I’M A YOUTUBER!

Okay, that’s a lie, but I am a sucker for trying out new things and have made a short from all the itty-bitty film clips Ryan took while we were in Oslo in January.

The camerawork is shaky, I haven’t quite worked out why the image quality is much poorer on YouTube than what it is on my laptop and it is probably interesting to no one except me and Ryan to watch, but I am proud of my first little film/messy montage set to music and thought I would share it with you.

Let me know what you think.

SMALL VICTORIES – JULY 2016

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I have achieved three out of four of my small victories this month, which is pretty good going considering how busy I’ve been.

We finally found a mirror that we both sort of like, I have somehow managed to avoid the sales and we have booked all of our flights for the summer. Naturally, the one thing I didn’t do was to exercise more, although I am yet to join a gym in Bristol.

Excuses, excuses. I know.

Anyway, looking forward to the next few weeks, I have decided that I am going to focus all my efforts on enhancing this little space of mine on the Internet. Not visually, but behind the scenes.

Here’s how:

1. Get SEO Savvy

I want to ensure that my voice is being heard by the sorts of people who might be interested in hearing it, so I have started an online course with The Digital Garage (a free programme run by Google) in order to wise up on keyword research, to understand what ‘long tail phrases’ are and to find out what other SEO jargon means in a bid to strengthen my skills. I am certainly learning a lot from these tutorials as the landscape of search engines and SEO shifts and changes.

2. Master Google Analytics

Analytics has been a friend of mine for a while now and, of course, I have taught myself the basics over the past couple of years, but I am keen to get to grips with the more advanced features of it. Any suggestions as to how I might find out a little more would be much appreciated.

Until then, kinesthetic learning (otherwise known as trial and error / feeling around in the dark) is my friend.

3. Write More

I have lots to say and I finally (sort of) have the time to write it all down and get it out there. I want to commit to three posts per week at least.

Any topic suggestions are more than welcome…

4. Spread my Seed

I really love when people send me guest posts to publish and share with my readers and I can imagine that you, as the reader, find it refreshing to hear a voice or opinion other than my own.

So, this month, instead of only posting on here, I am going to share my work with other bloggers (if they’ll have me) so I’ll keep you posted on that one.

5. (And completely unrelated to the Internet) Bend and Stretch

Basically, I want to get back into practising yoga on a regular basis. When I have some time out, I forget how great it makes me feel, so I think it’s time to hop on the mat and remind myself.

And those are my goals for July.

Think about what you would like to achieve over the next few weeks and go for it; there really is no time like the present.

Good luck!

PACKING FOR FUN IN A FIELD

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Spending four or five days in a field might sound like fun and games (which it most definitely is), but if you’re underprepared, then you will be miserable, resulting in drinking all your warm booze by the end of day one and having to spend the majority of your money on over-priced cider.

With this in mind, I thought I would devise a festival checklist for those of you joining me in Somerset over the next few days/heading to one of a number of UK festivals this summer season.

This list ranges from the very obvious, to the unthought of.

Here goes.

Practical Items

A Torch

Bin Bags

Dry, non-perishable foods

A Onesie

A small rucksack

A good raincoat

Wellies

Individual Packs of Tissues

A bum bag / Fanny pack

A Towel

A ‘Granny Trolley’ to carry heavy stuff (if you’re not driving)

A refillable water bottle

A Ground Sheet

Camping Chairs

A portable phone charger

A Tent

A Sleeping Bag

An Eye Mask

Toiletries

Baby Wipes / Make Up Wipes

All the dry shampoo

Toothbrush / Toothpaste

Mini shampoo / conditioner / body wash

Hair ties / clips /kirby-grips

Make Up (obvs)

Lots of deodorant

A Razor

Paracetamol / Ibuprofen

Dioralyte

Hay fever Tablets

Eye Drops

Tampons / Pads (just in case!)

First Aid Kit

Blister Plasters

Hand Sanitiser

A Mirror

Clothes

Too many pairs of socks

A couple of pairs of thick socks

Too many pairs of pants

Three bras

A swimsuit / A bikini

Five outfits for sunny weather

Two pairs of jeans

A couple of jumpers

A pair of sandals / A pair of non-wellies

A Hat

Sunglasses

The Fun Stuff

Lots of Glitter / Vaseline

Head scarves for greasy hair

Spirits decanted into plastic bottles

Squeezy bags to decant said spirits each day

Mixers

Some cans of alcohol

A box of wine

A hip flask

Plastic cups

And last but not least, your ticket! (And some ID, as some festivals require you to show this on entry and I was ID’d for booze at last year’s Glastonbury). I was 26.

Aside from that, pack well, have fun, look after each other and anything else you can think of to add to the list? Let me know and I’ll add it.

Every little helps!

SMALL VICTORIES – JUNE 2016

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Life was a little difficult this time last year. I’ll spare you the details but things weren’t, shall we say, going to plan.

So, in order to cope with life a little more effectively, I devised ‘Small Victories’, in a bid to celebrate the little things and make everything feel a bit more manageable. As things began to fall into place however, I sort of neglected this monthly tradition, but I believe that no matter how well things are going, it’s important to set yourself short term goals and work towards them.

So, although I haven’t pulled one of these together for months now, there’s no better time to rekindle Small Victories than on the 1st June, exactly a year since it’s birth.

Without further ado, here are my goals for June:

1. Find a mirror that we both like

You think I’m joking, but this has (sadly) been a hot topic of conversation between Ryan and I over the past few weeks. I could never have guessed that moving into a place together would mean that we would spending hours mulling over mirrors in IKEA, but lo and behold, this is my reality. Fingers crossed for reflective success in the coming weeks!

2. Book flights

I have a lot to fit in this year in terms of weddings and trips away, but am yet to pay for anything. My aim is to have everything booked by the end of the month.

3. Quit clothes

I genuinely think I have a problem. I can’t stop buying clothes and am struggling to stop. However, with everything else going on this month, I don’t have a choice but to put my card away and spend my cash on something other than Zara tops. This one might be struggle.

4. Get moving

“Life has been pretty hectic lately, so I haven’t exercised much” is a sentence that has been on my lips every day since March, which is funny considering I’ve managed to find time to eat burgers and drink gin. NO MORE EXCUSES. From Monday, I will be back in the gym on a nightly basis and from 3pm this afternoon, I will be back on the yoga train. I am sick of feeling soft and lazy and want to feel good in a bikini come August.

What would you like to achieve this month? Have a think and get back to me. I’d love to know.

THE DOLLAR

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Before I begin, I would just like to point out that if you have invited me to your wedding/birthday party/hen/bar mitzvah or even your grandmother’s coming out party this year, I love you, I am looking forward to it, I will be there and it will be great.

I am just terrified.

Not terrified about meeting new people, getting too drunk, saying something stupid or figuring out what to wear, how to get there, or whether or not I’ll have a good time. In actual fact, I have growing concerns about the hole that is currently burning in my back pocket (or more realistically, purse).

I’m not tight. In fact, I’m pretty frivolous with cash. And yes, I do understand that due to my age, invitations to elaborate affairs are to be expected, but four weddings in four months seems a little excessive, don’t you think? Add to that a festival, a hen and a few birthday parties, as well as a new car and things begin to add up/I start to feel sick about how I’m going to afford it all.

I know.

Don’t even say it.

This post couldn’t be more first world pains if it tried.

I know that there are children missing in Calais and bombs going off around the world. I am well aware that global warming is a losing battle placed at the forefront of literally no one except Leonardo DiCaprio’s minds and basically all of the good celebrities are dying this year, but seriously, this influx of expensive weddings in exotic locations, matched with sky high estate agent fees and other unearthly costs are getting to me. And although I care about these aforementioned global issues, please just humour me and allow me to nab just five minutes of your time to moan and bask in our mutual (because I just know that I’m not alone in this) hatred for all things money related.

And if you don’t want to hear it? Click away now.

Basically, being 27 in 2016 is quite difficult.

The majority of my friends are living with their parents. Some have only just left home and others are returning home to save money on rent. We still drink before we go out, if we’re having a big one, in order to save cash on cocktails and we jump at the chance to use a 50% off key ring (who wouldn’t) to buy pizza from halfway across the city. We swap clothes and buy and sell online and we can still barely make rent (that’s if we’re even paying any). And I’m sorry, but I just can’t help but feel jealous of the generations that came before us who had probably bought a home and were two thirds of the way up their chosen career ladder by my age.

The problem is that I don’t take money too seriously. I like to earn it so that I can spend it on seeing a new part of the world or to eat dinner with friends. I never like to miss out on celebrating something wonderful with people I love – even if does mean forking out money from an overdraft – and saving, in this climate, seems like a waste of time to me. But I’m angry. Angry that I’m not alone in not being able to afford a fucking thing (despite having a full time job) and angry that I have to think so much about sheets of paper that, essentially, are nothing more than bog roll.

This post is pointless. I know that. I’ve just spent half an hour moaning in writing about having lovely weddings and birthdays to attend this year. I’ve just whined about having to fork out money in order to spend five, blissful days in a field with my boyfriend and I’ve moaned about paying for a new home with said boyfriend, something that other people would kill to be able to do.

So, although I had planned on berating the world for making money a necessity and had intended on putting all things cash-related to shame, all this post has done is remind me how lucky I am. Lucky that I have friends to share my money with and to spend my money on. Lucky that I have a job that allows me to enjoy such experiences. Lucky that I get the opportunity to have so much fun. And lucky that, although I might not be minted, I am happy.

So, although I haven’t achieved what I had set out to (which was to moan about the things I don’t have), I have instead been reminded of what I do have and have been rewarded with a huge (and much needed) dose of gratitude, which is never a bad thing.

Suck it up, Olivia. Life is good.

THE LAUGHTER

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Not a day goes by where I don’t laugh. I mean it. It’s not a conscious thing, I just don’t think my subconscious would allow for anything else.

I’m not saying that I laugh my tits off at funerals and I certainly don’t always see the best in everyone. I don’t have a constant, deranged smile on my face, but nor do I succumb to frowning more often than necessary- not only because it gives you wrinkles but because it’s just plain ugly. School reports would often ask why I found things so funny, why I couldn’t sit still in class and stop messing around with friends. I think I just realised – perhaps a little too young – that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

And by that, I don’t mean the big things. Of course, there are elements of life that we must treat with a little more tact than making a cheese and pickle sandwich on a Thursday afternoon, such as raising kids or forging a career.

But when it comes to the small stuff? Don’t sweat it.

I’m talking about the rude people you encounter on your morning commute and the self service tills that just don’t seem to work, despite it being 2016. I’m thinking of the times your friend cancels on you at the last minute or the promotion you missed out on at work. I’m thinking about losing bank cards or missing the 28 day curfew on a return. You know what I’m talking about: the niggly annoyances of every day life that make you just want to scream (until you get a little perspective, of course). The same niggly annoyances that make everyone look so grey and miserable as they move around the city.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re permitted to be annoyed – in fact, it’s healthy to react to things – but negative thoughts lasting longer than 30 minutes? You’re wasting your time. You won’t get that half an hour of wallowing back, that person is still going to have been rude to you and you won’t be able to change the past: so why are you still making it your problem? Instead, find the strength to turn the situation around: laugh at their ill manners and know that it will come back to bite them on the bum; shrug at your boss’ poor decision making skills and, most of all, keep your goddam chin up.

Whether you are the CEO of a billion dollar corporation, a cleaner at the cafe around the corner or an overworked NHS nurse, the truth is, the perils of daily life can get us all down at one point or another. Things bother us and, in our own little worlds, the small gripes become big gripes and, when they add up, it can become really difficult to get up in the morning.

But there’s not much we can do about bad days, sadly. They happen to the best of us.

What I am trying to say though, is that we should try to deal with them better. In fact, I suggest you do one (or all) of the following: Feeling ill? Take your favourite colleague out for a warm bowl of soup and spend your lunch hour (and actually take an hour) talking about your love life, your aspirations or simply what you did at the weekend. Do not, under any circumstances, discuss your 9-5. Feeling undervalued at work? Find a hobby or start a blog and showcase your talents to those who want to hear and see them. Feeling lonely or out of touch with things? Set up a Twitter account and search for a hashtag relevant to you. Start a discussion. Ask a question. It’s free. Feeling demotivated? Sign up to a half marathon, join a gym or go for an evening walk. A little exercise really does go a long way.

But most importantly? Find a way to laugh at least once a day, no matter how hard it might seem sometimes. Find out the name of the person who makes your morning coffee or greet the TFL worker at your station. Force a smile in the face of difficulty and chuckle away the negativity. You burn calories, you acquire fewer wrinkles and – I promise – your world will become a much better place for it.

Still not feeling the fun? Click here. This clip is never not funny.

ART (PART I)

I have so many friends who are artists, creatives and thinkers. I have so many people in my life who inspire me and make me think, ‘MAN OH MAN, I need to make like them, put pen to paper and better my creative self’, which is vital when you’re living a creative life as a side hustle.

So, I thought, rather than keep these talented folk all to myself, why not share the fruits of my friendships with you fine people?

Starting with this here poem.

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me the link to her new Tumblr page. She’s an actress who I once interviewed as part of my ‘Job Centre’ campaign. She’s beautiful, inspirational and – trust me – once you press play on this film, you won’t be able to stop watching until the very end.

Welcome to Lotte Rice. Welcome to Spooning Chips.

Let me know what you think.

THE SLUMP

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I had high expectations for this Easter holiday.

Very high expectations, in fact.

I envisaged sun soaked sessions outside local coffee shops with my laptop perched on my knee in an oversized jumper. I pictured lazy days in the park spent scribbling in a notebook. At one point, I was booking a very expensive holiday to Cape Verde that I couldn’t afford, hoping to tan and write at the same time. Basically, I predicted that wherever I was in the world, I would be being (at the very least) creative, although of course, the reality of any sort of writing I do consists of my bed, some snacks and a pair of unwashed, faded pyjamas, so I’m not quite sure why I all of a sudden saw myself living in some sort of Hipster paradise, churning out great works of art on the other side of the world…

But anyway, two weeks into a two and a half week break from work and all I have posted on here are two ‘Sunday Papers’ pieces (which literally consist of nothing other than other people’s fantastic writing) and a couple of ‘Monday Mantras’, which, of course, everybody needs at the start of a working week, but it’s not exactly rocket science and/or a work of creative genius to find a quote and share it.

But it’s really not that I haven’t wanted to post anything. On the contrary, I was determined to become the next Zoella or whoever else is now living off the fruits of their online presence in the space of 17 days. But, surprisingly, it hasn’t happened. Perhaps I aimed too high? Perhaps ‘becoming Zoella’ was a little too optimistic? Perhaps I’ve lazed in bed for a little too long each morning? Spent too much time cooking delicious food or getting on with adult things like finding a flat and a new job?

Truth is, I really couldn’t tell you; I haven’t a clue why I haven’t been writing. I could list five thousand reasons why I might not be feeling particularly creative at the moment, but I really have no idea where my words have gone. The problem though, is that when these slumps strike, and I go into some sort of creative coma, it’s very difficult to hop back out of it and pick up a pen or start typing. Much like working out, once I haven’t written or posted anything of any significance in a while, the thought of doing so becomes scary and – at times – impossible. I question my abilities and grow uncertain about why I even do this.

And then I get an email.

Or a private message on Twitter.

People start questioning why I haven’t posted in a while and my hearts lifts a little.

I start to hear the familiar little cogs turning and get the urge to post something… anything.

So that’s why I’m here on this Wednesday evening.

I am hoping that by typing words and hitting publish without thinking too much about them, a creative valve hidden somewhere deep inside my body will open and, just like that, the juices will start flowing once again.

Here’s to thinking, writing and being more creative over the next few weeks.

Watch this space.