Category Archives: Learn With Amy

My Story: The Mirena Coil Implant

 

There are many different reasons for and against the use of hormonal contraceptives and, given the opportunity, many will throw their opinions at you until you’re left reeling and unable to tell left from right. I think, aside from personal accounts, people should refrain from bashing others with their medical opinions and leave a lot of the talk to doctors, but when it comes to personal experience, the testimony of others can be incredibly useful.
I decided last year, for a combination of reasons, to get the Mirena hormone coil implant as it seemed the best suited to my needs after thorough research online and talking at length with my doctors. I knew the process of getting used to a piece of plastic in my lady parts wouldn’t be easy, but it seemed worth it for the peace of mind and freedom it could offer.
Here is my experience!

My Reasons

For a number of health reasons, me and my reproductive system aren’t the closest of friends. I have always suffered from Dysmenorrhoea (the fancy medical word for “Extremely F***ing painful periods”) and so decided after many years to take steps to naturally stop my periods, without completely writing off the possibility of children someday down the line.
I researched the many kinds of hormonal contraceptives available to me and tried a couple, sadly to no avail. The Mirena turned out to the be the one most likely to give me the relief I needed to lead a happy life.

The Run Up

After multiple appointments with my doctor to settle upon the Mirena, I was booked in for the routine sexual health check up required before getting a coil.
As I had never had any appointments regarding my nether regions before, this was a rather awkward and eye-opening experience for me. I almost chickened out repeatedly, not wanting the embarrassment of a doctor going anywhere near my “hoo ha”, but I realised the only one making a fuss out of it was myself – these doctors spend almost all day every day just inches from a vagina, so mine wasn’t anything new to them.
The screening itself wasn’t really a problem when I calmed myself down. The only scary part was when they said they would text me with the results, and only to worry if I didn’t hear back… And guess who was left for 6 weeks thinking she had an STI because the hospital forgot to text her…. Yup.
You can imagine my relief when they finally told me I was fine after that little doosy!

The Big Day

So, I was told to go about my day as usual before the appointment l and just to take a painkiller a short while before going in and was warned that during and after the appointment I would experience “mild discomfort” and may want to rest for the day.
In reality, the appointment was genuinely the most painful experience of my 22 years, and that includes a head injury I sustained only 2 months before my Mirena insertion. As it turns out, I have an “abnormally small” cervix which meant that it was a whole new level of pain for little ol’ me, especially as the Mirena is mostly recommended for women that have had children.
Just the word “Speculum” makes me unconsciously cross my legs and gives me shudders, but nothing can sum up the bizarre feeling of the little T shaped device popping into place. Six months down the line and I still recall every detail of the fascinating and sickening sensation.
The insertion is kind of like an injection without a needle. The Mirena is on the end of a long stick with a syringe style plunger on the end that pushes the coil into place and then cuts the threads to length as it releases the device.
For all the discomfort, the procedure itself only lasted about 10-15 minutes, plus a 5-10 minute lie down to ensure I didn’t faint from standing up too fast.
The nurses were all incredibly sweet and helpful, ensuring I was safe and as at ease as possible during the whole ordeal.
Pain scale: 8 1/2 out of 10

The First Week

So I left my appointment with my friends, feeling pretty fragile and very queasy. After almost throwing up in my friend’s car from the pain and my body’s shock to the sudden change, I got home and things went from bad to worse.
Keeping in mind that I already suffer from Dysmennorhoea and the strain period pain puts on my daily life, the pain that flooded over me was 100 times worse than any cramps I had suffered in my life.
My boyfriend bundled me inside and wrapped me up as I fought the urge to black out from the sheer agony I was in. I felt as though someone was beating my uterus with a whisk made of fire and scrambling my insides. It was intense and I kept waking up, tossing and turning all night long.
The next day, I could hardly walk. I had to call my work and explain the amount of pain I was in and they kindly let me stay home. It was so rough.
Pain Scale 9 1/2 out of 10

The First Month

I remained in consistent pain for the whole of the first month after the appointment. I had to keep a chair at work to sit on when I wasn’t doing anything and practically lived constantly hopped up on cocodamol just to make it through the day.
It was intense, but I knew what I was in for given my health and my tiny frame. I survived through work, Christmas, travelling and just focussed on staying active and living life as normally as possible until the pain eased off.
When you get the coil, your body may react to the device and try to expel it, due to it being a foreign object inside your body, so pain is normal.
Pain Scale: Constant 6-7 out of 10

6 Months Later

It is 6 months to the day since I got the Mirena coil put in and, while I cannot say the process has been easy, it has been worth it.
In the 6 months I have had the coil, I have had a total of 6 accumulated weeks off my period. No joke. Due to the hormone release, your body has to figure out what to do and get used to the chemicals rushing around in your system and that takes time. The upside is that, while the bleeding is definitely an inconvenience, the pain I get from my periods has lessened significantly and my body is already starting to adjust and I am noticing my periods seem to be wearing off and getting a little shorter in between the growing breaks off.
occasionally I still get the odd twinge from it and pains here and there, but nothing as bad as what I was feeling every month before I got the coil.

Advice and Heads Up

  • When you get the coil inserted, you must return for a check-up 6 weeks later to ensure the device is in the correct position to work, so you will need to use other forms of contraception until that point, such as condoms, patches or the pill.
  • Obvious, I know, but important: The coil doesn’t protect you from any STIs, so be safe!
  • Try not to be too reliant on painkillers as you can build up a tolerance to them and, in some cases, get addicted or damage your organs. I know they seem like an easier option, but I felt a lot worse in the times I was using them too much.
  • Don’t let the pain scare you out of it if you really need it. I have decided to be honest about my experience because I wished I had been told, but the impact this device has had on my life in incredible and I feel a lot better knowing I could be on my way to getting rid of painful periods for up to 5 years and the knowledge that I am almost completely safe from accidental pregnancy.
  • Your boobs may get noticeably bigger. Thank you, Mirena!
  • BOOK TIME OFF WORK FOR AFTER. I was very lucky I had such understanding bosses who let me take a couple days to feel better, but do yourself a favour and make sure you get yourself at least a day or two to rest before going back, even if you are fine after, just so you don’t over exhaust yourself.
  • Make sure you talk to your doctors about the options you have available to you, to find the contraceptives that suit your needs best, as we are all very different.
  • Carry your Mirena patient card with you at all times. I didn’t know this until recently myself, but I was informed that the reason you are given the card isn’t just to remind you 5 years down the line to replace it, but also for medical reasons. Say you get into an accident and are rushed to hospital, if you have the card the medics will know that you have the Mirena instantly, as the device can show up looking like shrapnel in an X-Ray and it could get removed or cause issue with treatment.
  • If, like me, the Mirena causes heavily prolonged periods, make sure you talk to your doctor about the risk of Anemia and possibly invest in some iron supplements, as you don’t want to have to deal with an iron deficiency from bleeding on top of getting used to a coil!

I will be updating this post the further along I get into my experience with the coil and hopefully adding some testimonies from other people about their Mirena stories!
Thank you very much and I hope this has been useful for you!
Please join in the conversation in the comments below and over on Facebook! Xx

Learning With Amy To Be Amy

10432552_1013181298695894_8304708746044163524_n2016, often held up in media as “The Worst Year Ever”, was a fantastic but, more importantly, an educational year for me. Many lessons I began during that year have carried forward to the present – Nobody can say I’m not a work in progress, to say the least!

A number of things happened that have tested me, helped me grow and, in some cases, hardened me. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – even if they aren’t particularly as I expected.
For a start, I am learning how to function as an early 20s woman, dealing with many issues a lot of women face: Birth control, self-confidence, safety, health, trust, love are just a few of the broad subjects.
For years I have had to deal with fainting spells and blood pressure problems, but last October saw me have to deal with a very dangerous consequence of fainting when I collapsed walking home at night and cracked my head open and gained a severe concussion and a night in A&E with all manner of neckbraces, wheelchairs and wrap-around stretchers that I never wanted to experience (trust me, nobody is going to let you get up from all of that stuff with a broken head to go and pee, so that was a true moment of “Mind over matter”)
Last year, I was assaulted in public in a way that shook me for months and I am still getting to terms with, though that is as much as I can say on that matter.
After years of living with monthly agony, an experience that is nothing more than a minor inconvenience for the majority of women, I started on a path to seek help through birth control (posts to follow about that soon).
I experienced a breakup with someone who is still an incredible friend of mine, which later lead me to a mutually loving and supportive relationship which has changed my life and helped me grow to a happier and braver person.
Those are just a very few experience that made 2016 both an educational and eventful year. And what I have learnt has set me on course for a 2017 well spent, because I am learning to BE Amy again.
A few years ago, my entire world was shaken by some drastic changes that flipped everything I knew about life and people upside my head. That was also during a time that I was at the lowest lows of my, now knocking on 11-year, depression. Those, and numerous other, circumstances combined have meant a spiralling nose-dive of depression, anxiety, illness and stress that I am finally seeing the light out of. I have invested in the wrong causes, battled hopelessness, struggled with self-harm and tried to find solace in work, knitting, let’s playing and even this blog as a way to feel validated by doing. While those things have been all well and good, I realised at the end of 2015 that before I could really feel validated by doing, I had to learn how to be satisfied by BEING. When you have gone through patches of not caring about waking up the next day, you really can’t just hop into a career to fix what is broken. As every builder knows, you need a strong foundation before you can build a sturdy house.
Over the last year, I decided to put a number of things on hold and, whilst the lack of progress with them made me stressed out of guilt, I waited to see which things I was doing I was actually passionate enough to come back to. I have taken time, spoken to many helpful people, researched, spent time with myself and fully invested in learning what makes Amy a happy person, because for years I have been convinced that I am not happy, it is just a sensation that comes over me sometimes.
I feel now energised enough in my mind to pursue more goals, and that is from taking a step back to actually think “Hey, what do I want?”
I have tried so many times to pour all of myself into potential professions and just not found deep satisfaction, at the very least in my methods of execution. I have pursued so many things, such as: YouTube, Jewellery making, Hospitality, Academia, Counselling, Languages, even Acting – which has been my life goal for as long as I can remember. All of these things are interesting and enjoyable to me, but before they can make me satisfied, I have to know how to just be happy.
Here are some of the things that I have rediscovered my love for that have helped me rediscover myself:

Reading

After a lot of stress during my A Levels, I really fell out of the habit of reading. I would often reread things I already knew, or pick up a phone when I couldn’t be bothered choosing which book to pick up.
Over the summer I decided to take up my long neglected habit and start reading again. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 was my first of about 10 books I read last year (not a huge number for some, but not bad for someone slow like myself) and it relit my passion for books that really make you think.
Many books I had attempted and gave up on previously offered no more depth than the words on the page, so reading something of Slaughterhouse’s calibre really struck a spark under the powder keg of my passion.
I am currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird during quiet times at work and I feel so fulfilled getting at least a few pages a day of progress.

Watching films

Okay, we all watch a fair few films but, much like with reading, I fell into a habit of watching what I already knew or just looking at films as opposed to letting them absorb me in the story. I became all about making a bullet point list in my head of pros and cons and examining the work behind it, as opposed to really appreciating the hard work of the makers by just genuinely experiencing it.
Films still spark this little flutter in my stomach that makes me go “Aaah, I want to do that too!” but finally I feel in a place where I actually can – and I am, as I am currently working on 4 separate films with collaborators I really trust.

Adventure

Summer this year was long and I had a job somewhere near my hometown which I didn’t fit in too well with, so the savior of those few months was going on adventures with my friends (Particularly the almost daily adventures with my friend Tom). I climbed waterfalls, swam wearing jeans and a bra, followed sheep up a mountain, upped sticks and went to Birmingham for a weekend for no reason but that I wanted to see my boyfriend, explored Nottingham for a day, went to the Edinburgh Fringe festival for a week, trekked mountains, stood in empty lakes, chased countless sunsets and saw dozens of sunrises – And I loved it!
There is nothing like the feeling of getting a phonecall and being told “Bring a torch and wear boots, I’ll be outside in 10.” and knowing that by the time you return, you will have done something incredible.

Laughing

There is nothing like the feeling of being surrounded by the people who know you the most and all of you being in tears from the pain of laughing so hard your abs ache. For so long, I spent those moments looking on and wondering why I couldn’t feel the same way and enjoy that beautiful bonding moment as much – Now I can and I will never let that slip away.
I have embraced a number of people who know when I am sad in a heartbeat and who will do all they can to make me happy and they have provided me with so many wonderful times, from improvising me a solo D&D quest in the middle of a pub, to dancing around in sunglasses, to holding my hand in hospital and joking about being the worst doctor in the world, to tagging me in thousands of funny videos to brighten my day. I have learnt that even if I am lying in a hospital bed with a massive crack in my head, my funny bone can never be broken.

Acting & Directing

Acting, while in question about how I want to pursue it and whether as a career or a personal passion, is still something that makes me so happy to do. It is that moment of being someone else for a few hours and getting to look at the world from a different perspective and learn from their mistakes. What I have learnt, however, is that to be a happy actor, you HAVE to lay your foundation well in order to feel whole as yourself. I have spent many years wanting to pursue acting and wondering why I felt so hollow at times after doing it. But I have learnt that I am someone who has other needs to be met as well for acting to make me truly happy – needs such as a healthy diet, love (from myself and others), security in my life (because we all know for most actors money isn’t always the best subject), time to be myself as opposed to living as other people all the time, and variety.
While I have learnt that acting makes me happy, it doesn’t when my entire mind is focused on it and my entire mind is “CAREER! CARE ABOUT NOTHING AND NOBODY ELSE, JUST CAREER” – it may work for some, but not me.
I have also expanded to embrace the role of puppet master by taking on the job of directing a play as well as starting a bunch of film projects of my own invention. Directing gives me much the same dose of thrill and passion as acting, and I get to flex my practical problem solving muscles at the same time. It’s a win-win situation, as I get to be involved with the process of building a performance, while also doing those satisfying nitty gritty bits in between!

Blogging

I came back to this, didn’t I? This site really fell by the wayside after a very bad breakup that left me pretty damaged for a long time, much because a lot of the topics I discussed were Korea related and my ex was Korean and he encouraged me to start this site. Well, I have decided to take back what is mine again and remind myself that Learn With Amy is something I am passionate about. Over the time I have been gone, this site has received a crazy number of hits and I have received comments and messages about my previous posts and concern about my absence – I heard you all loud and clear, and I have rediscovered my love for blogging, so expect to hear more from me from now on!

Creating my own acting opportunities

I have realized that, because I am still in the process of building my “Happiness foundations”, I am more passionate about creating my own opportunities in acting than I am about seeking out other work. The rejection and stress of the seeking out work, matched with the crippling fear of letting someone down on a project they care about and the risk of tarnishing my name if I screw up still haunts me. I still get those unhappy “This is awful” feeling when I scroll through casting sites and, while some large opportunities have come my way” I get a shocking wave of melancholy and actual grumpiness when faced with pursuing a project. At the moment I am easing myself back into the acting pool by working on my own projects that I can share with the people I trust most. Some say that this “Director actor” tactic is cowardly or not really pursuing anything, but it really is helping me to rediscover my love of acting by just enjoying the process of creating (though screenwriting still makes me want to put a brick through my laptop)

Cooking

Cooking, as you can tell from all the recipes I shared on this site, was a huge passion of mine which became really neglected when depression really was fighting hard. I am in no way an emotional eater, I have always been someone who can’t handle food when I get down. It’s weird and backwards and actually makes things way worse, but it’s how it is.
Since realizing how wrong I was going with nutrition, I have gotten back into using my passion for cooking to keep myself fueled and fit. I feel healthier, I feel happier and I get to go into the kitchen and play around with something I am passionate about.

Life for a long time seemed so empty and hopeless and there have been times where I wondered if this was just how life felt and I had to embrace it. I am nowhere near the end of my journey facing depression, anxiety and I still need a lot of work on my foundation and my building, but I am now in a place where I can enjoy the journey, as opposed to just wanting to be at my destination a different person with a different mind. I am satisfied with my progress and I will keep working to be happy and love who I am.
You are learning with Amy… And so am I!
I really hope you have enjoyed this. Please feel free to comment or send me a message using the message window below. Thank you for reading and I wish you luck with building your foundation! See you soon. X

Claddagh rings – The IRL relationship status!

Today, when we meet someone new that we’re romantically interested in, one of the first 12788431_971115229639817_884393266_othings we are likely to do is go on Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram – even Linked in, if we’re really desperate) and check their Relationship Status for the all clear that we want to see before we pursue a relationship. Facebook makes it so much easier to do that harmless snooping we need.

But what about BEFORE the invention of social media, where all we had to go off was the presence, or lack therof, of a wedding ring? There were no telltale signs short of just asking the person outright (which can get kind of embarrassing in some circumstances) or asking around with friends or family.
That’s why I love the Claddagh ring so much. Named after the Irish town of its origin, the claddagh ring is designed for the exact purpose of displaying a person’s “romantic status” for the world to see.
The design includes two hands holding a heart that is adorned with a crown. The hands symbolize friendship and support, the heart represents love and the crown means loyalty. These are great little details, but the really interesting part comes down to the WAY it is worn!

12776841_971115212973152_692921021_oJust by looking at the orientation on the hands, you can quickly tell if the wearer is single (or at least not currently exclusive with the person they are seeing).
When a claddagh ring is worn on the right hand, with the heart pointing out (away from the wearer’s palm) then they are essentially single. It means that their heart isn’t taken, so that could mean they are not dating anyone or aren’t yet exclusive with them.
Similarly, if it is worn on the right hand with the heart pointing IN, then their heart definitely isn’t up for grabs, as they’ve either given it to someone else or are keeping it to one side ready for them (i.e dating somebody already).
When the claddagh ring is worn on the left hand, it’s a whole lot more serious! If they wear it on their left hand with the heart pointing out, then they are engaged to be married (I always chuckle because it’s almost like the ring is going “Hey, try get me now before it’s too late!”) and if it is on the left hand and pointing inwards the wearer is married (or in a serious committed very long-term relationship – we don’t have to go by tradition here!).

Claddagh rings are an Irish tradition, but it is so common for people without Irish herritage to wear them too. I’m not aware of any Irish in my family, and I’ve worn my Claddagh ring for the last 7 years, with only a few short breaks when it’s accidentally gone through the wash or been misplaced for a couple weeks!
If you’re interested in getting your very own claddagh ring, here is the particular design I have worn for the last 7 years

And, if you are interested in some of the flashier rings, here are a few of my favorites:

I hope you have enjoyed this quick random piece! If you are interested, come and connect with us on the Learn With Amy Facebook and Twitter, join me on my own personal Twitter and also, check out my YouTube channels! Xx

Think Like A Native – Using your thoughts to improve your language skills

 

11650593_850429428375065_1268473140_nIn learning languages like Japanese and Korean, I have found one of the best ways of privately encouraging my learning, especially when unable to communicate with others in that language, is to make effort to communicate with myself.
Over recent months, due to breaking up with my Korean ex-boyfriend and terribly missing my Japanese best friend, I have neglected my language studies and this site in favor of taking time out to heal – trust me, you guys didn’t want to be witness to that mess! While this has somewhat dulled my abilities, I have found that regular practice in the privacy of my own mind has helped to preserve my understanding a great deal.
IMG_0844.PNGIt can be hard to find opportunities to communicate in languages not used in the area you live, so I decided to do my level best to think in Japanese and Korean wherever possible.
Going about my day and trying to think of the Japanese or Korean words for items I see and trying to string together the correct sentences goes a long way to help keep me focused on retaining what I already know, while also encouraging me to learn more.
When I dial a phone number, I try my best to think it in Japanese or Korean as I dial and that not only helps to improve my abilities, but I find helps with my concentration. If I am not sure of the word for a letter, I’ll just go with English and ensure to look it up later so I’ll be able to recall it the next time.
Of course, if you aren’t fluent, this isn’t an incredibly easy task, but it does serve as a way of revising a language when you cannot practice in conversation with others.
Even if you only use the odd word here and there, it will still help to build that comfort and understanding that will make learning faster and smoother. It will also help to make you able to fluidly move between languages – an ability that will serve you well the further you improve in all your language studies!
This has been a very short piece, I know, but I wanted to make something quick and simple as a way of getting back into things. Thank you so much to everyone who has waited patiently for me to be ready to return – I really appreciate your patience and all the supportive messages I have received in my time away!
As always, please share any thoughts or comments in the section below, or come join us over on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Do I have An Ugly Voice?!?!?! The truth about what you hear

"Is THAT my voice?!"
“Is THAT my voice?!”

As I’m expanding Learn With Amy onto YouTube, I have discovered one big problem that has slowed my progress: I hate the sound of my voice on recordings. And not just video! I hate my voice on the phone, when singing, but just particularly badly when recording video. But why is that?

Well, what affects me is the same thing that most people experience when they hear themselves recorded. I hate my voice because it isn’t the same voice that I hear in my head when I speak! it just isn’t! It is so far removed from the voice I have had for as long as I can remember.
But can it really be the case that my voice sounds smooth, rich and buttery until I’m placed in front of a microphone? Do my vocal chords decide to have a dance party in there? Nope!
I have done some research and it turns out that the voice that we hear isn’t actually the voice anyone else hears! We hear a very different and unique “version” of our own voices that no-one else in the world hears.
When we speak, a lot of what we are hearing isn’t the sound that comes out of our mouths and bounces around the room until it reaches our ears, but more the vibrations that come from speaking resonating in the bones of our skull. That’s why we often hear our own voice as fuller than our own.
BUT! It isn’t necessarily a case of your real voice sounding BAD, but more a case of you not being used to hearing it! Anytime that we speak without a microphone, we hear one voice that we have grown to accept as ours, and when something challenges that we are going to label it as “weird”.

Want to hear your own voice for real? Then get two large pieces of cardboard (about A4 size) and place them against your jaw, in front of your ears, then speak out loud. The voice you hear is your “true voice”, the voice everyone else knows and loves!

So, like me, you are probably going to jump to the conclusion that your voice is ugly, horribly annoying and too bad to ever be heard on a microphone again! But, fear not, because it is not as bad as you imagine. Go easy on yourself because it isn’t all that bad. How many people do you know with really “ugly” voices? Not many, I’m guessing.

So accept that, while your voice doesn’t sound just like you imagine, it isn’t as bad as you think it is either.

So, what do you think of your voice? Is there anything you want to improve upon? I’ll be doing some research and asking some people for their advice on what to do to strengthen your voice and get you the pipes you really want to hear!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article! Make sure you join us over on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Bye-bye Grease! Taking back my hair

10432552_1013181298695894_8304708746044163524_nEver since I hit that tender age where you suddenly feel super self conscious, I have had this strong aversion to having greasy hair. Even now, a more confident adult, I still feel this (literally) sickening upset whenever I have greasy hair. I feel dirty, ugly and ashamed of myself. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it is a feeling that I have not managed to shed after 10 years of trying.

In recent years, I have found the problem worsening as my hair was becoming greasier even faster. I got pulled into a vicious cycle of my hair getting greasy and having to wash it as smaller and smaller intervals.
I read online and spoke to people about it and the only answer I could find seemed to be to wash my hair less regularly. WHAT?! NOT AN OPTION! I couldn’t just let my hair get greasy and embrace it. So, I did a little research and learnt why my hair was getting greasier faster and faster.
While stripping your scalp of grease can cause your hair to get greasy faster, it is also the fact that the chemicals in shampoos (even “natural” ones) can irritate your scalp, making your body think that it is being attacked and releases more grease to sooth your scalp.
Now, I can go about 3-7 days without my hair getting greasy, unless I’ve worked out a lot or have had particularly sweaty shifts at work. “How?!” You may ask.
The answer probably sits in the back of your pantry, waiting for you!
It’s Baking soda!
I began washing my hair with baking soda a month ago and I’m so much happier with my hair now. In addition to that, I started rinsing my hair with apple cider vinegar and that only made things better!
Photo 09-12-2014 16 12 06This simple, and REALLY CHEAP, switch has made a world of difference. My hair is soft, smooth, easy to style, and – best of all – not greasy! This change has only brought good things – the only thing I miss about shampoo is the nice choice of smells and also the bubbly lather that you don’t get (unless, you make a doosy and mix the baking soda and vinegar at the same time) with this method.

So, how do I wash my hair? It’s really simple!

In a plastic cup, put 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda in with about 1 teaspoon of water. Then, in another plastic cup, put about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup. Then (this is a very useful trick) get a little bit of the vinegar on a finger or spoon and use it to stir the baking soda mix. Doing this will cause a chemical reaction and make the baking soda fizz up a little bit, just like the volcano projects kids do in school, this will make it a tad easier to work the baking soda through your hair, as it’s much easier to work with a foam than a liquid that’s more likely to wash out of your hands as you try to get it on your head.
So, thoroughly wet your hair and then work the foamy baking soda mix through all of your hair. Really make sure you get it well onto your scalp – just don’t rub it in so hard that you snap your hair!
Let is soak into your hair for a couple minutes and then thoroughly rinse out.
When you have rinsed out all of the baking soda, wet your hair again and then pour the vinegar through all of your hair. Then let it sit for a minute or two and then rinse it all out.
Your hair may smell a TINY bit like vinegar, but you can easily spray a little perfume on to cover it up – but, I happen to love the smell of vinegar, so I don’t mind!

Photo 24-03-2015 11 56 31
Result!

So, there you have it, a cheap and very effective way of washing and maintaining your clean and grease-free hair!
If you have tried this method or you want to share your comments, suggestions or questions, please share them with us in the comments, or join us on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Remember that this is purely based off my own personal experience. If you find that this doesn’t work for you, don’t continue this method. We’re all different and our bodies respond differently to things. Always use your common sense and take care!

Random Acts of Kindness

1513793_781207345297274_8961386574453943804_n

We’ve all seen videos on Youtube and Facebook about people going out and doing random acts of kindness for others. They fill us up with that warm fuzzy feeling as unsuspecting people are shown gestures of kindness and good will. It’s really easy to watch these videos, but a lot of people don’t feel like they have what it takes to actually DO this.
Well, my sister and close friends have taken it upon ourselves to spread the love and bring joy to people’s day on a regular basis!

Inspired by videos of these kinds of events from big-hearted people like Ryan Higa and his crew, who regularly upload videos of themselves doing kind gestures as a way to inspire others to do the same. They give toys and flowers to people at Christmas and they went around their city giving food to the homeless for Thanksgiving. Popular Viner Thomas Sanders went around shopping mall for “Givemas” giving out gift cards to stores in that mall to happy customers and staff. These people are great examples of how selflessness can be both rewarding and really fun! These are the kinds of people who inspired us to start out own style of Random Acts of Kindness.

11041481_790157151068960_1238396688_nOne day a couple of summers ago, my sister and I traveled to a nearby town for a day at the beach together. It was nice – We drew pictures in the sand, paddled in the water and had a laugh before realising that we were surrounded, both on land and in the water, by literally hundreds of jelly fish and decided to flee the beach.
Wandering around and seeing a mixture of moods from passers-by. Some were loving the summer fun and enjoying the company of their families, while others were stressing out, sulking and generally being moody. We decided, as we were already having a great time, to do something nice to brighten other’s days a bit more. We put our heads together and decided that food and drinks were off the cards due to the insane numbers of seagulls that swoop at anything remotely edible and giving money just seemed weird, so we’d settle for something adults and children alike could just enjoy – Balloons!
After hurrying to the nearest card shop, we set off to deliver our handful of balloons to some lucky people.
Honestly, this first experience opened up so much for us. It was a great feeling to come into someone’s life, give them a gift and just let them go with a big smile on their faces. We met some absolutely lovely people and had some truly moving and enlightening conversations. And, just with balloons, we actually made a positive difference to the lives of others!

With that first experience a great success, we were hungry to do it again.

Valentine’s Day: Taking it a step bigger

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Valentine’s Day is known as a day of celebrating your love and putting on displays of affection for the world to see, but this day can be a huge downer for a lot of people with no partner and a glum attitude. In honesty, I meet more people who are miserable than happy on Valentine’s Day and that is because of the hype and weight put on having a partner. It reinforces the idea that having a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife should be your top priority and not having one is somehow a failure on your part. That can seriously bring you down and Valentine’s Day can be extra bad.
My best friend, little sister and I decided that we were going to take a stand against this yearly downer and go out and spread the love for everyone!
1939724_583856765032334_271925713_nOn Valentine’s Day 2014, we went out armed with ‘Free Hug’ banners and 20 balloons.
Due extremely high winds due to the huge storm that was pelting Britain at the time (hands up if you remember #UKstorm) we moved our post indoors and instead we targeted the students and faculty of our local university!
Shy students didn’t respond too openly to the offer of free hugs, but the balloons when down (or up) a treat! We managed to brighten many days, meet some very nice people and even confused a business lecturer when half his class turned up with balloons tied to their desks!
It was a fantastic day and the three of us had a great time seeing so many smiling faces! It brought us three closer together, introduced us to some nice people and brightened the days of many people!

Despite the success of that day, due to people getting jobs, my best friend moving back to Japan, lots of changes and such, the next time we had the availability to do another Random Act of Kindness was the following Valentine’s Day 2015.
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Due to my best friend still being in Japan, we still needed another to join us. Funnily enough, a few months after Valentine’s Day 2014, my sister made friends with a girl whom we later discovered, when we happened to talk about Valentine’s Day, we had given a balloon to on that day and then had met by chance later! This friend came along to help us out this year and the tradition continued for a second year! Armed with about 25 balloons and a handful of silk roses, the three of us wondered the town.
Due to it being a Saturday, the high street was packed full of families, couples and children of all ages. Honestly, the minute we stepped out with all the balloons ready to go we were mobbed by kids who wanted their own. Seriously, pre-teens are scary!!
The first child we were moved to give a balloon to was a small toddler whose parents asked us where they could buy their daughter a balloon like ours. I wish I could have captured the expression of true delight when we responded by handing over the big heart-shaped balloon that their little one had been so keen on and told them it was their’s for free.
We met a lot of lovely people along the road and we were really well received by everyone we encountered.

The overwhelming feeling I was left with was that it is so easy to make a significant difference to a person’s day (and thus a person’s life) simply by doing a nice gesture as simple as giving them a balloon.

How YOU can try it!

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So, now that you know that it’s actually very easy to do random acts of kindness, there’s nothing holding you back from trying it for yourself. This kind of thing is fantastic for helping the people around you, bringing friends together and practicing the very healthy activity of giving.
In honesty, it is a LOT easier to do it with a group of friends with whom you can feel comfortable around and whom you can chat to and enthuse with. Going around doing these activities does cause a physical reaction of nervousness and it takes a lot of energy, so having friends with you will help to keep your energy up.
There are so many ways that you can try this out for yourself, but sometimes you need some ideas to get you going:
Giving fun things: Balloons, toys for children, gift cards, second-hand video games, etc
Motivational: Positive/inspiring sticky notes, a letter to a stranger, a supportive and inspirational letter to give to a parent to give to their child, Random compliments, etc
Helpful: Giving food or drink to the homeless, a group trip volunteering, a fun charity event, visiting elderly neighbours, etc.

Remember to be creative in your ideas. My crew plan to expand on the original balloon idea for next time, so keep thinking and try to think of some original, helpful and fun ideas. Remember, fun and positivity are the mail point! People will remember their experience of being chosen for a random act of kindness, so make sure it’s a lovely memory for them to share with others.

Remember:

Some cultures are not so open to the contact of total strangers. Especially in more reserved cultures, some of the more friendly ideas might be seen as inappropriate or even illegal, so always be careful of what you decide to do.
In some places, it may be more or less okay to do ‘free hugs’ than in other places, etc.
Be very careful to make sure that you aren’t making yourself at the risk of any legal issues. When I handed over a balloon, I always noted that they should be used with care. Sometimes the giving of stuff, especially to children, can put you at some risk, so make sure you carefully consider that.

Do you have any ideas or questions about Random Acts of Kindness that you want to share? Share them in the comments below or over on Facebook or Twitter! Have a great day! Xx

 

This is purely an informational piece and anyone who uses suggestions from this piece or other pieces on this website should do so with care, consideration, their own common sense and always behave well within the law. Safety first!!

Mushy Geek Reviews: Big Hero 6 – Love never felt so cuddly

Big Hero 6 image

Despite being released in the U.S in November of last year, Disney’s Big Hero 6 has only just yesterday (January 30th) been released in UK cinemas. I was lucky enough to score tickets to take my sister (with whom I share a love of movies about friendship and sibling bonding) to see a preview showing at the beginning of the month.

We had been looking forward to seeing this movie, set in the U.S-Japan fusion city of SanFransokyo, for months and I couldn’t turn down any chance to see it early.
If it was great, then everything would be great and we’d be delighted a the chance to see it early. If it sucked, then we’d at least learn early and get on with our lives without almost an extra month of suspense.

The very least I can say is that it did NOT suck. Not in the slightest.

Actually, this film quickly shot (even only minutes into the first viewing) to the top of our favourites list and is still with us now. With a perfect and occationally indistinguishable balance of humour and feels, endlessly quotable lines and loveable and memorable characters, this film was exactly what we wanted and so much more.
This film is a beautiful message about love, friendship, self-discovery and forgiveness that we both agreed is exactly what a film aimed at kids should teach. It showed the love and loyalty of siblings, the pain of loss, the turmoil of the grieving process, how to care for those in need of support, the power of friendship and how being a ‘nerd’ is actually really cool.

Each character was interesting enough that they could hold up their own movie, while fitting perfectly into their roles as supporting characters. Gone, I believe, are the days of forgettable and flat supporting characters who drift in and out without making that much of an impact. My sister and I find ourselves quoting the other characters just as much as the lead roles, and that’s fantastic.

Due to some careless spoilers stumbled across online, my sister and I already knew a key plot point near the start of the movie and we thought that might impact our viewing experience. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t actually spoil anything for us as the emotions were still as raw and shaking as they would have been otherwise. We actually kept forgetting about this point from being so wrapped up in the movie that, when we remembered, we honestly couldn’t believe it to be true and thought it was maybe a fake ‘trolling’ spoiler.

Even first thing in the morning, when the taste of toothpaste still overpowered our popcorn and coke, this movie took us in, captivated us from beginning to the very end (meaning the very VERY end, for the post-credit scene that only my sister and I believed would be there) and gave us so much more than we hoped for.
Hero and Baymax are the perfect duo, with Baymax caring for Hero and Hero teaching Baymax about the world (a nice hat-tip to The Terminator 2) and both helping each other to grow. This story tells us that it’s okay to love, have fun, not know what you want, follow your passion, feel pain, heal, lean on your friend and also make mistakes. It is, in mine and my sister’s opinions, a perfect ‘feel good’ film that reminds us that we’re all human and sometimes we need a big air-filled marshmallow robot to cuddle sometimes.

Now for the  conclusions:
Overall enjoyment: I loved this film so much. It was a fantastic experience from beginning to end, with tears and laughter and good messages throughout.

Family friendly: This film is fantastic for people of all ages, great for families (some sensitive themes, but all handled well), solo movie-goers and friends. Great all-round!

Acting: Seriously, so much emotion in the voices and the animated acting was superb. It’s amazing how the beautiful facial animations and voice acting go together to make performances that you totally forget aren’t actually real people.

Visuals: This is a truly beautiful film with a friendly and futuristic look to it, and the incredible fusion between America and Japan is stunning.

Re-watchability: Well my sister and I have said ever day since seeing this film that we want to watch it again and are even planning our next cinema trip to see it again.

Thanks, Disney! We are satisfied with our care. Xx

Loving your skin

Photo 21-01-2015 13 36 02 (1)Taking care of your skin is vital keeping it fresh, clean and youthful. Especially for those of us with sensitive skin, it is sometimes difficult to know what the right thing to do is when it comes to skin care and looking good. And sometimes, main brand skin care products can cause mild to severe skin irritation. But we want to look good and find the best way to maintain healthy and nice skin. Here is some advice for keeping that sweet smooth skin just how you like it:

Give It What It Needs

Photo 29-01-2015 01 06 04It’s important that you have inside what you need to reflect your health on the outside.
Making sure that you are eating a healthy and balanced diet will go a long way to helping your health. Getting the balance of nutrients you need from meat (or meat substitutes) and vegetables is so important in every area of your life.
A balanced diet can support good physical and mental health as well as keeping your skin supple and healthy.

A multivitamin a day can really help you to keep your body topped up with all the goodies it needs. There are a lot of vitamins and minerals that we don’t get enough of naturally, so taking a supplement can help to keep your body functioning at its best.
Make sure that you take multivitamins with a meal. It isn’t bad for you to take them without necessarily, but it does mean that your body won’t absorb as much of the goodness as it would while digesting a meal.
Make sure that your vitamins contain iron. Iron is VITAL to your health. If you are like me and suffer from anemia from time to time, you need to make sure that you are getting enough iron.

QUICK TEST: Wash your hands and gently pull down your bottom eyelid to look on the inside of the eyelid. The colour of the inside should be a red-ish pink-ish colour. If it looks pale or your eye itself looks a little yellowish, then you may need to talk to consume more iron.
OR(!) if looking in your eye seems a bit nasty, you can try this other quick test
Gently squeeze the ends of one of your fingers, with the pressure being downwards against the surface of your nail. Then release and watch how long it takes for the pressure mark (usually a pale pink or white colour) to change back to the usual pink.
If it’s slow to change back (or if your nail beds are usually white most of the time) you may not be getting enough iron.

(Note: Make sure that you take and questions and concerns about your diet and supplement/vitamin intake to a medical professional.)

Pick Of the Bunch

Evening Primrose oil, extracted from the Evening Primrose flower, is high in Omega-6, which your body converts into hormones needed for numerous bodily functions, including menstruation in women (helping to make periods shorted, lighter and less painful). But, as well as being a life-saver for us ladies, Evening Primrose actually does wonders for our skin!
Regularly taking Evening Primrose Oil capsules can help to keep skin clear and prevent breakouts and rashes, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to treat more sever skin conditions like Eczema.
Consider getting some Evening Primrose capsules as a way of helping to balance your hormones, which will do a lot of good for your whole body as well as your skin.

Stay away from the nasties

There are a lot of companies that want to produce products that SEEM really nourishing and kind to your skin which are actually full of harsh chemicals that you might not want to rub on your face or eyelids if you knew what they were.
Companies that want to cut corners will even use carcinogenic, hormone disrupting or even toxic chemicals in their products.
I know personally that it’s not much help when people say “Try to avoid products containing harsh chemicals” because I was not aware of what those chemicals ARE!
I’m in NO WAY an expert in the chemicals used in cosmetics (I could’ve been a chemist but I figured – hey – I’ll be an actor and blogger instead!) but with just a little searching and research, I’ve managed to freak myself out at the major nasties that have popped up at me, such as:

Parfum or Fragrances

Even some products that claim to be un-scented actually contain chemicals and fragrances to give off a lighter or ‘odorless scent’ (if that makes any sense). These chemicals can be harsh, drying and some can irritate eczema and asthma and some are even believed to be linked to cancers and contain neurotoxins!
If you suffer from acne, eczema, asthma or migraines, then you should be careful how many fragrance chemicals you expose yourself to, as these can be major irritants.
Of course, it is going to be difficult totally avoiding fragrances, but you should be aware of how many products you use regularly that contain them and try to minimize your exposure.

Parabens

Used as a preservative in product, parabens are supposedly really bad for you, even at low levels. Apparently many of them are considered sensitive substances as they are believed to interfere with hormones and have even been found in breast cancer tissue. They are also believed to react with UVB rays in a way that increases and speeds up skin damage and aging from sun exposure.
The way you can tell if an ingredient is a paraben is that the word usually ends in paraben. For example you have butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben and methylparaben.

Paraphenylenediamine 

(try saying that 3 times fast!)

This chemical, used in hair products, is toxic to the skin and can seriously affect your immune system. I just now looked at a box of hair dye from my old red-head days (before I chose to come back to my natural brown and white colour) and the leaflet states that it ‘contains phenylenediamines’ and repeatedly states that the product can cause ‘allergic reactions’. Is it technically and ALLERGIC reaction if it is something that is actually TOXIC to your skin??? Really???? Or is it just a toxic chemical that they shouldn’t really be encouraging you to rub on your head???
So, please, try to avoid products that contain this very nasty chemical. I, of course, am no expert in this area, but I can tell just from reading about it that it’s not nice stuff.

With all the long chemical names and numbers that you find on packaging it’s hard not to assume that every ingredient is practically acid or just become baffled, but one way of shopping for makeup (without having to memorise all these chemicals and whatnot) is to hold the product in one hand and your phone in the other. Just read the label and Google any of the chemicals you don’t recognise and look them up on trusted sources.
In all honesty, there is a lot of scaremongering over cosmetics products and everyone seems to think everything on an ingredients list will kill you, but try to just be calm and look for the facts. Don’t take any “YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO USE THIS AGAIN WHEN YOU KNOW [blah blah blah]” and just try to go as au naturel as you can.

And in these modern times we sadly aren’t going to be able to totally avoid these chemicals unless we go totally bare-faced, so it’s best that you are just cautiously aware of what you are putting on your face. It doesn’t mean that you have to give up makeup, condemn skin products and forgo shampoo, but you should be aware what you put on your skin and plan accordingly.

Treat Yourself

I know spending a lot of money on your skin isn’t always an option, but sometimes a few pounds (or Euro, or Dollars, or 円 or 원) can go a LONG way!
Just recently I went out with the intention to treat myself to some new beauty goodies. I was all ready to splurge a little and get a little pricey, but in the end, after 3 or 4 stores, I was kitted up and had only spent about £25. It may be quite an extravagant spend for some, but saving a few pence and pounds here and there will soon add up to more than enough!
Here is a list of a few items that can make your skin care routine a lot easier:

Soft wash cloth

A good wash cloth will be like a gentle kiss to your skin, rather than like scraping burlap over your face, and will help to gently wash and buff your skin clean. These days, a good wash cloth isn’t that expensive, just look around for one that feels really gentle. The way to keep your skin like a baby, is to not use anything on it that you wouldn’t use on a baby. Treat your skin with love and respect and it’ll be good to you.
A soft exfoliating brush
I know using a brush on your face doesn’t sound all that gentle, but a super soft facial brush can act as a great exfoliator when paired with a cleansing oil. Just make sure that you buffing your face lightly in small circular motions. I often find a lot of grainy exfoliators irritate my skin and the residue if often hard to fully wash off, but a good brush will do the trick.

Cosmetic pads

Where standard cotton wool can leave residue on your skin and not be very effective, cosmetics pads (while a tiny bit more pricey) will do a much more thorough job of taking off makeup and washing your skin.
I’ve heard that some people actually dry out and reuse their cosmetics pads in future uses. Please don’t do this, it’s basically just wiping days old makeup (and added bacteria) into your eyes and face and can lead to infections. Throw it away when you’re done

Facial band

Don’t you hate when your hair gets all oily/dirty when it touches your face while you’re washing it or you can’t quite wash all your face easily? Getting a nice facial hair band will help a lot. They are usually a strip with velcro either end so that you can wrap it around your head easily.

Eye mask

Light disturbance when you sleep can really affect your skin. Our bodies aren’t designed for all the artificial light in our lives these days and it can play silly games with our sleep, which affects a lot about our health, skin and mental well-being. Investing in a good sleeping eye mask will help your sleep a lot (even if it might seem a little funny at first if you sleep next to someone at night)

Eye cooling mask

Often gel eye packs that you can keep in the fridge, a cooling mask will basically do the same thing as eye cucumbers (eew, nasty mental image) but without the wastage. These help to refresh, wake-up and reduce puffiness in your eyes and are very relaxing.

Nail kit

I work in a restaurant and I also do a lot of art. Restaurant work requires being clean and well presentable whilst also handling food and drinks etc. Art can quickly get very messy and have a laborious clean-up afterwards. to both these effects, I carry around a small nail kit with me that I got from H&M for £2.99 that includes a cuticle pusher, a nail block (one of those blocks with a file and four sides for polishing) and a mini nail brush. It’s a tiny little case and is super convenient. I get so self-conscious if my nails are dirty so this makes me feel a whole lot more secure.

Black-head remover tool

This is a vital part of my skin-care. Because I work in oily environments and do a lot of running around and physical exertion, I regularly have to get rid of blackheads, especially around my nose and just above my eyebrows.

facial steamer

A tiny bit more expensive (at about the £20 mark) but it is great for refreshing your skin. Before I do a facial or black head clearing I always make sure that I steam my face to open up the pores to make it quicker, easier and less irritating.

Oil me up!

I don’t like the normal foaming face washes (especially as most of them contain really nasty chemicals), but I love cleansing oils. They’re soft on your skin and don’t strip away the natural ‘good stuff’ while taking away the dirt and dead skill cells that you don’t want!
A lot of people think “I don’t want oily skin, so oil cleansers aren’t for me. I want tight squeaky clean skin” but that is actually the opposite of what you want. Oil cleansers don’t leave your face greasy and oily all day, and they wash off really nicely. That tight ‘squeaky clean’ feeling you get is actually a bad thing, as it means that the natural good oils in your skin have been stripped away leaving it dry (thus feeling tight).
Cleansing oils might still not be for you, but try to be kind and gentle on your skin by avoiding products that strip the natural moisture in your face. Dirt and dead skin = Bad. Natural and gentle oils = Good.

Overall, a good diet, avoiding nasties, good sleep and gentle maintenance are the best things you can do to keep your skin looking b-e-a-utiful, so take care and be gentle!

(I am in NO WAY a professional. This piece is purely advise that I have gained from my own personal experience and the advice and experience of others. Please use caution and your own common sense when following the advice in this piece. Always take care! Xx)
I hope that you have enjoyed this piece. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel welcome to share them in the comment section below or join us over on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Kim Woo Bin Is Sharing The Secrets Of His Talent Now?!

 ©SBS
©SBS

South Korean acting sensation Kim Woo Bin has revealed one of his secrets for how he chooses and develops his acting roles, and his system goes to show how doing your homework really pays off.

Known for his roles in School 2013, Heirs and his most recent film The Technicians, Kim Woo Bin doesn’t fail to deliver on his committment to his roles. While some actors can sometimes let their masks slip whilst they are on camera, Kim Woo Bin’s seamless embodiment of his characters has audiences dazzled by his authenticity and has managed to become hot property in the acting industry as a result.

In a recent interview with Chosun, he shared one of his practices of when he is preparing for a new role and how he can so well understand his character’s feelings and motivations.
In the interview, he shared his important method, “No matter how small or big a role, I always make a list of 100 questions about the character I have to play. The questionnaire starts with simple questions, such as the character’s name,” he said about his method “By creating a list and filling in the answers, I often get a real feel for the character.”

Kim Woo Bin can certainly play tough, but is this method a bit hard on the roles? “I wouldn’t say that I’m picky,” Kim said “I just don’t want to be complacent. I want to make progress steadily, little by little.” It would seem that his method works as he has taken on some cracking roles before, and it’s a good way to ensure that he won’t play a role that he doesn’t believe in or find challenging or interesting.
About his progress, he said “If I continue to work this way, maybe I will be at the top one day.”

 © Vogue Girl
© Vogue Girl

He very clearly shows that has a dedication to skill over just popularity- a strong morale discipline that will certainly come in handy in his climb to the top of his craft and ensuring a long and happy career.

About his stardom, the heartthrob did not see himself as a star and understands the fragile position of fame. He said “It could come overnight, but go quickly. It would only be natural if the popularity I’m enjoying disappears the way it came.”

As a man very aware of the situation is in and how he got there, he added “I try to be grateful and not take what I have now for granted. I want to replay what I received. I don’t want to disappoint those who supported me”.

So, what is next for Kim Wo Bin? Who knows, but we can all rest assured that his next roles will have to pass his rigouous 100 question screening.

Want to see Kim Woo Bin at work? Watch him in The Heirs over on Viki.com!
Viki has a wide and ever expanding range of dramas and movies from Korea, Japan, Thailand and more and I would highly recommend it! Their community of subbers and translators all work really fast to bring you the shows you want in your language.
(Source: Chosun)

I hope you have enjoyed this article. As ever, if you have any comments or questions (or just gush about how great Kim Woo Bin is), please share them in the comments or join us over on Facebook and Twitter. See you there! Xx