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!

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 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.