31 Mar 2013

Fancy a Brazilian?

Now ladies, I wouldn't blame you for thinking I was on about that type of Brazilian... Anyone of those would surely brighten up a dull day?

Hot under the collar? Brazilian fashion model Isac Fioravante, photographed by Martin Traynor

But before some of you might be tempted to entertain Certificate 18 desires with the aforementioned, please allow me to clarify my thoughts on the subject. The type of Brazilian I am on about, although as likely to raise eyebrows as the hottie above, is more likely to be found in a beauty salon than on Praia de Ipanema... Get it? Oh yes!

And yes it is painful too. Rest assured, no hearts are broken over this one though, not even the bank, as you can expect on average to pay £20.00 for the service. Haha, no innuendoes please! How did I encounter my Brazilian (wax) experience? Well, this is mildly humorous actually and I thought this would be great blog post material! So here we go... (Don't worry, for the small print section, I shall be mindful of sensitivities and treat the subject with all due respect. Yet I shall not be held responsible for any innuendoes or unintentional puns and play on words, blink blink!).

For a few years now, I had been having a bikini wax everytime I went to the salon, as an extension of my leg session, and regardless of whether I was off to a beach holiday or not. I did it for myself, it's just the thing that finishes off your look, that makes you comfortable in your own skin. Thing is, a bikini wax is fairly conservative in its hair zipping method. You might wear that tanga on the day that gives you high leg definition and get the beautician to eradicate those sparse stragglers. Looking back, it was nothing earth-shattering although it did feel like it at the time!

Pict source: South Beach Swimsuits

Things started to change after my move from foggy Manchester to Corsica-on-the-Med, where my definition of bikini wax became slightly offcentre. The beautician would pull that brief up, get me to open my legs in earnest, because the likelihood is, living on an island with some of the hottest Summers in Europe, you are bound to nip down to the beach and expose some flesh, and you want to avoid any possible embarrassment. That's how my hairline from down there started receding, and actually I didn't complain, save for a bit of pain.

One night, bored online, I started clicking on different beauty videos (as you do), and I stumbled across one that explained what a Brazilian wax entails. Of course I had heard of those before but thought they were relegated somehow to those Certificate 18 industries and since pole dancing or a revisit of Debbie Does Dallas were never gonna be on my agenda, Brazilian was one wax strip too far for me. Anyway the description from that girl on the Youtube video made the technique sound terribly painful and – besides – unnecessary for a 'regular girl' like I.

For some reason, I still had the foresight (or insight!) to research the subject further as I was intrigued (or surely more bored than intrigued, right?). I found out that the Brazilian wax had been made popular in the USA, via NYC, by two Brazilian (who else?) beauticians back in the early 1980s. Please note that the Brazilian should not be confused with the Hollywood wax, the latter popularised in later years, leaves the skin completely smooth and bare! The Brazilian spares a teeny-weeny strip of modesty. Interestingly, and technicalities aside, I found out that it was possible to authentify the time period of a porn movie, based on the amount of hair on show down there... Erm, right, I shall leave this to the experts.

No pain, no gain, Nat!

Meanwhile a couple of weeks later down to my beauty salon on the off-chance to get my monthly leg and underarm wax, I was told that Jenny, my beautician, was fully booked up that day. I know I should have made an appointment, but instead I decided to nip down to the next salon and get that wax out of the way. I explained to the girl what I wanted and left it at that. She casually handed me a paper thong and when she saw my puzzled look, shrugged it off with "Oh, it's easier for me to work down there if you're wearing one of those..." Alarm bells should have started flashing in my head. Next I was lying on that couch, feeling exposed and awkward. She didn't blink an eyelid (eh, she had seen it all before!) and proceeded straight away with the bikini wax. When I felt the warm wax covering those neither regions I started to panic... "You wanted a bikini wax, didn't you?" She giggled and pulled that strip at the same time. Ooouch OMG! This had to be Karma sending me a reality check!

Now I have to admit that the result was good, great even, if you blank out the pain, because you can't expect it painless! When I came out of the salon, I noticed I was walking funny, like a cowboy who'd been riding his horse too long. I was chaffed down there for a few days, and thought I would never return to normal as some of the nerve endings were quite sensitive. But eventually everything went back to normal, and the hair even started growing back. And then I became kinda hooked. To that Brazilian wax. I felt clean and polished. No itching (except when the hairs start growing back, at the point where they break the skin). It made me feel strangely confident too. In the bathroom mirror, wearing my undies, I would have fun pretending to be a ballerina or cheerleader, extending a leg up and still look neat, wow!

Cheerleading my way to the bathroom mirror!

On that second time around I had to motivate myself to push that salon's door, but I came in prepared. I had taken a paracetamol beforehand, and arranged to wear comfy yoga pants. I was actually more apprehensive than on that first time when I had been taken unawares. Yet the pain was not as acute. It certainly isn't a pleasant experience, it won't feel like a pampering treatment, and in the heat of the moment you might rather be at the dentist's, trust me! If you are half-awake like I was on that early morning, the effect is that of a treble espresso X10... Never mind awake, you will feel wired for the rest of the day, but eh all for the good cause. You will look and feel great a few hours down the line, and that's a guarantee.

So much so that Brazilian waxing has now become part of my beauty regime. I might be preaching to the converted but if you are just wondering what the fuzz (sorry fuss!) is about, go for it! And you might even like it.

25 Mar 2013

Honey, Please Bee Lovely!

Hi, my name is Nathalie and I am a carer. Now for those of you who are not quite familiar with this blog, I will tell you that many passions of mine are echoed through it, from creative writing, design and fine art, to architecture, travel, fashion, and more! And as if this weren't enough, I also happen to be an animal lover by heart, a wildlife supporter, a plant advocate and a bit of an "armchair ecologist" as I tend to describe myself. I sign petitions from my favourite charities and organisations, spread the good word via my Twitter account and personal Facebook page. Moreover I support the IFAW through donations. I try to lead by example, but I am maybe not as committed as I should be, for a number of reasons, hence the fact I call myself "armchair ecologist".

As actions speak louder than words, I am proud to say that I adopted my little dog, Tickle, over six years ago from Manchester Dogs Home, rather than get him "brand new" from a breeder, and I even adopted a cute little Russian hamster by the name of Billy off an East Manchester-based small animal shelter. I was proud for my garden to be essentially (although not 100%) chemicals-free, as I would rather use manual labour to get rid of so-called weeds, than succumb to chemical aids. I even liberally sprinkled my lawn with wild prairie seeds, to add interest and attract pollinators and other wildlife.

In the home, I was an Ecover fan, and played it easy with detergents. I recycled glass, plastic and paper years before I got provided with recycling bins by the council. I would get on the bus or drive down to the huge recycling banks on supermarket carparks with bulky bags of recycling. What I mean is I didn't wait for recycling bins to conveniently land on my doorstep to start thinking about recycling. I had taken the matter in my own hands years prior, and put my beliefs into practice, no matter how impractical they were gonna be!

The latest petition I signed today was via the Care2 petition site, the self-labelled "No.1 petition site in the world", which you might want to browse if interested, because I am pretty sure you will find at least one petition whose ideal it defends will be your call for action. As for me today, I decided to give our undervalued underrated humble bees the buzz they deserve. The "Bee Lovely and Help Save the Bees" petition is sponsored by NYR Organic (Neal's Yard Organic), a renowned British organic health and beauty company established 1981.

I quote: "Over seventy percent of the global food crops are pollinated by bees. Last year, the United States lost a full third of its total honeybee colonies for the fifth year in a row. This means that since 2006, the American bee population has plummeted from 4.5 million honey-producing hives to a scant 860,000. Worse, that number is still dropping. Rampant pesticide use is a major cause of bee deaths. In 2011, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) found that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is both widespread and catastrophic.

Neonicotinoids are on average 7,000 times more toxic than DDT, which was banned in 1972.

DDT was banned because it contributed to the near extinction of birds, including the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon, and is particularly toxic to fish and insect life. Despite this, the EPA has not halted the manufacture or use of neonicotinoids, choosing instead to put the products "under review" for the next five years." (end of quote).

If this isn't food for thought to a call for action, I wonder what will be.

Europe has also seen its number of bees plummet, and in a bizarre twist of fate, urban bee populations like the ones in Paris seem to have weathered the decline better than their countryside counterparts which although being exposed to lower levels of exhaust fume pollution, are subjected to higher levels of pesticides found in fields and cross-contaminating nearby land, gardens and forests.

Besides a number of TV documentaries have shed the light on China's loss of bee populations, as a catastrophe by-product of Mao's bird slaughter politics. Today apple trees in China need to be hand-pollinated. This is no George Orwell fiction though, and reality couldn't have prepared us for such a violent wake-up call! 
And yes you can indeed do your bit: Please bee lovely and sign the petition.

Once you have signed the petition, you will get a thank-you note from NYR, as well as their beautifully-written and illustrated Little Book of Bees, plus a couple of useful websites, whose awareness I feel I should help contribute to, so here we go:
Yes guys, we can indeed make a difference, one step at a time, one click at a time, one petition at a time! Thanks for acting on this one.

23 Mar 2013

Proud to Be a B-School Babe!

Guys and gals, I firmly believe that if you want something, you shouldn't just sit still and play the wallflower, fluttering your lashes at the wallpaper. If you want something, you should fly off that door and go get it! I know, such an action plan is not exactly what we expect to hear off a Geminian (my astro sign!), the dreamer, ponderer, idealist and artist of the mind who intellectualise their thoughts, while the go-getter energy of the zodiac is more akin to a sign like Aries. Yet I'll let you into a secret: according to my astrological chart by Jonathan Cainer, my Moon sign happens to be in Aries, thus this will explain somewhat as to where I get that streak of Mars energy from.

Marie Forleo (pict source)

So here we go... If you want it, go get it! And as it happens, I have been wanting to give my life a new direction. I have contemplated a plethora of options: volunteer in an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo, become a wwoofer in faraway places, involved in land conservation projects, or simply travel and fund my way on the go... I've also been exploring other avenues, more creatively-based and encouraged by a small circle of friends, I am nurturing a great idea (that I am keeping under wraps for now). To further facilitate this idea, I decided to join Marie Forleo's RHH B-School, and I want to shout loud and proud that I am one proud B-Schooler!

I am a fan of Marie's! She is an inspiration to me and embodies what a successful young woman should be: savvy, smart, presentable, pretty, professional, business-like, spiritual, passionate, compassionate and fun! I could add on more adjectives to the list! As soon as I saw her course presentation online and read the testimonials I was sold, I knew I wanted to join the class straight away and be part of a meaningful forward-thinking community headed by Marie. I knew I would be going places with the course, and it presented me with a golden opportunity to move onwards and upwards into the world, giving me the confidence to make my business idea profitable, run an office from my laptop and - most of all - be location-independent, i.e. not stuck in a brick-and-mortar office situation, but take flexibility in my stride and be able to run my business from anywhere in the world. This is priceless!

Via Good Life Project by Jonathan Fields

I have to come clean and admit that I find it difficult to religiously set time aside for the tutorial itself, but what I am really relishing is to be part of an international community of young, vibrant, dynamic entrepreneurs or would-bes! We exchange views, comments and advice in the forum, on our dedicated Facebook page and it is a beehive of creativity and movement that I find stimulating. It is helping me to find my feet while I reconnect with the world!

As a social butterfly I get easily distracted by the different topics of conversation going on, and then I go off a tangent, back in my bubble getting my business idea on paper, putting the course exercises into practice, and then off another tangent writing a few paragraphs on my blog, and then off to my 660+ Pinterest fanclub, and then out to the beach with Tickle (my cheeky Jack Russell Terrier), and then back checking my emails, and off again... It may somewhat appear disjointed but this is my own holistic approach. There's method in my madness, believe me, and eh let's not forget that's how us Geminian gems function: scattered about in organised chaos before regrouping and moving forward against all odds!

This is only the end of Week 2 at B-School but hand on heart I can say that this is my best 'tactical', 'pragmatic' move for 2013 so far! I feel like I am on my way to achieve something positive and make something constructive out of my life, nurture that business idea into a business plan into a career that I will embrace and love. This is gotta be one of the definitions for happiness, don't you think?

22 Mar 2013

Inspire Aspire - Live Life to the Full!

Sometimes it takes unfortunate events to remind us of how precious life is, and how it can be taken away in a snap, without warning, logic, or a single valid explanation. And in a twisted twist of fate, such a terrible event can bring back the edge and lustre to your own life and rekindle that lust for life which you might have lost into the daily nags, challenges and worries, while slamming the latter back into perspective. This is exactly what happened to me four weeks ago...

'Surfer Girl on the Beach with Her Dog', by Ryan Cardone Photography

That's when Olivier, one of my brother's good friends, suddenly died. He was 29. His sudden disappearance sent shockwaves down the local community. Olivier had arrived from mainland France in August 2012 and settled into the local resort fairly quickly. He was a popular character, smart, friendly, pleasant, a picture of health, trendy, good-looking, quick-thinking and a success story in the making. He met Marion, a lovely girl from mainland France who had been working in the resort since the start of the Summer season and it was love at first sight. They moved in together in a studio flat by the beach, a dream-come-true lifestyle. My brother formed a great friendship with Olivier and everything was cool!

Then tragedy struck out of the blue, on that doomed Sunday evening. While he was out and about, Olivier suddenly complained of a violent headache and rang his parents to ask them to take him to hospital. His parents turned up but thought his headache might be stress-related as he was starting a new job the next day... Yet everyone quickly realised all wasn't what it seemed and emergency services were called. By the time they arrived, Olivier had collapsed from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. He was healthy, sporty, and the last person you would have predicted to go so soon, so quick, so young. Olivier's death left us in a state of disbelief and crush.

(Pict source)

A few days later, I came across that bit of text online and it spoke directly to me. It should also speak to those engrossed in the nitty-gritty of life, who complain about their existence, job, folks, home, cash crisis, identity crisis, mental state, country leaders, who knows! Stop all that whingeing right now and start living life to the full! Quit that job that takes your liveliness away, quit that partner who doesn't love you back, quit that place that drains the va-va-voom out of you! Quit the negatives so you may focus on the positives. Life is way too short to allow for moans, complaints, bickering and regrets. Get that lust for life back and move on with it! See you on the other side, dudes!