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 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!

THE GLASTONBURY

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Ah, it’s that time of year again when the forthcoming Glastonbury headliners are announced.

And here we have it, just like clockwork, people moaning about who they might be and – when they’re finally announced – moaning just that little bit more.

First of all, it was no secret that Chris Martin and his band of merry men were going to headline at some point during this year’s festival. In fact, it has sort of been the music industry’s worst kept secret over the last few months, so I’m not sure why people are acting like somebody just told them that Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar (fingers crossed for this year, old chap).

Secondly, I have seen Coldplay live. Twice. Once with a mutual fan and another time with a notorious Chris Martin hater. And guess what? They both – begrudgingly or not – loved every second of it. Come 10pm on 26th June (whether you will care to admit it or not), you won’t be able to say anything but how much you enjoyed listening to what they had to offer.

And finally, if you’ve been before, you’ll know that the Sunday of Glastonbury is an emotional time. It’s a time to reflect on the strange creatures you’ve met in hidden spots around the site, a chance to reminisce about the quite frankly regretful things you’ve got up to over the last few days and – most importantly – it’s a chance to sit back and unwind with whatever’s left of your overheated gin and cans of cider. If you’ve been before, you’ll also know that it really doesn’t matter who you’re listening to onstage by that point because you’re already feeling nostalgic- torn between wishing it were all over so you can actually wash and yearning for day one so you can do it all over again. And who better to listen to when you’re feeling fragile whilst wanting to make the most of your latest stint in Somerset?

Basically, whether you like it or not, from the comfort of your sweaty sofa or from within the depths of the stinking extravaganza that is the Sunday of Glastonbury, you’re going to enjoy Coldplay’s slot. Either because it’s summer, because they’re talented or because you’ve just dropped whatever remnants you had left in the back of your bum bag from the last few days. Only time – and four magical days in a field – will tell.

As for me?

I can’t wait.

Only 126 days to go…

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.

OUR LIPS AREN’T SEALED

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Love is one of those things that has the ability to knock you sideways, whilst also being able to seep in silently like a good scent. It can appear as if from out of nowhere, but it can also grow for years before you realise you’ve even been struck by it. Sometimes, you don’t even know you’ve had it until it’s gone. But that’s the thing with love, you never know what form it’s going to take, how to prepare for it or in what way it’s going to shape you. But it does shape you, in one way or another. Every. Single. Time.

And I think that’s something worth talking about.

So, seeing as Valentine’s Day is pretty much on our doorstep, I thought now would be a good time to do just that. Yes, it’s a ‘Hallmark holiday’ and a cheap excuse for retailers to up the price of prosecco and long stemmed roses, but it’s also a chance to celebrate love in a few of its many guises.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding a pair of lips or two to this post, just below where you’re reading now. Behind each set, you’ll find a tale about a type of love that somebody has experienced (for better or for worse). These stories have been told by people I know, people I don’t know, people I’ve met and some that I haven’t. And then, of course, some by me. From the dangerous and forbidden to lost and lesbian love, I have it covered. But please, if you feel compelled to write one of your own, send it over. I’ll be posting throughout the month, so there’s still plenty of time to spill the beans.

Although we might not like to admit it, we have all had our fair share of both heart-make and heart-break and I think it’s time we spoke honestly about these experiences in order to both celebrate and laugh in the face of love.

Come inside, our lips are far from sealed.

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