‘Visualisation is day dreaming with a purpose’
Over the years, the needs of the spiritual mind and the soul have become vitally important for our over all wellbeing. They need as much nourishment as our bodies do and for someone who can often feel overwhelmed with both serious and not so serious anxieties, this was an area that I wanted to explore.
Finding time to sit purposely to quieten the mind and focus on the breathe to reduce stress and heal is not something I find easy. The purpose of meditation as a whole has always sat a little awkwardly with me as the idea of clearing my mind in peace and quiet usually results in the exact opposite and thoughts come hurtling from all directions! However, I have now realised that visualisation is a more practical form of meditation for me and though mindfulness and visualisation are both hugely beneficial, visualisation has appealed more to me as a form of relaxation.
Having used visualisation to a small extent during chemotherapy, I realised how powerful it was for me and primarily how I could use it as an escape. I am always going on about how different we all are and no one size fits all, but, if you are similar to me and need visuals to help you find that still and peaceful place when all about you is going to pot, you are not alone!
Surprisingly, meditation coupled with visualization can actually help heal the physical body. It turns out that our minds require a certain type of stimulation in order to stay focused and mentally sharp. Our modern hectic lifestyle makes meditation more important than it ever was.
Give me a soothing voice talking me through a relaxation exercise, instructing me to actually breathe first and foremost, as well as picture myself in a scene where I feel my happiest and most calm, and surprise surprise but my ability to relax is a lot more effective! Evidence suggests that the body responds to the command the mind gives it; visualising that you are in a calm situation causes the body to believe you are in exactly that so what other benefits does this technique have for healing?
Visualisation is a type of meditation that involves a specific conscious effort from us as an individual. While doing a visualisation we direct our minds to a place we want it to go. This can be where the guided meditation wants you to go specifically or a place you choose; the beach, a quiet spot by a river, a serene space outside in the countryside. It is a chance to work our imaginations again. The floor is yours! Visualisation can sometimes be called Mental Imagery and if practiced at a deeper level may get to a point where sensations can be felt in the body, and we can experience action and its consequences in detail, promoting an increase in positive mental attitude.
The benefits of visualisation don’t just include finding more peace in our daily lives but if practiced regularly we can empower ourselves to over come limiting self beliefs, improve our physical health by reducing our blood pressure, improve circulation and it can also increase fertility as well as reduce inflammation and give us more emotional balance too.
‘the thought process that invokes the senses: vision, audition, smell, taste, the sense of movement, position, and touch. It is the communication mechanism between perception, emotion, and bodily change. A major cause of both health and sickness, the image is the world’s greatest healing resource. Imagery, or the stuff of the imagination, affects the body intimately on both seemingly mundane and profound levels”
-Imagery and Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine, p. 3 – Jeanne Achterberg, 1985
Visualisation can also be an effective way of reaching goals. There is a growing attitude teaching that if you can imagine it, it will happen. Its the ‘See it to believe it’ mentality and it is really catching on. The law of attraction and visualisation are making a fine couple in the world of self help! Visualising the process of achieving something you really want can help focus attention on the steps and the emotions that are needed to reach the goal. Anyone who may have read The Secret will know how vital visualisation is to unlocking your potential and it is being hailed as a hugely positive practice for our wellbeing now a days.
If you are interested in dipping your toe into the world of guided meditations/visualisation but are aware how over whelming it might all be, have a look at the following.
Whatever and whenever you decide to try and test, guided meditations and visualisation are a very personal thing. If you prefer to be guided and use imagery to focus your mind in a positive way, it’s perfect.
In the last blog I posted a link to a hypnotherapy meditation from Nicky Anstey specifically for moving on after treatment. This has been hugely helpful for me when I am having wobbly days and anxious about reoccurrence but on a daily basis, having a library of morning and evening guided meditations as well as those I can choose on days when I may have trouble sleeping or low self esteem, is so useful and reassuring. It is simply another healing tool in that familiar tool box I have mentioned carrying around (once or twice before) and being able to utilise the technology of my iphone to store them on and take them everywhere I go, is quite simply genius. If we all took just take five minutes a day to visualise ourselves calm, happy and in our ideal situation, surely that would count for more of the well in being!
To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!
– Alfred A. Montapert
In the blog below, Freddie will tell her amazing story of how she overcame immense grief after her father died of cancer, through tapping into her creative passion for design, namely out of climbing rope!
Samspaces is so excited to announce a collaboration with Freddie and we now have our own bracelet (picture above!) It was important to me to create something visible to represent Samspaces and emphasise an awareness for After Cancer support and highlight this profile and the importance of patient to patient solidarity within our community. To me, the threads represent all the many threads of recovery and healing all wrapped around a strong piece of climbing rope representing the strength, courage and resilience of the person wearing it, all in the healing blue colour of the Samspaces logo. The charms speak for themselves but are a reminder that if we believe in ourselves we will always succeed and we are always being looked after.
If you would like to purchase one of these gorgeous bracelets, they are priced at £11.99 plus P&P. Just send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org with your wrist size and address and I will get back to you with more details. Over to Fred……….
When asked where the inspiration for my business came from, it put a smile on my face and brought a tear to my eye. My story is a simple one, inspiration came from tragedy.
On February 26th 2015 I lost my wonderful dad to Cancer. Like so many of you out there this disease invaded my life and changed it forever, this is the story of how I used my grief to change my life in a positive way and create what I hope to be a lasting legacy.
Maybe I should start at the beginning, and introduce myself? Hello, I am Freddie, and I am the owner of a small fledgling business called Hanging by a Fred, yes I am ‘the’ Fred and here is the biggest surprise for many…I am actually a woman!
Before February 2015, I was simply a loving daughter caring for her wonderful dad whilst that disease took hold and ravaged his body in 6 short months. It may have changed his appearance but it never dulled his spirit, and I am grateful to have been there every minute to share each precious moment til the last.
My dad was a climber, a lifelong, committed, dedicated and rather talented climber and mountaineer. I grew up watching him and his passion for this sport, but never quite brave enough to join him until sadly it was too late. It was his life blood, his true love and his source of happiness. Climbing embodied everything about him, he even requested his favourite mug (which said ‘I’d rather be climbing’) and book (of routes in Northumberland, where we live) be on his coffin, and be cremated with him.
After he died, I suffered a deep period of grief. I had already suffered a great loss and was trying to deal with that, then I lost my dad, my friend, my confident. I had been so strong for so long, trying to look after my mum and sort out all of the legalities…the aftermath, I lost myself. I felt so alone and utterly bereft. The grief took hold, and I became a shell of my former self. Friends said I had ‘lost my sparkle’ and even looked ‘dead in the eyes’.
Writing these words, remembering this time, the tears aren’t far away, but there is also catharsis. I want to share my story, as I want you to know you are not alone in how you feel, what you are going through, and that, although it does not feel like it right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you WILL be ok.
The idea for HBAF came to me in June 2015, as moments of inspiration often do, through a random conversation with a friend about wool. We were trying to organise a relaxing day of craft to get me out of the house and back into society, in a calming and relaxing environment. Unfortunately, after a few years of unemployment, I could not afford the course fee. Not a problem! She had wool, and I had…well I had rope, climbing rope, and lots of it! We never did have that craft day, but by the end of the week I had put together a PowerPoint presentation with ideas, competition assessment, sources of equipment, materials needed, outlets for sales and much more. I took this to my unemployment advisor, who referred me to the Pinetree Trust, who support new business start-ups and those who have experienced particular difficulties. Paul Redpath came into my life, saw my ideas and the few products I had made and the information I had gathered, straight away he loved the unique idea and my journey really began.
My idea was to upcycle retired climbing rope into the beautiful and useful ‘for him, for her and for the home’ to quote my business strap line. I make real statement jewellery, woven rope mats, coiled rope bowls, mug cosies, pet accessories and so much more.
I knew Christmas was looming, with that the crucial period of the all-important Christmas market season, so working on my business plan and start-up loan began in earnest. The details of this work aren’t important, but the fact that this idea gave me renewed focus and purpose in life, that I found my drive and ambition again, that my sparkle began to return, that is what is important here. I was, I am sure, making my dad proud. I was honouring his memory, creating a new life and building a future, and every day he was at the heart of it. What better way to deal with loss and grief?
Today I am five months in to my new adventure, I am steadily booked at a variety of arts and crafts markets through to 2017, I have just had a photoshoot on Hadrian’s Wall for my forthcoming website, and I am supplying an ever growing range of galleries and shops with my unique products…not a bad start!
I have met and worked with amazing people, and made wonderful connections. I can’t lie, it is incredibly hard work and not everything works as well as I would like, but I love it. I am happy again. I have direction, and more importantly I have dreams for the future. Losing my dad has, in actual fact, given me life again.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, or my business, but I know that there is one, and as long as I don’t give up it will be a bright and sparkly one. That is essentially my message to you all, never give up! Never surrender! Thank you for taking the time to read my little story, and good luck to you all. Xx
Check out Hanging by a Fred at:
www.hangingbyafred.co.uk (coming soon)
‘Most people walk through the world in a trance of disempowerment. Our work is to transform that into a trance of empowerment’
– Dr Milton H Erikson
Over the next few weeks I want to post some blogs about four areas of wellbeing that have been a huge influence on me during my cancer journey over the last eight or so years; hypnotherapy, mindfulness, meditation and NLP.
All three of these therapies have so many benefits but I wanted to break them down so we can get a better understanding of what they all do in their own space. When someone asked me what the differences were the other day, I started stuttering and feeling like a total fraud, realising I actually didn’t have a defined answer, so I decided to do a little homework!
If the word hypnotherapy conjures up images of a line of chairs on a stage with seven or so innocent members of a studio audience desperately wanting to grab their moment of fame while being hypnotised to do weird and embarrassing things that they wont remember when they ‘are back in the room’ at the click of a finger, then think again!
Having met Nicky Anstey a few years ago, for a reason totally unrelated to my wellbeing, our paths recently crossed again when I found out she was doing a new Stress Reduction course in my area. Any course name that mentions the word ‘stress’ usually lures me in like a magnet and since I seem to be able to sniff out a relaxation course from a mile away post cancer, I thought this would be the perfect thing to compliment the mindfulness course I have done (blog coming soon) as well as my sporadic meditation practice and growing knowledge of mind based therapies.
Nicky is very knowledgeable about this area and her expertise and background are commendable. I have been fascinated in hypnotherapy and how it can help our wellbeing; through weightloss, smoking, improved confidence, assertiveness, relaxing and generally being able to switch off and give ourselves permission for Me Time. To be able to work in a smaller group environment and have a class every other week was way more convenient than other courses I had considered, so I signed up with a friend.
Nicky trained as a registered nutritionist in 1997 but felt she wanted to expand her practice by studying hypnotherapy and NLP as there was little point giving clients advice on what diet to follow if there were not in the right mindset to follow it.
‘Once the root cause of the problem is worked on and removed we will stop self sabotaging ourselves and can achieve any goal we set of ourselves, in a relaxed, happy and balanced way.’
– Nicky Anstey
Hypnotherapy is a process where we can remove the emotional rubbish and limiting beliefs that manifest over our lifetimes that tend to throw us off course. If guided properly we can set new positive beliefs and values that are in line with our goals to be and feel the best we can. As soon as I read the course description I realised quickly that this would be a course that would include homework. As with many cognitive behavioural courses, we are encouraged to practice daily as according to some sources it takes sixty six days to form a new habit. Society today is a stress pressure cooker and it is manifesting itself through disease, bad mental health, physical breakdowns and poor wellbeing.
‘I believe any ways to help the mind stay resilient and strong is key in life as they pressures and stresses of life are ever increasing.’
– Nicky Anstey
The first word scribbled in my notebook on the first day of the course is ‘Tools!’ This was exactly why I was there, to find new tools for dealing with stress. My tool box is ever growing and they don’t always work at the right time but I don’t think you can ever too many! I am not going to make out that I am some high flying career hungry working mum who is juggling everything and the kitchen sink, but I am naturally a very anxious person and the irony is that I struggle more with the everyday stresses than the big scary ones. Weird right?! Like some new twenty-first century robot, I needed new programming!
The first session introduced the cause and effect equation and I started to feel empowered straight away. Just recognising that I could take control of these situations and ‘buttons’ that were sending me into overdrive, was a gem in itself and I have gradually become more aware of introducing my own filters and strategies to overcome those knee jerk reactions of panic, fear and negativity that so often circle overhead like vultures, ready to dive for the kill!
Throughout the course I loved learning about how our minds actually worked. I am no biologist but learning ways of tapping into my unconscious mind and starting to build an interactive link between the conscious and the unconscious, is gradually opening up pathways and a totally different type of healing process for me.
I have to admit though that my favourite part of the course was the last fifteen minutes of each class! We would all lie down or sit, and Nicky would perform an exercise of hypnotherapy, talking us through a visualisation to deeply relax and generally emphasise how important Me Time was. I found these minutes precious. I could lie there and listen to Nicky’s soft, slow voice and drift off, letting her words sink deep into my subconscious while sniffing a gorgeous aromatherapy scent on a tissue placed nearby.
I enjoyed the course so much that when it was over I met with Nicky to ask her about putting together a specific meditation for Samspaces and I am so excited to be able to share a link to it below. Many of you are familiar with my focus on recovery and healing after cancer treatment and this was a wonderful way of collaborating to bring together my fears, anxieties and worries that I had felt (and still do feel) during this period post treatment, with Nicky’s skill and professional tools to create a therapy to help at this vulnerable and sometimes lonely time.
(Click on the Moving On box, then go to Membership details, log in with Username; Movingon and password; Movingon)
Hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool in stress reduction and has been a huge stepping stone in my developing a more mindful lifestyle. It sounds mad but sometimes I am even grateful to cancer, for simply making me more aware of all these mind based therapies, as they have definitely changed my life! I might not have started a life long habit of tuning my mind out every day and being Mrs So Relaxed I Might Fall Over, but even if just for five minutes three times a week, I have started a life long habit of trying! If I can follow a visualisation where i am guided and I can focus on a voice that is calm and talks me through deep breathing, I am away with the hypno-fairies!!!
Being in a group environment and sharing stories, while learning so much about how our memories and experiences have trained and shaped our minds, forming habits that may not be so helpful to us now, is so empowering. Nothing is right or wrong. It is hugely personal and can be massively beneficial for some and maybe only moderately for others. It does take time and it does need to be worked at, but to have started exploring these areas of the mind, has been like opening a window for me and letting in a beautiful breeze that lifts and calms the soul.
Thank you to Nicky and if you are interested in hearing more about her services and courses, please look up her details on the Space to Learn page as well as www.elstead-hypnosis.co.uk.
I am no runner! The image of me running in any shape or form is not worth thinking about but I know what a good exercise and headspace it is for so many people. I wanted to put the spot light on this form of exercise and in my third guest blog for Samspaces, Jo Taylor of ABC Diagnosis, tells me in a Q&A style why running has been such a focus for her wellbeing during cancer treatment and what she loves about it.
1. What do you love about running and why?
I love the freedom running gives you, to walk out of your home and run. No monthly payments and no ties to times of classes. You can do it whenever you want to suit your life. Getting out in the fresh air, summer, winter, even in the rain can be exhilarating.
2. How long have you been running and how did you discover it?
I started running 6 months after my son was born 11 years ago with my sister in law to help loose the baby weight and was regularly running 8 miles. I stopped when I was pregnant with my daughter and was planning to go back to running after 4 months, but was then diagnosed with primary breast cancer when she was 5 months old so all plans went on hold for a good year.
3 Do you think that having goals for this particular exercise is important and if so why? What goals have you had?
The only goals I have is to try to run 2 or 3 runs a week, usually 5/6 miles a time (I also cycle once a week too) I’m not competitive. I’d love to run a 1/2 or full marathon but it’s not a big goal. Knowing I can run every week at the level I run with secondary breast cancer is a huge achievement. Many cant even do exercise let alone run at the level I run so I know I’m lucky. I’m on new drugs which give a good remission (I’m currently in remission) but I know things can change with my diagnosis. I exercise to keep my fitness up in case of these changes so I’m in the best possible physical state to deal with this.
4. Why do you think running is good for people having cancer treatment or for those patients moving forward with life after a diagnosis?
It helps physically and mentally through the treatment. It helps you to loose weight if you have put some on due to chemo and tablets. I blamed the tamoxifen for excess weight. I just needed to up my running, which I did, and it worked. I think diet and exercise is very important for anyone whether they have cancer or not. It is the only thing that you can control and help yourself with with a diagnosis. It does give people a focus and as I said it doesn’t have to cost much. You have to find what’s right for you.
5. What do you think are the disadvantages to running?
It can be hard on the knees and joints especially if you are on drugs for cancer and it is easy not to be motivated if you run alone. It’s good to join a group or get out with friends. Like any exercise you have to commit yourself and results don’t happen overnight but you will run a mile, then two, then three and before you know it able to do a 5K and maybe a 10K!
6. How important do you think exercise is during cancer treatment generally and why?
I think exercise is massively important like I said for the reasons of mental and physical wellbeing. Also there are reports that it can help to increase the benefits of chemotherapy and I do think that it helps to get the toxins out of your body quicker. Exercise is very important – lots of studies show this in cancer patients. Macmillan call it a ‘wonder drug’ and promote it in their ‘move it’ campaign.
ABC Diagnosis supports primary and secondary breast cancer patients make informed choices with information and up to date news on treatments, breast surgeries, consultants, hospital and useful links.
Mirror Mirror On The Wall, who is the fairest of them all?
In our pursuit of ‘fairness’, skin care is another theme dominating social media feeds. New brands are constantly emerging, ranging in price, general success at achieving youth full, as well as healthy skin, minus evil toxins and promising plump, line free, spot and blemish free complexions. To be ‘fair’ we now not only need to be eating clean but exercising to stay lean and polish it naturally on the outside too!
Having had cancer I have gradually become more and more conscious of changing my own skin care. This has been a very slow process for practicality and cost reasons. I am a sucker for packaging, Ill be honest, but I want to know for sure that these pretty labels are doing me good as well as looking good!
‘The term natural doesn’t mean much because in the food, skin care, and cosmetics industries, the term is not adequately regulated or quantifiable.‘ – www.mindbodygreen.com
I want to know that I can buy ‘safe’ products without having to scour the aisles at the local health food shop or get a latin dictionary to decipher the ingredient list. So is being the ‘fairest’ of them all simply a way of making the art of scooping out and using the entire coconut sustainable or are we fools to believe that any of these ‘toxin free’ products are actually safe and making a difference?
With recent articles about much loved products such as ‘Johnson’s & Johnson’s’ containing harmful ingredients, we are becoming more savvy and pro active; reading labels, shopping around and demanding transparency. Words such as Parabems, aluminium and sodium laurel sulphate are being thrown around like daggers and the ingredient lists on our bathroom products are a total minefield. Due to stress, higher rates of disease and illness and research indicating that some ingredients can contribute to certain cancers through oestrogen disruption, we are not just aware of what we are putting in our bodies, but what we are putting on them too.
I am no beauty journalist (so please bear with me if this sounds like an article from Marie Claire!) nor do I have a science friendly brain but after being pro active for my own wellbeing and not happy with foraging for wild nettles and mashing another avocado, I have embraced experimenting with different skincare products and wanted to share some of the brands that I have come to know.
Jennifer Young was approached a few years ago to develop a skin care range for the cancer patients at her local hospital. Jennifer took on the challenge and developed this incredible range of products that are suitable for everyone! While on one of Jennifer’s workshops last year, she told me something that has shaped my choice of skin care ever since.
‘Creams are a mix of oil and water and as oil and water don’t mix, lots of ingredients have to be added in order to turn oil and water into a cream…..Oils and balms can be very simple formulations and, as they don’t contain water, they are a more intensive experience. A little goes a long way.’
– Jennifer Young, Defiant Beauty
I now, personally prefer to stick to oils and balms rather than creams as I feel they are more pure. Jennifer has worked hard to make a range of products that are truly natural and do what they say on the bottle, but you don’t need to have been unwell to appreciate the care and quality.
The toner smells amazing, locking in lots of hydration and the hand balm is magic and a top present for anyone having treatment as the skin becomes so dry. This balm is easily absorbed and the skin oil is another favourite. It was primarily made to rub on scalps after hair loss. The scalp becomes so sensitive when having chemo and this is soothing, helping nourish the follicles making it less sore and irritated. I bought it way after my hair grew back and have been using it as a body oil too!
Defiant Beauty is now training beauticians in specialist treatments with these products.
‘Therapists are taught that cancer is contraindicated for their treatments (except reflexology and reiki). Using my biologists brain I couldn’t work out why and did the research – there was no evidence to support this, it was based on fear. I knew that those going through treatment for cancer wanted therapies and that therapies would benefit them. I knew therapists wanted to work with those going through treamtent and it was time to change things.’
– Jennifer Young
Jennifer worked with insurers and a lot of experts to create routines and now offers a Post Graduate Diploma in Oncology therapies. These are the first accredited one day qualifications. I had a treatment a few months ago at the Hale Clinic in London and my skin looked amazing afterwards. It was one of the most relaxing treatments I have had, probably because I knew the products well, trusted Jennifer and her training and was intrigued how they were used professionally. I had an hours facial and my skin felt soft and looked radiant, even without make up!!! My hat is off to Jennifer and how she has created not only an incredible range of products but has demystified the area of oncology massage/facials with a short and concise course helping therapists help others in this situation.
Back in January 2015, I was honoured to be involved in Jennifer’s new book ‘Recognise Yourself’. This is a bible for anyone going through or affected by cancer treatment. The information on how to look after your nails, skin, hair and body is the perfect balance of research and patients experiences and is full of feel good information for the days you are feeling less than fair!
Defiant Beauty toner £20.00
Defiant Beauty hand balm £17.50
Skin Oil £17.50
‘Recognise Yourself’ Book; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Recognise-Yourself-maintaining-chemotherapy-radiotherapy/dp/1905367597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459712971&sr=8-1&keywords=recognise+yourself
More information on training with the Defiant Beauty range can be found on;
The granny of natural skin care, Neals Yard have dominated the organic skin care market for over thirty years after opening in 1981 in Covent Garden. In the 80’s, Neals Yard were one of the first to encourage us to buy products without synthetic chemicals.
‘We believe in nature, honesty and transparency, and your right to know what goes into the products you buy’.
– Neals yard.com
They are so much more than a skin care range and now offer courses in aromatherapy, nutrition and wellbeing and are involved in several environmental campaigns.
The rose balm has now become a staple. Particularly good for the colder months it gives a rich and deeper cleanse and smells amazing. My skin feels nourished and hydrated and in addition, it can be used as a face mask and works as a gentle exfoliator too if you use a flannel to wipe it off. It is more expensive than other cleansers but in my view, money well spent!
Evening Cleansing; Rose balm (winter) £38
I have never been a soap fan but was intrigued to know more about Ruth’s homemade products after seeing them on social media. Ruth and I have been in touch ever since and I am thrilled to see her business flourishing. After going through breast cancer herself, she wanted to take control of what she could use on her skin.
‘Many regular skincare products include synthetic chemicals that are known to interfere with our hormone systems and lead to increased levels of oestrogen….The majority of soap sold on the high street is not soap at all but chemical detergents, or a mixture of detergents and soap. Most contain sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) which is a cheap foaming agent and also a known skin irritant.’
– Ruth Romano
Ruth makes her soaps from scratch with natural oils and butters. Ruth finds the creative process so relaxing she thinks of it as a meditation. She now runs courses encouraging others to have a go and wants to share the satisfaction of creating a bar of soap with the enjoyment of being able to use it, knowing exactly what it had been made with. She also makes gorgeous lip balms. I absolutely love these products and they are the perfect size to travel with too. Once opened the soap can just be popped in a little container or wrapped back up in their wrapper and put in a little bag. I especially love the Cedarwood and Pine soap.
Soaps £5.00 per soap
Maggie’s bespoke range of oils for cleansing, moisturising and exfoliating are unique but as an acupuncturist she has a passion for working with women to make a totally unique skincare range and treatment designed to help with all sorts of skin conditions. She has taught me not just how to nourish my face but how to massage it too, so invigorating and energising the facial muscles and pressure points, helping me relieve pressure on my sinus’s and ease congestion and puffiness around my eyes;
‘I work with a talent aromatherapist and we find synergy between my chinese medicine diagnosis and her encyclopaedic knowledge of aromatherapy and decades of experience.’
– Maggie Brown
My appointment with Maggie was wonderful and my whole evening skin care routine has changed! What stands out about this range is that it is totally bespoke. Maggie gave me a heavenly treatment after chatting about my current skin care routine and what products I currently use. She then put together a stunning package for me, with a diagram on how to massage my face with the products she suggested as well as explaining why they were better for me. I now use the Yin oil every evening after cleansing and the smell helps me drift off into a lovely snooze!
Yin1 treatment oil £33.00
This balm is absolutely beautiful. Anything that has rose in it, is a winner for me (can you tell?!) It smells blissful and doubles as a brilliant hand cream. When Natalie became pregnant she wanted to use products without any synthetic chemicals;
‘Our bodies will absorb what we apply to them and, on average, women apply 168 chemicals to their skin every day with little knowledge of the damaging impact such substances can have‘ – Natalie Bond
Natalie started making her own beauty products with natural oils and butters that were gentle and sourced sustainably so being kind to us and the planet. I have found her products in pop up shops and online. Her brand is doing so well and her instagram feed is buzzing! I adore this balm and use it as a night cream in the really cold months or when I need a boost and my skin wakes up feeling super soft.
Rose and Geranium balm £15.50
Arbonne is a Swiss brand that is becoming very popular. The products are based on botanical research and inspired by nature. Arbonne were one of the first to go green in 1980 with no animal testing, paragons, mineral oil and nasties and their ingredient policy is totally transparent. I have a wonderful Arbonne rep who had skin cancer herself a few years ago;
‘I believe in Arbonne products because they reduce toxic load on our bodies and preserve the environment by using sustainable ingredients.’
– Sally Ann North
I am a bit precious about my hair (don’t ask!) and I cant go anywhere without my straighteners (Im working on it!) but I was keen to try a new shampoo with less chemicals and Sally Ann suggested one of the Arbonne range. The Daily Shampoo feels rich and though my hair is a little flyaway, it feels clean, healthy and shiny and there is no residue like some others I have tried. I have recently tried the pure vibrance conditioner too and it smells gorgeous.
I have also used Arbonne’s children’s suncream. Their ABC Baby Care range is fantastic and I used the SPF 30 on my five year old and it didn’t bother her sensitive skin at all and absorbed brilliantly. If I ever have another bubs, I will be using this range! You are encouraged to use quite a large amount of the suncream and though I like to use an SPF 50 as my daughter is very fair and she is prone to exzma, she didn’t bat an eyelid when this went on! It is less chalky than some other natural suncreams I have used and is non perfumed too.
Nourishing Daily Shampoo £17.00
Kids suncream £28.00
Pai is a popular brand on the market at the moment and with a focus on sensitive and allergy prone skin, they were the first company to list all their ingredients in plain english giving a huge thumbs up for transparancy.
‘Unlike many brands on the market, which commission factories to both formulate and manufacture their products, we have our own in-house R&D lab and manufacturing facility’.
I stumbled across the rose hip oil when my skin was playing up post surgery and has been an amazing skin care product for me ever since. I have been really interested in the healing qualities of rose hip and I used this as a night treatment on my face for a while (a bottle lasts a while) I have to say it felt softer and looked much brighter. I have also used it on scaring and it definitely helps the healing and elasticity. One snag is that I have also noticed that a slight orange residue has been left on my pillows but I have also seen a difference in applying this oil after a good scrub as it absorbs more effectively.
Rosehip Bioregenerate oil £22
It is clear from the sheer amount of choice that skin care is becoming as important to our wellbeing as nutrition and exercise. The products above only scrape the surface. I haven’t touched on deodorants, make up or toothpaste, let alone scrubs and masks but I will be posting more blogs about skincare, as it is clear what an important area this is. Through our pursuit of ‘fairness’ we now want clean living inside and outside. Supermarkets, for one, are now making these products more accessible. Being able to click on a product and have it in our basket immediately is more convenient and appealing to a younger market. With the help of bright photography, packaging and smells to rival a perfume factory, these brands have tapped into what the consumer today needs as well as wants. Transparency equals trust and as a society we want to understand what it says on the bottle.
The biggest downside is price. A lot of these brands are more draining on the wallet but aside from using totally natural products like beeswax and coconut oil, which has always been a favourite (I do use it as a hair treatment, body moisturiser, skin balm and bath oil too occasionally) we want products that are going to make us feel glamorous and feminine. For those going through treatment we also want to hold onto as much normality as we can and rather than having to go to ‘special’ shops, we can now access these products with minimal fuss and delay.
Skin care is a hugely personal thing. Whether it be mashing an avocado onto our faces and resting with cucumber on our eyes or maxing out the credit card on aromatherapy products our pursuit of ‘fairness’ is something we are taking very seriously. My experience has dictated my awareness of staying healthy inside and outside, and if that is the highest price to pay, wouldn’t you agree that choosing products with the highest quality ingredients, as one of the many pro active steps we can take to help our wellbeing, is totally ‘fair’ enough?
I started last year in a maze, my life had changed beyond belief. I had been made redundant after 28 happy years with the same company and had just completed my first of of six sessions of Fect-T chemotherapy after being diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer in November 2014, something that I just couldn’t get my head around. I had it, I was being treated for it and was still in a total state of shock!!
I tried to gain a little control or routine in my life with no avail. I couldn’t concentrate on a fiction book, TV program or even a telephone conversation, it was as it my whole being was in such a shocked state that to try and loose myself in anything was an impossibility. An aunt suggested I had “chemo brain”. It was nice to have an excuse but really I just knew it was fear, hair loss,hospitals,worry and bottled emotions. Trying to put on a brave face and coping for family and friends was not helping me.
I knew I needed to do something, something completely different and also something I really really wanted to do. Before I had a chance to talk myself out of it, I had enrolled in a clay sculpture class. I went along lacking confidence, feeling mentally and physically half the person I was.
The first sculpture was to be made out of terracotta clay, I decided to make a fish shape until I heard the other ladies suggesting things like a polar bear, a deer and figures. I knew then I needed to up my game and blurted out “my dog!!”
From that moment on, I slowly and expressively created Beau, my wire haired sausage dog. Gradually, out of clay, I worked and I became so immersed in my work; my hands were occupied, my head was full of love and concentration as she began to grow, it was almost like meditation. To be completely enchansed by moulding and challenged by the clay, I was totally absorbed with it.
I can safely say that I’m now hooked; dogs, curlews and daisies have been created, but above all so has my mind. I truly feel that it helped me and is still helping me come to terms with what this last year had in store. I strongly recommend creating and moving forward goes hand in hand. It’s the sense of achievement, calming and relaxing that have been so important both in getting through and moving on.