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.

Things I Love Thursday 11/9/2014

Happy Thursday!  I’m writing this post in my PJ’s, feeling pretty weary after a long week.  Although the week has been pretty taxing in a lot of respects, there have been some truly awesome parts too.  So grab a cup of tea and settle down to relive some of the happy-making moments from the last week.

This Thursday I love:

- Coming home to a beautiful care package from Miss Fairchild.  I teared up when I saw the package,  which was covered in red lipstick kisses.  Once I opened it though, the tears began flowing in earnest.  Underneath a pile of gorgeous makeup, a vintage pin-curling tool and a poster of some amazing vintage hairdos was a Nintendo Wii!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Miss Fairchild’s girls have graduated to a WiiU and I was the lucky recipient of their no-longer-used Wii.  She is such a generous friend and I was so incredibly touched by the gesture.

-Speaking of awesome gestures from friends, I got this book as a gift from my newly-married friends Kath and Evan.  They were honeymooning in Belgium when they saw this comic and knew I had to have it.

This comic is the inspiration for one of my favourite cartoon shows- Marsupalami.  I used to watch that show every Saturday morning when I was a kid, and I still get a giggle from it now.  I was so touched that my friends remembered how much I adored that show and bought me this comic.  The best part about the comic is that even though it’s Belgian, the creatures all speak a made-up language and the story is mostly visual, so it’s a great read for anyone.  I love it.

-Finding out that the Welsh word for “microwave” is “popty ping”.  Is that not the most perfect name for a microwave?

-Goats!  My family went to Gracebrook winery for Father’s Day and there was an entire paddock of goats just wandering around.  The owners encourage guests to interact with the animals.  So I patted a goat for the first time.  Their coats were much coarser than I imagined they would be, and their horns felt rough and ridged, like old-mans fingernails.  They were so friendly too!

-Speaking of Gracebrook, will you look at that view!  It’s so incredible that such gorgeous sights are just a short drive from my hometown.  We saw some truly beautiful scenery on the drive over.

- Enticing one of my oldest friends to read Harry Potter

- My Mum’s chorizo and prawn pasta.  Delish!

- The Walking Dead.  I’ve just started it but so far I’m really enjoying the story.

- Huge thunderstorms.

- Getting surprise middle-of-the-day visits from the boy while I’m at work.

- Snuggling under a big blanket.

- Going to bed early.  I don’t care if it’s boring, it makes me happy.

What do you love this week, honey-buns?  Feel free to leave your own Things I Love Thursday list in the comments.

New Years resolution update: August 2014

I had resolved that August would be the month that I learned how to use my sewing machine.  I got a sewing machine for my 25th birthday and I have never actually used it.  Given that three years have passed, I figured it was high time that I took it out of the box and gave it a go.

I had imagined that using my machine would be really easy.  I have several friends who are brilliant at sewing who told me that they found it so simple to learn to use a sewing machine.  I even have one man-friend who brags about making a dress for his girlfriend entirely on his own using a beat-up old Singer.  I’m pretty clever and I’m good at crafts, so I figured that it would be a snap.

Oh goodness.  I have to shake my head at how wrong I was.

One of many broken threads.

 

I was so eager to get my machine all set up and begin sewing.  I followed the instruction booklet to the letter and managed to get everything plugged in and looking great.  I wound a bobbin with no troubles at all.  Then I went to thread the machine.  After several attempts, I felt satisfied that I’d done it right.  But when I began sewing, I was greeted with a grinding noise and a broken thread.  On my next attempt the needle snapped.  I called my Mum, who has been sewing for forty years. She informed me that she didn’t know how to fix the broken needle because she had never broken one.  Apparently I have a special talent for destruction.

 

After a cup of tea and a lie-down, I consulted Youtube.  I found an awesome video which helped me to replace the needle and also showed me how to thread my machine properly.  The reason the needle had broken was because I hadn’t threaded it correctly in the first place.  Feeling pumped up and full of confidence, I sat down to sew once again.

 

A million broken threads: a picture of frustration.

After two hours I had to walk away before I threw the machine through the window.  I kept running into problems in every direction.  My thread kept breaking, huge wodges of cotton were getting caught in the mechanism and forcing the machine to a halt, my stitching was loopy and uneven and I was terrified of getting my fingers jammed under the needle.  In short, I utterly sucked at sewing.

 

I think I definitely need some lessons from somebody that knows how to use a sewing machine and is patient enough to teach me.  It was very optimistic of me to believe that I’d be able to teach myself using just a couple of internet videos and the machine manual.

 

So I haven’t yet learned how to use my sewing machine.  But I wouldn’t call this resolution a total failure.  I know more about the machine than I did at the beginning of the month.  I know how to set it up and how to thread it.  I can replace a broken needle and I know how to un-jam it when it stops.  But I still don’t know how to actually sew.  At least I’m part of the way to success.