You Are Not Your Negative Label

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Do you ever decide that you're just too lazy to go running every day? That you're a bonafide couch potato and nothing is ever going to change that? That you're too unorganised to ever use a planner, and that productivity is something that other people possess but most definitely not you? That you're too shy to ever go out on your own and try that class that catches your eye every time it's advertised, too reserved to ever be that person who makes new friends easily? That you're a natural pessimist who could never in a million years be considered to be positive?

Do you ever take a negative quality, whether it's truly negative or perceived to be that way (by yourself or others) and decide that it's your identity? 

I did that for a long time.

At first it was a subconscious thing - parents and teachers mean well but often they don't realise that after being told you are a certain way enough times you begin to believe it. The young me wasn't a fan of cleaning her room or being interrupted during her Saturday morning cartoons (or after-school cartoons, or any time Dragonball Z was on) so I was considered messy and lazy. During parent-teacher meetings, the terms 'shy', 'quiet' and 'slow' were regularly thrown around. I quickly figured out that I could change those labels if I wanted to. I especially wasn't a fan of being labelled slow.

So I decided to work hard to get to the top of the class: I don't think I was ever labelled slow again by another teacher (except maybe my P.E. teacher). At home, I stepped up my efforts and became neater so that messy was no longer my identifying label. I'd figured out that I could change the perceptions others had of me that I perceived to be negative. But then something strange happened. As I hit my teenage years, I got it into my head that it was "cool" to be lazy, unambitious, unorganised, unpunctual, etc. I called myself an "underachieving overachiever" like it was something to be proud of. It was an...odd time in my life.

Unfortunately this habit of identifying myself by my negative qualities led me to forget that they weren't all I was about. They became a source of comfort because I had all the excuses in the world to never reach outside my comfort zone: I was too lazy to ever get into shape, I was too shy to go to this party or that event, I was too pessimistic to ever look on the bright side of life.

I remember getting really annoyed at a friend who turned around and said "You are not lazy. That's just your favourite excuse." Those words stuck with me for a long time after that. I remember I was so angry with him. I mean - how dare he tell me that I'm not lazy? Of course I'm lazy! Then one morning I woke up and realised how absurd I was being. I was fighting tooth and nail to keep my glass half empty, but why

I can be lazy. I can be shy. I can be pessimistic and prone to negative disaster-type thinking. I can miss the mark and not do my best. I can have days where I exhibit all of the negative qualities a person can have all at once - but that's not all I'm about. Just like I'd missed the memo about learning involving actual learning, it hadn't occurred to me that it wasn't "cool" at all to identify by my negative labels - and it was definitely time I stopped. Little eight-year-old me had figured it out once, but hey - what do kids know? So I've since started focusing on all my positive aspects and identifying and working on those, and it has made an extraordinarily difference.

If you'd told me this time last year that I would be voluntarily waking up at five a.m. in order to make sure I have time during the day to blog, exercise and journal, that I'd be volunteering at festivals and enjoying myself and that I'd have a generally positive outlook on life and a 'can do' attitude, I would have laughed in your face. Even blogging seemed inconceivable because I'd branded myself "the type of person who starts things and never finishes them". That's why it was so important for me that my word of the year be 'persistence'. My goal this year was for that to be one of the many positive qualities I can be identified by; my New Year's Resolution was to become the type of girl who keeps going, no matter what.

If you do the same, it's time to turn over a new leaf. You are not your negative qualities - you are so much more than that. You are also kind, trustworthy, loyal, fun, funny, hard working, or whatever other positive quality you also possess alongside your negative ones. Highlight those. Or if there's a quality that you admire in someone else and don't currently possess, then slowly begin to adopt that into your life. When it comes to who you are as a person, our parents were right about one thing: you can be whoever you want to be

The Monthly Round Up #2

Thursday, 28 May 2015

This month has been a really fun month blogging-wise. I got to work with a brand for the first time which I think is an exciting milestone for all bloggers! If you haven't already, definitely check out my The Staycation & The Dress post, a mix of summer plans and the £10/€15 dress from George@Asda you can wear pretty much everywhere. I was a little apprehensive of doing the post at first, because I would say I'm far from a fashion blogger, but I really enjoyed doing it (though it took me quite a few takes!), and the reception the post received was so much better than anything I'd hope for! 

It got me to thinking about mixing in more fashion-orientated pieces into my blog, because fashion is a part of life - we wear clothes no matter what we're doing, and it'd be fun to share with you all my love of lounge wear and pyjamas! But first, I think it's about time that I got a new camera, as I've been really frustrated with the qualities of my pictures of late. Once exams are over, the hunt for a new camera (hopefully my first DSLR! ) will begin. 

I also started setting aside time every day to spend at least half an hour commenting on blogs on my 'Bloglovin feed - and I'm really glad I did. Reading other blogs is a great source of inspiration (and a sure way to make your wishlists longer than they already are!) but I also feel like I'm getting much more out of the blogging experience by slowly becoming more involved in the community. I've also been spending a little more time on Twitter, and make an effort to schedule my tweets. I think once exams are over, I can really find a way to get into the whole social media thing. 

If you have a favourite Twitter chat you love to participate in, let me know! I'd love to join in. 

If you hadn't guessed by this post, and this post, and this post...aaaaand this post, I've been busy revising this month as my exam session begins on the 1st June. In the spirit of doing things differently than I've done before, I made sure not to centre my entire life around revision: I'm aiming for my best this time around, not perfection (which, f.i.y. is not an attainable goal).

Other than making time for blogging and leaving the house for regular bouts of fresh air, last weekend I also attended The Cover Festival, Seneffe a local cover festival that is a pretty big deal to us locals. It's a two day festival, and the first day I was just your average attendee. Mister Cover confirmed that I do not like U2 (like, at all), Majestic Mojo & The Old Bananas taught me that swing covers are awesome and the double bass is sexier than the guitar, and Cookies & Cream made me realise that I love David Guetta and all things pop and there is nothing to be ashamed of. On the second day, I was a volunteer and I spent the day working at the entrance: I was in charge of VIP tickets and it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. VIP attendees can be quite cheeky, especially after they've already drunk someone else's drink tokens and come to claim they never got theirs! Overall it was a good two days, and I'm already planning on coming back next year and maybe volunteering at bigger festivals. Or attending them. Or both. 

I've been keeping up with exercise and I love Joanna Soh's workout videos to the point where they've actually become a reward for studying. Nothing like good intense interval cardio to make you feel alive. I also finished the Forza Multivitamins "for dieters". I wasn't impressed - but that's for another post. 

I've not really been sitting down to watch television shows - I plan to binge on everything post-exams. I finish my exams on the 15th but I've been telling everyone the 17th because I don't plan on doing anything but hibernating, eating copious amounts of junk food and catching up on my favourites during those two days. (I'm not even watching Game of Thrones - can you believe it??) 

I did, however, get a Spotify Premium subscription in place of my Netflix one so I could have music to study along to and have been loving their playlists especially 'Have A Great Day' which gets me out of bed with songs and belting out 'Respect' by Aretha Franklin even if I'm half asleep or feeling cheerful about my perpetual singledom with The Supremes 'You Can't Hurry Love'. Similarly 'The Ultimate Throwback Party' has been great for in-shower listening with classics such as J-Kwon's 'Tipsy' and Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me'. You might have noticed in my Staycation post that the 90s are having a revival in Ornella Land. 

I've not really been reading anything other than my textbooks and blog posts this month. Susan Jeffers 'Feel The Fear...And Do It Anyway' has been relegated to toilet book status (before we scrolled on Twitter during that time, there were books) but it does mean that I have been getting daily doses of encouragement, however short they are. I doubt I'd have taken the opportunity to work with George or gone to the Cover Festival if I wasn't in the frame of mind to move past my fears and do them because I wanted to.

Here are the blog posts I really enjoyed this month:

Autumn Leaves | Find Your Voice 
Alzgalz | Lush Shampoo Bars 
Avec Danielle | Current Favorite Blogs 
Ana Celine Labod | The Best of French Pharmacy

What about you? What have you been up to this month? 

Also, I'd love any recommendations for first time DSLRs or on which are the best Twitter chats to join!

This Month's Beauty Favs | May 2015

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Another month, another monthly beauty favourites post composed mainly of The Body Shop products, ha. With exams approaching rapidly, and my revision picking up the heat I've been dialing back my make up wear and going out with a (relatively) bare face. I've been loving the flawless base that The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost and The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur give when combined: the first brightens up the skin and leaves a smooth and even base, whilst the Instablur minimises the pores along my nose, and gives my under eyes a more forgiving look without the need for concealer. 

I've just been adding two layers of the Yves Rocher's Volume Elixir Mascara which has become my favourite mascara as it provides both length and volume without looking clunky for long, pretty lashes. It also contains Hibiscus peptides which is meant to reinforce and repair lashes, and I can honestly say that after using this regularly over the past couple of months I have noticed a difference (though I think it also helps to use an eye makeup remover that is gentle on the lashes). For that, I have been really loving the Garnier Express 2-in-1 Eye Make-Up Remover because it's less oily than some of the make up removers out there, doesn't sting my eyes and does the job.

To add a bit more colour to my cheeks, I've been loving the Makeup Revolution Blush Palette - All About Cream. You get eight fabulous shades which means you can switch up your make up routine without really switching up your make up routine. They're highly pigmented and glide on effortlessly, especially when you have a smooth base thanks to products like Skin Boost or The Instablur. I tend to use the first two darker shades the most as they're more complementary to my skintone but I have been known to go for the light pink, on the tops of my cheeks as a subtle highlighter.

I'm still more of a shower person than a bath person, but The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Bath Bombs have won me over (full review here) - they smell amazing and are perfect for those evening when you want to relax but you don't necessarily want to go to be straight after because you still have things to do. I've also been really enjoying the Ciaté Speed Coat Top Coat - I doubt anywhere near as fast as something like the Seche Vite, but it does try whilst leaving a nice shiny finish that helps my nails last at least five days, which is great since I'm struggling to find time to just sit and do my nails.

What products have you been loving this month?

The Staycation & The Dress

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sometimes when all the helpful tips on getting through your revision session fail (such as these and these), you have to find other incentives to get you out bed, alert and motivated and in front of those books. Usually that incentive is a bit of (ahem, a lot of) retail therapy, but this time round, I got to thinking about what my post-exams 'I'm finally freeeee' summer activities would consist of. With a long beachy holiday not an option this year, my thoughts turned instead to the staycation: exploring and making the most of the activities my local area has to offer. It's a shame to say that I'm fairly sure the average tourist has seen more of Belgium than me and I live here. 

So I had this in mind when I got invited to participate in a campaign with British high street brand George at ASDA. I got the chance to peruse through their summer categories and pick one item which stood out to me the most, and despite the lovely array of summer brights and florals amongst their dresses, it was this black Cut-out Shoulder Dress*: it captured my heart upon sight and refused to let it go. I just knew that it would be my go to dress for the summer, and once it was in my possession, all my thoughts were confirmed and more.

While I was terrified that the light-weight stretchy fabric would cling to my pear-shaped curves in all the wrong places, it skimmed over them instead, drawing attention instead to my shoulders - which I have now come to realise are one of my best features and should be accentuated, like, all the time - and coming to a stop at a perfect wind-defying length. Plus, it fit in with all my holiday plans.


Dress* | Sandals* | Watch* | Sunglasses*

Belgium may be best known for it's chocolate and waffles, but it also knows how to do music festivals. There are the big ones such as Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland, Pukkelpop and Dour, but after heading to Cover Festival, my local festival and having an absolute blast, any size will do (though next year, someone is coming with me to Dour!). 

This dress is just the right canvas for bright accessories: I can flower crown all I want, and wear these gorgeous bright floral sandals* without fear of anything clashing with anything. Sunglasses are also a must for when the sun decides to be generous and come out to play, and I loved the look of these cat-eye metal-detail pair*. I like how versatile this dress is: I can choose to go for flowy, hippy chic with this dress and wear it nice and loose or cinch it up at the waist with a pastel belt for a more structured look. 


Dress* | Shirt | Plimsolls* | Watch* |

With my final exams over, I will have absolutely no excuse not to explore all that the Belgian cities have to offer: whether it's hitting the capital and checking out an exhibition at the Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts or rubbing shoulders with tourists and locals alike at the Grand Place or heading out to the likes of Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges to drool over the beautiful medieval architecture. 

Walking around for hours calls for comfort, and these black and white plimsolls* do just the trick. A red checked shirt acts as the perfect cover up, because when it gets too hot for comfort, you can just take it off, wrap it around your waist and showcase those shoulders all whilst channelling effortless 90s chic (or so I like to think).


Dress* | Cardigan* | Flats* | Bag* | Watch

If I've seen little of Belgium, I'm much more familiar with the national cuisine, and there's nothing nicer in the summer than heading out for dinner with friends and family, and enjoying a delicious meal out on a terrasse. Summer in Belgium means moules-frites (mussels and fries), though I'm more inclined to go with something stodgier like boulettes à la sauce Liégoise (meatballs in a delicious, slightly sweet sauce also served with chips) or some chicken or salmon vol-au-vent. I'm also curious about waterzooi and carbonnade flamande, apparently staple dishes that I have yet to try (and I've tried snails).

It's always nice to get a little more dressed up for dinner, and this dress is elegant on its own, especially when cinched at the waist with a simple belt and paired with simple pointed black flats* (which have gorgeous crochet detailing which the pictures don't do any justice). It often gets chillier in the evenings, especially if you're sitting outside, so this jacquard fringe cardigan* is great for that, warm but not too warm, with little details that add a little something to the outfit. You can also add a snood* (as in the top picture) for a pretty and practical look. I'm never without a watch, so I love that this rose lens watch* looks good in every outfit, but looks especially classy when paired with this large tote bag*.

I honestly never understood the true power of a LBD until now: one dress, a couple of cover ups, a few accessories here and there, and my summer staycation wardrobe is sorted. 

What are your summer plans? Vacationing or staycationing? Would you pick this dress from George or would you be more inclined to go for something else

PS: if you're a fellow European, be sure to check out George's International Delivery page and see if they don't deliver to you as well!

*Items marked with an asterix were kindly sent to me as part of the campaign. 

Relaxing With The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Bath Bombs

Thursday, 21 May 2015

In my post on ways to mentally prepare for exams, I suggest taking a long bath as a way to keep the stresses of exams at bay. In the spirit of making more of an effort to follow my own advice, I have been making good use of The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Bath Bombs

The 'Smoky Poppy' range came out around Valentine's Day, and I was intrigued from day one by the black and red packaging and the promise of a deep, mysterious, heavily-romantic sort of smell. I am a massive fan of fresh, fruity and/or zesty sort of scents, but at the end of a long day I want something a little more...relaxing without it necessarily being lavender or camomile. These bath bombs have what I can only describe as a sensual mix of woody, earthy and spicy notes that linger on the skin long after you get out in the most beautiful way.

The smell is so enticing I couldn't follow beauty blogger protocol and take snaps of the products before I used it - I've already used up half! I really like that they decided to break down three bath bombs in half so that it's entirely up to you whether you get three or six uses out of them. I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. 

Only thing I'm not too keen is that the poppy seeds which these bath bombs are made from end up sitting at the bottom of the bath, an entirely minor inconvenience when you consider the benefits of the long, languorous bath you've just experienced. Though I would say that if you're planning on spending a good while in there, and you have a darker complexion like mine, because the bath bomb turns the water white, you might end up with a slightly greyish tint to your skin. This doesn't really matter if you're headed straight to bed but it's worth bearing in mind if you've got something planned afterwards! (It's nothing a quick rinse with clean water won't get rid of.)

All-in-all, I've had a lovely experience with this product, and would love to get my hands on more The Body Shop bath products. If you're looking for inspiration, here's my current wishlist:

Have you tried any products from The Body Shop Smoky Poppy range? Which products from the bath range have you tried or would love to get your hands on? 

I've Been Learning All Wrong

Sunday, 17 May 2015

My course has a Facebook group where we all come together to discuss relevant topics, share relatively important news and ask pertinent questions in regards to the course material. As the exam heat slowly cranks up (I'll let you know when we reach boiling point), the posts to the group now fit into two distinct categories: "Did we see this in class? I wasn't there/was asleep/had to scroll my Facebook feed instead of paying attention/I can't seem to be able to read my notes" and "Can you explain ____ to me?"

The answers given to the second category often makes me heart-clenchingly anxious because those who are generous enough to take the time to answer seem to know the answer. I don't just mean they give a verbatim reproduction of the textbook or what the lecturer said in class, but they know their material. They understand. They're really into the course. And they're probably going to make fine lawyers. 

Rather than leading me down my all-too-travelled road of wondering whether Law is for me (I know Belgian Law most definitely is not), this observation lead me to question my learning style. No, not whether I am a visual or auditory learner, or if I'm more creatively or scientifically inclined, or whether flashcards would be my friend if I started using them early enough or if I would remember my course material better if highlighted in peach as opposed to mint green. It lead me to ask myself whether all these years I haven't been going about the whole learning thing all wrong, and I came to the conclusion that I have. 

I've realised that throughout my entire academic career, I have learned to pass and get the grade, but I haven't actually learned to, you know - learn

When it came to studies, my focus has always been results-orientated. It's been a nasty case of "Yes, I will happily take in all the course material and show you how well I've retained it and in exchange you had better provide me with a shiny piece of paper telling the whole world how spectacular my grades are". I could cite a whole host of reasons why this came to be my mentality, though I would be quick to blame the way the majority of mainstream education systems are set up, parental expectations and the use of academic success as a means of teenage self-validation as I struggled to figure out who I was. I also think I just didn't know any better. 

I'd never sat down to really think about it. The answer to the question of why you should study, especially when you're from a first-generation immigrant family, was always going to be 'to get a good job, to be successful in life and because you should be lucky you can even attend school - and for free!'. The higher the grade, the better my life was (theoretically) going to be. It wasn't until I begun to really question what I was passionate about in life and why I never seemed to like my course as much as my coursemate that I realised the limits of results-orientated learning. 

When all you care about is getting the top grades, you are focused on knowing the course material as best as you can - not exploring the actual subject you're being taught. Extra-curricular activities feel pointless unless they're enhancing your CV in some way or will help you get better grades in the long run. Results-orientated learning is a hollow sort of learning that will never allow you to take your academics beyond the walls of the institution you're in. The real world, unfortunately, is not structured like a syllabus, and life does not hand out diplomas for overcoming the obstacles it'll regularly throw at you.

Up until now I was quick to blame the school system: I was convinced that I didn't enjoy my English classes because analysing my favourite books sucked enjoyment out of them, or that I couldn't study something more vocational or creative with no "guaranteed" job prospects because then I'd struggle to get into university and such a shame that would be. I was so sure that school was sucking the fun and enjoyment out of everything without realising that I was the culprit. By taking all the subjects that I was good at or was passionate about, and heaping on the pressures of results-orientated learning, I was the one turning myself against them. If I wasn't going to be the best, no matter how much I enjoyed it, then it wasn't worth investing the time in it.

I completely missed the point of learning, which is to learn; to deepen your knowledge about a topic, to understand it, to add it to your skill set. It's really not about the grades (though they're not unimportant)

With my final exams imminent, it's a tad too late to apply this newfound discovery to my course, but I can apply to other areas of my life: such as blogging. There is so much to learn about blogging, which is what makes it such an exciting and passionate creative outlet with so much potential. I know that if I go about learning more about blogging from a results-orientated perspective, by this time next year, I'll hate it. It's not about stats, or follower counts or eventual awards, and there's no test you can take on blogging that you can pass with flying colours. Learning in hopes of understanding, of improving, of growing, however, that sounds more like something that can help you grow not only as a blogger but as a person. 

I've been learning all wrong but at least I learned that I was. Now I can change it. 

Are you a (former) results-orientated learner as well? What's more important to you - getting high grades or the knowledge you acquire? 

Five Ways to Mentally Prepare for Your Exams

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Brace yourself. Exams are coming. 

I know a lot of people (who are still in education) have already started their exams - and good luck to you lovely people - but for other June examinees like myself, time is ticking and it appears to be slipping away awfully fast. Cue panic-mode, the desperate wish for some sort of Time Turner and repeatedly asking yourself why, oh why, did you not start revising much sooner, even though if you'd started any sooner you would have started long before the course even started. All of this, as you can imagine, isn't helpful thinking. 

It took me a long time to realise that no amount of exam stress will ever be productive - instead it increases the likelihood of the "what is the point, this is a lost cause" mentality settling with the more pressure and stress and worry that I pile on. It's hard to focus on remembering the facts when you're focused on the fact that you're probably going to end up forgetting them. So this time around, I am making sure that even if I'm fairly sure that I'm not academically ready to sit the exams, I am mentally prepared to go into that examination room, head held high, and simply do my best. 

Here are five ways you can mentally prepare for your exams: 

I. Put it into perspective || Yes, exams are extremely important during the course of your academic career as your success is what allows you to progress, and doing well is also desirable for many reasons (making your family proud, giving you an end over your competitors on the job market, etc.) but guess what? Exams are also not the beginning and the end of the world. In the grand scheme of things, success or failure is only relative to a tiny area of your life, an assessment of how well you did in a certain subject at a given time and under a given set of circumstances. Remind yourself of the importance of exams at this particular point in your life, but don't hinge your entire being or self-worth on their outcome. Pass or fail, you'll still be you, and still be as awesome as you were before you looked at that piece of paper with your grades on them.

II. Exercise || Whether you get your heart pumping with a decent round of cardio or take some time to stretch out your muscles through a yoga flow, it's important to try and incorporate 20-30 minutes of exercise as often as you can manage it (even a 10-minute walk will do). Not only is exercise good for your overall health, you will feel more energised and give your stress an outlet instead of letting it drive you crazy or settle somewhere in your shoulders.

III. Get enough sleep || Ah the temptation of all nighters. Whilst I can't personally pull them (the closest I get to an all-nighter is sleeping around 2 a.m. and then waking up again at 5 a.m.), I've noticed that even the loss of a couple of hours of sleep will have a negative impact on my energy, concentration and stress levels. I'm also more likely to reach for unhealthy foods, which in turn leaves me more sluggish, which in turn affects my productivity levels. Do your best to get your 7-8 hours of sleep, sacrificing something else during the day if possible, to ensure that you get a good night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. 

IV. Take a bath || I know, I know, sometimes it seems like there just isn't time to run a bath and sit there doing nothing other than relaxing, giving yourself time to breathe and pamper yourself, but trust me, you will feel better. Baths not only allow you to mentally relax, they offer your muscles a chance to release some of the tension you've been unknowingly building up as the stress of approaching exams mounts, and if you're struggling to sleep, a bath before bed with relaxing, soothing scents like lavender or chamomile will go a long way to helping you get a better night's sleep.

V. Stay positive || The things you say to yourself will affect your overall performance. Repeating to yourself every day "I'm screwed, I'm going to fail, I can't do this" is, at worst, going to end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, and at best, going to stop you from doing your best. After all what's the point of giving all you can when you're fairly sure that you're going to fail anyway? Instead of encouraging the rising panic in your chest when faced with the looming exam date and the realisation that there just aren't enough hours in the day to ever finish going over your notes with more negativity, confront your fears and stress with words such as "I will do my best and my best will be good enough" or even something more brazen like "I am going to ace these exams" (though obviously don't tell yourself that whilst sat in front of the tv with your unopened books beside you). The subconscious is a powerful thing - you'll be surprised at the difference a slight change in your inner dialogue will make to your overall exam performance. 

How do you mentally prepare for an exam?

(PS: If you're looking for a ways to make your revision session more productive, check out this post.) 

Lazy Make Up Removal w/ Garnier

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Currently in the middle of preparing for upcoming exams, attending the last of my classes and sorting out student finance related admin, as well as trying to stay on top of blog, exercise regularly, see my family, participate more in my local community and find some time to actually - you know - breathe, at the end of the day, things like make up removal go right out of the window. 

I'm a massive fan of cleansing balms and oils such as the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish and The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil, but when I'm stood in the bathroom at the end of a long day, staring at my cleansers, all I want to do is go straight to bed, make up removal be damned. That's where these two Garnier products have saved the day. Two products and two cotton pads later, I'm make up free enough to slap on some moisturiser and go to bed. 

First I use is the Garnier Express 2-in-1 Eye Make Up Remover, which I initially picked up because it claimed to be suitable for contact lens wearers, so I assumed that it would be less likely to irritate my eyes all the while doing a decent job since it claims to be 'ultra-efficient'. So far, my assumption has been correct. Unless I'm really tired and get a little too product heavy on the cotton pad (there is such a thing as too much eye make up remover), this removes all of my eye make up for the day in a couple of gentle swipes without irritating them or leaving an uncomfortable oily residue. I've yet to wake up with panda eyes from this which is always a good sign.

I then go in with the Garnier Micellar Water Combination & Sensitive Skin (400ml) to remove makeup from the rest of my face. I'd heard so much about the Garnier Micellar waters and intended to pick up the one with the pink top, but when I saw that this was aimed in particular at those with sensitive combination-to-oily skin, I had to have it. It doesn't completely cleanse my face as a face wash or cleansing oil would, but for my lazy post-revision "it's been a long day" make up removal it works just fine, meaning that at least I don't go to bed with an full face of make up. 

Do you have any go-to make up removal products for those days when you just can't be bothered? 

The Perks of Being A(n Extreme) Morning Person

Sunday, 10 May 2015

There's being a morning person, and then there's being a morning person. For the past couple of weeks, I've been making an effort to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning. Not because I have to (when I have to, it's so much less enjoyable), but because I want to. And I wouldn't have stuck to it as long (and be planning to stick to it permanently) if there weren't some perks to being such an early riser, and today - on what is ironically my lie-in day, for Sunday is a day of rest - I thought I'd share with you the perks of being an extreme morning person:

  • You've already completed half your to-do list by the time most people are just waking up. Cue feelings of hyper-productivity, elevated motivation and just a touch of thinly-veiled self-satisfied smugness. 
  • It's a daily strength workout for your willpower. If you can get up at five a.m. on the daily simply because you chose to, then you can probably do anything.
  • Breakfast. You have more than enough time for it, meaning you can get all creative and savour it without having to grab and go (or just skip it all together). 
  • If you're an introvert, then you're always guaranteed to have some time yourself to replenish your solitude reserve, so that when it does come to socialising later in the day it won't feel intrusive or way too much because it's been too long since you had some Alone Time. In fact, since you've been up since five doing your thang, seeing people actually feels quite nice.
  • People think you're insane - in that genius-like, determined, brilliant kind of way. 
  • It's a great time to get on with your creative endeavours. It feels like the rest of the world is still asleep, the sunshine is slowly filtering in and growing brighter, the smell of coffee fills the entire room and progressively perks you up, and as you get settled in you feel more inspired than you've ever been.  
  • Sunday lie-ins feel absolutely glorious. And since a lie-in means getting up at 8 or 9, you've still got the whole day ahead of you. 
  • You have more time to procrastinate. I can watch four episodes of Pretty Little Liars, and it's still only 9 a.m. Yeah, that's right - productive procrastination is possible.
  • You have more time for everything. All the things you didn't have time for before suddenly just become a question of scheduling. Carpe Diem, right? 

What about you? Are you a morning person or a night owl? 

Five Tips For A More Productive Revision Session

Thursday, 7 May 2015

As I mentioned in this post, for me May marks the beginning of an intense revision sessions before exams roll around with the month of June, and I'm doing my my best to keep my revision at optimum levels. Some days are better than others, but what's important is to not stress and beat myself up about all the things I didn't do or could have done and didn't do, but rather stay focused and determined to get to the end of this exam period having done the best that I can. 

Today I thought I'd share with you five ways I've found to have a more productive revision session. 

I. Break your time up into chunks || I've noticed that I work much better when I break down a three hour revision session into smaller chunks of anything from 30-50mins, rather than attempting to sit down in front of my books for three hours straight. Chances are my mind is going to start wandering after an hour, and instead of taking in new information, I'll be desperately hoping for the time to be over. Keep your breaks to 5-10mins between each study chunks (but no more or you risk never coming back!), and get up to to stretch your legs, maybe dance to your favourite song to get your mood back up, or reach for a nice cup of green tea to help with an energy slump. To help set your times, I recommend using the 30/30 App, which has to be one of the best productivity apps I've used to date. 

II. Start your revision in the morning || You may not be a morning person but for the sake of your revision, you are now! When you get your revision over and done with earlier in the day, it leaves you with the late afternoon and the evening to chill out rather than having to push yourself to revise when you've more than likely already used up all your reserves of motivation. Plus chances are your exams won't be at one in the morning, so being a night owl doesn't actually do you any favours! Which brings me to my next tip:

III. Make sure you get enough sleep || This is a no-brainer, so obviously it's one of the hardest things to do. I often catch myself procrastinating on going to sleep, finding a whole host of different things I just have to do before I go to bed, only to wake up the next morning still tired, groggy and in absolutely no mood to get stuck into my textbooks. If you can't get the sleep during the night, then don't be afraid to take small naps during the day and incorporate them into your revision schedule so that you're actually alert enough to take in what you're studying. If you're sat in front of your textbook falling asleep, taking a small nap is much more productive than telling yourself you've studied just because you stared at the text for the amount of time you'd set yourself.

IV. Learn the structure of your course || I have this one lecturer who since I first had him in first year when pressed for advice on how to pass his exams, had only this to give by way of advice: "Learn the table of contents". Naturally, I thought he was a little...eccentric until recently it finally clicked in my mind as to what he meant by that. When you know the structure of your course, it allows you to place information within that structure. This makes it just that bit easier to recall the information, especially when you're in the exam, sat in front of your exam paper and your mind is going blank on you. Even if you aren't able to recall the little details, you'll at least have the general framework, and usually, the more you relax, the more information your brain will give you as it remembers the connections you made between the details and the overall structure.

V. Don't give up on your hobbies || This might sound like strange revision advice but experience has taught me that nothing causes revision burnout faster than having nothing to look forward during each day other than...more revision. If, however, you schedule a coupe of hours where you take the time to do something that you enjoy or renews you, revision will feel more like something that you just happen to have to do in preparation for your exams as opposed to something that is slowly but surely taking over your life and sucking the joy and energy out of you. Remember, revision is important, but revision isn't life, and doing your best isn't about pushing yourself until you're miserable.

What are your tips for a more productive revision session?

My Daily Face

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I don't wear makeup every day (and take conscious breaks from a full face when it begins to feel like I'm wearing it to hide behind rather than because I enjoy it and find the process fun and relaxing) but on a day-to-day basis I'll gravitate towards the same products.

After moisturising I give my skin a glowing boost with the The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost. If I'm wearing foundation, particularly liquid foundation, I'll add The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur on top just to make sure that everything stays in place as long as possible. Despite always thinking that a matte finish was best, and as a consequence resenting my oily skin for never being completely matte, I have been enjoying the more dewy finishes of late; they give my skin an overall healthier, and brighter look. My current foundation of choice is the Maybelline Fit Me Liquid Foundation in the shade 355 Coconut. 

For covering them "I've been up all night revising" dark circles, I use the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in the shade 30 Cafe  which is my absolute favourite concealer to date. It's lightweight, blends easily and when patted into place with a powder like the L'Oréal Nude Magique BB Powder for Dark Skin  has incredible staying power. I prefer to set my foundation in place with a loose powder like the Collection 2000 Sheer Loose Powder, as the BB Powder quickly becomes cakey when layered on too much. Though if I'm having a no-foundation day, it's great for wearing alone.

For my eyes, I usually reach for the Make Up Revolution Euphoria Palette - Bare. Not only is the packaging just gorgeous, the 6 eyeshadow shades are all complementary, and perfect neutral tones for every day wear. I used to think that I was more of a matte eyeshadow kind of girl, but I've since realised that a little shimmer goes a long way to bringing out my eyes, usually hidden behind glasses. I then reach for my Make Up Revolution Double Flick Thick and Thin Eyeliner  to create a chunky cat-eye or a subtle thin flick depending on my mood thanks to the double ends. 

And then it's onto my eyebrows. In a recent post I confessed that I was more of a brow pen kind of girl, and in a dream world I'd have my Make Up Revolution Ultra Brow Arch & Shape in Darkest , but as it stands, I'm using the Eyelure Ink Brow in Dark Brown. It's not my favourite product, and I'm fairly sure it's drying out on me already (I haven't even had it a month), but it does the job. I then set them into place with the e.l.f Essential Wet Gloss Clear Brow & Lash Mascara (which has now turned that lovely gunky brown). To set my face into place, I spritz on the Kiko Cosmetics Face Make Up Fixer, which I absolutely love. I never thought I could get through a day without my make up melting from my face until I tried this. As far as affordable setting sprays go, I highly recommend this. 

Last, but not least, I'll try to add a little something to my lips. I say try because I'm not really a lip product kind of girl, but I'll sometimes add some colour to them with something like Yves Rocher Automatic Lip Liner in Red. I'll then just pop on some lipbalm or lip gloss and call it a day. Otherwise I find myself gravitating towards nude shades - either the traditional nudes like the e.l.f. Studio Matte Lip Colour in Praline, which gives a peachy, "Kylie Jenner" nude, or nudes for my skintone which is actually a brown like the Yves Rocher Lipstick in Chestnut which is a perfect "my lips but better" shade for me.

Then that's me done!

What products do you reach for in your daily make up routine? 

Thoughts on Sunday | The Difficulty of Following Your Own Advice

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Thoughts on Sunday is back! It's a feature that I had when I started the blog, but eventually, perhaps because I was impatient for a response, my interest faded slightly and I convinced myself that it wasn't something that I wanted as a part of euhnella. Oh, how wrong I was. It turns out I actually really missed those weekly reflections on things in life, and every Sunday since I stopped writing the feature, I've been asking myself "Why don't I bring it back?" With no reason not to, Thoughts on Sunday is officially back. 

This week, I wanted to touch on the difficulty of following your own advice. As I was scrolling through the archives, looking at my past posts on this feature, I realised I had some good advice, or at least pieces of motivational tidbits, that if applied to my life could make it just that bit easier (and hopefully those who eventually read it). So why wasn't I following any of it? It wasn't like it was some stranger who had written a post and said, 'Hey, you - go and do this' - it was me. I had actually taken the time to ponder through all of these things and processed them enough to write them out into a coherent text.

Apparently, just because it's your own advice, it doesn't make it easier to follow. Sometimes it might even make it harder, because you know what you're doing, so you think that's enough: you don't realise that implementing your own advice, more often than not, requires a change of habit, and that usually takes about thirty odd days of consciously trying to to change that habit.

It's like this: most of us know exercise of some form is good for us. Actually doing that exercise? That's something else. Similarly, putting into practise advice or motivational ideas is another step up from just knowing it, and one that's not always easy (or we conveniently forget) to take. And just like exercise, it's not something that you can think about once and put aside. The thing with advice or motivation, if you don't regularly re-contemplate them, you eventually forget that you were following them in the first place. 

Now that I've determined that it's not just about writing out these thoughts, and leaving them to one side, but now and then reminding myself of them, what useful thoughts have I had in the past?