Employers; Are you missing out on a talented autistic employee?

16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment

Employers want capable, talented employees but in this day and age they must know they are missing out on one part of society? Those with autism may lack the ability to sell themselves, do not have the same social skills as others and questions need to be direct and clear. But they are also hardworking, talented, creative people that deserve to have the same opportunity as others. Not everyone is suitable for mainstream employment but isn’t it time that the recruitment process is given an overhaul so those on the spectrum who can work and want to work are given that option?

It’s no secret my own brother has Asperger’s and a degree in graphics and animation. Like my brother many people with autism struggle to find suitable employment. Those diagnosed with Asperger’s will understand and can relate to my brother in the sense that he doesn’t have the same social skills as you and I. He doesn’t make eye contact when speaking, his expression and his tone of voice can be a bit monotone, unless you tap into something he is passionate about then he becomes quite animated even throwing in the odd witty comment.
He is currently working with a fantastic group called Signpost that are helping him re-write his CV, write job applications, helping him prepare for interviews as well as boosting his confidence. I know that with the support he is receiving he will eventually be successful. He has a great work ethic, is creative and hardworking,  the concern will then be the interview stage. My hope is that potential employers will do their research and adapt their interview process.

The National Autistic Society has some useful interview tips and advice for employing someone with autism, from creating the right job advert through to the interview stage. Interviews can be a daunting experience, so imagine how someone with autism will feel.

A solution for one parent was to create his own company that only employs people with autism, Auticon. Formerly known as Mindspark, was created by Gray Benoist, a parent of two autistic sons who saw the lack of employment options for them so decided to take matters into his own hands.

Our mission is about enabling a group who have been disenfranchised. There are many segments of society that are under-utilised and people on the autistic spectrum are one of them

In the UK two autistic brothers decided to change their employment situation by opening their own comic book shop. It wasn’t an easy task to begin with but with the support of their family the business is still going.

My aim is to not vilify employers but this is an ongoing problem and concern. Despite all the education, knowledge out there, groups emphasising that in the right environment autistic people can thrive we are still in this position. It’s a different world we are living in now, many people don’t work 9-5 they work hours to suit the demands of the company and to accommodate their lifestyle for a better work life balance plus the option to work remotely. So if companies can adapt to these changes then why not adapt to employ people with autism?

This isn’t an easy task and not even something all companies can invest in, but it is down to us at the end of the day to get the best out of people. Sometimes a bit of kindness, understanding and time can make all the difference. Put a bit of effort into investing in people and you’ll be surprised by the positive results.

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Shine the light on me

Last weekend the husband’s family had arranged a prayer at the temple for his nieces’ birthday followed by a celebration of Lohri at home. All sounds simple, don’t need to dress over the top to sit in a house of god right…wrong!

It has been 6 months since I have been married but am still thought of a new bride whom the mother in law wanted to introduce and show off to others. Something I am not comfortable with, on previous occasions there has been a silent battle as I have chosen to wear something appropriate for the occasion, still looking nice just according to ‘others’ who these others are I don’t know, I don’t look like a new bride. lohri imageThis time you all would have been impressed, I dressed as if I was going to a wedding whilst others who attended wore clothes and accessories that were less in your face some even came in jeans and a jumper and had a shawl to cover their head.

I wore an outfit that sparkled and shined with matching accessories, my makeup was full on from primer, foundation to copious amounts of powder that it did not budge all day and evening. I have to say even I was impressed with how my hair and makeup turned out. Excuse the reflection of husband while he took my picture.

Fake it until you make it people that was the mantra of the day.

I am happy to be left alone in a corner on this occasion I plastered a smile on my face as I was introduced to aunties who’s names and faces I won’t remember but if nothing else I was making a good impression with even one aunties looking at me and saying ‘nice, very nice’. High to five to me.

Back at home where Lohri was being celebrated I put on a hoodie for the bonfire which the older ladies sung and danced to. A little bit of background to Lohri in the words of Wikipedia;

Lohri is the celebration of the arrival of longer days after the winter solstice

 In this case the mother in law was saying it’s a celebration of mine and husband getting married. Who would have thought there would be so much attention on us two just for getting married, lucky us. Once the bonfire part was over, I was back in jeans and a jumper feeling more myself again.

Overall it was a nice day and hopefully the ‘new bride’ title will be passed onto someone who is actually a new bride. I am not interested in other people’s opinions or whether I should still look like a bride, as far as I am concerned that is old news now. People were asking when they will hear the pitter patter of little feet, me and husband have decided they must be thinking we are getting another puppy.

A spoonful of sugar…

The sugar lies on the black background
Image created by V.ivash – Freepik.com

New Year always brings new goals and aspirations that for the average person don’t usually last past February.

Which is why two work colleagues and I decided to take part in the Staff Engagement team’s New Year New You challenge that takes place over January, one month is enough for us. Each week the Staff Engagement team issues weekly challenges with prizes at the end. We were issued our first task, 7 January where we had to record our sugar intake; this included both natural and refined sugars with a limit of 30g of sugar per day, going by how the week went I doubt we’ll be winning any prizes!

This is not as easy as you think, my diet isn’t the worst but it could also could be better.

Monday was the start of this educational week. Ate my usual breakfast of peanut butter on toast, with banana and honey. I thought it was healthy. Then I got hungry an ate a Muller fruit corner yoghurt.sugar_new year new you

The banana had 12g of sugar, a banana! Muller fruit corner yoghurt contained 14g. Good think I opted for peppermint tea was fine and not my usual of caffeinated tea with milk and two sugars.

Afternoon snack was an apple,15g, that’s it I was done I had exceed the limit! Not chocolates, not cake but fruit had pushed me over the edge and maybe the muller yoghurt had something to do with it.

That was pretty much how the rest of the week went.

Fast forward to Friday when I drank a homemade protein milkshake, I didn’t even think there would be sugar in milk, how wrong was I. According to Google 1 cup of semi skimmed milk contains 12g of sugar. Team that up with the banana and two frozen strawberries I was already nearing the set 30g daily limit. I can’t wait for this challenge to be over.

Overall looking at what I ate in a day did have some benefits; I noticed that the majority of the sugar I was eating was natural sugars from fruit. I rarely drink caffeine tea these days but when I do I have 2 teaspoons of sugar with it plus milk.  Even then it wasn’t enough refined sugar that I risked having a sugar crash later in the day.

I do think that with the daily exercises I wasn’t eating enough which might be why i was feeling tired and having headaches. That won’t be happening again, making sure I have plenty to eat throughout the day.

Let’s see if I do any better in the next challenge.

Trousers are a bit tight

Since getting married I have noticed my trousers have been getting that little bit tighter. I know that we are all loved up, happy and comfortable but I do prefer to be able to breath after eating.

I’m not one to monitor my calories or obsess about the scales but since getting married I have noticed my trousers have been getting that little bit tighter. I know that we are all loved up, happy and comfortable but I do prefer to be able to breath after eating. Fortunately, I’ve not ever been overweight but the past year the weight has been creeping up with those trousers getting a tad bit tighter that I can get away with not doing the hidden buttons up.

Three weeks ago I started a some high intensity interval training workouts which I do on alternate days to the kickboxing YouTube videos by Jessica Smith.

I’ve tried the Plank workout by Emi Wong, afterwards it took me two days to be able to cough without my abdominals aching. You think I would have stopped here but no, a day later I did the Low impact HIIT Cardio workout by Joanna Soh, don’t let the title fool you, I still haven’t managed to complete the entire routine. I get to the second to last move then collapse. In both cases after the workout I ended up needing to lay down thankfully not in the recovery position but to;

  • let my body figure out how to breath normally again
  • allow my vision to return to normal from all the sweat

fitness clothes_v2The husband has also gained a few pounds but is not willing to partake in the morning workouts before work. So we have decided to go on weekend family jogs / speed walking for the dog. Wearing our new trainers and joint supports we started last Saturday were surprised that we managed a mile. This was also with the dog stopping to sniff at every blade of grass, and peeing at every tree trunk to mark his territory. I think the dog was pacing us he knew we need the jog on the spot breaks to break us into this brave new world.

Laugh all you want at my suffering yet despite the sore muscles I have noticed a change in how I feel; more energised and hungrier. My trousers have started to feel a bit looser, enough that I can now do all the buttons up!

8 year old drag queen

Many people, myself included used to get confused about the difference between being a drag queen and being transgender, they are not the same. Through a bit of research the way it has been explained is that a drag queen is a character that is played whereas a transgender is a way of life, part of that person’s identity.

No that has been cleared up what I want to discuss with you all is a bit of a sensitive subject and there are a few people that won’t agree with it but at least it will get us talking. I read about a family in Montreal where the mum is supporting her eight year old son as he embraces his drag queen alter ego ‘Lacaticia’. The young drag queen is already finding stage success having already appeared on stage with drag queen Bianca del Rio. Some could argue that the mum is being a bad parent by allowing her young son to behave this way or that the child is being sexualised and allowed to venture into what is considered an adult environment, but what harm is he really doing to himself and others? The mum and son must have a great relationship with each other that he felt comfortable enough to be so open with his mum about how he was feeling.

Don't panicI’m not a parent but this situation has got me thinking about how easy it is for me to say, ‘what’s the harm, the child is happy, the family is happy, live and let live’ but would I feel the same if it was my child who at such a young age decided they wanted to be a drag queen or say the age of 4 decided they were trapped in the wrong body and wanted to be the opposite gender? How would I react, would I be the supportive parent or the one that despite loving their child is now embarrassed by this declaration and direction in life they want to take? I would like to think that to some degree I would be relaxed about it, I probably would have a little freak out but more about how the handle the situation without the child feeling like they are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with them. Culturally there might be a few questions from other people but change has to start somewhere.

self-esteem-1566153_1280_webIf you have read any of my previous posts you’ll know that I am fascinated by drag queens and there is a lot we can learn from them, from the way they do their makeup, how they carry themselves, yes they are crude at times but some of them have also had to go through a lot of different life experiences and hardship to get where they are. They are resilient and highlight the importance to be yourself and confident even when it feels like the world is against you. Ru Pauls drag show contestants are adults but they too were once children who went through the many experiences and emotions that some transgender children face today, though as a society we are trying to be more open and accepting change is not that easy and there are some countries that are in no hurry to accept that drag queens, homosexuals, transgender people etc should be allowed to live in peace.

Saying all this could the gradual changes in views and opinions the reason behind the increase in the number of children being referred to the only gender identity clinic in the UK?

The figures, from London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, show that in the year ending March 2016, 1,398 people used the service, compared with 697 the year before.

There are increased media reports and programmes following children through their day to day life as they transition, some delaying puberty with medication to live as the opposite gender, although  doctors can prescribe gender changing hormones to children as young as 12 depending on the situation. Is this the right approach, the article I read does provide a compelling reason behind the decision to allow children start gender changing treatment much earlier than the agreed age of 16.

As adults and roles of parents we are expected to guide and encourage the future generations to be decent human beings. But what do you do when your child comes to about such an adult topic, they are playing with Barbie and GI Joe dolls (This could have changed but that is what kids played with when I was young) but what if GI Joe wants to become GI Jane and Barbie has decided she is more of a Ken doll?

Sources

The Guardian: gender identity clinic
The story of two transgender children
RuPaul’s Drag Race

Morning routine update; Did I stick with the changes?

alarm-clock-1193291_1280_WebNot too long ago I wrote an article about changing my morning routine, this involved me waking up earlier, doing a some exercise and anything else if I have time for it all before work. I only trialled this new routine for a week but have since tried to maintain it.

There have been days where I have fallen off the wagon and skipped the morning yoga choosing to get out of bed a bit later or generally having a ‘go slow’ day where I have had more than enough time to get ready for work, arrive at work early but the mind and body were not being that responsive.

Bar the few occasions where I have hit the snooze button I have managed to maintain the exercise part of the routine. I still do the 5 minutes yoga video stretching out the morning kinks helping to dissipate the last dredges of sleep. Where I have only been keeping up with part of the original routine personally I have felt disorganised and rushing around trying to get things done.  I have been feeling under the weather lately but I don’t think that is the only reason behind my lack of energy and  motivation throughout the working day. I am hoping that my renewed drive to get back on track will help combat these feelings.

Diet has played its part, being organised and having breakfast ready meant I was eating something other than a chocolate muffin or a doughnut for breakfast, you imagine how I felt after that sugar crash. I was eating more fruit and drinking less caffeine, this has all gone out of the window and the extra sugar I have been consuming it definitely affecting my energy levels. As well as having a more structured morning I have been trying to stick with a bedtime routine involving removal of makeup, brush teeth etc I am also bringing back the bedtime yoga video. This could be the 5 minute or the 20 minute YouTube video depending on time but the aim to do at least one of them. Reading has become virtually non-existent, this is something I should try and find time for, it was a form of escapism and relaxation. Need to make to time to wind down and let go of the day.

I’ll let you know how I get on or if I fall back into bad habits. If this week has been anything to go by, it’s a work in process. I’ve discovered the TV series Dexter on Netflix so have been having a TV binge fest going on. I have been managing to get up early, I have a lodger and I need to get in the bathroom before her if I don’t want to be late for work.  I am still managing the morning yoga and eating a few more bits of vegetables and fruit, not quite the recommended daily amount but something is better than nothing.

Wish me luck!

World Suicide Prevention day

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Sunday 10 September was World Suicide Prevention Day. It shouldn’t be that we need a day to raise awareness about such a sensitive topic, but like with mental health the stigma and negative opinions associated with suicide are taking time to dispel. It is only as a society, encouraging and educating people will we be able to move forward and prevent potential suicide victims reaching the stage where they feel death is the only solution.

 Taking a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger or close family member or friend – can change the course of their life

This year’s WSPD theme was ‘take a minute, change a life’.  Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. How many of these could be avoided if we were to just take a minute and have a conversation with each other. We can blame technology and social media for many things;

  • social media is damaging to people’s mental health
  • mobile phones and social are ruining the way we communicate
  • we are becoming less sociable

But we can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room, it’s time to turn these negatives and use social media and technology to our advantage. Campaigns like Time to Change’s ‘Be in your corner’ mental health campaign, if your friend’s acting differently, step in. It isn’t always easy to make that first step, there is always the worry that you may say or do something wrong but more often than not all the person going through a rough patch wants is someone to listen. You don’t always have to have the answers or know the solution but showing that non judgemental support can make all the difference. If you think someone you know is struggling then go ahead and start your conversation.

Mental health problems can affect anyone at anytime, regardless of age, gender ethnic background. It is so important that as a society we all come together to raise awareness and educate people. Being Asian and of a Muslim background it was and in some cases difficult for people from the Asian community to acknowledge the existence of mental illness. In many religions suicide is a sin which as further confusion and stress to those who are already going through a difficult period. It’s not about vilifying religion and those who have a strong faith but more about educating people and having religion and treatments complimenting each other. Having a faith has helped those with a mental health illness, giving them inner strength and peace.

University Students

With the new semester starting there is more focus on the mental health and wellbeing of university students who for many it is the first time away from home, pressures of study, exams and student loans can be a stressful time. A study carried out by IPPR showed that the number of students reporting and seeking help for a mental health concern had risen to 15,395 in a decade and 134 students killed themselves in 2015 (source The Guardian)

Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems

Men’s mental health

imagescfk9d35gSuicide is the leading cause of death in men below the age of 50, men were more likely to take their own life than die from road deaths, coronary heart disease, accidental poisoning or diseases of the liver.

There has been a lot of work being done to encourage men to talk about their physical and mental health. There are a lot of stereotypes I that negatively impact society and how people function. Pigeon holing them only leads to people feeling trapped thinking they will be ostracised, ridiculed and not taken seriously, an attitude Movember is trying to change. Admitting there is something wrong and talking about it is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t make you less of a man. if anything it takes a lot of strength to open up.

Post natal depression

Spoken about students and men’s health we can’t ignore women, in particular post natal depression. It is important to understand that this is not an illness that women will recover from in a few weeks, it can take years and can be a long road.

Some people, myself included have confused the baby blues with post natal depression. Though the two have similar symptoms the recovery is different.

Up to 80 per cent of women report “the blues”, usually within the first week after birth. It often coincides with an increase in breast milk supply. Women may feel teary, sad, anxious or struggle to concentrate.

“The blues” are usually self-limiting and no treatment other than reassurance and support is required.

Postnatal depression (PND) affects approximately 15 per cent of women in the months following the birth of a baby, so is a lot more common than some might imagine. It is more severe and prolonged than “the blues”, and can substantially affect the relationship between the mother and baby during this critical period. Women who suffer from PND frequently report feeling sad, tearful, anxious or guilty, often without an obvious “trigger” that they can identify.

There are support groups like Pandas and Mind. Social media Twitter support groups like Lotus Petal, PND & Me. Don’t forget your health visitor will also be able to help if you are struggling.

Days like world suicide prevention day is a time to raise awareness and educate people that we can all fall down, some of us will need a little bit of extra help to get back up again. You could be that person that makes a difference in someone’s life.

Don’t forget that World Mental Health Day is 10 October, hold you own tea and talk day!

References

WSPD Home
Time to change
Samaritans
The Guardian
The calm zone
Essential Baby
Pandas
Mind

Puppy Love

Growing up my family had budgies, my grandparents had budgies, I can barely keep a plant alive! I’ve not ever had a great love of animals; I haven’t had any desire to own fish, no rodents or reptiles of any kind and definitely did not have a desire to have a cat or a dog. The hair, the slobber etc. just does not appeal to me. Until I met my partner, who let’s just say has ruined me! The person I once was has evolved into the person I don’t recognise. He has always owned a dog from a Doberman to a Rottweiler, usually raised from a puppy up until the end. His last dog was Rottweiler, this hulking beast of an animal who came up to my waist was a puppy deep down inside unless he didn’t like you or didn’t know you then depending on if you were an intruder or a non-threatening person a few treats and a firm voice could sway him to your side. Sadly this loveable creature became quite unwell and became paralysed and the unthinkable had to be considered and a very hard decision was made. I had known this dog for over a year and her recognised me every time I came to the house, would sit with me and tell me off when I would stop fussing over him. This is not me, I do not behave like this with animals, or at least I didn’t but something about this dog just tugged at my heart strings. Don’t get me wrong I still washed my hands a million times after running my fingers through his thick coat of hair and needed to use a lint brush after being covered in said dog hair but he was still one of the first people I would say hello to in the house.
When the end came it was a private moment and I wasn’t sure if my partner would want me there as I hadn’t know the doggy as long as the rest of the family but was touched that he wanted me there at the vets with him and other family members. Not going to lie, I was probably worse than everyone else a blubbering mess, I still feel I should replace the box of tissues at the vets based on the amount of tissues I singlehandedly went through. It was one of the most horrible and heart-breaking things I have ever experienced.

Can you guess where this is going?

My partner has always had a dog for companionship, friendship and security. Going through the options when deciding future dog a few boxes needed to be ticked.

  • limited slobbering
  • limited hair moulting tendencies
  • child friendly
  • formidable guard dog

Proud co-owner of a gorgeous playful puppy

RoccoI am the proud co-owner of a gorgeous playful puppy who will grow into an equally lovable and trained the right way a, protective adult dog, I am so excited.

When my partner and I initially went to see all the see the puppies for sale at the breeders we had a few choices but settled on one particular pup. During this process I’ve learnt that buying a puppy or any dog is not as simple as popping into your local supermarket and picking one of the shelf. There is the breed, the family line, who are the parents, any history of illnesses, disabilities etc then there is such a thing called stud dogs, all of this was a complete education for me. This all explains that before making a final decision and parting with money partner wanted to see the dad with whom the breeder is friends with and would also be at a dog that just so happened to be taking place that same weekend. The breeder brought along the puppies to the show, as you can imagine cute fluffy puppies garnered a lot of attention so thought in order to protect our interests it was necessary to get our future pup out of the shared pen so other potential owners new it was off limits, I wasn’t quite tall enough to lean over but decided to give it a go anyway and nearly fell in the pen trying to get hold of my pup. I’ve turned into one of those crazy puppy women!

The puppy will live with my partner as he won’t be left on his own during the day, my partner is also the most experienced to train him. I am still working up to being able to pick up his poop, I know I will have to do this eventually I’m just not there yet.

All I know is I talk about this puppy as if he is a child and if anyone was to hurt him, let’s just say there would be some serious consequences. Researching into getting the right deworming and defleaing products that won’t make him ill; some on the negative online reviews were enough to cause nightmares. Then there are the toys, blankets and getting the right food that doesn’t cost a small fortune. If this is a fraction of what parenthood could be like I don’t think my young / old ticker can take the stress and worry.

Using different oils for your skin & hair

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about beauty stuff. I do like my makeup and the ability to magically banish a multitude of sins with a handy little tube of concealer. No matter how much makeup I use it have the same effect if the base, in this case my face, isn’t in good condition. I use the term good loosely as I do have my problem spots, my face can produce enough of its own oil to make me quite shiney which can be a problem with makeup, I do also have dry patches where it can be noticeable when foundation and concealer doesn’t blend in properly.

  • I’m not that great at eating my 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • I try and stay hydrated but if it’s a rough day I am known to hit the caffeine
  • I don’t drink alcohol so I caffeine is my vice.

Externally I try and do right by my skin, wash my makeup brushes, moisturise, use eye cream, all that good stuff but what I have discovered several months ago and still use on my skin is oil. Yes you have heard my right oil, I use coconut, jojob, almond, olive all for different parts of my body.

Face

I stopped using shop bought makeup remover for over a year now and only use baby wipes if I’m being extremely lazy to remove my makeup otherwise it is a good old trusted jar of coconut oil. This stuff is great, it removes all my makeup including the waterproof stuff. I know you’re meant to use the good organic stuff, but I generally use this one from KTC. I do also have a jar of organic coconut oil and you can notice the difference between the two products but for the removal of my makeup I find the cheaper product does the job just fine.

Face wash is great stuff but did find it could dry out my skin. I was going through a phase of trying to save pennies and also be kinder to my skin and came across oil cleansing.

Oil Cleansing

Oil cleansing doesn’t agree with everyone’s skin as you using a blend of oils clean you face and using warm tap water and a flannel to wipe it all off. From reading other people’s experiences oil cleansing caused them to have acne breakouts. Fortunately my skin hasn’t reacted in the same way, not only does it leave my skin feeling nice and soft it is all great for removing makeup, when I want to skip the cotton pad and coconut oil I just got straight to the oil cleansing.
It sounds odd and you would think that your face would be left feeling greasy from any oil residue, and some people have experienced this but I haven’t had this problem.

Pumps some of the blend you’re your hands, rub your palms together to warm the oil up then massage onto your face. Using warm tap water, dampen a flannel and wipe the oil off. You will have you wipe your face with the flannel and water maybe 2-3 times until all the oil and if you had any on the makeup is removed.

I tend to use a mixture of castor oil and almond oil with maybe a few drops of essential oil thrown in. My usual blend;

1/3 castor oil
2/3 almond oil

Or if I’m feeling like a change I’ll use this blend;

1/4 castor oil
2/4 almond oil
1/4 jojoba oil

Everyone’s skin is different and it took a bit of experimenting with smaller quantities until I find the combination that worked for me.

Night time

At night instead of a night cream I use an oil blend, sometimes I use a few drops in my day Jojoba oilcream if my skin if feeling exceptionally dry and the face cream alone isn’t going to cut it. I haven’t and measurements for this as I chop and change it up all the time. I always use jojoba oil as my base oil and leave it at that, a few drops of lavender essential oil, good for the skin and for help you sleep and few drops of vitamin E oil also great for the skin. I’ve been noticing lately my skin has been feeling a bit dry, that could also because I have been feeling a bit under the weather and not drinking enough fluids. To deal with the dry skin problem inside an out I’ve added coconut oil to the mix, when I have time I’ll make a rich cream with oils and coco butter always great for the winter. 
I also use a simple homemade facemask with yoghurt, gram flour and turmeric, the one I really like at the moment is just yoghurt and white kaolin clay. My skin feels so soft afterwards.

Body

Creams and Lotions

I have played around in the past making my own body lotions which have been heavily oil based with a blend of coconut oil, almond oil and coco butter with some essential oil thrown in. I do like ylang ylang. I haven’t been brave enough to experiment too much with my own measurements but have used a whipped body recipe from Wellness Mama and a 3 ingredient body lotion from Mommypotamus, with this one you also use water and no preservative so best to make a small batch. You have to remember that oil is used and at first it will feel greasy on your skin until it is absorbed. Great for the winter as skin tend to be drier, great to use in the summer before bed so your skin has time to repair itself.

Body Oil

In the mornings I can be quite lazy and skip using body moisturiser, not great when my legs get Oilvery dry and itch. So I have just begun using a blend of almond and jojob oil to spray and massage onto my wet skin after a shower. I would definitely recommend investing a small travel size spray bottle, only 50p from Wilkinson as it means you don’t waste any oil and less chance of it spilling everywhere. I can’t tell you yet if this blend works as I have only just starting using it, I can tell you though that my legs do feel a lot let dry.

Shaving is a pain, I do own an epilator but the patience to wait for the hair to grow enough to use it is sometimes non-existent, so shaving it is. Instead of investing in shaving cream I have used shower gel, not great really as this contributes to my dry legs! No I could make a homemade shaving lotion with an oil blend, shea butter etc but have instead resorted to whipping up some coconut oil with maybe some almond oil (you may have noticed that I use this oil a lot), or forgo the almond oil and just use the whipped up coconut oil in place of shaving cream. I wet my legs, massage the oil onto my then razor away.

Fancy a body or face scrub? You guessed right, a bit of coconut oil and sugar. If you want a gentle scrub then use brown sugar, for a more gritty scrub opt for granulated (white) sugar. I’m currently using coconut oil with a mixture of granulated and brown sugar for my face and body. It smells nice too with a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Of course you don’t need to use sugar or oil, honey and coffee granules are also an option.

Hair

Hair oil is great, I tend to either leave it on overnight or about 10-30 minutes in the morning depending on how much time I have. In the past I used to use hair oil called Amla hair oil that I used to only be able to get from an Asian shop when my parents did their food shopping in Ilford, I now use almond oil or jasmine hair oil. Gently massage onto your scalp and your hair, if leaving on overnight I lay a towel on my pillow, you can also use a shower cap. For a hot oil treatment, wrap you oil covered head up in a warm towel.

I’m not an expert on these things, I just like to play around and if I can save a bit of money in the process then added bonus. These treatments worked for my skin, like with anything if you have an allergic reaction then stop using it.
Not all oils will be suitable for your skin, I’ve read that jojoba is the closest to the sebum oils our body naturally produces so if you are brave enough to try out using oil anywhere on your body then this could be the one to begin with.

What can you learn from a drag queen?

I’ve recently discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix and I am hooked! The programme is a take on America’s Top Model but the Queens make their own outfits which are phenomenal especially when teamed up with the sometimes outrageous wigs and disgustingly high heels that make me want to scrunch my toes from imagining the pain.

These ladies have skill, imagination and big personalities to match. It is fascinating to watch seeing how these men turn themselves into women from their makeup to their figures, everything gets all tucked away, a bit of padding here and there, use of chest plates and voila! In some cases you can’t even tell they work born male, the transformation is that good.

The Queens who starred on the show were over the top dramatic they would refer to themselves and call each other ‘bitch’ but it wasn’t necessarily to be unkindest ‘bitch’ can also be an acronym for babe in total control of herself. The tones used were playful and teasing but secretly they all wanted their competition to crash and burn in the challenges and on the runway so they could win.

Behind the layers of foundation and reams of tape used there is a serious undertone. The show always ends with the line ‘ If you can’t love yourself then how the hell are you going to love anyone else? ‘ which I think is a very important message. Many of the contestants have gone through emotional ups and downs, personal tragedy and experiences. Being unhappy and disliking yourself can have a negative effect on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing, some of the contestants touched upon the topic of suicide. There is a lot we can learn from these Queens and apply some of their attitude to everyday life.

Be yourself

untitledHow many of us have tried to change ourselves just to please others or to ‘fit in’ an environment that wasn’t really suited to us to begin with, it was just something we thought we had to do?

Many of the contestants have gone through difficult, painful experiences.

  • Some either no longer speaking with their families who don’t approve, don’t understand their lifestyle choices or the fear of being disowned once their family find out the truth about them.
  • They have suffered physical and emotional abuse from family members and random people.
  • Eating disorders
  • Joining gangs
  • Hating themselves by being an angry gay, one constant on the show said he was an angry gay, just angry for being the way he was and he looked fantastic as a woman; Carmen Carrera

Yet despite all of this they have learned to accept and corny as it sounds love themselves. Eventually you will find the slot you fit into and if you don’t then you create one where others will see you shine.

Inspire yourself and others

Our life experiences, the good and the bad help shape the person we become. We all fall down but there is strength in how you get back up to be happy, content and be where you want to be in life.unleash inner dag

For some of contestants this show was a platform to tell their story, to inspire others to take risks and be themselves. It’s ok to be scared, not everyone will always agree with the choices you to make as long as you are confident in those decisions.

Looking at these Queens, their diva attitude and fighting spirits you can’t but feel inspired to channel your own inner drag queen to be the best that you can be.

Be supportive

We all have our strengths and weaknesses and need a bit of help to pick ourselves up when we fall down. Behind all the sniping there is a team spirit, in group challenges contestants helping each other with their makeup, helping to put a dress together as not all the Queens were a great with a sewing needle and thread, many opting to use a hot glue gun.

Helping each other and being supportive is how we also we learn new things and see things from a different perspective. I would rather help someone feel confident about themselves rather than try to break them.

It’s one thing to get ahead, but get there on your own merits and hard work, not by stepping on other people. Remember the people you upset on your way up that ladder could be the same people you see on your way down.