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!

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.

SMALL VICTORIES – FEBRUARY

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It’s ten days into the month and I have only just realised that I haven’t laid out any of my goals for February. I guess thats what happens when life moves at 100mph and you find Valentine’s Day on your doorstep before you’ve even had time to digest your Christmas turkey.

But less of me sounding old and talking about time flying and down to the nitty gritty. What would I like to achieve over the next few weeks?

Here goes:

1. Read

I have a pile of books that I’ve acquired of late – from gifted reads to downloaded suggestions – that I am yet to even open. It’s my aim to find the time to enjoy just one of them (probably ‘Big Magic’) before the month is out.

2. Meditate

I’ve been reading all about ‘Mindfulness’ recently and OH HOT DAMN I had no idea that it was a) so complicated and b) required so much of my time and attention. Mindfulness isn’t just about feeling calm, it’s a way of life that allows you to manipulate your consciousness to live more in the moment. I think you’ll agree that we could all do with practising this a little more. I’ll let you know how I get on.

3. Sort

I will be moving out soon and my wardrobes are overflowing (yes, I am addicted to buying boots and coats, so sue me), but there is no point in lugging the tat along with me into my new chapter. I think I’ll use the time I have off work next week to sort through clothes and work out which items to chuck, keep or give to charity. Hopefully, that way, I can actually see what I have to wear and avoid that pre-night out floordrobe from developing…

4. Bang

No, not that kind of bang. I’ve been thinking of cutting in some bangs (aka, a fringe) again for a while now. The truth is, I much prefer my face-piece when my forehead is covered, but it’s just so difficult to maintain- particularly in rainy old England. Although it might not seem like a huge decision to many of you, those who have suffered from #fringepains in the past – from needing regular trims to hiding hat hair – will know why this is a big enough decision to be in my small victories post.

And that’s it. The theme of this month’s aims seems to be both practical and calming. And I’m cool with that.

So what are you going to try and achieve this month?

Whatever you set your sights on, go get it, tiger.

SMALL VICTORIES – DECEMBER

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December has arrived, so I guess it’s time for awkward exchanges at the Christmas party, secret santa extravaganzas and the mother of all evils: mistletoe. But more importantly, it’s time for reflection, relaxation and for giving yourself a break as we wind down towards the end of the year.

But no matter how much shopping, partying and consuming I’ll be doing, I will still endeavour to achieve something – no matter how small – this month.

So here goes:

1. Buy Badass Gifts

I am not the best present buyer, I’ll admit. In fact, I am the worst. From gifts that I’d like to receive instead of them to last minute panic buys, I never seem to nail it. I think I’ll just ask for lists from loved ones this year. Avoid disappointment and all that.

2. Keep Moving

I will inevitably consume more food than my stomach can manage over the festive period. I will probably eat more Pret Christmas sandwiches than you could ever imagine. I will guzzle ALL the wine, drink all the whiskey and dollop on all the cream. This is fine. If, and only if, I exercise amidst the frivolity. As long as I don’t PUT ON weight, I’m a happy lady. Losing it is doubtful when pigs in blankets and mum’s turkey are involved. And I’m fine with that.

3. Reflect and Release

What. A. Proverbial. Year.

It’s been one of those ‘would much rather forget happened’ years, so my aim is to tie up any loose ends, reflect on mistakes, celebrate triumphs, analyse mishaps and everything in between and then just… let it all go. 2016 is going to be the freshest of starts for me and I can’t wait.

4. Make Like Monica Bing…

… and take more photographs with my camera instead of my phone to capture the party season in full swing. Better quality. More special. No explanation needed really.

And that’s it. My final ‘Small Victories’ post of 2015.

What are your small triumphs going to be in this final month of the year? Remember that whatever they are, to keep your goals constructive, achievable and inspired… good luck!

SMALL VICTORIES – NOVEMBER

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I have probably chosen the worst time to write my November ‘Small Victories’ post as I’m tucked up, ill, in bed. However, it is one of the few spare moments I’ve had recently to actually just pause and reflect for a while.

Last month’s aims were reached, really. I downward dogged a little more often, I made sure to write lots, kept on top of my blogging schedule and I explored the city a little more… okay, that one’s a lie, but I would like to. I really would. This city has a deep-rooted place in my heart and I need to get to know it more. Will try to find the time to do just that.

These are the things I hope to achieve by the time December comes around…

1. Get bookish

As a child, I was rarely seen without a book under my arm. I was a bit like Matilda and I promise you, just as annoying. Since the whole internet thing happened, however, I find it so easy to browse the same websites day after day as opposed to delving into a good story. So I want to change that. I’ve already set off on my mission to read more and have just started The Two of Us by Andy Jones and I love it. At just 99p a download, it has reminded me to really think about the books I buy and has encouraged me to search beyond the bestseller lists for hidden treasures… book review to follow.

2. Get it checked

I need to take my health more seriously. Cystitis, an ear infection, back pain, lumps, bumps and everything in between… whatever it is, get it looked at. Doctors become doctors because they want to help you, so go and see them when you need to. That is what they are there for. And they are amazing. Just the other night I needed antibiotics after the surgery had closed. My GP called me and issued them over the phone. I popped my first pill at 7 o’clock that evening.

All hail the NHS.

3. Wear less on my face

I am so BORED of spending so much time getting ready each morning. I love my sleep and would much rather shower, dress and go. Instead, I put on primer, highlighter, foundation, bronzer, blusher, eyeliner, mascara, lipliner and lipstick. The only place I’m heading for five days a week is work, so why bother with a full face of Nars makeup which costs a fortune in the first place? I want to wear less on my face and have more time (and spend less money on face wipes).

4. Prepare for Christmas

No, it’s not too early.

If you’re an Aries, like me, you’ll know that to be as organised as everybody else is, you have to be quite anal about it, otherwise it won’t happen. Truth is, if I don’t prepare presents now, the party season will arrive sooner than I can say “Rudolph” and I’ll be lost to a haze of mulled wine and hearty food with the gifts that I was intending to buy for my family and friends left on the shelves of stores around London, never to be bought. Once party season hits, around the second week of January, I am lost to the glitter and the mistletoe, so November is my only chance to avoid writing I.O.U notes to loved ones and investing in those naff, last minute panic buys.

And that’s it. That’s what I’d like to accomplish.

Let me know what you’d like to achieve over the next few weeks, but remember, remember, this November, to make your goals constructive, achievable and inspired!

SMALL VICTORIES – OCTOBER

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Am I on fast forward? Is the earth spinning faster? I’m starting to get worried. How have thirty days passed since my last Small Victories post? And how the hell is Halloween just around the corner?

Starbucks have released Autumnal paper cups, I’ve been wearing scarves to work and shops are selling Christmas goodies – apparently September just ceased to exist – but did I achieve what I set out to over the last four weeks?

Yes.

And no.

I worked my butt off, inside and outside of the confines of my 9-5, but I could have done – and want to do – better.

So, this month, I will be staying on the road to job-fulfilment bliss, but with a couple of added extras thrown in for good measure. So here goes.

1. Keep at it.

By ‘it’, I mean blogging. Writing. Hustling. It will all pay off, I know it.

2. Stretch.

I could probably count on one hand – or even finger – how many times I have taken to the mat this month. And I can feel it in my mind and in my muscles. Yoga is my valium. Yoga is my therapy. And I am in desperate need of both.

3. Explore.

This one is harking back to August when I promised to enjoy everything that London has to offer, but ‘never got round to it’. Although the weather might not allow for outdoor expeditions as such, a scarf and a hat are more than enough to get me to a gallery. No excuses.

4. Spend time with friends.

Trying to balance a new job, a boy, a blog and my friends over the last month has proved challenging. I have had no time for anything but sleeping and eating, so as October rolls in I’m hoping I’ll be able to stop for a moment and spend time with the most important people in my life…

And there we have it. My small victories that I am reaching for this month, which I will probably fail to achieve because LIFE IS MOVING SO GODDAMN QUICKLY post-25.

But anyway, aside from pinning down a ticket to Glastonbury and nailing the perfect Halloween costume, what would you like to achieve this October?

Whatever it is, make it constructive, doable and inspired. Good luck!

SMALL VICTORIES – SEPTEMBER

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And with a whizz, whoosh, and a wham-bam-thank you-mam, August was gone.

I did listen to my dad when he told me on my 21st birthday that life would fly by from thereon in, but this summer has been something else, don’t you think?

Although I’m sad to say goodbye to warm nights and bare legs, I’m glad that it’s time to head back to reality. There’s something about this time of year – as holidays come to an end and leaves fall to the ground – that fills me with ambition and drive. September always feels like a second chance at a new year and a fresh start as the heat dissipates from the city. A transitional season that welcomes change and calm. 

But let’s look back for a second. Because my August Small Victories weren’t victories at all and I feel I should acknowledge that.

Although I stuck to number 1 (to write more) and number 4 (to work on working out), I didn’t travel anywhere new – aside from Beckenham – and I didn’t surround myself with beauty or explore the art world, although I blame the rain for that one. Instead, I took the time to not try for once. After a year or so of rushing things, I decided to relax, treat my soul to some chicken soup, stop forcing things and instead just enjoy life for what it was. Or is. I actively chose to embrace each day as it came. To let things go. To enjoy my friends. My family. The summer. To just be.

But now that it’s September and I am well rested from a lazy August, it’s time to start fighting for the dreams that I sometimes (regretfully) neglect. People would kill to be 26 again or get the chance to live in London, so it’s my plan to make sure I don’t take these things for granted. The regret of wasting time is not on my agenda.

So, September, what are we waiting for? Let’s have a look at our plans, shall we?

1. Graft.

I pressed the reset (panic) button this summer after a busy – and quite frightful year – with a plan to come back fighting. And I have. With a very clear goal in mind for my future and a determination to work my butt off until I get there. (As they say, ‘Dreams won’t work unless you do’.) So, although it might sound like a nightmare to some, I’ll be using every hour that I’m not at work to focus on my own projects. I might be a little tired though, so bear with me.

2. Save.

I used to be so great with money; spending a fiver a week on food and never really buying new clothes meant that I probably had more money as a student than I do now. So I’m going to save what I can for grown up things. And Topshop dresses. And grown up things.

Ahem.

3. Focus.

I knew months ago that my August calendar would be bursting with things to do. And, although I don’t regret a single house party, dinner or evening with friends, I was hoping for a quieter September.

As it happens, it’s just as busy.

But I will focus. I just need to channel a ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ mentality, which can’t be that hard, right?

*

I don’t wish to tell you about my big plans, dreams or ambitions because I see them as a little bit like wishes: if you even whisper them into someone’s ear, they won’t come true. And I can’t risk that.

One of my favourite quotes goes something like, ‘If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs’. It’s my favourite because it’s something that is so easy to forget to do. So I want you to think of it as you head into work in the morning. I understand that we all have to put the hours in to survive, but make sure you fight to keep your own dreams alive beyond the 9-5. I might be exhausted as I attempt this and it might take me a while to get there, but I am confident I will achieve what I want to- with a lot of hard work and heaps of determination, of course.

And so can you.

September is a time to reach for the stars. So what are you trying to achieve this month?

Whatever it is, give it all you’ve got. Good Luck!

SMALL VICTORIES – AUGUST

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So, apparently July didn’t happen.

I genuinely feel as though I have just lost 31 days to grey skies and a whole host of Wintry dinners, in what feels like the space of about five seconds. I must say though, despite the need for long sleeves in July and what seemed like the quickest month to pass in human history, I seem to have come out at the other end of my unseasonal hibernation feeling invigorated, energised and ready for August.

But, as always, I will first let you know how I got on with last month’s Small Victories.

Firstly, my intentions to find a musical instrument and begin to learn how to play it just didn’t happen and well, let’s be honest, I can’t say I’m surprised. And I’m sure you aren’t either. However, my plight to organise my music collection did work out well and I now have six playlists which are lovingly (and somewhat unoriginally) labelled: Love, Party, Tunes, Albums, Guilty Pleasures and Pump. Albums is my favourite: it’s full to the brim with great records spanning decades and genres, from Time Flies and Caustic Love to channel ORANGE and Parachutes and I love it.

As for reading books outside of my comfort zone, I have yet to read anything completely untoward but I was gifted with ‘Very Good Lives’ by J K Rowling. A far cry from Harry Potter or The Casual Vacancy, it is a transcript of Rowling’s commencement speech that she gave to a group of Harvard graduates back in 2008. Her words focus on ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure and Importance of Imagination’ which basically means that she urges us to find strength in our failures and to do what we love. Definitely one of the most perfectly timed – and equally gorgeous – presents I’ve received in a while.

As for my fourth and final promise to party and drink more gin? I think it’s safe to say I passed this one with flying colours.

Now, for this month’s Small Victories:

1. Write more.

Not just blog posts, but simply scribbles in my notebook. It’s great writing for an audience but sometimes it’s even better writing solely for yourself. You can be crudely honest and completely unabashed- very liberating.

2. Surround myself with art.

I live in London. So why is it that the only two galleries I visit on a regular basis are The Saatchi and The Tate Modern? Yes, it helps that I like modern art but, come on. The National Portrait Gallery? Amazing. The V & A? Inspired. I need to just do some research and then get off my bum and explore.

3. Travel somewhere new.

This one is actually pretty easy, seeing as I am going on holiday. The only problem is, I haven’t actually booked it yet. I want to find somewhere with the bluest sea and the whitest sands and I want to stay somewhere where I don’t have to lift a toe, let alone a finger. I want serenity and nothingness. A break from London, basically.

4. Work at working out.

I have joined the gym, which means that I feel a little less guilty about the musical instrument promise from July because I have joined an ACTUAL gym, like an ACTUAL grown up and I ACTUALLY really like it. At the moment I am just getting a feel for what I enjoy – experimenting with classes, machines and pace – but I’m hoping to work out a routine that works for me over the next month. My brother said he’s going to train me to kill. Watch this space.

So there we have it: my four goals for this month. By the 31st, I will be a muscly creative on a beach. But what about you? What are you going to achieve by the end of August?

Remember: keep it constructive, manageable and – most importantly – possible. Be kind to yourself.

Have a great month.

SMALL VICTORIES – JULY

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So last month was the beginning of my ‘Small Victories’ series, where I try to stop focusing on the bigger picture and look to the little things that I can do to make my life that bit happier. And, let’s face it, less scary, because being 26 in 2015 is harder than people warn you of, THAT’S for sure.

So let’s look back for a second.

At the beginning of June, I promised to prepare for Glastonbury. And that I did. Although the lead up to it was a little stressful as I made daily dashes to Poundland and Wilko for cups and all important birthday hats, the fact that I had been so organised pre-festival meant that my trip ran smoother than James Bay’s chin (messy antics not included). All the lists I’d written and ticked off meant that the only thing I had to worry about on arrival was where to get cold mixer from and whether The Libertines were actually going to be the surprise guests. And as it happened, they were. So I didn’t even have to worry about that. A few years ago I would have turned up to a festival with alcohol and a tent. Turns out it takes more than that to make it a success. Experience is everything. (Side note: Glastonbury is a wonderland for hedonists and life lovers so, if you haven’t already, do all you can to get yourself there at some point. It is a 100% life must.)

As for yoga, it has become as much a part of my daily routine as peanut butter on toast. Whether I do it for fifteen minutes or an hour, I make sure that it happens every goddamn day. Not only does it give me a full body stretch, but it’s a chance for me to process my thoughts – or forget everything – for a fixed amount of time. This intention varies daily.

I also promised to stick to a blogging schedule in order to show this space just how much I love it. I guess you can be the judge of how well I did on this one, although I think I did okay. However, although the timetable has helped to keep me on track, I do miss posting when I want to, as opposed to when I have said I will. So I think I will relax this one for July and then compare how I feel about both approaches to blogging at the end of the month.

Lastly, I promised to organise my music collection on Spotify. I’ll be honest, I didn’t. But I’m only human. I’m too busy listening to it to file it. And music is supposed to be a little chaotic, right?

SO THIS MONTH I WILL:

1. Stop making up silly excuses and actually sort out my music collection on Spotify.

2. Read some books outside of my comfort zone. Some Conrad or Coleridge, perhaps? University was great for forcing me to read things I would have otherwise ignored. I must stay curious as I dive into my late twenties.

3. Pick an instrument that I want to learn. And then find someone who will teach me how to play it for free or a very small fee. And then start a band, get rich and live like a rock star.

4. Dance more and drink more gin. Partying is absolutely my way of letting off steam and I’m not hurting anyone in doing so, so why have I stopped? I’m not even sure of the answer to that one but as the summer months roll in, I will be reigniting my penchant for partying every weekend.

So that’s my four foci for the month. But what about you? What small victories are you hoping to achieve by the end of this suspiciously sunny July?

Remember: keep them constructive, manageable and – most importantly – possible.

Have a great month.