My month in images
There is a reason for each season we experience, in life or in nature. The challenge is that we learn to follow its rhythm, not fight against, rush it or resist it. The more we embrace the complexities of each season, the lighter the following one will feel.
Winter has always been the most magical of all for me. I’m enchanted by the frozen solitude of a snowy landscape, the vulnerability of the naked trees, the smell of peeled oranges, and smoking chimneys. It’s a time of hibernation, intimate connections, rest, dreaming and reflection. It’s a time for warm blankets and soothing lattes.
Skin may also feel the effects of winter and there’s more to it than just products. I’ve developed an aversion towards lists, but here’s a few thoughts for you to take away, if in need:
🌱 Nourish your skin from the inside out. Vitamin rich foods will make your skin glow. Laughter too, yes! Nutrient-dense foods and warm drinks will soothe the dryness and coldness of winter on your skin. Eat enough protein, healthy fats and fibre, ideally with every meal. Warm lemonades or teas with fresh lemon, ginger and sea buckthorn are powerful antioxidants fighting free radicals and giving your immune system a boost.
🌱 Look for specific ingredients rather than specific products - there's not one product fitting all, as no skin is alike. Some of my favourite ingredients for a skin that needs a little bit more nourishing are plant butters (cacao, shea or mango), mushroom extracts, ceramides (skin identical ingredients that form a water impermeable skin barrier, preventing excessive water loss), oat extracts, vitamin E and humectants (HA, honey, aloe vera).
🌱 Avoid washing your face with water that is either too hot or too cold. Morning cold showers, however, do wonders at re-energising your mind and body. Yes, during winter too! Check-in with your body, though, I usually skip them if I am overly tired or during my period.
🌱 It’s not the time to over exfoliate. Lactic acid is milder and less irritant, while meadowsweet, willow bark, fruit enzymes and sugar are great natural alternatives to glycolic and salicylic acids.
🌱 Keep your skin damp while applying products, as they will penetrate the skin better. I love spraying a hydrating facial mist and go over with a serum or a balm before that dries.
🌱 Indulge in face massages once in a while, they are great at easing tension as well as plumping the skin up. You don’t have to go to a salon or spend an hour on it. Learn some quick and easy techniques from the girls at Re:lax. I also love Lisa Eldridge’s massage routine tutorial - it relaxes me by just watching it. The rest is just intuition. Use your hands intuitively to massage your face and neck.
🌱 Expose yourself to natural light - ideally early morning and before sunset. Vitamin D supplements are recommended, especially if you live in the UK, and don’t forget your sunscreen 10AM onwards!
Keep the routine going coming spring, unravel from the winter hibernation at a slower pace. Your body will thank you. And all good things start with a good sleep! As a long-term insomniac, I certainly lack that, so I’m hoping preaching it will make good sleep contagious. 🤔
For a more personalised experience related to the health of your skin, you can book a one-to-one lesson with me here. 👩🏻🏫
A note on 2022 and moving forward
Let’s face it, the past year was intense, filled with individual and collective trauma coming to surface. It was almost as if a whole life was compressed in one year. That’s how I felt it, at least.
I went back and forth with the thought of whether to share or not how I’ve navigated and managed to tame my inner storm. It either felt too personal in oversharing, or, like a (to do) list in going less in-depth. The impostor syndrome wouldn’t spare me its presence on this occasion either, as I wouldn’t feel well enough, rested enough, vital enough, patient enough, to talk about all the things I’ve done to get myself out of the rabbit hole. As if I hadn’t known and preached it already that healing doesn’t require a time frame and linearity, and that all we (ever) need is good enough. All in all, it didn’t feel like the right time, yet again, and so I moved forward.
Instead, I’ll leave you with some soothing wise words from one my favourite Substack writers,. She’s so much better than me at converting feelings and thoughts, often resembling my own, into words, so I’ll borrow her voice this time:
'When I comb through these reasons, I see clearly that it isn’t really about me at all…. it’s about patterns I have — behaviours that have carved grooves in me — beliefs I’ve inherited. Things that started outside of me and have found their way in… which means they can also find their way back out.
I long thought I needed to rid myself of these reasons before I could show up, before I could share about my work, before I could let myself fully own my gifts in my way. And in some ways, sure — not having these experiences ever again would be lovely, and probably very beneficial for my visibility, income, and self-concept. Yet I’ve learned it isn’t realistic for me to shed myself of these lifelong inner battles in a matter of months, or even years. It’s too big of an ask to never again move through the fear, the doubt, the self-questioning, the hesitation, the wondering how I can contort myself just enough to make sure no one dislikes the way I show up, the work I do, the person I am.'
And a question I’ve been baking on every possible side on lately: Was last year just about last year or a symptom of an unsustainable lifestyle we’ve been carrying on having for a very long time now?
I am aware that this whole emotional, physical and mental turmoil was due, in part, to a Pandemic, economic crisis, absurd and horrific wars (in and out), and too much death - of loved ones, freedoms and identities. But what’s lurking underneath all that? Is it not that our extreme individualism, our contribution to the depletion of natural resources, and carelessness about the health of nature, also have dire consequences on feeling so depleted ourselves, so out of touch with our bodies, spirituality and community? In an attempt to make-up for the ‘lost’ years - which translates into even more reckless consumerism, non-stop work and ubiquitous crowds - we tend to disregard the fact that we are sucking all resources along the way - the ones of Mother Nature but also our own sources of energy and vitality. No wonder we don't have any capacity to love and give back. What do we need to let go of this struggles and layers of ‘skin’ that are not our own? This is a question my therapist would frequently ask, and I’m still on my way to finding an accurate answer.
Sparks of interest
A way to recycle unused or expired make-up products: Eco Art Paint . I came across Ameenah and her mission, during a workshop on sustainability and recycling. She creates beautiful watercolour paints from up-cycled cosmetic waste, thus providing a zero waste, circular economy solution to the ever-growing cosmetic waste problem. Shout-out for those who love to play with (planet friendly) watercolour paints and those who are looking for an alternative to throwing away their unused or expired make-up. Check her website to see how and what kind of make-up products you can donate.
A report: The Lazy Report. Can Laziness Aid Creativity? Yes, it can, that is the correct answer! I’m glad I came across another revelatory and well documented piece of writing on how rest, ‘laziness’ and dreaming are so necessary for the creative mind. It’s a remarkable article also because it addresses and dismantles the significance of the word ’laziness’, which is merely a construct of a society that favours productivity and achievements over intuition, recovery and self-respect. It’s a long one but well worth the read.
A documentary: The Velvet Queen
This film touched me to the bones with its lyricism, tenderness and breathtaking cinematography. It's more than just a nature documentary, it's pure poetry - both literally and figuratively.
In the heart of the Tibetan highlands, nature photographer Vincent Munier guides writer and poet Sylvain Tesson on his quest to document the elusive snow leopard. The documentary is a lesson into the art of patience, minus the expectations, but also an insight into the humankind's place amongst the magnificent creatures and landscapes they encounter along the way. A subtle invitation for the audience to adopt the same mindset and immerse into the concept of delayed gratification.
It's a beautiful ode to the rawness and wilderness of nature, that is inherent to every one of us, but that we've left behind in an attempt to take control over it - the nature around us and the one within. There's too much noise, too much running around. We are so disconnected right now, from nature, from ourselves. We rarely wonder anymore. There's so much anxiety on and so less of the other senses. We've lost our ability to be, feel and act like an animal. And although some might think this is a good thing, in many ways, it's not, as we've learned to suppress so many emotions. It doesn't matter if it's good emotions or 'bad' emotions, they all have their place. And I don't have to tell you that suppressing emotions leads to numbness and confusion, to anxiety, to disconnection. We put on this shiny human-like coat and believe this is how we can stay in control. As if there's ever been a possibility to have all things under control. In a quest to civilise everything around us, we've forgotten what our nature is. And with the wilderness of our nature comes our freedom, our autonomy, our sense of dreaming and wonder, that are currently dismissed and taken prisoners by the disruptive society we live in.
There's this last scene with the leopard - the velvet queen - that feels profoundly spiritual. I watched it all over again, as it takes me to a place of lightness and magical realism. The fact that they managed to catch more than a glimpse of the elusive feline, which is extremely rare, feels like such a gift, but more than that, like an appreciation of their patience and acknowledgment of the journey, of their ongoing curiosity and connection with nature. The mixture of emotions in her glance - gracefulness, tenderness, slowness, focus, softness, courage, goofiness, a time to act but also a time to rest, acute senses and complete awareness of her environment - is the perfect embodiment of what I would love to see in the world, and not less in myself. It's also a completely different portrayal of how a wild cat's stance and behaviour are usually perceived, which is yet another thing I've admired about the documentary.
These are just a few of my favourite excerpts from the film:
[Sylvain Tesson] — We peered at landscapes with no certainty of them yielding fruit. We waited for a shadow in silence, facing the void. It was the opposite of a selling proposition. The right-here-right-now of modern epilepsy ran into the most-likely-nothing-ever of the blind.
[Sylvain Tesson] — When you go back to France, and you begin to reconnect with the news, with the whole puppet show of humanity, you must find it both absurd and horrifying
[Vincent Munier] — For sure, going home is sometimes complicated. But I know now, after 20 years or so. Places like these are a breath of fresh air. A way of escaping I guess. You're going to see nature that hasn't been upended, or that humans haven't yet got their claws into. I need Kamchatka, the Far North, with barely any human presence, or only nomads, like here, who live in harmony. Which we have lost.
[Vincent Munier] —As soon as I'm in a city, I'm a different man. As if I'm playing a role. In nature, on the other hand, it's just you. You can't cheat. It's definitely a reality. I block out all that. All the commotion people make.
[Vincent Munier] — What annoys me is, we're not so animal anymore.There's a disconnect. We're nature's numbskulls. Up here, for us, it's a struggle. At 5000m, we're bumblers. We have no sense of observation, no sense of smell. All our senses have fallen into disuse
[Sylvain Tesson] — I'd learned that patience was a supreme virtue. The most elegant and the most neglected. It helped you love the world.
A movie: The Banshees of Inisherin. This one was an unexpected surprise, a true diamond amongst all too many blockbusters and movies that are set to impress through various artefacts, yet are anything but successful in achieving that. Banshees of Inisherin stands out in the most quiet and subtle ways. Don’t be fooled by its apparent slowness and boring plot, as it’s particularly these appearances that set the scene for the underlying insights. In sharp contrast to life on the island, stands the evocative cinematography and impressive landscape. One great example of revealing the power of one aspect in the movie through the characteristics of another one. The whole script felt like a sort of endurance test, an invitation to navigate through all the emotions that it skilfully manages to stir in the audience. There’s no escape but to face them all. The ability of the few inhabitants on the island to continue their seemingly desolate and dull life on the island mirrors, in a way, the ability of the audience to stay with their own demons. There’s a lot of personal reflection, and gain, I would say, that emerges from watching this movie and staying with it until the end. There are many things to digest and I love the fact that the movie doesn’t try to convince, not even imply, that there’s just one side of the story, hence just one side of our humanness. How long can one stay with the boredom, the silence, the anger, the violence - the uncomfortable? How long until one becomes the island they inhabit? The questions the movie seems to address. A highly profound screenplay, where tragedy and comedy, sadness and tenderness are perfectly paired, and the acting fits accordingly.
A book: Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power, and Use It For Good. There seems to be a strong connection between the several sparks of interest I have decided to share in this newsletter. A revelation this book was and I had the feeling it reached me at the exact right time. One of my very first important contacts with the concept of somatic therapy and an eye (and heart) opener to why and how I’ve been prone to keeping this free spirited and intuitive wild animal - my true nature - locked for so long. It taught me to shake off my body as well as previous limiting beliefs.
An article: OUR SECOND BRAIN and Why You Should Listen To Our Gut. It’s heavy, yet mostly empowering, to become aware of how interconnected everything is, in and out of our bodies. Thankfully, there’s more and more research and evidence on why it is so vital to listen to our gut, in the most literal sense there is. An interesting read on the gut-brain connection and a few tips on how to feed into a healthy microbiome.
A creative channel: HGTV Handmade. Ending the longer than usual list of recommendations with something fun! Short videos of talented makers, designers and artists who turn their passions into businesses and their homes into creative playgrounds. They’re entertaining and give me a lot of inspiration and enthusiasm to try my hands at different things.