Honest


Instagram. Those squares get a bashing sometimes. “Don’t believe everything you see on insta”. “Life isn’t insta perfect”. Yes I agree BUT there’s some real life honesty right there too. That’s what keeps me there. To share, to listen, to be real. I am a huge believer in looking on the brightside 😉 but I also firmly believe in woman being honest about life and especially about motherhood.
I read a post the other day from the lovely Anna @blossomingbirds on Mum guilt and it really resonated with me. I’m talking working mum guilt. 

As a Mum, there’s always guilt and mostly it’s unnecessary, but sometimes, you have to stop and listen to it. Lately I have felt overwhelmed, stressed and generally like I’m about to drop ALL the plates. Work has been incredibly busy and by June, coupled with all the end of year school events I needed to be there for, sports days, concerts, fetes etc. I was like a crazy lady trying to be all to everyone.
Our break couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed some time to just be mum. To gather myself, to unwind and let myself enjoy the slow days of simply being there and doing very little. Our days have been gentle and easy and rich and wonderful. I haven’t shouted or ranted or felt like “I can’t cope”. Its been more needed than I ever realised. 


I made a decision this summer NOT to over schedule or try to cram too much into our days. I realise now, that was as much for me as it was for the kiddos. 

I’m back into the office tomorrow, but with a determination to change my mindset. To leave the stress at the office door. To look after myself and keep this chilled out mood alive a little while longer. Sometimes trying to do it all seems impossible, but I’m gonna keep in trying, I ain’t got much choice (unless those lotto numbers come up). If anyone else has the answer to how to make it all work – send answers on a postcard please.
So all my recent #beachspam may have seemed excessive but I’m sorry not sorry. It’s been a tonic. And I’ve loved snapping away and capturing simple little moments. I feel like a slightly better version of myself after 2weeks of rest. Now watch out world – tomorrow I’m taking you on.

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But first, skin care


I am loving my skin. That’s a weird thing to say right?? It is definitely weird for me, as I have never felt that way though. As you may know if you have been following along for a while, here or over at thebrightsidediary, I decided at the start of the year that this would be my time, to get my skin sorted, healthy. I’ve always had issues and grumbles with it. Spots and blemishes. Oil. Uneven skin tone. Being the busy person I am, however I allowed any kind of skin care to drop to the bottom of a very long list. It’s wasn’t a priority. 

I think as we get older though, we start to think and feel differently. Enter The Skin Health Clinic. You can read some of my previous blogs on my journey here and here, but essentially for me, my goal was to have healthier, clearer skin so I could wear less make up / even go wild and make up free the odd time. I also wanted to educate myself about skin, sun damage and, yes, aging. Those fine lines and wrinkles may be a privilege and a sign of a life well lived, but I still wanted to know how to take proper care of my skin as I get older and prevent premature aging (is that possible with kids like mine….???)

Victoria at The Skin Health Clinic told me when I met her that skin care should be simple. She also said that good skin comes from commitment and ongoing care – not an overnight miracle. Her knowledge, expertise and passion for healthy skin above all else convinced me from day one that I was in safe hands. After a few months of visiting her for treatments and following a simple skincare regime at home with minimal products, I was already seeing huge benefits to my skin.

So when Victoria suggested stepping things up a gear and having some Microneedling, I didn’t hesitate.

When carried out by a trained professional who has taken time to prepare your skin and get it healthy first, like Victoria did with me. Microneedling has enormous benefits for all skin types. Many people turn to it to help with scarring or pigmentation. It promises to help reduce fine lines and the appearance of pores and to help skin recover volume.

Unlike other “trendy” skincare procedures such as lasering or chemical peels which actually damage the skin’s dermis, Microneedling causes no damage and on a basic level (not too much of a science lesson I promise) it works by helping stimulate the production of fresh collagen which in turn helps your skin become renewed, rejuninated and all the good stuff that comes from that.

I’ve had two treatments now, so I feel able to write about my experience with some confidence, having already seen the results after just one treatment.

So what actually happens?

Upon arrival, Victoria prepped my skin with a gentle enzyme treatment, then we moved on to the main course.

So having needles repeatedly jabbed into your skin…does it HURT? I have heard of some pretty unpleasant outcomes from Microneedling, but believe me blood shouldn’t be dripping from your face. A well trained professional will not damage your skin. The team at The Skin Health Clinic will ensure your skin is prepared and healthy before they begin treatment and are careful to explain that this isn’t a one off, miracle treatement; the prep work must go in before hand and the follow up care is important.

I’ll be honest it didn’t tickle, but it was mildly uncomfortable at worst. Afterwards, Victoria applied a soothing cooling mask, then applied a serum to restore moisture and calm my skin. After my second session I also had some LED light treatment, which helped boost the impact of the treatment and helped settle my skin.

Immediately afterwards, my skin was pink and felt a little hot to the touch. You can’t wear liquid foundation or ideally any make up immediately after, but Victoria applied a little mineral make up after my first session as I had to be out and about that day. On my second visit I went home and keep my skin make up free for the next 36 hours. 

The science behind it all means you will start to see results after 14 days, when the new collagen is produced. 

I can already see great results from my first session so I’m excited to see how things will have progressed in another few weeks when the effects from session two start to show.

Ultimately, my goal is to have healthy skin I don’t need to worry or think about. To be able to run out to drop the kids to school make up free, without feeling self conscious or feeling the need to cover up blemishes, and uneven skin tone. This is really helping me and I’m so glad I have taken some control back over my skin and taken this time to prioritise a little time to look after myself. Goodness knows with a busy life and small children, it seemed impossible to think I had the time or energy, but it’s been effortless after my initial worry and I am so grateful I did.

For more info, contact The Skin Health Clinic to find out more, or book a consultation.


My skin imaging after just one session -shown above. Look at the improvement in my forehead lines and general skins tone.


A cooling mask, post Microneedling.



*I’d like to add here, for the sake of full disclosure, that I was lucky enough to be gifted some of the products and treatments through this journey. I haven’t been paid to blog or share this, but do so from a place of genuine and honest opinion. I rarely work with brands or companies and have chosen to do so on this occasion because I firmly believe in the results. It’s important to be transparent.

Sunshine & showers


I’m sitting as I write looking out at a grey June morning, there’s a light mizzle of rain drifting down. I’m sipping coffee and I have wrapped a blanket around me to ward off the unseasonal chill in the air. It’s a while since I last blogged. Life’s been busy and we have been enjoying some unusually lovely weather here in little Northern Ireland. There’s been plenty of outdoor activities and exploring with the kids and making the most of it. Little time to put my thoughts down on paper. As I look out at that damp, gloomy morning though, it’s hard to imagine the glorious sunshine was here just a few days ago. It got me thinking how much life can feel the same.

Sometimes it’s glorious, but then the storm clouds gather. The rain bursts through. It’s hard to imagine or believe, in that moment, that the sun was ever there. But if you close your eyes and stand still, you can smell life in that sweetly scented rain. It’s cold but it washes and cleanses and brings new life.

I say I’ve been busy lately, but I’ve also had some down days. A bit of a dip. My old friend anxiety took over a little and made my days feel hard. I’m ok. Nothing to write home about really, but it has made me realise how important it is to look after myself and that I can’t take feeling great for granted.  

When the sun proverbially shines on us, its wonderful, but I’m coming to understand that the showers are necessary, even the odd storm is inevitable. When it comes, baton down the hatches and look after yourself.

The sun will come back out and when it does, you will feel stronger for it and all you weathered to get there.

I have stood my ground. Rested. Kept a lid on it. Talked about it some. Carried on. There’s no right or wrongs I am learning, just trying –  and remembering to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

We all hear how important it is to talk about these things. To make them the everyday. Well this has been my everyday for a while now, not many know or have noticed – I’m a typical plodder on-er. To the world I’ve just been my usual self. And maybe I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I have this notion when I am in the grips, that if I talk too much about it, if I give it “life” then I am allowing it more power than it deserves. So I keep a lid on it. It’s my coping mechanism. I am feeling much stronger (hence maybe feeling ready to let it “out” there).

Here’s something I am learning though. If you can feel the storm clouds gathering around you. If you are standing in the rain right now; all is not lost. Know that it’s ok and it’s temporary. It will pass. And what comes next will be beautiful. Just keep going.

For the Weekend


Jeepers I’m so glad to see you Friday. It’s been another franticly busy week in work. I’m really looking forward to slowing down and getting some much needed rest. 

Tonight, my girly said all she wanted to do was watch a movie with me and snuggle. How could I refuse? So it’s Moana and pj’s for us. Rock and Roll

Speaking of rest, the uber wise Mel Wiggins wrote on her blog recently about turning the notion of rest into a mindset rather than something we ration. Worth a read for sure!

Another of my favourite blogs right now is Amble & Ash from the beautiful Emma @littlewoodlife her blog post today embodies some of my very favourite things, as she explores our beautiful country with her kids and captured the most stunning photos as forever memories.

Have you been following along with my home girl @mylittleduke? She has created the most special collaborative journal Mighty Mothering bringing together stories of motherhood to raise up, celebrate and share stories of motherhood. It really is something special.

Another mama worth checking out tonight is @blossomingbirds a girl after my own heart, working and doubting and juggling and maybe just taking a few minutes tonight to celebrate her own achievements.

If you are a fellow explorer like me and love nothing more than an adventure on home soil, finding hidden gems or celebrating some of our best know spots, then join in the new hashtag over on instagram from Alex @thefullshilling #thelocalwayfarer and maybe even find some new spots to venture to.

Don’t forget my readers can still claim a £20 voucher to use when booking a skin consultation with The Skin Health Clinic just quote BS2018 when booking. What better way to rest and look after yourself.

And finally on the theme of rest, I’m addicted to these beauties, sent to my by Annie from @birchandbay The Deep Sleep Aromatherapy Spray and soy Massage Candle are filled with essential oils of Lavander, Roman Chamomile and Vetiver. I’ve been spraying it on my pillow all week to help me relax and sleep deeply. Organic, Handmade, Ethical and AMAZING, made by a mama and perfect for all us tired mamas out there.

So whatever you are doing this Friday evening and for the rest of your weekend, enjoy and don’t forget to find time to rest.

JUGGLE


I ain’t gona lie. The jump from mama to girl boss gives me whiplash on a fairly regular basis. Yesterday I was at home, school runin, nose wipin, lookin after a sick kid and generally mummin. 

Today I had meetings, thousands of emails to catch up on and a big pitch I delivered to a potentially huge new customer. I left my house before 7am, I’m not long home. (Here’s to my mum and my husband for nailing bedtimes and picking me up from the train).

I know I’m lucky to have a career and small children and a degree of flexibility in work. Not everyone would chose it, but similarly lots of mums unfairly lose their career as soon as the babies come along – check out #flexappeal over on insta for some tough stories and some inspiring work. I know I’m lucky in that respect. Nevertheless, the #strugglewiththejuggle is REAL.

The next few weeks in work are going to be mental, I’m speaking at a number of events with work whilst trying to juggle my normal day job on a four day week and still be the ever present mum – and keep my sanity.

There could be some tears. There will probably be some dropped balls. There will certainly be wine. Be prepared for some work / stress spam on stories. I have warned you in advance 😉

SIMPLE SKINCARE


For anyone who has been following along, I started off 2018 on a crusade to improve my skin and get a skincare regime in place that was simple, using products I trust.

As a busy mum with a hectic schedule, looking after ME is way down the list of priorities but I had become increasingly disheartened with my skin and really wanted to make some time for this small act of self care.

Enter The Skin Health Clinic. I was invited along to visit Victoria and her team early in January, see my blog about it here.

My skin care regime following that visit  has been so simple, using my Dermaviduals cleanser morning and night, followed by the moisturiser, which Victoria blended especially for my skin. 



Using these products has been so simple and easy, the baby wipes have officially been banished!! I always envisaged a skincare routine to be time consuming with  loads of confusing products. How wrong I was. 


Victoria’s mantra is that Skincare should be simple. And it has been!!

My skin has felt cleaner, clearer and I have had some compliments about my skin looking great. My makeup has been going on better, has more staying power, but also, importantly for me, I feel confident to reduce the amount of makeup I wear, as my skin feels better and clearer already !

Again, if you have been following me lately, you will know I have been poorly. The winter months take it out of your skin at the best of times, but for me, after being ill for weeks on end and after a few courses of antibiotics, my skin was in need of some TLC.

So my visit on Saturday back to The Skin Health Clinic couldn’t have come at a better time.

Victoria treated my skin to an enzyme treatment to gently exfoliate my skin. 

Next she applied a vitamin infusion including Vitamins A, B and CM Glucan which strengthens the skin barrier and isgood  for skin compromised due to illness. With the vitamin infusion in place, Vitoria then applied an Alginate Mask which helps the vitamin infusion penetrate the skin.

The whole treatment was so peaceful and my skin felt amazing after, not tight or sore, just rejuvenated and glowy.

Victoria also took some fresh skin imaging and it was amazing to compare pictures and see the improvement to my skin in just 4-5 short weeks. The overall skin tone had improved, my oily t-zone had balanced out and my skin looked plumper. All that from ditching the rubbish products and using the SIMPLEST cleanse and moisturise routine daily.

Ladies, I am not one to rave but honestly, this has been a game changer for me!! 

If you would like more info on booking a skin consultation, or about the treatments and products on offer at The Skin Health Clinic, click on this link. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I will continue to share snippets in my stories and don’t be afraid to ask any questions. 

As a side note I’d like to say that I am lucky to have been gifted these products, with no expectation, from the team at The Skin Health Clinic. I am genuinely writing from a place of honesty and enthusiasm about the experience and results!! I don’t partner with or advertise brands or products often, but I am firmly in their camp and couldn’t recommend Victoria more highly. If you want to ditch the multiple products that don’t work, sort your skins health out, use products you can trust and see genuine results – this is where to go!

DAY OUT

The finest mizzle of rain.

Salt tang in the air.

The grey haze of mid-day.

The smell of the earth and the trees and something richer, floral.

Warm hands and cold noses.

The inevitable photo call.

A new leaf to carry home.

A sleepy drive homeward.

A fire to warm wet toes.

These are the things I remember.

ENOUGH

When you are surviving not thriving, sometimes you need to remind yourself, that is ok.

This motherhood gig is a tough one.

Add work into the mix and it gets tougher.

The struggle with the juggle – I’ve written about that a lot here.

But this isn’t that.

This is just plodding along.

Making it as cheerfully as possible from one day to the next.

Just keeping the head above water. Not failing it but certainly not nailing it.

That’s a season and that is OK!

This month has been just like that for me.

I’ve felt ill, below par, stretched, drained, but I have got up, showed up, drank the coffee. I’ve had setbacks in work and handled them, sorted them, turned things around. I haven’t exactly killed it but I’ve managed it. I’ve had poorly children, a lack of sleep, been late to school or work a few times more than I would like and some commute from hell moments thanks to the snow and ice.

There has been very little to celebrate, but then again – I’m going to celebrate the plod, the slog, the showing up, the keeping going, the just dealing with it.

The season for killin it, for being ON IT, for bossin it, well those days have been and they will come again.

I’ve realised, you need the slow, the steady.

To gather.

To charge up that sparkle.

Cos here’s the thing.

Those babies of mine – to them everyday, I was mum. They still needed me and I gave them everything regardless. To them I’m still mum, still home, still where they want to lay their heads, who they want to babble their stories from school to, who they want to tuck them in at night.

So mamas here’s some words of encouragement if you feel trapped or lost in the trundle of everydayness (did I just make that word up??)

You will always be enough and so much more besides.

BUT FIRST SKIN

I made a confession the other week. I have made it to my 30’s without ever really having taken care of my skin. 

I have procrastinated many times over what product to buy, which of the latest trends work, but something (other than my busy schedule) has always held me back.

I want to look after my skin, but I want to be informed and use products I can trust. There’s so much information out there – and let’s face it a LOT of misinformation packaged up prettily with a big price tag.

I’m a busy mum. I have a hectic schedule. It all just seemed too complicated to think about. So I just kept putting it off.

Enter Victoria from The Skin Health Clinic. She invited me along to her clinic to hear a bit about her ethos, the work they do and the products they use. The timing could not have been more perfect

THE DOWNLOW

I arrived to be greeted warmly by Victoria, who immediately put me at ease. I was there for a skin consultation and treatment, but first I wanted to know more about The Skin Health Clinic .

Having trained and worked in beauty her whole life, Victoria had witnessed so many women with skin problems over the years. So many women covering up the problems with make up, using multiple products bought often in a desperate bid to fix skin problems but with no real idea of if they would work or at worst using unnesscessary extreme cosmetic procedures.

With a successful beauty business already in place, Victoria, a Skin Educator, took the step 2 years ago to open The Skin Health Clinic. ” I just love skin” she told me smiling and her goal was to focus FIRST on skin, educating women and giving them healthier skin and products they can trust. “Skincare should be simple, it shouldn’t be complicated” she went on to say, music to this busy mummy’s ears. When chosing a name The Skin Health Clinic was the obvious choice- no fancy names just a focus on healthy skin.

The Skin Health Clinic aims to “provide the best correction and prevention strategies available by giving your skin exactly what it needs to restore its natural balance and health”. They offer treatments based not on marketing  hype or quick fixes, but by understanding your skin so they can offer solutions that help your skin heal and flourish naturally. There is no burning, lasering, injecting, it is focusing on treating your skin well. There are no fancy smells or scents – as Victoria said, your skin doesn’t need perfume to be healthy, so why would we use products with at best unnessary and at worst, harmful scents.

THE EXPERIENCE

The basic concept when you chose to visit The Skin Health Clinic is that you first have an advanced skin consultation, which reviews your current skincare, your lifestyle, skincare concerns, what you want to achieve. It also involves bringing along products you currently use. The consultation also includes Skin Imaging to get clear pictures of your skin type, what’s going on under the surface and what ageing and damage your skin has experienced.

This full consultation and imaging presents a really clear personalised picture of YOUR skin, your needs and therefore what treatments and products you should use. It’s much easier from there for Victoria and her team to recommend blended skincare and treatments – and the right products for you to use.

LEARNING

What I learned was amazing. It was a joy to speak to someone with no judgement, about how I feel about my skin, the products I use and what issues I have with my skin. I was both impressed and reassured by Victoria’s in depth knowledge of the science of skin. From the consultation and skin imaging I was able to learn that my skin type is oily (no surprise there) and also get a picture of it’s health. I was surprised to learn my skin showed less signs of aging than I expected, but also surprised to see the pigmentation damage and ageing caused through sun damage. Ok, ok I love the sun and a good sun tan, but with oily sallow skin that tans easily and has never (to my knowledge) burnt, I was surprised to see some areas of damage. I have always used sunscreen and was fairly confident my skin wasn’t too damaged. Shows what I know!

Similarly I brought what few products I actually used and was shocked with what I learned. Victoria was keen to point out they are not brand bashers, but they understand the ingredients lists and contents of the lotions and potions women use. The very well known and trusted household basic price moisturiser I was using (clue it begins with an N) was exacerbating the main issues I had with my skin. The middle of the range product I occasionally used had ingredients that at best were doing nothing and at worse were causing big problems for my skin. Mind blown!!!

THE PERSONAL TOUCH


Based on my consultation, I had a treatment tailored to what my skin really needed. It was bliss and lasted for 60 peaceful minutes. We took some skin images after and there was already an improvement to the colour and tone of my skin especially around my eyes which had been puffy and my cheeks.


Following my treatment, we got talking about products. 

In terms of products, they use Dermaviduals. A revolutionary brand, created by a Doctor and based on the scientific make up of your actual skin. It’s a brand that is hugely popular in places like Australia where skin damage is at its highest and where people want to use skincare that actually works, rather than looks pretty or conforms to current trends.


I was keen to build a routine that was super easy. Victoria prescribed a simple gentle cleanser and a moisturiser which she tailored to my skin, using a base moisturiser and adding 3 different vitamins or extracts that would specifically compliment, heal and improve my skin. That’s it – 2 steps to better skin daily!

She also gave me some Advanced Nutrition nutritional supplements to help heal and boost my skin from the inside out as well as an enzyme mask that can be used once a week.

RESULTS

So far, I am loving my easy routine. Instead of a babywipe at night I simply take 2 minutes to remove my makeup and wash away the grime of the day with my cleanser, applied with my fingers then gently washed away with warm water. Follow that with my moisturiser and I’m done! In the morning, I moisturise after my shower and that’s me. Couldn’t be easier. 

It’s been a week and already my skin feels cleaner, clearer and healthier. One of my goals was to be able to wear less makeup and I already feel more confident in my own skin.

I intend to follow this plan for another few weeks with the basic routine then start the supplements plus the odd mask to see if they give me a further boost.

It’s been such a pleasure to take a few minutes each day to take care of myself in a basic way. I feel better about my skin and more confident. I’m also happy and reassured about the stuff I am putting on / in to my skin, feeling informed that the ingredients are not harmful and will only support and enhance my skins natural health.

So far so good! I will keep you posted on how things go and post the odd story over on my insta account.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with me or just contact Victoria at The Skin Health Clinic for more information.

My journey to a simple skin care regime and better skin is off to a great start!

*I’d like to mention I was lucky enough to be gifted these products to try out but I only accepted them as I fully believe and endorse the work Victoria does. I regularly turn down approaches from brands to review or advertise their products but this was a different scenario and really more than anything, a meeting of minds.

WONDER

I sat outside Alfs room tonight, listening. He was reading aloud from his new book, The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, a beautiful ode to nature. The beautiful illustrations and story focus on words about nature that were once commonplace in children’s language but are becoming lost. It calls for the reader to read aloud, to conjure lost words from nature back to life. (Shout out to Mel Wiggins for the book recommendation).

I sat just outside his room, out of sight and listened. He read the words out to himself, his little voice full of animation and confidence. He is a fluent reader, but the words are richly woven poems to nature, and every now and then he faltered over a strange word, some alliteration or unusual phrasing. I smiled as I heard him sound out a stumbled over word, then repeat it with a flourish. 

There was no hint of the self consciousness an adult would have reading aloud. Only pure and simple wonder and enjoyment. A drinking up of words and learning.

Gone was the boy who fought against his homework this afternoon. Gone was the rush and hurry of our everyday routines. Gone was the requests for more screen time.

Here was childhood, simple and undiluted. Just like the time we spent yesterday at the park, out in nature, fascinating over a frozen lake and the wildlife all around us.

Oh to have more of this simplicity. Oh to be able to bottle up these memories. For now, my words and my pictures will serve as a bookmark to look back on in years to come. The wonder of these days.