Periods and stigma- Enough is enough

 A Twitter campaign has come into my life that I really, seriously love. A colleague brought it to my attention knowing it was right up my street (and hers, because girl power) and it’s called Live Tweet Your Period. You might have seen it, its not particularly new. I hope you have. It’s brilliant for the most part. It’s basically mensturators (technical term) world wide uniting to remove stigma and the the reaction of ‘oh gross I don’t want to know!’ The above depicts a few days of my life every month. I crave chocolate, I need pain killers, I lay on my bed and I generally snap and hate on everyone a bit. You know how it is.

Periods happen everyday to millions of women and they’re er, kinda important. Sorry fellas, but it’s time we were allowed to talk about them like the thing they are- a normal part of life. There’s been several occasions over the last few years when I’ve been doubled over at work, waiting for various painkillers to kick in and male colleagues have sauntered over and said “What’s wrong with you then?” I replied once by saying I have severe period pains and was met with recoiling and face pulling and behavior that would be appropriate had I just pulled an ovary out of my vagina and waved it in his face. Get over it, FFS. It’s not like I was going to go into extreme gory detail of exactly what was unfolding down there. The next time I was asked I just shrugged and said I didn’t feel well.

Well not feeling well is an understatement, I feel absolutely dire on that first day, and I know I’m not alone. But I better not bring it up or tell the truth in case it offends someone or I get told to man up, which has also happened. Well, thanks, but no thanks.

The whole Live Tweet Your Period campaign isn’t about going into gory detail either and it’s not just women expressing that they have pains and deserve sympathy. It’s about allowing women who feel the pain, the frustration, the physical aching, the raging hormones and the struggle of the waiting game to connect and share their pain and experiences. so basically, anyone who’s ever had and deals with periods. The no-nonsense, the emotional, the cramp-ridden- everyone. Being able to have a bit of a laugh about it can lighten the load, no? Those dark, hormonal days where you feel like you want to snap off the head of every other living human and you want to be in bed with a box of painkillers and a hot water bottle are easier to handle when you can just be open about it. I mean, I recently needed to go out and emergency buy tampons during work, so I made up a need to buy something else. Enough is enough. I’m not going to buy some more lunch guys, I’m going to get equipment to soak up what’s currently exiting my body, deal with it. Back in 5.

“I might not be at my best today because I’ve just come on and I feel like utter shit.” Unless you work in an accepting, all female office, it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear such honesty. It’s not often I let a period stop me from doing things, but come on, it can make you feel pretty deathly at times, and I know I have on occasion, not been able to work to my full ability because I’ve felt so awful. But it doesn’t happen that way for everyone, some people have no pain at all, it’s just the point of making periods normal enough to talk about without them being taboo.

Things have definitely improved, which is encouraging. I remember at school once, crawling into the medical office with such severe period pains that I vomited and the female secretary told me to toughen up ‘because we don’t want people to know about our woman problems.’ back then I probably nodded and carried on rocking in pain. If it happened now I would tell her to F off.

I urge any girl who’s sick of periods being stigmatised to get on twitter and look it up. I’ve just spent my lunch break reading genius, hilarious tweets and since it’s the first day of my period, YES THAT’S RIGHT, it’s thoroughly cheered me up.

So yeah, thanks Tracy Clayton for starting it. 

June recommendations

 These are all my favourite things from the past month that I think you should seriously considering bringing into your life. You deserve it.

1) The Bees

This book is like nothing I have ever read. It is quite literally set in a hive, and the concept is beyond cool. It’s the kind of book that makes you miss your tube stop and walk around still reading it when you should be going up some stairs to find your office. Ahem. Guilty. If you need a holiday read, I couldn’t recommend this highly enough. It’s also bright yellow so that’s nice and cheerful.

2) Lily O’Brien’s chocolates

So my sister got me these for my birthday last month and only this week did I delve in and LITERALLY DIE OF HAPPINESS. These are insanely delicious. The caramel macchiato chocolate is everything that is right with the world. I’m also considering eloping with the sticky toffee and zesty orange. If you want to please someone or just treat yo’self, get a box of these babies. Sorry Milk Tray, but these walk over you.

3) The Body Shop brown brow kit

I think I have found something I will use forever. Please never discontinue this Body Shop. PLEASE. I’ve always mostly used pencils on my unruly eyebrows, before dabbling in powder for a while, but everyday they looked different and I was never thrilled by them. This is a game changer though. The brush is really good, the colours are perfect and it stays on all day without smudging. You will get a bit of loose powder on your face though, so don’t overload the brush. This is like, my beauty crush of a lifetime.

4) The West Wing

Now I know this is old and I’m a million years late to the party as per usual, but such love I have for this TV show. I didn’t know anything about American Politics before I started watching this, and I found it a bit difficult to get into at first, but if you haven’t seen it, you need to. It’s amazing, not least because the first four seasons are written by genius Aaron Sorkin, but because the characters are amazing and you actually learn stuff. If you’re looking for something to binge or get stuck into, give it a go. You can also enjoy the transition from computers the size of cars to flat screens and phones that you don’t have to flip open. Oh and 90s fashion LOLZ aplenty in the early days.

5) Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde mascara

My fave mascara will always be by Clinique, but I usually have a more bargain one in my make up bag too, and I got this to take away with me, because I was worried my other one would melt and get ruined in the Asian heat. This is such a good mascara, and these aren’t words I say often. I struggle to like mascara, but this has a good brush, does volume and thickening and one coat makes your eyes look wider and more awake. It also doesn’t drip down your face when you’re facing the tropical heat of the Central Line, so there’s that added bonus.

6) Schwarzkopf Got2b Poweder’ful volumizing styling powder.

That’s a mouthful isn’t it? This was actually originally purchased by my boyfriend, a man who is more obsessed by his hir than any girl I know, and I stole some. I have very flat hair, and I usually use dry shampoo to boost it between washes, but I dabbled with this and it’s really bloody good. You have to put it in your finger tips and rub it around and it kinda vanishes, but then you massage your roots and your hair sort stands up to attention. Magic. It lasts a while too, which isn’t always the way with powders like this.

So who the hell am I anyway? Let me fill you in

 I realise I have an about page that says some stuff and features a photo of me silhouetted on a Thai beach, but I realised the other day that I have never really written much about myself. This blog gets more and more visitors every week and I figure maybe some of them might wonder about me. No? Well tough because I am writing this anyway because I am in charge. The beauty of having your own blog.

So obvs my name is Lauren, you might have worked that one out. I’m 25 and I work in communications, specifically social media marketing, with a focus on health and wellbeing. I live in Fulham, London with my boyfriend and a few friends in a big, old house. We have a fairly good time of it here, and we’ve been renting it since 2013. We plan on leaving towards the end of the year though to take a pitstop at my parents while we find somewhere new to live. I have a rare chronic illness called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which basically means my joints are really stretchy, my blood vessels are fragile, I get random pain without any trigger and have bladder and kidney trouble. This illness is how I got into blogging.

A few years back I got so frustrated with the lack of info about a condition that had such an affect on my life that I started blogging about it, and the rest is history. This all went pretty well, and was picked up by relevant charities, I met lots of other sufferers and eventually decided that I loved blogging and wanted to write one that focused on the other bits of my life outside of being ill (though my other blog is still going). SO HIYA! Here we are.

Now I don’t want to get boring, though I feel it’s rapidly going that way, so I’ll keep this brief.

I love peanut butter. I’m allergic to cats and dogs though I have a dog at home. I’m obsessed with blending things. I have a big scar on one foot that sometimes people stare at. Everyday is a bad hair day. I really believe in courgettes. I think a good frying pan is an important life tool. I walk everywhere a hundred miles an hour. I once got led up a mountain by a wild dog when me and my friends had all but given up on our existence having got lost and run out of water. In Sri Lanka. On a boiling day. It was hot. You can see the dog in this photo, I called him Manuel.

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I travel a lot. I talk in my sleep a lot, most recently telling my boyfriend I was covered in coffee. I mean, that’s THE dream, not an actual dream. I wish I was covered in coffee.

I mostly blog in the mornings, when I get to work early, and take photos when I get home while there’s still light. It’s sometimes really hard to find time on top of work, and I fear when I start a new job next month it’ll get even harder. I nearly stopped blogging a few weeks ago after securing said new job (social media for Public Health England, since you asked) because I was feeling uninspired and lazy and was obsessed with Parks and Recreation in a big way. A friend told me if my traffic was growing, I should stick it out and see what happens. I also really bloody love my piece of internet, so yeah. It’ll be here a while more.

So that’s me. I’m off to devour some M&Ms before dinner because you only live once.

nmgg

mexican

This is what I’ve learned about humans and healing in the last year

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It’s not particularity straight forward to just decide one day that you feel better after going through something hard. We can’t track exactly how long it took to feel more or less back to normal. It kind of just gradually happens. If I’m having a bit of a rough time I sometimes try to predict how long it will all last so I can countdown to being back on track. Of course this is not possible. Being human is a lot about not knowing, and you just have to learn to be okay about that.

When my mum got diagnosed with cancer I remember it being weeks of worry, then weeks of limbo, then some relief, then just this period of time when things slowly started to piece back together but there’s still this strange feeling that clings on around you. It’s weird when something bad happens how everything just changes. I think the best way to describe it is being thrown into a pool, with no warning, straight into the deep end. Once you’re in, you test the water and just try and keep yourself afloat. Then you have to deal with staying in the pool for as long as things are hard. You keep swimming but you never quite reach the sides to have a rest, and sometimes you can barely even swim because the water is too thick to get through.

Cool story right? But that’s my perfect interpretation of dealing with hard stuff. That’s how I think me and my family felt for a good few months, how we still feel a bit even though we’re now holding onto the sides and starting to climb out. Getting over thing isn’t straight forward. There’s no simple way to help someone. After my experience, I felt more empathetic to people around me having a shit time of it. I felt less inclined to tell people to man up or get over it, no matter what the problem was.

We’re complex things, us humans, and we have complex, detailed, busy brains that keep us floating, sometimes make us feel like we’re drowning and sometimes makes us feel like we’re back to normal. It’s just a thought really, drawing on the last year of my life, but we should probably all help those who can’t reach the sides yet a bit more if we can.

If I could live one summer over again…

I’m writing this staring at a distinctly grey sky. I also feel cold, which is nice considering it’s June 23rd. Who needs sunshine eh? I saw a post similar to this a few weeks ago and it got me all nostalgic and what not and I suggest if you need a blog post idea, do this. It gave me an excuse to pore over old photos and get all smiley and happy and so on. I’ve been blessed with lots of pretty good summers over the last few years, and picking my favourite is hard, but it has to go to the summer of 2010. Five whole years ago. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? WHERE IS MY LIFE GOING? HELP.

So let’s set the scene. I’ve just turned 20, I’m still a student, I’m doing a really cool digital marketing/advertising work placement, I’m going on holiday to Cyprus and I have a ticket to Bestival. Pretty good summer line up. I also met my future boyfriend on this work placement, thought I didn’t know that for a while back then, who is still putting up with me now. Many congratulations to him. I also remember the weather being MUCH nicer than we’ve had in 2015 so far. So yeah.

Still being a student made this year what it was. Remember the glory days of having those long couple of months stretched out in front of you with your main worry being scraping together some pennies from overtime so you can afford to go wild when freshers rolls around? The dream. Anyway, this particular summer, after spending two weeks in Cyprus laying on various beaches, going up mountains and eating everything, I came home and joyfully reunited myself with my uni friends who were back in Kingston, or those who just never left.

We drank in gardens, we drank by the river, we laid around all day reading HP, we walked around town aimlessly (buying nothing because we were broke), we went on impromptu nights out, slept in until lunchtime, drove around in my half-broken KA, never spent any time thinking about essays or anything remotely grown up or scary and wore sunglasses to Oceana on a Monday night. I remember having endless sessions of sitting on floors painting nails various shades of coral and bright blue and playing a LOT of Cranium, the best game ever in case you were wondering (made better by hilarious friends).I think we also chucked in a day out at Thorpe Park at some point, maybe at the very start of summer, because obviously.

I think this was my favourite summer mostly because of how care-free I was, partly because it involved lots of doing my favourite things and a lot to do with having found the best friendship group I had ever had. I remember one friend rolling into a garden drinking session when we were all notoriously poor and announcing a holiday to Morocco, because why the F not? Life.

I also got to finish this summer doing one of my favourite activities with my best ginger pal: attending Bestival, where we made some friends for life, drank jelly shots while dancing to Chic and did midnight Tai Chi in a field. It might not have been the richest, busiest, most inspirational time, but it was flipping amazing regardless. I’m not saying life with no responsibilities is better than life now, because I love how good I have got it currently, I’m just saying, freedom and friends and the summer of 2010 was bloody fun. 2010 2010a 2010b 2010d

16 things people who are complete social media addicts do

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So being completely addicted to social media isn’t a new thing. Thousands of people are more interested in their notifications than they are what’s happening around them (aren’t we awful?) but we just can’t help it. It’s so accessible. It’s on our phones. It’s always there. Everyday. Even in the dead of night when you wake up because foxes are doing worrying things outside.

I think a lot of people could use a social media/iPhone retreat and do other things like stretches and drink fresh juice instead of staring at a screen like a zombie. Me included. Maybe that’s how I’ll make my fortune.

ANYWAY

1) You eat food that is photogenic at least once a day.

2) You rate your experiences on how many retweets they’ll get rather than how much you enjoyed them.

3) You use the Amaro filter as your foundation. It’s happened. Make up has gone virtual.

4) you Entirely rely on Facebook to inform you when everyone dear to you was born.

5) You communicate heavily via Whatsapp groups and share every third thought you have with the appropriate group. You never know when someone might have a comment/something to add/ be at home hungover and fancy an insight into your time in Sainsbury’s.

6) Become jealous of the holidays of people you have never and will never meet.

7) communicate frustration/dislike/disbelief/hatred with the power of a screenshot alone. You don’t need words when you got pictures.

8) Develop a dislike of avocado because it’s more popular and has more fans than you ever will.

9) You hold your phone at pretty much all times because YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN. A cute puppy on the tube, a sexy piece of latte art, a ridiculous comment from a stranger. You’re poised to share at all times.

10) Take a photo of your face every time you look good just to prove it happened and in case you need some ego boosting from the Instagram community.

11) Follow people you don’t like because you find it highly enjoyable and like to compare your life to theirs to see who did better after school. Priorities.

12) Moan about everything via tweet in the eternal hope of a freebie.

13) You wake up in the morning and reach for your phone which is of course placed next to your bed and begin the days scrolling.

14) Get angry over nothing, because nothing new has happened since you last refreshed all of your apps 45 seconds ago.

15) Forget if you’ve ever actually met people you regularly chat to on Twitter.

16) Remind yourself that social media can’t control your mood, because it doesn’t control your life. Lets step away from the iPhone and breathe deeply.

7 things you should totally do in London this summer

So you can’t guarantee the weather but you can guarantee a good time in old LDN. There’s always heaps to do but this summer I’ve had countless emails already about free events, roof top bars, outdoor parties, free things and other such fun times to be had. Get out your diary and make a WhatsApp group. It’s time to plan.

1) Sunset Safari at London Zoo 

I’ve already done this one and it’s definitely worth fitting in. You basically just go along after work on Friday and watch the animals have dinner, see the otters bed down for the night and watch the penguin show. We also went to a talk about giraffes and watched them munch some leaves and stick out their tongues. Ideal, really. There’s pop up bars, massive bean bags, deckchairs, lots of food stalls and twinkling lights in the tree. Pretty good for a date night, or just watching sleepy animals while you have a wine with your pals. You can get your face painted too, so there’s that to be excited about. I was lucky and went on a lovely, warm sunny Friday. If you go and it’s a bit wet, definitely take something waterproof. OHHH and you can also get tickets for £16 each through Time Out. 

2) Udderbelly at Southbank 

Southbank is always a winner on a sunny day, and it’s currently packed with pop-up bars and food stalls, including Bleeker Street burgers, which are so completely divine you will think you’ve died and gone to a burgery, cheesey, calorific heaven. yep. Udderbelly has become a summer regular and there’s currently comedy shows as well as a gin bar. You can buy tickets there, so you can sort of just fall in.

3) Flamingo Pier

So this is happening on the first Friday of every month up until September. East Londoners or just anyone who can be bothered to trek that far from others corners of the city, can get tickets and attend an exotic location themed party, with matching food and drink. Cute. It’s all very adorable and instagram-friendly looking, and it’s in Hackney Wick, which is pretty nice.

4) Gin tasting at Waterloo sky bar 

You have to book this one, but if you like nice views and you like gin, GO GO GO. These are on every Wednesday in July including some free sessions. You also get a voucher for money off dinner at the Three O Two restaurant. So yeah, win win gin gin.

5) Dalston Roof Park 

So this is literally a park on a roof. In Dalston. It’s that simple. It’s on top of an old factory and this summer there’s going to be all sorts going on. If you’re into music, they’ll be gigs a plenty and a DJ residency by The 2 Bears, who are immensely fun. So if you want a boozy, dancey, different night out, here’s your answer.

6) London Pride

This is on June 27th, and if you want to spend a day having all of the colourful, cheerful, fun, you should go. proceedings start in Baker Street and run to Whitehall, so wear comfy shoes.There’s also Pride in the Park on Sunday 28th June in Vauxhall. This is usually full of arts stalls, good food, events to join and drinks to drink. Oh and the weather is meant to be alright, so yeah.

7) Wimbledon in Wimbledon town centre. 

If you’re not going to Wimbledon but wanna hang out where there’s atmosphere, deck chairs and gallons of Pimms, just go to Wimbledon town. The pubs go mad for it, they set up nice little outdoor areas, everywhere sells jugs of yummy alcohol and Wimbledon village, if you venture upwards, is bloody lovely. They’re actually going to stick up a massive screen in the town centre so you can lounge around and watch it and cheer at whoever is the fittest. YAY SPORTS.

Bedroom accessory lust list- £15 and under

Maybe because I know I’m imminently moving and maybe because I spend too much time searching the ‘interior’ section of my Bloglovin account, I’ve become obsessed with looking at bedroom accessories. I even tried to do it on the tube this morning when I had no signal and was stuck in a tunnel. Copper candle holders are urgent. I’m all for anything cheap and cheerful and these are all saved in the notes section of my phone, so I thought I would share.

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1) Paperchase- Jungle fever frame £15

2) Tiger- Strawberry alarm clock £3

3) H&M- Laundry storage bag £6.99

4) H&M- Metal tealight holder £2.99

5) Urban Outfitters- Mini brass edge jewel box £15

6)  Next- Copper candle lantern small £15

7) Wilko- Home sweet home bottle £3

8) Wilko- Glass storage box £12

9) Zara Home- Striped fabric hangers £9.99

Money talk: 5 ways to be more thrifty

Money. Unless you have enough to literally fill a room and roll around in it, it’s sort of like an eternal struggle. We go to work, get paid, pay our bills, spend a bit on having on a social life, then spend the remainder of the month counting every penny and avoiding Starbucks. FUN YAY.

Honestly though, I don’t think it’s all bad. It’s amazing how good you can get at keeping check on your money, and having a good financial head will put you in good stead for the future. When I first moved to Fulham I was constantly alarmed at how quickly money ran out. We don’t pay a huge amount in rent considering the area, it’s just everything else. I mean, who knew how much washing powder cost!?

I’ve become pretty good at being thrifty over the last couple of years, and making sure I can afford to do the things I want to in real, actual life and not just in my head (a dangerous game I do not recommend). So yeah, here’s some ways you can be a bit of a money ninja.

1) Set yourself a challenge. This is one of my favourite ways at attempting to not bankrupt myself. If you’re going to save money, you may as well make it (kinda) fun. I decided to try and not buy new clothes for a couple of months, instead only getting bits from charity shops and on eBay. I did it for three months. Did I become a bit obsessed? Yes. HOWEVER, I was shelling out on average £3 per thing I bought, which is pretty spectacular compared to even flitting to Primark on a Saturday. Another good one is not buying coffee. Sounds simple enough, but when you work in a city and coffee is basically a social activity, it’s scarily easy to chuck away £20 a week skinny chai lattes just because. Obviously, you need to tailor these things to you. But it’s pretty good way to slow down your outgoings.

2) Rounding down your bank balance. This sounds like a bit of weird idea, but I remember being told about it at uni, and when I started working I tried it for a while. Basically, you check your balance a few times a week and if you have say, £236 then you get out your online banking and put £6 in savings, so you round down the balance. It’s amazing how fast it can add up, even if it’s just a couple of pounds each time.

3) Sell things as soon as you decide you’re over them. I’ve made a bloody good amount of money over the past couple of years selling stuff on eBay. It’s all good having a clear out every few months and listing your old unwanted denim shorts and that weird, sequinned crop top you bought hungover, but I find the longer you hang on to things, the harder it gets to be rid of them. You start coming up with scenarios you might need a certain item of clothing for in your head. ‘Oh, I can’t sell this top with lions on because what if I go on safari in the next 2-3 years  and then I want something topical to wear and then…’ STOP IT. Once you no longer have strong feelings for it, flog it, then treat yourself to something new from your Paypal balance. You might not save money this way, but you won’t ONLY be shelling out money.

4) This is a classic, but start making bigger dinners and take them to work for lunch. You don’t need to have a soup from EAT or sushi from ITSU every week. You know it, your bank balance knows it, we all know it.

5) Start taking notice of the cost of food shopping. Popping into Sainsbury’s or whatever shop is in the station makes eating expensive, and that makes me sad, as eating is basically my main hobby. If you don’t live near a cheaper supermarket or it’s a pain to get to one, shop online. If you can get to a market, go there for your fruit and veg. You’ll save a bloody packet. Forget paying 70p for a single pepper, at a lot of London markets you buy a basket for £1. It’s basically a modern day miracle. For reals.

Being young and career driven

So here’s something I would like to read more about: being a career person. I’m not sure what the technical term is, but I guess in my case it’s career girl? Professional super power? Work wizard? Well, whatever it is. In a blog market that’s saturated with overnight oats, ways to eat avocado, posts about happiness, mascara reviews and so on (which I, just like everyone else, still read), I like to also read posts that are geared up to the world of work. I’ve started writing them and they get pretty good stats, so I guess I’m not alone.

I think being ambitious is one of the best qualities you can have. I’m not talking being a total bitch about everything and being willing to push colleagues into a shark pool (imagine) to get what you want, I just mean having some drive to go out and get where you want to go. You know, like Leslie Knope. (If you haven’t watched Parks and Recreation, immediately leave this page and do so. That is an order.)

While your twenties is a time of often not knowing where you’re going and still an ideal period of your life to travel and move around and try loads of new stuff, it’s still also perfectly okay to be career driven. No one says you have go backpacking or live in a rain forest for a few months, or go to yoga retreats to find yourself just because you’re young.  If you want to be a go-getter in the workplace, then I say go get. I know I do. I want to go get (unsure exactly what because I’m 25 and I DON’T KNOW LEAVE ME ALONE) the kind of job where I do things I love and have freedom to work around myself. I don’t know precisely the job I want to do in the future, but I know the sector I want to be in and I know the things I need to go to achieve my goals. I like doing it. I don’t care about sounding like a bore or like I’m wasting my youth, because if you do it right, you can have it all.

Having it all is why I want to do well at work. I could lie and say I’ll be happy to live a simple life in a tiny home with the essentials for living because all you need is happiness, but er, no. That would be a million miles from the truth. Of course happiness is the main aim of life, but I like holidays, and I like Zara Home and I like feeling like I’ve achieved something good at the end of the day. I like finding things difficult sometimes without wanting to set them on fire. I want to do a job that makes me happy. So I work at it. I’m not constantly at home with my head buried in books and searching the internet for knowledge to get promoted or learn a new skill a week, I still have plenty of fun, but I always have something to aim for and it keeps me progressing.

Without sounding like an Etsy wall print, I think people that chase their dreams are inspiring. I think being young and being career driven is a good thing. I think knowing what you want is just as okay as having no idea at all. I think we should basically take this strange, pre-middle bit of our lives and do everything we can to make our time worthwhile. Yes I know, I should shut up and go sew my feelings on a cushion or something. I’m going to eat some Rich Tea biscuits though, because sew I cannot.