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Self care, skin care,
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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, searching for pure happiness & joy

June 17, 2018

Love Yourself, Not Love Island



Hang on, don't frantically search for any web address other than this one in horror at this title... I promise you it's not what it seems. Nope, I'm not going to write about how much I love Love Island. Quite the contrary (but I also promise I'm not shitting on it for all you outward and inward lovers of it, so hear me out). Love Island is popular. It's the show that I'm finding I'm "muting forever" on Twitter yet again this late spring/summer because it's just not my cup of tea, but I know many of you out there really love the show. The reason I can't get with the programme is because honestly? I know if I watched it I'd pull a Legally Blonde moment and be eating my weight in chocolate shouting "liar!" at the TV. Not at the show in particular, but more the beauty of every individual on the show.

Anyone I know who loves the show always say these same two things in this order when trying to tell me how much the show is worth a watch:
"Omg I love it - I don't even care!"
"Everyone on it is so fit and beautiful though so it makes you feel disgusting haha"


It's a show that works on the basis of beauty standards and it's worth reminding ourselves that it's not realistic and that "us mere mortals" shouldn't try to draw any comparisons from it. We're very much a gossip and drama consuming species as much as many of us would like to say otherwise, programmes like Love Island (and many others such as TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, the 'classic' soap operas, Big Brother etc.) help feed that hunger for many of us as it gives us a glimpse into others lives, emotions, the rollercoasters they go through and more with no consequence for us and no need for us to make difficult decisions.

The fact that everyone who's mentioned the show to me points out how beautiful the individuals are on it and instantly compare themselves to them is sad to hear each and every time. The people chosen to participate are chosen for their appearance and most of the time? Their appearance alone. That's not me shitting on any of those individuals at all, but it's worth remembering when you sit down to watch it that many of them are people who's jobs and lives revolve around image. Modelling, personal training, sales, social media... Many of the roles of the contestants either involve strict regimes for the body, hair, makeup, skincare etc. or at least include the pressures of making positive first impressions which let's be honest - your appearance can more than help with. Of course there's some contestants who work in completely unrelated roles so I'm not tarring all with the same brush, but many of them have pressures of looking a particular way that is not reflective of day to day life for the millions who tune in to watch the show.



With that in mind, it's *so important* to remember that Love Island focuses on beauty standards. In fact, the show focuses on one - the one that the beauty, fashion, even the food industries thrive on. We have one beauty standard that is widely accepted and so many businesses and brands push this ideal onto us as the only acceptable way to look, act, or be. Think about how many skincare items you buy because they promise X Y & Z that your skin doesn't do (I know I buy into it a lot). Then think about how many of those skincare items get sent out to your favourite celebrities and influencers to test out and promote yet those particular individuals already have the high skin standard that the brand are trying to promote as the result of their products. It's clever simple marketing at its finest and all of us collectively are suckers for it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I as much as the next person like trying out new skincare for just this one small example, but we do consume *a lot* in the hopes that it will make us richer, thinner, prettier, etc. (sweeping generalisation, I know). This one beauty standard for all to meet is ridiculously unattainable but it's always parcelled up as completely feasible if you just work hard enough, spend more than enough of your money, and expect instant results. Seeing it perpetuated through entertainment on TV isn't groundbreaking nor new or different, but it is having somewhat of a desired effect, but don't ever let it lead you to putting yourself down.

One beauty standard fits all just doesn't logically work and oh, think how bloody boring the world would be if it did. Although many of us roll or eyes at this phrase, our imperfections are what make us beautiful. They make us unique, they make us desirable, they make us *us*. Not everyone should be a model who looks A+ in a bikini in the entertainment industry standards because that "A+" rating is subjective. One man's trash is another man's treasure and one person's beauty preferences and expectations are not another's cup of tea. Being happy and whole in your skin can be tough and many of us - including myself - find it to be a constant battle to feel remotely "okay" on a day-to-day basis, but you are loved, lusted over and most importantly, valued for being exactly who you are no matter you shape, size, colour, skin conditions, hair, lack of it, or anything else you can see or feel that makes you, you. Love Island might promote the contestants' worth based solely on their looks, but your worth in reality does not reflect that as you're not objectified, you have more to give and offer than that diluted entertainment focus, and your beauty in all realms of your life make you a unique and beautiful character both inside and out. Fight the good fight and ignore the one standard we have - fight it with acceptance but an educated mind. Enjoy it in consumerism, in media, in entertainment, but don't compare yourself to it. It's not realistic, you have more value, and any flaws you're led to believe that you have? They're the treasure in many other people's eyes, you just need to see them with fresh eyes.

I'm fully aware that many of you will love this show and be completely comfortable and happy within your own skin and that's exactly how things should be, but I do just wish that this show - due to it's popularity and therefore ability to affect a lot of the population - would include a wide variety of "beautiful" people. Have contestants who meet and advocate a variety of beauty standards: people of different cultural backgrounds, races, shapes, and sizes. As this show could have such an impact on viewers, it's a shame they don't utilise that to promote a healthy view of beauty of all varieties.


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June 14, 2018

It's Okay to have a Bad Day



... week, month, or year. Something I feel like many of us are starting to realise over the past couple of years is just how much pressure we are all putting on ourselves all of the goddamn time. I'm as much to blame for this as the next person, but particularly recently, I've realised just how much of a front I can put on - especially on social media. For those of you who follow this blog and my Twitter, you will no that I'm no stranger to being honest about how I'm feeling (if I'm in a foul mood and there's a certain reason why, y'all best believe I go on a Twitter thread rant,) but I've noticed that I don't always do it. Sometimes I will gloss over how I'm feeling and just say "I've been feeling down" or "I've been quite negative lately but it's A-Okay now!" and that's not the honest truth; truthfully sometimes I've been hitting rock bottom. So, why do we hide it?

It seems that especially with this social media-focused world we live in, we like to show face and pretend everything is hunky-dory. We will purposefully filter what we want others to see and tailor our personalities, thoughts, feelings, and appearances to portray either our best selves or the preferred self. I'm definitely guilty of this on the likes of Instagram where I will share my real life and photos, but I won't necessarily have it in order, have it reflecting my true self, or sometimes even giving the whole story. We all seem to be competing to have good lives and living up to this "success society" we millennials have developed. We also seem to see it as a weakness to say "hey, I'm not having a good day" and take time off, slow down, or ease off the pressure - it's okay to have a bad day and more than okay to share it all however you see fit, and here's why:



You're Not Alone
First and foremost let's state the obvious. Absolutely everyone has bad days at some point in time. We can have bad days, weeks, years and more. It can just be from things seemingly snowballing in the luck department and just irritating you for a day, or it can be something deeper than that causing issues such as mental health, bereavement, relationship problems, money worries... there's so much to consider but to coin a cliché, everyone is going through shit. Always. People are always dealing with a variety of things and you should never feel you need to hide it or smooth over it. You're as entitled as the next person to feel how your feeling and sharing can help as someone else can vent about it all alongside you and you both will feel a load lift from your shoulders.

It Won't Always be an Easy Fix
The reason I think so many of us hide our bad days as sometimes going to bed early and thinking "tomorrow is a new day" won't fix things and I know I worry about sounding like a broken record - so it's much easier to just say nothing at all, right? No! Speak up. If I'm having a particularly bad time with my anxiety for example, I tend to share this with my colleagues and students because I don't know if the feeling will improve in an hour or in several months. I find being honest about it helps those around me understand what headspace I am in so things run a little smoother. It stops me from losing my patience with someone or snapping and that really helps things. Although I would never say "I'm having a hard time right now" is some sort of *get out of jail free* card or an excuse that should be thrown around, admitting it can be the first step to getting on to the right track, however long that track might take to improve to a satisfactory level. Sharing how you are can help with the fixing as it can take a long time or several steps may need to be taken to reach that end happiness and stability once again, but outside help can always be welcomed.

Know Your Bad Day Comforts
As no one is a stranger to bad days, I think many of us have therefore developed coping strategies and comforts for when those bad days roll around over the years. For me, music always helps, tea heals a lot, and having a cry in sheer frustration often lifts the hazy mist that clouds my judgment and logical, problem-solving thinking. I am one of those people who go into complete melt down when I'm having a testing time and that can be catastrophic for my mental health, my sleep pattern, my friends and family, my job, and diet. It can effect it all so knowing how to intervene to soften those blows really helps me. If I'm particularly strung high about something and panicky about it, I find making a cup of tea will calm me down and make me start to think "right, what am I actually going to do to get A to B?" and that can help me form a plan of action. It doesn't always work and you should never beat yourself up about not being able to form a plan of action as sometimes? It's just the way life is panning out and there's sweet FA you can do about it, but if you think it's a tangible problem you can solve, know how to improve your mood to snap you back into problem-solver mode, seeking the joy and happiness for your soul once again. If I'm just in a terrible mood as I mentioned before, having a good cry or listening to music (certain bands/singers/songs for certain moods) can also help. If you coping mechanism tells you to sit in bed all day watching Netflix - do it. If it tells you to get your butt to the gym and to punch the living shit out of the punch bag - do it. It's your bad day, you decide how to deal with it in the best way for you.



Start Over. No, Really.
This might sound silly to some, but if your bad day is just stemming from that "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" feeling, literally kickstart your day again. If you have time, take a couple of minutes to just lie on your bed, close your eyes, take in some deep breaths then get the F back up. Hop in the shower, clean your teeth, get dressed in new clothes, do your hair, makeup again etc... Starting all over again is like wiping the slate clean and giving yourself a second chance. I have very rarely taken this approach myself in the past but I'm trying to adopt it now as it really helps the mind get refocused, re-energised, and realigned to take on the day. It can halt things before they get out of hand and stop a whole day being wasted or ruined.

Appreciate that it's Never Forever
Not only does every single person go through bad episodes, but you should always remember they are just that - episodes. They might have longevity but they never last forever and that makes you appreciate the good times *so* much more. Think about that relationship break up that tore you to pieces as a teen - you got over it. Think about that awful job with the bullying manager that you used to hate going to everyday - you change your situation and things got better. Even if you're sat reading this right now, and you're in one of those positions and it feels like it will never end, I've never promised anything more than I will right now: everything will be okay and things will always get better. I know some situations may never seem like they have a light at the end of the tunnel, but they will and it might be only small, be bittersweet, or maybe even not the outcome you were expecting, but things do change and "this too shall pass".


If you're someone like who likes to think that everything happens for a reason (whether it's fate, divide intervention, cosmological, or something even beyond our philosophical thinking), bad days can just be blips in the road that are there to test us, make us more resilient, make us good at making decisions, and making us the people we are today. If we didn't have bad times, we wouldn't appreciate the good we have, we wouldn't exercise all of our emotions and honestly? I feel that life would be kinda dull. This isn't meant to make anyone feel terrible for having a bad day or make people think "yeah but you've no idea what I'm going through!" because of course I don't - every bad day, feeling, or more is subjective to the individual experiencing it. It's unique to each person but as I've promoted throughout this post and will continue to do so in life, talking about it and getting it all off your chest is healthy and helpful for many. Don't feel pressurised to having a seemingly perfect life that is only filled with joy and laughter. Tears, tantrums, pain, suffering, and guilt are all feelings that are just as valuable to our existence and should be exercised as so.



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June 05, 2018

Green Beauty with Green People



Hello wonderful people, today's post is all about a fantastic organic, eco-friendly, cruelty-free and more skin/haircare and makeup brand. Of course I'm talking about Green People who have specialised in organic natural beauty products for over 20 years and are advocates of using sustainably-grown ingredients in their products, waving goodbye to harsh chemicals and colourants, and also promise to never test on animals. The brand are the UK's favourite natural beauty brand and it's easy to see why when you see how much research, love, and passion goes into making their products. Green People are a brand I've always wanted to dabble more into - especially since switching to strictly cruelty-free beauty products this time last year - so when they got in touch and offered to spend some products over for me to review, I was over the moon. As the brand have such a range of products from makeup to toothpaste to haircare and sunscreen, I realised the reason I hadn't tried anything from the brand yet was because I just didn't know where to start. Being sent these products gave me an opportunity to try out a variety of items, gauge how much I honestly liked using them or didn't, and it has meant that I know what I want to buy from the brand in future (spoiler: I really did like the items). So let's get into it:



Before I talk about the products themselves, I have to mention the packaging. The parcel arrived in a recyclable cardboard box which I was relieved to see and on the inside of the lid, the brand have listed all of their promises and ethics and it's a really nice touch - especially for a newbie to the brand like myself. It was great to see that they also pledge 10% of their net profit to charity as this was a fact about the all-round fab brand that I did not previously know! The products inside were all quite uniform in their style and very simple which I personally like as I feel that money is not being spent on branding that is unnecessary which could then up the prices for customers or worse, mean focus has been taken away from the actual products themselves. All of the squeezy-tube products were safely lying in a nest of packing peanuts which I was more than happy to discover dissolved in water. Many brands are using these dissoluble packing peanuts now but when a brand promote zero plastic and eco-friendliness, it's always good to see that ethic stretch to their external parcel packaging too!

Daily Aloe Shampoo | 200ml | £12.50*
Recommended by Kate Moss, the Daily Alow Shampoo promotes itself as a gentle, non-irritating product that can be used by all hair types and is listed as being for "normal hair". This product has the main organic ingredients of aloe vera and lavender which gives the product a mild fresh but sweet fragrance which is really nice to use. The actual product itself feels very much like pure aloe vera gel mixed with oil when in the hands and is quite thick in consistency. Green People claim that this shampoo is longlasting as it can last up to 3 times longer than your average 200ml shampoo from the drugstore or high-end is something I would actually agree with. I've been using this product every single day for the past 4 weeks and I've learned that I can use two pea-sized squeezes and that lathers up in my hair brilliantly. Therefore I'd say this shampoo is well worth the price tag as it will last me longer than my bigger bottles of say Mane & Tail ever do.

The Daily Aloe Shampoo is comfortable for everyday use too and doesn't build up in my hair or make my scalp itchy at all which is a welcomed change compared to my usual favourite shampoos. Washing your hair daily is never recommended but unfortunately my hair is so thin I have no choice as the oil build up can be horrendous. Using this shampoo consistently has really helped with my oil production though and has minimised it so I feel comfortable to wash my hair every other day now and just use a little dry shampoo on my "no wash" days. I definitely need to use conditioner after using this as it makes my hair so naturally clean and purified that I need to add in some moisture and shine afterwards, but I really like this product and will continue to use it.



Daily Aloe Conditioner | 200ml | £12.50*
Speaking of conditioner, I also tried out the Daily Aloe Conditioner from the same "normal hair" gentle and purifying line. This conditioner has the same subtle aloe vera and lavender scent as the shampoo and works wonders on my thin, fine hair. Rich in natural vitamin B and proteins, it conditions the hair to leave it feeling silky and soft but manageable. A huge problem for me and my thin hair is that some conditioners are so good at leaving the hair soft that my hair can become unbearably fly-away and hard to style. The amazing thing about the Daily Aloe Conditioner is that it does condition and soften my hair, but it does it naturally and doesn't create that artificial shine that leads me to over wash my hair due to oil build up. This conditioner naturally cares for the hair instead and helps seal my split ends and leaves my hair feeling cared for but not heavy with product which is such a rarity for me. Yet another winner from Green People!



Vitamin Shower Gel | 200ml | £13.Oo*
Now let's talk about my most favourite product out of the bunch. Shower gel is something I'm always on the hunt for as my body acne can react badly to shower gel for a multitude of reasons therefore when I saw that Green People had included this vitiamin shower gel in my package, I was super excited to test it. The main ingredients in this shower gel are olive, mandarin, bergamot, avocado, and almond and it is suitable for all skin types as well as being suitable for those who may suffer with eczema or psoriasis. This shower gel is much like the shampoo in the sense that it quite an oily, aloe vera gel sort of feeling product in the hands but wow oh wow, is it nice to use.

My skin instantly feels moisturised after I've used this in the shower, it hasn't got a strong scent so it's not irritating on my skin at all, and it doesn't seem to flared up my acne as the ingredients are very natural. A little goes a long way with this product just like the shampoo, as it lathers really easily and a 200ml bottle would easily last quite a while due to this! Green People's shower gels include a foaming agent that bubbles and lathers up so well that the they can double up as bubble bath creams too which is such an added bonus. I definitely want to try more of the shower gels now having tried this one, but I have a feeling this one will remain a favourite now.



Organic SPF15 with Tan Accelerator | 200ml | £21.Oo*
The last product I tried out from Green People is something I feel is essential in a good skincare routine and that is sunscreen. I wear factor 15 every single day and will use higher whenever the sun is shining brighter and if I go to a hotter climate on holiday. Sun protection is so important to fight wrinkles, premature aging, sun spots, and more serious issues such as skin cancer. This particular sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB damage with its antioxidants and increases collagen production as well as accelerating your tan?! I know, that's what I first thought when I read the packaging. But it's true, this product claims to help you tan 25% faster and also keep your skin moisturised so you retain your for 50% longer. Bold claims right?

I've got to be completely transparent here and say that you should all know how much of a pale princess I am. I'm usually the girl in the makeup aisles of high street, staring blankly at all the makeup counters trying to find the one "porcelain" or "ivory" concealer that's actually light enough for her skin, but as I started using this product after returning from a week in Greece, it did seem to help hold onto the small amount of colour I did catch. I don't keep "tan" well on my skin at all and it tends to fade back to normal after a couple of days but my arms are still looking quite brown for me and I can only assume that's down to this product. It's a really nice sunscreen to use that has a nice natural scent that isn't overpowering like most sunscreen brands and it is very quick absorbing making it perfect for beach or pool holidays and also for applying to the face. I've tried it under makeup too and it doesn't seem to make my face any more oiler than it does to itself naturally which is also a win for me. The sunscreen is also water repellent and is ideal to use in prickly heat. With wonderful organic ingredients such as avocado, green tea, and aloe vera, it's no surprise that it leaves the skin feeling soft, supple, and cared for even on hot sunny days.



Overall I really like the products Green People sent over. Having fallen in love with the haircare and the shower gel in particular, I will certainly be ordering some more amongst some other products once these have ran out. In the haircare stakes, I'm really intrigued in their Quinoa and Artichoke Shampoo and Conditioner duo as the pair promise to thicken hair shafts and create shine which are two things I love for my thin hair, and I'm 100% repurchasing the Vitamin Shower Gel too. Another couple of products I really want to try too are the Eco-Certified Minty Cool Toothpaste, Damask Rose Matte Lipstick, and the Rosemary & Prebiotics Deodorant.

With a wide range of their products suitable for vegans, ranges for men and for children as well as teens, Green People cover almost every need and are a great option not only for those of us who are conscious of the impact beauty products have on the environment and in the long-term on our own skin, but also for those of us who have sensitive skin or skin issues that can lead to sensitivity or skin upset. If you're interested in picking up some products from Green People, you will receive 10% off your first order with them or using the code 'SUMMER15' will get you 15% if you spend £45 at the moment. The brand always promote free delivery too and I can't recommend them highly enough.


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June 03, 2018

Sustainable Sundays: Thrifting & Slow Fashion In-store



Long time no see Sustainable Sundays! It's been a hot minute since my last post so I thought I better inject some newness into this little section of the blog and talk about thrifting and second-shopping (particularly when it comes to fashion) some more today.

Back in January, I talked about why I think thrifting and second-hand shopping is so important and enjoyable and of course, my attitude hasn't changed one bit since then. So today that led me to think about what pointers and tips I can give to make the whole experience more smooth sailing if shopping slow fashion or sustainably is becoming a thing you're interested in. For me, shopping both in-store and online works and means I sometimes get the best of both world's as both have their strengths and weaknesses, but this post will focus on what good things you can get out of shopping physically in-store and the positives of doing so. But keep your eyes peeled in future weeks for my tips on doing the whole thing virtually online instead. So let's get to it!



Make a list of what you need/what you're lacking
Shopping second hand can sometimes be hit or miss as they're not as reliable as many high street stores as they don't have a constant stock etc., but having a list to refer back to can be really helpful. It can help you go in to stores with "tunnel vision" so you focus on finding what you need rather than getting sidetracked by all of the other goodies that might be on offer. Keeping a list that also includes rough prices can really help you shop effectively too. As shopping second-hand and particularly vintage fashion is growing ever-popular, prices can sometimes reflect this popularity rather than the item's true value. Having a rough maximum price can help you put items back that you just don't think are worth it or make you really assess how much you wanted/needed *that* item if you find it and it's above your price limit.

Search everywhere - not just the women's sections!
Charity shops are not always the most ordered stores and they also can have many items of varying old vintage sizing so it's always worth checking out the whole store each and every time. Whenever I've went vintage shopping in Brick Lane for example, every single item I've purchased has been from the "men's" section, so just have fun with your shopping experience and make sure you're really playing detective for those items you're lusting after!

Visit regularly for two major reasons
Visiting your local second-hand stores not only helps you keep an eye out for any new stock that has made it's way onto the shop floor, but it also helps you to create a rapport with staff. Having a friendly face working in your local stores can be really handy as they might let you have first peek and dibs on new stock that hasn't yet made it to the shop floor, or they might be more likely to keep an eye out for you and keep items aside for you to check out on your next visit. Creating a solid friendly relationship with second-hand store staff can pay off for you in the long run plus, they're usually extremely helpful, lovely people, so it makes the shopping experience more enjoyable too!



Don't be shy to try things on
I am 100% *that guy* who used to buy most of their clothing online and just pray for the best in terms of whether or not each item was going to fit me. The lucky thing about fast fashion is that it can always be returned, but when shopping second-hand, that's not always a possibility. Therefore I believe it is paramount that you try things on. Of course if you purchase something and it doesn't quite fit, it's not the end of the world as you can always donate it again, but if you're spending quite a bit of money on an item, it adds up quick if you keep making the same mistake. Most charity or vintage shops have changing rooms that you can use but if you're going somewhere like a flea market or car boot sale, taking a maxi skirt with you or wearing one can be a life saver. A maxi skirt can make trying any trousers etc. on *so* easy without flashing everyone walking past and it can also just be be pulled over the top half of the body to try tops on too - amazing. People sometimes worry about the cleanliness of items when it comes to charity or vintage shops but honestly? Most places steam clean items and if you're that worried, try things on over the top of your own clothing to get a rough idea or wear socks with all shoes you try etc. Once you get home, simply make sure you clean anything you purchased before wearing - it's as simple as that.

Don't be put off by sizing
Adding on to the advice to try things on, don't be put off by sizing, especially if it's a vintage item. Often vintage sizes run smaller than contemporary fashion sizing so for example a dress labelled a UK size 12 might fit a modern size 8 very nicely. As you're in store and can physically see, touch, and try on the item, use this to your advantage! You can make a judgement call on whether or not you think something is going to fit you and can just roll with it. Most vintage items are also very well made which is why they've lasted as long as they have already and thus can be altered for a small fee at a tailors or by a family member if you're lucky enough to have someone who can sew in your clan. If it's a one off item or if you want something to fit you like a glove - make it so.



Know your limits
So I've already mentioned expectations with pricing, but another thing to be comfortable with is your personal limits with which items you buy second-hand. I personally will buy anything and everything as long as it's not underwear or hosiery. I know many people feel uncomfortable buying shoes second-hand or earrings and that's absolutely fine - just because others might buy those items doesn't mean you should feel pressured to. Buying second-hand is so beneficial to the environment, to charities, to your wallet, but if you have limits and have some items you just know you need to buy brand new, that's fine and you don't need to feel guilty for bypassing a section in stores.

Make a note of your favourite stores
Everyone has certain shops they like for certain items (I was a massive H&M fan girl but loved Topshop for "occasion wear") and the same can be true for thrifting! I know my local British Heart Foundation always have a great selection of women's dresses and if I want knitwear or more "trend" pieces, I have The Sailor Society to rely on. By visiting regularly, you will become familiar with which spots are good for which items and which stores tend to be hidden gems because the cohort of customers are a different age range, style, or size to you. Keeping note of this can help you narrow down searches for particular items and can help you avoid any stores that you just never have any luck with.


There's no hard and fast rules to shopping second-hand fashion but hopefully this might have proved that it's not a daunting task and is just as - if not more - enjoyable as shopping the high street! Keep your eyes peeled for my tips on shopping second-hand online which will be landing on NB very soon.


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May 26, 2018

Me & My Other Interests: Serial Killers I'd Have a Cuppa With (Part 3)



It's finally here gang - the third and final instalment in my Serial Killers I'd Have a Cuppa With mini-series. If you missed Part 1 and 2 you can find them here and here retrospectively. Back at the start of 2O18, I posted what became the first part of this little trilogy as, as I explained in that first post, serial killers and the broader topic of true crime in general is always something that I've been interested in and like to read about and watch documentaries/films about. Quickly this mini series snowballed a bit as I realised there's quite a few individuals in particular who have interested me over the years for a wide varying amount of reasons. I'm going to call today's post the last in this little 3-parter though as otherwise I will talk everyone's ears off for the foreseeable future about this topic and Northern Blood will become a true crime blog and I'm not sure that's an entirely good move (I mean, I had to really talk myself out of such a move). So let's dive in:


Herbert William Mullin - Herbie Mullin
Born on April 18th, 1947, Herbert (Herbie) William Mullin had a good upbringing and was known for being a sensitive but intelligent boy, interested in varsity football, and voted "most likely to succeed" by his peers. He was a popular young man who had several friends, a good relationship with his strict but not abusive father and mother, and had a steady girlfriend - until his best friend was involved in a car accident and Mullin seemed to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Dean Richardson died in a car accident and it left Mullin feeling lost. He created several shrines to his lost best friend and started to believe his death was part of some wider "cosmic" plan and thus changed his college studies from Engineering to Philosophy, started studying Eastern Religions in his spare time, and became very focused on the idea of reincarnation.

In 1969, Mullin allowed his family to commit him to hospital after breaking up with his girlfriend the previous year and becoming more reliant on drugs. He spent only a short amount of time in the Mendocino State Hospital but spent the next few years drifting from small part-time jobs and various other mental institutions as his behaviour and mental state continued to spiral down and was beginning to upset and scare his family members. Mullin was not only regularly taking acid, but he also had a fascination with reinventing himself in some sort of attempt to "heal" himself. These reinventions ranged from a yoga guru, to an amateur boxer, to a priest, and to enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps (which he passed both the physical and psychiatric exams and was only rejected last minute due to his extensive list of previous arrests and bizarre behaviour). Mullin was diagnosed with schizophrenia and began to hear voices during schizophrenic delusions that told him to kill and resulted in him being evicted from one of his apartments as he frequently shouted and screamed at imaginary people and neighbours complained about the noise. In October 1972, he finally snapped and attacked a homeless man with a baseball bat after pulling over in his car and pretending there was something wrong with it to attract the man over to him. In less than two weeks after killing Lawrence White, Mullin struck again after picking up young hitchhiker, Mary Guilfoyle, but his second killing was more peculiar than his first as he stabbed Mary in the car, dragged her body to the nearby woods and dissected her body, hanging her intestines amongst the tree branches as he was "inspecting them for pollution".

Just 4 days after murdering Mary Guilfoyle, Mullin walked into St. Mary's Catholic Church and went into confession with Father Henry Tomei. Mullin claimed that the Father offered himself as sacrifice and thus he stabbed him to death in the booth. Mullin them attempted to stop taking drugs which heightened his delusions and convinced him that his old high school peer and marijuana supplier, Jim Gianera, was to blame for his current bad state of life as the drugs he had supplied had "twisted" his mind. He turned up at Gianera's former home and asked the current tenants if they knew Gianera's new address. The Authorities were unsure what order the murders occurred, but Mullin killed the current tenants - Kathy Francis and her two sons - and Gianera and his wife that day. Less than two weeks later again, Mullin shot and killed 4 young teenage boys in their tent when they were camping and then he shot his last victim - Fred Perez - on Perez's driveway and so a neighbour called the police and he was finally arrested and charged.

The interesting thing about Mullin was his mental state. As soon as he arrived at the police station and was being interviewed, he would only respond to every question and interaction by shouting "silence!". He claimed that his family and the wider world were actually in kahoots to make his life miserable so in his next life, they might have more enjoyable lives than him. He also claimed that he needed to kill people not only because of the voices he heard ordering him to (which included his father's voice), but also because it would prevent earthquakes in California. He believed he could suppress and stop natural disasters occurring by taking the "minority over the majority" approach to death by taking it into his own hands and murdering innocent people. Mullin's also claimed that the 4 unfortunate camping teenagers actually telepathically told him they were happy for him to kill them and that all humans are telepathic, it's just not socially accepted. Mullin's tried to claim insanity during his sentencing but the jury didn't accept it and he was charged for 8 accounts of second-degree murder and 2 counts of first-degree out of the 13 individuals he killed, leaving him with a life prison sentence for his 4-month killing spree.



Edmund Kemper - The Co'Ed Killer
Around the same time as Mullin's killings and in the same areas around Santa Cruz, Edmund Kemper was also killing. Kemper is a notorious serial killer in history and this is due to not only his grotesque murders, but also his home life, his relationship with his mother, and his openness about his murders in prison interviews years later. With an extremely high IQ of 145 but a troubled childhood, Kemper fits nicely into the typical "serial killer mould" and these two reasons are why I would like to speak with him.

Kemper's parent's divorced and he grew up in a household with his alcoholic mother and two sisters. Kemper's dad was a WWII veteran and often made comments that living with his ex-wife was worse than anything he experienced in the war and Kemper no doubt would agree with these statements considering his mother often berated him over dinner whilst praising his sisters and eventually resorted to locking Kemper in the basement every evening as she was "scared" of him. Kemper is a towering 6ft 9 man so it is understandable how his form might be intimidating but, after watching many documentaries of Kemper discussing his treatment from his mother, he still believes strongly that his mistreatment was completely unwarranted and he never did anything to cause it. Kemper seemingly glosses over the fact that he did things such as play disturbing games with his sisters such as "Electric Chair" or "Gas Chamber" and was also responsible for the death of the family cat. It is not easy to distinguish whether or not Kemper's odd behaviour and "tell-tale signs" as a teen were the result of his mother's attitude towards him or already there and merely fuelled by his mother's lack of love. When he was a teen, Kemper went to live with his paternal grandparents and this was when Kemper first killed. After a heated argument, he shot his grandmother with his grandfather's rifle then proceeded to shoot his grandfather on his return to the house to save his grandfather the stress of seeing his dead wife. When authorities arrested Kemper, he openly admitted to it and coined one of his most famous quotes as he explained that he "just wanted to see what it felt like to kill grandma".

After being in prison for 5 years and being released on his 21st birthday, Kemper when back into the custody of his mother but quickly moved out of the home to live with a friend. His desire to kill was still burning away inside of him though and in May 1972, he finally struck again. Kemper completed what he called a "trial run" in which he picked up around 150 hitchhikers and considered how he could kill them and calculated how he would dispose of bodies. A tactician, Kemper planned and executed the murder of six young women who were hitchhiking and would have sex with their corpses before dismembering them. In an interview with Kemper, he shared that he dismembered the bodies because "the hands and heads were the most identifiable parts of a person" which illustrated just how much Kemper had planned his murder spree. He killed over the span of a year and in April 1973 he decided on his penultimate murder victim: his mother. Kemper bludgeoned his mother with a claw hammer, decapitated her, raped her severed head, and then used it as a dart board. He then called his mother's best friend and asked her to come over to the house. He then murdered her and stole her car to get away. Kemper eventually handed himself in when he didn't hear anything about the murders on the news and later stated to the police that "the original purpose [of the murders] had gone so he called it all off".

I find Kemper particularly interesting because of his level of intelligence and his very blunt, to the point attitude about his murders. He has always openly discussed his murders on TV documentaries and in many interviews and at times can show remorse, but whenever he speaks about his mother, there's an inner rage comes pouring out but also a great deal of pent-up upset too and seeing the two juxtapositions in such a cold and callous individual is unnerving but psychologically intriguing.


Jeffrey Dahmer - The Milwaukee Cannibal
Much like Ted Bundy, I feel this mini series wouldn't be complete without mentioning another notorious man, Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeffrey Dahmer was responsible for the murder of 15 young men between 1978 to July 22nd 1991 when he was finally caught. Dahmer is a well-known serial killer for a variety of reasons and has been depicted in many films, TV shows, books, and comic books about his life. His modus operandi included rape, molestation, dismemberment, cannibalism, and necrophilia.

Unlike many serial killers, Dahmer grew up in a relatively happy young man with a good family life. His parents were happy for many years, he did well in school and he was just all-round a "normal" child. Dahmer always had an interest in nature and animals and as he got older, this interest developed into understanding how animals worked on the inside (which as I've mentioned in previous posts, can often be a 'sign' in early stages of these sort of criminals). As he grew older, Dahmer became more and more introverted and secluded. Classmates recall that Dahmer was not particularly popular but was not hated in school either, but would often be heavily drinking throughout his school days - even drinking in class - and spent a lot of time examining animal carcasses instead of socialising. He had a tendency to act like the class clown and acted odd to get laughs from his peers. Over the years he became more and more withdrawn and appeared emotionless the majority of the time.

As an adult, Dahmer attempted several roles such as joining the army and working in a hospital but each time he was discharged due to his alcoholism. He was arrested for indecent exposure in 1982 and 1986, he drugged and sexually assaulted a 13 year old boy, and frequented gay bars in which he would drug and rape unconscious men. Dahmer was sentenced to 5 years probation for his crimes against the 13 year old boy but once released, he moved back into an apartment in Milwaukee. Growing up, Dahmer had wrestled with gay sexual fantasies and suppressed them. Over the years however, they began to mix with sadistic murderous thoughts and thus Dahmer's behaviour accelerated. Dahmer was fascinated with this idea of creating "zombies" out of his victims and this involved a few different techniques including drilling into the skulls of his victims and injecting hydrochloric acid or boiling water into their brains. This made his victims submissive to him and he could use them for his sexual fantasies. One such victim actually managed to escape when left unattended and asked people passing by for help. When the police investigated, Dahmer could turn on the charisma and charm so well and was so articulate that the police left thinking the young man was actually Dahmer's intoxicated boyfriend who had just had far too much to drink. They didn't even run any background checks on him to discover that Dahmer was a registered sex offender as this would have possibly alerted them to a more thorough check.

On July 22nd 1991, intended victim Tracy Edwards managed to escape Dahmer's clutches and led two police officers to his apartment. Upon entering the apartment, the police discovered gruesome crime scene evidence such as a variety of photos of his dissection process of his previous victims, four skulls chilling in the fridge, human torsos in a barrel amongst many other body parts and organs within the apartment. Dahmer was charged with 957 years and sent to the Colombia Correctional Facility in Wisconsin. On November 28th 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver. Dahmer died during his travel to the hospital. I believe Dahmer became so notorious because of his modus operandi (which you can read in much more detail here and here) as it was so unusual to want to create these submissive almost slave-like victims before murdering them. Dahmer is also interesting because he has been quoted and interviewed many times after being arrested as claiming that prison is the best place for him and that someone like him did not deserve to be out in "the real world". Therefore it would be interesting to speak with him to see if he actually meant that or if he was just being his charismatic self and saying what he thought people wanted to hear from such a cold-hearted calculated killer.


I hope you all have enjoyed this little mini series as it's given me the opportunity to share an interest of mine that I don't really have a place for here on NB. If you'd like to see more True Crime-related posts, be sure to let me know!


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May 14, 2018

Living with Dermatillomania



Happy Monday gang - I hope your week's start off on the right foot and you're feeling optimistic and full of motivation. Today I wanted to discuss with you all the fact that Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place this week (14th-20th May 2018) and as I took part in the campaign last year by sharing my story on what it's like living with anxiety, I thought I would carry on this new tradition and take part in MHAW again this year. I've said it many times before and I'll say it many times again, but openly discussing mental health is so important. It leads to accessibility, which leads to education, which leads to acceptance and understanding in society and that's what we all need a lot more of. This year, the Mental Health Foundation have focused their campaign on stress as, as they state:

"Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this."

Two thirds is a staggering statistic. That means mental health is incredibly common and stress is undoubtedly an aspect of life that all of us have felt at some point. It can be a crippling experience in the workplace, in our home lives, in social settings, or even through self-deprecation or external influences. Stress is seemingly inescapable and it can be a catalyst for so many MH issues from anxiety and depression to self harm and suicide. That's why today I'm going to share with you how my stress can manifest itself in Dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania is a skin picking disorder and whilst many people pick at their skin from time to time *que that meme about pulling one tiny bit of skin around your finger nail and ripping off every part of you*, if you suffer from Dermatillomania, you just don't know when to stop. It is often placed into the same category as Trichotillomania (repetitive hair pulling) and generalised along side this similar disorder as being a "body-focused repetitive disorder". It is often viewed as a obsessive compulsive disorder and has been related to body dysmorphic disorder due to it being this excessively body-focused preoccupation by the individual carrying out the picking. There's many reasons why OCDs and Dermatillomania can become an issue for people and there's also many reasons behind why people find it difficult to stop picking.



I'm not entirely sure when my Dermatillomania really started to be that and not just me occasionally picking spots, but it's definitely something I have dealt with since college. Since around the age of 12/13, I've battled with acne all over my face, neck, shoulders, chest and back. I have talked about this *so* many times on the blog but this has definitely been the root of my skin picking and I think unfortunately, always will be. At college I would wear heavy thick foundations all over my face but also all over my chest if I wasn't wearing a high neck top because I was so ashamed of my skin's condition. I would pick at my acne every evening to try to create a smoother, less red and noticeable surface texture but of course, that never really worked out in the long run. Nowadays I'm pleased to say my acne has gotten so much better and I feel almost like a fraud to claim I have acne. Whilst it's has felt like a weight has been lifted as I don't have as many sore, completely confidence-crushing, spots visible on my skin, it's almost created more of a problem for my skin picking because I haven't got as many imperfections to pick but I pick anyway.

One of the worst things about Dermatillomania is that there is often no rhyme or reason to picking. Picking acne meant I almost had an excuse for my actions as I could challenge any questions by pointing out every whitehead or bump and showcasing them as my reasons why. But now if I'm having a good skin day or week, it tends to not last long because I'll start picking and cause stress to my skin so it will inevitably break out for me to carry on picking, or I will basically damage my skin through seeking something to pick. As I've continuously gotten less and less spots on my shoulders and chest over the last year or two especially, this has caused my Dermatillomania some distress as now I have to work extra hard at picking. I will literally sit and smooth my fingertips over my shoulders, chest, back, neck and face, hoping to hit a bump in the skin road that I can them squeeze and prune until I feel satisfied that I've "smoothed" out the imperfections. It has sometimes meant I've accidentally picked moles or freckles and caused them to bleed and I've sometimes cut or bruised my skin squeezing and scratching at simply nothing.



Actively picking doesn't just occur when I'm "searching" to smooth out my imperfections. I occasionally pick in my sleep and only realise upon waking up to see a small pool of blood or dried wounds on my face. I can sometimes reach a level of boredom and genuinely think "I could sit and pick and that might cure it". If I'm stressed at work, I will pick at my desk. If I'm feeling anxious on the train or out in public, or in a restaurant - I will pick. I don't have a filter with my picking and more often than not, I don't realise I'm doing it until a loved one says "stop picking". The worst part about it for me in a way is the fact that after I've went on a picking spree, I can feel really good as if I've accomplished something. This is always a little bit disheartening from me in a cool down period from it all because it means I've took some joy in harming myself and inflicting damage on my skin. In relatively recent years that has been something that has really stuck with me and is what has pushed me to want to seek help for it this year.

Oddly when I've spoken to people about this before, a few people have brushed it off like it isn't a real issue. As it is so self-inflicted and doesn't have a definite cause, it is almost hard for people to process and I've been asked before by colleagues why I don't just "snap out of it". Well sorry Susan, I simply can't. Now before anyone claims I'm not trying to help myself, trust me, I'm always trying. I got a large backpiece tattooed to stop me from picking as it would create a barrier I didn't want to destroy. I wear hair extensions, not just to thicken up my thin hair, but to also make it more difficult to search my scalp for any lumps and bumps I will inevitably pick and leave sore and exposed. I used to have incredibly long nails but now keep them short in the hopes that I make it more difficult to break the skin.



Options for Dermatillomania Sufferers
Unfortunately, there's often not a great deal that can be done about Dermatillomania generally. Most doctors will typically prescribe medication or send sufferers to therapy only if their skin picking is becoming dangerous (i.e. infectious, causing lasting damage etc.) but all is not lost! Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has worked for many people and has helped people stop picking so if that's an option for you, ask your GP about it. If not, or if you have not spoken to your doctor about the possibility of suffering with Dermatillomania, there's a few things you could do that I found can help me:

- Keep your nails cut short and ensure they are always clean so even if you manage to pick, you can lessen the chance of infection
- Keep your hands busy. If you're ever feeling stressed, nervous, agitated etc., have something to keep your hands occupied to try and distract your mind. Fidget toys can be great for this and are often used for stress relief, so keeping one at hand or in your pocket can help. Low on money? Use a piece of Blu Tac instead!
- If wearing makeup is an option for you, possibly try that. It might sound counter-productive as makeup tends to worsen the skin's condition, but whenever I have makeup on, it acts as a barrier so I don't want to pick as it will ruin it
- Meditation isn't for everyone and it's certainly not a "cure all", but meditation can help you suppress the urge to pick
- Try creating a log of when you pick. You could detail what time of day it was, what mood you were in, where you targeted, how long you picked for... Trying to find the trigger of when you pick the most can help a great deal in terms of managing your picking
- Lastly, I've been trying some of the NHS' advice recently and it seems to be having a positive effect. They suggest that you nourish and pamper your skin whenever you feel the urge to pick. I've been applying a face mask almost every evening (sometimes more than once in one evening) to stop me from wanting to pick and it has not only helped my acne so I pick that less, but also just helped with my picking in general

Get Involved in MHAW
Although Dermatillomania is often the result of my stress, there are of course many other issues stress can cause and stress even within itself is a terrible thing that unfortunately, so many of us deal with on a day to day basis. Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity to get involved and share your stories, your tips and tricks that could help another individual, and simply helping raise awareness as the name of the campaign suggests. MHAW have a few other ways you can support the campaign - ranging from donations to fundraising - but you can also help by simply voicing your support. Stress is something that affects all of us, both directly and indirectly via our loved ones, so talk about it. Support others and receive support yourself at the same time.


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