one.  It’s a series of ten-second micro-games and you have to figure out the object of each one with minimal cues.  It’s fast-paced and simple, but loads of fun.

-Channeling Joni Mitchell for a costume party I went to last weekend.

- Perfect timing.

- The fact that in one week October will be here and I can start watching all my Halloween movies.  (Although it does freak me out how quickly this year is flying by).

- Delicious free beer.

- Gabbing with my co-worker about boys.

- Finally making a start on some projects that I have been dragging my feet on.

- Hot chocolate

- Warmer weather and the feeling of the sun on my skin.

- Jelly sitting next to me and petting my face while I do yoga.

- This video

 

What do you love this week?  Jump on in and leave a comment!

Liptember: a word about mental health and work.

I missed out on doing a Liptember update last week because I was just too exhausted.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about how having a mental illness affects my ability to work.

For a long time I was only able to work part-time jobs.  A couple of hours at work with a constant stream of customers was enough to leave me drained and exhausted.  By the end of my shift I would be too anxious to talk to anybody.  I’d be watching the seconds tick down until I could finish up and go home.  As I left the store, I would screw my headphones tightly into my ears so that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.  I felt horrible for being anti social, but the truth is that interacting with people puts a huge strain on me.  I’m extremely sensitive to noise and conflict.  If I had a shift where a customer got angry or frustrated, I would feel agitated for ages afterwards.

This year I took on my first full-time job.  I’ve always felt extremely nervous about working full time because I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to handle it.  I was worried about getting tired and run-down, as my depression gets worse when I am burnt out.  I was also very concerned about the limits on my time, because I do a lot of self-care activities to help keep my mental health on an even keel.  I knew that with less time to spare, I wouldn’t be able to do those things that allow me to function on a day-to-day basis.

More than anything, I was concerned about whether I would actually be able to do my job well.  I’m a clever, well-organized person and I am a very hard worker.  But when I’m depressed, I find it hard to concentrate.  My memory suffers and I can get quite snappish with people.  I become very tired and jittery.  I find it difficult to cope when new tasks are thrown at me while I’m still working on old ones.  I don’t work well under time pressure.  I was concerned that my depression would mean that I wouldn’t be able to do my job well and that I’d be fired.

I do struggle working full time with my depression.  Lately I’ve slipped backwards because the demands at work have been high and it’s been eating into my spare time.  I had a melt-down at work a few months in when my boss kept piling more tasks into my inbox.  I feel frustrated with myself because I can’t do the things that everyone else seems to do with ease.  I worry that people think I’m lazy.  I can’t stress enough that depression has nothing to do with laziness.  I like working!  I’m a very hard-working person. It’s just that I get too tired and brain-fogged to do a lot of the work that I have to do.  It’s maddening.

But I plod on.  I try my best to make time for those things that keep me going, like my family and friends, my yoga practice, my blogging and crafting.  It’s hard, but I feel proud of myself for achieving what I have so far.

And so with that in mind, here are my liptember selfies for this week.

On Friday I wore pretty florals and Avon’s “Kiss of Pink” lipstick.

On Saturday I tried out Revlon’s “Ravish Me Red”.  It’s a lot more orange than the reds I usually go for, and I’m still not convinced that I like it.

On Sunday I didn’t take a selfie, because I spent the morning in bed and the afternoon bombed out on the couch watching The Walking Dead.  I was just too exhausted to do anything else.

On Monday I went for hot pink and my PacMan earrings to cheer me up.  It wasn’t entirely successful though.  After spending the day fielding work calls, I had a meltdown at my parents house and spent the evening in bed, crying with frustration.

I struggled to get dressed on Tuesday morning for work.  I ended up wearing a  much more casual outfit than usual and a slick of Rimmel’s Hot Fudge lipstick.

By Wednesday I was feeling  a lot better.  I’m wearing another Rimmel lipstick.  This one is Bright Spark.

Thursday was snakeprint and Chinatown Chase from Lipstick Queen.

On Friday I wore fire engine red and my Nana’s black pearls.

I celebrated my last work day of the week with pretty florals and Choccie lipstick from Rimmel.

On Sunday I wore no makeup, but I did manage a swipe of nude lippie.  This one is Glinda from Urban Decay.

And by Monday I felt recharged and refreshed and ready for a swipe of Liptember Red.

If you would like to donate to Liptember to help raise money for women’s mental health research, please visit my fundraising page.  All donations are greatly appreciated.  You could also buy something from my Etsy store, as 10% from each sale will be dontated to Liptember.

Do you have a mental illness?  How has it affected your ability to work?

The ultimate Spring-cleaning checklist.

Spring has sprung here in the southern hemisphere, and it’s the perfect time to do a little bit of Spring cleaning.  The world is coming out of the darkness of winter and the sun is peeping through and showing up all the dust and grime from a winter spent indoors.  Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings which makes it the ideal season to get down to some serious cleaning and de-cluttering.

I’m a huge nerd when it comes to cleaning.  I love having everything looking “just so”.  I actually love the idea of spending an afternoon clearing out cupboards or washing down the walls (how twisted am I, right?).  If you’re looking for a bit of Spring-cleaning inspiration, then you’re in luck, because I’ve put together my definitive list of Spring-cleaning chores to get you started.  You might like to use this list to help jog your memory when you’re deciding what needs to be done around your own home.  Or you may feel super-inspired to try to check off everything on the list.  Or you might decide to disregard the Spring cleaning and just watch a tonne of Arrested Development reruns.  Your choice.

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Vanessa’s Spring Cleaning List:

- Wash all the windows

- Take down curtains and clean.

- Wash the walls with sugar soap.

- Scrub the bathtub and shower recess

- Put up a new shower curtain.

- Wash out rubbish bins with disinfectant

-Clean oven

- Run vinegar through your dishwasher and coffee machine.

- Empty the lint trap in your dryer,  and clean the filters on heaters and airconditioners.

- Clean out wardrobe

- Go through your makeup drawer and throw out anything you don’t use or which has expired.  You might like to read this post about the expiry date of makeup.

- Empty your fridge and pantry and give them a good wipe out.  Throw out any expired food.

- Dust bookshelves and DVD storage.

- Clean out your inbox.

- Delete any unused files on your computer.

- Wash doors, baseboards and switchplates.

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-Air out your blankets.

- Sanitize cutting boards.

- Clear out linen closet.

- Sponge-clean cupboard doors.

- Sanitize your computer keyboard and mouse.

- Clean out your handbag

- Dust for cobwebs

- Hose off outdoor furniture

- Polish all your shoes

- Wash your makeup brushes with warm water and mild soap.

DSCF8328-Move your couch out of the way and vacuum underneath it.  Vacuum between the couch cushions.

- Sweep under your refrigerator

- Defrost freezer.

-Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

- Scrub stovetop with bicarbonate soda.

- Clear out your craft stash.  Give away any materials you won’t use, or do some destashing projects.

-Weed the garden.

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-Flip your mattress.

- Replace any pillows that have become flat, lumpy or musty.

-Scrub drains with an old toothbrush

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And once you’re all done, brew a pot of tea, flop down on the couch and relax with a movie.  Aaaaah!

Have I missed anything?  Do you love or loathe Spring cleaning?

Things I Love Thursday 18/9/2014

I’m afraid it’s going to be a short Things I Love Thursday post this week.  I’ve been having a really rough week.  Ironically, the same day I published my post about Maintaining a Work-Life Balance, I had a total meltdown over work.  It’s been a stressful couple of weeks in the office and I’ve been working lots of extra hours and the pressure caught up with me and exploded out my eyeballs.  It wasn’t pretty.

But there are still a few things making me smile.  Such as:

- Awesome friends who send thoughtful emails full of strength and love.  I adore that so many of my friends just ‘get’ me.

- Having my man-friend drop into the office just to give me a hug when I’m feeling low.

- Long, twisty yoga sessions to work out my office-chair kinks.

- Chicken parma

- Mario Kart

- Rediscovering Freaks and Geeks, and realising that Rashida Jones was in one episode.

 

- Marathon sessions watching The Walking Dead.  I’ve fallen hard for that show.

 

- Sleeping right through til lunchtime on the weekends.

 

- Getting a rad new mascara (I’ll do a review soon, I promise)

 

- Laughing with my workmate about Buffy.

 

- Seeing a Prince Harry Doppelganger

 

- The smell of sunshine on clean hair.

 

- Making a list of all my favourite words.

 

What do you love this week?  It doesn’t matter if there’s one thing that makes you smile, or a million things. I want to hear all about them!

How I maintain a work-life balance.

When I got news that I had secured a full-time job, I was seriously anxious.  I was concerned about how I was going to manage to find time for all my hobbies and still get to see my family and friends.  I was also nervous about my mental health.  I manage my mental illness with a combination of CBT strategies, diet, exercise and self-care activities.  I was extremely worried that when I began working my mental health would suffer if I didn’t have time to nurture myself.

But three months have passed and I feel pretty good about where I’m at.  I haven’t had a nervous breakdown, I’ve managed to foster my most important relationships, my blog and shop are still going strong and my home isn’t falling to bits.  I’ve learned a few things about maintaining that ever-elusive work-life balance that I’d love to share with you.

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Prioritize

I often find myself overwhelmed when I’ve got spare time up my sleeve.  There are so many ways that I want to fill that time and I end up procrastinating while I decide what to do.  Before I know it, I’ve frittered away the time and accomplished nothing.

I’ve gotten into the habit of making a list of five things I want to accomplish each day.  This list usually comprises both big and small tasks, such as making an important phone call or writing a blog post or tidying my room.  I try to make sure that these tasks are ticked off before I add anything else to my to-do list.  That way I make sure that I’m using my time wisely and not wasting it by fretting about all the things I could be doing.

Let it go

 There are a finite number of hours in every day.  And many of those hours are filled with non-negotiable tasks like working, sleeping and eating. That leaves only a limited amount of time to spread between socializing, cleaning, self care and hobbies.

If you try to do All The Things perfectly All The Time you’re setting yourself up for failure.  In order to maintain your sanity you need to let go of some things.  You have to relinquish the need to have a perfectly clean house or a regularly-updated blog or nightly chats with your bestie.  You have to make sacrifices and it will mean that you don’t always get to do things as often or as perfectly as you’d like.  It was hard for me to do this because I’m a perfectionist, but I’m slowly learning to ease up and let things go.

Make time for friends and family

It’s so easy to let your favourite people fall through the cracks when you’re time-poor.  I struggle to find time to spend with my friends and family when I’m busy.  My solution?  Make time to be with them.  Carve out a block of time each day to call your mum, or email your friends.  Book in dinner dates with your lover.  Plan weekend family outings.  Don’t assume that you’ll just magically find time for your friends and family, make the effort and dedicate some time to these important people.

Set boundaries at work

One thing I’ve found vital to my sanity is creating boundaries between my work life and my personal life.  I make sure that I get all my work done during the work day and I always aim to leave the office on time.  I’ve asked my workmates to only call me outside of office hours if it’s truly urgent.  I don’t check my work email at home and I don’t come into the office on days when I’m not working.

 

It can be very hard to do this.  I don’t like to disappoint people, and I’m always worried that I’ll be perceived as lazy.  When I was in high school I got this idea in my head that in order to be successful, you had to be working hard all the time.  That busy = important and worthy.  I don’t like feeling as though I’m letting my boss down.  Especially when so many other people in the office are happy to work late into the evening and call into the office on their days off.

 

But  if I don’t set those boundaries, nobody will.  My boss isn’t going to tell me not to stay late  or discourage me from doing office work in my own time.  I have to stick up for myself and set realistic boundaries.  I work very hard during office hours and I don’t actually NEED to be at work outside of my scheduled roster.  It’s not lazy to take time for myself.  It’s just a job, and it’s only one part of my life.

 

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Embrace lazy days

Full time work can be exhausting.  While it can be tempting to cram your free time with as many activities as possible, it’s not always a great idea.  Your brain and body need time to relax and unwind.  For this reason, I make sure that I have one “lazy day” each week.  On my lazy days I don’t do any work.  I spend the day reading, exercising, crafting and chilling out with my favourite people.  I can’t stress the importance of having dedicated “do nothing” days to help your body and mind to recharge.

 

How do you maintain a work-life balance?  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.

Liptember: A week of reds.

I was flicking through the selfies I’ve taken this week for Liptember and I realised that I’ve worn a shade of red each day this week.  How rad is that?  Let’s take a look at my red rainbow of lippies from this past week.

On Sunday I got dressed up to go with my family to Gracebrook winery.  I picked a deep wine lippie: Rouge Sinner from Lipstick Queen. I love the Lipstick Queen Sinner lipstick for days out because they don’t budge and you barely need to touch them up.

I swept my hair up into an Elsa-inspired braid.  My outfit began fairly simple but I just kept adding accessories until I had the right amount of pizzazz going on.

On Monday I opted for a sheer wash of colour with Lipstick Queen’s Medieval lipstick.  It’s the prettiest lip stain with just a little hint of red.

Tuesday was grey and cold.  I paired my wiggle dress with a pin-up red lipstick from Savvy. It was nice to have a bit of colour to counteract the yucky weather.

On Wednesday I painted my pout with Lady Bug from M.A.C.  This lippie was a gift from Miss Fairchild, who is running her own (wildly successful) liptember campaign.

Pucker up!

On Thursday I wore Perfect Russet by Estee Lauder.  It’s the perfect lippy for pairing with pretty blush and a coy smile.

This week has been a rough one for me, mental-health wise.  Work has been extremely demanding and I’ve had a couple of days where I was ready to throw in the towel.  My anxiety has been creeping up and jumping out at me at the most inappropriate moments.  I just feel drained and burnt out.  I need a break, but none is forthcoming.  Oh well.  I’m trying really hard to just keep going, to take time and lay some boundaries for myself.

I must say that working on this Liptember campaign has really given me a lift.  It’s given me the motivation to put the effort into my appearance each day which is a good thing.  It’s helped to spark my creativity and given me a boost.

Also, I made some sales from my esty store, which is awesome because some of those funds will contribute to my Liptember total.  It’s looking a bit dire at the moment, and I don’t think I’m going to reach my goal.  But if you’ve got a few dollars to spare, it would be awesome if you could help out:

- Firstly, you can donate to my Liptember page.  All donations over $2 are tax deductible and every dollar counts.  It doesn’t matter if you donate $1 or $100, I’ll appreciate every single donation.

- You can also purchase your official Liptember lipstick for just $4.99.  You can buy your lippy at any Chemist Warehouse store.  For the first time, Chemist Warehouse are now offering the Liptember lippies on their online store with international shipping available.  How exciting!

- If you’re really keen, you can sign up and start fundraising yourself.  It’s super easy to set up your fundraising page and begin raising funds for this awesome cause.

- I’ll be donating 10% of every sale from my etsy store to Liptember.  I’ve got all kinds of hand-crafted items and e-books available.  I’m also happy to create a custom-made to-order item just for you.

 

Every donation counts, so dig deep and give just a little if you can.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.