Just Because

I can’t imagine that there’s anyone who hasn’t been told at least once in their life, and most likely by their mother, that ‘just because *this person* did that, doesn’t mean you have to. If they jumped of a cliff, would you follow?’ while you rolled your eyes because it really wasn’t a big deal.

These were always things that we wanted to do; places we wanted to go or styles we wanted to copy, not things that we felt obliged to do, but as you get older, everything suddenly becomes more about what you feel like you should be doing, rather than what you actually want to do. Sure, some of these things are things that we think we should be doing for good reasons, but then there’s also a good number of things that might not always be good for us, and these are the things that we should maybe give a miss, at least every now and then.

Just because other people stay late at work, it doesn’t mean you have to

When I started my new job, I thought that just because the guy who sat next to me came in an hour before me, and often stayed past when I left, it meant that I wasn’t doing my job well enough, and frankly that’s just not true. So long as I come into work, do the hours I’m contracted to do and complete all the work that needs to be done, that’s good enough. If others want to come in early, stay late or take on extra work, that’s on them, but I did enough of that in my previous jobs and now I like that I’m able to walk away when 5 o’clock hits and not have a care in the world.

Just because you’ve made plans, it doesn’t mean you can’t cancel them if you’re not feeling it

If you’re tired, having a bad mental health day or for whatever reason you don’t feel up to it, you shouldn’t feel bad about cancelling plans. People might not always understand it, but that doesn’t matter. Put yourself first.

But as well as the things you shouldn’t be doing just because you thin you should, there are also things that you can do even though you didn’t do what other people did..

Just because you didn’t go to university, it doesn’t mean you can’t get to the same place as someone who did

I’ve actually just started working with a girl I went to school with. She went to university, and got her job through a graduate scheme. I went straight into work after sixth form, and after gaining skills and working hard, I am just one level below her, and with another year of experience and study support through work, I could move up into the same position she works in with a university degree. Sometimes there’s more than one path.

Just because you haven’t got a huge following, it doesn’t mean you don’t a good following

You could have a million followers, but if one a few hundred actually bother to support you, then you might just be better off having a few hundred followers who cheer you on at every possible moment. I mean, the Instagram algorithm is screwing us all over anyway..

There are however many billion people in the world and every single one of us is unique, so just because one or two people make you stop and think you’re missing out on something or doing something wrong, do you think that’s right?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Are Instagram Pods Really The Answer?

Just to prefix this post, I have absolutely no qualms with Instagram pods or people who use them, these are just my musings!

The humble Instagram pod; a supposed way of boosting engagement on the platform that we all want to love and love to hate at the same time.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term, an Instagram pod is simply a group chat within Instagram DMs, where friends/fellow bloggers/like-minded people chat and share their latest posts, with the idea being that other members of the group will then head on over to the post to like and comment to give the image a better engagement than it might of done otherwise, for example if thanks to Instagram’s notorious algorithm meant that it wouldn’t have otherwise shown up on their feed. Sometimes people in these pods will also do shout-outs for the other accounts in the group on their Stories in order to help each other out with followers.

When it first became a thing, there wasn’t a day when I didn’t scroll through Twitter without seeing a good few weeks of people asking if anyone wanted to join their pod, or people asking if anyone had room in their pod for them, and of course naturally it led to a little bit of drama as well, with some people being told they couldn’t join certain pods, or people complaining about pods etc. Twitter loves a bit of drama.

I myself have never been part of an Instagram pod, so I can’t really vouch for their effectiveness, but as an outside-grammer, it can become quite easy to spot a pod if you pay attention. Sure, you’ll always see friends supporting each other as much as they can, but you start to notice the same people cropping up in the comment section of every post by the same group of people. Now I love my friends and will always try to like every single one of their posts, but I wouldn’t comment on everything and I certainly wouldn’t expect them to do the same for me.

Yes, statistically the posts seem to have a higher engagement, but as a person who likes to look a little beyond just the photo, it all looks a little inorganic, especially when the comments just say things like ‘oh this is a great photo’ or ‘you look fab’. The same goes for story shout-outs. Sure, I do shout-outs for my favourite accounts, and often I might feature the same people, but I do try to mix it up every time, however when the same group of people only seem to share each other on a weekly basis, it just screams pod to me and I can’t help but feel like its a bit forced, plus if I didn’t follow those accounts the first 10 times you mentioned them, chances are I won’t follow them after the next 10..

Now these are just my own observations, and I really don’t mean any shade to anyone who does use pods, especially if they’ve worked really well for you (if they have, I’d love to hear your experiences so do drop me a comment!), I’m just curious to know if anyone else feels similarly, and given that they seem to be talked about a whole lot less than they used to, are Instagram pods fading out again?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Things I’ve Learned While Trying To Beat The Algorithm

Instagram; it makes us all sigh just a little bit, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. It was the first social media platform I used to promote my blog, and you know what they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so its an amazing place to express yourself, but since the introduction of the infamous ‘algorithm’, interaction and growth has been pretty sucky, and everyone and their mums have been theorising various ways in which to take back the platform for the greater good.

I am, of course, one of these people. Having failed to reach my end of the year goal for 2017, I’m determined to do it this year, and I’ve already written about my plan to make this my year on Instagram, now we’re a few months in, I’ve already learned a few things along the way.

People actually like seeing me in photos

I used to avoid photos of myself like the plague – they never seemed to get even a fraction of the likes that any of my other photos did – opting instead for photos of clothes hanging up or as flatlays, but it turns out that people actually like little old me in photos! My outfit photos lately have been super popular, so I guess you’ll be seeing more of me on the ‘gram.

Timing isn’t always everything

I use UNUM to plan my Instagram feed, and even on the free version of the app you do get some insights, one of which being you’re supposed best time to post based on previous likes and comments. Well, I gave it a go, and I can quite safely say that its totally hit and miss. Sure, certain times of day are always going to be better than others – I tend to post on my lunch break at work, and that seems to work for me, probably cos that’s when most people are checking their phone anyway, but even when I followed what the stats told me to a tee, it didn’t guarantee the post would be super successful.

Posting what I love makes me so much happier with my feed

Since the new year kicked off, I’ve been concentrating more on making my feed something that I love to look at, even if no one else did. Yellow is my favourite colour, and integrating it into my feed has made me super happy. I’ve also been using a cute textured throw blanket as a backdrop for product photos to mix things up a little and not shying away from my Disney side so that every aspect of my personality and life shine through in my photos.

Support and shoutouts are super important

If I’m being totally honest, I think the biggest factor in the growth of my following so far this year is thanks to supporting other accounts and other people doing shoutouts for me. I did a Twitter request for people to send me their Instagram links so I could go on a follow spree, and I followed about 100 accounts, most of which returned the favour (although I didn’t expect or ask them to), and I’ve also gained a lot of followers when other bloggers and accounts have included me in shoutouts on their stories, which I am so grateful for. Asking for help, especially when you’re about to hit a milestone, is nothing to be frightened of, and people who support you are always happy to help!

Quality over quantity

I’ve been working so hard on improving the quality of my photos this year. Rather than just taking photos on my phone, I’ve been utilising the 50mm macro lens on my Sony a5000 to take most of my photos and I’ve been so happy with the photos I’ve been taking, and I think I’ve definitely been seeing an increase in likes on *most* of my photos since then. I say most because, y’know, the algorithm is still against us all..

So I’m quite proud to say I’ve gained about 300 followers this year, give or take a bunch of follow/unfollowers (ugh), and I’m really hoping I’ll reach my 2018 goal fairly soon, but we’ll see! If you want to join me over on the gram, you can follow me @lottiedoesdisney!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Why I’m Struggling to be a Fitness Blogger Right Now

Fitness is a big part of my life, and I’ve always tried to include that side of my life in this blog, but the keen-eyed regular readers would know that its been quite some time since I posted anything properly fitness related. I mean, I’ve done a few reviews, and a handful of retrospective posts over the last couple of months, but that’s been about it, and while I miss writing about a subject that plays such a big part in my life, I’m struggling for a few pretty good reasons.

I personally feel like the fitness industry itself is so massively flawed. We’re forever having ideas pushed upon us like fad diets, ‘skinny’ products, how we need to look like this celebrity or why those extra pound we’re carrying are the worst thing in the world, and I don’t believe in any of this.

I’m a firm believer that fitness and healthy living is for everyone, no matter how old you are or how much you weigh. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t be creating negative associations with certain foods because carbs are super important and some fats are healthy and the world is trying to convince you that the only thing you should eat is kale but you can absolutely have that pizza and enjoy it and not feel like you need to spend the entire next day in the gym hating yourself for it. I hate the terms ‘cheat’ and ‘treat’ and anything that suggests that enjoying life is unhealthy. I believe in body positivity and I cannot stand for ‘fat shaming’ or ‘skinny shaming’.

I don’t believe that the sole purpose of fitness is about losing weight or changing the way your body looks. I think that just wanting to get a bit more active, or become a little bit stronger is absolutely enough if that’s what you want to do. You can run that 10K and have the takeaway without having to justify it as something that you ‘earned’.

Its because I believe in all this that I’m finding the words so difficult to get out, because I would hate for anything I write to sound like anything I don’t stand for. I would never want anyone to think that I believed in or encouraged any of the damaging things that the fitness industry preaches, and I’d rather not say anything than say the wrong thing.

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

What’s Been Distracting Me From Blogging

You may have noticed, or you may not have done, but over the last few weeks my mind has been far from blogging, and I’ve certainly noticed. I’ve always prided myself on consistently posting at least 4-5 times a week, and that just hasn’t been happening, simply due to the fact that my time and my brain power has been used up elsewhere.

Now its definitely not to say that it hasn’t all been bad, there’s been plenty of good stuff too, but some things have just taken over a little bit more than I had expected, and you know what they say, something’s gotta give..

House stuff

If you caught my week of daily blogging, you’ll know that a few weeks ago Matthew and I put down a holding fee on a new build house that’s due to be finished at the end of May, and from that moment onwards, there’s been a lot of excitement but also a lot of stress.. We’ve been having to do a lot of the boring stuff – sorting out the solicitors, going through mortgage and Help to Buy applications (which involved a 3 hour meeting with a financial adviser on a Friday night which was a little painful) and thinking a lot about money, but there’s also been a lot of decisions and planning which has been a mixture of stress and excitement.

Because we’re not moving locally, we want the move to be as smooth as possible so that we don’t have to make a whole bunch of trips back to Bournemouth, so we’ve probably spent at least a little bit of time every single day working out details. We’ve decided on most of our furniture (spoiler alert: my office is going to be the cutest thing ever), Matthew has already started sourcing things like internet and tv so we have an idea of budgeting as well, and I’m trying to start packing some things up that I won’t need in the next few months.

Creations

While blogging has always been my main creative outlet, my Etsy work has taken over recently and I’ve also got a bunch of custom orders on the go, so evenings and weekends have been dedicated to whizzing up anything from skirts and dresses to matching top and shorts sets. I’ve been making so many new things which has been really great, but it also means that I’ve been having to put a little bit more time into unfamiliar designs. You can see some of my latest makes here!

Migraines and more

I’m a fairly regular sufferer of migraines, and these last few weeks have been full of them. They’ve not been my worst, but I feel like I’ve basically had a continuous one for the last two weeks. Combine that with that time of the month and all the various stresses of life lately, I’ve been quite run down and have been struggling to motivate myself to do anything after getting home from work other than wanting to get into bed.

And its not just been my blog..

Sure, I think my blog has faced the brunt of this little slump, but I’ve been slacking in other aspects of my life too. I’ve not been keeping up with social media, especially Instagram and I’ve been forgetting to schedule tweets, not to mention my skincare routine going out the window and I haven’t put any makeup on in at least a week, if not two, and there was a whole week that I didn’t go to the gym once, but this is just a phase..

These kind of slumps happen, and its ok. I mean, they suck at the time, but they never last forever, and I’m hoping that I’m coming out of the other side of it now. The hardest part of the house buying process is almost over, and everything else is practically planned to a tee, I’m working my way through my Etsy orders nicely and I’m feeling my writers brain kicking back in, so I hope you guys haven’t been enjoying my somewhat silence too much, cos I’m coming back!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

A Week in the Life of Lottie – Saturday and Sunday

So Saturday was a pretty crazy day and due to my phone dying on the drive home from up north, and being too tired when I got in, I decided to combine the two days into one blog post!

Saturday was not in any way a normal day in my life, but I guess it might just be the biggest day in my life to date. You see, the real reason Matthew and I drove up to Cheshire on Friday night wasn’t just to visit his mum after her house move, but actually so that we could put down a reservation fee on a new build that we fell in love with a few weeks before. That’s right you guys.. WE’RE BUYING A HOUSE!

The house itself, being a new build, isn’t finished of course, but we’ve visited so many showhomes of the same property that we know that this is the one, and whilst we were at the development we did get to poke around a completed one that someone else has bought, just so that we could take some measurements and get some ideas for when our house is finished, and then we had to go through a lot of paperwork and sign a number of documents, but I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty because I foresee a lot of house-buying blog posts coming in the future! I am just so happy and excited, I can’t tell you..

Well after all that we were pretty hungry, so we went to the Chill Factor to have a Nando’s for lunch, because we figured the Trafford Centre one would be pretty busy – I’ve never been to Chill Factor before but it is SO COOL. After lunch, we did actually go to the Trafford Centre to pick up Mothers Day cards, I treated myself to some Lush goodies because I got a big Etsy payout this week, and then we went to DFS to look at sofas, although we got caught up in some post-match traffic around Old Trafford so that took a little bit of time to get to. We’ve actually had our sofa picked out for quite some time in the hope that we would be getting a house soon, but now we can actually say we have one, and had all the measurements we needed, it was working out the logistics of what style of the sofa would fit the space and where etc, but I think we’ve got it sorted now.

We then stopped off back at Matthew’s mum’s, where Matthew finally found his childhood Disney pin collection which he’s been looking for for ages, watched a little bit of Crufts and then drove back to Bournemouth!

Today, despite being super tired from Saturday’s antics, we were both awake just before 7am, but I didn’t get out of bed for at least 45 mins, then went and had a shower before my mum woke up and I gave her her Mothers Day present. As the sun was out, I took the opportunity to get some blog and Instagram photos taken, which I’m happy I did because the sun quickly disappeared behind a lot of cloud..

This morning I had a family friend coming round for a wedding cake consultation (oh yeah, do you guys know I’m a cake decorator sometimes too?), so I spent a bit of time playing around with some sketches and getting some inspiration from Pinterest before she arrived, and she was here for about 2 hours chatting cake stuff, wedding stuff and just having a general catch up because I haven’t seen her in about a year or so.

After she left, I spent some time doing general admin type stuff – writing up the weekly newsletter for the #HappiestFitbitClub, editing blog photos, doing some Etsy bits and packing up orders etc, before having some lunch and watching last night’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

My sister brought our cousins round early afternoon to help put together the Mothers Day afternoon tea we had planned – my job was to make the cupcakes – and the rest of the family came to ours at 4pm. Big family dinners are quite a common thing for us, and they tend to be fairly loud affairs with 13 of us round one dinner table! Once the extended family had left, we watched the only tv show that we still watch as a family since my sister moved out, Only Connect, and then my sister left too and Matthew and I watched Sherlock Holmes while I did a bit more Etsy work and some writing and we’re just gonna chill for the evening now.

This week has been pretty busy, but I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along with me! Normal blog posts will resume from tomorrow!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

A Week in the Life of Lottie – Friday

It’s Friday guys, we made it! Last 5.30 alarm of the week, which was torture as I actually went to bed pretty late last night and I was super tempted to just reset it for 7am and skip the gym, but I knew how much I’d regret that if I did it, and as per usual as soon as I stepped out of the front door I found my motivation.

I was really feeling the effects of a good week of solid workouts, so I kept it relatively easy at the gym, hopping on a bike for a bit, then spending some time on the resistance machines and TRX and focused on chest and back. In a week I try and make sure I’ve hit every area at least once during my various gym sessions, and this week I definitely feel like I’ve done that.

This morning was a little grey so I decided to wear my new yellow jumper from Tu Clothing at Sainsbury’s, and I got a bunch of compliments on it during the day so I figured it was a hit! Work was a totally regular day, although at one point there was a very heated debate among my team about fried breakfasts – I don’t even know how it started but it got quite loud..

While I waited for Matthew to finish, which today was only half an hour after I did, I nipped to M&S and grabbed us a pizza to cook for dinner as we were in and out as quick as we could when we got home.

I’m coming to you from the drive up to visit Matthew’s mum who’s just moved into a new house in Middlewich, and because Matthew and I also have some business to attend to in the area (this is very exciting and I will tell all tomorrow!). The weather is absolute poo so the drive will probably be slow and we’ll arrive quite late, but the last time we saw the house it wasn’t completely finished so it’ll be nice to see how it is now – although it was only today that they moved in so it certainly won’t be in a completely normal state!

Hello weekend!