Things To Do When You Hit A Block

I know I cannot be alone in suffering from regular bouts of the dreaded ‘block’. Whether it be writer’s, artist’s or just a general creative block, its the worst feeling when there’s just nothing going on in your head, or at least nothing that will translate into anything you’re happy with.

Know the feeling? Next time, why not try a few of these..

Take a step back and clear your head

A watched pot never boils and a blank page doesn’t fill itself.

Don’t force anything

There’s nothing worse than trying to force results. I look back at blog posts and I can spot the ones that I bashed out just because I felt I had to write something, and I’m not entirely proud of them.

Do something silly

Just for a moment, stop taking it all so seriously. Write a funny limerick or doodle something stupid, create something crazy just for the sake of it (but like I said, don’t force it) – just doing something can start getting those cogs turning again.

Take a proper break

If you can, totally walk away from what you’re supposed to be doing; take an hour, a day, a week even. You won’t find the cure instantly, but not being so in the zone for even a little bit of time can do wonders.

Remind yourself why you love what you do

Just take a few moments to list some of the things that make you love doing whatever it is that you do, look back at some of your favourite pieces of work or read nice feedback you’ve been given by others – take a minute to actually feel proud of yourself!

Know that this will pass

At the end of the day, remember that this is just a block. Whether any of these steps help you or not, they eventually go away anyway and you’ll come back fighting, so don’t fret!

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4 Things I Never Thought I Could Wear

The official definition of fashion from the Oxford English dictionary is:

‘A popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour’

but I personally feel that over the last 10 years or so, fashion has very much moved away from this definition. In fact, I truly believe that in the society we live in now, while we may not all agree on some things, personal style has become much more widely accepted, and you don’t have to be wearing what’s on the cover of magazines to be rocking your own look, and for people to respect you for that.

For many years, there were certain things that I didn’t think I could wear due to certain features of my body, but as people’s views on fashion and style have broadened to become more accepting, I’ve started to realise that the clothing I never thought I could wear without facing judgement, are actually items that I not only love wearing, but that do actually suit me.

Crop tops

While I’ve never really strayed from size 10-12, I always have been and will probably always been a little bit squishy around the edges, and because of this I used to think that crop tops would never be for me. Well about 3 years ago I decided to hell with that, and not only did this do absolute wonders for my confidence, it introduced me to one of my wardrobe staples. I discovered that wearing a crop top doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stomach is on show for the world, and even if it is, I’m much more comfortable with that being the case.

Midi skirts

I’m the tallest in my family at a not-so-staggering 5ft 4, and thus I felt that If I ever wore anything that wasn’t essentially a mini skirt, I ran the risk of looking ridiculous. Back in 2013 I got over my fear of the maxi dress, although I still don’t really wear them often, but last year and this year for me has been the time of the midi skirt. No, they don’t make me look shorter, and I actually feel pretty damn cute in them thanks. Ps. I normally wear them with crop tops..

Soft cup bras and bralettes

I always thought that with my boobs sitting pretty above a B cup that I would have to spend my life in wired contraptions in order to keep everything under control. Wow, have I ever been so wrong?! Not only have soft cup bras and bralettes become my favourite inventions ever, and my go-tos most days if I can help it, but I’ve also discovered that some days its ok not to wear a bra at all! This has been freeing in so many ways.

Anything off the shoulder

Bardot-style tops, strapless dresses, these always felt like items that were never ‘everyday’ convenient. In fact, only until a few weeks ago I never thought that I could wear a bardot top, until I took the plunge and bought a pretty lace style bodysuit on a whim and when I tried it on I fell in love! And when it comes to strapless, I’ve actually found myself gravitating to those dresses and playsuits in my wardrobe during the summer months. I can’t explain this one because its not like I’ve ever had any issues with my shoulders, I just think I figured I’d always look a little out of place in them..

I guess what I’ve learnt from this more than anything else is to ignore any stereotypes that the fashion industry may set, but also that fashion really is about you doing you and being happy with that.

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A Bloody Shame

Normally I would start a post like this apologising for the content. I’m not going to do that today because this is something that I don’t think I should be sorry for talking about. PS I will apologise for the awful pun of a title.

Two hours into my shift on Saturday, I realised that despite being fully prepared given the situation, I had bled through my pants and my trousers. I realised this while I was stood at the desk of one of my team leaders asking for advice on a situation with a customer, and I was mortified. I quickly adjusted how I was stood, rushed the conversation and dashed to the toilets, where I promptly burst into tears in a cubicle.

Two minutes of hormone and embarrassment fuelled sobbing later, I pulled myself together enough to attempt to think clearly. Despite all the team leaders in being women, which is a wonderfully rare occurrence, I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone what had happened. I wanted to go home, but there was no way I was going to admit the reason for needing to leave, so instead I cleaned myself up as best I could, and thanked my lucky stars that I was wearing loose trousers with a fairly jazzy pattern so the patch of red on my crotch wasn’t visible unless someone was paying close attention to it. I wrapped my big cardigan around myself and went on with the rest of my day.

As the day went on, and with every time I had to leave my desk for whatever reason, only to be very careful of how my cardigan was hanging and if I was walking quick enough that no one would be able to focus on me long enough to potentially spot my red spot, I couldn’t help feeling ashamed on more than one level.

Why could I not just admit to someone at work what was going on? I could have gone home, changed and been back within 15 minutes, but the fear of having someone that I work with know about my little ‘accident’ meant I sat and spent my day on edge. But on the other side I couldn’t stop thinking: why should I be ashamed?

Periods are a natural and normal part of life for women, yet for as long as I can remember, I’ve been made to feel embarrassed by them. It was embarrassing learning about them at school, and embarrassing when you had to miss swimming because of them, or when you had to ask around to see if anyone had a spare pad or tampon when you got caught out.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not really ever embarrassed to be on my period. I’ll tell my friends if I’m having really bad cramps, and have no issue asking for supplies from people in the office these days, but that’s not what this is about. Its not to do with how we see our own periods, but how other people do. While no one at work seemed to notice my stain today, I would have almost liked to see how different people reacted. Would I be met with pity and support, or would there be whispers when I walk away? I shouldn’t have to question this. I was too ashamed to share my problem with someone else, and that’s not ok.

No its not ideal having a patch of blood on your trousers but also why should it be a problem if you do? Its not your fault if Mother Nature calls early, or you’ve sat awkwardly and therefore a leak has occurred. Its not by choice, its just life and I’m so done with people being judgemental about it.

Let’s end this stigma.

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Would anyone miss me?

I’ve always been a firm believer that numbers aren’t everything when it comes to blogging. I write because I want to write, and only write about what I want to write about, and that’s how it always has been and always will be.

The last year has been incredible for my blog. I’ve seen such massive growth since I started almost 4 years ago, and the start of this year brought even more; more content, more quality, more readers. I was riding high and smashing record after record, growing not just in terms of my blog stats but also in my confidence. Then June happened.

As my life outside of blogging changed, I was struggling to keep up. I felt under pressure to produce new posts, and I felt myself slipping into a less prepared and more haphazard version of myself. I was banging out posts the night before, or even on the day, and reusing photos because I hadn’t had the time to take new ones. If I’m honest, I wasn’t proud. I decided to step away from my blog and take a break, but with that came the inevitable guilt; the feeling of failure.

I pushed myself back into blogging after just a week away from the keyboard. In all fairness, I felt at the time that I’d given myself enough of a break, and threw myself back into 5-6 posts a week, but while I went back in on a high, this last week has seen another low.

Despite feeling more on top of my life and having fresh new content that I was proud of, and was working ahead on my schedule, the numbers just weren’t racking up like they used to. I feel crushed. While I write because it’s what I love to do, I feel like a chef who’s cooked a beautiful meal but everyone’s already full. It feels wasted. It’s not that I don’t feel appreciated, it’s just that I feel that I’m not entertaining anyone anymore, and ultimately that’s what I want my blog to be doing; making people happy, inspiring people, or just giving them something to read on the train home from work.

I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to give up this blog – I’ve worked long and hard to make it what it is, and I am still seeing some small progression, but I can’t help but think: would anyone notice if I wasn’t here?

I hate being a negative ninny, especially on here, but I just needed to vent. If you have any thoughts or have ever felt similar, I’d love to hear from you.

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12 Things I’ve Learnt from Working 12 Hour Shifts

So two weeks ago I binned off the 7.5 hours, 5 days a week working routine, and traded normality for a 3-day week rota. Now I’ve not cut down my hours, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that to be able to fit the same number of hours in, I’ll now be working 12 hour shifts. It also says that in the title of this post, so I kinda gave that one away.

At first, I thought I was mad for even considering the change, but two weeks down the line I’m settling into this routine pretty nicely, and I’ve already discovered a few things, and noticed a few changes..

I achieve nothing with my evenings anyway

It turns out that it doesn’t matter whether I finish work at 5pm or 8pm, I still get the same amount of stuff done when I get home from work. Spoiler alert, I do pretty much naff all.

I never have to worry about what shift I’m on

Its pretty impossible to forget 8am-8pm..

I never get asked to stay on an hour or two anymore

When you work from open to close, the plea for people to stay on for a little bit of overtime doesn’t get sent my way anymore!

I’ll still always get asked if I’m doing overtime

Whenever someone finishes before me, I can guarantee I’ll get asked ‘aww, how much overtime are you doing today?’. Nope, just my regular shift, thanks..

Snacks are essential

My desk drawer is stocked with Belvita, nuts, hot chocolate powder and a bunch of spare spoons for when I inevitably forget to bring one in for my morning yogurt. Gotta keep those energy levels up!

And I make myself much more comfortable

I’m talking shoes off under the desk, dressing a little bit more casual, and I’ve recently acquired a fleece blanket which I wrap myself up in on colder days and evenings. Snug as a bug in an office.

Anything to break up the day is welcomed

Team meetings, extra training sessions, one to ones, pretty much anything that takes a little bit of time from my regular work is an absolute blessing!

Suddenly regular length shifts seem easy peasy

On the weeks were I also do weekend shifts, which are only ever 6-7 hours long, those days seem to absolutely fly by.

I’m actually a lot more patient with customers

I don’t know if I’m just resigned to the fact that I’m stuck at work til 8pm anyway, but I’ve become a lot more patient with customers and a lot more relaxed about the parts of my job that I used to find a bit stressful.

I have way more stamina than I thought

When I first agreed to switch to these new shifts, I honestly thought it would kill me within a few days, but I actually took to them like a duck to water, and even my manager said she’s impressed with how little I’ve moaned during the transition.

Its not as tiring as I thought either

Sure, its an office job where I’m sat in a chair so it was never gonna wear me out too much anyway, but I still expected to feel a lot more worn out than I do, so yay!

The extra days off are so worth it

Ultimately the reason I took the change was because it means most weeks I have 4 days off a week, so I can dedicate more time to my blog and my small businesses. It also means if I do want to work overtime I don’t have to work 7 days a week to do it!

Sure, I am only 2 weeks in and adjusting to the change, but I’m already so happy with how this is working out for me, and it should mean much more content here, so watch this space!

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Its Okay to Have an Instagram Life

Everyone knows there’s two sides to life: the life you actually live, and the life you share on Instagram. One is polished, with perfect lighting and edited to highlight the best bits, and the other is all the messy stuff in between. We all know which is which.

People spend a lot of time joking about things being ‘Instagram-worthy’ or having an ‘Instagram life’, but life isn’t always Instagram-perfect, and that’s more than just common knowledge; its fact. Even if you don’t have a carefully tailored theme, you still choose to share exactly what you want on your profile, and let’s face it, has anyone seen someone post a photo of them doing laundry or 8 hours into a Netflix binge.

And d’you know what? That’s ok.

There’s nothing wrong with cultivating a perfect Instagram feed. We all know that no one’s life is perfect, but its nice a small outlet where you can put together all the pretty and happy moments of life. Now I’m not talking about being false – especially with all the recent blogger photoshop drama – I just think its part of our nature to show only the good bits, and I don’t think there’s any problem with that. Its an outlet, not a documentary.

Putting together my Instagram feed gives me so much happiness. Sure, it comes with the annoyance of the constant follow/unfollowing and the struggle with growth, but I would still say its my favourite social media platform because I’m a visual person and I love taking photos and posting them to Instagram. I love finding Instagrammable spots, or putting together cute shots just for the purpose of posting. It makes me happy, and whether its all entirely accurate to how my life actually looks, ultimately happiness is the goal, right?

On the flipside, I think I’m probably the most honest when it comes to Instagram stories. Sure, I’ll put the photos that I want on there, but recently I’ve also been using it as a way of sharing my venting my feelings through chatty Insta-stories, and I love seeing other people doing the same.

I’ve learnt over the years to not compare myself to the lives that I see on Instagram for this very reason; I know that the life I put on Instagram doesn’t reflect, so I don’t expect everyone else’s to. I just hope everyone is happy.

My life might not be totally together but at least my Instagram feed is cute.

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Things that Make Me Proud of Myself

I don’t know at what point in the development of society we started to focus more on our flaws than our strengths, but it almost seemed programmed into us these days. It almost seems easier to pick ourselves a part than it is to say nice things, and it feels like if you do look on the positive side of life and do build ourselves up, the fear is that it may look cocky or big-headed. Well that’s just not true.

I am definitely guilty of looking too hard at my flaws, and I think that part of me will always be that way, but there are some things that really do make me feel good about myself and my achievements, and d’you know what? I’m gonna shout about them a bit today.

When I wear an item of clothing that I made myself – or someone else does

When I was a kid all I ever wanted to do was create clothes, and now not only has it become a real hobby, but I’m even starting to make money out of my creations. I frequently wear stuff I’ve made to work and I actually love responding to ‘I love your skirt, where is it from?’ with ‘Oh I made it’.

This amazing feeling is doubled when I see someone else in something I’ve made!

Whenever I hit mile 12

In the last 2 years I have run 5 half marathons, and every single time I hit the 12 mile marker I can’t stop myself from shedding a little tear (or just having a minor cry to myself) because I can’t believe how far I’ve come – and I don’t just mean in that one run!

Being able to pay for something using money I’ve made from my small businesses

Most notably, my car’s MOT was paid for using money made from my Etsy store, as was a lot of the repair work needed. Its such an amazing feeling!

When I think about how much weight I used to lift

It wasn’t that long ago that I wouldn’t pick up a dumbbell more than about 3-kg, and now I don’t think I’d touch one that weighed less than double that. I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be and that’s pretty amazing.

Comparing my blog stats

I get the same page views in a day now than I use to get in a whole month, and my blog is only growing. This little corner of the internet of mine brings me so much pride, and I still love every day when I can call myself a blogger.

Spread a little positivity, and tell me something that makes you proud of yourself!

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