Self-expression is an important part of who I am. Just because I have a responsible job in the business world does not mean that I have to dress in a corporate uniform.
I carefully choose clothes that are smart (they have to be) but which are also quintessentially me. I do wear suits occasionally, but I usually compensate the severity of the suit with a flamboyant scarf and killer heels. And with messy, plenty of volume hair. That’s how people usually remember me – either for my hair or my shoes, often both.
And that’s ok, I don’t want to blend into the crowd. I like to look different, I like to be colourful in a grey world.
I encourage everyone I work with to be themselves, just because we have to be smart on a client site, doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on who you are. Be yourself, be authentic, be memorable.
Even if you love your job, and I mean really love it, there are those Monday morning moments when you just can’t believe the weekend is over.
Those days when the alarm goes off, and although you want to turn over and go back to sleep, you have to haul your dopey carcass out of bed. I hate those days, it turns my morning routine into an assault course (mascara wands and hair straighteners are dangerous in less than dextrous hands). So half blind I head off to work where things aren’t going to get any better for at least 3 hours.
I need caffeine, which has to be introduced slowly or I get a bit too jittery, and patience is not something I can muster up at will. I just know that it’s going to be a bad day, and that’s before I’ve read my emails.
Sometimes, you just power on through, sometimes I just need to listen to some music to help the coffee pump its way through my veins. And before you know it, it’s mid afternoon and you can actually function like a normal person again. I hate those days. But they do make you appreciate all the other mornings when you can just get up and get on with it.
I had one of those days yesterday, so I’m not due another for ages, here’s hoping.
It’s all about the balance (or, the shoes I pack for a weekend away)…
I love flat-pack furniture, or more precisely, I love building flat-pack furniture. This love stems back to my childhood, when I liked nothing more than playing with lego or my older brother’s Meccano set. However, I was to all intents and purposes a clumsy child. And I’ve grown up to be a clumsy adult – I trip up, a lot. Usually, there’s nothing to trip over, but I find something nonetheless. I’ve destroyed displays in John Lewis (and sprained my ankle in the process), I’ve entertained Japanese tourists in Las Vegas by going arse over tit on The Strip, and I’ve arrived at my hairdressers mildly concussed and bleeding.
And as we all know, clumsiness and DIY do not go hand in hand. I like to think that I’m practical (I’m practically minded and always have a cunning plan) but the truth is, I’m pretty handless.
However, as a student, I found my niche in building flat-pack furniture. My female flatmates were trying to put a table and chairs together, they emptied the box and pulled out the instructions and looked on in horror. Where I saw fun, they saw stress. I took charge, separating out all of the parts, ticking them off against the list of contents and was wielding my allen key with glee.
And so began a life-long love affair. Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits looks on fondly when we take a flat-pack home, and I get stuck in with the enthusiasm of a child. I’m not proud, I ask for help when I need it, but a special satisfaction is gained when I can build something all by myself.
Or, why the ironing never gets done…
Now, we all know that exercise is good for us.
But it can be hard to seamlessly incorporate it into everyday life. There’s usually something else a lot more fun to do. I’ve struggled with my weight for over 15 years (cheese, wine, curries and crisps are a few of my favourite things) and I hadn’t exercised seriously since my school days.
But something had to change & for me that was Boxing Day last year. Enough. No more wibbles, no more dressing around my size. Now, for some people, their goal is to be thin. Mine is different, I want to be strong and toned (not a body builder physique, but definition and strength). Thinner is the bonus that comes with both of those things. At school I used to swim, a lot. And I was strong, ridiculously strong for my size. I hanker back to those days – so I asked Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits to help devise a good programme for me, part cardio weight loss, part help me get the body that could monkey bar my way out of trouble. 7 months later I’m doing well, there have been a few slips (read these as nights out) and maybe one too many packets of crisps along the way, but I am in much better shape and am so much happier in myself than I was 7 months ago.
There have been laughs, and if I’m honest, tears and tantrums along the way. I can exercise easily enough by myself, but it’s hard and it’s boring – so for me, it’s so much more fun to have my gym buddy helping me. He reminds me to breathe, corrects my position when I’m doing something wrong and is a constant source of either encouragement or motivation.
My body shape is changing, I have muscle tone (which I love) – but by far the best aspect is spending time on improving your wellbeing with the person that you love. It may be corny, it may be twee, but I treasure these times. I only wish that I had started 10 years ago, but it’s good to know that I have a better body at 40 than I did at 30. It’s all about balance and I’m starting to get that balance right.
In these days of instant access to everything, the simple pleasure of waiting for something to arrive cannot be under estimated.
I love shopping, in person, with friends (although that usually leads to wine) and I love shopping online. The browsing itself is a joy – as long as your focused, that is. I have my favourite shops and most retailers have online equivalents now. I love to shop around and keep things in my shopping bag so that when I need (you could replace need here with want/can afford to) to I can simply buy them. If I’m in a hurry I can choose express delivery, if not, then the anticipation of waiting a few days makes their arrival all the better.
Amazon is a firm staple, along with Boden and ASOS – little parcels of happiness arriving either at home or at work. It’s so easy to return items now too, fill out a form, take what you don’t want back to the post office and job done. I probably do about 80% of my clothes shopping this way. I know the brands that work for me, I can co-ordinate from the same range and I can try things on at home with the rest of my wardrobe available as fillers.
I know that not everyone is a fan, and I love browsing on the high street and try to support independent boutiques too.
In a way, shopping online reminds me of my childhood, we lived in a pretty remote spot in Scotland, where the nearest high street shops seemed like a lifetime away (well a ferry trip and train ride away anyway) and we used to order clothes from Mum’s catalogue. Waiting for those items to arrive was always a thrill, just like waiting for an online order to arrive now. A parcel full of hope. And in a fast paced world, where everything is instantly available, having to wait a short amount of time for something should be cherished.
I’ll admit it, I don’t always have a fully formed life plan. I’m just not that ambitious. I’m driven, which is different, but most people feel more comfortable having a bit of a life plan mapped out, so that they can check how they’re getting on in life. I often like not knowing, and whilst I’ve planted seeds, have moved on before they get a chance to spread their roots.
I love my job, I’ve pretty much loved most of the jobs I’ve done in life, but I’ve never once awoken thinking, “Yes, that’s the job I want to do for the rest of my life”. My motto is to do the best job I can – that’s what I do. That’s all I’ve ever wanted – to be the best that I can be.
It’s the honest answer, but it confuses people. They need to believe that I had a game plan all along, that I categorically went through each career choice with a focus on gaining each new skill to make a better life for myself. I didn’t. I’ve changed jobs when I’ve needed a change, I’ve moved into new roles when I’ve needed new challenges and along the way, I’ve found that this approach works for me. I adapt to new situations and want to try new things, it’s as simple as that.
This is a core aspect of my personality – I want to try new things – although, I rarely stick at one thing long term. At this very moment, I’m supposed to be doing a 16 mile exercise extravaganza, instead I’m choosing to write this blog.
I will start that 16 mile extravaganza within the next few minutes because I do have a long term goal in mind, to be bikini-fit in my 40’s, but a couple of decades worth of decadence is harder to get rid of than it was to put on.
Anyway, it’s ok not to have a plan, and it’s ok to change your mind as you go through life. Just stay true to yourself, be kind to others and believe that you can be best you can be. You just have to get off your backside and do it.
There were thunderstorms here in the south west on Monday night – and pretty dramatic they were too.
I thought they might clear the air, reduce the humidity and make life a bit less clammy. But alas, our Galileo thermometer has stubbornly sat with all of its balls down, which means it’s hot, damn hot, in fact it’s Copa Cabana hot. Did I mention it was muggy.
It’s this flat, its insulation is inverted – in the summer it’s the equivalent of an oven, in winter we move onto full on Artic survival mode, wishing for a ball to float up. Just one – that’s all we need.
The fan is still following me around like it’s my best friend, but with Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits being home again, I have to share – It’s a nightmare. We have to have it in the middle, so that both of us can feel the cooling effects – that’s a hard compromise to swallow. I’ll share just about anything with him, but the lovingly circulated cool air – that should be mine first and foremost. His body being bigger has a more efficient cooling system, so I should get the lion’s share of the cool air. That’s not selfishness, it’s biology.
The sunshine is still a wonderful thing, but I long for a bit of a breeze, something to make us all a bit more comfortable. And something that makes you less self conscious when you hug – at the moment it’s very much an eugh moment and I find myself quoting Blackadderisms, “Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun”.
The office is a wonderful assortment of aromas too, sweat, feet and nerdy-types over-compensating on the deodorant front are not a pleasant mixture when you work in a recycled air environment.
So, although it’s summer and I’m loving it, just send the breeze my way.