This New Year – A Revival

Vicki Amaya

Two Thousand and Eighteen

A new year, a new start. Three hundred and sixty five opportunities to learn and grow. I enter at the age of twenty eight, with gratitude, knowledge and love. I’m not sure why, but I have such a euphoric buzz about it. Everywhere I look it seems that people are calling 2018, the best year ever! Weirder still, for once – I believe it will be.

Lets Recap – 2017

At the start of 2017, I felt hopeful. There were dreams of a better life, dreams of big change and a glimmer of optimism. I had been working for an Alarm Installation and maintenance company for a little over 12 months and felt stable (for the most part). Gone was the pressure of learning how to do the job. Forgotten was the mid-year melt down of ’16. I was ready to start anew and refreshed from the Christmas break. I could go to work every day of the week, for 52 weeks of the year. No longer did I need to have time off for anxiety or depression. It was gone.

I had made two promises to myself for 2017. The first was to play more guitar and the second was to go on holiday. Fairly easy on the ol’ resolutions list, I’ll admit. Yet, these were big accomplishments for me. Never have I felt able to complete or achieve anything of note. A stable income was foreign to me. I had always needed money to pay my way. Had always needed a job to survive. Why would I spend money on a holiday, when it was needed to pay rent and bills?

Though, I felt If I wanted to see changes, I had to make changes. With a swift decision and a box of peroxide, my hair was transformed from dull blonde to bright yellow, then silver. A small decision that shaped my life for the better (As you all know)!

As January passed by, I decided to take my Instagram account and Blog more seriously. I started uploading pictures five days a week and on the 11th February 2017 my little Instagram account hit 1000 followers! Around the same time, one of my photos hit 2000 likes.

“The Highs Are So High”

In May I made the brash and ballsy decision to quit my full time, stable 9-5 job and go it alone. Diving straight into the world of the budding bloggers and Instagram influencers. Whilst, I cannot regret the decision to leave forks (just kidding, I’m not Bella Swan) the longest job role i’d ever had. Looking back, I know I could have handled the actual leaving aspect a lot more gracefully.

I think I left prematurely and without a plan but my god, I was determined as hell to make this work. One of the problems that comes with entrepreneurial endeavours is that there isn’t a step by step guide. There may have been thousands of blog posts, infographs and YouTube videos explaining how to “become a successful blogger”, but very few give the actual breakdown. The nitty, gritty need to know information.

Though I hustled, I girl bossed, I pushed through the doubt, worry and fear of failure… I was still making no money. (Side note- I’m still not)

Penniless and fearing debt, I applied for a part time role in a fashion store called Allsaints. With my wage halved but my free time overflowing I felt renewed and slightly relieved.

August brought an opportunity to backpack through Germany and Austria. My Partner, My Mum and My Nan all put forward a small loan to fund my tour. Not that I have many holidays to compare it to, but it was one of the most beautiful and liberating trips I have experienced. If you’re looking for a place to spend a few days, please visit Berchtesgaden and Salzburg.

“The Lows Are Killing Me”

In early October the cracks started to show. Although I had more free time, it came in the form of one day on and one day off work. Also, I had pulled my back muscles just prior to my backpacking adventure and two shifts back at work, I did it again. This meant having some time off to recover, which is where the negativity bias that once ruled my every move started to creep back in. Resentment for the job, physical pain and a lack of direction left me putting a mountain of unnecessary pressure on myself. Could I really quit another job just because I don’t like the hours? Were the staff really that mean to me? Was I playing out my old habit of job hopping yet again?

After many tears, a drive into the middle of the woods and an emotional chat with my manager, I took some time out to figure out my mind. I wrote a blog post about this time called An Anxiety Catch Up (Diary Post).

I returned to work in early November. The deal was I would work a four week notice period or if they could find a replacement sooner, I could leave. Although relieved, the same uncertainty of my previous abandoning ship encounter wouldn’t drown. With an equal medium for me and my manager, I asked if I could reduce my hours in order to get three consecutive days off. We both agreed that this would be better than quitting and since then it’s been a pleasure to work there.

Praise to the positive – a reflection.

If there is anything I have learnt from 2017, it’s that even the smallest indulgence of negativity can disrupt the entire infrastructure of your life. One throw away comment can shape your outlook, change your mood, thoughts and feelings all for the worse. The remainder of last year was spent focusing solely on positivity. Embracing the good in people, helping others as much as I could, reaching out to more people and giving without a want to receive.

In return, I got perfect clarity for the remainder of that year.

December

On the 13th December, I celebrated my twenty eighth birthday. I was taken for afternoon tea at Ting restaurant located within The Shard. Looking out at the bustling city below whilst sipping a flute of ten year old champagne I came to realise that I’m doing just fine with this living malarkey. Whilst it may have taken others a lot less time to figure this out, for me it is such an achievement to feel it at all. Not to dampen the tone of this post but there is a reality in which I do not exist past the point of 22.

The remaining hours that encapsulated 2017 were filled with my partner and his family. As couples, we watched films in separate rooms then joined to see in the start of the best year ever. We drank champagne (A new celebratory drink of Adam and I), we watched the hootenanny and we relished every hand tick until Big Ben rang out twelve strikes.

The New Year

Which brings us nicely back to this new year. There can be no doubt that I am still a student to the ways of the world. I still have much to learn and experience. However, I feel that I’m able to just crack on and get this year underway without any of the stress and doubt that last year brought. I haven’t made any promises to myself this year. I don’t feel that I need to set myself to targets and achievements. Instead, I have decided that this is the year that my life changes for the better, the year that everything I ever dreamed of comes true.

If you know me now, you know that I am one determined mother-lover. Watch this space lovelies, the times they are a changing’ and they’re changing me.

As always,

All My Love

VickiAmaya.

xx

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Coping with Anxiety

VickiAmaya anxiety help

Coping with Anxiety can be tricky. It’s the little voice in the back of your head telling you everything is going terribly wrong. I used to suffer from anxiety and have had my fair share of niggling inner dialogue, so trust me when I say it won’t last forever and you can get away from it.

A Short Backstory – The Day I Caved!

Lets set the scene, it’s 2012. Post suicide, post medication and post giving a fuck. I was so fed up of feeling down and unsteady all the time. One sunny morning I had been getting ready to go out. It was one of those mornings where everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong. i’d woken up late. Mascara had been poked into my eye, onto my nose and into my eyebrow. Eyeliner flicks were fighting like magnets to escape symmetry. Life was just not going well.

Moving swiftly from make up to hair, I had started drying it and noticed that it still felt a little greasy. I thought maybe I’d put too much product on my hair and that it just needed to dry a little while longer. However when it has finished drying, shock horror, it was still greasy! (Now I’d just like to explain that to me, having greasy hair is a big deal. Its probably one of the few things that I find very hard to accept for myself.)

I had no dry shampoo, no talcum powder and about fifteen minutes to get out the house and get to where I was going… I sat on the floor in my temporary bedroom at my nans house and burst into tears. Massive sobs that hurt my chest. Then, because of the sobbing, I started hyperventilating. I’d worked myself into such a state that my mascara had ran, my foundation along with it and I now couldn’t breathe. There was no way I could leave the house looking like I did… The only thing I could think to do was lay down and sleep.

Okay, you don’t need to tell me how overdramatic I was being over (slightly) greasy hair but at the time, cleanliness was one of my few controllable factors. If my mind was chaos, at least my appearance was acceptable (by 2012 standards).

VickiAmaya Circa 2012

Like I said, Acceptable for 2012

So, What Did You Do?

Well, sleep offers a temporary fix. In the long term, you still have all the racing thoughts, sweaty palms and throbbing heart. So, after throwing a temper tantrum and swearing the illness dead to me, I dove straight into research!

The Rubber Band Solution

One of the first and most relatable articles I read at the time described to me (I can’t find it anymore), the rubber band solution. I have already spoken about this in my previous blog post which you can read here.

The rubber band solution is a specific way to target the urge to self harm, instead of harming you wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when you really feel you need to harm. The snap provides the same physical stimulation as self harming but is less evasive. I only recommend this as a very temporary solution as in the long term, it can be just as addictive.

The Bad Thoughts Book

So that was the self harm dealt with, now I just had to tame the build up that happened when things started to go wrong and the voices kicked in. You see, coping with anxiety is much like looking after a plant! There is a lot you know you should do, but very little that you actually implement. My second port of call was learning to control the bad thoughts. I had this genius idea (if I do say so myself) to write down any of the thoughts as soon as they jumped in the driving seat. That way, I can tell the good from the ridiculous and start to tell the nasty buggers where to go!

A word of warning, this can be quite upsetting for friends or family to read so I would keep your book/paper somewhere super safe! I actually found my own ‘thought book’ a little while ago and was horrified at some of the thoughts I used to have. One entry has three pages of “I Hate Myself” written over and over again. What’s worse is at that time, I really did.

Bonus Trick – If you’re still not feeling better once you’ve written down the contents of your racing brain, try pulling out the pages and ripping them up into tiny little pieces. This is another great way to unleash some of that angst you’ve been carrying around.

The ‘Change the Record’ tactic

This is probably one of the most beneficial things I ever found out about. I still use it now from time to time. So, a scenario for you: It’s been one of those days where your mind has been particularly cruel, you’ve been on the brink of tears at least twenty times. You just want to feel something different, ANYTHING different!

Change the Record! Force your brain to think of something else! Think about how great it’s going to be to get home and give your pet a cuddle. How when you get in you can put on your comfiest pyjamas, close the bedroom door and drown out the sounds of the world with your favourite band. Your brain isn’t going to be thinking about how bad your day has been anymore, its going to think about getting back to your happy place instead!

By hijacking your brain as the bad thoughts kick in, you’re causing a thought diversion. It doesn’t have to be about something you’re going to do either. You could think about how great it was to see your best friends last week. What you’re going to wear to the cinema in a few days time. Hell, you could even plan a little get away trip for you and your partner. The main point is to let go of those bad thoughts and instead think of something good!

The Take Five Breaths strategy

Another step that I use almost every day. This one is fairly simple, can be done anywhere at anytime and is even good for your health!

Anxiety can come at any point of the day or night. For me, it was usually mid morning while I was getting ready to go somewhere, but just recently i’ve found it’s when I have a load of thoughts that I can’t organise. I get stroppy, snappy and selfish. That’s when I stop what I’m doing (unless I’m driving) and I breathe in as deeply as I can, hold it for eight seconds and then breathe all of the air back out. I repeat this five times and at the end, I feel a lot calmer and more clear.

If you feel yourself getting worked up or are starting to get pings of panic, please try this! It really does help to relax your mind and body. You can even try it now, just to see how tense you are. I guarantee you won’t have realised until you breathe in a few times that you’ve been carrying around some anxiety.

Okay, we’re up to number five. The last tip I have for coping with anxiety. I hope the previous four have been helpful so far. I know that some steps will be more relatable than others, but I wanted to give you all an equal chance to feel less anxious.

The Tidy Space, Tidy Mind Practise

This practice has been one of my go to mantra’s in times of stress, struggle or instability. I use the practise everyday at home, work and in my car! In essence, if your living/work space is tidy then so is your mind. Nothing is distracting you from getting on with everything you need to do.

I can hear you moaning at the thought of tidying up but trust me. Tidying away all of your clutter is a brilliant way to release some of that pent up emotion and REALLY cleanse your mind of all its troubles.

I’ve always found it easier to start off small, your wardrobe, the drawers under your bed, your car etc… first of all get rid of any rubbish lying around. I’m terrible with hoarding used baby wipes. I’ll put them down anywhere but in the bin. Then you can reorder the remainder of the items to make it more streamline and easy to get anything you need.

I always like to start a new day with a blank canvas and can really tell when I’ve let my work space (or mind) get too cluttered.

Coping with Anxiety is tough, but you are tougher!

You’ve got this, it’s a bad day not a bad life.

All My Love

VickiAmaya x

Repairing my Bleach Damaged Hair

Okay, Five easy peasy steps to fix up your Damaged Hair.

My hair is turning twenty eight in a few days and what better way can I celebrate that by detailing how I transformed it back to its former (thicker, shinier and less shit) glory. I have been a shampoo and conditioner shuffler for a very long time! I tend to buy the moisturising or the damage repair types. All of which have done very little to actually repair my damaged hair. They would make it smell great and feel silky, but a day later it would be frizzy, dry at the ends and greasy at the root. A thing of real nightmares.

So, I went on a hunt to try and find out EXACTLY what my damaged hair needed. I do want it to survive another year of colourants and heat styling. I came across this blog post that detailed how to find out what your hair is lacking. After testing, I found that my beloved locks were deficient of Keratin. I set about trying to find a budget friendly concoction that contained such a beautiful protein. This proved a struggle and I had almost given up. That was until about two weeks ago, when I stumbled upon a magic formula that has been developed by actual unicorns! My hair has not been so strong, shiny and smooth in YEARS. 

I owe it all to these two little pots of goodness: the BlondMe Keratin Bonding Mask and the BlondMe Keratin Bonding Potion.

Seriously, I used to wake up and my hair would be matted together at the ends (True signs of damaged hair!). When I washed it previously, if I skipped conditioned I could not get a brush through it. It was horrendous.

Okay, Give me the Method, Vicki!

Step 1 – Wash your hair. I’ve been using baby shampoo on mine since I bought the unicorn potion so you can try that if you like.

Step 2 – Towel dry the shit out of it. Or, just dab at it lightly either will do.

Step 3 – Apply the first of your magic elixir (Bonding Potion). Start at the root and pull it right the way to your ends. I used quite a lot on my hair as I wanted to feel the full effect straight away. If you’re like me and you need almost instant effectiveness, then pump the nozzle about five/six times.

Step 4 – Scoop a generous dollop of the Bonding Mask into your hands and work it through from root to ends. Then, leave it to work its tomfoolery for around five minutes.

Step 5 – Rinse off until the water runs clear and voila! You can now resume your normal hair routine with the knowledge that when dry, your hair is going to look and feel amazing.

Bonus Step – I had a little sample pack of the Garnier Ultimate Blends – The Sleek Restorer Mask, from a magazine and as an extra special treat for my hair I put a tiny amount in my ends before drying and again after the smooth out the frizzy bits.

And… How is it now?

I’ve used this treatment (as above) three times now and the difference to my hair is phenominal. It’s so good that I’m not even conditioning it in-between uses anymore. I’m finding less hair breakage when brushing too and it has a lot more volume and shine.

I hope this post is beneficial to all of you damaged hair lovelies out there. As much as I want this process to work for you, please check the above blog post to find out exactly what your own hair needs.

 

VickiAmaya

x

What’s with the bracelets, Vicki?

Hey Lovelies, I wanted to write about the friendship bracelets that are currently available on my blog shop! Hopefully, this will give you a little more context as to what they mean to me.

First and foremost they are a way for us to feel more connected to one another. I see you ALL as my best friends, my lovelies, my homies even. You’re the people I talk to the most, who get to see my highs and lows. I want us to feel like one big family. But to me, these bracelets also have a deeper meaning. The way I see it, they are your shining beacon in a sea of lost hope. The knowledge that someone out there is there for you, no matter what! They offer comfort when you need it most.

Back in 2012 I tried to kill myself, it was one of the most isolated and depressing points in my entire life. I didn’t know who to turn to so instead I hide from the world. Having someone to talk to or just the knowledge that someone cared would have been enough. These bracelets provide the words you can’t quite say out loud. They are your source of strength and understanding, that little bit of what you need when you need it! By wearing yours, you are not only signalling that you are important, strong and loved. It also means you are a best friend in the VickiAmaya squad and that you offer care and love to others as well as being cared and loved yourself, by me!

One of the lesser known parts of my bad patch is the severity of self harming. I’m not about to talk in great depths about it today, but just know that I understand the relief it can offer when nothing else is helping. When I was scrolling the depths of Tumblr’s Depression hashtag (in 2012) I came across the elastic band technique. This to those that don’t know is the act of wearing an elastic band and snapping it against your wrist when you feel the urge to self harm. The snap stimulates the same part of the brain as physical harm but is far less destructive. Now, I know my bracelets aren’t elasticated and can’t offer the instant relief, but they can give you the strength to pick up your phone and send a message to some one you love to let them know how you feel.

If you’re ever looking for a sign that you have the strength to get through a difficult period in your life, I want you to look no further than your wrist. To see that bracelet and know that even if you have no one around you to talk to you can reach out to me, or take a quick look at some of these amazing websites (some offer apps too).

These sites can offer support when you need it!

7 Cups

Samaritans

Mind

So, without waffling on for much longer. The bracelets are available because I want you to feel like you’re worthy and loved. Regardless of your situation.

VickiAmaya
x

An Anxiety Catch Up (Diary Post)

Hey Lovelies, these past few weeks have been a bit strange for me. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress, worry and anxiety and I want to tell you some of the things I’ve learnt as they can help you too!

As you know, I’ve been making some big changes in my life the past few months; this is to counter the unhappiness and lack of fulfilment that has plagued me for years. The journey has been a whirlwind but I’m happy to finally share my experiences.

I left full time employment in May of this year and since then I have been working part time at Allsaints and spending the rest of my time doing the following:

• Running my Blog
• Researching and scheduling my Instagram posts
• Drafting and finalising blog posts
• Trialling new ways to combat bad habits
• Maintaining existing friendships
• Working out where my anxiety stems from
• Researching new trends
• Taking photos for Instagram
• Addressing and implementing new life strategy
• Worrying
• Constantly battling negative thoughts about myself

All of that is without adding basic self care like eating three meals a day, exercising and sleeping seven hours each night. Furthermore, it definitely doesn’t include trying to think of ways to make my millions, conjure interesting blog posts and spend time with my boyfriend. The odds were stacking against me and something had to give – and it did.

I got myself a note from the doctor and have taken a few weeks off work to recalibrate my frazzled brain. The days that followed have been a rollercoaster of emotions but I feel like I’m getting to grips with life again. I have a reclaimed my ability to complete items on my to-do list. And most importantly, I’ve been taking these small, easy steps to refocus my brain.

• Eating three meals a day
• Drinking plenty water
• Showering daily
• Brushing my teeth (twice daily)

Believe me, I know that sounds gross and obvious but in my bad patch I used to spend all day in bed doing nothing for weeks on end. I feel that going back to basics has really helped to stabilise my mind. It’s crazy how we will overlook the necessities of simple self care to try and get everything else completed. The problem I had was focusing too much on my big goals and as a result, the idea of doing them all had shocked me to paralysis.

 

To stay level, from this point onwards I’m going to focus on doing small actions every day and build from there. Honestly, if all you can manage in a day is to eat three meals, drink enough water and not cry then that’s an accomplishment to be proud of!

 

One of the reasons I started back at the beginning with treating anxiety is because it was recommended for me. Mel Robbins is the best selling author of “Stop Saying You’re Fine:” and “The 5 Second Rule”. I first found Mel when her “How to stop screwing yourself over ” Ted talk video popped into my suggested feed and I followed her on Instagram for daily doses of inspiration.

 

Just recently, Mel posted a story on Instagram asking people to send problems they have been struggling to overcome. I sent my own (after a few revisions) and was fortunate enough to get a response from the lady herself! I mean, come on… Mel Fricking Robbins, Best Selling Author, Most Booked female motivational speaker and an absolute babe actually replied to my message! Mel then asked if she could record an answer to my question for a video. It has been uploaded onto her YouTube channel so that it can help others too! Be warned though, she is very to the point and direct with her words. (You can click here to watch it)

 

Receiving a personalised message like this was an incredible boost for me. This was massively significant, as I have been such an admirer of Mel and her work for such a long time. That said, I had greatly underestimated the power of taking action and the message definitely gave me the kick I needed.

With all of that said and done, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?

“Vicki, I thought you said that depression and anxiety doesn’t affect you anymore!”

Weeelllll, it doesn’t. At least it doesn’t bother me the way it used to. I’m over sitting on the floor all day, rocking back and forth and thinking of all the problems I had. Now, I’ve learnt what my mind and body need to do to reset – and I honour that, instead of fighting against it. Not to get too scientific but it is our brains job to protect us from harm. It stems from our primitive beginnings and having to survive a much harsher world than the one we live in today. The important part is to find a harmonious balance and healthy relationship with this part of the mind so that we can grow with it instead of fighting against it.

So, here’s to the little steps. The small actions in the right direction that have slowly built me back up to level foundations.

If any of you are interested in a more in-depth article regarding any of the points raised, please drop me a comment and I will be happy to delve into it for you.