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!

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.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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Despite the chill, spring has certainly arrived in London.

Brighter mornings and longer evenings are edging ever closer and, my god, do I need them.

I have a new favourite spot in my living room where I like to read and do all my best blogging, so go and find your own sunny space and have a browse of my favourite reads from the last seven days to kick off your Sunday.

Articles

Stay Positive

‘Ands’, no ‘Buts’

Change Your Life

Money Talk

What does it mean to be a woman in 2016?

If You’re Squeamish, Don’t Look

Megalolz

Proper food for thought

Mum’s the Word

Free the Nipple

Junior Doctors: an opinion

Heart Strings

Sometimes, just be

Homelessness

Blog Love

Choose You

Happy Mondays

Coffee Break

And, because it’s 2016, here’s two to watch:

#FOF

#theimportanceofbeingalone

Have a wonderful week!

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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As my month of love continues to grow, I thought I would stick to all things relationships and sex for this week’s Sunday Papers post. Here’s my round up of romance from the last 7 days.

Sex Myths Decoded

Single and Proud

Going the Distance

Dating at 30

Sober

For When Cupid Doesn’t Strike

A Love Story

Bag a Bargain

Addicted to Love

Ridin’ Solo

Couples Living With Couples

When Divorce is a Good Thing

Women Enjoy It Too

I can’t get no…

Have a great week.

THE NEW YEAR

large (19)I feel like I have learnt more about myself in the past year than I have in the last 26 put together.

I started 2015 on what can only be described as the lowest I have ever been. I had no job, my relationship was hanging on by less than a thread and I was suffering quite severely with anxiety and low self esteem. I looked to the year ahead and couldn’t see past March to be honest. I felt as though everything I knew about myself was wrong, I didn’t know where I was going to be by the following January and, when things were really bad, I didn’t care.

But here I am. With a job I don’t love but I need, not for the money but peace of mind, a relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything and a healthier outlook on the future.

Cliché or not, I genuinely can’t believe how much can change in a year.

Back in January, those closest to me kept saying that time was a healer and that things would change. They would remind me that nothing is permanent and that I wouldn’t feel this way forever. As you can imagine, I didn’t believe a single word of what they said. Instead, I chose to just bury my head in the sand and carry on with things by ignoring the stuff that was bothering me. This, of course, only made things worse. Until I decided to hit the reset button, chill the f out for a bit and start again.

And then just like that – or rather, six, quite long, quite difficult months later – on an ordinary day in December as I walked home from work, I realised that I didn’t feel sad, anxious, hurt or disappointed anymore. In fact, without knowing, I had grown in confidence, I was happier, more optimistic and driven than ever, but I didn’t feel these things outwardly, overwhelmingly or life-changeingly. I felt them in the most beautiful way possible: I simply felt okay again. And that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve when I hit the reset button back in July. I just wanted to feel like I was in control again and – finally – I do.

So, although I have friends who are joining me on a high of happiness at the close of the year – from engagements and career moves to pregnancies and new relationships – I also have those around me who have recently lost loved ones, who are caring for those who might not be with us for much longer and those who are nursing not broken, but completely shattered, hearts. And it is to those people who I am dedicating this New Year’s post to. Because I was you this time last year, waiting for midnight, hoping for a fairy godmother to appear and wash all of my troubles away with her magic wand. So, although you know as well as I did that she’s never going to come, I am here to remind you that, over the next few months, your luck will change, that there is still time to fix whatever it is that is broken and that by this time next year you will look back and almost be grateful for what you’ve just endured. It will take a few months of cutting yourself some slack, a dash of hard work and a whole lot of me time, but I promise, you will get there.

So, whether you’re excited, apprehensive or nervous about the coming year, be sure to surround yourself with the people you love tonight and give thanks for the things you do have, because that’s really the only thing that matters in this life.

See you in 2016 for another adventure.

Happy New Year.

THE SUNDAY ROUNDUP – 2015

large (20)I started The Sunday Papers a few months ago when I decided that I wanted to share my favourite articles of the week with you. The idea was to get people reading, generate discussions around important topical issues and discover some great online magazines along the way. However, when I sat down to write my final Sunday Papers post of the year, I decided that – instead of sharing my media highlights of the week with you – I would share my personal “life highlights” from the last 365 days.

I am a great believer in gratitude, optimism and glass half-fullness, so I’d like to share these moments with you in a bid to celebrate the goodness of 2015 rather than dwelling on the negative that sometimes seems to surround us.

So here goes.

Falling in Love with my Blog Again

Back in March, restless before my 26th birthday and impending nose-dive into my late twenties, I decided to invest in a new web layout. Although I will soon be able to do this myself, web design was out of my reach at the time and I chose to use Pipdig who were an absolute dream to work with. I was so happy with the design and ease of application and would recommend them to anyone looking for a change. The fact that I am still loving the layout after 9 months is testament to how pleased I am with the result. Best investment of the year.

One Room. All of my Favourites.

After a bit of a tumultuous few months, I decided to have a low maintenance birthday this year and invited all of my best ones to my boyfriend’s flat for drinks and a jaunt into Tooting. The best birthdays are the ones spent with food, drink and good people. Nailed it.

Watching Florence + The Machine at Glastonbury

By far my favourite moment of 2015. I’ve seen her perform before and since Glastonbury and I’ve never felt the way I did when watching her on the Pyramid Stage that night. Magical.

10 Year Reunion and the Realisation that Life is Good

My school reunion made me realise that things rarely change between good friends. After nervously teetering in stilettos, arm in arm with the same friends I’ve had since my school days, I had an epic evening catching up with the women of my past and celebrating our achievements. From engagements and travel to babies and career moves, we had all moved on but still shared the same (hilarious and sometimes shocking) memories that shaped us and even managed to find time to sing a rendition of Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All – a song close to my year group’s hearts – one last time. Ten years on, we were all still a long way from where we had predicted we’d be in our year books, but it was still reassuring to know that everyone was doing okay after all these years.

An all-girls BBQ in Beckenham and the night of a thousand Old Fashions

On the hottest day of the year, a friend of mine threw a birthday party in her back garden, which just so happens to be the size of a football pitch, with her parents, who just so happen to be some of the best around. A few Hungarian shots, home grown food and potent wine later, we hung out in the evening breeze, arguing over whether to have Kisstory or Magic on the radio and trying to make sure Helen (the birthday girl) was still standing (she wasn’t). That day spent in her garden was the most carefree I had been in a while and, just to add to it (because Summer evenings have a knack for surprising you) a friend and I ended up crashing a boy’s night out in Brixton and discovered a secret bar where we drank Old Fashioneds and talked until the early hours. For some reason this ordinary day became one of my highlights of the year.

The 4th of September 2015

Just a very good day indeed.

An Engagement to Remember

Finally, and most importantly, one of my oldest friends got engaged just before Christmas. IN NEW YORK. I cried, I screamed, I did all of the things that I thought I would do if I were to get engaged. I had no idea that someone else’s joy could bring me so much happiness, but it turns out it can. When you’ve grown up beside someone and shared their boy history along the way, seeing them so happy with someone you adore as much as them? Priceless. And the perfect end to 2015.

So that’s it from me and my year. What were your highlights of the last 365 days? Be sure to write them down and be thankful for them. Who knows what the next twelve months might bring…

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