Category Archives: Thoughts

Italy and Instagram

Hello All,

There won’t be a blog post next week as I’m off to Italy for a few days. Tangentially, it’s a perfume-related trip, as I’ll be meeting up with three friends I’ve found through blogging.

These are, Natalie of Another Perfume Blog (which is sadly no longer extant), Ines of All I am – a redhead and Asali of The Sounds of Scent. I’ve never met Asali or Ines in real life so I’m super excited to see them for the first time and it will be beyond wonderful to spend time with Natalie again after she’s been such a great support to me over the last few months.

Add this to finally meeting Undina  a couple of weeks ago and I feel really lucky to be meeting so many women I’ve known online since the beginning of my adventure down the fragrant rabbit-hole, some six or seven years ago  As Vanessa says, we come for the perfume but stay for the friendships.

We will be travelling to Bologna from four different countries which is pretty cool. Bologna looks like a fabulous medieval city and a good base for seeing other parts of the country. It also helps that the region is known as ‘The Stomach of Italy’ because I plan on eating all the food.

I intend to post some pics on Instagram which I’ve joined recently (@abottledrose). I never thought Instagram was the place for someone with a sight impairment but I was encouraged to try it by Val the Cookie Queen and she never steers me wrong.

I’m giving it a go and enjoying it so far. The photos on Facebook have long been my favourite part and the Insta Stories are a lot of fun. I post the odd Scent of the Day pic and other bits and pieces. As I have recently become skincare obsessed there’s some of that too.

Although I did wonder at first if I should be cutting down on my social media, not adding to it, Instagram feels more carefree than other virtual hangouts.

 

 

Have you been to Bologna? Are you on Instagram? What are you thoughts about social media?

 

 

 

 

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The Fear

Fear has been with me for even longer than I can remember. My mother tells me that as a young child I used to complain about butterflies in my tummy so much that eventually I was checked over at the hospital. It turned out I was just nervous about going to school.

In my early twenties I read the self-help classic Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. The book isn’t without value and I agree with the sentiment, but it’s only half the story. How exactly do you feel the fear and do it anyway when it’s paralysing you? I’d say it’s completely human to feel the fear and hide under the duvet, as was my way for many years.

For me, anxiety manifests in a number of ways. I feel frightened and tense, I fidget as a result of agitation, have vivid bad dreams and am plagued with incessant worry over the slightest thing. I believe people think badly of me, including friends and family. I’m all wrong; from what I say and do, to the way I look. I also feel an intense vulnerability, as if my skin has been peeled off and I have no protection. I lose all perspective, with reality distorted to a scary degree. As a wise friend said to me last night “Your mind lying to you”.

There’s a lot of stigma around anti-depressants but if you feel constant, irrational fear – or to give it its medical name – generalised anxiety disorder – then SSRIs (or a variant there of) can be life-changing.  There are other things like talking, mindfulness and exercise that work, but if anxiety is out of control, it’s likely you’re going to need to combine these with meds. I have no intention of ever coming off them.

Like most people, I sought help over a decade later than I could have. It may seem strange but until then, it never occurred to me to go to my GP about my mental health. The message seems to be getting through now though.

I tried about 4 different tablets before I found the one that worked for me. The lesson being, don’t give up if at first they don’t make a difference. It’s agony waiting that month to see if they’ll help, but it’s better than not having any hope of things changing at all.

Finding the right medication dialed down The Fear enough for me to start stepping out of my debilitatingly small comfort zone and subsequently “get a life”. Without them it was just too strong to overcome alone.

My anxiety became manageable on a day-to-day basis and I could do normal things without fear, like walking down the road without having to give myself a constant pep talk or going to bed without my thoughts tormenting me. It does spike when I have to do something out of the ordinary but that’s understandable.

Now, extreme anxiety only surfaces on an infrequent basis, but I thought I’d write about it while it’s here. At times like these, I’m lucky to have people I can turn to who remind me to breathe deeply, not to get caught up in what my mind is telling me and to wait for it to pass – because it will pass.

Posting about it feels uncomfortable in the extreme but the more we talk about it, the better it is for everyone out there who struggles. Realising we are not alone makes all the difference.

 

the scream

 

 

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Merry Christmas!

I finish work tomorrow for the holidays so I’m officially on countdown to Christmas. I’d like to wish you all a wonderful time over the festive season. I hope you’re able to be with the people you love and do the things you enjoy most.

The next post will be on New Year’s Day when I will return with a giveaway to celebrate the first anniversary of A Bottled Rose. I hope to see you again then.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few pics of the Kew Gardens Illuminated Walk which I took my niece to last weekend.

 

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Tara xxx

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In Rotation

After enduring bad news across the world for the best part of a year, I’ve been feeling the need to retreat. I’ve always been a homebody but I’m craving time indoors even more than usual. After reading a lot of “improving” books this year, I’ve now escaped into the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman. On these cold, dark evenings, it’s wonderful to get lost in this multi-universe adventure populated by witches, armoured bears and fearless 12 year-olds .

 

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A small thing that I’ve found to be very soothing on trying days, is painting my nails. The colours I’m alternating at the moment are the sophisticated berry of Butter London’s Queen Vic and the glossy dark navy of Chanel’s Marinière.

Happily, I’m still getting a kick out of my new found love of bold lipstick. I’ve even graduated from red to purple. MAC’s Rebel feels perfect for autumn and easy to wear because it isn’t as intense or blue toned as most in that shade range. The satin formula is also kinder to the lips in this chilly weather than my usual matt lipsticks.

 

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Chanel Mariniere, MAC Rebel and Butter London Queen Vic

 

One comfort food that is also healthy is homemade soup. Last weekend I made spicy cauliflower soup based on the recipe by Alice Waters (who incidentally is a friend and neighbour of Mandy Aftel). I found out about it from former perfume blogger Lavanya, who now runs the brilliant subscription box service Boxwalla.

Again, taking pleasure in the little things, I’ve been enjoying the aromas of autumn; bonfires, dry leaves, damp earth, misty mornings. It might also be my favourite time of year for perfume. Here’s what I’ve been wearing a lot lately:

Passage d’Enfer, L’Artisan Parfumeur

I recently got a back-up bottle of this one because it’s my favourite incense. Passage d’Enfer is woody, lightly resinous and has a hint of waxy white lilies which it gives it luminosity. It smells fantastic on a scarf and mingles well with the autumnal wisps of smoke in the air. Passage d’Enfer helps me feel calm and centred in this crazy world but it also has that touch of wanton florals. I adore this stuff.

Coromandel EdT, Chanel

This is one classy patchouli with lots of warmth and depth. It’s not super earthy but it’s not a dull, super clean patch either. It’s beautifully sophisticated and I enjoy it most at a bit of distance, so I tend to spray it on my wrists rather than around my neck. I particularly enjoy the touch of incense that comes out most in the base.

Tobacco Rose, Papillon Perfumes

Of course I love roses and this one is perfect for autumn thanks to its earthiness. Tobacco Rose is a rose bush firmly planted in the soil, not a sterile, disembodied bloom. There’s a reason patchouli is paired so often with rose and it’s exemplified here in the way it grounds the beautiful, rich red flower. I can’t wait for the next release from Papillon Perfumes which is coming in the New Year.

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What’s bringing you comfort this season?

 

 

 

 

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Running Beyond My Limits

I have always felt fear and loathing towards running. Apart from the need to catch the odd bus, surely we humans have evolved out of the need to run?

I only ever used the treadmill at the gym for a brisk walk.

No doubt this antipathy goes back to middle school when I came last in the cross-country race. Not only did I come in last place, but I was so out of breath people were concenred I was asthmatic (I wasn’t). Since then, I’ve believed that some people aren’t made for running and I’m one of them.

This was reinforced last December when our fitness trainer on the first morning of the retreat told us to run up the beach and back. I had been going to the gym for five months by this point so didn’t think it would be too arduous. Wrong. After just a few paces I had a coughing fit so severe that I thought I was going to be sick. I told myself that it was purely coincidental that we were only asked to walk along the beach each morning after that

During the retreat, I met an amazing woman (among many) called Di from Barking, Essex. She had come through debilitating health problems to compete in Tough Mudder and seems to be taking part in runs every other weekend. After we got back, with extreme unwarranted optimism, she kept asking me if I’d take part in various race events.

I did want to clear this block and learnt to run, even if only once. Eventually I agreed to The Color Run because I read that children could take part, you weren’t timed and mothers could even go round the course while pushing a pram. Hey, this was more my speed and it looked fun too. I tried not to think about the fact it was 5km long.

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I signed up around the end of March and the race is set for the 12th June. I had about 10 weeks to go from zero to hero. I told my fitness guru, Val, that  I was going to run for 5 minutes during my first training session at the gym. She replied “Five minutes is a long time”. Oh how right she was. I struggled to jog on the treadmill for one whole minute. Yes, you read that correctly: I could barely get through a single minute.  I thought it would tough-going, but I had no idea just how tough.

Since then I’ve been gradually building up the amount of time I can run for continuously and am currently up to 20 minutes.  I found this brilliant training programme on the NHS website called Couch to 5k which has been invaluable. It’s given me a lot more confidence that I won’t completely disgrace myself. An added motivator is that I’m trying to raise funds for Chlldine, a helpline in the UK for children suffering abuse.

Since starting to run something strange has happened. I’ve begun to almost look forward to my training sessions at the gym. It’s given me a new exercise goal to work towards and I’m seeing progress every time I go. It’s also satisfying to confront my limiting belief that I’m just not capable of running.

If all else fails on the day, Di has said she will drag me around the course on my knees, so that’s okay then…

 

Do you run? Do you have any tips or books to recommend on the subject? How does running make you feel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Can Find Me In The Gym

It used to be that you were about as likely to find me in the gym as you were to find me “in da club”. Things have changed.

For the majority of 2014 I suffered from persistent negative thoughts. I tried various ways to cope with these, from the very old (Buddhist worry beads) to the very new (unfriending a load of people on Facebook). Nothing worked which meant I would need to take drastic action the following year. 2015 subsequently became my year of living dangerously – well compared to how I had been living, anyway.

In February last year I sat silently quaking on a 2 hour flight to spend time in Austria with a good friend. By December I was sitting relatively calmly on a 10 hour flight to a retreat where I didn’t know any of the 130 other attendees. I made lots of changes inbetween those two events but the pivotal one was joining the gym last July.

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The person responsible for holding my hand and encouraging me every step of the way was Val the Cookie Queen. Like all the best role-models she didn’t preach or cajole, she was just a great advert for what an active life-style can do for you.

Up to that point I’d heard countless times how exercise helps with low mood. I just couldn’t identify with working-out in any way and didn’t consider it to be an option for me. All I’d done in the past 20 years was a spell of Kundalini yoga: call me hardcore, but I don’t think anyone should be snoring during their exercise session (I swear it wasn’t me).

When I tentatively brought up the idea of following her example and going to the gym, Val plainly stated it would change my life. That was the final push I needed to at least give it a try.

To say I had low expectations on taking out a gym membership is to put it mildly. I felt like a fish out of water and thought it unlikely that it would be for me. But in the spirit of my drive to step out of my comfort zone, I’d give it a proper go for the next 6 months.

After two weeks my obsessive thoughts had decreased by about 90%. I was amazed. Considering they had been intense and constant for the previous year and half, I don’t think this is a coincidence. I doubt I was pushing myself hard enough to release the required amount of endorphins but I do think I sent a strong positive message to myself that I was prepared to do whatever it took to improve my well-being.

Becoming fitter and reducing my body fat was a great bonus. I do two sessions of cardio/resistance work a week plus a Hatha yoga class. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t exactly enjoy being at the gym and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check my watch regularly while I’m there. All the same, if I can’t go for any reason, instead of feeling relieved I feel uneasy. This is now an important part of my weekly routine.

Thanks Val, you were right; going to the gym changed my life.

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Me and Val at Fortnum & Mason last summer

Do you go to the gym or do any other kind of regular exercise? What have the benefits been? 

 

 

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In Gratitude For Perfume People

For about a month now, I have been practising gratitude. Previously the idea of having a gratitude journal seemed rather, well, soppy. However, after learning that the benefits have been proven and trying it out for myself, I am a convert.

 

Gratitude

 

The gratitude ritual gradually trains your mind to focus on the positive things that happen each day, rather than the negative. If, like me, you’re not naturally a glass half full kind of person, it’s easy to let these occurrences – be they large or small – slip by unacknowledged. Over time you should become more optimistic as well as more content.

Waking up and running through what you’re thankful for or noting down each evening what you’re grateful for happening during the day, can easily become part of your daily routine.

I now actually look forward to writing in my journal at the end of the day. I note down three things I was grateful for that day, in addition to two things I did well (which can be tiny) and my priorities for the next day. This combines gratitude with a sense of accomplishment and progress, which also bolster our sense of well-being.

“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the
attitude of gratitude is the most important,
and by far the most life-changing” – Zig Ziglar

What has been featuring prominently in my gratitude list lately is the number of fellow bloggers who have helped me get A Bottled Rose off the ground.

Birgit of Olfactoria’s Tr avels suggested I try writing about perfume in the first place and gave me the opportunity to experience the sense of connectedness you get from blogging.

Vanesssa of Bonkers About Perfume and Val who contributes to Australian Perfume Junkies both encouraged me to start a blog of my own and supported me when I doubted myself.

Portia – writer and owner of Australian Perfume Junkies – cleverly reworked the original blog name and came up with the far superior A Bottled Rose during our Skype chat.

The supremely talented Asali of The Sounds of Scents created the stunning header image which is more perfect than I could have ever hoped for. With the vaguest of briefs, she quickly came up with several options which were so striking in different ways, I had a hard time choosing between them.

Undina of  Undina’s Looking Glass has been utterly invaluable in the technical administration of the site.  I’ve been so clueless she even had to re-instate my Home page when I managed to lose it.

I’ve always been much more comfortable in the role of giving help rather than receiving it, so I am grateful to my friends for teaching me that it’s okay to let others lend you a hand when you need it.

Finally, thank you to the wider fragrance community and beyond for the warm, encouraging reception. It means more than you know.

 

 

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