Good evening my little bloggees!
And so, here I am, two weeks after my little gloat about having a fortnight off work... and having to mentally prepare myself for the 9 til 5 once again. It's done me the world of good to have such a long break, and has also given me time to mull over those aspects of my job that don't sit well with me - well, the ones that I can do something about anyway...
Upon reflection, many of the things that have been bugging me I can only address by asking for advice and support. So, on my "to do" list for Monday is to arrange a time to receive feedback on my latest unsuccessful interview and to arrange a supervision with my manager to discuss my career progression - something that he has hinted he can help with but I've never really taken him up on. And, having chatted to a friend about some of my other work-based gripes, I will be asking a few other questions of my management team about how we can make the demands put upon our service (and me!) more manageable - and will be offering a few solutions too.
I've been deploying this new problem-solving tactic out of the workplace too. Having realised that the diploma I want to study will cost me twice what I expected, I've asked for a loan. And, having had a situation play on my mind for a few months, I've asked the other person involved about it - and was relieved to hear that what I had perceived as a major difference of opinion was, in fact, not much more than a misunderstanding. Within the space of a day, by asking questions of people, I've had two loads lifted off my mind. Happy days.
So, my new motto for life? If you don't ask, you don't get - whether it be a promotion, some support, or clarification on a situation that has been getting your knickers in a twist. And, although it's a new mantra, it's one that I can already highly recommend.
Yes, I know that sounds selfish, but this weekend, it's just been me, myself and I. After a manic week at work and a busy out of hours schedule seeing friends and family, come Saturday morning I was more beat than I've felt in a long while and sent most of it (read: all) in bed. And whilst I did spend the rest of the weekend more productively, I decided to resist the temptation to fill up my diary and instead pottered around the flat getting on top of my chores and mooched around Walthamtow on me tod.
This afternoon I dedicated to some "me" time - as in, rather than doing stuff that was in some way useful or expected, I decided I should do something purely for my own enjoyment. I admit it's a craft I've not practiced in a while and it took we a while to figure out what I really wanted to do. After some soul searching I ended up in Walthamstow Village, where I checked out Gods Own Junkyard ( a.k.a. Europe's biggest neon sign junk shop!) and perused The Independent on Sunday over a pint. It really was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and one I intend to repeat very soon.
So whilst it might be a bit late for you to do so this weekend, I recommend that you block a day or two out soon to do your own thing, and practise getting that balance between doing what is beneficial and what is purely enjoyable. Okay, so next weekend is fully booked - and one I'm really looking forwards to - but I'll be spending a weekend going my own thing again soon.
Good evening folks!
Well the weekend is drawing to a close, and a new week will soon be upon us. I admit, I found the last one quite tedious - the 9-5 grind was getting to me and, coupled with a lull in the old social life, I was more than a little bit grumpy. Alas, I managed to pull myself out of my gloom. How? Well I decided to book a little holiday...
Yep, that's right - in September I will be spending 10 days in San Francisco - and I can't wait! Sad as it is, knowing I have this to look forwards to seems too have perked me up no end. Coupled with the good weather, this weekend I've been pretty chirpy, getting up early and getting on with a new writing project and a bit of spring cleaning. Today I bagged a bargainous four dining room chairs and a coffee table for 40 quid, which I can't wait to paint up along with my ten pound TV stand. In fact, by the time I have my official housewarming in May, I reckon I'll be pretty close to having my flat as I want it - with perhaps the exception of a posh new three-seater sofa bed..
My point? Well, I know I'm lucky to have the means to travel to the West Coast of the US and to play at being Kirsty Allsop, but I also know that I function a lot better when I know I have something to aim for; a reward to all my hard work. At the end of the day, it is that often-tedious job that has enabled me to book that flight and pay the mortgage on the flat that I am so faithfully - and frugally - doing up.
So, as I traipse into work tomorrow, I will do my best to the thankful for all the opportunities it gives me - from stability to adventure, with the odd bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure. And, whatever you do and however challenging it can be, I hope that you feel able to do the same. And, if you can't, book yourself in for a little reward sooner rather than later, whether it be the trip of a lifetime, a jolly to the seaside or an afternoon mooching around your favourite local haunt. I doesn't have to cost a lot, or be particularly flashy. But it does need to happen.
Because Shelly said so :-)
I trust everyone is spiffing? I admit I'm not faring too bad. This weekend I've been indulging in a bit of me time, mooching in Islington where I enjoyed some live music, chips and a bit of shopping, followed by a day of pottering about in my flat today. I finally got some of my pictures up in the hall and am really pleased with how they look. Now I just need to finish off that darn painting still sat in the corner of my lounge...
I admit, however, that the last week hasn't been without its challenges. I've found myself faced with some very difficult situations and having to make difficult decisions, in my personal life as well as at work. In both situations I've been challenged, and my actions questioned. It has been tricky, and I've had to really draw on my self belief to get through it. But get through it I did, and I'm feeling better - and stronger - for it. Because, at the end of the day, we all need to tune into our gut instinct once in a while and go with it, no matter how hard it can be.
So I leave you now with a simple meditation my good friend Vicky shared with me. Even if that kind of thing doesn't float your boat, I think that we can all benefit from reminding ourselves of it's message.
I am what I am.
I believe in myself.
I trust myself.
I accept myself.
I respect myself.
I love myself.
Have a good week everyone :)
So did you all survive the first full week of 2015? Amazingly I did - despite being back at work and staying "dry". Yep - I'm still off the booze and have set up my Just Giving page to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and have already raised thirty quid - woo hoo!
Despite having almost two weeks off work, my inbox was surprisingly manageable when I returned to the office on Monday, which means I've started the year leaving work at a reasonable time - something I hope to keep up over the next 12 months. This also means I've had more time in the evenings to get on with a bit of painting. Yep, the bathroom is done, and the stools I am upcycling have had their second coat - now I just need to track down some foam to top them with! I've also pulled out my oils and added another layer of "hair" to my latest picture - one that I WILL finish soon, I WILL...
In other news, on Friday I spent a good three hours printing out novel number 2 and spent my Saturday morning lie-in starting yet another round of editing. Oh, and the latest edition of Operation:Pizza is live too, this time reviewing high street chain Strada. You may be surprised by the results...
Anyway, I'm off to get myself a hot chocolate and put on my PJs - rock 'n' roll people!
Well hello there...
I hope you're all feeling refreshed after that extra hour in bed? I can't really say that I am, but that's got more to do with the three-day-decorating-marathon I just completed with my dad than a sleep shortage. Yep, that's right - I have another room under my belt. Here's a photo of it one coat in - and keep an eye on Twitter for the finished article once I've got it straight again...
When I haven't been preoccupied with my pad this week I've been working on an application for an internship. Okay, so I might look a bit old for work experience, but this one is designed for us slightly more "experienced" folk who want to try something new. I showed my first draft to my mate Vicky. After politely nodding at my gushing prose on how much I loved the company and why I was suited to it, she suggested that I should instead tell them my story.
"Eh?" Even as a writer, the concept baffled me.
"It's at a magazine, so they'll want someone who has been on a journey that they can share with their readers."
I nodded as I made notes. Now, not only did I need to convince them that I wouldn't be a complete waste of space, I wanted to make myself sound worthy of such an opportunity. So I went for it. And, whilst I don't know whether spending the last 13 years trying to make other people's lives better will impress them or not, I hope that admitting that it is only in my 30's that I feel able to pursue the dreams I've had since I was a teenager will resonate with someone on the shortlisting panel.
And, if it doesn't, I won't give up. If I do, I know I'll live to regret it - not because I might miss my chance, but because I don't want to live my life thinking "what if?" Besides, as the little plaque my mum once bought me says;
"Reach for the moon. If you don't make it, you'll still be among the stars."
Okay, so as a statement it might be factually incorrect, but as a proverb it is one that I'm living by. I recommend you give it a go too.
Hope you have all had a lovely weekend, relaxing indoors perhaps, safe in the knowledge that you go about your business without prying eyes paying attention to your every move? Yes?
Well I'm sorry, but I'm going to spoil it for you.
Don't get me wrong, I've had a lovely weekend visiting friends out on the commuter belt and, prior to that, enjoyed a night out with the girlies in London. But what I have learnt during these jollies has left me disturbed. You see, what I have learnt is about cyber-stalking - and how scarily easy it is.
Take scenario number one. Girl goes to an open mic night. Girl sees boy and decides she quite likes him, but can't quite muster the courage to begin a conversation. However, her interest surpasses her shyness and she "friends" him on facebook, looks up where his next gig is - and drags me along (after I've looked him up online myself, of course!). Girl again couldn't bring herself to talk to the said young man, but has sent him an innocent query via the medium of social media about his work
And then there's scenario number two. Girl visits wildlife hospital with mates. Girl comments of attractiveness of male giving a talk about, let's say, hedgehogs. Later that evening, after a couple of glasses of wine, girl and mates, armed with his first name, place of work and home town (more fool him for disclosing this during talk about his prickly friends) are able to locate him on Twitter, facebook and You Tube. Girl promptly follows boy, but will be unfollowing him before posting this blog (for obvious reasons). Besides, his girlfriend looks really nice, and is only 20...
Finally scenario number three - girl and mates then start googling each other and their other mates. Girl is relieved to find nothing too incriminating about herself (well, under her real name anyway) - apart from an email sent for her day job that has been released under the Freedom of Information Act - eeek! Luckily it was very short and did not include any bad jokes, but STILL! Another mate came up a little worse for wear, with names of siblings, ex wives and financial situation being easily accessible. Yikes...
So... the moral of the story? Look yourself up - and get yourself removed from any sites you don't want to be named on. Oh, and if you want to find out the relationship status of "Dave" who works at your local, message my mate Jules - damn that girl is good!
Oh, and if all that stalking makes you hungry, go eat pizza. I recommend my mate Phil's creations but, if you don't fancy a trip to Bucks and live in London,, check out Operation:Pizza - new blog posted on Friday.
Of course if you do fancy Phil's Parma Ham Special, just look him up online - I'm sure you can find him...
It's Saturday night! WOO HOO! So, what are your plans? A romantic meal out with the love of your life? A pint down the pub? Or a night on the town, dancing until the wee hours? Well, it all sounds very appealing, but tonight, my friends, I am staying in, on my own, with nowt but a bowl of olives and a glass of wine for company. Why? Because such a night is well overdue...
Last weekend I came down with tonsillitis - AGAIN. I was at my mate Darrens' catching up with my old chumlies when I woke up feeling decidedly ropey. My mates blamed the Red Stag I had been drinking the night before (I strongly recommend the Black Cherry variety) and I put it down to being a bit run down. By the end of the day I was dropping penicillin and huddled under a duvet next to the barbecue. NOT fun.
Of course I tried to push through it, but Alison made me go to bed for a few hours. Very sensible. Lisa then pointed out that maybe my immunity would be a bit better if I actually took it easy once in a while. I have no idea what she means. Okay, so I'd been out late on the Thursday, attended an evening meeting on the Wednesday and enjoyed a bevvy or two on the Tuesday, but that's normal. Right?
Maybe she has a point - maybe I have been burning the candle at both ends. But then, maybe it is a symptom of my recent rise in the responsibility stakes. Okay, so I've had a job that requires a level of maturity since I graduated, but this home ownership thing has thrown me. All of a sudden, I am responsible for the upkeep of the roof over my head, owe Virgin Money more cash than a bear to imagine and not only need to get Critical Illness cover but a Will to boot! Well, I'm sorry, but whilst I have to accept that this means I have reached a new milestone in my life, I refuse to "settle down". In fact, I think I am rebelling against the notion.
That said, my nesting tendencies have also kicked in. I spent the last week decorating my lounge with my dad - and it is looking fantastic. Of course, this means that I have an overwhelming desire to paint all the other rooms, go out and buy more furniture and get all my pictures up... whilst still wanting to go out and party. Along with my creative pursuits, I guess it's no wonder I'm falling apart at the seams.
Yes, I need to slow down - so tonight I am going to stick on a DVD and do my best to keep my diary as free as possible for the next couple of weeks. Okay, so I have plans on Monday (pizza!) and Tuesday (plumber!) but after that nothing for over two weeks other than an appointment to give blood and a date at a spa. And I plan to keep it that way. Sadly, to quote Oscar Wilde, "I can resist everything except temptation" - and there are tasty morsels of fun all over the shop.
Wish me luck...
Good evening... or should I say good night? It's coming up to 11 pm on Sunday and I guess we should really be heading off to bed in preparation for another week at work. But, after an extended siesta this afternoon (oops!) I'm not feeling that sleepy. Ah well...
I don't often sleep in the day, but after a rather hectic week topped off with a Hen Do yesterday, today it was more than needed. Besides, I've just started to read a book on mindfulness and positivity which encourages sleeping well to keep the mind clear. I admit I am on a bit of a mission to "develop" my spiritual side and I see these factors as key to a happy existence. I agree, it isn't always easy, but I'm working on it...
Take this week for example. On Wednesday I went to a talk at London Zoo, "The Jungles of the Mind," after learning that feminist, psychotherapist and mild obsession of mine Susie Orbach was the guest speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk - and getting up close and personal to some amazing animals - but admit leaving feeling a bit flat. You see, at the end of the talk, I approached Susie and asked her to sign her my copy of "Fat Is a Feminist Issue". As she did so I told her how much I admired her work and how it inspired me. She nodded politely and asked me about myself. But, as I spoke, I couldn't help but notice her eyes glaze over as I described my day job. Walking home, I felt disappointed in myself for failing to leave nothing more that a lackluster impression on someone I so admire. When I told my good friend Laura about the encounter, she pointed out that Susie probably met a million people like me every year, but, in my mind, it was just confirmation of what I most fear - that my existence on this planet means nothing.
Since then, however, I have talked to, met and thought of friends who have inspired me to look at the bigger picture. Two of these women, one of whom a have worked closely with for over two years and another who I have just met, told me that they had grown up with a parent who was addicted to alcohol. I was gobsmacked - both these beautiful, savvy women have amazing careers that I am somewhat enviable of, one of whom has developed hers as a single mum. As they spoke they reminded me of other friends who, despite family illness, bereavement and the day to day knocks of work and relationships, never fail to amaze me, raising money for the charity that supports their sick father rather than wallowing in the pain of his disease, heading home to support their dad when their mum is in hospital and going the extra mile to ensure their sister is getting the spiritual support they need when they lose their mother.
Not only do these people inspire me, but they remind me that, even though my one bed flat is not quite as impressive as the converted barn of the aforementioned hen, and that I have yet to make an impression on the literary or art world, I am pretty darn blessed. Something I need to remember next time I get my knickers in a twist over my fluctuating weight and unpublished novel.
So, if our paths cross in the near future and I begin to bemoan my fate, please do us both a favour and remind me of this blog. My positivity is a work in progress, and I might need a bit of help to get there. Bear with me...
Three minutes to go...
I'm watching the World Cup Final, or rather have had it on whilst I natter to Lisa on the phone, finish painting my nails and do my ironing - all things I should have probably done a bit earlier on during my week off. Sadly a bad dose of tonsillitis left me with only a couple of days to get done every thing I had planned.
I admit that feeling like I had a load of nails stuck down my throat, a bag of hot coals of my head and lead weights danging from my limbs for the first three days of my week off left me in a bit of a funk. But one thing that kept me going was thinking positively. One of my mates challenged me to post three positives a day on Facebook and, whilst it was a bit tricky when I felt unable to do much more than crawl from bed to bathroom and back again, I managed it. And, although as weeks off work go it could have been a lot better, I'm pretty pleased with what I have achieved, all things considered.
Firstly, I finally finished my Peru collage. For ages I've been trying to figure out what to do with the background - the newspaper print on its own didn't really do it for me yet I couldn't get the addition of sky blue watercolour quite right. I tried to wash off what I had done - and quite liked the patchy effect, especially when the excess water was sponged up with a bit of kitchen roll. It's all about technique, you see...
Then, I got my shower fixed - and for about £200 less than the first plumber had quoted me. Bearing in mind that this cowboy was also going to replace completely the wrong thing and would have left me £350 poorer and STILL without hot water, I'm pretty chuffed.
But the thing that I'm really excited about is that I've finished the penultimate chapter of my second novel - which means I'm nearly done. In fact, I could have quite happily polished it off today, but was determined to get at least part of my kitchen painted (it was supposed to be a week of decorating, after all!) - which I did. And, despite the odd hiccup (let's just say the walls were NOT in a good state), I'm pleased with my progress and reckon I'll get it all done over the next two weekends. Then I only have four more rooms to go...
So yeah, all in all, things are going pretty well - and this time next week I may well have finished the said novel, set a date to meet an editor about the first one (watch this space!) and have my kitchen done and dusted! Along with a handful of social engagements in the diary, next week is looking to be even more positive than this one.
Just a shame I have to go back to work...
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...