If you’re not happy, make a change

Today I had one of the best conversations of my life. (I love keeping track of them. Remember this?)

This afternoon I met up with a friend who’s been away in Europe for the past six weeks or so, so we had a lot of catching up to do. In spite of being someone I met randomly through basketball not even that long ago, she’s one of the few people that I immediately felt 100% relaxed and confident to open up to. I feel a strong connection to her even though I realise I only know her on a superficial level – or better, I know one part of her very well, but I don’t really know much about other aspects of her life or her past before New Zealand.
Anyway. She’s been going through some tough times recently, and this is what we talk about the most. Since I’m also not having the best of times, it’s great to have someone who totally gets me to share my troubles with. Although the origin of our distress is not the same, we can still relate to each other in terms of stress, frustration, and how we deal with them.

What I love about my friend is how she processes things. I also constantly overanalyse myself, but she does it in a more methodical, structured way. When she’s dealing with a problem that seems overwhelming at first, she deconstructs it in smaller parts and copes with each of them individually, overcoming them one by one. (For the records, I have no idea if this is actually how her mind works, this is just what I get from our conversations.) But this is super helpful for me as well, as I’m learning to apply the same strategy to my own problems, which now seem so much more manageable and less insurmountable.
Every time I’m with her, I’m learning something new about myself. Also, she’s made me a much better listener.
I hope I’m somehow helping her too.

Today I told her about my unstable work situation and how stressed I’ve been feeling. In return, she shared some of her recent development on getting over a breakup (by the way, I’m SO proud of her for being so strong and getting to where she is now).
Over our flat whites, we came to the conclusion that life is always going to be crappy. There is always going to be something wrong with it, something we don’t like, something we want to fix – and we are always going to look at other people’s lives and think, I wish I had that. But guess what? They are probably thinking the same about our life. Nobody’s life is perfect, and shit is always going to happen. What we can do is find a way to be ok with it no matter what.

My life hasn’t exactly been a stroll in the park since moving here. Sure, I’ve been enjoying the crap out of it for the most part, but there have been times of discomfort and frustration (especially lately). Not having a stable job is being really difficult for me to handle. Before leaving for New Zealand, Giac and I both knew that it would have been easier for him to find a job than for me, but one thing is to know it, another is to experience it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m struggling with this worse than I’d expected. And because of how I am, the moment something goes slightly wrong, I immediately enlarge it to the extreme, until everything is wrong and I hate my life.

And my automatic reaction has been to blame it on New Zealand (see: my latest post. Lesson learned: never publish a blog post when you’re grumpy). But this has nothing to do with New Zealand. I had problems in London too. I had problems in Italy, in Edinburgh – I had different problems, but I still had them in every single place I’ve lived.
So I’m taking my friend’s piece of advice and detach my problems from this place, and delve into my own self instead. I’m focusing on the positives, on all the good things I have, on what I’ve achieved rather than on what I’m lacking.
I freaking love this country for so many reasons, which outweigh the reasons why I dislike it by far, and the last thing I want is to start associating New Zealand to bad, negative memories, to the point where I will start counting the days until I can leave. I know I will one day move somewhere else, but I want it to be because I’ve got to a point where I’m satisfied with my experience here, and not beacuse I am bloody miserable.
And as Giac says, we are in a position where the moment we are not happy we can leave, like, tomorrow. That’s quite a privilege. We can’t really complain about anything. (In fact, this post is becoming the epitome of what I hate: First World white girls whining about First World white girls’ problems). So I’ll cut it short and conclude by saying that I’m working on finding a safe space within myself where I can be ok no matter what.

(Also, I’m glad I got to write something to push my latest post further down the timeline as I’m applying for writing jobs and I can’t link my blog for reference if the first thing my potential employers are gonna see is a post where I say the world fuck fourteen times.)

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You’ve got something on your face

Last night I was home alone, so what better occasion to finally enjoy some me time. I made myself a cup of tea, did some writing, and of course spread an old good face mask on my face.
I used to be big on face masks, however I had to downsize quite a lot in preparation to my move to New Zealand, and only a few favourites made it to the other side. So I thought I’d do a little review of my top four (as many as I have right now) face masks, from least favourite – but still awesome – to my very personal best.
Needless to say all of these are vegan and not tested on any fluffy bunnies.

 

Plastic medal: Dr. Organic Bio-Plasma Mud Mask (find it here)

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What it is: A detoxifying, rejuvenating clay mask that aims to purify your skin and promote epidermis health.
What it looks like: A grey/brownish sticky paste.
Why I picked it up: My mum told me great things about dead sea clay so when I bumped into this mask at Holland & Barrett back in London I decided to give it a go. It’s supposed to help minimise pores as well which is always a plus.
Smell: I guess it smells of clay? (What does clay smell like?)
Consistency: Muddy. This is the kind of mask that gets hard on your skin  as it dries, so make sure you assume an acceptable facial expression when you put it on cos you won’t be able to change it five minutes in.
To remove it, I think ideally you want to wipe your face clean with a warm cloth, but ain’t nobody got time for that. I normally just deep cleanse my face with warm water.
Final verdict: I didn’t notice any difference on my skin but I will admit I don’t use this mask regularly. I still enjoy applying it from time to time as it makes my skin feel clean and my pores are happy.

 

Bronze medal: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (find it here)

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What it is: Specifically for oily and acne-prone skin, this mask aims at absorbing excess oils, extract impurities and help minimise the appearance of pores, “for an oil-free feel and a healthy-looking complexion”.
What it looks like: A very thick green paste.
Why I picked it up: A couple of years ago I suffered from severe acne. This was surprising (and annoying), considering I was in my late twenties and had happily survived a pimple-free adolescence. I surely thought I’d got away with it. Anyway, it was hard for me to find products that worked as I had both acne and dry skin, a rare combination as it’s more common for acne to be associated with oily skin. So I did some research, bumped into this video, and decided Queen Helene was worth a try. Although this is specifically for oily skin, it works wonders on my dry face – as long as I make sure to always moisturise afterwards.
Smell: Balmy and very refreshing. I have to stop myself from eating it.
Consistency: Very thick. This also gets solid as it dries, although not as much as the clay mask.
Final verdict: I got rid of my acne but I don’t think it was thanks to this face mask. I still use it about every other week, as I like that it leaves my skin feeling refreshed and impurity-free.

 

Silver medal: Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (find it here)

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What it is: An overnight replentishing mask packed with apricot kernel oil, mango butters, Japanese seaweed and avocado goodness, to refresh, moisturise and nourish your pretty skin. (This is technically not a mask as you don’t have to wash it off, but it’s called a mask so it made it to the chart.)
What it looks like: A white cream.
Why I picked it up: I really like Origins products, and after I saw this particular face mask once in my friend’s bathroom and smelled it, I knew I had to have it. I picked it up at Vancouver airport a couple of years ago because it was mega cheap, and yeah I still haven’t finished it. Bargain!
Smell: APRICOT. Aaaaah so good. This almost made it to the first place just because of the smell. Aaaaah.
Consistency: Creamy for a face mask, firm for a face cream.
Final verdict: I LOVE this product. Too bad for what follows…

DISCLAIMER: I just discovered that Origins tests on animals. I was pretty sure that the brand was vegan, however I quickly googled it and it turned out that, although on their website they claim to be “committed to the elimination of animal testing”, they also sell in China, where it’s required by law to test the safety of products on animals (reference). Plus Origins is apparently owned by Estee Lauder, so no surprise here. Damn. No more Origins for me.

 

Gold medal: Lush Mask of Magnaminty (find it here)

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What it is: A peppermint-based face mask that fights eruptions and outbreaks. Ideal for dry skin as it’s packed with aduki beans for exfoliation, this mask deep cleans your skin and leaves it with a tingly yet soothing sensation.
What it looks like: An olive green grainy paste (see above).
Why I picked it up: Because. LUSH. I mean. Employees at Lush are always mega helpful, and when I asked for something that could soothe my dry skin I was immediately recommended this face mask. Best purchase of my life.
Smell: Minty and tingly. Yum.
Consistency: Thick and grainy. It will change colour once applied and get a bit dry.
Final verdict: I use this mask once a week and I love the feeling on my skin afterwards. I must have been through at least five tabs since I first discovered it.

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Here’s a very jetlagged me back from two weeks in Canada/PNW. Putting on this mask was the first thing I did before I slept for two days straight.

 

The following are also worth mentioning as they used to be on my fav list but either I finished them before moving to NZ or I decided to donate them to friends and make someone else happy.

  • Clearasil Daily Clear Vitamins & Extracts Scrub (find it here)
    This can be used either as a face wash or as a face mask. I only used it as a face mask and was very happy with it although it’s a bit too sticky and messy to wash off.)
  • Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay – Deep Pore Cleansing (find it here)
    WOW, when they say you’ll feel your face pulsate they surely know what they are talking about. If you want to REALLY deep clean your skin, this face mask is for you. A bit messy to use because you have to mix it with apple cider vinegar which smells awful, but if you survive the stench you’ll be left with the smoothest skin you can ever imagine.

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  • Lush Don’t Look at Me (find it here)
    THIS IS BLUE AND IT SMELLS LIKE THE OCEAN. It feels salty and summery and oceany and I love it. Can’t wait to get a job so I can stock up.

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For better results remember to always test your face mask on a smaller portion of skin before applying it for the first time. Trust me, you don’t want to have your whole face covered in it and THEN find out it gives you an allergic reaction.