#MYWORKOUTFORSINGLELIFE

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No, I have not broken up with my boyfriend.

I did, however, break up with my legs, arms and bum cheeks for the three days following an intense workout, courtesy of Virgin Active.

After pulling on our t-shirts and enjoying an espresso or two in the lounge to get our hearts racing, we set to our circuit workout under the guidance and supervision of Tyrone, a personal trainer at the gym. He talked us through each exercise and we worked through each of them in groups. It was a challenging workout, which was expected, but I was a bit surprised to find that we didn’t warm up or cool down either side of it (something that I think might be to blame for my painful limbs in the days following…). Aside from that, however, it was a fun workout, good to try something new and a great chance to meet other bloggers.

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Although I forgot to bring swimwear so that I could enjoy the pool/spa, it was nice to have a post-session shower and hang out with everyone afterwards.

Circuit training in a beautiful location? Sort of made for the perfect Saturday, actually.

Fancy giving it a go? Be my guest.

THE HUMP MONTH

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Welcome to July.

The season of sunshine, school holidays, Wimbledon, Pimms and badly dressed Brits.

But most importantly? We have reached the midway point of the year.

Yes, people, we are six months deep into 2016 and normally, at this time of year, when the days are longer, the sun has (sort of) come out to play and holiday season is fast approaching, I would reflect on the new year’s resolutions I made in a post-Christmas haze of bubbles, glitter, balls dropping and Big Ben chiming and give them a quick jump start before we head into the second half of the show.

But this year feels different. The UK is in such a state of disarray and unrest that I feel more deflated than ever before and as though I’m still slogging through the mud at Worthy Farm, in the rain, without a coat, even though I arrived back to concrete and home comforts five days ago.

But why?

Because I live in a blue country where the two viable options for our future prime minister have been, at one point or another, Boris fucking Johnson or Michael ‘Spawn of Satan’ Gove and this scares me. I find myself living in a country where the only political party who supports the working people is crumbling before my very eyes. I live in a UK that is becoming less tolerant and, in small pockets, more racist and in the city that I know and love so well, we are still berating women for feeding their children in public, while football fans watch on, tops off, in beer gardens. I am living in a world where innocent people are being killed, while gun laws are still being not only upheld, but justified, by men and where ruining someone’s life by raping them is rewarded with a six month prison sentence. As bombs going off around the globe fails to shock me anymore, I find myself starting to wonder: where did it all go wrong?

At 27, I guess I am young, yes, and I have been told on numerous occasions that I am ‘too idealistic’ or that I ‘just don’t get it’, but the fact is, I actually do. I know fine well that we are in dire straits and that ‘our’ decision to leave the European Union is a bad one. I know that for good to happen, we have to pull together. I know, from history, that change is possible, it just takes time and effort, of which I am more than willing to put in. And, even though at times it might seem impossible or exhausting to do so, I refuse to change who I am, what I believe and I will continue to march on with an open mind and a liberal, loving heart, in spite of these strange and confusing times.

So, this July, instead of looking backwards to see whether I have achieved what I set out to at the start of the year, I want everyone to join me in looking forward with one goal: to provide light – in any capacity you can think of – in these dark times so that we can begin to sort this mess out. If this comes in the form of a peaceful protest, then raise that banner high. If you can and wish to provide aid to our fellow humans in Calais, then I will donate to your cause. Hug more, talk more and never give up hope for a brighter future because, if we don’t, then who else will?

I feel as though we, as a nation, have reached rock bottom and you know what they say happens when you get there, don’t you?

Stay hopeful, young ones. We’ve got this.

The only way is up.

MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN

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A while ago, I realised that (since I have a vagina and grew up in London), it might be about time I wrote about my experiences of street harassment.

I talked about people touching my body when I hadn’t asked them to. I spoke about being cat-called and how often this happens. I reminisced about lengthy stares and bum grazes and, unfortunately, it seemed to resonate with a fair few of you. As a result, I thought I would bring your attention to ‘Might Never Happen’: a play co-written by one of my best friends, addressing aspects of the abuse and harassment that women face on a daily basis in the UK.

Doll’s Eye Theatre, the company behind this piece, address some important issues. They have taken the time to demonstrate the various guises that harassment takes on, the way people do or don’t deal with it and the way that it can make you feel the size of a thimble when it happens to you in a crowded place or somewhere you should feel safe, which, in actual fact, should be anywhere- including a dark alley in the dead of night; wearing heels, trainers, or an all in one for that matter.

I had the pleasure of watching ‘Might Never Happen’ back in May at the King’s Head in Islington. An intimate setting, which lent itself perfectly to the aptly uncomfortable scenes we endured. The material is thought-provoking and – refreshingly – demonstrates the male perspective on issues that are predominantly reserved for women’s magazine articles or feminine discussions. To me, this was the most important aspect of the performance because, all too often, I meet men who assume that women are overly sensitive to slurs on the street or that ‘we love it really’ when a man in a van comments on our *insert body part here*.

‘Might Never Happen’ asks some really interesting questions and opens up a space for conversations about what men can do to prevent this abuse from happening altogether through a combination of dark comedy and satire. It also highlights how little women can do to stop it, despite constantly being told to ‘cover up’ or ‘wear less make up’ to avoid ‘provoking men’, finally taking the blame and responsibility away from women and placing it on those who commit these acts instead.

The more we talk about how invasive these ‘lighthearted’ bum pinches, whispered ‘alright darlings’ and the standing-just-that-little-bit-too-close-to-us-incidents make us truly feel, the less accepted it will become.

Doll’s Eye Theatre will be performing ‘Might Never Happen’ again in October. You can get tickets here.

Let me know what you think.

THE COLLEAGUE

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People often talk about how important their friends are.

We so frequently recall fond memories of those we have known since university or school and we praise our families for being wonderful- and don’t get me wrong, these people are the people I turn to first. I do feel, however, that we need to give our work colleagues a little more credit for the crucial part that they play in our everyday lives.

Hear me out.

I get that your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover has to endure a run down of the last eight hours at the end of a long, hard day. I know that your girlfriends are the ones nursing your broken heart when things don’t quite work out as planned. Your mum and dad will no doubt be the ones to get you through a really rough patch, it was your grandparent’s job to spoil you rotten and your brother or sister are there to let you know that you’ve put on a bit of weight when no one else will. But the people you work with? They’re the ones who see you everyday, come rain or shine. On a good side of the bed day or on a bad side of the bed day. There’s no respite for those you share a desk with and they have to look at your face for at least six hours a day, whether they (or you) like it or not and this is why I feel it’s high time we celebrate these people we find ourselves spending most of our time with.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a good work colleague is hard to come by. In fact, starting a new job is a bit like an arranged marriage: you just don’t know what you’re going to get, but what I can say, with some certainty, is that knowing that I can have snippets of great conversation and a laugh at some point between the hours of 9am and 5pm is what makes me stop hitting snooze on my alarm each day. Aside from loving what I do, of course.

More to the point though, post-education, where else do you get the chance to meet and make life-long friends anymore? As a twenty-something, you can’t just approach people in bars and ask them to hang out with you as a mate. Nor do apps intended for this purpose ever really work. Friendship groups are set in stone by 27 and work is the only place you get to meet anyone new. Yet another reason why work colleagues are the bomb.

This positive outlook on desk mates, however, isn’t always agreed upon. In fact, I’ve heard tales-a-plenty about torturous co-workers in the last few days and I recently listened to a podcast by The Pool where someone had written in to ask for advice on how to handle their god-awful neighbouring teammate who chewed really loudly at their desk and sighed a lot. First of all: really dude? personal space, please. Secondly, it made me realise how lucky I have been. Although I’ve had some awkward romantic encounters and have faced both healthy disagreements and a couple of disappointments throughout my working life, I have always managed to find people I click with within my team, company or school and it is those humans who I would like to celebrate today. The ones who put up with my incessant need to talk things through, the ones who help curb my habit of writing endless lists and those who spend hours after work chatting, just because.

So, colleagues of the world: although we might have to make small talk with one another on impromptu tube rides home, spend lunch times working next to each other instead of eating across from one another and we may get a little inappropriate at after work drinks, you are what makes the 9-5 bearable, so let’s be grateful for that.

Tomorrow, take the time to offer a colleague a cup of tea or fetch them a diet coke from the shop. If you have a bit of spare time, offer them a helping hand with something they’re working on, or just get blind drunk on prosecco after hours for no reason at all.

You never know, once you get to talking to people, you might go from being colleagues to life-long friends.

Lord knows, stranger things have happened.

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.