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.