6 Jobs To Do From Home.

With how much I go on about traditional roles and their benefit to couples, women and men, some may think I don’t support the idea of women working. However I do think women should work. Firstly because avoiding hard graft isn’t a good indicator of character. Secondly because everyone needs hobbies. Thirdly because in this economy both partners need to make and save money together. Fourthly because it offers you some independence in case your partner loses his job, passes away or, yes it is a possibility, leaves. In short, work is good. But not all work is created equal. I also believe most women are better off and happier in traditional roles, away from the stress and drudgery of office-life, looking after their children and their homes. Someone needs to make sure the food is made, the house is clean and tidy, the laundry is done and the cupboards are stocked. And how do I propose reconciling the two angles? By working from home, of course.

These are six jobs that you can do from home whilst still maintaining a home. They will be rated on time investment, startup cost and space needed. All of them can pay very well if you make good choices, use your time wisely and advertise far and wide. So pick one and stick with it, give them all a go or try them all at once and discontinue the least rewarding.

1.- eBay.

Many people think of eBay as either for people who want to sell old rubbish, people who want to buy something or people who have warehouses full of goods. But the simple reality is that you can start an eBay shop with an empty drawer or cabinet, a few hundred to spare, a local post office and a computer.

Time invested:

Wholly depends on how much you sell and how far you are from the post-office. Expect to make two trips a week to post items if you’re successful. Packing takes five minutes per item at the very most, but put time aside at the end of every day to pack anything you sold.

Money invested:

Depends on what you’re going to sell. However I would suggest that, to make it worthwhile, you will want to be investing at least £300 for your “starter” items. That might mean 300 items you buy at £1 and sell at £3 + P&P or 3 items you buy at £100 and sell at £150 + P&P. Therefore, good research is important.

Space needed:

This will grow as you do, but a drawer, cupboard or even a box is fine for storing your items. Maybe a corner of the room or a chair could be repurposed as a packing centre where everything is kept in easy-reach. If your business grows, you will likely expand into a room.

You will need:

-Something to sell.

-Somewhere to store it.

-Packing materials in the right sizes.

-A computer with a seller eBay account.

Things to be aware of:

-Choose a market you know well and research every item before buying it. Investing too much in a loss can seriously hit you when starting up.

-It will take 10 good reviews before your account is trusted by most buyers. It starts slow and steady and builds up from there, so always provide the best service possible.

-Make sure you get proof of postage or tracking on every item you send, to prevent false claims from would-be thieves.

-Only sell as much as you can handle. If you’re struggling when you have 200 items up at a time, don’t add another 100.

Possible returns:

This is a standard two months of selling on eBay. I have five to ten items up at a time, each worth £10-60. Many will sell within a week of posting, most will sell by the end of the 60 days.

Six jobs you can do from home.

2.- Tutor.

Private tutoring isn’t the scary monster a lot of people think it is. You do need a nice room to tutor from and a tidy, sorted house to welcome people into. Or a car so you can travel to students. You also need to know the subject you’re teaching and know it inside and out. But besides that, it isn’t that hard. I managed as an overworked A-level student without connections, so I’m pretty confident when I say that just about anyone could do it.

Time invested:

One hour minimum per lesson, plus fifteen minutes preparation for the first hour and an additional ten minutes for every subsequent hour, plus fifteen to thirty minutes homework prep where relevant. So if you have one student who has two hours a week, that is 135 to 165 minutes of your time.

Money invested:

Most of the financial investment is startup. You will need to make sure you have a computer you can always access, which may involve buying a new computer, for instance. A couple of hundred pounds to remodel the room a little, get some extra furniture and stock up on “school supplies” would be needed. Then from there you only need to pay for the materials your students use and for renewing advertisements.

Space needed:

If you will tutor from your home, you will need a room that is quiet, inviting and well-equipped. This could be your living room if you don’t have kids and your partner is at work, but you will likely need a second room. If you tutor only as outcalls, then you just need space to store your materials. If you tutor only online, then you need a quiet room and little else.

You will need:

-A computer you can always access.

-Relevant books and resources.

-Accounts on various tutoring sites.

-Advertisements on free websites, paid websites and local newspapers.

-All relevant materials.

-A Disclosure of Barred Services if you plan on working with children.

Things to be aware of:

-Many parents will want to sit-in on the first few lessons.

-You can learn as you go along, but practising on friends and relatives first will help a lot.

-Your students will expect your home to be at a good temperature, pleasant-smelling, dustless and organized.

-You will need to adapt your language for every student and deal with people that you may find frustrating or annoying.

-Don’t take on a student you don’t think you can handle.

Possible returns:

Depends on the hours you work, but £6-25/hour is the usual range. Think £6 for something more people could offer, like knitting lessons, to £25 for something fewer people offer, like Mandarin Chinese lessons. You will have to charge around the same as others in your area and often you will charge less for classes at your home than you will for classes outside it.

3.- Housework.

We don’t tend to think of housework as something we can make money for at home. But many people are prepared to outsource some very simple tasks, so it could be worthwhile trying to do their work for some extra money! You could offer a laundry service, a meal prep service, shopping collection or even a firewood preparing service.

Time invested:

Completely dependent on your workload, but not a lot. The customers will drop off their laundry at your home, for example, or you can get ingredients and logs for your customers when you get your own. If you’re doing your own laundry, then put theirs through too. Do their ironing after yours. Collect their shopping when you’re in town. Cook all the meals in a couple of large pots, ready.

Money invested:

The cost of some extra detergent, electricity or ingredients.

Space needed:

No more than if you were doing the job on your own. Though if you’re looking at cooking you may need to upgrade your kitchen and get certified, depending on where you live!

You will need:

-Advertisements on free advertisement sites and in local newspapers.

-Any certification required by law in your area.

Things to be aware of:

-This will need to be something you already do to make it worth your time.

-Your reputation and reviews will be 100% based on customer satisfaction, there is no room to argue your case if you upset a customer.

-It could interfere with your life if you take on too much work.

Possible returns:

Not much, you’ll probably get £5-8 for every hour of work, but it’s extra money for minimal effort.

4.- Care.

Whether it’s pets, children, elderly or disabled relatives or just houseplants, almost everyone has something they need to care for in their lives. But people go on holidays, get ill and have overtime at work. So the care industries are an excellent place to make a little bit of money on the side.

Time invested:

Travel time and however many hours you’re accepting. You could only accept people within half an hour of your home, for example. Or only accept people who want care that is four times the travel time, for example someone who lives 45 minutes away but wants three hours of care.

Money invested:

Depends on the care. Often with pet-sitting and plant-sitting you will be left with the necessary food and care products. However with daycare you may need to assume you will be feeding the children. You will also need to adapt your house to make sure you can properly care for whoever you will care for. For example, you can’t take over elderly or disabled care for anyone if your spare room is up two flights of stairs.

Space needed:

A spare room for whoever you’re caring for. Be it a few dogs, some hens, some potted plants or a teenager, you will need a place for them to sleep, eat and get some privacy.

You will need:

-The time to travel to other people’s homes for care.

-The space to put-up however many people, pets or plants you will care for.

-Experience in a relevant field of care.

-A Disclosure of Barred Services for caring for children or other vulnerable people.

Things to be aware of:

-You may need certification for looking after certain pets or even endangered plants.

-Always investigate anything you’re not sure of and feel free to ask questions. If you’ve kept snakes for years, nobody will worry much if you’re not sure about a certain species.

-Your house will have to be safe, accommodating and roomy enough.

-What people care for may seem odd for you. Someone may love a potted plant more than you love your pets. Someone may want their terrapin to be pampered. If you must turn someone down, do so politely by explaining you’re not sure you could provide their loved one with the care he/she/it deserves.

Possible returns:

The minimum care salary for your area up to £25/h.

5.- Food.

Producing your own food may seem like a smart option, even if you’re space-restricted. But many people don’t realize how easily you can grow a little excess and sell it on. Everything from potatoes, to berries, to eggs, to jams, to cake can be produced in bulk and sold, provided you abide by local restrictions and regulations.

Time invested:

Even if you’re just growing and not processing anything, some time will need to be set aside. For example, if you have fifty rehoused hens that are largely still laying, it may not be enough to collect and box the surplus eggs. You will need to make sure the sizes are either separated (a box of smalls, a box of mediums and a box of larges, for example) or very well mixed (so no box is entirely smalls, for example). You will need to put your signs up. You will need to be hospitable to anyone who shows up asking about eggs and maybe show people the hens. In short, from the moment the sign goes out, you could be busy.

Money invested:

Not much. The cost of extra seeds or a bit of extra feed for some more hens isn’t that high. Just keep growing or producing whatever your land is good for.

Space needed:

Depends how large you want to go. On a medium garden you could probably make space for many vegetable and fruit plants. You could grow herbs and keep rabbits on a tiny patio. You could turn your whole garden over to laying hens. Look at what you have and see what you can do.

You will need:

-A sign to place somewhere fairly busy, with clear directions to your house.

-A sign for outside your house.

-Enough spare food to sell.

Things to be aware of:

-In some places you can only sell fresh produce, in others you need a license to sell certain items. Always check.

-Recommend use-by dates to your customers.

-Keep hygiene spot-on.

Possible returns:

Expect to sell a few baskets of items a day, so keep them priced moderately and it will be easy to get rid of surplus food and start making a profit on your own groceries!

6.- Writing.

This is one people don’t know how to get started on. The easiest way to just start writing immediately and make money is to use a freelance website like fiverr.com. That way you can learn what you’re good at and get ready for more challenging things, like writing ebooks, blogs or novels for publishers.

Time invested:

It takes around half an hour to set up the basics to look right, maybe fifteen minutes to set up each Gig. Advertising isn’t really needed for writing work.

Besides that, however much you want to work. You can expect many people to order many types of text, so consider making a Gig for each of them and then temporarily suspending some when you’re more overworked.

Money invested:

None at all. However bear in mind that all freelance websites will charge a fee and take it out of your earnings.

Space needed:

Somewhere quiet to sit and focus.

You will need:

-A working computer with a good writing program on it.

-A backup hard-drive in case anything happens to your computer.

-A quiet space to work from.

Things to be aware of:

-It’s better to cancel an order than to get overbooked.

-Encourage customers to contact you before ordering.

-Sometimes people will be annoying. If they start acting out, check their page for reviews from sellers. Chances are they’re a first time customer.

Potential earnings:

This is a month of fiverr earnings on the side of my main work, probably an hour a day at the most.

Six jobs you can do from home.And those are six jobs you can do from home with minimal investment in terms of time, money, energy and space. With all of them you largely work your own hours, can cancel and have a few weeks off when you need to or even increase the prices if demand is high. You could do a little of all of them or make one your full-time job.

Got any questions about getting started with any of these? Just ask and I’ll help you out!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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How To… prepare a makeup kit.

This post is the last in my “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI at these links.

Ending on something a little lighter for my seventh and final kit: makeup. Again, another one for the girls, but also an idea for a gift!

1: The Bag.

Most people’s makeup bags are too big with too few compartments or too small. Instead, look for something about the size of a pressure cooker pot, a 2l jug or an xBox360, with two or three compartments to it. This should be enough. If you’re an avid collector of makeup, try and keep various kits this size rather than one larger one, as it will keep everything more organized.

2: The Basics.

These are your minimalist makeup products. The two, three or four things you absolutely won’t go without. Keep them all together in a small section or their own pouch.

My basics:

-brown eyeliner

-black mascara

-concealer

-tinted lip gloss

3: The Specials.

These are things you actually use, but not all that often. Fancy dress, dressing fancy or to swap with your basics when you fancy a change. Anything you don’t use daily can be considered here. Anything you don’t use weekly absolutely belongs here. Keep them organized in a larger section of your bag where they can be accessed easily but kept away from your regular use items.

For specials, I would suggest an assortment of makeup with a bias towards makeup that enhances your best asset, all in good colours for you.

-eyeshadow collection in at least 5 colours that look good on you

-a couple of lipsticks that look bold and attractive against your skin

-blushes and countouring in your colours

-something unbelievably sparkly

4: The Applicators and Tools.

The stuff you use to put the makeup on and get your face neatened up. There are thousands of reasons to keep them separate from your main makeup, but the primary one is hygiene. These tools will be in contact with your face every day until they are replaced. You need to keep them clean, keep clean tools away from makeup and not let them come in contact with face cleaning equipment, unless you want to damage brushes or get deep pore cleanser in your eye through your lash curler!

I haven’t had a need for much more than this, but I’m not into heavy makeup most of the time. Add a special applicator for every item you wear regularly!

-large brush for coverage

-smaller brush for bursts of colour

-fan brush for eyeshadow control

-thin applicator for eyeshadow control

-sponges for dabbing and blurring

-lash curlers

-tweezers

-small scissors

5: The Cleaning.

And when you need to make a few corrections or get everything off, these come in handy. These occupy the main area of your bag, seeing as they’re large and best kept handy. You will also want to keep tools for cleaning your brushes and applicators.

6: The Nails.

Nail-care materials are often spread around the house, but it’s worthwhile to keep a set in your makeup bag that never strays from there.

-clippers

-scissors

-nail files

-fake nails and glue

-nail polishes

-nail polish remover

-nail moisturizer

7: The Travel Bag.

Something you can grab and throw your favourite makeup into. You’d take your whole kit with you if you were going somewhere for a week or more, but this is more for an evening or a couple of days.

It needs to have two main compartments: day and night. Maybe a third for interchangeable items. Each will have a makeup combination that covers all the sorts of makeup you wear, but only for one set. So an example would be:

Day: deep beige eye shadow, tinted lip gloss, brown eyeliner.

Night: dark green shiny eyeshadow, red lipstick, darker eyeliner.

Both: concealer, mascara, wipes.

And that is how I would put together a makeup kit!

I’m open to any further suggestions for kits to make and will, if asked nicely, put together some visuals of the kits I use, what’s in them and how to pack them for easy everyday use.

So go ahead and tell me about everyday situations, emergencies or clutter that you really think need a kit. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

9 Insanely Cheap Online Shops!

Everyone loves a good bargain. And I for one am happy to use charity shops, reduced-price sections of supermarkets, value high-street retailers and farmer’s markets to try and get everything at an awesome price.

But what about the savvy online shopper? And what about items you can’t find in your home town? I’m sure you’ve already got your own go-to websites or stores for certain things but, just in case, I’m sharing nine incredibly cheap online shops with you!

1: Hidden Fashion.

Hidden Fashion - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Hidden Fashion is a UK clothes store that sells all sorts of fashionable, current clothing for men, women and children. They do deliver worldwide, but expect to be charged by the kilo, which could add up outside of Europe!

They seem to work with high street surplus, so the quality goes up and down depending on the season and where they got it from, sort of like 99p stores, if you’re familiar with them. There is a lot of variety and the sorting tool makes it easy to find whatever you want.

Their clothes are some of the cheapest I’ve seen around, at £5 or less for everything. I wouldn’t use it for anything fancy as you may not get the best quality, but for one-off items and everyday wear I would definitely recommend it. Delivery costs for the UK start at £2.99, so really you’re paying £4-8 per item, but when you can get leggings or shoes for £1, it’s probably worth it.

2: Nut Site.

NutSite - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Another thing that can get expensive in stores are seeds, nuts and grains. It seems the little packets come with a surcharge that makes them crazily expensive, but at the same time nobody buys them in large enough quantities to drop the price.

Nut Site is a US based wholesaler for nuts, seeds, candy, you name it. Pretty much everything in bulk. Which means that as long as you’re happy to deal with 10kg of peanuts, you can save a good few dollars compared to in-store prices.

As far as I can see, they don’t offer free delivery. But if you try and make a purchase from them, please tell me what delivery options they have and how reasonable the pricing is!

3: Buy Whole Foods Online.

Buy Wholefoods Online - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And if you’re from the UK, definitely try out this site. It’s basically the same deal as Nut Site, except I actually have personal experience shopping there and they’re great.

They have a wide variety of nuts, seeds, legumes and grains, as well as organic foods and specialist products, all at next-to wholesale prices. They offer free delivery on UK orders over £30 and deliver to various European countries, with free deliver on orders over £100.

The delivery service is fast and trackable and the quality of the foods is excellent, especially when you can buy crushed nuts and seeds to cut your costs.

4: A’Gaci.

A'Gaci - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

A’Gaci is a US-based store that sells reasonable quality womens’ clothing. They have some high street stores, but if you’re not near any of them, you may not know about their clothing.

The lines are fashionable and, whilst the prices aren’t exactly dead cheap, you can get top-end quality for mid-range prices. Shopping online with them is apparently very easy and the delivery costs are reasonable even for small purchases. Though, be warned, they only deliver to mainland USA, that is, excluding Hawaii and Alaska.

5: 5.99 Fashion.

5.99 Fashion - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

For a middle ground, try out 5.99 Fashion. Every item besides the sale is $5.99! They have a good range of surplus clothing that is often trendy and comfortable. And the sale area lowers the prices even further, down to $0.99!

They also stand out as a clothing store that not only offers womens’, mens’ and kids’ clothes, but also plus-sized clothing (up to 4XL and 18 tops and size 24 bottoms, as of writing this) which is all at the same reasonable price, often present in the sale area and just as cute, fashionable and suitable as the regular sizes. They also offer free returns and exchanges, to make any less flattering purchases that little bit less embarrassing and expensive.

6: Everything £5.

Everything 5 Pounds - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

For a similar, UK-based store, check out Everything £5, where, you guessed it, everything besides sale items will be exactly £5! Again, there are some delivery costs, so it all depends on the weight, but even a few pairs of boots, which would be quite heavy, come up at flat delivery, so you’d probably have to be buying a crate to make delivery expensive.

And it’s another site with reasonable plus sized clothing at the same price as regular sizes, in fashionable cuts and up to 4XL, or UK size 44. So if you’re a British plus sized woman, this store will offer you the same benefits as 5.99. The only difference is that their policy on refunds doesn’t seem quite so kind!

7: Tesco clearance.

Tesco Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Another thing worth checking out is the clearance sections of supermarkets and general stores. Not the reduced aisles, the clearance on their online stores! You can snap up some straight-out-the-warehouse bargains alongside your grocery shop by checking out Tesco’s online clearance section!

8: Walmart clearance.

Walmart Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And if you’re from the USA, have no fear: Walmart also has its own online clearance section for you to peruse a couple of times a week.

9: Argos clearance.

Argos Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And for all sorts of random things, have a look at Argos’ clearance sections. After all, if you’re shopping at Argos anyway, it’s no trouble to sneak a peek at the clearance!

And those are nine online stores where you can get all sorts of awesome stuff cheaply and save your family money on clothes, household goods and expensive groceries.

Where do you like to shop online? Have any hidden bargain stores you’re just dying to share? Please mention any! And feel free to share your experience shopping at any of the above stores. All input appreciated. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Men Lead, Women Support.

There are some aspects of human nature that we are reluctant to address. Usually the ones that aren’t set in stone, that have just enough exceptions, that are a pull you can resist rather than a reflex you can’t help. And the pull that men and women feel towards certain roles is one of the most taboo subjects. But we do feel that pull and not only is there good reason for it, but understanding it can still be useful in today’s society, whoever you are.

One fact about humans is that, as social animals, the ways in which we contribute to society, from our tribe to our partners, are skewed by gender.

In their traditional roles across the World, men assume positions of leadership. What positions are available depends on the society, be it CEO, village headman or doctor. And what each position means also depends on the society, as a doctor in some cultures could be less revered or respected than in others. And how much authority you can command will depend on yourself and how well you and your skills fit into society. After all, an introverted master fisherman in a society where introversion and fishing are unappreciated will be doing worse than an extroverted blacksmith. But men have always capitalized their talents and made effort to become respected leaders of the community. And with this respect also come the resources they need to survive, a greater possibility of a good retirement and a wider selection of reproductive choices. By which I mean, men in positions of authority get food, protection, community and sex. The basics for human survival.

However, women’s traditional roles across the World are positions of support. Again, the availability and respect given to these positions depend on the society and how much their support contributes. And how much respect you are given will depend on yourself, your own ability to be supportive and how well your skills match the necessary skills for a more respected support role. A delicate feminine bride may be adored in a culture where her main role of support is to support her husband. But she would be far less respected in a society where women supported the tribe through toiling in the fields. But women have always supported the men and the vulnerable and made effort to ensure that the vulnerable are cared for and the men can continue leading. And when they were good at this, they were more likely to access the resources they need to survive, captivate a man’s attention and the respect of the tribe and have many healthy children. By which I mean, women in support positions get food, protection, community and sex. Again, basic human survival.

These traditional roles aren’t enforced strategies that every culture forced on its people coincidentally. They developed because of our condition. Firstly before contraception females would bear and breastfeed infants, meaning they would spend more time at home, around the tired hunters and the vulnerable members of society. Secondly, if females were having infants and infants are beneficial to the survival of a group (they are) then female energy would be highly valuable, meaning most energy-expensive activities, such as hunting and wood cutting, would fall to males. Thirdly, when males were taking over most energy-expensive, away-from-home and risky work, then they would not exactly be going to be brimming with energy to clean, tidy, cook, tan skins, weave baskets, feed the vulnerable, etc when they got home. So someone had to do it. These traits probably developed before we became Homo Sapiens Sapiens. As in, when we were still very furry tribes of humanoid primates living on the plains of Africa, these traits were firmly ingrained. So if the pull for men to lead and for women to support is pretty fixed in most humans, but expresses itself culturally, where do we see it today?

Well, everywhere. Firstly, however much people want to pretend otherwise, most relationships still follow the lead-support dynamic. Like in dancing, when you have two people trying to lead you get arguments and injury (at least emotional damage), and when you have two people trying to support not a lot gets done or finished. Unless you are operating as individuals who have no relation to each other, someone ends up taking the lead and someone ends up supporting the leader and the usual pattern is the biological one. Secondly, women are more attracted to support-based jobs, such as teaching, care or secretarial/HR style positions. Men are more attracted to careers and pursue an end goal of climbing the ranks to leadership, be it in banking, religious offices or business ownership. In our personal and professional lives, most men choose to lead and most women choose to support a leader.

Of course, some people will prefer the opposite role, be drawn to it and feel fulfilled in it. And, just as with homosexuality, there is no denying that the pull can be flipped or altered. But what happens when someone can’t fulfill their role, either because of social constraints or inability to fit the position? Then we end up seeing some sort of breakdown in them as human beings.

Men who can’t lead, either because they aren’t skilled enough at their job or because they are being led by everyone against their will, wind up unwell. They become stressed, passive and try and blend into the background. When women can’t support, either because there is no leader or because too many people depend on them, we see the same thing. Women are more stressed by work than men, even doing fewer hours. Men are more stressed by inactivity than women, even when their needs are met. Leading men being led by leading women start to break and can even become suicidal. Supportive women coexisting with supportive men become flighty and insecure. That same thing that creates the pull to begin with reacts negatively to being forced into the wrong role. It realizes it has failed to guard you. You have probably lost social standing, not gained many resources, are not desired by potential partners. So you are weak. So your body gets stressed, encouraging you to either break out of that negative position or just make yourself small and unnoticeable so the tribe doesn’t hurt you.

This is why highly successful women pair up with even more successful men. This is why men are willing to completely reinvent themselves after a few rejections. This is why women suffer more workplace stress in less busy, less physically demanding roles. This is why men in dangerous jobs are often less stressed than men involuntarily on the dole. We can’t change our role any more than we can change our sexual attraction.

But even in today’s society we can make use of this knowledge and use it to our advantage. For example, most women, being supportive and not leading, will prefer to confer or defer decisions than make one on the spot. Most men are more motivated and satisfied by additional status and respect than additional wealth in a job. Most women want to feel like someone is steering the ship when their lives get a little rocky. Most men want to feel like there’s something to fall back on in the same situation.

If you’re one of those who fall into the most common role for your gender, then this knowledge can help you understand yourself and understand those  of the opposite gender. You can use it to see what would make you happiest and to properly look after your partner, children, friends and relatives. If you’re not one of those who fall into the common role for your gender,* then this gives you more insight into how others of your gender differ from you and some grounding from which to make your decisions and better integrate into society. All round, there are some truths you can deny. But this is one of those where denying it will cause more harm than good, to yourself and those around you.

*This doesn't mean being gay or masculine/feminine, by the way, plenty of feminine gay men could easily also be drawn to leadership and a tomboyish girl can be the support in her relationships. All these things may be fixed on an individual level, but are pretty independent of each other.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare a “ladies’ kit”.

This post will discuss menstrual matters. Most men may not need to read this or feel comfortable reading it. However, if you are a woman, have daughters or just want to take care of someone who’s having a hard time this month, then the language will be kept polite and clear.

This is part VI of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V at these links.

1: The bag.

You will be wanting something discreet, that can absorb odors (such as those from scented sanitary pads, creams or medication) and preferably that looks pretty. I chose a single compartment make-up bag for mine. It’s black, so any lotion or medicine spills won’t show and it absorbs and masks light smells quite well, though a lavender pouch is never superfluous.

2: The essentials.

Obviously, if this kit is a menstrual kit, you will need your basics. Also, if you’re making the kit for yourself, try and be sure to have your closer friends’ preferred basics as well, and some emergency items in case your usual items run out, break or just aren’t cutting it. I use a cup, but I still keep the following for emergencies.

-spare black underwear (because it always seems to be in the laundry when you need it most)

-pads

-tampons

-slips

-sanitary disposal bags

-cleaning equipment for reusable items

3: Extra hygiene.

Regardless of how much you want it to be, this time of the month can get messy. Other basics you could use are:

-a sponge for cleaning external porcelain stains

-well-sealed baby wipes that will treat you more delicately then the usuals

-flannels you can use with warm water for your hands

-some baby shampoo and peroxide in case of emergency stain treatment

4: The medicals.

And some of us need the odd medical treatment from time to time over that time of the month. If you do, keep the medicine in the bag, so you know where it is, and check the expiry date at the end of every month, as many of these medications expire before you’ve had a chance to use them all!

Some that everyone could do with:

-mild aspirin-free painkiller like paracetamol (aspirin is a blood-thinner and is found in ibuprofen, fyi)

-iron supplements

-st john’s wort (check for incompatibilities with underlying conditions or current medication first)

-anti-fungal gel

5: The comforts.

I don’t like treating a natural state of my body as an illness. But, on the other hand, if you can do little things to care for yourself the rest of the time, why not adapt to whatever state your body is in? Here are some things to make everything a little bit nicer, even if they aren’t 100% essential.

-rash creams to ease any stuffiness-based swelling

-a hot water bottle for aches or just because it’s nice

-a small toy to cuddle if you feel the urge

-a bag of your favourite sweets (keep outside of main bag, but nearby)

8 Ways To Find Beauty In Everything.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the world for what it is. Or for what it isn’t. Or basically to enjoy it for what it is, even if it isn’t perfect. It’s especially hard when you’re going through a rough patch or have depression in general. Existential misery, the feeling that everything is meaningless or the cloud to every silver lining will blind you to the positives and leave you feeling miserable. And when you’re in that sort of a place you can’t always feel better about it.

But there are some ways to lift yourself up when you’re down and to prevent yourself from being dragged down quite so harshly. Preventative medicine for the mind, or a supplement of happiness to tide you through, as it were.

1: Respect yourself.

It can be hard to do anything at all when you don’t respect yourself. To try and cultivate self-respect, remember to always make note and give thanks when you get things right, so that these become more memorable. Learn about your own flaws and work against them when they can be fixed and accept when they can’t. From time to time, try and think of yourself as a child or a pet. Would you treat a child or puppy with the amount of love, care and attention you treat yourself? Remember that you deserve to be happy, especially when it doesn’t cost anyone anything.

2: Respect others.

It is just as important to respect those around you. When you have no respect for yourself you will breed sadness, as you won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour or the silver linings in life. But when you have no respect for others you will breed anger, as their flaws will routinely disappoint and offend you. Try and think about other people rationally. Look at their skills and flaws and ask yourself if your demands are reasonable. Remember that they may not be capable of what you expect of them, and that they have the free will to deal with their flaws or embrace them. You have no power over them.

3: Hone your senses.

Everything in life can be experienced through all the senses. We have the five main senses, of course, but we also have the surrounding senses, such as proprioception, time perception and intuition. Learn about all of them and from time to time use meditation to bring them all out. Try observing and painting every colour in a flower, or listening to every instrument in a piece of music. By working on your senses you can learn that some things may have an awful scent or colour, but a pleasant sound or atmosphere.

4: Indulge your senses.

Once you have spent some time observing every sense, try and indulge or even overwhelm them. Listen to genres of music you’ve never heard before. Look at psychedelic art. Try eating high concentrations of foods that are often diluted, like saccharine, or low concentrations of foods that are often strong, like coffee. Push yourself to identify more elements of life. Try and meditate to speed up or slow down your perception of time. Try and feel every part of your body without touching it with your hands. Indulge every sense you can isolate.

5: Look for beauty.

And when you’re experiencing everything at least a little bit and striving to experience everything fully, you want to find beauty wherever you look. Maybe a tall tree in your neighbour’s garden is blocking the light from your own. But you can plant shade-loving plants beneath it and enjoy the shelter it gives from rain and sun. Maybe your child plays loud music in the afternoons. But the music may have agreeable qualities that you hadn’t noticed. Maybe chocolate tastes too sweet for you. But the bitter, astringent or spiced tastes that cocoa has shouldn’t be neglected. The beauty is there, if only you look for it carefully.

6: Protect yourself.

That said, be sure to guard yourself against things that have more harm than beauty in them. If chocolate is genuinely too unpleasant for you, then ensure you don’t have to eat it by warning people and learning to politely turn it down. If a certain type of music gives you migraines, makes you feel ill at ease or is simply irritating, explain this to anyone who plays it around you. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can take small steps to remove unnecessary harm from your life.  And these steps are entirely your own responsibility.

7: Disregard unharmful flaws.

However, some flaws are merely mild annoyances that cause no real harm. If a certain type of music annoys you and your neighbour insists on playing it, then there is nothing you can do. It is causing you no real harm, so learn to ignore these things. Inconvenient, annoying or frustrating things happen all the time. The world doesn’t care that your father died in a train derailment, that incense gives you headaches or that you take longer to cross a certain section of a road than others would. Trains, incense and crossings won’t stop existing just because they bother you. If the thing you perceive as a flaw causes you no harm, then learn to ignore it whenever you can’t avoid it.

8: Be honest about positives and negatives.

There are good sides and bad sides to life. Whatever your outlook, things will happen that will make you sad, hurt, angry or frustrated. Regarding these things, the only outlook that helps is acceptance. Sometimes you will find something that has no value to you. So accept them for what they are. Death is death. Devastation is devastation. Disease is disease. They may hold no reward for you, but they’re not meant to. They have their own role to play in life which, however harmful it is to you, is benefiting something, somewhere. Trying to deny their existence or the harm they cause you will only make you less happy. All you can do is accept that they’re there, accept that they play a part in this world and keep on going. After all, the pigs you eat for breakfast and the microorganisms you kill with antibiotics would have a hard time seeing the good in you too!

And those are eight ways to see the beauty in everything. If you make an effort, you will find that everything has something beautiful about it, even if that beauty is completely useless to you.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

In brief: Why you should admire and not covet.

Jealousy is a plague that has followed humans since our earliest existence. As living beings, we are constantly competing against our environment and other humans of a similar standing. As social animals, we are in close contact with our competition and superiors. So we naturally look at what we have, look at what they have and want a better lot.

This can be very good in that it helps us set high goals, gain healthy respect for our peers and superiors and understand our position and potential. However, it can also cause us problems.

We start to develop a deep envy of anyone who has something we want. We covet what they have, be it a fancy car, curly hair or a knack for music. And rather than enjoy their merits for what they are and look to the good in ourselves, we focus entirely on our lack of these things. Which leads to social disruptions as we become jealous of our peers and lose self esteem over our differences.

And all this is perfectly natural. But, just as eating and getting fat are natural does not make obesity good or healthy, neither is jealousy and low self esteem healthy just because competitiveness and living in close proximity to your competition are natural.

For a healthier outlook, instead admire the positives in others. Don’t look at what they have and get angry because they have it and it’s nice. That may be a natural reaction, but it is also immature and harmful. Look at someone who has the car you want and admire that car. You can do this and accept that you don’t have the money to buy it (yet). Look at someone who does amazingly in maths exams without any effort at all and admire their talent. You can do this and accept that you have to work harder than that and may never get those results. Look at someone who has the curly hair you’ve always dreamed of and admire its beauty. You can do this and accept that your hair is not naturally curly like that.

It’s key to respect your differences. You may want to be the same as your friend or a celebrity in certain aspects, but there is no point harbouring envy and anger because someone has something you don’t. I’m not really a believer in the doctrine of “everyone is equal in their difference”. There are plenty of bright people who are also athletic, attractive and charming. Not every dumb person will have anything to compensate for it. But generally people have good traits and bad traits, even if they aren’t really excellent in any way. You may not have your friend’s hair colour or gift for mathematics. But getting het up about it doesn’t help you get it. It just makes you angry, insecure and bitter, all of which are actually making you worse as a person. And when we try and improve ourselves from a place of jealousy, trying to seize what we covet… Well, like the proverbial flower that is picked, the thing we thought was so beautiful is ruined and dies. When we get a face lift or botox to get beautiful skin, we wind up with unnaturally stretched, creased skin. When we lie in tanning beds or bleach our skin, we get reddened marks, cancer risk and blotchy patches. When we cheat in a French test we get pushed beyond our abilities in the higher classes until we drop out. You can’t just see what you like and angrily grab at it. Sometimes it’s beyond your reach and snatching it will only break it.

So try and appreciate yourself. Bear in mind that the traits you would readily cast aside for something else are also coveted by others. Even the tallest man wants the normalcy of average height. Even the richest person wants the simplicity of less. Even the greatest mathematician wonders about becoming a gardener. Nobody is ever fully satisfied. Someone out there wants your hair, your waistline, your money, your family, your job. You may not enjoy any of it. But at least appreciate that whatever you have has some value.

And if you find actual flaws? Flaws that hinder you, that aren’t representative of you, that you could easily fix? Build yourself up from there. You don’t need to hate your hair to get a haircut or to hate your job to change careers. You don’t need to be bitter towards the maths whiz to work harder in maths or to get angry at attractive celebrities to get fit. Just because the baseline is “be me” doesn’t mean that you can’t go beyond it. You stay “me” every step of the way, don’t you? You will still be true to yourself if you become wiser, more attractive, wealthier, more powerful, fitter, more educated or stronger.

So admire the things you love in others.

Respect the difference between yourself and those around you.

Appreciate every blessing bestowed upon you.

And never stop growing.

After all, you’re perfect, but you need to keep going.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!