Fresh from completing an honours degree in Electrical Engineering I decided to swerve and take the ultimate U-turn, and signed myself up for a Masters in Business. I was burnt out from the rigorous 4 year course I choose for myself as a naive 18 year old, so perhaps I mistook utter exhaustion for a distaste for my undergrad qualification, but truthfully I believe I just forgot who I was.
I had a successful Beauty Blog, I was good at makeup, I loved all things girly- so I got scared, I thought by plunging myself into a Masters with marketing and business that I would somehow fit the mould of the person I was becoming- I subconsciously let myself fall into this trap whereby I had myself convinced I couldn’t be all girly and all engineer.
But I forgot that as well as beauty blogger, I was the girl who grew up playing with lego, who built bikes out of knex, the hardest person in the world to argue with because I am solution driven I want to solve the problem rather than leave things hovering in some grey area.
And so, unlike others who need to travel the world to find themselves all I had to do was a Business Masters, which was possibly the best decision I will ever make, where I met the best people in the world who helped my find myself again. Someone who, honestly has been missing for a long time.
Someone who quickly discovered that I should never have attempted to disregard my degree, but yet stand beside all the other strong women, the ones who were laughed at in school for picking “manly” courses, the ones who ignored everyone who said we couldn’t do it and delight in the shocked responses when people find out you are an engineer.
While my career path may still be a little foggy as I enter my second year of my Masters, but one thing’s very certain, my name is Barbara and I am an Electrical Engineer and a Beauty Blogger.
May you never try to only choose parts of who you are, because who said you can’t be both!
I never really told anyone the real reason I entered the Cork Rose of Tralee, while of course I have always wanted to enter and I really did want to make new friends coming from an all male Engineering class, that wasn’t the whole story. So let’s put this image in your head, it was late March, hair was greased to my head, eyes were red and puffy from 72 hours of straight ugly crying as my disastrous relationship had ended for the final time and I was curled in a mess attempting to recover fragments of my sanity.
And then like a sign from some greater power the Cork Rose of Tralee ad appeared on my Facebook and I swear all it took was 20 seconds of courage mixed with pure Irish thickness in a very mature “I’ll show him” manner when I downloaded the form and entered it. I might add that the photo I attached to my application form was an earlier more flattering representation of myself. I pressed send and forgot all about it.
Until suddenly hours before my final exam, I was contacted by Denis Griffin, the coordinator and everything became real and the panic set in. It seems funny to remember the fear of meeting most of the girls for the first time back in Silversprings, I couldn’t even catch my breath. I don’t do well in social situations so this was me living way outside my comfort zone, practically paralyzed in an anxious incoherent bubble.
And yet this was single-handedly the best experience of my life and I was skeptical, when referred to as the Cork Rose family I felt pessimistic, how could 51 girls in competition ever resemble a family? And yet that was exactly what we were.
I felt people had this perception that the Cork Rose of Tralee was a “lovely girls competition” and yet when I reflect on the people I met in this competition I am so humbled by the strong, intelligent women that I got a chance to know, I was among PhD students, engineers, nurses, teachers and a few not-so-boring accountants with a few girl trained in martial arts. Girls so confident and self-assured that they could put themselves out there and allow themselves to be judged, to get up on stage and take on a crowd and do it high heels and a dress!
It was the loveliest experience from getting to meet the Cork Rose centre team and Denis’ Facebook videos and Will’s snapchats, to getting a bit too used to being helped off the bus by an escort in a suit. I had to hold back tears for the final selection night as I was so overcome by pride for the girls and how far we came together on this crazy adventure.
Ladies and gents you will never realise how much of an honour it has been to meet each and every one of you and Despacito will forever remind us of the summer we all became roses and escorts. To Aishling, our 2017 Cork Rose, you are an absolute lady and I can’t wait to cheer you on in Tralee….
I’m struggling today, this Monday lunchtime, I’m currently tucked behind my desk gazing out at the blue skies and stunning weather as I attempt to motivate myself to begin trekking through the mountain of Masters work in my path, and sure enough, both the creative and procrastination juices have started flowing and I found my long lost urge to blog….FINALLY!
I decided I wanted to introduce a new segment into my blog, Monday Makeup Madness, where I create a wish-list, or a review on a specific product or range I have been loving. This weeks blog is all about bases and the ones I have been using for a while!
First things first a ‘lil skin back story, I suffer from acne so anything I do tend to use is full coverage and my skin is super sensitive as well as dry/combination, so the sheer hint at something heavy and scented and my skin breaks out! So anything I do use should also be perfect for my sensitive skinned sisters out there!
My main foundation of choice is under €15 and it is one of the best foundations I have every used, and trust me there’s been a lot! NOTE Cosmetics was recently launched in Ireland late last year, with Tara O’Farrell of TARA Makeup representing the brand. I was first introduced to it when I luckily won a competition to be a model for one of her makeup masterclasses.
NOTE cosmetics have a few different foundations in their range from compacts to mineral foundations, but this one is my favourite! The Detox & Protect foundation contains an SPF15, which is vital and it is full coverage. Similar to MAC Studio Fix Fluid and Studio Sculpt, for only €13.95 it is an absolute must-have for everyday wear, I am quite pale but I wear the shade 02 Natural Beige and it matches perfectly. In Cork I picked this up in Sam McCauley Chemists, but it can be bought online here
My second favourite was the very first high-end foundation I have ever owned and I return to it time and again, MAC Studio Fix Fluid has a cult following and it is worth every penny! At €32 (excluding pump) it is a long-lasting, oil free foundation with the fullest coverage MAC offers. Some people love it and some people hate, it is not suitable for those with very dry skin but suits those with normal/combination as it clings to the skin for an all day flawless finish. It has a matte finish to it, but this can be mixed with MAC strobe cream for a dewy glow or you can just use it as an excuse to overload on the highlight!
Again I wear one of the lightest shades in this, NC15, the C stands for cool tone, meaning it’s yellow based to dispel any redness originally in your skin tone, which I would have from acne. I would recommend getting a professional colour match for this as there is a MASSIVE colour range and it’s totally skintone dependent. Once you know your colour you can buy online here P.S there’s a free gift with purchase RIGHT NOW!!
Last but not least is from YSL, now before anyone gasps with shock at the price range for YSL, this foundation was €35 from Cork Duty Free, it retails at approx. €42 in store but it lasts a really long time and the packaging is as beautiful as the product inside. Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation replaced its iconic, dewy light to medium foundation previously released by YSL. And I was so happy they did!
Their new formula is a medium to full coverage foundation that STILL gives a dewy all-round glow! This foundation would suit a multitude of skin types, obviously if you have incredibly dry skin then you do need to be careful, but it incorporates to longevity of a full coverage foundation with the brightness and demi-matte (dewy glow) appearance of a lighter coverage base. It ticks all the boxes for me! I wear Bd10 in the summer when I’m slightly darker but generally I wear the palest shade B10 and I bought from Brown Thomas Cork and it’s also available on their site here
But the most important thing about choosing your foundation, after assessing your skin type, is to choose the correct colour, firstly it’s best if you can identify what tone your skin has…
By checking the back of your wrist you can check what colour your veins appear to your skin, blue veins are cool-toned (which is the colour category I’m in), a greeny-blue colour is warm-toned, usually with a pinky-golden tone to your skin and a purple-green colour is neutral. C on a foundation usually signals cool-toned, with W meaning warm-toned and N being for neutral, there is also a lot of drugstore brands that range their foundation shades this way.
The best place to check a foundation colour is by checking it on your jawline and you should test the best out of three shades, just like below:
The colour that disappears on your face and neck is your perfect colour, you may not find your exact colour but the idea is to choose the closest shade. The foundation should only be darker than normal if you are planning to wear tan- it is not to give your face some colour, that’s what bronzer and blusher are for!
Now that I’ve wasted enough time away from my coursework I better get back to it!
On Sunday I met one of the most fabulous people, the most down to earth, friendly and inspiring person. Did I mention she is also a super fabulous, accomplished blogger?! Eimear Varian Barry!
Corkonian Eimear started out in RedFm after studying film making, but her love of life and travel has taken her all over the world, not that you’d think it though as she hasn’t lost bubbly cork accent! An inspiration to all of us she started out taking photos of her new life as a mother and turned it into a career- her Instagram feed is the stuff of dreams filled with beautiful thematic images representing her iconic brand. It really gave me the kick up the arse I needed!!
The mother of two spoke so eloquently for 2 hours alongside Lockdown & IrishFashoholic’s Emer O Mahony, who, is probably more stylish pregnant than I may ever be in my life! The talk was held in Cork’s newest Afternoon Tea venue, Electric, where the prosecco was flowing along with gorgeous savoury and sweet nibbles.
Eimear’s message was simple to us aspiring bloggers in the audience, if you want it, work for it. It is clear that while she has an eye for fashion and photography, Eimear Varian Barry has balls! She made her blog work because she had to- and everything in her life has brought her up to this moment. She didn’t sit at home waiting for her following to grow and for collaborations to come knocking, she went out and asked for them, she made it happen- all this while staying true to the brand she wanted to create, she now collaborates with the likes of Julian MacDonald!
The Afternoon tea was incredible, from Electric’s new menu launch and I already can’t wait to go back!
It was the loveliest event I have been to, such a different, relaxed atmosphere filled with a wealth of inspiring knowledge about improving my blog and succeeding in a digital environment. So here is to taking chances, putting myself out there and making it work!
Soooo I finished the 4 week starter program and I lost a total of 11lbs! Which is amazing right?! I am the lightest I’ve been in about three years and I am totally hooked on this exercise lark so I signed myself straight up for another 6 weeks, which is really going to be more like indefinitely until I can safely squeeze my fat arse into a pair of denim shorts!
Yes this really is my end goal in terms of weight loss, no it isn’t inner peace or health, it’s being able to wear a pair of nice denim shorts in the summer without the fear of losing them between my thunder thighs.
So at my new-found, lighter weight I began week 5 and I attended my PT sessions with Chris with motivation and determination. I even began monitoring the heart app on my iPhone, making a conscious effort to walk 5k each day while at work, the carpets in my office are becoming threadbare with all the pacing!
But for some reason my willpower & appetite hasn’t caught up with my new lease on life and I swear in the last week I could have eaten every morsel in my path including the kitchen sink and possibly a small goat. And….I’ll be honest I did!
I even ate a takeaway in the middle of the week! I never eat takeaways mid-week, they are a weekend thing as a treat not as a replacement for a home cooked meal. My mom is still laid up on her crutches and I was up the walls organizing a big event at college so I was working every hour under the sun! So I got my family and my boyfriend a curry on the way home, fully convinced I’d make myself something healthy, which I normally do!
But it was nearing 8 o clock, and there was dishes in the sink and the event was the following day, so I caved, next thing I know I’m splitting the curry with my mom and inhaling it in an unladylike fashion. The next day I had wine in celebration of my event, I had hardly eaten anything all day but my brain thought “hey let’s have some wine”…..but let me tell you a secret; wine is my downfall, wine results in cheese and bread and crisps, and believe me it did….
So there it was, Friday, also known as weigh-day and so I arrived At The Fitness Centre and trained and I trained really hard, because I was annoyed at myself, annoyed at my subconscious attempted to sabotage myself as I wasn’t prepared foodwise and life got to me this week!
And when the training session was over I accidentally on purpose forgot to remind anyone to weigh me, instead of biting the bullet, weighing and letting the cards fall where they may, I quickly re-booked my sessions for next week and sprinted out the door as fast as the afore-mentioned thunder thighs could carry me.
So here I am, week 6 feeling rather sheepish, but being totally honest with everyone, last week everything got on top of me and my healthy eating took the back seat, which doesn’t really affect anyone except me. I’m only letting myself down, but I’m human and this week is a new week, so I am back on the wagon and I’ll be back At the Fitness Centre later this week.
Can I just begin by apologizing for being MIA recently, I’m not my usual bloggy self- but there’s a good reason, my mother and partner in crime, had surgery on her knee last Thursday and things have been a little mental since. I’m trying to maintain a healthy balance between diet and exercise but it would be so incredibly easy to pick up a takeaway on the way home after a busy day at work- but nonetheless mothers everywhere cook dinners everyday so what’s my excuse, I have a job to do and I’m working on myself.
I have a tendency to put myself last in general situations, boyfriend, work and college come before Barbara- because those are my jobs, my titles, I am a girlfriend, intern and a Masters student. But I’m Barbara first and I deserve just as much attention as I give the rest of my life. And that’s losing weight and that’s for me!
So just like every week I kitted myself out and arrived at my weekly gym sessions, and you know what? I actually miss it when I’m not there, to a point where I’m trying to figure out if I can add an extra session! It’s fast, fun and fabulous and it’s those 30 minutes that are all about me, where I can block out the work worries and the college trouble and just focus on my training and it’s a godsend.
But what about the diet part? Well I’ll be honest I was very well behaved, guzzling green tea and grazing on fruit and almonds and I was back eating a hearty breakfast of porridge and almond milk! Recipe for success yes?! No not so much, mentally because I was running around so much I had aimed to be down more weight, and don’t get me wrong, another loss of 2lbs is fantastic, I mean I have already hit my personal goal and I have one more week on the plan- but maybe I have just gotten greedy, a little obsessive. But I just felt bloated and puffy! Does anyone else experience this, that when you get so inside your own head that the weight doesn’t shift? That or maybe I’m secretly sleep eating unbeknownst to myself!
So this week I’m reminding myself that this is a weight-loss journey, a marathon and not a sprint, and I am the thinnest and lightest I have been since just before I turned 18 and while I didn’t see any change in my measurements this week, that’s not to say there won’t be a change next week or the week after! I’m aiming to end on a high, with a personal goal between 2-4lbs- either way I have lost 10lbs in 3 WEEKS, I’m down a bra size and I’m typing this up in an old pair of black SIZE 12 skinny jeans, so goodbye old dress size.
Feeling incredibly philosophical this week as I enter my fourth and final week of the starter programme At The Fitness centre is that a weight-loss journey is selfish, its long and its probably one of the hardest thing people have to do, chipping away at themselves, sculpting themselves in a way they want. It’s you working on you- and that’s my new job.
So when I observe how they work in At The Fitness Centre, the numbers on the scale seem as little importance, they’re more concerned with your fitness, your body and your general health it’s all about helping you improve you….
So this is Barbara, finishing the starter programme at the end of this week, addicted and planning to sign up to the next plan……join me running the weight-loss marathon, dear bikini body I’m coming for you!!
For a list of their programmes and more info contact At The Fitness Centre here
This week I learned the sheer importance of exercise and a routine, for those of you who don’t know I tend to suffer from depression, especially during the dark winter months. The weight of all the stresses in my life begin to take it’s toll and I struggle to muster up enough energy to crawl out of bed, let alone exercise or attempt to lose weight. It’s a battle!
But this last week was different, while I had zero interest in coming to the gym, I HAD to go. I had made a personal training appointment, I would feel as if I was letting the guys At The Fitness Centre down if I didn’t go- so I went. Despite almost missing my first session of the week I still showed up!
I’m not sure if it was the fact I was even stricter with my diet this week or maybe I didn’t drink enough water, but I was wiped out, this week I am monitoring everything over on my snapchat @barbaraom to make sure I’m eating enough- But every week I learn more!
The three 30 minute sessions suit my life perfectly, I had to travel to London and back during the week with work and still managed to fit in all my workouts and weigh ins.
While mentally I felt I was dis-improving I was physically stronger this week, its amazing to watch how just 30 minute sessions of weights training 3 times a week can change you, mind and body! I also began incorporating a 10 minute blast on the spin bike before each of my sessions, I have vowed to rid myself of my thunder thighs once and for all- not before my legs session though, I’m not that tough- YET!
I believe week 2 was my make or break week and I still managed a loss of 2lbs, that’s over half a stone in 2 weeks with these guys! When I think back to how other weeks would go, when I’d feel down in the dumps, they’d result in overeating, takeaways and rubbish sleep patterns, but not this week. I may not have been the hyperactive, endorphin fueled gym bunny I was in week 1, but I ate healthy, I drank green tea and I still gave it everything At The Fitness Centre.
Week three’s goal in another 2lbs and I’m drinking green tea and water by the gallon and snacking on almonds, berries and fat free natural yogurt to help me on my journey. I have also started including some vitamins in my morning routine to help boost my mood and my energy because every little helps- My first training session of the week is tonight and it’s legs so….Chris Mc…