Mental health awareness week

There used to be a time when we didn’t know what was inside our bodies or how they worked. Now SCIENCE has made it so that we can live to a ripe old age because we know how our bodies work and we know that if we do general maintenance for them and seek out professional help when we need then we are not letting wounds get infected and we know to wash our hands after going to the loo. More and more we are learning about how our mind works, what general maintenance we need to do and that prevention, just like with our bodies is better than letting things linger and hope that they go away by themselves. We know first aid for when we cut ourself or we get sunburn but when we experience rejection or loneliness our emotional first aid kit is a little lacking, at least I know mine was and it has taken time to develop it and I’m still developing it. The concept of emotional first aid I first came across towards the end of my second year of uni when I suffering with depression, I watched a TED talk by a person called Guy Winch and I loved his talk, I then read his book and also found it very valuable. 

The biggest step I took when I was depressed was reaching out, it took me 9 months of being depressed to do it but I did it, from then onwards I was on the road to recovery. At times I wish that I had reached out earlier but in my state of mind and having not reached for professional help before it was something that was too alien and difficult. I am now getting better at recognising when I see signs that I am not feeling so well emotionally and through therapy and lots of reading my emotional first aid kit is more like a tool box that I rifle through until I find the right tool for the job, sometimes it takes more than one or two tools and sometimes it takes going to the mechanic. 

Mental health is something that I am very passionate about so not only this week I will be writing blog post but you can expect for me to write about it or draw about it in my instagram. If you want to reach out to ask me any questions then please do so on my instagram and I will do my best. Also I want to encourage each other to speak up about mental health to your friends and colleagues because we never know who is going through a rough patch and when we are feeling low our minds trick us into thinking that it is just us who aren’t coping or failing at life which further alienate us and then reaffirm those negative believes that pop up when we are feeling low, so by hearing other people’s experiences we realise that we are not alone in what we experience and there will be some people who understand what we are going through and that we don’t need to go through it alone. 

Reach out over the phone:

  • Samaritans – for everyone – Call 116 123
    Email jo@samaritans.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day

  • Papyrus – for people under 35 – Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm Text 07786 209697
  • Childline – for children and young people under 19 – Call 0800 1111

  • The Silver Line – for older people – Call 0800 4 70 80 90

  • SANEline – 0300 304 7000
    4.30pm – 10.30pm daily

Reach out online:

https://turn2me.org/onlinecounselling/details?gclid=Cj0KCQjw5-TXBRCHARIsANLixNxiVN04PNuc7vVyASC6KEbSQV6w9Pte3FgXcXMVCHGAPSPdQXIGww0aAi0UEALw_wcB

Reach out in person:

(from the NHS website)

Talk to someone you trust

Let family or friends know what’s going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe.

There’s no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what’s important.

If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you could:

call your GP – ask for an emergency appointment

call 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you need

Overcoming fears and incorporating nourishing actives into our daily lives

10 May Thursday

When I was getting ready for the vegan market in Reading I made some new card designs, I ordered new biodegradable cellophane bags. So because I got my greetings card production ready I thought that after the market I would approach my local independent gift shop. The market came and went and I realised that it was a little daunting to approach shops but the only reason that I wasn’t doing it was out of fear. So after a lot of procrastinating I finally went with my folder of six designs. I was to be frank very inarticulate but I finally got my message across and I was told that the person that is in charge of ordering cards is on holiday. So out of my hands! I was relieved and proud of myself that I had done it, I hadn’t let my fear get in the way and I hadn’t made a complete embarrassment of myself! 

I then went to Shed to treat myself to a lovely hot chocolate whilst I worked on my bullet journal and my monthly goals. Feeling a lot more organised I then went to the park to read my book called Uncovering Happiness by Dr Elisha Goldstein (I originally found it in my library so yours might have it too!) which talked about writing out your day with what you do. So for example: wake up, check phone, browse phone, brush teeth, get showered, dress ….. all the way until you go to sleep and next to them write either a dash if the activity is neutral, a D for draining or a N for nourishing. This will allow you to see how your daily activities might be affecting your mood and then it goes on to talk about how to switch them more nourishing ones or adapting if they cant be completely switched. For example you might have to drive into work and you get stuck in traffic, the book suggests that this is a good time to incorporate an element of play by listening to music you like or listening to a podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to but never find the time. It also talks about not overwhelming ourselves so not trying to radically change everything all at once.

For me it was that I would wake up and go on my phone and sometimes watch half and episode on netflix to wake me up or scrolling through my instagram. I didn’t feel like this was nourishing me as it was more of a crutch. So I took advice from the book to leave my trainers by my bed with legging t-shirts and socks all ready to go and when Adam and me both got out of bed I put on my gym gear, I didn’t feel like going to the gym AT ALL but the book had said that even just putting on the gym shoes is a starting place so I tricked my mind in saying that it was ok to just leave the house with Adam and walk in the lovely sunrise light to the train station. After getting some air and walking done, going to the gym wasn’t that daunting. I did five mins on the bicycle and then used three different machines. It wasn’t very long but it has set me up nicely and I feel nourished and proud of myself for taking action over my wellbeing. 

Let me know of ways that you nourish yourself 🙂

Hairy Diaries – Making Goals, Achieving them and learning

Hairy Diary Entry #2
20 April 

The sun is out! Will the hairy legs come out too?

Not shaving during the winter is not really a new thing for me. The difference this time around is that it because a conscious decision, this is because I started a journey of accepting my own body. So other winters it was just out of laziness, this winter it has been about very consciously choosing to let my hair grow. 

Yesterday (19 april) it was very warm so I decided to wear a dress. A long one. But none the less I could still see my hairy legs! Whilst I waited for my partner in the park I mostly sat crossed legged as I felt self-conscious, this came at the price of pins and needles and I longing looked at men in shorts and how their leg hair just seemed so normal and unprovocative. My biggest fear I think is that I’ll get my pretty legs out and someone will walk by with a friend and nudge the other person and giggle. I shouldn’t care what other people have to say but alas I do. My goal for the coming warmer days is to get my chicken legs out more and see what happens. 

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Art by me Sara Botero @qitiji

Hairy Diary Entry #3
8 May

They did come out! For a bit..

It has been two weeks and a bit and I have experienced quite a bit in my hairy journey. My goal had been to venture out onto the public with hairy legs and I first did this with 3/4 length trousers. I have recently been reading a lot of articles on body hair and the stigma that surrounds it for people who identify as female and the first step to challenging this stigma is to do it ourselves. So my normal reaction is to look at my hairy legs and feel unfeminine and shameful, so instead I have been staring at the mirror or just at my legs and telling my brain that when I look at my bf’s legs I have no negative thoughts instead they are neutral thoughts, I then have tried to apply this same way of thinking to my own body. This is going quite well, yet as soon as I step out of the safety of my own home and step into the brighter outside I stop and look down and I feel the very familiar wave of shame come over which would normally have made me go back inside and put on a longer pair of trousers, but I fight it and carry on. I don’t think anyone noticed or they might have done but they didn’t say anything. My next outing was to the park where it was filled with people due to their being a food festival, this time I wore a dress that came to above my knee and I definitely got some side eye and the most difficult thing was to walk in front of people who are seating down and get a lovely view of my legs. I had a constant feeling of being on guard and wondering if giggles that I heard nearby were directed at me or not. One side of my brain is saying nobody probably cares or notices but the other is thinking about how many times I have seen a woman’s hairy legs out and about, probably three times in my whole life and how there’s a reason for this and how I’m probably being judged right now. All of this got a bit too much so I left the park feeling a bit drained. 

On instagram some people have suggested bleaching the hair so its less noticeable whilst getting used to being out on the town with hair chicken legs but I felt that because I have quite hairy legs it might backfire and accentuate them by glistening in the sun? Wasn’t sure that would work for me so instead I opted to self tan my legs as my hypothesis was that if my legs were so translucent then my dark hairs wouldn’t be so noticeable. However I didn’t think it was a good idea to apply the self tan on my hairy legs as it might turn out blotchy? So I decided to use up the remainder of my depilation cream instead of shaving so the hair wouldn’t grow back so spiky. I had left over cream so I thought I might as well do my armpits. BIG mistake, immediately they started burning so I scraped it off but it carried stinging even after I thoroughly washed if off. Oh the pain! Logically I then added freshly cut aloe vera as it is known to help burns. It helped but for some reason it stained my armpits purple. I know, I know having written all of this down it sounds like madness. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 13.09.49Since then I haven’t done any more acts of hair removal and the self tan has kind of worked I think. The weekend that just went by was bank holiday so we headed to Brighton. My hairs have grown out a little coarser than if I had waxed and they are about 4mm long (yes the ruler did come out).

Whilst there I felt minimal self-consciousness compared to how I would have felt in the past. Being in Brighton helped tho, on the first day that we arrived we had breakfast at the Loving Hut by the park and there was a family and all the members of the family had hairy armpits, as did our AirBnB hostess! I had thought that this was the beginning of weekend of seeing fellow hairy females. This was not to be so as I didn’t spot any other hair females and to be honest I was feeling a little lonely in my quest, that is until we were walking back to the train station to leave and up ahead I spot a woman about my age with shorts and legs as hairy as mine are in their full peak of hairy glory! I saw her again a couple of mins later and we shared a smile. 

This fellow hairy human really lifted my spirits as I had now seen three hairy fellow peeps! This helps massively because sometimes I feel like I am a hairy freak and just seeing someone who is as hairy as me looking 100% at home with their body combats the negative perceptions that are present. In our life time we probably have seen 100’s of thousands of images of what women should look like and so that 1 positive experience acts like a little ray of hope. 

Below I will link the articles which I have recently read:

https://feminisminindia.com/2017/04/12/stigma-body-hair/

http://feministing.com/2016/08/02/complicating-female-body-hair-consent-gender-violence-and-feminism/

Low impact 30 day challenge!

Low impact 30 day challenge!

I have been following Sustainably Vegan for a very long time, she has been an inspiration. An inspirational for zero Waste and also very informative but also an inspiration on a personal level in how vocal I am about environmental issues that I care about. Watching her on YouTube also gave me a big push to start my own YouTube channel which is something that I had wanted to do for a long while but was held back through being too shy! I asked on one of her videos on any tips to get started and feeling awkward and as ever she was super genuine and told me how she had felt super awkward to begin with but to just get started as practice is what will make the awkwardness diminish. If you want to check out my channel then please do 🙆 I promise I’ll get less awkward!

Anyway back to the real reason for my blog post which to say that I will be joining the low impact 30 day challenge. Which starts tomorrow!!

Below is the link for the info pack that she so kindly put together for free!

Click here!

Also the Instagram account for the low impact challenge link

I hope you join in on this really cool challenge! We never know what we are capable until we try.

 

 

 

 

11 year old Sara realises hairiness is not ok

Up until this point I hadn’t felt shame towards my own body hair. I knew that women shaved etc as its not as if I didn’t watch tv and saw women shaving invisible hair. However I had just thought of it as unnecessary and frankly quite scary. So I didn’t shave simple.

That is until I go on school field trip where it was sunny and hot hence I had shorts. So a group of girls decide to ask me why I don’t shave with a look on their face that is a mixture of quizzicalness and disgust. I told them that I used to shave but got cut so bad that it scared me off, not sure they bought it but in my head I thought this was better than telling the truth that I had never shaved and be labelled not normal. I guess with this lie I was saying that I tried to be normal but failed which was better than not trying at all?

 

 

The hairy diaries

The hairy diaries are going to be blog posts encapsulating kinda what it says on the tin, my hairiness and what society has to say about it! In more detail it is going to be about my relationship with my body hair and research on body hair, specifically female body hair and why women are expected to remove practically all hair from nose to toes.

If you have any hairy stories that you would like to share, anomalously or not on my blog please send me an email or dm on instagram (@Qitiji).

 

Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary needs us

Hello everyone!

The land that Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary is on is up for sale and this threatens the lives of all the animals that have been rescued and looked after by them.

They have a very short period of time were they need to raise the money, if we all collectively give some money these animals can keep the home that they so much deserves after starting off their lives a commodity.

Here is the link to give anything that you can spare.

Also please share the link with your friends.

If you want to see more of the amazing work they do check out their Instagram account.

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Photo of Esme a rescued sheep at Mino Valley Farm by fotographer @sfisherx
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Insert from one of Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary posts on Instagram 

 

Paula Stone Williams on inequalities

Paula Stone Williams on having lived as a man & now a woman.
Paula highlights the differences that she has encountered through having experienced the world as a man and the gender inequalities that she now encounters living as a woman. Not only is Paula educating in this TED talk but she is also witty and funny.

Whilst I watched the video that towards the end overall women applauded with gusto and so did some men but a lot didn’t..mmhh I feel like this says a lot. Highlighting the fact that a group of people have a privilege can often create feelings of defensiveness but it is important that even if we feel them we must overcome them to really hear what is being said and not just take it as a personal attack.

I also really liked that she highlighted in the end not only male privilege but also white and Cisgender privilege :

“What do they know that I’m clueless about? What do any of us really know about the shoes that we have never walked? It’s hard being a women, it’s hard being a transgender woman. As a man I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

 

How two documentaries changed me

In the month of November 2016 I watched the documentary ‘The True Cost’ and ‘The Minimalist’. Both forced me to look at how I was spending my money for different reasons.

The True Cost of Fashion opened my eyes to the unsafe conditions workers have to be in. It shows the process of what is necessary to be able to buy a £3 top in H&M. I realised that the way in which I was shopping was very unconscious and unethical. Unethical because people are being taken advantage of the fact that they want to improve their quality of living and working in a sweatshop is an improvement to rural work. So a lot of women have become independent through moving to the city and working in a sweatshop, this is not what I am against. It could be done in a way that it is not only allowing people to become independent but also empowering them and in a safe environment.

Cost to health:
Due to the increase demand for cheap leather Kanpur has become the biggest exporter of leather in India. Its cheap to us but it comes as a detrimental cost to the environment and health of the people of Kanpur. More than 50 million litres of toxic water from the tanneries go into the river Ganga. A river that is holy and serves 800 million people. This causes the drinking water to be contaminated with chromium which then leads to serious health problems such as jaundice, skin conditions and other health conditions.

The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter.

 

The pollution that is created through the industry creates serious health problems but the conditions in which workers have to work are also unsafe. This was brought to the public eye in 2013 when a sweatshop building collapsed in Dhaka Bangladesh and took over a 1000 lives and left 2500 injured.

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The True Cost also investigates not just the people who make our clothes but also the people that grow the material that is required and it found that 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years this is due to Monsanto creating a dependancy with the genetically modified cotton seed which doesn’t produce seeds, meaning that they have to carry on buying product from them and farmers have got into debt which has lead to the mass suicides. And this is because consumers are demanding cheaper and cheaper clothing and western companies are pandering to our demands at the detrimental impact to vulnerable people.

The world now consumes a staggering 80 billion pieces of clothing each year.

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Image by Fashion Revolution

The answer is not to completely boycott buying clothes and resort to hand stitching our shirts but instead to ask of the companies that you buy from for more transparency and choosing companies that have more ethical ethos. Everyones journey of being a more conscious consumer will be different. For me I realised through the years I had bought loads and loads of cheap clothes from H&M, Topshop, Zara, primark. Because I loved a bargain, I would get a rush when I found something that I liked and it was 70% off so I could have it for a mere 3 quid! Years and years of this pattern teamed up with me also being a bit of a hoarder has meant that I have a massive wardrobe, and by massive I mean gigantic.

Around the same time I watched the ‘True Cost’ I also watched ‘The Minimalists’ and it opened my eyes in regards to my consumerism and my relationship with stuff. Not only me but society in general, how we buy and buy things with a view that they will heighten our happiness and yet they only serve to weigh us down physically and mentally. I have moved several times and each time I realise just how much stuff I have that I have to move that I don’t even use and how stressful it is. I have also found pieces of clothing with tags still attached and realise that I bought said piece several years ago. So from November 2016 the things I have bought include two pairs of tights from American Apparel and everything else: three jumpers, pair levi jeans, skirt, shirt, dress, converse, bra have been bough second hand via charities, vintage shops and depop. I also hosted a clothes swap with some friends where I parted with items that I have hoarded for a while but hadn’t really worn for a long time and I gained a yellow mustard top that I love very much. A year and two months into my break from buying from the high street and at this point I had also been working in Oliver Bonas for three months I caved and used my employee discount to buy a pair of socks that I didn’t really need just because they were pink and they had embroiled the face of a lady that looks a bit like me: glasses and brown bob. I do quite love them and feel like I will treasure them. Which brings me to my final point which is something that is said in ‘The Minimalists’ which is that we are not materialistic enough in the true meaning of the word. We are more focused on what the item is portraying to the world than actually treasuring the item for itself because when we do treasure it then we are much more particular about what we chose to bring into our life and we are more likely to look after said item. Items become more treasured and less of a disposable item, we will mend and look after our material belongings more which will lead us to become more conscious buyers.

So what can we do ?

  • By taking the time to read this you have already consciously decided that you want to be more conscious of your consumption – that is step one: increase consciousness
  • Watch the ‘True Cost’ – its an amazing documentary that is moving and inspiring at the same time
  • Watch ‘The Minimalists’ – to see how buying less can make you happier
  • Use the Konmari method to take stock of the things that you do have because maybe like me, you realise that what you think you have is quite different to the reality of it.
  • If there are things that you do need because maybe you saw them in a magazine or a window display or maybe you don’t have one like that, then write them down and wait for a week or maybe even two. You might find that this need was more of an urge and that with time it passes.
  • And if it doesn’t then see if a friend has it (specially good for when tools are needed), then if that’s not an option then buy second hand and if all else fails then buy from a company that is transparent about its products.