Archive of ‘blogging’ category

Words

I’ve been thinking carefully about some of the words I use recently. Words are just the best; reading, writing and talking are probably my top three ways to spend time, and that means a whole lot of time involving words.

There are two words that I think I use too much, and one that I know I don’t use enough. First of all, there’s ‘sorry’. There are times when I say sorry just too much. I was standing in the kitchen at work yesterday, making tea, and there was someone else there who wanted to use the kettle. Our kitchen at work is tiny, and there is barely enough room for one person comfortably, never mind two. I hate getting caught in the kitchen when someone else is trying to use it, because all my awkward sensibilities come out to play.

  • “Sorry, I’m just making a tea, I won’t be a minute.”
  • “Sorry, can I just get the milk out of the fridge.”
  • Sorry, I just need to get to the bin, can I squeeze past?”
  • “There’s probably not enough water in the kettle now, sorry.”

The person waiting actually said, “Stop saying sorry!” and I just about resisted the urge to apologise, in the manner of all rubbish sitcoms. But it did make me realise that I throw the word around so much when it’s not really needed, and don’t always use it when I do need to. I said sorry twice last week when I actually needed to – I’m a bit of snark at times, and I never apologise for it, so I’m trying to be less snarky, and when I am, I’m saying sorry!

The other word that I use too much is ‘just’. Are you going on holiday this year? Yeah, just for a weekend to my friend’s caravan. You have a magazine column? Yeah, just in Essex Life magazine. Your hair looks nice today. Oh, I’ve just done my fringe differently.

I use the word ‘just’ to deflect compliments, and to do myself down slightly. I am really looking forward to my weekend away with my friends in June, and while it might not be a week in the sun, or a city break in a European capital, that’s no reason to do it down. The problem is expecting other people to think, “Oh, you’re just going to a caravan?” so I pre-empt them by saying ‘just’, to make sure they know that I know that they are going to think it’s a bit rubbish. But I don’t think it’s rubbish, so I don’t know why I do it! The same is true with my magazine column. I have a magazine column, where I get to write about books! That’s amazing, and I shouldn’t try and pre-empt other people’s reactions to it. So I’m cutting  out ‘just’, wherever I can.

The word that I don’t use enough is ‘please’. This probably makes it seem as though I lack in manners, and I’m rude, but I don’t think I am. I say ‘yes please’, when someone offers me something, but if I’m asking someone for something, or to do something for me, I have realised that I often omit please, and let thank you take the strain. “Could you pass me that book? Thank you.” It’s especially true when I receive what I’ve asked for instantly. I know I’m going to say thank you, so I dispense with please. It’s not a conscious thing, but now I’ve noticed it, I’m definitely going to be trying harder to say please!

Midweek Mundane

Last year I really enjoyed reading Charlotte’s Midweek Mundane posts, but as I wasn’t working at the time, it didn’t seem like something I could join in with. Now, as I work in an office, I found myself mentally writing a Midweek Mundane post, and even though Charlotte doesn’t run the link up any more, I thought I’d write it anyway.

So my day started as it always does, with my alarm going off at 6.15. My alarm is set to Radio 2, and at 6.15 that means I wake up to Vanessa Feltz. It’s not ideal, and it’s not necessary, because I don’t get up at 6.15. I wake up and then fall asleep again and wake up at 7.30. Then I usually stay in bed thinking about how cold it is and how much I don’t want to get up, before eventually rolling out of bed at around 7.50.

I very much enjoyed listening to Seasick Steve on the radio in the way into work; I’m not particularly familiar with his music, but he seems like a fun man.

I arrived at work around 8.45, and though I don’t start until nine, I’m not the sort of person who clock watches, I obviously started work right away. I caught up on some filing that I’d been doing yesterday, and then started proper work.

Between sorting out some wording for our event on a venue website, and answering emails, I had to find the time to pick my choices for our Christmas meal. It took me far too long, considering there were only around 6 options for each course.

Having done that, I was summoned into the boss’ office. I had no idea what it was about, but it was something fun – she had bought me a light up angel for my desk as I was the only one in the office without something Christmassy!

I had a moment where I felt so unwell that I thought I was going to be sick, and coupled with the cold that is refusing to shift, I felt a bit ropey. It more or less passed, luckily.

Lunch was a bit of a non-event, a quick trip to the post office and back, when I discovered a set of fairy lights on my desk (my boss likes Christmas).

The afternoon passed without much to recommend it; I’m currently looking into vegetarian and vegan recipes, so I spent some time on that, and finishing up what I had spent the morning doing.

Between four and five, I always start thinking what my three-worder will be. If you’re not au fait with Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show on Radio 2, every day he invites listeners to submit a three word summary of their day, and I do it every day. I’ve come to the conclusion you’re more likely to get a mention if you mention alcohol or the weather.

We took a quick trip to Hannah’s grandparents after work so she could help with some computer issues, and then we nipped to the shop for some dinner, and to Boots for a look at some Christmas presents. I even managed to pick up my Secret Santa present, which one less thing to do!

Watching Gilmore Girls and The Apprentice is a nice way to round off the day, and writing this post has taken much longer as a result!

The Joy of Tickets

A few weeks ago I wrote a guest post for Penny at Lillies and Love, about the importance, for me at least, of finding a balance between having lovely photos to remind yourself of all the wonderful times in your life, and not feeling the need to document every moment of your life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important memories are, and how big a comfort they can be when your life changes.

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to have as many experiences as possible. For me, this doesn’t mean abseiling down a building or jumping out of a plane (though I would like to do a skydive one day). I want to fill as much of my time with doing things that are going to create the best memories.

I don’t have a lot of disposable cash, and therefore I can’t afford to buy myself a lot of things. I have a phone that works, and I treated myself to a Kindle with some vouchers I had, but recently I’ve realised that rather than lots of things, I’d rather spend what money I do have on doing things. I’ve come to realise that I love buying tickets for things.

In March, I went on the BBC Broadcasting House tour, and then went to see Mark Kermode present a film that he loves. In June, I went to see Dr K again, chairing a debate on film critics, and I went to see Derren Brown’s live show. In July, I went to see The Shires in London. In August I went to meet Steve Backshall and get a book signed (no ticket necessary), and then I went to Singalonga Dirty Dancing. This month, I am off to a book event tomorrow, Hyde Park for Radio 2’s Festival in Day on Sunday, an Itchcraft event with Simon Mayo next Saturday, and I’m running* in Run or Dye the weekend after. In October, I’m going to see Singalonga Frozen, and then in November, I’m going to see The Shires and Ward Thomas in concert. No concrete plans for December yet, but there is talk of a West End show if we can all get together.

I know that an awful lot of those things seem to revolve around celebrities, but the truth of the matter is that more often than not, these famous people are talking about something I find interesting. And it may seem that I have endless funds for gallivanting around: I don’t really, but as I mentioned, I’ve realised that this is the way that I’d rather spend my money. Making memories, instead of buying things.

It helps, of course, that all of these things involve my favourite people. And I also think that in between these exciting events, there are the times when I am just sitting on a sofa, watching telly with those people, or having dinner. The downtime is just as important as the big plans, and I treasure those times too.

I’m not going to pretend that I don’t like new clothes – as long as Primark make t-shirts that flatter my figure and have cool designs, I’ll buy them. But when I’m eighty, and I’m looking back on my life, it’s the experiences that will count, not the fact that I had a Hogwarts t-shirt once (though I do have an unhealthy amount of love for that thing).

* Running may be putting it a little optimistically. Taking part is probably slightly more accurate.

Blog Hopping – Why Do I Write?

It’s not often I take part in blog hops. To be honest, most of them involve topics I don’t normally write about (beauty, usually), so they aren’t often relevant. But when Bex at Futures tagged me in this one, I decided to jump on board, because I can most certainly write about writing!

Why do I write?

Honestly, I write because I think I’m quite good at it. I don’t paint, or draw, or do gymnastics, because I can’t, but I know I can write. I’m not saying that I’m the most talented writer there ever was (that would be Aaron Sorkin*), but I can certainly string words together in a way that makes sense. I like having the ability to think about something and easily translate it into words, so other people understand what I am thinking.

When I used to dream about being a writer, I used to imagine myself as a journalist, or a novelist. Blogging didn’t exist then, so I didn’t know that I could carve out my own space and just write for me. I consider myself a writer, even though I don’t technically earn a living from it, because I write every day, and other people read it. The dream, of course, is to earn a fabulous living from writing, and I think I’ve probably got a book or two in me. But times have changed, and earning a living from writing novels isn’t necessarily the easiest thing in the world.

What am I working on?

I’m always working on my blog; I try not to put pressure on myself to post once a day, but I like to post regularly. I’m so proud of it, because I know how much work I’ve put into it, and I’m pleased how well it reflects me and my life over many years. I’m constantly trying to improve it, and think of new things to write about, and not just because I want to stand out a little bit in a crowded blogosphere. I also want to continue feeling proud of that, and the only way to do that is to keep working hard on it!

In terms of other writing projects, I think I am finally at a point where I have a proper story that I want to get written down for a novel. I’ve felt this way before, but always wondered if the story was exactly the one I wanted to tell. I’m feeling much more confident with this one, it’s just a case of making a start. Obviously I’m going to need a new notebook.

I also write a column for Essex Life magazine, on (what else) books. It’s a lot of fun getting a lot of books by local authors thrown in my direction, and while sometimes I have to read some horrors, mostly I love what I get to read, and I love the fact that I have an actual column in an actual magazine! it’s a dream come true, and though it’s not a paid position, it’s great exposure, and actually great training in terms of deadlines and word counts.

How does it differ from others in its genre?

I assume that this question refers specifically to my blog. It’s a difficult question, because I think it’s both easy and hard to differ from other blogs in the same genre. Even the biggest, most popular blogs I read aren’t that different from the others in the same category, except to say that the best ones are different just because the blogger’s personality shines through. I can’t honestly say that my lifestyle posts, book reviews, film posts, life update posts and occasional OOTD posts are different to the next blog you might read. But hopefully when you read my posts, you’ll think, “Oh yeah, that’s Jane, she loves Radio 2,” or “I remember, Jane is scared of whales.” If my personality shines through, and I like to think it does, that makes me different to the next lifestyle or book blog you read, because I’m me, and (thankfully) nobody else is quite like me.

How does my writing process work?

I noticed that this question was missing from Bex’s post, but it was in some earlier carnations, so I’m including it! My writing process is basically to sit down and write. I jot down ideas whenever I have them, either in a notebook or on my phone, and sometimes I make myself a to-do list if things feel as though they are getting out of hand, but generally, I just sit at a computer, and let the words flow forth. I love the idea of having a proper calendar that I use religiously, but although sometimes I try, it never sticks, and I prefer to just play it by ear and write as and when I need/want to.

This blog hop was started by Katy at Folly & Bloom, and has been completed by such lovely bloggers as Mathilde Heart Manech, Belle Du Brighton and Hook, Line and Sink Her. I’m tagging the beautiful and wonderful Nicki at Nicki Kinickie. She’s my hero, because she manages to write a fabulous blog while taking care of her wee bubba and looking spectacularly glamorous at the same time. Check out her answers next week!

* I’m only half joking about Aaron Sorkin.

Body UNashamed

Last week, Penny, one of my lovely blogger friends over at Lillies and Love, put the call out on Instagram and Twitter for bloggers to get in contact. She wanted to hear from people who were fed up with body shaming. “I have had just about as much as I can take of body shaming,” she said. Haven’t we all? We’ve all seen it on Facebook, Twitter, in magazines and newspapers and on the television. She’s too fat. She’s too thin. She has terrible hair. He has a beer belly. His hair is receding. She doesn’t have the figure for that top.

I know I’ve done it. I know I’ve looked at people on the street and judged them without a second’s thought. I’ve tried really, really hard to curb my judgemental streak, and now I try to judge people on the things they do and say, and not on the way that they look. The biggest victim in terms of my judgement though, is me. I look in the mirror several times a day, and I’ve recently got into the habit of saying to myself, “Look at the state of you.” How awful is that? I know that it’s pretty self-destructive, but it had genuinely become a habit; to catch sight of my reflection and mutter those words to myself. I decided that it has to stop, and I was busy drafting a blog post in my head the other day about a self-love project. About taking the time to appreciate me, and all the things that go into making me the unique woman that I am. That’s when Penny’s email fortuitously popped into my inbox. #bodyUNashamed is about celebrating those things, in ourselves and other people, that make us unique. So what if you don’t have a washboard stomach? Or that your nose is slightly bent, or your legs aren’t as long as you wish they were. We all need to get out of the habit of comparing ourselves to the people around us, and there’s nobody that needs to make a bigger change than me.

So this is the first step on the #bodyUNashamed road. To be frank, I am not unashamed of my body. I wish I could be, but I’m not. I’m hoping that Penny’s project will have a positive impact on the way I see myself, and the way I treat my body. I need to lose weight. Not because Heat magazine tells me to, or because I want to look like Cheryl Cole. But because I want to be healthier, and feel a lot happier about myself. It might seem counter-intuitive to talk about changing myself in the same breath as talking about being unashamed. But I think, for me, the two go hand in hand.

Penny has paired everyone up with another blogger, and asked us to take a look at their blog, and highlight three great things about them. I got paired with Hayley from Sparkles and Stretchmarks. Hers is not a blog I have ever read before, but when Penny sent me her name, I settled down and had a good old read! Hayley is mum to a gorgeous little boy called Tyne, a blond-haired, blue-eyed little one with a twinkle in his eye! Her blog and Instagram feed are full of photos, so it didn’t take me long to start making a list of great things about Hayley, based entirely on photos and blog posts.

– Hayley has pink hair. OK, so it’s just the ends that are dip dyed, but she still has pink hair! I want pink hair, but with my dark brown/red mop, I’m not sure it would really work! I love that Hayley just thought “You know what, I want pink tips,” and so she went out, bought a box of pink dye, and did it. No muss, no fuss, and now she has super cool hair.

– When I clicked on Hayley’s blog, one of the first posts that came up was one featuring a YouTube video she had made with her other half, Jon. I had a watch, and found myself laughing out loud. The two of them are so funny together! It made me realise that Hayley is as bubbly as she looks from her photos. You can see her personality shining through in the outfit photos she shares of herself. If I walked past Hayley on the street, I think I’d know that she’s fun. She has a naturally smiley, happy face, and I think that’s a lovely way to look.

– I read a post of Hayley’s from a couple of months ago where she wrote about her body issues. She has some health issues that has led to some weight gain, and this has left her feeling really unhappy about the way she looks. I know a few words from a stranger on the internet won’t magic all of those feelings away, but I just want to say that I think Hayley looks amazing. I have had a good look through her outfit posts, and she always looks great. Her outfits are often super comfortable, because she has a little one to run around after, but she always looks good! I’m totally coveting this ensemble – zebra print trousers? Yes please!

Penny’s a canny girl, because writing this about Hayley has made me realise that I have similar feelings to Hayley about myself, and I find it hard to find the positives in the way I look. But if I can go to Hayley’s blog and, after a couple of hours, find a whole load of things about this girl, who I don’t know, that I think are great, then I should be able to stand in front of the mirror and do the same for me. I know me a lot better than I know Hayley, after all!

The next thing I am supposed to do is share three things about my appearance that I like. I’ve tried to do similar things before on the blog, and you may remember that I shared a photo of myself where I pointed out my flaws, and the positives. There were more flaws than positives, but I’ll try to think of three!

– I go on about it, but I do really like the colour of my eyes. They might not be as different as I like to think they are, but someone once complimented me on them, and since then, I’ve always thought they are quite an interesting colour.

– Most of the time I hate my hair, but every now and again I can appreciate that while it might be thick to the point of bushy, when I actually take the time to do something with it, it can look nice. Thick hair can be a pain, but so many people comment on it and say that they would rather have thick hair than thin hair, that I’ve started to realise that it’s probably not all bad.

– When the sun comes out, I don’t tan. If I don’t wear Factor 50, I burn, and then I go back to milky white. I always say that I got the ginger gene that is so prevalent in my family, without actually getting the ginger hair. But I do get freckles in the summer, and I love my freckles. I get freckly arms, and a freckly face, and I think it makes me look so much healthier.

I think the #bodyUNashamed journey is a long one, but it’s well worth the time.

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