A Piece of Advice On Time

I’ve been wanting to write a blog about this for a while now, but I’ve been held back by the thought of not being one to talk when things still fall apart before my eyes some days. So based on the fact I’ll never be an expert on the matter, I’m gonna write it regardless – and hopefully I’ll help myself in the process.

So, here it is – a blog on managing life and finding time.

Life is never easy. You can feel the pressures from all angles some days, and you can feel like you’re losing control of even the simplest of things; your home is messy, you don’t have time for breakfast, and you’re always buying your lunch because who the %$*@ has time for meal-prep. Raise your right hand if you can relate; don’t even get me started about skipping your gym workouts for 7-days straight, or the fact of all that is in your fridge is a can of whipped cream and a jar of peach chutney. I get it, cause right now that life is mine. I mean, I am literally squirting cream from a can into my mouth – intermittently – as I write this.

I recently started a new job as a restaurant manager; ironic, right? I get paid to organise operational tasks of a restaurant and bar, yet I can never manage to have clean socks. At the start of the year I was at the gym everyday, if not twice a day, I was downing smoothies which were 50% spinach, and I was constantly putting time aside everyday for my writing or my to-read pile. However, since switching from a part-time, 9-5, to my new job which includes an hour commute each way, I’ve lost the assurance of the routine I used to have. I’ve come to realise that finding a routine after shifting your life’s pattern, is not easy! Ask anyone. So, if this is you; your life has changed in some way (new home, new job), don’t expect it to just happen.

So how does one figure that out? How can you find the time to do these things? Well, as annoying as it may sound, it’s completely on your shoulders. Remember in high school when you were given an assignment which was due in 5 months, and you left it until the last week, and still managed to hurriedly finish it on time? Yeah, well that is a fine example of how time is always there – if you’re willing to realise the fact.

“I’ve been so busy” is the new “I’m fine”, and we use it without even thinking about the words before we speak them. I know firsthand it’s easier said than done, to just make the time to bang out those chores, but it definitely is all about mindset.

Okay, so you’re busy and you haven’t been to the gym in a week; want a solution? Get up an hour earlier. If you genuinely want to get your arse burning, you have to want to do it. No one is going to come dress you, no one can make you pick up some dumbbells – that’s crazy! So, set your alarm for 6am instead of 7am, and just do it.

And like everything else; washing, groceries, returning your library books which have accumulated a $10 fee (not me), JUST DO IT. I know you were probably coming to this blog for more precise advice, so I’m sorry, but I’m hitting you with a reality check!

So, on that note, I’m gonna kick myself up the arse and take a piece of my own advice. My new schedule/routine/motivation starts now! No excuses, no “I’m busy”s, no not-having-enough-time; I’m going to prioritise the things that mean something to me, and live the life I want and need to live. I’m going to make sure I have healthy foods in my fridge, I’m going to get to the gym every second day (at least), and I’m going to go for hikes and coffee dates by myself on the weekend. Yes I have less free time than at the start of 2019, but that’s not a good enough reason to not live it up in my free time.

Say an affirmation with me now:

“I have all the time I need.”

Say that to yourself every morning, and I guarantee you, you will find an extra hour or so. Time is there if you want it.

 

Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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Stick To The Status Quo? | The Self Series

Welcome to Episode 5 in The Self Series. This is the series where I give some thought to common said quotes in today’s society. This time it’s all about the status quo.

What is the status quo?

Status quo is a Latin word literally meaning ‘the state in which’. In today’s society, the label status quo is typically used to generalise what is deemed ‘normal’ in society.

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I have a discussion for us today based around my personal take on the saying “Stick to the status quo” – and before you ask, yes, I was a huge High School Musical fan as a kid.

So, what is my take? I see the status quo as more of a comfort zone; sticking to the status quo being the attitude of playing it safe rather than only societal norms. If we talk about the status quo in this way, this would be our own choice – right? We individually decide whether or not to stay comfortable.  If you ask me, life is all about taking risks and encouraging ourselves to get out there and make the most of things. Life is also about encouraging everybody around us to do the same.

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Quite often when it comes to something new, our bodies inject our minds with a little thing called fear. We can’t blame our bodies for this feeling, because ultimately it’s a survival instinct, but sometimes we mistake worry for fear; we escalate the anxiousness of failure to a level of fear that makes things seem impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway. This seems to be an overall theme in my blogs, but hear me out once again. If I asked you to join me on a skydiving quest tomorrow, what would you say? I know your body would probably start to feel a little more tense, and some part of your insides would do a little dive to the pit of your stomach, but after putting that aside what would YOU say??

I’d hope you’d say yes. After all, experiences such as this aren’t an everyday thing. I’m sure your first instinct would be to say no. Our bodies weren’t designed to fall from the sky, 15,000km above the earths tectonic plates, at speeds unknown to the raw human body – but hey? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, ideally it’s probably not best to ponder this thought right before you jump – but seriously, you’d never do anything if you didn’t live with risk.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers

I have in fact jumped from a plane. When I was about 16, one of my brothers and I joked about skydiving on a family holiday. Emphasis on the word joke. The next morning, as we were in our holiday cabin comfortable in our bunk beds, my parents came in with an aura of adrenaline and asked us, “How about it? Want to skydive today?”. I can tell you now, I still remember that feeling of absolute terror and how quickly my stomach clenched. It had only been a thought, something to laugh about, yet now it was so close to becoming reality. Eventually after our parents encouragement, me and my older brother committed to jump from a plane.

It was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. It was also one of the most terrifying and fear-filled adventures I’ve taken part in.

When I find myself filled with fear; from accepting a new job role, to travelling abroad solo, I tell myself what’s the worst that can happen? I tell myself to feel the fear, and do it anyway because you only live once. More often than not, after we take these risks, we feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.

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We’ve discussed taking risks, and now I want to bring us directly back to the status quo and the idea of self-expression. I was doing some research for this article, and I came across this quote from none other than Dr Seuss:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

As a child, I loved the books of Dr Seuss because they were so different to anything else I read. I loved the unique illustrations, the crazy storylines and the characters being so different to anything I knew in real life.

This quote from Dr Seuss is the definition of a perfect life. We can’t conform to the ideals of society; we can’t live our lives in response to someone else’s standards. If someone dislikes us for who we uniquely are, do they really matter? Should we really let their idea of a ‘right’ life distinguish how we live ours? NO! And if someone lives a true, self-actualized and self-empowered life, they’re not going to mind how we live ours. Be unique, and only live for yourself.

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When someone says things such as stick to the status quo to me, I can’t help but think it over. Remember: that feeling – after conquering a fear or something with an uncertain outcome – is what we should all live for. Be who you are, be true to your thoughts and your feelings.

Don’t believe the status quo to be anything other than encouragement to be different and adventurous.

There’s A Time And A Place | The Self Series

Hello, and welcome back to The Self Series. This is going to be where I inject advice from my journey to self-assurance into my blog; a space where I respond to requests, or events in my life, with a moment of reflection.

Today, I’m gonna discuss the saying “there’s a time and a place”. According to some, this is something you say when someone is behaving in a way which is not deemed suitable for the circumstance. In my opinion this seems to be a rather negative take on what could be an extremely positive mantra. I’m gonna give you my three positive takes on this quote:

No. 1

“Certain projects find you at the right time.” – Pierce Brosnan

Ever heard of a thing called fate? Yeah, well I believe in it… to a certain extent. I believe everything works out in the end. I always have, it’s something my parents taught me; read my earliest blogs, I can’t shut up about it apparently.

So, take number one? Being in the right place at the right time. Understand that if something you’ve been striving for hasn’t happened yet, it will happen when the success stars align. The worst thing creative striving souls do is give up when the going gets tough. If you really want something, keep at it and it will happen when its supposed to. Sounds like I’m talking crap, but I speak from experience, and I speak from the hope of success I have for myself.

No. 2

“Eliminate anyone who stifles your creativity by being hostile, mean, or rude – either to your face or behind your back.” – Rachel Wolchin

This is where I tell you to retaliate. I’m not exactly going back on my previous blog in The Self Series (if you haven’t read it already, I highly suggest you do, click here) but I am saying this: there is a time and a place to take no shit. Rachel has it right – eliminate anyone who does wrong by you and/or your passions. In that blog, we discussed responding with a mature and reserved manner, but now is when I tell you its okay to raise your voice. However do not bring another person down, use your voice to open people’s closed eyes and minds.

No. 3

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” – Willie Nelson.

Cue giggles in front of computer screens, or gasps of horror. Either way, Willie Nelson has the right idea. When I see the words there is a time and a place, I find myself reminded of patience. Sometimes we feel self-entitled – whether it be to a promotion or to be at the front of the queue in the supermarket – and self-entitlement is a very bad quality. Yes, we may work hard and be entitled of a victory, but don’t abuse your ego. Let others shine, and you too will get your moment. If you’re patient, whilst not losing confidence in your own passion and hard work, you will get your cheese.

All it takes is a few minutes of your day to wind-down the mind. I hope The Self Series will be your space to reflect as much as mine, and that you have gained something to consider from this blog. I ask you all to comment your take down below, and I will see you next time!

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Kill ’em With Kindness | The Self Series

It’s recently come to my attention that I’m quite sassy.

I’m not always writing, cause I’d never get my bills paid – so, like a lot of creative souls, I do work in customer service. When you work in hospitality you do encounter rude people, and as the feminist and stubborn woman that I am,  I dislike being disrespected immensely. I’ve never been overly mouthy or rude, but I do get a sass on my shoulders and have slammed a few pints down in my time. As any fed up person would.

Lately I’ve been taking to a new way of dealing with these sort of people. Instead of ruining my day or mixing the situation with sass, I’ve been attempting at over the top kindness and coming out the bigger person. So here they are, a few tips and quotes on how to:

“Kill ’em with kindness”

Call ’em out

Sometimes people don’t realise they’re being rude. We’ve all done it; had a bad day, and taken our anger out on someone with our tone of voice, or impatient frustration. You get the nudge from your friend standing next to you at the coffee shop counter, and realise you’ve just sassed the poor girl who is only doing her job.

I have on certain occasions, told customers to just change their tone with me. They will either a) Quickly realise and apologise or, b) Continue to be rude, at which point I highly suggest you walk away. Wherever you work, it’s not in your contract to be personally disrespected. So leave it be. I encourage complete positivity in my personal life, so why is it only now that I’m realising I should be accepting only positivity and respect at work too?

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Pass it off and don’t fight back

There are certain times that people are so stuck in their ways, that they won’t even hear what you have to say. When this happens, when they ignore you, respond with kind enthusiasm. Keep your head high, say what you have to say, and as they make snide remarks, pass them off. Do your job, calmly and professionally, and then ride your high horse into the sunset. The worst thing you can do is let someone’s rudeness or bad day, turn yours into one too. Don’t stand in the presence of negativity, and definitely don’t let it stick around.

“Treat everyone with politeness – even those who are rude to you. For remember that you show courtesy to others not because they are gentlemen, but because you are one.” – Charles Dickens.

Killing a situation with kindness, is a form of strength. Think of how weak it is to throw insults; how much easier it is for some people to be mean, than to explain or talk like a civilised adult.  So by being polite, you remain the mature, self-controlled person you are, and remain with purpose and strength.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

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ASPIRE TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO BE KIND

So, You Want To Be In Charge Of Your Life?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll overthink everything that has anything to do with a ‘successful life’. We are all guilty of getting so caught up in making the best impression on others, that once we stop, we feel like we’re losing control of where we’re headed or who we’ve become. We all want to be in charge of our own lives – deep down we all want to live a life that we deem victorious.

“Stop fighting yourself and start fighting for yourself” The Revolutionary Impact 

I wanted to kick off this article with one of my favourite quotes from The Revolutionary Impact. How powerful is this statement? We do fight ourselves, it’s true. We constantly chant excuses instead of repeating affirmations. Say there’s a job promotion and you’re doubting yourself, you will without a second-thought tell yourself there’s so much you don’t know – well, imagine if you just turned it around and said, I can do it. Nothing more, nothing less. Well guess what, you can. Remove “I don’t know” and “I can’t” from your vocabulary, start saying, “If I don’t know now, I will figure it out” and “I can”. Defend yourself. Fight for yourself.

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Inject your days with wholehearted passion.

When we feel like we’re being dragged through the days – doing things we don’t like, working a job we aren’t passionate about – we become tired. We feel exhausted and the feeling of control can quickly dissipate. If you’re serious about taking control. Whether you want to be a writer, entrepreneur, actor, or your own boss, start now. When we’re young, we can so easily slip into saying, “Oh, I’m young, I have time.” Well, you’re correct, you do have time, but sorry kids the world doesn’t stop progressing just cause you’re having fun. I want us to enjoy ourselves, but also remember that if we want something we gotta live for it. Start each day right, dedicate some time each day to perfecting your craft, infest your surroundings with your craft – motivational boards, books, quotes, posters – and convince yourself it WILL happen. Bring on that New York Times Bestseller!

Click here for my tips & tricks on starting the day right.

“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” Kyle Chandler

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Figure out what matters to you and what doesn’t.

This applies to all aspects of your existence. Only let things into your life that bring you joy. If you want complete control of your everyday, without putting it off for weeks, seriously de-clutter your life; from the abundance of t-shirts you don’t wear, to the “friends” who bring your down. If something is contributing negativity rather than support, or taking up the space for something better, get rid of it. You don’t have to justify it to anyone, all you’ve to know is that you’re doing yourself a favour. When we put our life through this self-respect filter, we will settle for nothing less than we deserve. Chris Brogan, sums this concept up perfectly.

“Don’t settle. Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.”   Chris Brogan

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Live for the future, not the past.  

You might be thinking, “Paige you’re contradicting every blog you’ve posted – living in the future? What happened to living in the moment?”. Well kids, I want you to live for the future in the now; I want you to set goals and work towards them today. Instead of clouding your passion with regret, better yourself today so you can be your best yet tomorrow – forever improving and forever reaching out with intrigue.  Tell yourself where you’ll be in a years time.  Never settle, only progress.

“Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.”   Robin Sharma

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Don’t get greedy, you can’t have everything.

You can be in control of your own life, but remember so can everyone else. Don’t waste your valuable time and energy on things that do not benefit you, or things that you can’t quite gain control of. Let’s have a look at this quote:

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” Steve Maraboli

“…to take control of what you do have power over…” is what makes my soul soar – Marboli, you speak the truth! We have the power to be head-strong, forward-thinking, passionate, and kind; don’t try and crave control where it’s not your right. Sometimes we have to surrender to the universe and let the path pave itself for a bit. When we step back and let this happen, the stressed/’trying too hard’ haze over our eyes clear, and we see direction more clearly.

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Ultimately we live for happiness, so in the words of George Eliot, ‘it is never too late to be who you might have been.’

So, be who you want to be and take charge of your life… now.

 

Creative City-Break: Brussels & Bruges

As my train pulled out of St. Pancras I wondered how many people had sat in the seat before me…

Carriage 15, seat 31 on the Eurostar. This was the first trip under the English Channel I’d embarked on. I don’t know exactly what prompted my decision to head to Belgium, but I was finally on my way to spend 5 nights in Brussels. I wanted not only another creative getaway, but a new international destination to explore. There’s something about visiting a country where there’s a foreign language, and buildings so old they’re screaming out to be photographed; I enjoy destinations like these, the opportunity for ultimate solitude. Much like my blog Creative City-Break: Top Things Bristol Has To Offer To The Creative Mind, this is going to be my top experiences/tips in Brussels & Bruges on a Creative City-Break.

1. Appreciate the city for what it is. I know first hand that when you travel solo, it’s so easy to wander around, headphones in, nose in your Lonely Planet guide and see the sights with no outside influence. Every city I go to, especially when I’m alone, I partake in a Sandeman’s free – emphasis on the free – walking tour. These 2-3 hour-long tours, are not only a great way to meet people, but a chance to scope out the city and get an insiders guide into the hotspots. I always try hit up a tour on the day that I land so I have an idea of where I want to go, and what I want to see in more detail. Knowledge is inspiration, my friends.

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2. Enjoy the parks and quiet places to think. I came across Place du Petit Sablon by chance, and it was by far my favourite garden I visited whilst in Brussels. It’s a lovely square, complete with hedges, sculptures, 48 bronze statuettes, and a beautiful big fountain. At the base of the fountain, and the surrounding green, are plenty of benches. I sat here for an hour, had my lunch, and enjoyed the scenery. The sound of the water allowing me to read and relax.

Other lovely parks to visit: Parc Leopold & Parc du Cinquantenaire.

3. Drink the coffee, they make it right. I have a good place for you to visit. It’s call Askum Coffee House. Not far from Grand Place, and in the centre of Brussels, it’s the perfect place to whip out your book or computer and relax. Their coffee is great, their staff are lovely, and the place has a good vibe. Need I say more?

Creative City-Break: Brussels & Bruges

4. Some museums are better than others when in need of a creative push. One of those definitely being the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, otherwise known as Belgium’s national Comic Strip Centre. Yup, you heard right. The entire building is dedicated to showing the evolution of comics; you enter the building, and you’re literally surrounded by art. The centre hosts a café, bookshop, a comic book museum, gallery and even a library where you can sit and read comic books.

Did you know The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs) are both Belgian comics? Oui oui.

Another lovely museum I recommend you give a go is the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts. This museum, dedicated to the fine arts, has modern and ancient art, so there really is something for everyone. I absolutely adored the café in this museum as well. Even though it’s slightly more expensive to alternatives, this café offers a lovely patio with roof top views where you can enjoy your delicious chef prepared food. Be sure to visit the sculpture garden outside the museum.

5. Take a day excursion to Bruges. When I was telling people about my holiday to Brussels, I was told by nearly every person that I had to go to Bruges, another beautiful Belgian city. An easy hour train ride from Brussels-Midi station, it is a necessary day-trip when you’re already so close. On my recent trip to Bristol I purchased a Canon 1300D, the camera I’d always dreamed of owning. Bruges made me so thankful to have such a beautiful camera to capture the city itself. The small, canal-surrounded city encouraged me to put away my phone, replace it with my camera, and just wander. The quirks of the photogenic old city inspiring my stories with every step.

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Musts in Bruges:

  • Visit the EspressoBar – I Love Coffee coffee shop. This was an amazing find. Not only is the place itself wickedly decked out – from soldered spoon lampshades to the portafilter door handles – their baristas make one hell of a coffee.
  • Sit in The Basilica of the Holy Blood and/or wander through and around the monastery gardens of Begijnhof. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of these spaces, and they are both beautifully silent spaces.

CREATIVE CITY-BREAK: BRUSSELS & BRUGES

Before I finish off this blog, here are the places you go to try the best of authentic Belgian foods in Brussels:

  • Chocolate – Neuhaus: You can find the original shop in the Galerie de la Reine which opened in 1857.
  • Waffles – Maison Dandoy: Right near Grand Place, be sure to order a ‘naturel’ waffle for the real Belgian waffle experience.
  • Frites – Friterie Tabora: Recommended by the local tour guide. They’re as good as good frites come.

So, as the Belgian proverb says,

           “Money buys cherries.”

…go buy yourself a cherry of a city-break to Belgium. If you live in London like me, or in Europe – or even anywhere else in the world – Belgium is worth the trip and can offer you a lovely time.

Amusez-vous bien (have fun) kids!