Where Do You Want to Go Today? An Ode to a Podcast.

As a person born in the 80s, I remember it well when Microsoft launched Windows ’95 and asked ‘Where Do You Want to Go Today?’. I remember along with the internet appearing in homes, and being able to ‘go’ where seemed like literally ANYWHERE via your computer and I remember that feeling still. I hadn’t had that kind of feeling since then, until I started listening to the Beautiful/Anonymous podcast.

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I started listening to podcasts as a means of keeping me interested in running on a gym treadmill for a full hour without losing my interest. I started with Serial (didn’t we all?) since that was what everyone was talking about at the time. I then added This American Life to my subs list, and it was during one of these episodes that I was introduced to Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (or Beautiful/Anonymous).

Living in the UK, I’ll admit I’d never heard of New Jersey born Comedian Chris Gethard. But I immediately liked his conversational style, his use of friendly banter and (of course) his accent. The premise of the podcast is that the producers of the show will periodically put out a telephone number, people will call and if they get through they can talk to Chris, totally anonymously, about anything of their choosing. The caller can choose to end the call whenever they want, but Chris can’t. Then at 60 minutes the call is disconnected.

It’s a great idea. But how does this remind me of Windows 95? It all goes back to ‘that feeling’. I adored being able to instantly find out about people’s cultures and lives in other countries. I could watch a webcam of Times Square or a beach in Hawaii. I could see photos of someone’s quinceañera and feel like I was there. I could live chat to people in other countries in chat-rooms, and learn all about their lives! So when I started listening to Beautiful/Anonymous I started to get similar insights into people’s worlds. Where else could I listen to the story of an Australian Bushman? How else would I get to hear fun, disgusting, heartbreaking and sometimes very dark stories?

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And it’s not just American people featured. Chris recently put out a number for UK residents to call, and that call was just as insightful as the others. And obviously there’s not just Americans who can make a call from America.

But it’s not just the content of the caller’s stories that make Beautiful/Anonymous so engaging. Chris, the host, is fantastically natural and just as engaging on the calls. As a huge advocate of therapy and taking care of your mental health, he relates to a lot of the callers. He’s in a position where, even though he’s loathed to give the kind of advice you might consider counselling, he is a fantastic listener. He knows how to keep a balance between entertaining and prying – a skill I feel he has honed during the period of the 100+ episodes that have been put out.

But coming away from the podcast itself, we should also talk about the BA Facebook community. A community which is currently at 26k members and growing at quite a rate. I’ve never been part of a large community that’s so understanding, welcoming and diplomatic. That’s not to say that everyone agrees all the time, but with the help of some awesome moderators, conversation is just that – a conversation. A meeting of minds. It’s a respectful community where people celebrate differences of culture and opinion, bred from an environment of just that on the podcast.

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I have often recommended this podcast to people I know. People who I feel are interested in other lives and cultures and ways of doing things. But I have had a 100% decline rate on it. And here’s why I think that is – the people I’ve suggested it to, I’ve chosen being that they are all of the above – interested in other people’s lives etc. However, I have a theory – everyone who loves BA, loves it because they’re on a journey themselves. They’ve accepted their Self, and even if they’re still a work in progress, they’re willing to listen to other people who are also works in progress. They might be listening to stories that could challenge their own wellbeing and make them ask questions about themselves. And this is too much of a challenge for some, understandably. Because who can judge others when they’re not without judgement themselves?

It’s a theory, but it seems to fit for now. These stories aren’t gossip, they’re not going to make you feel better about yourself. But you will come away from each of them with something – a sore stomach from laughing, a heavy heart, maybe tears in your eyes, inspiration, admiration. Awe.

If you, like me, are genuinely interested in people, you might just like it. I’m subscribed via Apple Podcasts and I’m so glad I was there from the very start, to hear the journeys of these 100+ people. I hope to be able to attend a live show eventually, as they tape them from time to time.

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If you decide to listen, or if you listen already, please let me know. I’d love to know there was a fellow BA fan in my midst!

 

April Favourites!

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This month I have been really enjoying fresh scents, springy colours and good entertainment. As with the weather changing (in parts for the worst!), I like to ‘change the air’ in all aspects of my life, meaning I like to seek new experiences and explore perspective.

So here goes with my April Favourites!

You might have seen my latest ‘First Impressions’ blog about NYX Cosmetics. If you haven’t see it, please pop over and have a read. Two of the products I picked up have made it into this month’s favourites.

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Firstly, the NYX HD Blush in Pink the Town (£5.50), which I’m really enjoying using. It’s lovely to build up and gives a nice matte flush to my cheeks. I’ve used it practically every day since I bought it and haven’t made even a small dent in the pan. Love it!

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Second is the NYX Control Freak eyebrow gel (£5.50). I’m still finding it much better than the Urban Decay equivalent I had been using. It’s starting to go a little cloudy in the tube, and I guess that’s just because it’s been open for a while. But the UD one did the same, and it doesn’t affect how it looks once applied. And at that price, it’s no match – I’ll be repurchasing this when it’s done.

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Next is an item I got in my GlossyBox and a few months ago. This is the Luxie Large Angled Face Brush 504 (£10.42) I love getting tools in my subscription box, as long as they’re good quality. I was in the market for a new blusher brush so this came at the perfect time. The bristles are perfect because they mean you don’t get too much on the brush (I’m heavy handed with blusher and I wish I wasn’t!) The angle is great for getting colour into the contours of my cheeks. And it’s really comfortable to use. I wouldn’t even mind if I received another one of these, they’re that great.

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I bought the Bare Minerals Perfecting Veil (£22.00 Light to Medium) a while back. I wanted something to set my under eyes without being too matte. When I used this for the first few times I was really disappointed. It was too matte, too powdery, smelled funny under my nose and just made me look old. Back in the drawer it went. Then at the start of last month, as the Spring weather started to emerge, I decided I needed something on my t-zone. So I pulled this out again – this time using A LOT less product. And I LOVE IT. I literally tap my large powder brush on the pan, once lightly, and then dust all over the necessary areas on my face with that one tap of powder.

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You can barely see any powder on my face which is great because I really dislike the matte look. My oily areas stay matte ALL DAY. If I pat my nose with my finger at the end of the day I can see some oil transfer, however I don’t look at all oily. I look just as I did when I put my makeup on – natural. I’m so impressed with this powder, and interested to see how it fares as the weather gets warmer. I have started using the little sponge disc puff which comes with it (stored underneath the powder in the compact) occasionally to set my under eyes. Pressing a small amount straight after application of my concealer under my eyes, and around my nose does help keep my makeup in place, and only creases a teeny bit if I use too much. I also find it handles Touche Éclat spot-highlighting on top very well.

Next I want to talk about Body Fantasies. This American brand have just launched in the UK and have brought 4 fragrances with them. Aimed at the teen and pre-teen probably, I was lured to them by the fact that they seemed similar to the Victoria’s Secret body sprays at a fraction of the price. These retail for £3.99 each but Superdrug often have them ‘better than half price’ which is when I picked them up. They’re 94ml each but state they have over 500 sprays in them.

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I picked up Pink Vanilla Kiss Fantasy, Twilight Mist and Japanese Cherry Blossom. They also do a grapefruit scent, which wasn’t really for me. I didn’t expect to like Pink Vanilla Kiss, expecting it to be way to sweet and girly for me. But I really loved it – think a mix of Hollister and Victoria’s Secret and you get a sense of the heady sugary scent, but it’s not too over powering. There’s a vanilla floral note to it that just screams summer. It’s definitely my favourite. Twilight Mist (named really well) is more of a floral musk. Definitely an evening scent – fresh and again summery. Japanese Cherry Blossom is a little bit ‘old lady’ but in a nice way. It’s the most floral of the bunch, but it’s clean and fresh and a little sweet. If you’re in Superdrug and you see them, give them a sniff. For the price they’re awesome and I’ll definitely be repurchasing them. Because they’re so reasonably priced I’m not afraid to use them liberally and every day – unlike perfumes that you don’t want to use up! I like how the scent lingers all day, and I get little whiffs of them as I go about my day. I know they have a much larger range in the US so I’m excited to see what they come out with next, here. I’m strenuously hoping for some kind of coconut or pina colada scent!

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Lastly for beauty, I’ve been trying out the Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream (£28.00) I was offered a free sample of this cream with my last GlossyBox. This lightweight night cream looks like a cream and feels like a gel. It goes on smoothly and smells really nice. It sinks into the skin fairly fast and then stays a teeny bit tacky. When I wake up in the morning my skin feels amazing – soft, matte, almost powder smooth but so so light. I had been using this every night but now I can see the bottom of my sample pot I’m only using it once or twice a week. At £28 a jar I really can’t justify buying the full size, and to be honest I can’t really see a massive need for this. It does make my skin feel wonderful but I’m not sure it’s adding anything to my beauty routine. Still, I’m adoring it whilst I have it!

Gary and I found we had run out of full TV series to watch, as a lot of our shows have ended. Having Netflix now we decided to give House of Cards a go. And I’m so glad we did. Kevin Spacey is an awesome actor, and the show is written so well. Set in Washington DC and based around the world of The White House, it’s right up our street. We’re on the 3rd season so far, and really enjoying it.

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And lastly, as an avid This American Life listener, a recent episode featured Chris Gethard’s Beautiful/Anonymous podcast. At an hour long each episode, an anonymous person can call in and speak to Chris for the full hour about anything they want. Chris isn’t allowed to hang up on the caller at any point, and the only way the show can end is if the caller hangs up or if the time runs out. It’s been really interesting listening to these, and I’ve just got to the end of the back-log so I’m now waiting on new episodes. Some of them have been moving, some funny, and some down-right weird. But I love listening. If you enjoy This American Life, check out Beautiful/Anonymous – you might just like it.

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I love listening to this kind of thing in the car when I’m driving, and I’m considering getting Audible – do any of you guys have an Audible subscription? If you do, what do you think? Worth the cost? I’d love to know what you think!

So that’s April – what have you been loving this month?

Blood and Blogging

My week so far has been fairly uneventful. Though it is only Tuesday so what else can be expected?

I say uneventful but I did almost pass out yesterday after bending my thumbnail back half way down the nail bed, and after seeing the blood I lost consciousness for a few seconds and then could hear nothing but ringing in my ears for about a minute. So that was fun. But my nail didn’t break so I guess I have OPI Nail Envy to thank for that.

It’s annoying how I manage to cope with pain and stuff but as soon as I see blood that’s it, I’m gone. And it’s not even like seeing someone else’s blood does the same thing, or talking about blood, or seeing it on the TV – I only have that reaction when it’s my blood…. And thinking about it now I’m fine, and I know how odd it is. I can’t rationalise it. One minute I’m fine…. Until I’m not.

G and I have been feeling rather under the weather, him more so, but we’re both feeling incredibly run down. The weather isn’t helping. We’re being offered a smidgen of spring, and before we know it we’re watching snow falling outside. I’ve picked up some lovely new summer tops for my trip in September but I’d rather like to start wearing them soon, please.

Next weekend is a Bank Holiday, so a 3-day break, and we’ve got some stuff planned which is nice. I’m hoping the sun shines and it brings some of my happy back.

I’ve been really enjoying reading more blogs and seeing what other people are writing. As much as I love to read all about makeup and fashion, it’s great to see there’s still some intelligent and substantial blog writing happening. Sure it doesn’t bring in as many ‘likes’ or follows as the latest palette review, but I appreciate it. And I’m not suggesting that beauty isn’t an intelligent subject, but you know what I mean.

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I was listening to This American Life in the car on the drive home today, and they were talking about memories. The journalist hosting that particular part of the podcast was talking about how people she was afraid to forget parts of her life so much that she kept boxes upon boxes of memories so that’s she could look back and reminisce – she’d even lugged them to no less than 12 apartments over 10 years. That describes me perfectly (the memory part not the 12 apartment part). I’m so afraid of having an awesome time and forgetting it over the years – it’s petrifying.  I think that’s why I blog. It’s like a living journal – the living part being you guys, my readers. I love knowing you’re out there and that you like reading what I’ve written. My blog was started just for me, to memorialise parts of my life, but years on I now love how it’s an outlet to interact with like-minded people.

Over the years I’ve focussed on books, then fitness, running, food and now beauty. And a lot of you have come along for the ride. It’s nice to have you here!

So the rest of my week will be full of sweaters and chilly evenings wishing the heating wasn’t on. But if the forecast is to be believed things might be picking up by the end of next week. Until then I’ll keep my scarves out and curse the snow flurries. It’s April, Man. Give us a break!

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