Monthly Archives: January 2016

Cosplay by Beth

In a recent show, I talked about Cosplay, I love cosplay, and embrace the fact it has become more mainstream. I follow a few cosplayers on line – I love seeing the process and the costumes they come up with. There is a different level of interaction with different artists, and I approached a couple to gain some insight to their experience of cosplay and the community. One of the cosplayers I approached was Beth Yuka. Beth is a British cosplayer, the only one in this line up! Sorry guys, next time I will drag some more local artists into the love in! Beth is cute as a button, and so sweet! We met through wigs – but I really love her attention to detail and the fact that she shows the entire process. It gives you a glimpse into what it takes and the skill involved.

Beth is a really sweet person, go give her Facebook page a like for gorgeous costumes, some great art work and possibly posts dedicated to noodles. I can’t promise poetic dedications to noodles… but I am sure if you ask Beth nicely! Anyways, enough of my waffling, this is what the lovely lady herself had to say !

 

  1. How did you first get started in cosplay
  2. Why do you cosplay?
  3. What are your favourite aspects of cosplay
  4. How do you find the community
  5. How do you select a costume – do you go for ease, comfort, do you consider your body type
  6. Do you design and create your own costumes? And do you stay true to the source material or ‘inspired by’ designs?
  7. Have you ever faced any negativity while in costume or in the wider community?
  8. Have you ever faced or found yourself in an unsafe situation?
  9. Tips for staying safe and having fun while in cosplay?!

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  1. I first got into cosplay back when I was 12 years old, I didn’t fully know about cosplay at this time but I was a textiles student and I had begun making bags and pillow cases ect and I was getting really into video games, anime and sci fi at this time too. I remember when I was around 14 planning out to dress at Princess Peach for Comic con in London but because I was 14 I wasn’t allowed to go.
  2. I cosplay to become awesome characters. To leave behind boring Beth and bring to life Korra, Lady Loki, Thor or whoever I want to be. Also it gives me a pretty good reason to own a load of wigs.
  3. My favourite aspects would be a majority of the community. They’re very loving and welcoming and accepting of anyone. I also love the fact that there are companies out there who have pre made costumes for people who don’t sew or build/craft like me. It means it’s available to everyone.
  4. The community for the most part is great, there are a lot of people who are very supportive of you and the costumes you make/wear and will give you advice if you need it. However there is a side that’s become more apparent as cosplay ha gotten more popular and that’s the ugly side of it. There are a lot of people who will put others down for no reason and that can be really off putting for a lot of new comers but it’s all a game of just ignoring the haters (lol). You need to be tough and prepare yourself because there are people who will be dicks for no reason.

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  1. I don’t really have a process of selecting costumes. I mainly just fall in love with a character and want to be them so I go ahead and make that costume.
  2. I sew/build all of my costumes, I’ve never bought one. I also like to stay true to the source material however I do enjoy seeing steampunk versions or armoured version and even mashups too, I’ve just never gotten around to making one.
  3. I personally haven’t faced it yet but I feel it’s inevitable. At one point I think someone will start following my page and sending messages telling me I’m ugly and my skills are bad but I don’t care. I do it for me not to please them.
  4. I haven’t found myself in bad situations before but I’m also a very safe and cautious person when it comes to conventions and what not.
  5. Be part of a group, and make sure that the group are your friends. Whenever I’ve been in costume to a convention I have been in a group with people who care about me and help keep me safe. Also never send pictures to people over facebook, tell them that if someone wants to do business so photographing/doing a shoot then make sure you use email as it’s more professional and you can keep emails as proof just in case something bad happens. And something that every cosplayer in general should know is to always carry a bottle of water with you. If you’re in heavy armour it can get hot and in the summer it can only get worse so drink water and keep yourself hydrated. ❤

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Cosplay by Roxy Lee

In a recent show, I talked about Cosplay, I love cosplay, and embrace the fact it has become more mainstream. I follow a few cosplayers on line – I love seeing the process and the costumes they come up with. There is a different level of interaction with different artists, and I approached a couple to gain some insight to their experience of cosplay and the community. One of the cosplayers I approached was Roxy Lee – like Mistress Zelda, I first found Roxy Lee through Geek Girls and now spend most of my time stalking her on her Facebook Page.

If you recognise the name, it is because Roxy Lee is my mentor when it comes to make up – her skills are fantastic, what first attracted me is her ability to put together some pretty epic special effects looks using items found in the average makeup bag. She is always there to answer questions and a mother bear to her friends as well as putting together some ass kicking cosplays – which you will find on her page. And now over to the lady herself :

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  1. How did you first get started in cosplay
  • I was actually a booth babe for a known comic series called “Bad Kids go to Hell” Funny enough I was modelling at the time and looking to branch out into something more interesting and answered an ad! I did it voluntarilly and had the time of my life and found a culture I never knew existed. You could say I kinda accidentally fell into this world and thank god for that!
  1. Why do you cosplay?

– Honestly there are times I don’t have the motivation, drive or energy to cosplay and that goes hand in hand with what is going on in my life at the time. But mainly I cosplay when I am in a great place mentally and emotionally as it helps me feel creative and express myself. But mainly I just enjoy the artistic side of it, I love the feeling of accomplishment I receive once completing something I am proud of, and the outpour of support from viewers and those who share my work is beyond a feeling I can express. I also love attention. Not many will openly admit that but I do. I am a born performer lol. It also helped me meet some of my greatest friends, people whom have accepted me for me and not bullied me for my interests.

  1. What are your favourite aspects of cosplay

Easy, people, creativity, feeling of accomplishment, pride, attention, fun!!! Performance, love and a feeling of being understood and accepted.

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  1. How do you find the community
  • We would need a lot more than this page to explain my stance on this at the moment but I will say it isn’t a very good one lately. The community is becoming something different and as sad as it is I still remain accepting of peoples choices and direction. But it is making it extremely hard for certain artists to be noticed in their work to create a business out of it. And the negativity, bullying, harassment and judgement is starting to get to me. Call me jaded I guess. The things I stated above of why I loved this community and this hobby are slowly diminishing. Which adds to the lack of motivation to create new costumes. It is vicious cycle. I got into this community for acceptance and quickly realized that was the last thing on the list for a lot of people. I think I will mainly stick to my makeup for the time being as that is my happy place haha.
  1. How do you select a costume – do you go for ease, comfort, do you consider your body type

I wear what I feel best in, comfort and mobility are huge factors as I love to really get into character and move around a lot in photo shoots. I tend to pick characters I can easily portray as closely as possible or resemble as much as humanly possible also. I don’t like to wear wigs all that much so a character that I can fit my hair into, or dye or cut to resemble is a plus. But for myself personally I costume to my comfort in my body, not my body type. If I cosplay as a character, say my arkham asylum ivy, she has an open exposed shirt. I am not comfortable with that but still wanted to wear her outfit, so I simply wore a buttoned up blouse instead. Bam problem solved! But I also tend to wear costumes I can add my spfx background into, and basically every costume I wear I add blood and cuts into anyway haha.

  1. Do you design and create your own costumes? And do you stay true to the source material or ‘inspired by’ designs?

Little bit of all worlds. I don’t stick to one type of cosplaying. I have bought pieces from thrift stores and modified them or pieced them together, I have made entire cosplays from scratch, I have commissioned others to create armor and guns for me and I have borrowed other costumes from friends just to try something I normally wouldn’t for shits and giggles. I don’t hold a standard to any one cosplayer. Their cosplay is their cosplay experience. It is all personal. I do however tend to add something of my own into every costume for creative purposes.

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  1. Have you ever faced any negativity while in costume or in the wider community?
  • Sure, I was once told I was fat as Lara Croft even though I was probably at my thinnest and felt really great about myself haha and was an athletic ass kicking lara croft, I knew this. So it didn’t affect me as much as it might have. I am a curvy girl and I am perfectly ok with that but it did not make it right for this stranger to try to make me feel uncomfortable about my own body. I was also in a situation where two people were taking about how they wanted to rape me in a costume as if I wasn’t even present on my own page reading it as a person, that one upset me and I spoke out about it, it kinda received a viral amount of support from people so that was awesome to see so many people stand up to these bullies. But other than that my page is an extremely safe place with wonderful people that I admire and respect and adore. But as an admin at Geek Girls and manager at Super Cosplay Girls I see the harassment every single day, and it starts to weigh on you.
  1. Have you ever faced or found yourself in an unsafe situation?
  • Myself and many of the Geek Girls faced a sick man who was stalking, harassing and threatening us with horrible murderous actions and rape for months. Simply because we cosplayed and simply because some of us (many of us didn’t do this) had sexualized images. He was horrendous in what he would say and I wont repeat it but it scared us. He would make new accounts and harass us for weeks at a time non stop. He actually threatened to come kill us at our events. We went to the police with that one and it is an on going case. It is sad because he finally admitted to myself and another girl that he did it because he felt rejected by women like us and just wanted to see us naked…. Da fuq? I didn’t sign up for that.
  1. Tips for staying safe and having fun while in cosplay?!

Never ever let someone tell you to just deal with it. And to not stand up for yourself or that you deserve it or encouraged it because of what you do or who you are. They are absolutely wrong. Everyone will react differently to an unsafe or potentially harmful situation. We all have different coping mechanisms. You deal with these problems as you see fit. Never allow someone to make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in your own environment and do not be afraid to speak out about it or call them out on their behaviour. Do not condone it. Ban and delete them as soon as possible, do not give them the option to repeat their behaviour or defend their actions. Freedom of speech does not equal freedom to harass. You are the boss in this situation. You control it. Never forget that you are in control. The worst possible thing you can do is allow these people to take that away from you.

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Cosplay by Mistress Zelda

In a recent show, I talked about Cosplay, I love cosplay, and embrace the fact it has become more mainstream. I follow a few cosplayers on line – I love seeing the process and the costumes they come up with. There is a different level of interaction with different artists, and I approached a couple to gain some insight to their experience of cosplay and the community. One of the cosplayers I approached was Mistress Zelda. (yes, yes there was some serious fan girling going on!)

I first became aware of  Mistress Zelda through Geek Girls and have since followed her Facebook Page and her website, Geeky Freaky. Mistress Zelda is always there for amazing modelling shots, kinky and quirky costumes (not nessasarily at the same time) and intelligent debate. She shares progress of her work – which to be honest, when you get over the skill involved, it just inspiring. I remember one of the first photos I saw of Mistress Zelda, saw her dressed as a drow, and I love the work she puts into the Waste Land weeks – this year she is even customising her car 🙂 Mistress Zelda is a massive geek and I love her for it ! But again, I am waffling, I will hand over !

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  1. How did you first get started in cosplay

I have loved dressing up my entire life. Of course like all kids I dressed up for Halloween, but often as pop culture figures (Xena when I was 12, Morticia Addams when I was 9, etc). I also dressed up any other chance I got, for every holiday, and dressed very oddly in my daily life. I grew up outside San Diego and started going to Comic Con in 2001 with the intention of people watching. I had never heard of cosplay but saw it in action for the first time there and immediately fell in love. In 2002 I did my first ever cosplay – it was terrible, but it was a blast, and I haven’t stopped since.

  1. Why do you cosplay?

I’ve been cosplaying for 14 years and have made an average of 10 cosplays a year during that time, so I’ve cosplayed a ton of characters. My preference is for video game, cartoon, comic book and sci fi characters in the darker fantasy and Gothic side of things. I have done: Dr. Mrs the Monarch, Triana, and Hunter Gathers (Venture Brothers), Daphne and Velma (Scooby Doo), several versions of Lydia and Beetlejuice, Crysta (Ferngully), Judy Funnie (Doug), Dr. Zoidberg, Hexadecimal (Reboot), Ariel (Little Mermaid), Jessica Rabbit, Krang and April O’Neil (TMNT), Carmen Sandiego, Tank Girl and Jet Girl, several different versions of Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and the Joker, Red Sonja, Vampirella, Death and Delirium (Endless), Ms. Marvel, Black Cat, Mystique, Black Canary, several versions of Phoenix/Jean Grey, Dawn (Linsner), Ms. Frizzle (Magic School Bus), Charzin (Poison Elves), Zatanna, Harle (Chrono Cross), Zelda, Saria and Sheik (Ocarina of Time), Bloodrayne, Aerith and Selphie (Final Fantasy), Chun Li, Cammy, Poison and Akuma (Street Fighter), several versions of Morrigan and Felicia (Darkstalkers/Marvel vs Capcom), Cortana, Pikachu and Misty, Zero Suit Samus, Judy Nails (Guitar Hero), nuns from Hitman, Elizabeth (Bioshock), Meru (Legend of Dragoon), Darth Vader and Slave Leia, Leeloo (Fifth Element), Amane Misa (Death Note), Bulma (Dragonball), Sailor Moon, several versions of Alice, Queen of Hearts, and Cheshire Cat. Right now I am finishing up Joel from MST3K, Mera from Aquaman, Ursula from Little Mermaid, Number 6 from The Prisoner and I also own one of the original costumes from the Iron Sky movie I haven’t photographed yet. My big cosplay for this year is going to be Dream from Endless.

  1. What are your favourite aspects of cosplay

I enjoy connecting with people who have shared passions, creating something that didn’t exist before using actual physical skills, bringing characters to life that I love very much, and allowing myself the chance to experience childlike wonder and play.

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  1. How do you find the community

There are a lot of aspects of it that I enjoy. I’ve been in cosplay for a long time – so I’ve watched the community grow and change, and even age! A lot of us have been involved in 10 years or more, and our interests have matured. Living in LA it’s neat to see things like Club Cosplay, cosplay themed events at fetish clubs, cosplay themed educational courses, cosplay themed burlesque shows, cosplay themed TV shows, etc. I miss the intimacy of it that I used to experience – but the fact that there are so many ways you can have fun inside the hobby (and even make money at it) is pretty neat. We always knew it was cool, so it’s quite the trip that the rest of the world has caught onto it now. Even the materials are more advanced.

  1. How do you select a costume – do you go for ease, comfort, do you consider your body type

I select my costumes in a lot of different ways. Sometimes I find a piece of the costume and am inspired to build around it. Sometimes I just really like their outfit, even if I don’t know much about the character. Sometimes a costume utilizes a new skill I want to work on. Sometimes I am part of a group or have a neat location in mind for the costume. Most of the time I just get inspired to work on one specific piece or find something cool thrift shopping. I also resell costumes after I am done, so I don’t always pick costumes that are specific to my interests or body type, although I’m more likely to put more work into those ones.

  1. Do you design and create your own costumes? And do you stay true to the source material or ‘inspired by’ designs?

I prefer to do original designs based on characters, but a lot of characters have already really cool designs. People tend to prefer the content that as closely relates to the original as possible – and that represents its own set of challenges – but I usually enjoy the design aspect a lot more. I still like to be myself in the costumes. Most people like to transform completely. Sometimes people take offense to you not being an exact representation of a character that have a very personal relationship with and are unwilling to accept that others might have a different viewpoint. People get so invested in the characters, it can be hard to share.

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  1. Have you ever faced any negativity while in costume or in the wider community?

Oh – I guess I just answered that above! I am a nude model, and also very heavily tattooed, so sometimes people take issue with the fact that I don’t cover my tattoos for cosplay or I shoot the characters naked. I don’t take it personally. I enjoy who I am, and the problem is theirs J

  1. Have you ever faced or found yourself in an unsafe situation?

I mean, there are creeps. But I think I encounter more of them in my daily life than I do while in cosplay. I know my way around a fight pretty well.

  1. Tips for staying safe and having fun while in cosplay?!

Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are. Report anyone who acts against the outlined code of conduct to staff. Don’t be afraid to tell someone when they are being inappropriate – most sexual aggressors enjoy the power trip of making someone feel unsafe and uncomfortable, of overstepping lines and aren’t well equipped to deal with a woman speaking up. Likewise, if you see someone else being harassed, say something. We all have a duty to keep each other safe. There is a girl code within the cosplay community that if someone is stalking you or harassing you, that you can go up to any other group of girls and act like you know them and they will help you ditch the creep. Don’t allow anyone to treat you differently than you would if you weren’t in costume. It is important to set boundaries, both for yourself and the people around you. Some people just really don’t know any better and aren’t malicious…so we have to do what we can to correct their behaviour.

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Cos play by Jonny Ruckus

In a recent show, I talked about Cosplay, I love cosplay, and embrace the fact it has become more mainstream. I follow a few cosplayers on line – I love seeing the process and the costumes they come up with. There is a different level of interaction with different artists, and I approached a couple to gain some insight to their experience of cosplay and the community. One of the cosplayers I approached is Jonny Ruckus. He replied, which – and I am not afraid to admit, caused arm flapping and generalised fan girling. I first came accross Jonny in his LV Stormtrooper armour – or was it the Ghostbusters outfit? I don’t know! But I fell in love! Jonny is an incredibly talented prop builder, with an amazing attention to detail… including his Hello Kitty proton pack. He also doesn’t take himself seriously (you already got that with the Hello Kitty and LV reference though…. right?)- this makes the page engaging and entertaining – and he gives some amazing photo opportunities. Let’s hear it for the worlds okayest cosplayer!

If you haven’t already, give his facebook page a like. But enough of my waffling, here is what he had to say :

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  1. How did you first get started in cosplay

I was building props from Ghostbusters just as something to have in my house to display and wear for Halloween; it was during the building process it was explained to me about cosplay and doing so a cons.

  1. Why do you cosplay?

I got into it for the charity aspect; always had booths at cons raising money for charities or doing charity events. I still enjoy going to cons for the sake of being a ham and showing off my costumes

  1. What are your favourite aspects of cosplay

Easily meeting new people and seeing kids reactions to your costumes, to them you’re real, they don’t know it’s some guys dressed as Superman; to them they just met the real Superman

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  1. How do you find the community

I had friends explain to me what cosplay is and having a local comic shop I was frequent to gave me the heads up on cons that are worth starting at.

  1. How do you select a costume – do you go for ease, comfort, do you consider your body type
    I only do characters I have a connection to, body type plays into that as well but Cosplay has certainly helped me stay healthy and fit to continue doing the characters I love.
  1. Do you design and create your own costumes? And do you stay true to the source material or ‘inspired by’ designs?
    I build everything myself, it’s my favourite part of the hobby is building props. I’m very be into accuracy and staying as true as possible. I’ve also had some fun doing some funny mash up costumes too.

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  1. Have you ever faced any negativity while in costume or in the wider community?

Oh absolutely, it’s a very competitive hobby, even if you’re not completing in contests. Everyone wants to be the best and they’ll bring people down to do so.

  1. Have you ever faced or found yourself in an unsafe situation?

I’ve had a hand full of times I was pretty sure I was getting knocked out for what I was wearing. Usually they were people outside of cosplay who didn’t understand what I was doing and were also drinking.

  1. Tips for staying safe and having fun while in cosplay?!

Big fan of traveling in packs or pairs; The average Con goer is friendly and nice, but like in everything there’s always that weirdo who can’t handle social scenarios. Always be with friends and people you trust.

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Life on line

So this is something I am writing on the back of an incident I witnessed this week. I play MMORPG’s – as I have probably mentioned, and WOW is one of my favourites and I have been playing for over 10 years.

This week, in one of the groups that I am in on WOW, a kid started a thread about how upset he was that he had been banned from wow. It then transpired that he had been due to language he used, and sexual harassment toward other players in game. When people commenting on the thread were not sympathetic to his situation, he turned to racial slurs, death threads and wishing people would ‘die’ – and this was just what was being posted on the thread and not what was being privately messaged to people.

A member of the group messaged the kids uncle and explained what had happened, and updated us to say that the kids mother had contacted the police to have a chat with him.

And this is where it started unravelling. I had passively watched it all happen to this point (sometimes your voice does not need to be added to a situation) but felt motivated to speak when it was suggested that contacting the parents (or family members) was too much.

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Comments where made in the group that people over stepped the mark, that it was just ‘a kid’ being ‘a kid’ and ‘its just a game’.

Okay. Let us just stop RIGHT THERE. This is not a gender issue either – this is an issue of boundaries, manners and respect. The fact someone was so incensed by a situation on a game – and therefore something intangible – was not something to be dismissed. That he then lacked the social skills to deal with criticism, constructive or otherwise and the only way he could react was lashing out. But it was more than that – it was the language used, the threats.

If you are not going to say it to someone face, it shouldn’t be said on line. The anonymity that the internet offers, is both good and bad. It allows people freedom, you can avoid judgements, have another life, but on the other hand, people quickly find themselves either saying or doing things they would never normally do because the mask is in place, or they find themselves victims of bullying, sexual harassment, and stalking. Because it is in line and not so easily quantified, people don’t feel that it can be reported in the same way. 

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Another point made in the threads about the afore mentioned FB post is that if it is reported to the police it would ruin the kids life. I would suggest that if he is under 16, and this is a first offence, the only thing that is likely to happen is that he gets a visit and a chat about what consequences could be in the hope that it knocks some sense in him.

As an adult though, being aware of what you are putting on line is much more important – I don’t know about you, but when I was at school it was drilled into me that my actions while in uniform could and would be help up for inspection. This is the same in my working life, I can’t comment on things directly relating to my work, my job. I can’t share views, I can’t (and shouldn’t) make disparaging comments about co workers and employers. This may seem like common sense but the internet, and moreover social media blew up so quickly that employers were caught on the back foot but many employees now find themselves signing confidentiality agreements that include what and what is not acceptable to write online.

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This is another reason, many, like myself, hide behind made up names, and then you have people who because of work, known under different guises, models, actors, personalities who need and want to keep their work and their personal life separate. 

This doesn’t guarantee you won’t be tracked down. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have people putting two and two together to find your actual profile – although with facebook these days, you may find it suggesting your actual profile to people who are friends with your work profile. But I digress, putting yourself out there publicly means that you are likely to get complete strangers commenting on things you share… which is what happened here :

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Now, I happened to post this on my personal profile and have this morning had a conversation with a friend on how children act ‘these days’ and how there needs to be be more parental responsibility but I have to say, I don’t think that is entirely true. What I was trying to illustrate is that it is easy to hide on line, and so many different forums, pages, social media devices now that parents may genuinely struggle – especially those not so technically savvy. With life the way it is, working longer hours, often commuting, spending less real time with your children. I would suggest that children may not be worse, and parents are more lax, it is just that things are moving much faster now.

What I really want to say, after waffling on somewhat in this blog – is that we need to report things. Don’t just brush things off as ‘boys being boys’ or ‘its just a game’ … ‘they are just words’ … ‘stop being so sensitive’.

If you have comments directed at you publicly, or privately, or you see it happening, please don’t feel you shouldn’t report it. It doesn’t matter what age the poster is. It isn’t acceptable, and the longer people feel they are getting away with it, the more it legitimises their actions and make them become normalised. It then colours the entire environment and social interactions therein. It will have a knock on effect on other interactions that what people feel is acceptable. Not only that, everyone should feel safe, if you don’t feel safe, mention it to friend, report it, take it to the police. Don’t ever feel silly doing it.

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This shit got serious

ooO get me being all sweary from the outset! Well this blog post is personal. I just really want to put this out there.

Mental health. We are all encouraged to talk about it, but many of us don’t know how much about it, be it our own or a friend/relatives. And no one wants to be the one to ask a question.

I was writing this blog in my head on the way home this evening, bought on by things that have happened recently, and I guess I just want to put it all down. To try and help people, as a cathartic exercise, and well, you know what it is my blog and if I want to write about me, I will 🙂

So many of my friends suffer from mental illness in one form or another, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, personality disorders, manic episodes, depression, PTSD – I could, but won’t go on. You get the picture, and because one of my stronger personality traits is laziness, you can do your own research on the matter – and draw your own conclusions.

You know the Robin William’s quote, those saddest on the inside try hardest to stay positive on the outside.. it is true for me. I have recently started a new job, which an insane workload, and a massive about of pressure. It has been commented on that I manage to stay upbeat and am not showing signs of stress. Yeah, you guessed it. I am one of those people who internalise. Everything. I don’t like to let the side down, or appear unable, or give people an extra problems. There is often a maelstrom of conflicting emotions rushing around, be it stress, a manic episode, sadness – the emotions are always extreme but  i try and project a positive vibe. Of course I can do that, yes that is amazing, no I don’t mind doing that for you, no, of course you pushing me out of the way isn’t a problem. Smile, and the world smiles with you.

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Like many people, I suffer from social anxiety, but am a people pleaser, I want to say yes to everything. I want to remain positive. I don’t want to let people down. But 2015 was an odd year, where there were plenty of good things, toward the end of the year, I found myself floundering, and had a massive anxiety attack and had to take some time out – my partner was away, and I pretty much locked myself away for 4 days. I didn’t mention it to anyone, I frankly lied about what had happened to everyone. I didn’t actually seek any help, I am sliding along a tightrope hoping that I can stay on top of it.

I haven’t admitted what happened really, to more that 3 people. Even my partner isn’t really aware of how bad it has got. Because, I don’t like admitting to weakness, and certainly when I am not sure how to deal with it. I am a logical person, and a problem solver. But where i can’t really see an end to the situation, and don’t feel talking will really help…. I have never in my life wanted to stay at home so badly. I even admitted nothing would make me happier than staying at home and looking after the cat. A stay at home cat mother is a thing, isn’t it? I sound glib, I don’t mean to be, something in side me was telling me to remove myself from a situation and someone in the grey matter, this was the solution.

I told 3 friends, together in an email – we are all close and it just … popped out in an email conversation. We don’t see each other as much as we used to – and it had gone from my constant organising and pulling together, planning to retreating a little and being unwilling – I don’t know if they noticed and I won’t ask. Cans of worms are not always made to be opened. I felt really bad when I blurted out my problems to the girls, because it is my burden, why should others have to deal with it. I ended up with private emails from all three, and I was crying – or trying not to cry because they are so supportive.

2015 was not a good year for my group of aforementioned friends, all 4 of us have gone through something. This isn’t my legitimising MH. Your mental health is important – it is important to realise when your are being stretched, when you need to take a break. Listen to your body, to your mind. Talk to people, you will find that people will be able to offer more support, advice, and experience.

I do think that we need to talk about it more. Not so everyone gets more worried about what they can and can’t say to their friends and family. I think that being more honest is healthier – it means that we can all be more understanding of our extended family, of people we meet. We all go through shit, we don’t always know how to deal with it. But having people who we can vent to, talk to, who we can admit defeat to. And something else before I sign off as I have realised how long this blog has gotten – this does not make you a weaker person. That is what it comes down to with me. I am always the first to offer help and support and the last to ask/accept. But admitting you aren’t coping, or need help, or just a break. It doesn’t detract from you as a whole. It really doesn’t.

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Make me younger

On last weeks show we discussed life hacks and cheats, I was challenged with putting together tips for looking younger… I cannot imagine why!

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Tips on using makeup to look younger

  1. Don’t use heavy makeup. I know we have all been there, convinced that we need to layer on makeup to cover imagined blemishes. But I have found that the older I get, the less I wear. It is aging to wear a lot of makeup, it settles in lines, and pores, it high lights the areas we want to avoid. Use a light foundation, and if you are worried about things like dark circles, use a light weight cream concealer and blend in well.
  2. Switch to a tinted moisturiser and translucent powders to help make your skin look younger – I would suggest using something like a colour matching BB or CC cream. They contain iridescent particles that reflect the light. They are a light liquid which will hug the skin and not highlight any lines. The translucent powder applied with a brush will help set the foundation for the day and control any oil without settling anywhere you want to avoid.
  3. Open up your eyes – simple things, don’t go heavy on the liner, just line your upper lid to give the impression of longer lashes, use a black mascara to help bring out whites of your eyes (no, seriously), use lighter colours in eye shadow during the day and If you must use liner on both lids, pencil half way and blend to the inside corner.
  4. This may sound old fashioned but using blusher and a complimenting lip colour during the day, will help keep you looking fresh. It is the trick we all grew up with, suck in the cheeks and apply the blusher to the ball of the cheek. Use a rose colour for both lips and cheeks – the cheeks will help give you a glow, and the lips will just give a natural colour that can start going as we get older – and you have plenty of tinted lip balms through lip velvets to choose from. Keep it in the rose spectrum as this is the most natural looking colour and pick darker shades the darker your skin tone.
  5. Going back to lips – lips change as we get older, not only do they loose their colour, but the shape can change. Use a lighter liner to give a better shape, and using a light colour will help reflect light and give the illusion of a fuller lip without looking drawn on. Again when you aren’t wearing lipstick, having a good balm is going to be your friend.
  6. A personal tip – brows. Eye brows frame the face, so it is important to look after yours – go get them looked after professionally. It doesn’t need to be expensive, and you will reap the benefits – get your brows tinted ones a month – a good technician will match it to your hair colour to make them look as flattering and natural as possible. A nicely shaped brow will help you stay looking younger.

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This doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun with makeup – play around with colours, try different eye shadows, high light your best features. This is just a basic walk through on how to many your skin glow and not over load. One thing that I would also suggest, go to makeup counters, and see which do makeovers – I know Benefit do great ones, but off hand I can’t recommend any! Sorry! But it is a great way of exploring new looks and products. Never feel obligated to buy anything, if they offer a discount don’t fall for it unless you can use it on another day – you need time to see how the make up lasts and how you feel about it. And let us all be realistic, you can find dupes for many products, if you really like something you can try a cheaper version to see if you still like it before committing! And who doesn’t like a little pampering!

Look good getting sweaty

Wait…. hang on a moment, is that even possible?!

Well it is that time of year, we have all eaten and drank with abandon over the last couple of week, or even the month with various socialising we all do in the run up to Christmas and the New Year.

So this isn’t going to be one of those preachy articles you read at this time of year telling you to get into a gym. Hell, I haven’t been to a gym for a while – actually, can I tell you a secret, I cancelled my sub today.

But you know what, I have said it before, and I will say it again. Gyms and working out is not a bad thing, and yes people will look at you. I mean you notice people in the street, this is just another excuse for people watching. And I know a lot of my friends have commented on how they prefer to work out at home because they prefer not to be noticed.

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And my answer to this is, wear something that makes you both look & feel comfortable. People are going to look at you, well give them something to look at.

So with this in mind, instead of telling you all, get to the gym, get healthy, feel great. Although I full encourage you to do this. No, I am writing this to give you some ideas of how to look kick ass while at the gym. Or in your own home 🙂

I am going to start at the top – now, I am a geek *gasp* and so I do follow cosplayers – one of which Pipa Wolf Cosplay has recently opened an etsy store – which I obviously had to check out. And I am glad I did, she has some really cute accessories, there are a couple of gym t shirts available – both vest and standard t shirt style. Gym as in Pokemon gym 🙂 I had to buy both in the vest style as I really couldn’t decide which I prefer. Her etsy store is called Side Quest Designs – please go check it out.

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I wasn’t sure what the quality would honestly be like, having no idea where the base was being sourced. So I am happy to confirm that the quality is good – I also washed the shirts when I got them – which is another standard test which many screen printed shirts fail. And again, aced the test, no sticking or stretching. So if you want a couple of cute tops to wear, and show your geeky side while working out – I highly recommend them. And how knows, might help you make new friends with similar interests at the gym!

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So you have your top sorted out, what about your bottom half? Now, I am a leggings kinda girl, I have got jogging bottoms but I have never felt entirely comfortable wearing them. And while I appreciate the billions that goes into designing yet another pair of black exercise leggings, I am going to have to go with Wild Bangarang to complete my look. They have got a dedicated fitness wear section – Wild Storm Fitness. But I just wear a pair of the basic leggings – any which are at hand when I put them out of the leggings basket. Yeah judge away, I have a basket full of leggings 🙂

I won’t bore you massively, as my love for these leggings are pretty well documented – but there are a couple of new lines which are very different but also perfect for the gym – I can only review on, although I am lusting after the other!

The first line is Kokonuzz which are just a cute fun, cartoony line of leggings – both in children and adult lines. The colours are bright and the characters are fun – I have Finn and Otto and they make me smile just wearing them. So if anything is going to make you feel more upbeat about going to the gym….. well possibly the walking back out high on endorphins – these leggings will be it 🙂 So if you want something bright to cheer up a dreary day in January…. well look no further!

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The second line that Wild Bangarang have recently released the Geekweave Collection which are armour based designs which initially started a kickstarter project. I am so happy that WB have taken them on, and really the only reason I haven’t bought any yet, is I am genuinely struggling to decide which ones! If you are on the fence about armour style leggings, which are not traditional style you may be expecting. I fully support your decision to buy the entire collection. Go. Go now!

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Well okay, you may want a little more information that about the leggings that ‘hey they look cool’ … which they do. I have been wearing WB leggings since the brand launched over a year ago. Honestly, I would not have seen myself as a nylon, bright prints, kinda girl. Staying safe with jumpers, and black legging.. However, I am a complete convert. I will generally be found in a pair of leggings at any opportunity. What I do love about this brand especially is that the pattern doesn’t fade out. I don’t have to worry about it dispersing over my generally booty. The length is great for me – I am an average 5’7″ and there is legging to spare which is great when prancing around a gym. I never find myself pulling them up or creeping up my calf. And a lot of their newer ranges like Geek Weave are produced in the UK – the cut is so nice and comfy.

So when you are putting together your gym kit, have a moment’s pause – do you want to fit in with the crowd wearing bland greys and blacks. Or do you want to wear some bright colours and show a little geeky side off? Not a difficult choice is it 🙂

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Adam rocking a pair of Wild Bangarang leggings!

And if you are wondering, I signed up to a new gym today – closer and cheaper – win win.

Why we adopted…

A couple of weeks ago, on the show, I shared parts of a story that a friend, and listener shared with me. I edited my reading on the show because it is deeply personal, and I didn’t know if I would be able to do it justice. I am posting this now, because it is that time of year were people have either received a Christmas pet or have made promises to provide on. I really hope that you get out as much as I did – it gives you a lot to think about and some reflection at the end of this blog post is probably called for. I would love more people to adopt animals, and think twice when taking any animals on. I know it has been mentioned both by me, and on the show several times. But it is because we care so deeply that we keep mentioning it. Now, I will hand over to Chad;

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When Killer, our 14-year-old pug, first developed mast cell tumors, I thought I would be ready for the grim eventuality. I wasn’t a stranger to death. My brother was killed in a car accident when I was in kindergarten. I lost my grandparents before I entered high school. My wife lost both her parents during our first two years of marriage. And my father died only earlier this year. I’m also a Buddhist. You know, like a lot of people, Westerns especially I think, wanting to confront death and wanting to die well when my time comes is part of what drew me to my religion. So, I had experienced death and I had thought about dying. A lot.

I was wrong.

There’s this place where intellectual knowledge and real life crash into each other that you cannot prepare for. When the vet put him to sleep in my lap, I knew it was the right choice, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. Losing our pug was probably one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. When the vet put him to sleep in my lap, I knew it was the right choice, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. If you’ve ever had a pet, you know firsthand what they give you: dedicated companionship and lasting affection without any judgment whatsoever. They don’t care how much money you have or what you look like or how cranky your day at work has made you, they just love you. If you allow it, this creates a deep and intense bond. I think that bond is even deeper when you have your first pet as an adult. A living thing is now your responsibility in a way it never was before, no matter how much your parents tried to prepare you for responsibility. And other than your spouse or significant other, your pet is also the one you will see more than anyone else.

I think though that bond is turned up another notch if you’ve had to go through rough times. And our pug was there through rough times. He was there when we were really poor. He was there when we lived in a bad neighborhood and the night was full of sirens. He was there when I walked to work every day. He was there when my wife was alone and constantly sick on high doses of immune-suppressants to combat the disease that is robbing her of her sight. And he was there beside me at night, when I sat awake in the dim and the quiet.

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When we were ready for another dog, there was never any question about adopting. And there shouldn’t be one for you. The simplest reason to adopt for anyone can be purely economic. The cost of getting a dog from a shelter or even a breed specific rescue is far less than buying a dog from a pet store or a breeder. And every bit of the money spent is going purely for the cost of the animal’s care. But for us, I think we both felt we owed Killer for the gift of his presence. The easiest way to acknowledge that, the best way to repay the debt was to adopt a rescue dog.

There are an estimated 140 million to 180 million pets in the United States. Each year, around 7.6 million animals are given over to shelters and rescues. 2.7 million animals that end up in shelters will be euthanized. Meanwhile, there are an estimated 10 million puppy mills in operation. Dogs in puppy mills are kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. And since they are bred purely for profit, there is no concern for potential health issues or serious hereditary conditions. What’s the easiest way for you to have a serious impact on all that suffering and unnecessary death? Simple. Adopt a shelter or rescue pet.

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I mean, think about that. Really, really think about that.

With very little effort, you are radically altering another living being’s life forever and contributing to ending future suffering for others. Puppy mills function on profit. Remove the profit, end the suffering.

That’s immense if you acknowledge it. Seriously. Don’t dismiss it as hippy-dippy, sappy whatever. You can completely change a life. And you’ll get something out of it besides a loving companion. We’re wired for kindness. Not only has kindness been proven to be contagious but it has also been scientifically documented to improve your own happiness, your heart health, positively impact your aging process, and improve your relationships.

Thank you for reading this – for more information on the rescue centre Chad and his wife adopted from, their facebook page is below.

Blue Grass Facebook Page