General Life Tips

Dutch Beauty Products I Use And Love

Before you start reading this blog, I just want to point out that some of these products will probably be available in other parts of the world. What products they are and where they are available is your guess, not mine. I’m way too lazy to actually look into this. For a change, I’m not going to have a long and super boring introduction and instead I’m just going to jump straight into the products.

Face

Skincare

I’m going to start with skincare because well that’s where I want to start. My skincare routine has always been simple but surprisingly I’ve kept up with the routine since puberty. I have two routines. In the morning I cleanse my face with cleansing water and then moisturize my face with the day cream. I then apply my make up over that. Oh, I should totally write a blog about all the products I use for a full face everyday makeup look. It’s actually quite simple and my everyday look takes me 15 minutes max to complete as where if I do a more full glam look it can take me over an hour. To steer myself back to the topic of skincare, my night time routine is just as simple. I wash my face in the shower with my face scrub and then apply my night cream. I apply a face mask once a week and that’s it for my skincare routine. Nothing to fancy but it keeps my skin nice and healthy. I do believe that healthy skin (or well everything really) comes from within. The supplements I take for my PCOS surely helps with the appearance of my skin. Also, a healthy amount of water per day helps.

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I bought this cleansing water at Action. It was my first time buying from the brand. I haven’t really found a cleansing water that I’m obsessed with. I’m still exploring and jumping from one product to the next one. I mainly just require the water to be sensitive on my skin type and remove all makeup and dirt from my face. I don’t have any complaints against this water at all but I probably won’t buy it again. I do usually steer toward the Nivea section. Only because Kruidvat sometimes have a 2 for 3 special.

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I started using this day cream from Hema about two months ago. I really like it and would definitely purchase it again once I finish this container. It makes my skin feel so soft and it works great under my makeup. I have dry skin and this is just heaven for it. Definitely nourishes as they promise. This is one of those age prevention creams. I read online once that it’s important to take measures to prevent wrinkles before you get them.  That’s mainly the only reason why I bought this one. This is the golden box one for 6,50 euros.

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I love this face scrub. I always get the same product. It works. I really don’t have much else to say. It works for my skin. I normally buy this at Kruidvat when they have a sale on.

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This is my night cream and it’s pretty damn great. It smoothing and makes my skin feel so good. The natural glow is pretty damn great. I’m really happy with the face creams. I have no idea if it’s actually doing any age rewinding or any of that stuff but hey it makes my skin look great so sign me up. Once again it’s from Hema and it’s 6,50 euros.

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This is my new facemask. I’ve been using it for two months and it’s my new favorite. I used to always use the facemasks by 7th Heaven but eventually switched over to this one as I could get more uses out of the product per euro. I’m all about saving them coins.

Makeup

I’m a drugstore makeup queen. The most expensive makeup product I own is 26 Euros and I saved for a long time to buy that. I like to keep it affordable because well I don’t want to spend big coin on makeup. Or well anything in my life. Clothes, shoes, nails etc. I believe that a 15 euro foundation can be and sometimes is, better than a 150 euro foundation. Also, the things I could buy with that money is just insane. Even if I had 150 euros to spend on a foundation, I never will. So what I’m trying to say is my makeup is drugstore and some of the brands you can only find here in the Netherlands.

If I want to buy makeup I always go to Kruidvat first. They have a bigger collection of different brands that etos or Hema. If I don’t find what I’m looking for or I want to try out another brand I will go to the other two shops. I love essence make up. They are very hit and miss. Some of their products are just amazing and others are pretty shitty. I don’t like their eyeshadows at all. Etos makeup is the same. It’s a hit and a miss. I personally haven’t really jumped into their makeup line and tried out everything mostly because I have what I need and I know what I like from a set brand and purchase it again (and again) but sometimes I need to find a new product and I don’t have a favorite, that’s when I explore different brands. That’s a lot of unnecessarily explaining. I personally just love their foundation and concealer. Will insert pictures in a bit. I did buy one of their mascaras’. It’s not my favorite and I won’t buy it again but it gets the job done and I will use it till I finish it or it expires.

Nails

I’m obsessed with colorful nails or having my nails all done up. I hate acrylics or anything damaging so I stick to good old nail polish from the drugstore. Although I’m not picky with all the fancy stuff that can come along with nail polish, I am picky about the quality of wear. What I mean with that is, it needs to look good on my nails for at least three days before it shows wear and tear. That’s it. I also don’t want to spend more than 5 euros on a bottle of nail polish. My favorite and go to brand for nail polish is Hema. They last long enough for me and their color range is good enough. If I’m looking for a specific color and Hema doesn’t have, I will buy an essence polish but they wear out quickly. Here are daily pictures I took of my nails to show how the Hema nail polish wear. I do want to add while doing this ‘experiment’ if you will, I was going about my normal way of life. I washed dishes and cleaned the house. I washed my hands every time I went to the bathroom. Basically, my nails got into contact with water and soap. I applied my face creams and all that jazz. I dug out stuff from my dog’s mouth when he ate something he shouldn’t eat. You know the everyday type of things. I removed it on day 6 because we had a date the next day and I wanted my nails to look fresh but otherwise I reapply nail polish every week. A new color every week of course.

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Hair

I talked about my hair care awhile ago here on my blog when I shared my story from the bleaching and how I recovered my hair from all the damage. I didn’t really talk about the products I use and why. I know for a fact that one of the products I love you can purchase in South Africa because well I always bought it there too.

I have two main products I use for my hair. A hair mask and a hair oil. The hair mask is something I do twice a week and leave in for about 30 minutes and the hair oil is something I add when I feel my hair is a bit dry and needs some love. The hair oil I use also makes my curls pop. Here is a before and after of my hair mask. The before picture is the state of my hair after a few days of no hair oil or any extra treatment or love. As you can see it looks like dry and sad. The after picture is taken the day after treatment.

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That’s about everything or the main products I use. I have extra bits that I whip out on special occasions. Before I wrap up this blog I just want to clarify that these products work for me. What might work for me might not necessarily work for you. I have dry and acne prone skin. I also have dry and damaged hair. I hope this blog was helpful.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails

Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails | Chapter Nine | Writing Corner

Well hello there! Thank you so much for clicking on my new story. If you’re completely lost please go read this blog — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/08/21/new-story-summary-of-chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-writing-corner/

You can find the previous chapter here — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/10/12/chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-chapter-eight-writing-corner/

Chapter Nine: Falling With You

Zack was the one that broke the spell. He moved away, turned to the crowd and bowed. I blinked before slowly following his lead, giving a stiff and awkward bow towards the crowd. What just happened? We moved to leave the stage before the crowd started to chant. It took my brain a few seconds to process what they were saying and I froze. “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” What the hell is happening? Zack sees me as his sister. He is my brother, my best friend and someone I can always count on. There is no romantic feelings between us. Why is there suddenly romance left and right? For god sake, I’m in love with HIS sister! I paused at this, when is the last time I even spared Sasha a single thought? When is the last time she might me laugh and cry from joy? When is the last time she was remotely the same person I fell in love with? It’s not like Zack just swooped in and replaced her. I’ve known Zack the same amount of time that I’ve known Sasha. We’ve been friendly to each other over the years. A greeting here and there. Small talk in the hall. We would spike up conversation if we met in public and more. Zack would even sometimes join us for a movie when Sasha and I used to have marathons in the living room. “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” The crowd continued to chant, sending my mind in turmoil. I don’t want this. I love what I have with Zack. I made eye contact with Zack and frowned at his expression. It was unreadable. I had no idea what the man was thinking. The crowd continued to chant and before I could run from the stage, Zack leaned forward and pecked my lips. It was such a quick peck that my brain didn’t even process it was happening till it was already finished and Zack was leading me off the stage. I blinked in complete shock before making eye contact with Zack. In the exact same moment we exploded in laughter. And just like that all the tension and doubts just vanished as overwhelming amounts of relief flooded my entire body. I relaxed and jumped into Zack’s arms! I did it! I actually sang on stage in front of a crowd of strangers. “Thank you!”

***

I groaned as Zack moved in his sleep for the sixth time in the last five minutes. The man is a restless sleeper and I could kill him for it. Knowing Zack he has this crazy adventure planned for the day but honestly I will be pretty happy with sleeping in all day. 5 days of crazy and exciting days is enough for me thank you very much. We can spend the last two days never leaving the bed and binge watch MasterChef. Zack moved again, this time rolling into my side of the bed and throwing half of his body over mine. I heaved and started to struggle under his heavy embrace. After a few desperate attempts to wiggle out underneath him failed miserably, I simply jabbed him under his rubs with my elbow which awoke him from his slumbers to say it nicely. Zack jumped up in fright pushing me behind him, fully alert and ready to fight. This pulled at my heart strings but I forced a giggle out of my throat and slapped his back. “No threat here minus my ability to breath.” Zack turned to face me, utterly confused. “You were crushing me in your sleep silly.” Very slow the words sunk into his brain and his eyes widened in relation. He laughed before falling back onto the bed. “I’m sorry. Was I moving a lot?” Zack pouted before yanking me down to his level. I shook my head and cuddled into his side. “Not at all.” I breathed out in a sigh. For a big bulky guy, Zack is so soft and warm to cuddle with. “Sarcasm?” I laughed. “Yes.”

“So what is on the agenda today? Do I get to know now or do I find out later?” I asked a few hours later once we finally started to stir as life, or well hunger, pulled us from the bed. Zack paused, his pancake hovering before his lips. He chuckled and shot me this look that screamed for-me-to-know-and-for-you-to-find-out. You know that shit eating grin with a naughty glint in his eyes. That look. “Find out later it is.” I turned my attention to my plate of food and smiled. This short week is life changing. Maybe this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Go on one crazy adventure after another. With Zack. “Alright so after breakfast we should get dressed and head on out. I figured we can take the train till there and then afterwards you can decide what you want us to do.” I nodded and took a bite of creamy pancakes. Heaven send. “Can I guess what we’re going to do?” Zack simply hummed before stuffing his face with an entire pancake. “Concert?” No. “Theatre?” No. “A show?” Zack paused and looked up from his plate with a frown? “Is there some show you want to go see or something?” I laughed and nodded. “Dirty Dancing.” At this Zack groaned before rolling his eyes and returning his attention to his plate of food. “It’s at 9pm and they still have some tickets left. Please.” I pulled my best puppy look out. I pouted, forcing myself to cry a little and trembled my lip. Zack glanced at me, chuckled and returned his attention to his food once more. Rude. “Pretty please with a cherry on top?” I whimpered for added effect. A few moments passed before Zack finally sighed and agreed. Victory is mine! “Come on, finish. We have to be there by 1:30pm.”

***

  “If you think for one single moment that I’m going to jump out of this plane with you, you’re nuts.” Zack ignored me and continued to talk to the instructor. “Come on M. Live a little. I’ve done this many times before. You’re going to love every second of it.” I simply pouted, but the man was slowly winning me over like always. “Have I steered you wrong before?” I sighed and begrudgingly settled into my seat ready for a quick lesson on the sport of skydiving. The instructor explained how everything works and how it will go before we moved on into getting the gear on us. As Zack is a professionally trained skydiver, he was allowed to jump with me. Normally average human folk attached themselves to a professional of the company but well I get to jump out of a plane attached to my best friend. Fun. I bit my lip and forced myself to take long and even breaths. My heart hammered in my chest at a painful speed as Zack tightened the gear around my body. Why am I going to do this? “Alright everything is good to go. Are you ready?” I swallowed a rock of spit before uttering a very pathetic yes. Zack simply smiled before guiding me to the golf cart that will hopefully not drive me to my untimely demise. “Trust me M.” Zack turned my head and steered into my eyes. My heart stilled and started to race for an entire different reason. That stupid kiss and Instagram captions is screwing with my brain. Don’t think about it M. He is your brother. Remember you love his sister? Unbeknown to my inner turmoil, Zack continued. “You’re going to love it. I know what I’m doing. I won’t ever put you in danger.” Slowly his words sunk through my chaotic brain and I nodded. He is right. I faced the small little plane and as the golf cart rolled to a stop, pure determination ran through my body. Let’s do this!

Zack climbed into the plane first before helping me up. We sat on the floor, greeted the pilot before we started to move down this highway. The plane turned, moved forward, building speed before the wheels left the road and we soared into the sky. My heart just stopped but with a firm grip on my hand, Zack reminded me to stay strong. You’re going to love this M. I blinked for second before Zack announced that we need to prepare everything and we should reach the ideal height in two minutes. How over ten minutes passed is beyond me. I slowly almost robotically moved towards Zack. He pulled me into a hug before spinning me around and attaching our gear together. He double checked my helmet and everything again before attaching the video camera to his arm. “Are you ready?” I couldn’t get myself to speak so I nodded. The pilot counted down and I closed my eyes as Zack moved us forward. “Remember legs and arms out.” Before I could respond, Zack hurled us out of the moving plane and I screamed my lungs out. I only stopped screaming once Zack opened the parachute and our decent down to earth slowed. That’s when my screaming turned into full blown laughter. Zack joined in. He was right. I did love every second of it.

***

I was still smiling hours later as we got ready for the show. The adrenaline of the jump not quite gone yet. After calling my dad’s to share the news, which proceeded them to get a near heart attack on the phone. Apparently Daddy Dearest didn’t feel compelled to share the plan to Dad and he was everything but happy. Zack managed to smooth over the entire situation with smooth talking and changing the topic. “If we leave now, we can grab a quick bite to eat before the show.” Zack said and I simply nodded before pulling on my pants. I’m all about the pant-less life. “I’m ready when you are.” Zack rolled his eyes, grabbed his phone and wallet before ushering me out of the hotel room. “I can’t believe tomorrow is our last day here in New York. This trip has been absolutely amazing.” I paused overwhelmed with emotion. “Thank you!” Zack smiled, pulled me into his arms and pecked my forehead. “Anytime!” He paused, opened his mouth to say something but simply shook his head and hailed a taxi. “Come we have a show to watch!” I nodded and followed him into the yellow cab. What did he want to say?

#pcos, Bicycle Tour

The Real Reason Why The Bicycle Tour Didn’t Happen This Year | PCOS

This blog was supposed to go up way back, before we even started with the renovation but I was always just too lazy to get the book out to get the reference part so well here we are, months late.

So honestly last year I had so many bicycle tour blogs it was basically the only thing I wrote about. When I originally decided on the bicycle tour I had no idea what I was walking myself into. It took us some trial and error before we found a tour which was realistic and a training program that we could stick to. And the training was going really well. Till my body was telling me something else entirely. My periods got out of whack and I was gaining weight from just blinking. It was a crazy time where nothing made sense and I felt unsure about everything. I thought hey maybe I’m over training myself so let’s slow it down and then build strength and stamina and go from there. I decided on my 150km three times per month and then 50km the last week of the month. It sounded like a perfect solution but my body wasn’t responding to the training. After being diagnosed with PCOS and doing my research I learned why. This next part is out of my favourite PCOS book, Natural Solutions to PCOS by Marilyn Glenville. (Here is the link — https://www.marilynglenville.com/books/natural-solutions-to-pcos-book/ —)

*Some forms of exercise work better than others. I see many women in the clinic who spend an hour in the gym three times a week and feel they are doing a vigorous workout,  but still can’t shift the excess weight – particularly that around the middle of the body.*

So I don’t want to quote pages of pages on this topic but it comes down to: there is a certain type of exercise that works with women with PCOS. If we want to lose weight we have to build muscle (so strengthening workouts) and our cardio sessions should never succeed over the 30 minutes time mark. Access cardio (so hours and hours of cardio) will do more harm than good. It will be the opposite effect. Instead of losing weight, we will end up gaining weight. It’s just a lot of stress on the body. The last thing I want is to add more stress to my body as stress flares up the really bad PCOS symptoms. I am however not a quitter. It feels wrong to just completely drop on this big goal. It is still something I want to complete but my health is important to me. So after weeks of pondering on a solution I finally thought of something. What if we still do the tour but really break it up. And by break it up I mean three towns a weekend so 30km a day every few months. This way I can still keep my promise and dream to explore the Netherlands with a bicycle without harming my body. And we take the train/car to whatever town we stopped at and slowly but surely complete the tour. Yes it will take us a long time but in the end of the day the job gets done. Sometimes life throws curveballs your way and things doesn’t work out like you thought. But hey you got to make lemonade with lemons and not try to make orange juice. I have no idea if that even makes sense. I just didn’t want to quit just because it won’t work out like we thought it would.

It does solve quite a bit of our problems though. We don’t have to follow an intense training program (so no more stress on my body) and time wise it’s doable. Onno doesn’t need to take any special time off from work. We don’t have to get special bicycles or any supplies. We can make it a fun weekend away. And we don’t have to worry about figuring what to do with Speculoos and Dankie for a month or so. It works out. Instead of quitting, I worked with the problem and found the middle ground.

We will probably only start the extra mini tour next year as we’re really still recovering from the renovations, heck we still have some work that we do every second weekend and we’re not quite done yet for the year. We also have a puppy in the house now and he needs to be a bit older before we can hand him over to day care and go away for a weekend. We really just need some time to recover. We also really need to build our strength, endurance and stamina again and that’s what we’re doing with our workouts at the moment. I can’t tell you when we will start next year or if anything will happen that will cause us to delay the first weekend away but I can tell you that we will do this in the end. Heck maybe we only finish ten years from now but we will do it. I’m not in a rush. It’s kind of nice to have this exciting thing to do every few months to keep us nice and active.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails

Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails | Chapter Eight | Writing Corner

Well hello there! Thank you so much for clicking on my new story. If you’re completely lost please go read this blog — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/08/21/new-story-summary-of-chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-writing-corner/

You can find the previous chapter here — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/10/05/chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-chapter-seven-writing-corner/

Chapter Eight: Perfectly Facing Fears

“Are you having a great time? Zack has been sending so much pictures! You look so amazing in all of the outfits! Oh the video of you lip synching to Selena Gomez song Hands To Myself nearly gave your dad a heart attack!” Daddy Dearest chuckled and I could picture him shake his head with a massive grin on his face. “It’s been amazing! Zack has the craziest ideas and I can’t even guess what we’re going to do next.” The man of the hour simply rolled over to his side, a deep snore escaping his chest. His face smudged with last night’s makeup. We got home in the early hours of the morning and after his performance, the boy was practically famous with the girls. “He is such a lovely man! The captions about you on his pictures is so sweet. You should go read them. It can make any old girl swoon. You know if you two are dating, you can totally tell me, right?” My mouth dropped in surprise. Wait. What? “Hold up. What did you just say?” My mind reeled but Daddy Dearest didn’t hear my confused words and continued babbling on about how cute my dress from last night was and etc. 30 minutes later, I ended the call, still incredibly confused. Wait. What? What captions and what pictures? My curiosity got the best of me and I created an account on my laptop. What is his handle again? How do I find him? Minutes passed and I have yet to even find his account, I opted for opening his Instagram on his phone. 3000hearts and 800comments. Oh holy shit. That’s insane. After tapping on all of the little icons, trying to find his profile, and possibly liking random pictures, I opened his feed. The little picture of him in his army clothes in the corner should’ve been a dead giveaway from the start. I gasped in shock.

The boy has been posting about our week a way left and right with an average of three pictures per day. He had the messy hotel room and my greasy ass knocked out on the bed. I frowned. The boy still hasn’t deleted the picture of me sleeping in his arms, covered in greasy chicken nuggets and fries. I tapped on the photo and froze when I read the caption. “I could wake up like this every single day.” He meant covered in soggy fries and soaked with grease right? I exit the picture in haste. There is so many more. A picture of me trying on wigs for the Pastel Goth look, a full on duck face in the mirror moment. I cringed. That’s ridiculously embarrassing. His caption read; “She’s beautiful without even trying.” The next picture was our selfie in the cabbie with the caption: “Those eyes can read me like a book.” Wait, is that a compliment? What the hell does these captions even mean? I continued to scroll through his feed, tapping on every picture and reading the caption. My mind reeling as the man of the hour continued to snore next to me.

A picture of me talking to Hannah at the bar. It must’ve been around the time she was throwing those pick up lines as I was all smiles and Hannah had me locked in. The caption read; “If only she would smile at me like that.” A picture of him painting my nails as I laughed at something he most likely said. His back faced the camera. Who on earth even took this picture and why didn’t I even notice it being taken? The caption read; “I would cross a dessert for this girl.” A picture of me in my pink prom dress, strutting my best pose for my Daddy Dearest. The caption read; “So utterly beautiful. She stole my breath away.” A picture of the two us dancing, he was raising me a little in his arms as I smiled down on him. He mirror my bright smile with his own. The caption read; “If only the song would never end.” Who even took this picture? A picture of me sleeping between the rose with the caption; “Her beauty rivals that of the roses she lays in.” A picture of me performing the Hands to Myself song of Selena Gomez. I gasped. Wait is that how I looked while performing? Ouch. His caption read; “I can’t keep my hands to myself but I mean I could but why would I want to?” I chuckled at that one. The boy sure is clever. His latest picture, only posted five hours ago, was of the two us in full drag. It was taken just after his performance. I was in his arms, bridal style, full of smiles. His caption read: “I tucking love you.” His phone dropped from my hands and I shook my head. No. he doesn’t mean that. Daddy Dearest words floated into my head: “You know if you two are dating, you can totally tell me, right?” We’re not dating right. He loves me like a brother? He was only fooling around in the captions. Am I just reading them wrong. I glanced at the sleeping man and sighed. Nope. I pinched my temples, desperately fighting off the growing headache. Nope. Not going to deal with this now. I dropped back into the bed and closed my eyes. Yes. Let’s take a nap.

***

  “You’re out of your damn mind if you think for even one second that I will go up on that stage and sing.” Zack simply rolled his eyes and ignored my statement completely. “Come on! You full on gave the performance of a lifetime last night! What’s the different?” It was my turn to roll my eyes and shake my head in pity and the poor delusional idiot. He doesn’t even know the difference between lip synching and singing for real. I pity the fool. Zack pulled me towards the direction of the stage, adamant about his mission. The goal? Get M to sing on open mike night. I stood my ground and dug my heels into the floor. Nope. Not happening buddy. There is no way I’m going to sing in front of all of these people. Nope. In your dreams buddy. Zack turned and pouted, giving it his best puppy look. My resolve slowly melted. “Come on! I will sing it with you!” Zack continued to pout and reluctantly I agreed. Zack smiled brightly before pulling me towards the stage once more. I muttered under my breath the entire way. “What are we even going to sing?” “Perfect by Ed Sheeren.” I sighed slowly, forcing my lungs to exhale breath slowly before inhaling the same amount once more. “Fine, but if I  throw up it’s on you.” Ever since I’ve been a little girl, I suffered stage fright. Although considering last night you wouldn’t be able to tell. I hate being centre of attention. My heart starts to desperately try to escape my chest. I break out in a cold sweat and my entire body turns red. Ugly and quite obvious red rashes spread from my chest, up on my neck and turn my ears into glowing devices. My entire face turns red and my eyes start to water. My body shakes and my stomachs turns and finally, if the attention is too much, I end everything with a vomit and a faint. Zack knows this about me and yet here he is, sweet talking me into something that would spike an episode. “Just focus on me! Nothing else. There is no one in the room but us two okay.” Zack squeezed my hand and smiled. Slowly I nodded. There is no one in the room but us two. Just focus on Zack. Just focus only on him. Nothing else. No one else.

Zack handed me the mike with a reassuring smile before he nodded to the side. Seconds later the music started and my blood ran cold. Focus on Zack. Nothing else. No one else. It’s only us two. I always sing around Zack. “I found a  love for me. Darling just dive right in and follow my lead. Well I found a girl beautiful and sweet.” I smiled as Zack sang. He wasn’t the best singer out there in the world but he could keep a tune. I simply just watched Zack as he read the words in front of him. His soft curly brown hairs, now overgrown, tickled his forehead as he worked the stage. “I never knew you were the someone waiting for me.” His deep sky blue eyes twinkled under the lights. “’Cause we were just kids when we fell in love.” My eyes roamed from his blue eyes, pausing at his long eyelashes before landing on his freckled and crooked nose. “Not knowing what it is. I will not give you up this time. But darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all I own-” My eyes landed on his lips and my breath stalled in my throat. His bright dimpled smile could light up a room. “-But you heard it, darling, you look perfect tonight.” At this Zack turned to face me and nodded. It’s my turn now. I swallowed my fear and waited for my cue. “Well I found a man, stronger than anyone I know. He share my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share a home-” I lost myself in the sweet melody. My fears all forgotten. It’s just us in this room. I’m just singing in front of Zack like I always do. Together we ended the song, leaning into each other as we sang through my mike: “You look perfect tonight.” I smiled out of breath and paused. I could faintly hear the cheers from the crowd, but the only thing I could see is Zack beaming in joy. My focus only on Zack. Nothing else. No one else. It’s just us two.

*

You can find the next chapter here — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/10/19/chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-chapter-nine-writing-corner/

General Life Tips, Mental Health

I Rewarded Myself With 1 Euro Everyday I Went Without Candy For A Month

I truly just had the best idea ever! Honestly, I’m giving myself a massive pat on the back. It’s such a great idea someone should pay me to solve problems creatively.

So, I’ve made it absolutely no secret just how much of a sweet tooth I have. The amount of candy I consume isn’t healthy. For my teeth and for the fat around my belly. It sure as hell doesn’t help with my acne breakouts too as I always flare up after a candy binge. I know this and for the last few years, I’ve tried everything under the sun to find balance with eating candy. I really and truly want to find that fine line of balance where I still enjoy a packet of wine gums here and there but I don’t have the desire or habit to do so every three days.

Just to give you a crystal clear idea just how deep my candy addiction runs, here are some of the blogs where I’ve talked about it.

An Unhealthy History | What I Used To Eat In A Day — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/09/04/an-unhealthy-history-what-i-used-to-eat-in-a-day/

I basically ate candy all day every day. I remember quite vividly that I would go to the tuck shop at school and instead of buying proper food for lunch I would overload my hands with all types of candy. I would then go home and eat candy after school and sometimes would even have candy for dinner. Yes, I would eat candy for dinner. No wonder I have so many cavities.

My Nutrition Plan For 2018 — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/01/03/my-nutrition-plan-for-2018/

Again, I’ve set a goal for myself candy wise and only kept at it for two weeks max.

Nutrition Class 3 | Carbohydrates | Part 3/3 — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/03/19/nutrition-class-3-carbohydrates-part-3-3/

The Slap of Reality series I had going for a few weeks there is the one thing that helped the longest. I think I went without candy for two months. The longest candy free time in my entire life. It’s the series where I would physically measure the sugar amount in the candy and put the two next to each other. This was a very eye-opening experience.

The Northern Lights For 365 Candy Free Days — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/12/22/the-northern-lights-for-365-candy-free-days/

This is probably my favorite twist to trying to eat less candy. It was the right step forward but once it became quite clear that we wouldn’t have the funds for this trip, I caved and only one month in, went full out with the candy. But I had the right idea. Dangling a juicy carrot in front of me to motivate me to not eat candy is the right way to go because clearly the weight gain and toothache don’t motivate me enough.

Before I share my brilliant idea, I want to talk about why I love candy so much. No, it’s not because the delicious treats are great to snack on or because they’re convenient. I think it goes deeper than that. In all of my challenges where I tried to set a goal to go without candy for a set amount of days, I always strived well till I had a bad day. Just recently I finally shared that I suffer from depression. I have quite a bit of bad days. Days where I don’t even want to get out of bed. Days where life is just too much. They are truly dark and scary days. In those days I want comfort. Comfort food. Comfort movies. Plain old comfort in the form of cuddles. And most of all, I want comfort snacks. In those dark days, I want my favorite meal (a tossup between Spaghetti and Pizza), my favorite soft drink (cherry coke) and my favorite treats (wine gums, m&m’s and vanilla ice cream). Now eventually I want to learn other habits that I can turn to on my dark days but at the same time, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TREAT YOURSELF. In moderation of course. I’m still very much so a work in progress and I’m working on improving my mental health every single day.

Alright now the moment has arrived that no one was waiting for, drum roll please…my brilliant idea! So I asked myself, what is something else I’m super obsessed with but can’t get often because there isn’t always extra money lying around for it. MAKEUP! I’m a sucker for makeup and there is quite often products outside the daily routine that I have my eye on. Products I don’t need but boy do I want them. It’s always something a little more expensive that I need to wait to get for a special occasion. Currently, I’m dying to get my hands on this one eyeshadow palette and Christmas can’t come soon enough. So keeping in mind the whole dangle a carrot in front of Cassandra’s face to motivate her to go without candy for a day scheme from the Northern Lights idea, I thought hey why don’t you put money into a saving account every day you go without makeup? One euro to be precise. I transfer the one euro into the saving account at the end of the day once I’m in bed. I can then use that money to buy all the make up my heart desires. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. So I’m writing this blog on the 5th of September. I already ate some candy so I can’t get my one euro today but I’m really curious to see how the rest of the month will go. As I’m only going to upload the blog in October, I have some time to test how this idea goes and share it on here. Wish me good luck!

***

Alright, this is a pop in at the 17th of September. We’re two weeks in and well I saved 2 Euros. A lot happened and there are two things I want to touch on here in this little update.

1) I’m an emotional eater. I noticed almost immediately when we got some bad news, my candy intake spiked. I wanted ice cream, candy and so much more to almost comfort and heal the wound. It’s a very toxic thing that I clearly haven’t given enough credit too and will have to do some research and learn how to deal with this. The last thing I want to do is restrict and be on this strict diet for the rest of my life. I want balance but I can’t stuff my face with candy every time I have a bad day. It’s not the best choice for me at that moment.

2) If I did eat candy a day, I would just go all out. I wouldn’t just limit myself to one candy bar or one slice of cake, oh no I already lost my one Euros so I should at least make it worth it. Go all out and stuff my face with all the candy I can find. This was well counterproductive. What’s the difference between spreading the candy out daily then going without for a few days and then catching up on that one day? So I decided to put in a clause. If I overeat on candy that one day, I need to withdraw 1 Euro from the special savings account. Since I’ve made this clause, I have hone back in on the pure amount of candy I eat on the day.

That’s about it that I wanted to share in this pop in. I’m starting my 31 days smoothie detox today so I’m very excited to well put 31 Euros into the makeup account. I’m confident that once I can actually buy a makeup product with the money saved, saving would go easier. So hopefully (hopefully my ass I’m going to do this. No ifs. No buts.) in two weeks when I finally finish this blog to have it go up on the 8th of October, my total amount in my little savings account will be: 18 Euros!

***

Alright, I’m back now on the 7th of October, ready to finish this blog for tomorrow. Since my last pop in a few things happened. I’m not even sure where to start because when I say a few things happened, I mean a lot happened. This entire experience was very much so trial and error but I finally figured it out and it’s actually working.

There are three main things I want to talk about so I’m going to try to explain myself properly.

1) For starters, my self-control when it comes to candy has greatly improved. It took me four candy days to eat a packet of M & M’s. I’m not even kidding instead of inhaling the entire packet and then some on one day, I only ate a quarter of the packet. This is a massive step for me.

2) The next bit I want to touch ground on is my mental health and how what I eat affects it. I mentioned earlier in this blog that the reason why I struggle so much with candy as well I go for yummy food for comfort. I’m still learning how to improve in that category but what I started doing is simple. When I noticed that mentally I wasn’t in the best place I would take the dog for a walk and keep my mind active with other things. I would read a book, paint or just about anything to stop myself from stuffing my face in a desperate attempt to fill the void. For a moment there in this month, I wanted to do a smoothie detox for 31 days. That crashed and burned real quick. I’m just going to get straight to the point, it was too overwhelming for me and I couldn’t handle that emotionally right about now. I love biting off more than what I can chew. I put so much pressure on myself all the damn time. If I don’t I feel like I could be and should be doing more but I’ve learned, the hard way, that in order to live a happy life in harmony with my mental health, I need to adjust my way of thinking. The entire experience wasn’t a complete failure, I did learn if I drink a smoothie a day I don’t really get any candy cravings.

3) The last thing I added near the end was to mark the calendar. So, in the beginning, I would simply transfer the 1 Euros to the savings account just before going to sleep but I almost always forgot and my days would start to melt together and days would go by before I remember to transfer the money. The last thing I want is to work so hard on letting this account grow so I can get my makeup fix and then actually screw myself over by not transferring the correct amount. So I printed out a calendar where I simply color in the day I went candy free with the intention to transfer the money at the end of the month. This wasn’t only beneficial for my memory but for the motivation as well. It was one thing to see the account slowly grow but it’s a whole different thing to see the calendar grow in color and to make the calculations of how much money you get to spend on makeup at the end of the month.

I’m absolutely obsessed with this idea and after a month I can say with full confidence that it’s working. The best part is you can do it too! It doesn’t necessarily have to be for makeup. I mean in a few months I will probably find something else I really want but don’t have the money to spend on it. You can use this technique for video games, a new phone, a new book and etc. Literally, anything that you always want but never have the money to spend on it. It also doesn’t have to be candy related. You could reward yourself 1 euro every time you don’t smoke or drink or every time you go to the gym. The possibilities are endless. I mean look at cigarettes. How much money do you spend on the death as a stick per month? Do you want to quit? Reward yourself for every day you don’t smoke a single cigarette and eventually, the math will make sense. You can start of slow too. Let’s say you normally smoke ten per day. You can then say if I smoke 5 today I get to put 1 euro (or a fair amount in your currency) into a special account and with that money I can buy this thing I’ve been keeping my eye on. I think you catch my drift. Now I don’t think this will work for every person but hey try it for a month. If it works, great! If it doesn’t then what did you really lose? Whatever money you did manage to put aside you can easily use on something else you need.

I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life. It works. I mean I get the fancy makeup that I don’t necessarily need but I want and control my candy intake (so my health will improve) at the same time. It’s a match made in heaven. If you do end up trying this please let me know! I would love to know how this worked for you.

PS I’ve saved 17 euros since the 5th of September. Considering it took me two weeks to figure everything out, I would say I did pretty damn good.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails

Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails | Chapter Seven | Writing Corner

Well hello there! Thank you so much for clicking on my new story. If you’re completely lost please go read this blog — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/08/21/new-story-summary-of-chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-writing-corner/

You can find the previous chapter here — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/09/28/chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-chapter-six-writing-corner/

Chapter Seven: Valentine’s Day

I sighed and rubbed my eyes as I rolled onto my back. I arched my back and I stretched out the kinks from the previous night. Dancing for ten hours makes you ache in places you didn’t know could ache. My fingers brushed on something cool and I frowned. What? I opened my eyes and frowned. Wait. What? I picked up the flower petal and glanced around the hotel room. Is that rose petals? “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Zack squealed, popping up from his hiding place behind the couch. I jumped at his unexpected arrival and frowned in confusion. “Wait. What?” I rubbed at my eyes. Am I seeing things? “I wanted to surprise you…” Zack pouted trailing off. “It’s the day of love you know…” I shook my head before smiling at the goofball that has changed my entire life. “You’re amazing, you know that right?” Zack grinned before strutting silly poses. “Oh baby I’m more than just amazing!” I laughed before wiggling my eyebrows and picked up a handful of rose petals. “Oh and like what?” Before Zack could respond, I threw the roses to his directions. It’s floated to the bed a few inches away from my position. Guess we can’t have a rose fight. “Romantic.” Zack whispered smoothly and I rolled my eyes. “Dork!”

***

  “So Rick actually set this one up.” Zack stated casually as we browsed the store. I chuckled before fingers a long curly blond wig. “I figured. He did drag a few years back.” Daddy Dearest often spoke of his drag years with great fondness. He only stopped performing regularly when his restaurants took off and he simply didn’t have the time anymore. He does whip out the wigs and glitter every few months though. “Mandy, is that you?” I squealed before sprinting into the arms of Mama. He chuckled before lifting me up from the ground and pulling me into a tight bear hug. “Oh well look at you! You look amazing, come on girl give me a trill.” Zack beat me to the punch before my feet could even touch the floor. I laughed before joining him. Zack immediately pulled me into his arms and swirled me into a circle before dipping me right into the wig showcase. I narrowly missed hitting my head. “Oops, my bad.” I shook my head before punching him. “Be gentle. I’m a lady.” Zack poked out his tongue and rolled his eyes. ‘If you say so…” Mama laughed loudly before throwing is arms over my shoulders and pulling me tight into his side. “Come on, let’s choose your outfit and Zack my dear, I hope you’re ready. You will tucking love this.” I erupted in laughter at the confused look on his face. Oh the poor boy. He doesn’t know what tuck means. Mama and I shared a look, a evil plan forming between us without any spoken words.

I was right. Zack hated every second of the tucking process. The boy screamed from the pain and Donna, Mama’s friend, and I shared a look before laughing loudly. Donna shook his head before returning his attention to my make up while Zack struggled in the loving arms of Mama in the hotel bathroom. 45 minutes later, Zack limped out in his body suit and new padded curves. “That was…” Zack shivered in fear and hugged his body. Zack fell next to me on the bed, cupping his assets with a whimper. “Alright girly! You’re finished!” Donna stated with a smile. I smiled brightly, elated to be finished before jumping up from the bed to admire his handy work in the mirror. “It looks so different! I love it! Hey Zack! Take a picture for my daddy dearest!” Zack simply just groaned before whipping out his phone to take one picture. Someone clearly isn’t in the mood. I rolled my eyes and followed Mama to the couch. Our outfits laid out. “Come on, why don’t you get dressed and then I will do your hair. We don’t have all night!” I nodded before picking up the long mermaid sequence dress. The dress was truly something of beauty with a sheer see through corset bodice and long aqua swirls of lace at the bottom. It gave the illusion or a mermaid tail thin. Beautiful beads completed the look with a scale like pattern on the dress. It’s a real mermaid dress. “Oh wow Mama, this dress is so pretty!” First it was the really puffy but pretty dress from yesterday and now this? Dressing up feels so good. Although I doubt I would ever admit that. Daddy Dearest would have a shopping trip of all shopping trips. A truly scary thought.

I glanced at Zack’s dress and smiled. It should be so interesting to see him all dressed up in the tight little number that is his dress. The red satin dress would cling to every curve of his padded body, not hiding a single dip or bump. With large wing like arms and a deep neckline, Zack would look absolutely magnificent in it. Truly Instagram worthy! I wonder what his army buddies would say if they saw him dressed to impressed in this little red number. Zack the over confident open minded boy would probably walk through the base in full drag ready to give them a show that they will never forget. His bubbly personality is so inviting and freeing, some of them would even join them I’m sure. “I chose a bat wing dress for your boy friend there to hide his big manly strong arms.” Mama answered my unsaid question before ushering me into the bathroom. “Yes that’s right! Bi strong and manly arms. Ouch!” Zack’s voice followed us into the bathroom. Donna just hushed him and I laughed. Zack is truly best friend goals.

***

I jumped up from my seat as I clapped my hands. Mama pulled Zack onto the stage soon after we arrived at her place. She introduced him to the crowd of queens before she nodded her head to the DJ. The powerful voice of Sia and her oh so outstanding song of Chandelier filled the room. “Try to keep up!” Mama winked at Zack before she switched to her performance mode. She moved so gracefully, not missing a beat of the song as she crossed the stage, her sparkling golden dress following her every move. With grace she started to dance, Zack not wanting to be undone followed her lead. The boy knew the song by heart and whipped out his best dance moves. “Party girls don’t get hurt. Can’t feel anything, when will I learn.” Zack mouthed the words while dancing his heart out. “I push it down, push it down.”

The two played the push and pull act in union with the words, calling a massive cheer from the crowd. I screamed the loudest . “One, two, three, on, two, three, drink.” Zack incorporated the ballet dancing the girl did in the video after kicking his shoes off. I cheered and unlocked his phone to record the show. “I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier. I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist, like it doesn’t exist. I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry. I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier.” Zack jumped, propelling himself forward in the little split move the ballet dancers do, ripping his dress on the side. The crowd cheered at his very fully grown manly hairy legs and I simply just laughed. Oh this is gold. “And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes.” Zack dropped to the ground and whipped his head back, doing the little dramatic dance move they do in the movie. You know where he closes his eyes with his hands and then take it down to his neck before making a X figure on his chest. “Keep my glass full until morning light, ‘cause I’m just holding on for tonight. Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes…” The song continued and Zack continued to give it his all, Mama however wasn’t one to back off from to fight and gave it her all. She owned the stage as she glided in smooth moves, twerking for the fun of it. The crowd loved every second of it. The two truly put on a once in a lifetime performance. “You were amazing!” I squealed and jumped into Zack’s arms after he stepped off the stage. Zack laughed and did the usual swirl. I giggled in his arms before fixing his wig. “Come on my favourite little lady. It’s your turn!” Oh I’m ready for this.

*

You can find the next chapter by clicking here — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/10/12/chocolate-chip-cookies-and-pink-nails-chapter-eight-writing-corner/

Mental Health

I Tried Online Counseling For One Month | Talkspace Review

*Before you jump in, I’m going to try my utmost best to write this blog in a way where everything makes sense. I started writing it on one day when my impression of the service was quite bad and now as I’m editing this and changing things around, my impression has changed a little. So I’m going to break things up as my first impression is still very important to note.

First impression:

I just want to start off with saying that online counseling isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you will need one on one therapy and even though Talkspace provides therapy at great prices, I was anything but pleased with their service. I’m going to try my utmost best to explain everything; why I’m not renewing my subscription after one month and why I wouldn’t recommend it to friends and family.

Talkspace is a platform where you can match with a therapist online and communicate via an app or on the web. You have a choice between normal messaging, voice messages (5 minutes time limit), a video (2 minutes time limit) and you can also send images. Getting started is relatively easily.

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You simply create an account and then you will chat with a matching therapist who will identify your therapy needs. I got a response almost immediately after I joined. It was so quick it took me awhile to figure out I wasn’t talking to an automated system and to an actual human being. They will ask you some questions to identify what you need with your therapy. After the assessment, they will send you the subscription/membership/payment (as you can see I had no idea what to call it) options.

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You then choose the plan you desire, fill in all the payment details and then we move onto the next step. After the payment goes off in your bank, they will start to look for a match. This can take a few hours. I got three to start off with. You read the profile, every therapist has a little bio, and then choose your therapist. If none of the therapists are the right match for you, you can request new options. I found my first therapist relatively quickly and I stayed with her for one week.

The idea of therapy spun me into a spiral of emotions. It was scary but I knew it was the right step forward. At this point, I had no qualms with the app/service itself and I’m not holding anything against the first therapist, but well it wasn’t a good match. I felt that my responses weren’t being read and half of our messages was fill in this or would you consider taking drugs for your depression and etc. She did respond with almost technical messages but it just wasn’t enough. What I wanted from her was 1) a response to my messages so I felt like I was being heard and 2) informative responses. Her approach to therapy is to ask open questions and have well me fill in the blanks but I found this nearly impossible. It was incredibly frustrating. The main thing we struggled with is my extreme emotional episodes. Over reaction of some sorts. She would instruct that in the moment I need to think if I’m over reacting or if my response to what’s happening is ‘normal’. This just rubbed me up the wrong way. For starters how can I tell if my reaction is normal or not. My abuse started when I was ten years old. I don’t know any other way how to respond to things. An open question isn’t going to help. If she followed this open question with more guidance, maybe we would’ve gotten somewhere. But I was just more distressed than anything else.

After one week with her as a therapist, I decided that Talkspace isn’t for me. I cancelled my subscription with every intention to find a therapist I can see one on one. As it wasn’t that much cheaper and I wasn’t getting the attention I needed, it was just the right choice for me at that moment. At this point, I might’ve still recommended the app to friends and family. As I had three more weeks of paid time left, I figured I should at least try another therapist. I was open to the idea and if the next therapist ticked off all of the boxes, I would renew my subscription and continue with the service. The first few days were great. The first week really. The responses was just what I wanted. She responded to what I was saying while guiding me slowly forward. She send voice messages and even videos which sparked me to respond more. I made my own voice messages and for the first time; it felt like I was in therapy. It was going really well. One message a day. That’s acceptable. Ideally I would’ve preferred two messages a day but well beggars can’t be choosers. But very quickly, the time in between messages became longer and longer. DAYS went by without any response and if I would get a response it was shorter. I felt like I was no longer being heard and she was distracted. Her attention and focus wasn’t on my therapy. Simply put she didn’t have the time for my problems. This was incredibly disappointing. On the website they promise regular responses. 1-2 times PER DAY. In my third and fourth week of my service, I was lucky if I got 1-2 response A WEEK! To be frank, I just wasn’t getting what I paid for. This is the main reason why I wouldn’t recommend Talkspace to the next person. Another reason is simply that I’m not getting what I need out of online therapy. Now I can’t be sure if my opinion would’ve changed if I actually got therapy everyday but as I stand now, it’s just not the right fit for me.

Now it wasn’t a complete waste of money. Well technically I barely got what I paid for and I will definitely email support and see what I can do. Hopefully I can get some type of refund. Although my first impression on their refund policy is, the chances of you actually getting a refund is ridiculously small. I could be wrong and I really hope that I am, but yeah. Honestly I’m not impressed at all. The only reason why this experience wasn’t a waste of money is that I genuinely took a step forward for my mental health and recovery. Although I felt like I did most of the work myself. The first week with my second therapist was incredibly helpful. It just wasn’t worth the 191 Euros I paid for the month because in all honestly I felt like I only received therapy in that one week.

My impression/opinion now:

*This next part is an update from future Cassy who received an email from customer support.

The day I wrote this blog (17 September 2018), I emailed customer support afterwards and simply said that I was disappointed in their service as I felt like I didn’t receive what I paid for and if we could arrange some sort of compensation. I made it quite clear that my first two weeks I did receive regular messages. In all honesty I didn’t expect much, maybe a discount code. My impression of the service was just sour if I’m straight with you. Therapy is such a personal and vulnerable thing and as I felt like I was constantly putting myself out there and I just wasn’t getting what I needed in return…well the fact that all the promises weren’t met didn’t help the matter. Two things happened on the day I heard from customer support. For starters my therapist responded to me after one week of silence. I received her message in the morning. It was short and I could hear one of my favorite TV shows in the background. The theme song. She also didn’t respond to all of my messages so that really just rubbed me up the wrong way. Here I was desperately trying and working on my therapy and then she sends me a message clearly distracted and not focused on responding to everything I asked her about. I specifically asked her a few questions as I knew my subscription was running out and I wasn’t sure if I would renew or not. I asked her about bad days and whatnot, something I struggle with severely, and well when she responded to me for the first time in a week with a lackluster short reply where I could only start to doubt that she even listened to everything I send her…it was just the last thing I needed. Online therapy isn’t for me. There is just no chance I would renew my subscription and continue with the service.

Later that afternoon, I however received a response to my email. They apologized for my less than optimal experience with their services. Their message was sincere and they offered a full refund. This completely changed my impression of the company itself. I was completely and utterly surprised that they would refund me for the month and well if a company is ready to admit that they didn’t offer what they promised, then they’re clearly on the right path. Even though my experience with the actual therapy was anything to be desired, the company itself definitely won me back. By taking responsibility for their service, they changed my opinion. I can now say that I would recommend the company to friends and family. I do however hope you have better luck with finding a therapist that will be the right match for you but if not at least you tried it.

I personally would not use the service again. Or any online counseling to be precise. Even though for just a week there when the second therapist was actually committed to well giving me therapy, it still isn’t the right fit for me. I need to talk to someone face to face. One on one. I really can’t say with full confidence that my disappointing service from the two therapists influenced this decision but well if you’re struggling and you want someone to talk to, at least give it a try. You can only say once you’ve tried it yourself if it’s the right match for you or not. So I recommend that you at least try it and if you don’t like it, there is different options out there. There is books, other websites, online communities and so much more. Your mental health is important.

Before I go, over the weekend I got an email from TalkSpace, one of those promotional ones. They send a $65 discount code off on your first month and I’m going to share it with you: FALL65 (This email was send to me on the 29th of September 2018. I have no idea how long this code will be valid.)

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with TalkSpace at all. I paid for their service, got my refund when the said service was disappointing and a week after my subscription ended, I got the email with the discount code. This is not a personal code they created for me where I pocket the difference or any of that. It was a promotional email and I simply wanted to share the code for those who want to try out online counseling.