Life Stories – Louise Androlia: Life Coach, Tarot Reader, Artist

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There’s nothing on earth I find more inspiring than other women. None of us go through life alone yet it’s so easy to get holed up in our personal bubbles; that I think it’s so important to step outside our little world and look to learn from other people in our lives, setting leading examples.

Louise Androlia is one of these people for me. Having suffered a debilitating chronic pain condition in her early 20s she has forever been positive, working hard on her healing to battle through what was a difficult and painful time to learn and grow. She’s used these experiences to inspire her career as a Life Coach, Tarot Reader, Writer, Speaker, Artist and all-round lovely person.

Six months ago Loulou followed her dream to live in LA (and we all know how much I love a good dream follower) so I spoke to her about her experiences in getting through the hard times, believing in yourself and moving out to the USA’s West coast. Grab a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable and get inspired.

You can see Loulou’s website here, follow her on Twitter or Instagram and read her monthly tarotscopes on The Numinous.

When did you first realise how important awareness of the connection between mind, body and spirit is? 

For me it was experiencing a profound disconnect from the three of them. In the space of a few years (over my early 20’s) I had a debilitating chronic pain condition closely followed by a severe bout of PTSD. That was the mind and body covered and then the spirit, which to me is the part of ourselves that needs ‘lighting up’. I particularly noted that disconnect formed at any point I tried to be anything other than ‘me’. I think we notice that happening a lot in our teen years and it can stick with us.

It was through my own healing process that I got to learn the deeper meaning of what it feels like to be embodied and connected to oneself. I of course wasn’t particularly grateful at the time, but now I couldn’t hold my past in higher value because I’ve been able to learn to cherish my m/b/s in a way I never did before.

Truthfully it amazes me that we usually discover this connection through a period of suffering, when there is nothing more obvious that all parts of the human are connected. However it seems that most of us experience a disconnection in order to be able to know what it feels like to be connected again.

As a therapist I see the work that people have to do in their adulthood to heal from the effects of this disconnection and I would love to see a future where schools will make mental health awareness, nutrition and self care as important as anything else on the curriculum.

You’ve been quite frank and public about your own struggle with your health in the past and how you used alternative methods to feel better.  How important do you think this awareness and spirituality was to your healing process? 

 I really feel like I had no other option to dive in deeply to my own self-awareness and mind/body/spirit process, because my conditions were quite extreme. And I truly believe if I hadn’t I might not be where I am today.

Firstly in 2002 I was suffering with (what had been diagnosed as Fibromyalgia) extreme pain and what felt like a breakdown of my whole body, nothing about my physical body wasn’t in pain or some sort of crisis. When it feels like you are dying and the majority of research + testing points to A: You definitely not dying but B: There is no cure and maybe you can try this handful of addictive medications; something has to shift.

I discovered that all we want to do when we are in extreme pain, whether it is physical or mental is to ‘check out’. We don’t want to feel any of that, no one does. It’s scary and difficult. However healing is almost impossible when we are checked out, it’s like working with ourselves as a puppet rather than being present! Also, how lucky to actually have something that could be healed. I’m forever thankful for that.

In order to be able to feel even some sort of relief from our pain, whether physical or mental we need to study ourselves like the most precious specimen in the Universe and then take action upon what we have learned. I trusted that getting to know my body and then feeling when there was a difference was going to be better for me than taking a handful of addictive or chronic side effect inducing meds that ‘might’ help. I had a doctor who fully supported that and helped me on a trial and error of the natural route. From that I changed my diet and was 70% better within a month. I was also lucky enough to have a lot of support the ability to not work (I was at university and dropped out) and rest as much as I needed to, something I know not everyone gets the privilege of.

Note: I’m not someone who doesn’t believe there is a place for modern medicine but I very strongly believe that all conditions whether mental or physical deserve being explored fully, mind, body and spirit, even if it’s alongside a medication.

My intuition about medications came through a year later when I took a tablet which although was ‘natural’ I suffered a severe reaction to. (I was that 1 in a million) The reaction was a 3 week long psychosis, which lead to deep PTSD and a many years of recovery. This gifted me fear in the most extreme form and now that I am recovered fully I am very passionate about helping people particularly with fear. I also now have an autoimmune disease so It’s been so helpful to already have this awareness because it now means I am instantly able to thrive with this condition because of being so connected to my body.

 In my own opinion, one of our strongest driving forces is self-belief and finding mine (by accident!) has revolutionised my life. What do you think is the best way to begin on the journey of finding one’s self-belief, or inner confidence? 

I love that you say about finding it by accident because I feel that really makes sense! I’ve noted that when we are actively searching for things, for instance, trying to ‘be’ happy or ‘be’ successful we get lost in a non-existent space. True self-belief and confidence has to be felt not found on a map and I guess that’s why we discover it accidentally through our experiences. However I do also believe there are ways of thinking that encourage us into that space.

Here are a few that I live by:

– To gain self-confidence you just have to keep on becoming more and more self-aware, the more you learn about and cherish yourself, the more you have an opportunity to own and embody that knowledge. The best way to start is by committing to valuing your time, which I believe to be the true translation of meditation. Allowing yourself space to feel your feelings (especially the crappy ones) and be still.

I recommend a morning practice, where you just commit to sitting for even one minute (and up to an hour when you can) before you get on with your day. For anyone who thinks they don’t have time to give themselves any time, then this is even more of an essential, it is possible no matter how busy your day is. And self worth is intrinsically linked with this; I know one thing for sure and your life purpose is not to be cruel to yourself.

– As children we absorb a lot of things as a truth but an adult we get to choose how we take on information. So in adulthood you might find that a lack of self-belief comes from an old story you have been repeating to yourself since you were young. Now you are allowed to tear that page out and rewrite it into something more loving.

– Finally you really are perfectly designed to be you. The whole cliché, well it’s true, and what it really means is that you have absolutely everything you need, you just have to dig it out. To really feel confident we just have to stand fully and authentically within ourselves. It’s not easy but it is definitely possible.

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You offer tarot as a part of your services. Is the ability to read tarot something you are born with or can you learn it? For the uneducated (i.e. me!) how can a tarot reading help better oneself? 

 I have had a Tarot deck since I was about 17, so for half my life now! And Tarot is for everyone. Most people who don’t know much about Tarot have a generic idea that has come from TV or rumor, that of it being fortune telling or scary even. Tarot has always been used as a psychological tool and the 78 cards tell the story of the human experience and what you might encounter along the way. It is a beautiful way of learning about life, and so in-depth that you could never get to the bottom, the cards link with Christianity, Astrology, Kabbalah and so on.

When you sit with me, the cards I pull are representative of the contents of your subconscious, laid out in front of us (and yes this is also divine timing – the cards are always reflective of the person in that moment.) I act as an interpreter of sorts and give back to you what you already know but perhaps weren’t quite connected to.

I like to say that I will remind you of what you already knew but didn’t realize you did! And my feedback is always that people feel more connected to themselves, empowered and inspired. I am very anti fortune telling, because the future is fluid and to tell people things are going to happen is to actually take away their power. The present moment is the only place that is real and so it’s always the best place to work with!

I’m transitioning now from doing readings to mentoring and teaching, because I love to think that people use it as a powerful self-awareness and self-healing tool like I do. 

What is energy awareness and how can it help? 

 Ok, open questions to everyone who is reading this: Have you ever noticed your mood change on account of someone else’s? Have you ever felt your mood change based on the environment you are in? Have you ever had a moment where you referred to someone else as having ‘bad vibes’?

So I will guess that every person says yes to all of those things, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t!

Reason being is that we are made of energy, we know that even through science, and we all inhabit an energetic space. That space around you holds all your thoughts and feelings. A great example is standing on a cramped train carriage, there might be 50 others people thoughts and feelings squishing into your space – hence why I feel claustrophobia is mainly energetic. So energy is invisible and most of all is contagious.

I teach energy awareness as a practical tool to help us feel more grounded and self-aware, because truth be told, none of use want to be walking around with anyone else’s ‘stuff’ – umm I for one know that I have enough thoughts and feelings of my own! So it’s like another way of checking in with yourself, being able to know when you are exhausted because of the company you’ve been in, or feeling anxious because you’ve spent the day with someone who was in crisis. Once we become aware we are able to release through breathing exercise, visualizations and all sorts.

The great thing is that the more you are grounded in your own energy the better friend, partner, mother, child, teacher and so on you can be, because you are just in your space and not scattered. Again, it’s a self-care thing!

It also means you’ll never refer to someone having ‘bad vibes’ again because you realize if their energy is strong it’s because they are going through something; it can help us be more compassionate too.

The main thing about the work I do is that it’s practical and accessible; I swear I can explain anything, which might seem totally crazy to any random person on the street. I haven’t known anyone I’ve taught not to come back telling me the difference it’s made. I myself started using energy tools in 1999 when I first moved to London. Originally I’d learned then as part of psychic work I was doing as a teen and then I got into this fast paced crowded city and suddenly thought, ok I know what to do! Aaaand I’ve not been claustrophobic since 1999.

I have a few in depth blogs on the subject so I’d love to share them if this peaks anyones interest – Part 1 is here and you can follow though.

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The same with life coaching – how might that help someone like me? 

The main thing that I have learned from all my clients over the last few years is: Everyone has the same set of fears, just packaged up in our own unique ways, and everyone feels alone.

To start with I hold a safe space for you to speak and feel freely, for you to explore your thoughts as well as be there to encourage and support your dreams and even brainstorm ideas. If you think about us just alone as individuals, we have all our great ideas, our intuition and all the good stuff; THEN we have a big cloud that also hangs out with us that holds our fears and anxieties and the shadows from our past + the fears for the future. I am able to speak to you about the things you are experiencing, but without that cloud. So the benefit is again having almost your own person interpreter who gives that other perspective that you perhaps just can’t see. You also have someone on your team, a cheerleader, and we all need that when we are in challenging times.

Our biggest changes come from quite small shifts in perspective. So, if you showed up to me I would have you fill in a lengthy questionnaire and from that and the way you are speaking I’d be able to quickly pin point the main themes that you have going on. For instance some common ones I help people with are; anxiety, self worth, fears of the future and change, letting go of control, helping understand the inner dialogue and self punishment and restriction.

Based on my life so far I have an ability to see how and why people are disconnected from themselves, and a whole set of tools and ideas to practice. I walk my talk and use all these ideas myself, daily.

I’ve been lost in my own darkness and I found the torch, so I feel it’s my responsibility to now help others. I want to help as many people as possible feel less alone.

I also love to get people out of the idea that they are broken and need to be ‘fixed’. You are not broken, but you are evolving.

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You recently followed your dream of moving to LA, something I’m hugely in awe of. What was that process like of leaving behind everything you know to follow your dreams?  

I did indeed and it’s almost been six months! I’m so excited to be here. (come and visit – LA is SO amazing for kids too, I can’t go to any cool event without there being at least one baby present!)

My own fearlessness of sorts comes from being extremely stubborn – an aspect of personality I see as hugely positive because you can powerfully channel it into your self-care.

I had been in London on and off for 14 years and truthfully it had never loved it. I really do think it’s one of the best cities in the world, but I felt displaced. I grew up in the countryside and was craving something more expansive and to be closer to nature, as well as a deep desire to feel inspired again. LA has always felt like home and the past few years as I came back and forth for holidays I just knew it was where I wanted to live. I also have a huge network of close friends here so it’s been easy to settle quickly. Honoring my commitment to leaving London was really the dream, so if I hadn’t been able to come here then I would have moved somewhere else either way. I felt a lot of relief when it really sunk in that I really COULD leave!

I’m confident (because I’ve practiced this method for over 10 years) that if I move forward based upon what feels good then everything is given it’s best possible chance and I thrive, earn more money and my health is the best. My priority in life is to feel good, not to be successful, be happy, be rich etc. Feeling good covers everything! So this has helped the process a lot. I have an autoimmune disease and so my wellness is top priority, even just knowing the dry heat would up my health was inspiration.

Following your dreams feels GOOD, it carries all sorts of fears of course but fears are normal, but they are not solid, the roots are made of the good powerful love stuff. I’ve also worked hard over the years to be in a position where I can work from anywhere, so feel proud of that freedom I’ve created. I’m happy to say that all my close friends, even though they miss me being in London have been so excited for me too. The thing that really closed the deal for me was that I love my job and I love being of service, but it’s very difficult to be a therapist if you don’t value your own experience. I knew that as my sense of displacement heightened it would become harder to really be the positive and nurturing voice that I am for my clients, if I was feeling unfulfilled.

It’s also been so humbling and hilarious, because everything the same but OH NO IT ISN’T! My first month was like my own comedy show LA in LA, things like trying to open a bank account were so funny, because the systems are so different that you feel stupid all the time, and I loved that. I feel I’ve been gifted that sense of having wide eyes again, getting to see everything like a kid, wanting to experience all the city has to offer. I realize it’s so lucky to have this so I’m diving in fully.

Nothing is on the surface different here, I’m still me, same work, same anxieties, but just being in an environment that feels inspiring and exciting has transformed me fully into my most authentic self. I believe that you are always exactly where you are supposed to be, that all your feelings are valuable and in turn so are your ideas. If you feel a call from within, it’s not there to be ignored.

 

Three Do Summer Cinema

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It’s the summer holidays, which is usually the time of year I try to discover exactly what crafting is. Every year I fail at this and we spend six weeks baking cupcakes and going to softplay at the gym.

But this year we have discovered a new activity! THE CINEMA! That’s right, my two are officially old enough to sit through an hour and a half movie and I could not be happier about it. I’ve spent hours daydreaming of weekly trips to get our fill of films and popcorn.

We kicked off our summer holiday viewing this week with Minions at the cinema and I was impressed at the number of mums using the opportunity to have a nice long nap while their kids were engrossed in the film. Not for me, though – I actually really enjoyed it (and I still think popcorn is a special treat, so yeah.)

To celebrate my children’s increased concentration span my friends at Cineworld have sent over their rundown of the top five family films to see this summer. I’m ticking them off, one by one, but might leave the kids at home for Jurassic World…

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Inside Out

Dominating the box office on both sides of the Atlantic, Inside Out is the animated smash hit of the summer so far.

Another critical success for Pixar, the movie tells the story of how emotions such as Joy, Sadness and Anger rule the roost in teenage Riley’s brain.

With a top voice cast including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader, this is a film that will make you laugh and make you cry, sometimes at the same time.

Pixar has made some wonderful films, but Inside Out is right up there with their best so far.

Jurassic World

Earlier in the summer it was Jurassic World packing in the crowds at Cineworld.

The fourth instalment of the dramatic dinosaur series is still playing in cinemas, and sees action hero of the day Chris Pratt take the lead role alongside Bryce Dallas Howard.

Raptor training Pratt does his best to steal the show, but as ever it’s the dinosaurs that really shine, with the Jurassic World boffins coming up with a fearsome new creation; the Indominus Rex.

Inevitably, the test-tube dinosaur gets out and causes havoc – can Pratt and Howard save the day?

Minions

Having caught the public’s imagination in two Despicable Me films, the Minions are striking out on their own.

Kids absolutely love the Minions and this prequel tells the story of how these odd little creatures ended up working for evil plotters.

The 3D animated movie is an absolute riot, with Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm signing up for the voice cast alongside Pierre Coffin, Michael Keaton and Allison Janney.

Pixels

An Adam Sandler comedy might not always sound like ideal family friendly fodder, but Pixels is breaking the mould this summer.

Sandler stars as a video game geek who has to fight back when characters such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong come to life – only evil.

A starry cast also features Kevin James and Michelle Monaghan and there is a safe pair of hands in the director’s seat too, with Chris Columbus (from Home Alone and Harry Potter and the Philopsopher’s Stone) in charge.

Underdogs

Aimed at a slightly younger audience is Underdogs, an animated comedy starring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint as Jake, a young soccer player who has to take on the school bully.

Jake also has to rescue Laura (Eve Ponsonby), his childhood crush and best friend, and he has help from the players on his table foosball game, who spring to life.

Young teens who are particularly into their football will love this tale of redemption and love.

 

Thank you to Cineworld for supporting MTT

Dear Self: Start Living The Dream.

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It’s 2am as I write this, which means you can make the safe assumption that Jet Lag is still making me her bitch. Recent Google searches this past 24 hours have included; ‘can jet lag kill you?’ ‘jet lag feel terrible’ ‘how to make jet lag go away’.

It hasn’t helped.

The thing about jet lag is that I’ve had stacks of time to think (and play on Tinder, but that’s another story). What I haven’t had stacks of time to do is absolutely anything productive whatsoever because my brain is mush and I’ve been busy burying my face in my childrens’ necks after being apart from them for a week. Even on occasion at 2am which I’ll admit is kind of creepy, but then again there’s nothing like the smell of your kid’s neck. Sorry/not sorry.

So I’ve been thinking about next steps. It’s all well and good making big declarations as I have – sticking it to The Man to follow my dreams of independence, travel, and happiness. But as I was handing in notice, preparing to go to New York and thinking about turning 30 I didn’t really anticipate what would happen on my return home. When real life hit. And now I’m back I guess I really have to start doing that. But exactly how do you turn your dreams into reality?

Jet lag has been providing me with answers. Kind of…

I’ve worked out that my first step should be to define exactly what your dreams are. Great! So this is the bit I bore you with mine ;)

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BUSINESS! So, one of my dreams is to expand my business and to build on what’s already there to create a successful, knowledgeable marketing consulting machine. Fine. I’ve had a Brooklyn fried chicken-induced brainstorm over a company name and mission statement so we’re well on our way there (though none of them were approved by Kirsty, my business advisor extraordinaire…).

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WRITING! But I want the sum of what I do to be more than a Marketing Consultancy. Blogging has been such a huge part of my life for so long and I feel like by going corporate work-wise a year ago I lost my way a bit. You can’t really blog the intimacies of your divorce or vagina while you’re working for a global corporation now, can you?

No more! I am finding myself again in these pages and on your screen. I’m going to re-discover my mojo and write, write, write about finding love (haven’t yet, don’t get your hopes up) and being brave and what motherhood is all about and everything that interests me in between. I’m going to treat my website like one of my clients’ and look at it critically, making it the best it can be. And I’m really excited about that.

Cool, so that’s the work life sorted.

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CHILLING! I’m going to slow down. So much of my life is run at 100mph – I’m always finding myself getting cross with slow drivers, slow walkers, slow check out cashiers. I need to chill the fuck out, calm myself down and realise that a life led at a slower speed is much more enjoyable. And healthy!

Speaking of healthy I want to be well, in mind, body and spirit. Which means gym, yoga, meditation, green juices. In my 30s I’m turning into an organic spirulina-swilling meditating health fan and I am really happy about it so there.

I’ll still drink wine, though.

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MY BABIES! I’m going to make more time for my children. This whole life-changing exercise is about them, really. I want them to know I am around to be whatever they need me to be, at any time they need me to be it. In our house a happy stress-free mummy = happy kids and the effect on them when I’m spending time at home without a work-panicked, stressed and furrowed brow is palpable. I’m going to be present for them as much as I can and do everything for their happiness.

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INSPIRATION! I’m going to read. Not just the unread stack of books under my bead but blogs, papers, twitter feeds. It is so good for the soul and I miss the feel of beautiful words on my eyeballs, I really do. I miss being inspired and I am going to look especially to my fellow women (Laura! Emma! Lena Dunham!) to do that for me.

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TRAVEL! I want to spend my child-free time experiencing the other side of the world. Or Europe. Or the country. Whatever, I just want to push myself outside of my geographical comfort zone and explore new places. And even sometimes do this with the children.

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In one of my favourite quotes from Girls – which I have been watching a lot of in my dozy sleepless haze – Hannah Horvath says that she may be the voice of a generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation. Is this not true for everyone? I think we all have voices, even if we’re not quite sure what we’re meant to use them for.

My voice may have got told to SHHHHHHHHH last week by a gobby New Yorker who then gave me the finger in a Mexican restaurant (she had a point. I was loud and obnoxiously singing The Smiths), but it is metaphorically going to be speaking up way more from now on.

Let’s speak up and live our dreams, yeah?

 

Who Wants To Be a (Boots Points) Millionaire?

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I must go in a Boots store at least once a week. I remember it from when I was spending my very first wages from my very first job as a pot washer in the pub in the next village. I earned the princely sum of £3.00 an hour – I can still see the orange eyeshadow palette I bought from No7 that autumn. It ROCKED.

My tastes have moved on a bit since then but my Boots loyalty has not. It’s one of those safe places on the high street where you know exactly what you’re going to get and what it’s going to cost – like John Lewis or Pizza Express. When I was in New York last week (did I mention I’d been to New York? I feel like I’ve hardly discussed it ;) I felt comforted to find a Boots aisle right in the middle of a Duane Reed pharmacy… a little bit of unexpected England slap-bang in the centre of Williamsburg.

One of my favourite things to do at Boots is to save up my Advantage Card points until I have ridonkulous amounts and then splash out on something I wouldn’t usually buy myself. I’m one of those people who closely monitors the advantage card points offers, pouncing when there’s a 500 bonus for a high spend or 100 extra points for toothpaste Today I received 350 extra points for buying a St Tropez product that had been already reduced from £14.50 to £9: I felt like I’d won the lottery!

Boots are currently running the chance of a treat of a lifetime for Advantage Card holders; one lucky user of the Advantage card app is going to become a Boots millionaire, winning 1,000,000 Boots points, worth £10,000! To celebrate this they’ve asked me to have a think about what I’d spend a million Boots points on.

This was not a difficult task.

The last time I splashed out using my points I bought a really fancy Kent hairbrush. I love the fact you can do this – it feels like guilt-free splurging. Carrying on the hair theme, if I was a Boots millionaire I’d look at buying new curling tongs and a lifetime supply of Moroccan Oil.

I love the range of brands Boots stock and my favourites run from Essie to Clinique, Soap and Glory to Clarins. Clinique’s bonus time is a double whammy for me as you can get points AND freebies, and I’d use my million points to purchase every single one of their chubby sticks. I’d also head to Molton Brown for hand soap and cream, followed by Essie for thousands of nail polishes.

I’d treat the kids too, of course (probably) – I love the clothes in Boots’ Mini Club range and then I’d buy a lifetime supply of nighttime nappies because those things are expensive.

If you want to take part all you have to do is download the Boots App then go to ‘my offers’ before 4th August – check back on 19th August to see what you’ve been treated to!

What would you buy if you became a Boots points millionaire?

The Vagisil Blush Index #endembarrassment

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Not my vagina but the closest you’ll ever get to it

I’m going to start this post off by saying that I have literally no problem in talking about intimate things with my friends. And sometimes not even my friends. When meeting some rather nice men in a rooftop bar in Brooklyn last week my buddy and I were told that we probably don’t have boyfriends because we were too open. How can you be too open?! Ok, yes, we were probably too open for Americans. But that’s British gals for you.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to be a proper get-changed-under-my-swim-towel kind of woman. But now I happily get it all out at the gym, the doctors, wherever they let me, really. Smear test? Let’s go! Topless beach? No problem!

I think I first became comfortable-ish with my body when Elfie was born and I realised just how many people have to see your hoo-hah before a baby can come out of it. One of my lasting memories from that birth was a midwife telling me while I was still in theatre that they would have to pop a little tablet up my bum for one reason or another; I said “ooh actually, I’d rather you didn’t “ and she was like, yeah, too late missy. That was the moment I realised that embarrassment when it comes to my intimate areas is pretty much an outdated and irrelevant concept.

Vagisil recently spoke to 2,000 British women about their attitudes and embarrassment towards the subject of intimate health and I have to say that, even for someone who was too shy to get a pants-off bikini wax until after her first child was born, I was quite surprised. Nearly half (47%) of British women Vagisil spoke to felt embarrassed when the word ‘vagina’ came up in conversation) and nearly one third admitted to never speaking to their GP about an intimate health problem.

I get this – it can be really difficult to speak to people about what’s going on in your pants. But how can we move to being embarrassed about our intimate health to feeling happy WhatsApping our friends to ask “do you think this is cystitis or thrush?” (sidenote: if you’re my friends, you’ll know).

It’s really sad that 70% of the women surveyed blamed the media for the way we feel about our bodies. We’re expected to be these smooth Barbie doll models of perfection and really, who hasn’t felt slightly wistful when watching the hairless and seemingly vagina-less gazelles that masquerade as Victorias Secret models? I know I have. I bet Karlie Kloss has never texted Taylor Swift to check is she has cystitis or thrush (OR HAS SHE?!).

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Vagisil is on a mission to end the embarrassment that exists around intimate health, and do something about the issue – something I’m all for.

Dr Becky Spelman, Registered Psychologist at Private Therapy Clinic, advises: “Look at it rationally – accept that everybody is fallible and nobody is perfect no matter how they might appear on the surface. Every woman has her own genitals and this is natural.”

I challenge you to not look at the next woman you come across without thinking about the fact they have genitals ;)

If you’re finding it hard to address an intimate issue with a health professional and need some advice, see the below from Dr Spelman:

“You could ask yourself ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen?’ Then sit with that feeling, if it seems too much try breathing in through the nose for 3 seconds and then slowly out through the mouth, focusing on the feeling of the breath. This should give the feeling of embarrassment a chance to subside.”

We’re all human beings; Gisele’s had two kids so I’d fully expect her to have her own pelvic floor issues.

Let’s #endembarrassment and talk about vaginas!

Big thanks to Vagisil for sponsoring me to write about my vagina when I probably would have done it for free ;) 

Slowing Down For Summer Good Times

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Today is the first day of my summer. I write this at home, at my work desk, looking into the garden. Which is something I can do now I am no longer tied to an office; I can write from my kitchen table or sofa or the coffee shop round the corner. In pants or PJs or belly tops, not dry clean-only dresses and heels that pinch. Freedom!

School isn’t over for another couple of days so I’ve been feeling like I should take stock. My life has been so busy and completely exhausting these last few months and I know I always say that. But this time I have intentions to change. I think it’s good to be busy and active, feel accomplished and get things done, but I’d quite like to stop for a little while. Slow down, be more of a mother, write more. Remember what I want to do, not what I feel obligated to do.

That’s what our summer is going to be about. Mothering and fun. With a bit of travel and friends and food and drink and experiences. And work, because those school shoes don’t buy themselves, but work on my terms rather than anyone else’s.

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Do you remember what your first memory was? I do. It was my fifth birthday party and I remember the cat cake, the bouncy castle and the magician. It was Elfie’s fifth birthday last week and I want her to have happy memories from now onwards – I don’t want her to remember her mum being rushed and stressed, not being able to read to her because she was taking work phone calls late into the evening. So the brakes are going on, I’m officially slowing down.

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SUMMER. Summer is my favourite, it always has been. As a child summer meant sandy trips to Bournemouth, the paddling pool, our Ragley Hall season ticket, garden football matches. Summer meant outdoors and fresh air and long evenings playing with friends until the sun went down. (Summer also means my birthday. Hooray, birthdays!)

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A few weeks ago pre-Britmums I went for breakfast with the team behind summer at Boots. That sounds pretty grand, but yep, there really is a whole army of people there whose job it is to make summer safe and fun for us all! I always think Boots is a really special place. Like my old friend John Lewis it’s a British institution; I used to live and work down the road from them in their village-sized Nottingham head office and they are one of those brands I completely trust. Boots are all about families and making sure we have maximum fun – safely.

Our meeting wasn’t just about croissants and granola – we were there to learn more about how to stay happy this summer and it truly was an informative session. For example, did you know that the sweat glands on your feet can produce up to half a pint of fluid a day in hot conditions?! We got a chance to speak to the experts on some summer issues that affected us and our families and it was really really interesting and informative. Here were my important takeaways:

Hayfever

As a hayfever sufferer I’ve been feeling the effects of the pollen up til now which is something I take one-a-day tablets for, but I’d never thought to ask the advice of a pharmacist on what more I could do to help myself. When I say I suffer I mean I really suffer, there are days when my hayfever is just completely unbearable: snotty, sneezy, itchy ears and throat, blocked up head, lethargic. Up until now I’d just been getting on with it but the Boots pharmacist advised me that a nasal spray would be my best first defence against the pollen. This advice was literally life-changing, I’ve been using a nasal spray ever since and my discomfort is almost all gone.

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Sun protection

We all know how important it is to protect ourselves from the sun, but did you also know you can be exposed to UV rays when the weather is overcast? I didn’t! 40% of UV exposure occurs when you aren’t in direct sunlight so it’s mega important to wear sun cream throughout the season, even when you can’t see the sun.

I think it’s risky to wear anything less than factor 50 (overprotective mum alert) but if, like me, you still want a bit of colour then I’d recommend Boots Soltan Tan Prolonger aftersun. I use this every summer and it will give you a gorgeous natural glow.

Your eyes

Eyes are ten times more sensitive to UV damage than skin, so protecting them both is really important. Luckily my two love to wear sunglasses and getting them in shades as often as possible is vital – we keep a pair in the house for the garden and one in the car for when we’re out and about, too. At least this seems to be my excuse to pick up a new pair of Ray Bans for myself every time I’m within shopping distance of an airport…

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To celebrate #SummerGoodTimes Boots are helping us have an unforgettable family Summer experience in August. I’ve decided to re-create one of my favourite summertime activities; Bournemouth beach with my favourite people. Buckets and spades, the land train, Mr Whippy ice creams… I can’t wait to show my two how it’s done, British summer-style ;)

What are your summer tips?