Goodbye, 2018

Wow, 2018, just wow. You’ve been and gone and raged like a tornado through my life. As with every year there’s been heady highs and scary lows, but I really feel like 2018 as a year, has changed me so much more than any other year I can remember.

I found Kinning Park Complex

Well “found” is probably the wrong word, since I had actually been walking past it almost daily for 3 years, no I suppose it’s more accurate to say I “ventured in” to Kinning Park Complex. It’s actually impossible to overstate how much impact KPC and the people there have had on Kenny and I – it’s changed everything from our career paths to how we spend our free time, not to mention we’ve met some truly amazing people and eaten (a lot) of really good food.

I began my transition to veganism

If I’m being honest, my omnivore lifestyle hadn’t sat well with me for quite some time, but I buried my head in the sand, because, hey – cheese is tasty. Like, really tasty. 2018 saw me finally face up to things and begin the move towards veganism. Some parts have been easy, some bits I have failed at, miserably, but I’m excited to finally be on the path that feels right for me – and I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more about it as we head into 2019.

I made the leap to being self employed

After years of my mental health issues making me miserable when trying to hold down a typical job, 2018 was the year that, with encouragement from Kenny and my family, I finally said, “enough”, and decided I’d figure out another way to do this. Unlike a lot of people I didn’t have savings to fall back on or, you know, a plan, just sheer determination to stand on my own two feet and to prove that my anxiety and depression wouldn’t hold me back from being successful in life, even if they did in a “normal” job.

I could go on, and on, and on – rapidly realising that starting this post may have been a mistake. I could talk about how my family rallied around each other – as we always do. I could talk about how proud I am of Kenny for surviving University and landing an amazing job. I could share stories of barbecues and cutting a fringe in my hair (bad move btw),  of finally finding our local pub, learning Sorani and completely failing at a capsule wardrobe system – yeah, 2018 was a lot. Big mood.

Ultimately though, I’m all about looking forward, not back. So thank you 2018, for the lessons and the snow, for the scares and the seitan, the hugs and the hellos and here’s to 2019! Wishing you all a Happy New Year for when the time comes – I hope 2019 is good to you.

What was 2018 about for you? Let me know your highlights down below in the comments!

 

Advertisements

The Best Non-Fiction Books I read in 2018

I’ve always been a total bookworm – a lot of my childhood memories centre around a leg going completely to sleep after I’ve been sitting in an odd position, reading for too long. Ah, the good ol’ days. I’ve always read primarily fiction, I love getting lost in new world and falling in love with people who don’t exist (Aragorn for life <3). In 2018 though I’ve read far, far more non-fiction than I ever have before and I’ve been absolutely loving the conversations its encouraged me to have with other folks and the ideas it’s caused me to churn over in my little noggin. I thought I’d share my absolute favourites with you here, in case you’re looking for some inspiration.

Stuffocation non fiction books favourites reading

I’ve linked to the books on Amazon in case you’re looking for more info/reviews/to purchase (they are affiliate links), but remember you can check with your local library before purchasing, I was pleasantly surprised by how many were available through Glasgow Libraries.

2018 was the year I found Caitlin. For those of you who don’t know, Caitlin runs a YouTube Channel called Ask a Mortician, and throughout the year she has become my favourite content creator. Her ability to talk about some of the topics considered most taboo in Western culture, and to do it with humor, sensitivity and transparency is truly incredible.

A lot of her work is centred around creating Death Positivity; encouraging people to have conversations about death and what we want to happen to our bodies. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is Caitlin’s memoir about her time working at a crematorium – it covers everything from little things you might always have wondered about (“what exactly IS embalming anyway?”) to discussions of much deeper topics that maybe we don’t often wonder about.

While the book is certainly emotional in places, it also made me laugh out loud and yeah, start having some conversations with family members about death. If you’d asked me at the start of the year if I thought I needed or wanted to read a book about working in the death industry I’d have firmly said “no”, but as it turns out, of all the books I’ve read this year, this has been the most valuable and thought-provoking.

Book flip through

I know, two books by the same author – but I honestly couldn’t pick just one! From Here to Eternity follows Caitlin on a journey around the world to find out how death is treated in all different cultures. She visits places where death is treated with the utmost clinical attitude, to places where people are a lot more comfortable with death and corpses. Again the book is wonderfully written in Caitlin’s voice, with her humor and absolute passion for the subject shining through. Such an eye-opening read!

While I do have a huge amount of interest in the concepts of mental wellness, self-improvement and living your best life, I also generally have quite a lot of skepticism about books or programs that promise “miracles” or such in those fields, especially those, like this book, that talk about them happening pre 8am! I am not a pre 8am person!

Had I just picked this book up in a store, or seen the title as I was scrolling through Amazon I’m honestly not 100% sure I would have picked it up, however, I saw the lovely Kay from Living the Life You Love talking about it, and the way she described it actually made a lot of sense to me.

What I like about this book, as opposed to some other books I’ve come across in this genre, is that yes, it promises big results, but it also gives you very tangible, logical steps to get there. This is not some airy fairy wishy washy thing, but rather an actual concrete program of simple things you can do in your own living room without buying anything. The Miracle Morning involves you completing six steps – you can do it in 5 minutes, or 2 hours or anything in between. You embrace silence, you vocalise affirmations, you visualise, you exercise (don’t panic, yoga is fine), you read and you write.

Each of the steps is enjoyable and I do genuinely find them to be enhancing. Have I started getting up at 5am? Uh, no. But as someone who used to start work 5 minutes after I got out of bed and was a ball of stress by mid-morning, this book hs given me a lot to think about in terms of establishing a strong mental foundation for the day.

Tesco refreshing mint dark chocolate

James Wallman is a trend forecaster who has worked with massive organisations like The New York Times, The Financial Times and GQ to analyse and predict upcoming trends. In Stuffocation, he looks at our current consumerist lifestyle and why it’s bad for the planet, the economy and why it’s leaving us all feeling Stuffocated.

I really enjoyed this book (though I’ll admit I lost interest a bit towards the end), as Wallman seems to be coming at things from a very objective point of view. He’s not a card-carrying minimalist or a die-hard consumer, he’s simply applying his huge amount of expertise in trends and forecasting to our current consumer climate and talking about how and why we got to this point and what on Earth the solutions could be.

Fun fact, I am incredibly squeamish. I grew up with a mother (and many of her friends) who worked in operating theatres, ICU’s, Accident and Emergency – all the gory places. If I’ve heard one intense description on what can happen in a motorbike crash, I’ve heard a thousand. If I’ve eaten one plate of pasta while listening to a step by step walk-through of a tricky surgery… well I think you get the point.

But, despite having so much medical chat in my life, I still grew up with the inability to handle the sight of my own blood. Or any medical procedures. So it’s safe to say that I wasn’t drawn to this book for the potentially intense medical details – it honestly isn’t very gory at all – but rather to hear the account of a junior doctor, having read so much about their plight in recent years.

It definitely was interesting to hear about how Junior Doctors are treated, really it was, but I got so much more from this book. I burst into fits of the giggles, I got the sensation of my stomach plummeting, and I cried very genuine tears. To use a cliché, this book is an emotional rollercoaster; a very personal account from someone who felt very passionately about the work they did.

It is on one hand so very human and relatable, and at the same time, so alien to think of the pressure that doctors – who’re just humans like you and me – have to work with.

Candle and Stuffocation book

This is the first book from The Minimalists that I’ve read, though I’ve been a long time follower of their podcast and blog. I really enjoyed this book, after years of hearing The Minimlaists discussing various issues, it was interesting to actually hear, not just their thoughts on something else, but their own stories of how and why they came to minimalism.

I feel like this book came at a good time for me, as while I could remember the “whats” of minimalism, I was losing touch with the “whys”, and with minimalism, it’s not really about the “what” of, have less stuff, it’s about “why” you would do that and “why” it matters.

The book was an easy read, it flowed like a conversation, and every so often I would read a paragraph or a sentence that resonated with something deep inside me, and it was like hearing a little bell chiming and feeling like, “oh yeah, I remember this feeling”. For all it felt like quite a casual read, it definitely had a lasting impact on me and left me feeling a lot more centred than I had been in a long time.

So that’s it then, the best non-fiction books I read in 2018! What about you? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think? Or, since I now well and truly have the non-fiction reading bug, do you have any suggestions for me?!

What’s on your reading list for 2019?

Best Non Fiction Books 2018 flatlay

 

 

Dark Winter Nights | Mindfulness for the Seasons

Rainy Weather Winter Scotland

Depending on where you live in the world, winter may or may not be a big deal. Here in Scotland, while we don’t typically experience heavy snowfall and absurdly cold temperatures, what we do get instead are months (and months) of very little daylight, it almost always raining even when it actually is daylight, and a colour scheme that features 17 shades of grey and bleh. It can be kind of tough. And then, once you get to the point of it being tough, you realise it’s only November, and it’s only just getting started.

So, why is it so tough?

We have electric lights, we have central heating and waterproofs; we’re not exactly camped out on the hills at the mercy of the elements here. For some people, clinical depression and S.A.D come into play of course – and just to clarify, while I have a long history with clinical depression that is typically worse in the winter months, I have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) – so know that this post, as ever, isn’t intended as medical advice, just well-intentioned stories of experience and some suggestions.

I think there are a few reasons why it’s tough, especially here in the UK:

  • Looking out the window, words you might use to describe the view in winter might be “bleak”, “grey”, “lifeless” or something like “grim” – none of these words really hold positive connotations. We don’t get a lot of the blue skies, and crisp frosty mornings – it really is months of dullness, or as we would say in Scotland, it’s dreichit.
  • It’s all everyone talks about (Or at least it feels like it). I go into the Post Office and the lady at the counter greets me by grumbling about the bloody rain being on again. I call my Dad, who regales me with a story of how he had to put the lights on before 4pm (that’s BEFORE 4pm, Kitty). Even if you yourself are trying not to focus on the rain and the wind, it is constantly discussed and put to you – and it is almost never in a positive light.
  • It feels like it makes your world shrink. Some of this is real – like for me, as a petite woman, I can’t go jogging in my local area in the dark… so that’s anytime before 8:30 and after 15:30 then. Wow. And some of it is more of a perception, I think. A lot of the things we might enjoy or fill our time with in the lighter months, suddenly aren’t so enjoyable or viable. It’s all too easy to fall into a rut of just sitting in front of the TV every night.

rain winter cars traffic city

So, how can mindfulness help?

I think there’s actually a few ways that practicing mindfulness can help us not just  endure, but in fact, thrive in the winter months. If we apply some of the core principles of mindfulness, like slowing down and practicing awareness, and focus them on the winter season specifically, I think we can make a big change in the way we perceive and therefore experience things.

  • I think it can be easy for winter to seem to represent death, or the end. The trees are leafless, so many animals are hibernating – or keeping a low profile – and we ourselves may feel sluggish in the cold weather. I like to take the time to re-enforce the idea of winter, not as a time of dying, but as a time of resetting. It can be a time for looking into ourselves and doing some resetting of our own – of using meditation, and the wonderful stillness that winter brings, to work on closing some now un-needed chapters within ourselves, and preparing for a time of growth, of blossoming and of change.
  • Winter is easily seen as a time “without”. Without sunshine. Without warmth. Without the buzzing of bees or the fluttering of bats. It can be easy to feel that winter has a lot “wrong” with it; as if Summer is our norm and somehow winter is the antithesis of that. I find that it helps me to focus on the idea of impermanence – that everything is fluid and without a fixed state. Like the seasons, like my thoughts, my feelings and my very existence. The cycle of the seasons creates balance, and we can relax and know that this cycle will continue – whether we moan and resist and fight it, or not. Winter may feel difficult sometimes, but as with all struggles, it will pass – and I think being mindful of this fact can be a big help in keeping things in perspective.
  • Create light and joy for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve mentioned above, I am usually all for trying to embrace winter for what it is and to love it, but sometimes, as the rain lashes against the window and the wind howls, it can be nice to draw yourself inwards instead. Close the blinds, light some candles or fairy lights (or, “winter lights” as my dad insists on calling his), make a hot beverage and take time to be still. At these times, I like to meditate on feelings of gratitude – which can be abundant in winter, if we give it a little thought. That I have a warm, safe house to retreat into, that I don’t have to worry about a bad winter leaving me without enough food, that I can have the time to simply sit and breathe when outside the weather is in such chaos – all of these things are huge blessings, and I do my best to stay mindful of them throughout the season.
  • Keep busy. As we spend more time with ourselves, perhaps reflecting more than we do in the busy Summer months, pay attention to ideas that may spring up. Winter can be an excellent time to pursue a hobby. I’m not suggesting that November 1st you go out and buy a shop’s worth of yarn or anything, but, if we slow down mindfully – rather than zoning out in front of the TV each night – we may find we have time, and the desire to learn something new, or return to neglected creative practice – whether that’s baking, playing the drums or crochet.

Rainy weather winter Scotland rain

But, we’re all still human…

Let’s be honest, while the points I’ve listed seem (I think) sensible and fairly logical, we’re all human and we will all still have days where we show up at work soaked to the skin, or when our heating breaks during the coldest week of the year. And what then?

Yup, winter does suck sometimes. It just does, and honestly, I think it’s perfectly okay to feel that way –  the one suggestion I would make though? Don’t be the person that greets strangers on the street with a “morning, horrible day, isn’t it?”. Try and remember that most people struggle with the long winters here, and honestly, contributing to the constant moaning about it isn’t helping anyone – although I’ll hold my hands up and admit I totally do this myself sometimes. I’m not suggesting you stand there in torrential rain and gale force winds with a slightly manic smile on your face as you declare, “BEAUTIFUL DAY ISN’T IT!?!?”, but rather that, when possible, we adopt a Thumper approach. You know, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all – about the weather or lack of daylight, anyway.

I hope you found this post helpful, or that it gave you some food for thought. I’d love to hear from you on what your winter experience is like – are winters hard where you live? Have you typically struggled a bit in the winter months? Do you have any suggestions for me, or other readers, as to what we might try?

 

 

The Best Sustainable Changes I Made in 2018

2018 has been an incredible year for me. I’ve made a lot of changes in my life and while I’m not going to lie – they’ve certainly not all been easy and they’ve not all stuck 100% – I’m really happy with the direction I’m moving in. Some of my favourite changes from this past year have been in regards to me living a more sustainable lifestyle, and I wanted to share them here with you today, in case you were looking for inspiration to make some sustainable changes yourself.

Eco cleaning products reusing old bottles vinegar spray

1. Cleaning my house almost exclusively with white vinegar and water

I say “almost” because I do still have some nasty chemical cleaner that I keep on hand for, you know, cat vomit. But other than that we basically wipe everything down with diluted white vinegar and reusable cloths. We’re also technically re-using an empty bottle of Astonish cleaner to house the new vinegar spray in. We buy our vinegar in huge bottles from Amazon – and while yes, obviously they’re still plastic, we’re doing a lot better than we were at this time last year when we bought about a dozen different, but equally toxic cleaners… which were also all in plastic.

I actually now can’t imagine why I ever wanted to have a whole bunch of different cleaners, I’m lazy with housework as it is and so the idea of having to change cloths and product every time I move from glass to wood to flooring is just super unappealing.

Eco period reusable sanitary towels sustainable period

2. Using Reusable Sanitary Pads

This is a newer change, and I’m still in the process of building up a big enough collection that I can use only these, but already I’m LOVING when I get to use these instead disposable ones. They’re so much more comfy, they’re breathable, they’re more flexible, there’s not random plastic wings to work their way loose and chafe mercilessly at your inner thigh for hours… and mine have sharks on them. Oh yeah.

I feel like we hear a lot about re-usable menstrual cups, and a lot less about pads. I think the cups sound great, but due to previous health complications I can’t use tampons or menstrual cups, which is a bit gutting really, but at least there is an eco alternative out there for pad users too.

I bought my first lot of pads from a seller on Etsy, but honestly didn’t have the best experience with service or product quality and so I’m on the hunt for some other ones. There are loads of people selling them on Etsy in all different materials, sizes and patterns – it’s actually amazingly fun choosing sanitary pads… which is a sentence I never thought I would write.

eco makeup removal sustainable living

3. Swapping to reusable cotton pads

Much like with the sanitary pads, I made the switch to using homemade, reusable cotton pads for environmental reasons, but now that I have and have realised how much softer and better they are for taking off my makeup,  I can’t imagine ever wanting to use disposable again!

I know you can buy these kinds of things online, again, in all sorts of different patterns, materials and sizes, but erm, I’ve just been sewing my own together from old pyjama bottoms? They may not look super sexy, but they get the job done, and I do love a little sewing project.

Sustainable living eco hair care

4. Giving up my Head and Shoulders Conditioner

I have huge, thick, curly hair and over the years I’ve tried what feels like hundreds of different conditioners, from budget high street to fancy salon stuff and everything in between – finding conditioner to give my hair just the right amount of moisture is tricky. A few years ago I started using, of all things, one of the conditioners from Head and Shoulders, and it’s literally the best thing for my hair. But let’s face it…they’re not exactly a brand I’m proud to support.

In 2018 I finished my last bottle of Head and Shoulders and starting making a move to find a more sustainable and ethical alternative. I haven’t found my holy grail yet – I do like this one from Faith in Nature though – but hey, it gives me something to research and at least now I don’t feel guilty every time I wash my hair. Please leave any and all suggestions for good conditioners below in the comments folks – my frizz halo and I thank you!

Sustainable living aluminium water bottle

5. Buying my Sigg Bottle

I had tried a number of times over the years to start carrying a reusable water bottle around with me, and I always failed miserably. Now, I think I know why – I was always using a plastic bottle – and I think drinking water out of a plastic bottle (especially if it’s been in my bag for a few hours) tastes absolutely revolting. But honestly, I just didn’t really know there was another way!

Unsurprisingly, after even a little research I came to realise that both glass and aluminium are much, much better alternatives to plastic bottles. Glass was right out for me as broken glass is one of my major anxiety triggers – so that was just an accident waiting to happen – and so aluminium it was to be. I really wanted to buy a quality bottle that I liked the look of and could use for a long time – imagine my joy then when I found my Sigg bottle on clearance at TK Maxx for £6.00. *Hallilujiah Chorus plays*

Like a lot of the other changes on here, now that I’ve gotten used to having my Sigg bottle, I can’t imagine not carrying it with me. Like what did I do before if I was out shopping and needed a drink? I probably just dehydrated to avoid having to pay for and generate the waste from a bottle of soda. Looking back that’s a fairly moronic life plan, so I’m glad I’ve finally gotten on board with the alternative – and what’s even better, Kenny and my mum are on the aluminium bottle train too, yay!

6. Swapping to using handkerchiefs

Okay, yeah, I can get that this isn’t the sexiest of sustainable changes. I can get that, and I can see why for some people it might just be a hard no, but for me, swapping from disposable tissues to reusable handkerchiefs has been brilliant.

I get hayfever throughout the Spring and Summer (…and Autumn fml) and so I have a runny nose a lot. It’s not infectious or anything, it’s just, you know, snot. When I was using disposable tissues I would go through a pocket pack a day, easily. If you add that up over time it’s a) really wasteful and b) frigging expensive.

Now obviously if you’re someone who uses a tissue like once a week, then this may not be a high priority for you, and that makes sense, but I have to say, even if I stopped needing handkerchiefs for err.. “volume” reasons, I would still keep using them because I think they’re a lot softer and more pleasant to wipe my nose with! Who knew?!?

I knew nothing about handkerchiefs when I went to buy them (in fact, it’s only now as I sit down to write this post I realise I’ve been spelling the word wrong my whole life), but I’ve been using these ones and they seem pleasantly soft and a good size and stuff (not really sure what the official criteria for measuring the quality of handkerchiefs are tbh).

Vegan junk food Oreo cookies

7. Transitioning to Veganism

This is definitely in the “work in progress” category for me, but I’ve come on leaps and bounds compared to where I was last year and I’m really proud of myself. Moving towards being a vegan has been really rewarding, both in terms of helping me feel like I’m really making a difference in supporting the environmental causes I believe in and also, nutritionally. Although I admit, I’d be doing a lot better on the latter point if Oreos weren’t vegan. Dammit Oreos.

I’m sure I’ll write plenty of content in the future about my journey to veganism, the struggles and the successes, so I don’t want to rabbit on here too much, but I had to include it in this list as it’s one of the biggest life changes I’ve made this year, and it was defintiely to do with sustainability.

So that’s it then, the best sustainable changes I made in 2018. It’s funny, because writing it all down like this, it seems like a lot (or at least, it does to me), but actually, it hasn’t felt like a lot because honestly most of these changes have been so easy to make, and in the long run are actually less hassle than their non-environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Have you made any moves towards a more sustainable lifestyle in 2018? What changes have you made?

Do you have any changes you’d like to make going forward into 2019?

 

 

 

 

I Will (Hopefully) Not be Living in Skinny Jeans this Winter

Skinny jeans winter denim cold chilly cullottes trousers pants

Despite what I told my mother when she bought me first pair of skinny jeans in my early teens, I actually HAVE gotten down with the skinny jean trend, and very, very much so. Sorry mum (but calling them “drain pipe jeans” wasn’t really helping…). In fact, I liked the skinny jean trend so much I moved in with it and we share a Netflix account and a toothbrush. We’ve been living together now for more than a decade for better and for worse. And to be fair, there are a lot of positives to skinny jeans – I feel confident and comfy in them (I think I’ve just gotten used to not having circulation in my feet when I sit down), and it’s oh so easy to throw on some black skinny jeans and a cute sweater and still look put together.

In terms of downsides though, there are a few, like when the crotch completely rips out of your skinny jeans as you crouch down in a very public place (‘cos that’s not just me, right?), but I think the main one, for me, with the delightful Scottish climate I live in – is being FREEZING cold in skinny jeans all winter long.

I actually take dressing for the cold quite seriously – I own thermals, multiple pairs of thermals – I am almost certainly not leaving the house without a scarf between October and March, and I wear more chunky socks than… ok, I’m not sure where I was going with that tbh. But anyway, my point is, that generally I consider myself quite a sensible (read: old lady) dresser when it comes to the winter months, but I always feel like a bit of an idiot, because my head is warm, my toes are toasty… and I can’t feel my legs. Damn you skinny jeans!!

Now obviously, depening on the type/fit of skinny jeans you go for, maybe you can layer thermals/leggings under them, I wear mostly Molly Jeggings from River Island and they do not take kindly to me trying to layer them. I look like a sausage with too much meat inside the casing. And I can’t bend my knees so I sort of walk like a cowboy. It’s a weird look.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that this winter I shall not be alternating between numb penguin shuffle and robot cowboy walking, this winter, I shall be wearing other trousers.(I’m listening to quite an intense piece of piano music as I write this, so in my head I’m getting this climactic build up… so just pretend with me, ok?).

So far, I don’t own an awful lot of other options – I have one pair of very retro style mom jeans that I thrifted earlier this year, and I definitely look forward to tucking some knits into them – but other than that, it’s skinny jeans all the way. Having worn nothing but skinny jeans for about 13 years, it’s hard to know where to start. Do I want something with a paper bag waist? Do I want cullottes? What are cullottes?

I’ve turned to good ol’ Pinterest and put together a board that is oh so creatively named “Trouser Inspo”, and I’m beginning to get a feel for what I’m drawn to. Problem is, a lot of what I’m drawn to seems to involve exposed ankles – and that’s not going to work around here in winter. Do you have any tips on making ankle-showing trousers wearable in the cold? Do I get “statement socks”, do I get taller boots that can go, like, under them? Is that a thing? Send help pls.

So, yeah, please have a rummage through my Pinterest board and let me know what you think – I’m open to all tips, tricks and pointing out the obvious: such as the fact it’s concerning that at 27 I don’t understand the basics of trousers. That’s it for now but I’m sure I’ll report back soon with some photos of me looking confused while wearing what may, or may not, be cullottes.

What Does Sustainable Fashion Look Like?

Sustainable fashion fast ethical fair eco style shoppinh

If you’d walked up to me in the street a couple of years ago and asked me to describe what sustainable fashion looks like I know exactly the image I would have had in my head.  Long, flowing layers, a very washed-out, neutral colour scheme, lots of linen – basically a very wholesome, hippie, Earthy, boho look. And you know what, I have always liked that look, it can be completely beautiful… on other people.

What can I say? I’m short and curvy so I need mo

re structured pieces to emphasise that – I look about 10 stone heavier if I wear loose, flowing layers. I’m very, very pale with darker features and so I best suit stronger colours – jewel tones and charcoal over here – I look positively ill in pastels or muted shades. And you know, because I was so utterly convinced by this singular image I had in my head of what sustainable fashion looked like, for years, I just assumed I couldn’t have any part in it.

If I had to describe my style (which I sort of hate doing because I’m bad at it), I’d say I dress sort of urban-edgy with maybe some grunge or goth vibes thrown in. I like tartan and (faux) leather, ripped denim and graphic tees – are you getting the picture as to how far away I am from that “typical” sustainable fashion image I had in my head?

Well, the good news is that I was very wr

ong about the whole thing. Turns out, shockingly enough, that there are many people all over the world with an interest in sustainable fashion and that they are all individuals with different tastes and styles. The more I actually looked into sustainable fashion – rather than just flicking through my mental slideshow of 70’s hippie outfits with Fleetwood Mac playing on a loop in my head – the more I realised that you can dress in basically whatever style you want – and still take a stand against fast fashion. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Sustainable fashion eco ethical fast fashion shopping style

1. Shop second hand

I actually always loved charity shops – just not for ethical reasons. I loved finding quirky pieces and not being dressed the same as everyone else, and most of all I loved the prices. But one thing that is always annoying about charity shops is that if you’re looking for something specific, sure, you might find it in the first shop you go in… or it could take you months to find the right piece in the right size, in the right condition.

For that reason, I strongly suggest trying out second hand shopping online – whether that’s using an old classic like eBay (link to my shop, if you’re interested), a more modern app like Depop, or, the one I’m still finding my way around – ASOS Marketplace.

Rummaging through boot sales or charity shops can be so fun, but it can definitely be easier to find a super cute, fun piece, than say, a pair of jeans in exactly the wash, style and size you need – so definitely familiarise yourself with some online platforms and save yourself a lot of frustration in the long run!

Shopping second hand might not seem as intensely sustainable as shopping from a brand that produces locally, ethically and is high quality – but the thing to remember is that even a product that is produced in an environmentally friendly manner still uses resources – whereas buying something second hand uses no additional resources.

If you have concerns about buying second hand pieces in fabrics that may release microplastics in the wash – you can purchase a pretty affordable Guppyfriend laundry bag for all your synthetic materials, that will catch those microplastics during the wash cycle and stop them from entering the water supply.

 

 2. There ARE a range of brands out there producing different styles, and even some brands you may have written off may sometimes contain hidden gems.

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that when I’m browsing online and looking at sustainable fashion websites… I don’t like most of what I see, or rather it’s just not “me”. People Tree, for example, is a brand that I love – in theory – but most of their designs really don’t call to me. Sometimes I’ll love the print and not the cut, and sometimes, it’s the other way round – but every once in a while, there is a piece that would work for me.

For example, these trousers I would totally wear, and I’ve actually had my eye on this tee for a while now. My point is, that even if an overall brand aesthetic doesn’t match up with your own, if the quality and the ethics are something you support then it’s worth keeping an eye on them – seasons change, cuts and styles and colour palettes change, and as with People Tree, every so often you might find something that makes you go all heart eyed emoji.

On the other hand, doing further research may mean that you find a brand you love the look of and are therefore overwhelmed with choices! It took me quite a long time to stumble across sustainable UK brand Rapanui (and even longer to work out how to pronounce it). A lot of what they make is much more “me”, including some great basics like hoodies, and some super-awesome graphic tees – they’re definitely not a brand I’ve heard much about but I’m so glad I came across them – this octopus tee for example, it’s like they know me!!! I (definitely) don’t currently need any new tees, but when the time comes this is definitely where I’ll be heading for some cute graphics and environmental messages.

3. YOU get to decide for yourself what constitutes “sustainable” and what brands and products you’re happy to support.

We seem to be living in a time where sustainable fashion is finally (finally) starting to be talked about by influencers and brands in the mainstream. While it’s great to think that big brands are catching on, if you’re going to be shopping more “Eco” ranges from bigger brands, I definitely recommend checking out this video from My Green Closet on Greenwashing, to familiarise yourself with what it is and why it’s such a problem.

My point though, is that it’s pretty much impossible to buy clothing that is perfectly ethical. Maybe the workers are paid fairly but it’s not organic cotton or eco dyes, maybe it does use great materials and fair labour… but you have to ship the products half way around the globe to get them. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what cause they most support, or what their number one priority is, and to shop in line with their own beliefs.

For example, if organic materials is something you’re really passionate about, H&M Conscious Collection might really speak to you. If you love wool, but don’t support buying it new because you’re a vegan, then some of the pieces from Mango’s new Committed Collection – like this recicled skirt – might be a great fit. Personally, I’m still conducting my own research into what big brands I will and will not support – and like I said, it’s everyone’s individual decision anyway. One thing I did pick up recently which I thought was quite cool, these gloves from ASOS that are made from 3 recycled plastic bottles. Pretty neat.

Sustainable Fashion Fast Fashion Style Shopping Eco Environment

So, that turned out longer than I was expecting – 10 points if you made it this far – but I hope it gave you some food for thought if you’re new to the world of sustainable fashion and not really sure what to make of it or where to start.  As always, I love discussing all aspects of style and the fashion industry, so if you have any questions, comments or corrections you’d like to put to me – comment down below or come say hi over on Instagram!

 

 

Waking Up is Hard to Do

 

dark silhouette of a cup of coffee - waking up morning mental health issues anxiety depression

I think most people can relate to that feeling of the alarm going off long before you’d like it to or to the discovery that somehow the air in your bedroom is below 0c and the reach for your dressing gown is just so, so far. Waking up can be difficult for a huge number of reasons, but today I want to talk specifically about why waking up can be hard if, like me, you suffer from anxiety and depression – and share some thoughts on how I make things easier for myself.

I’d like to preface this by saying, like I always do, that anxiety and depression are complex and unique, and just because these are my experiences does not mean I’m qualified – or have any intention of – weighing in on anyone else’s. I write these posts to share my thoughts and feelings on a subject I’ve been silent on for too long, and I really, sincerely hope they help someone else – but please remember, your emotions and experiences are valid, and are your own.

Waking Up Scenario One: Got a Big Day Ahead Tomorrow

You know the sort of day I mean: maybe you’re getting up earlier than usual, have a long train journey to go on, or are jammed in meetings all day – or heck, maybe it’s even your birthday and you have super awesome fun birthday plans.

But from the night before, anxiety kicks in and your mind starts wondering if that’s a headache coming on? Is your tummy feeling a little off? You get into bed and falling asleep seems about as easy as running an ultra-marathon; come to think of it, given the amount of adrenaline in your system right now, the marathon might be easier.

I think a lot of folks experience the whole “if I fall asleep now I’ll get 5 hours sleep” countdown phenomenon – and I think we all know how delightfully zombie-esque that leaves you feeling the morning after but, when anxiety and adrenaline are heaped on top of that, it’s pretty much a recipe for utter exhaustion and burnout the next day – which sucks if you’re destined to spend the day stifling yawns at work, and sucks even more if it’s your birthday but instead of having a good time you just want to hide under the duvet.

When I’m in this situation, I go into all out self care mode – and for the record, I’ll generally be the first to point out that mental health issues can’t be fixed with a cup of tea, but in this particular scenario, the little things really can make the difference. So, I’m laying out my outfit the night before, I’m charging my phone, packing snacks and asking Kenny to give me some support in the morning. I’ll have a bath, do some breathing exercises and crack out the Pukka Night-Time tea. In this situation I am all about trying to reduce the feeling of overwhelment – I chip away at the mountain of little tasks and thoughts flying around in my head to give myself the best chance possible of getting to sleep… and staying asleep.

Waking Up Scenario Two: Tomorrow is Going to be a Great Day

Bonus fun fact: I’m currently experiencing this one as I write this post. Oh, yay.

I’m very much a planner in life; I use Google Calendar for everything, I love the feeling of being productive and getting shit done in a day – in other words, I am not someone who is great at having un-scheduled down time. So, possibly the most frustrating of all the mental health waking up scenarios for me is this one: when I go to bed excited for what the next morning will bring, totally buzzing to get started on my work and on being creative… and then in the morning I wake up feeling like I’ve been hit by an emotional truck.

Where does it come from? Why does it happen? I have no idea, but wow, I wish I did. I wish I knew how to prevent my mood doing a 180 as I sleep, I wish I could understand what’s going on inside my mind so that I could help myself… and yes, get more work done. Waking up with the ghost of self-belief and motivation dissolving faster than cheap bath bomb is a truly devastating feeling. I want to be my best self, I want to be a bad ass boss bitch, I want to live my life to the fullest – but I also can’t keep my eyes open or remember why I thought silly old me would be capable of carrying out the plans I put together the night before.

This is the scenario I still struggle to deal with most because I think the best solution is to accept the feeling, and slow down – and that does not go well with my Type-A personality.  Sure, you can tell yourself off and force yourself to stick to all the plans – but in my experience, the result is usually frustration, increased anxiety and a mood rapidly spiralling downwards. When I feel like this, everything I draw is shit, every task takes me three times as long as it should, getting a text message triggers my anxiety, and yes, of course, we can’t just all take the day off work every time we feel like this, but compromise is usually an option.

For me, it means I get the most basic “needs done” admin tasks under my belt (which usually takes me about an hour in the morning) so that I don’t freak out completely about “what am I even doing with my life?!”, and then, I curl up with a book and I read for a while. Or, if really I have to do what I have to do in a day – at the very least, I speak to myself with kindness. I am gentle with myself. No, maybe I’m not feeling the spark I had the night before, and maybe I’m not working at the pace I should be, but I showed up, I’m fighting the anxiety, and I am doing my best. As cliche as it is, that really is all you can do. Here’s another post for if you need some more support on feeling like your best isn’t enough when it comes to anxiety and depression.

person holding coffee cup - anxiety depression mornings are hard

 

Waking Up Scenario Three: What’s the Point?

Ah, hello depression, my old friend.
This is probably the scenario we see most often depicted in TV shows, or how I imagine a lot of people picture depression – and while it is sort of cliched, it certainly does happen.You know how some mornings your alarm goes off and you know you should get up… but you don’t? Well, that is not this type of morning. On a morning like this, your alarm goes off and there is not a single part of you that thinks there’s any point in getting up.

Energy levels are so low they seem to have fallen into a deficit, self-worth is not something you can relate to and frankly, the world would probably be better off if you just stayed in bed today. This is a dark day.  This is the kind of day where eating, bathing and dressing are very real achievements (although, I’ll admit, I’ve still to earn my “I got dressed” badge on a day like this).

Giving advice on this scenario feels a little pointless, as I know when I have days like this I couldn’t care less what some woman on the Internet says, so I’ll just tell you what I do, or at least, what I try and do. First things first, I mentally re-adjust the bar and set it much lower for myself. If you are genuinely in such a bad place that you are struggling to feed yourself, then thinking about making a difficult phone call to a family member or trying to get your inbox to zero is probably not helping. I make a list for myself with actual, achieveable tasks that I can realistically accomplish – I mean, sometimes a task might be “charge phone”, but they’re still little tasks that will allow me to build momentum and possibly get back to a more rational state of mind, and if not? Well, hey, at least my phone is charged so I can lie and play Dots in bed for 7 hours.

These days are definitely the most difficult for me to “salvage”, but they’re also the days where I can come to appreciate the little things. Okay, yes, being to depressed to leave the house isn’t great – but at least I have a warm, safe home to stay in. Reading for 4 hours might not have been the most “productive” use of time, but I did learn a lot, or laugh a lot, or cry a lot – all of which can be valuable. If you’re having a dark day, please just hang in there; that’s the most sincere advice I can give.

So there we have it, just three of the many wonderful wake up scenarios that can occur when you’re battling with anxiety or depression. Maybe you’ve experienced these, maybe you’ve experienced others, but either way, I hope that reading this post gave you some reassurance that it’s not you, or a lack of willpower – when anxiety and depression are involved, waking up is hard to do.

Please feel free to reach out to me in the comments or on Instagram (@timorousminimalist), if you have any thoughts or questions about this post. Any obvious scenarios I missed? How do you cope when you wake up on a bad mental health day?