SKIING IN ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND

18 February 2018 · posted in adventures

snow-tasch-trees-snowing-white-red-house.jpg

Blogging has always been something very personal for me. The last few years, the pressure has been on though, to focus on writing content as the expert and although I'm super passionate about and have a ton of tips to share on some topics (like how to blog or learning to practise self-care), travelling is not one of those areas.

I love seeing new places and I love finding photo-worthy spots when we're travelling but I have never felt confident enough to put together a travel guide. Like, I went somewhere once and you think I know what's a must see? I'm just a tourist following the advice of Mr Google ... So although we visited some pretty amazing places during our summer road trip to Croatia, the only wanderlust-style posts I've shared so far are A day in Salzburg, Austria and Island life on Curaçao because I just wasn't feeling the whole I-recommend-you-do-this style post.

But I do want to share our travels with you (and future me) and I've been absolutely loving other blogger's story / diary style posts so I've re-organised my categories to fit around the content I love to share (and read). This past week has been one of the coolest adventurous winter weeks I've ever experienced so I thought it was only fair to share a ton of pictures and some stories to kick off the new adventures topic here on the blog. Hope you love it as much as I've enjoyed creating it.

snow-train-tasch-zermatt-trees.jpg
snow-train-zermatt-red-people-working.jpg
tasch-taxi-snowed-in-wind-wipers2.jpg

For this week of winter sports, we were invited to Täsch by friends of Ruben's family and we stayed in the apartment next to theirs with Ruben's mum and brother. The skiing area is located in auto-free Zermatt (the neighbouring town and the last town in Switzerland before the Italian border) so every morning we took the 15min train to Zermatt. Although the weather forecast wasn't that amazing we had at least 4 really good ski days.

One day though, it was snowing like crazy but we decided to go skiing anyway (because you know, very expensive ski pass) but after 25min of the worst skiing slopes and visibility we gave up after all. On the way back to the train station we were already chatting about nestling in the sofa with some snacks and a good book but we ended up being stuck in Zermatt for the next four and a half hours: all trains were temporarily cancelled due to an avalanche blocking the rails (which needed clearing) and more avalanche danger. I guess you've not really been on a winter sports holiday in Zermatt without being stuck there for at least a few hours. We used our time in Zermatt to walk around the entire town (which in all honesty, we probably wouldn't have done otherwise) so it ended up being quite a fun, photography filled afternoon.

snow-train-zermatt-stuck-transport.jpg
snow-zermatt-snow-river-bridge-atmosphere.jpg
snow-zermatt-restaurant-athmosphere.jpg
snow-zermatt-snow-hotel-atmosphere.jpg
snow-zermatt-snow-spade-hotel-atmosphere.jpg

Lately, I've been really enjoying capturing shots out of life, with more people in them and I'm really loving the vibe of the photo above, showing the hardworking spirit of the Swiss. I still have a long way to go before I'll become more confident with this type of photography but I'm enjoying the process so far. Hopefully in the future more out of life shots from me as well.

snow-zermatt-snow-river-cabins-atmosphere.jpg
snow-zermatt-klein-matterhorn.jpg
snow-zermatt-klein-matterhorn-gloves-eskimo-hoodie.jpg

One of our sunny skiing days we went up to Klein Matterhorn, the highest cable car station in Europe with it's 3883m, and although the view from the panorama platform was absolutely breathtaking it was so very very cold (-22ºC, wind 37km/h) we could only stay there for a few minutes, even if we were dressed like Eskimo's, so we just took a few quick shots (wrestling the camera with my mittens on) and got the hell out of there!

On the way down, we had some of the most beautiful panoramic slopes and the closest absolutely stunning photo spot near the Matterhorn where I realised that it's so much easier to take a good photo when you don't see facial expressions, so I'm totally planning on doing more crazy, full face covered photos in the future! (Still figuring out how to fit those in a blog post other than ski adventures though..)

snow-zermatt-matterhorn-ski-eskimo-sticks-air.jpg
snow-matterhorn-ski-blue-sky-gloves-on-sticks-black-white.jpg

This week was the first week I've ever been skiing that is not around Easter so I was totally unprepared for the cold. I didn't find a new ski jacket before we went and the jacket I normally wear around Easter left me frozen to the core the first day, even with a gazillion extra layers underneath, so I ended up skiing in my "normal" sporty winter coat which made me realise I need a fluffy hood on my ski jacket just so I can become an Eskimo and block out all wind. Also, I wondered, did anybody invent a ski coat with a hood that can be attached to your helmet so it doesn't fall off due to high speed (wind)? Like, that would be literal heaven.

Also, my fingers were absolutely frozen the first day so we splurged a little on these black and white colour block mittens and for two days I even put in little glove heaters filled with magical-instant-hot-shake-powder and it was so gloriously warm and snuggly, I am already looking forward to the next time I can use them! (Maybe I'll start to like winter after all?)

tasch-red-house-wood-bungalow-snow.jpg
zermatt-iglo-dorp-eskimo-thumbs-up.jpg
snow-ruben-face-cover-cool.jpg

I only really learned how to ski because Ruben is kind of a ski fanatic, like do not try to take away his week of skiing every year or he'll go mad. Even if I say so myself, over these last few years I've become quite good at skiing and I mostly feel confident now coming down even black slopes, still Ruben stays a league ahead of me when it comes to the level of skiing and I think you can see it right here ... seriously how pro does he look?

tasch-snow-mountains.jpg
snow-matterhorn-ski-blue-sky.jpg
snow-rothorn.helicopter-red-zermatt.jpg

One day, when we took the last cable car of the day up to Rothorn there we three helicopter picking up skiers. It was quite the show but we didn't really understand why they couldn't ski down like everybody else unless they still had to go back to the Italian side of the skiing area, but that's just poor planning and flashing your cash if you ask me. (Or is it just me that gets a bit upset by this show of wealth? As if a "normal" week of skiing isn't already expensive enough.)

zermatt-iglo-dorp-eskimo-dancing.jpg
snow-iglo-durf-zermatt.jpg
zermatt-matterhorn-blue-sky-snow.jpg
tasch-water-sow-frozen-tab-outside-fullview.jpg
snow-tasch-trees-snowing-white-mountain-cabins.jpg
snow-matterhorn-ski-blue-sky-slopes-red-flags.jpg

Anyway, I had an amazing week and I can't wait to go back to the snowy mountains for more skiing in six weeks (this time to Austria)! I hope you enjoyed this first photo-packed adventure post!

xo,
Margot

SELF-LOVE AND SELF-CARE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

14 February 2018 · posted in self-care

snow-tree-trunk-green-needles-evergreen-tree-dark.jpg

Start with yourself

Every year when Valentine's Day is coming up, wherever you go, red and pink heart decorations are thrown in your face. On the day itself, men are expected to buy roses or jewellery for their ladies, dinner reservations are all sold out (at least the ones where you don't sit only 20cm away from the next table) and all grandparents have a random Kuschelrock vinyl on repeat. But since the saying goes "You can't love anyone truly until you love yourself" I really wanted to focus on me this Valentine's Day to kickstart some healthy self-love and self-care traditions and rituals. Although I'm well into my twenties - only a few more years before I turn 30! - I still haven't gotten into a solid self-care routine and it's usually also the first thing that goes when I'm under pressure. Lately, I've realised though that exactly at those times when self-care is easily forgotten about, it's the one thing that makes me feel much better in my skin so today I've rounded up the ways I am making self-love and self-care a priority for myself. Interested? Let's kickstart our self-love and self-care routine together!

Skin care

I am guilty of many years of not taking off my makeup before I went to sleep and I know that in skin care world that is one of the worst possible crimes. I'm also guilty of never properly washing my face. Or using a scrub. Or day cream. I put on makeup in the morning and I quickly removed leftover mascara in the morning before putting on new makeup. For years. Maybe an occasional face wash in the shower. So a change in skin care has been long overdue.

These last few months, on top of the usual winter dryness, I've been struggling with keeping my skin clear. Especially my forehead has been fighting a losing battle with some of the worst acne I've had in my life. Although emotionally, getting acne in your late twenties is different from getting acne in your teens (it doesn't feel like the end of the world or the reason you will never be loved), it's still pretty upsetting to see bumps and zits all over when looking in the mirror because it just isn't that attractive (and did I mention painful?).

While I'm hoping my hormones and skin will regulate themselves in the near future, I've started looking after my skin much better than I did before. I've been using natural oils to remove my makeup, a gentle face wash for sensitive skin, and Freeman's Charcoal + Black Sugar Polishing Scrub Mask and Freeman's Anti-Stress Clay Mask a few times a week for cleaner and clearer skin. It smells amazingly relaxing, it's very calming for my skin and it makes me feel really soft, smooth and fresh. I've recently ordered Tea Tree Essential Oil, Witch Hazel and Activated Charcoal Powder to help clear up my skin naturally and I'm really excited about it. I'm also looking into more natural, chemical-free moisturizers so if you have any must-have skin care product recommendations, please share in the comments below.

For now, even though my acne hasn't improved a whole lot since starting my skin-care routines, I'm trying to steer clear of any anti-acne systems as I know the chemicals in them are very hard on your overall skin and (hopefully) this acne struggle is just a temporary thing. 

Body care

After many years of being unkind to my body, I think it's about time to give my body credit for all the amazing things it does for me. It might not look exactly the way I want it, it might not be completely healthy at times and it might not be as fit and strong as it could be, but my body has made it possible for me to do all the amazing thing I've done in my life so far. Hiking in Austria, skiing in Austria, France and since this week Switzerland (photos coming soon, promise!), swimming with turtles in Curaçao, bungee jumping in Croatia, ... All of these experiences wouldn't be possible without my wonderful body.

So as a part of these new self-love and self-care routines, I'm focusing on treating my body with more respect. Trying to eat healthier. Trying to exercise a bit more. But also listening to the signals it sends me when it's hurting or tired. Or when it has had enough food or when it is thirsty. I'm trying to find a balance between changing my body for the better, when I know my body is capable of it, and accepting and loving my body exactly the way it is. So far, it hasn't been easy, flipping the switch, after so many years of shaming my body for doing what it's designed to do when it was me who had lost track of how to be healthy but slowly I can feel my focus shifting to being healthy and feeling good rather than just wanting to look good. Step by step, I'm teaching myself to accept to process and see beauty in every step of the way.

Cleanliness

We all have those days that we're too busy, too hurried and too stressed that we start living on autopilot. When on autopilot, feeling pressured for time, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one to skip showering in the morning in favour of a quick washcloth scrub at the sink, every day of the week. I'm also pretty sure I'm not the only one to put on the same clothes for one too many days despite their questionable maybe-needs-washing? smell because I just can't deal with finding another outfit. Nothing an extra spritz of deodorant won't fix.

Or so I thought. Lately, I've noticed that after a few too many days of living on autopilot, that unclean feeling drags me down even more than the original stress that caused me to go into autopilot mode so I'm really trying to make cleanliness a priority. Feeling (un)clean is not just something that affects my stress level, it's also a big part of my confidence and let's just admit: feeling unclean is one thing but actually being unclean is just disgusting. But since we're all human, I know we've all been there, done that and wore the same shirt for a week.

So I'm working on taking baths more often, especially when I'm feeling stressed and pressured for time. I'm also working on laying out clean and fitting outfits to wear to work the day before. I'm working on getting and keeping on top of laundry and ironing (baby steps ...). I'm also planning a thorough wardrobe clean-out soon, so it will be much easier to navigate what I can and want to wear.  

snow-tree-trunk-green-needles-evergreen-tree-aveda-invati-system.jpg

Hair care

I've always had quite thin and not a lot of hair but six or seven months ago it started falling out even more than usual. It got to a point where I couldn't hide my thinning hair and my visible scalp even when I put my hair up in a bun. Even when using Batiste Dark & Deep Brown Brunette dry shampoo, I felt really exposed and unattractive so I went looking for a solution. After a bit of research and discovering there wasn't really a lot I could do, I made the decision to start wearing hair. Just a little extra on the top, a clip in hair piece and the first few months it really made me feel so much better. For the first time, I didn't have to worry about people noticing my thinning spots and my visible scalp and I could suddenly pull off up-do's I was never able to do before. Many people noticed a difference somehow and complimented me on my hair - did I get it coloured? I felt good, but at the same time, I was terrified my friends or colleagues would notice I was wearing hair as it really wasn't something I wanted to share.

After the first few months, I started noticing my own hair being pulled out by the clips of the hairpiece, leaving me with balding spots, and I knew I had to stop wearing the hairpiece. I also realised that emotionally, trying to hide the status of my hair from everyone was starting to take a toll on me. Because it was always hidden underneath the clip in hair piece and up in a bun, and never really cared for anymore, my natural hair was starting to look more and more like straw. I knew I needed a drastic change in hairstyle to save my natural hair and to be able to transition to not wearing the hairpiece without questions so last week I decided to finally get the much-feared chop.

So right now, my hair is the shortest it's ever been in my life (kind of pixie style in the back, mixed with a medium bob in the front), and although it's not a style I'd choose myself, I know it's the best thing I've done for my hair in a long time and it feels good. Since then, I've been using Aveda's Invati system for thinning hair and so far I've been loving it. Especially the Scalp Revitalizer spray feels amazing. It has a fresh, minty smell and it creates a pleasant tingly feeling on my scalp like I can feel it activating my hair to grow. I did notice it dries out my hair quite a bit so I might rotate with moisturizing and softening products in the future - Redken All Soft? I have also recently bought Witch Hazel to try and soothe scalp irritations and help my hair get it's natural moisture back. Thinning hair sadly runs in the family and my mum is a big fan of the Nioxin system for thinning hair so maybe in a few months, I'll give that go as well. 

On most days, now that my hair is short(er) and back to it's natural thinning state, I'm still using Batiste Dark & Deep Brown Brunette dry shampoo as I was before to cover up my (again visible) scalp, but I'm hoping to try (and if I like it switch to) Super Million Hair soon. I think that hair fibres that stick to my own hair will give me a more natural full look than spraying my scalp brown and I hope it will give my scalp some much-needed rest from irritations so the Invati system can do its work. I also have an appointment for an actual hair analysis (including microscopes and all that) soon, so I'm hoping to get more answers to my questions of how to improve the condition of my hair.

It took quite a bit of courage sharing this on here but I felt that now that I've decided to try and make the best of what I have, I needed to get it all off my chest somehow, and what better way to hide it inside a big self-love post, focusing on the positive side. Maybe once I'm brave enough, either on the other side of hair loss or on the other side of accepting my hair as it is, I'll share it more openly so I can help or inspire others that are struggling with hair too with more details on what worked and what didn't. If you know me in real life, please know that me being open in writing on here doesn't mean I'm ready to talk about it with you. This heightened vulnerability and somehow lost femininity is something I have to deal with on my own.

Sleep

Let me just start by saying: I don't sleep enough, so I'm trying to start some bedtime routines that will hopefully help me to sleep more and better but it's been one of the tougher ones so far. My Fitbit Alta HR has the option to set a bedtime notification so I've set up mine to give me a soft buzz reminder at 9.30pm to start winding down for bed. That way I know it's time to put away all my screens, start my skincare routine and hopefully be ready for bed by 10pm. So far though, I've ignored it more often than I'd like to admit and putting away all screens at least half an hour before is much more difficult than I thought it would be. (Quick 5min-turned-into-1hour scroll through Twitter before hitting the pillow?) I'm also working on washing our bedsheets more often as there really is nothing better than the feeling of a fresh clean bed. I'm looking for some sleep improving essential oils or sprays to put on your pillow for an extra luxurious night sleep and a more holistic way to wake up for work (maybe a light alarm?) so I can actually leave my phone in the living room, far away from my pillow, at night. If you have any recommendations for sleep scents or more natural ways to wake up, please let me know in the comments!

Kindness

I think all personal struggles start and end with self-criticism. Although it is something that can, in some cases, be useful to make personal changes and become a better person, more often than not self-criticism is unnecessary, unrealistic and just plain mean. You're too fat. Your calves and thighs are too big. You're not a good enough blogger. You will never be able to start your own business. These are just a few of the unkind thoughts I hear myself thinking quite often lately. And quite frankly, I'm sick of being my own worst enemy. So I started wondering. What would happen if I started treating myself as if I would my daughter? I don't have children, but if I had a daughter I would tell her she's beautiful no matter what, I'd tell her she could do anything she puts her mind to, I'd tell her she's unique and valuable and loved. So, what would happen if I told myself all of those things instead of being a bully in my mind? At first, nothing. I didn't quite believe myself (yet). But after a little while, thinking kind thoughts came more natural and I started to believe in them a bit more. That little devil bully is still there on some days, but I'm really starting to notice myself becoming calmer and more relaxed and accepting of who I am because of the kindness I'm showing myself. I'm curious to see how this one simple way of thinking will change my outlook on myself and life.

snow-green-needles-evergreen-tree-dark2.jpg

To all my beautiful readers, I want to wish you an amazing Valentine's Day. I am beyond thankful for your encouraging comments and your everlasting kindness, especially on the more open and vulnerable posts. Sometimes it's really hard to open up, but time and time again you all show me that this space is safe for me (and you) to share painful struggles as well as happy inspirational moments and that this space is safe to connect with, help and inspire each other. So all I can say is thank you for always being there with kind words when I need it most.

Let's continue keeping it real.

xo,
Margot

4 WAYS TO HANDLE NEGATIVITY AND REJECTION

3 February 2018 · posted in self-care

white-flowers-grey-wall

Another one of my old blog's posts that seems to still be doing quite well on Pinterest, so I've brought it back for you! Hope you enjoy. 

We've all been there, applied for a job and didn't get it. We've all been there, put all our love into a relationship but dumped even when you weren't ready for it to be over. We've all dealt with being rejected over and over again and it's one of those feelings that lingers for days and weeks after and it stings, it hurts. Over the years I've worked out a few ways to cope with those emotions and maybe they might work for you too..

Perspective

When dealing with negativity and rejection it's so easy to fall into the trap of identifying with that negativity or rejection. You feel like you are a failure, you feel like you are worth nothing. But that's not true. Yes, you got rejected by one company, one person, one situation, ... Maybe you really didn't have the right skills for that job. Maybe that relationship wasn't the right fit. Maybe there is a certain aspect of yourself that could use some improvement. So what? Nobody is perfect. Don't lose perspective and remember your strengths.

It's not you, it's them

Getting back one job application rejection after the other can make you feel as though you are just not good enough for any job. But what we fail to see is that many times the rejection is not about us being not good enough, it's about someone else being better. All you can do is work hard, do your best, and next time, you might just be the better one. When it comes to relationships, even though it's a bit harder to accept, rejection works in the exact same way. When relationships fail, most of the time, it's not about you being not good enough but about the other person looking for something they don't find in their relationship with you. Does this mean you are worthless? No. It just means it wasn't the right fit.

white-flowers-grey-wall
white-flowers-grey-wall


Turn it into a positive

A good way to deal with negativity and rejection is to make it go away. How? Turn it into something positive. The root cause of negativity and rejection often lies in certain aspects of your skills, your character, your appearance, ... not being good enough. Analyzing that root cause has two possible outcomes: either it tells you there's truth behind it or it's just mean talk and bullying. When there's truth behind it, make it a goal to improve on that part of you. Maybe you could indeed use some healthy food and gym workouts to lose that weight you've been packing on. Maybe you were really not putting in enough effort at work to meet deadlines in time. We're all human. It's okay to admit that you can do better. But when there's no truth behind the negativity:

Be strong & ignore

Sometimes people are just mean. Bullying and spreading negativity is some people's form of having power over others. In these digital times when you can easily hide behind your computer screen, spreading negativity has become especially easy and sadly there are those who love that kind of power. But from where I sit: blowing out another's candle will not make yours shine brighter. So have faith in yourself, know what you're worth and ignore the negativity. It's up to you to reject to be put down by others.
 

HOW DO YOU HANDLE NEGATIVITY AND REJECTION?

xo,
Margot

FEEL GOOD FROM UNDERNEATH

24 January 2018 · posted in self-care

lingerie-bottoms.blacknails-lace-fullbody-blurry.jpg

Self concious

Body confidence is something that has never really been in my dictionary. For as long as I can remember I have struggled with feeling beautiful in my body and I've always wanted to be thinner and leaner, especially around my stomach area. Given that I have been a little overweight for the last ten years, probably helped by my genes (I am a copy of my grandma and she's always been big), but primarily fueled by my laziness (I prefer couch over sports) and the worst food choices (read my full eating disorder story), I think a lot of my own body shaming comes from me knowing that I'm not healthy and that if I was, my body and stomach would look better naturally. Short version: I don't feel comfortable in swimwear, I don't like shopping for new clothes, I never wear anything fitted and I don't like being in photos.

lingerie-top-white-lace-bra-wideview2.jpg

Something unexpected

Having just said that I feel very uncomfortable being in photos and that I have a hard time accepting and liking the way my body looks, even in very private and intimate moments, I'm as confused as you are about this post and in particular the photos in this post. A few weeks ago, after putting on beautiful lace lingerie for once (instead of my usual grandma panties and sponge bra) I felt so unexpectedly good in my body that I took my camera, balanced it on the ironing board (my life is glamorous I know) and shot these photos on a timer. After spontaneously shooting, editing and absolutely loving the result, I got a little worried about sharing. What were people going to think? Especially people I know in real life. Were these photos appropriate to share with the world? Were they beautiful enough? The longer I thought about it, the more reasons I found not to share them.

A visual story

So I stared at them, I stared at myself, over and over again and I realized that for once, I didn't care about the imperfections. I actually like the imperfections in these photos and the way they tell the story of a young woman starting to embrace and love her body. I love that some are so blurry you can only see shapes. I love the little bit of sensuality they show, held back by the feeling of being too exposed. I love the lace detailing and the combination of the blush colours. But most of all I love these photos because they show me me, in a better way than I've seen myself in years. I'm doing my best to find the right words, trying to express what these photos mean to me, but I am sure they tell the story all on their own. 

lingerie-bottoms.blacknails-lace-shirt-glitter.jpg

Body positivity

I feel such a powerful positive message when I look at these photos, that I don't really care what other people think. I only care about the many young women like me out there, in need of some body positive stories to help them realize that they are beautiful, even if they don't necessarily fit into the contemporary beauty standard box. I hope I can be one of those body positive stories. I know I still have a long way to go before I could ever be a role model for health and treating my body right, but at least I can start by showing it some love exactly the way it is now. Sharing these photos with the world, even though it's terrifying to me that my family, my close friends or even my colleagues could see them too, is my way of showing that love. No more shame. This is me and I feel sexy as a hell in my lace lingerie. Get over it.

lingerie-top-white-lace-bra22.jpg

(For the sake of transparency: I have slightly edited light, contrast and colours and I've added a
little airbrushing / blurriness for a more editorial, artsy effect but all shapes are 100% natural. )

xo,
Margot