Release your inner child

Wake up, work, eat, sleep, wake up, work, eat, sleep, wake up, work….

Ever feel like you’re doing the same monotonous thing day in day out? If so, why not sign yourself up to something outrageous and fun. It’s what I recently did and I loved every minute.

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Adult tobogganing at Tamworth Snow Dome

My activity of choice was tobogganing at the Snow Dome in Tamworth. It was only a half hour slot but that was just enough time to get to grips with it and not getting too tired. In that half an hour I fitted in four runs down the slope and they were so much fun.

Setting off at the top surrounded by kids and adults you get an adrenaline buzz of not knowing what to expect. As you push off on to the slope and round the first corner at speed all thoughts of the outside world disappear and your concentration is solely on steering and getting to the bottom. The metal pads that steer underneath the toboggan were awful, but that just added to the fun. Not knowing the exact path you were taking made you think on your feet without having to second guess what was coming next.

I had a ball and would definitely do it again in the future. The experience didn’t take up much of my time, it was cheap and most importantly, switched off my mind from any outside stresses.

I’ve got my eye on the adrenaline tubing for my next outing!

What are you waiting for? Go and find yourself a childish activity and let loose.

Dealing with rejection

Last week I applied for a job that matched the experience I possessed and was in an industry I felt passionately about working in. I prepared for the interview more so than I would have for other jobs and even gained the help of my previous colleagues who were still working within that industry. The day of the interview arrived and I was on time, spoke clearly and efficiently and answered the questions well. Or so I thought…

Waiting for the call

Four days later I had my phone charged and the volume cranked up to loud so as not to miss a call while it was glued to my hand all morning. I opened my email account to find a new message stating that unfortunately I had not been the highest scoring candidate at interview. However what made it worse was directly below this the next sentence down stated that ‘I clearly have the necessary knowledge and skills’ and because of this my application is officially on hold. This means that if the exact same position becomes available in the next six months I will be the first in line to get it.

Once the disappointment had passed at not being offered the role, my feelings soon turned to annoyance and frustration. A number of questions kept popping into my head – If I was that good a candidate why had I not been offered the job? Why should I wait around until they decide to offer me a role when it suits them? What did I do wrong in the interview to warrant not getting the job? Was I really that bad a candidate?

Think positively

I realised I was just confused, as my initial thoughts after leaving the interview had been positive, so to have these flipped on their head was difficult. However, I soon rationalised those thoughts and came to more positive conclusions:

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • The job role obviously wasn’t right for me
  • When one door closes another one opens
  • Don’t take it personally as this isn’t an attack on your own ability to do something it’s just the way interviews are scored

This rejection has also given me the opportunity to step back and evaluate what I really want in life. I love writing and conducting research into making a good story and I enjoy the variety each day brings while doing this.

Do what makes you feel good

After looking online at more roles I’ve found a recently published one that sounds right up my street. So don’t wallow in self-pity for too long as the next positive step could be waiting right around the corner.

Where’s life’s pause button?

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Spend more time doing what you love

I recently moved house and with it started working part-time during the interim period of looking for a more permanent full-time job. I thought I’d have loads more time for doing the things I want and relaxing without rushing about with life admin.

How wrong was I?

I’ve found myself working during the morning and then not sitting down again until I’m settling down for my evening meal at about 7pm. I feel busier than when I had a full-time job and am left wondering how on earth I fitted everything in while also working a 37-hour week. Over the last few days I’ve been trying to find an answer to this conundrum. Yes, I’ve signed myself up to more yoga classes, but these are mainly during the evening. I’m also able to take the dog out on longer walks throughout the day and I’ve been able to spend more time writing blog posts. However that doesn’t explain how I was losing so much time. Then it hit me, the answer to all those lost hours throughout the day was social media!

The time I’ve spent looking on Facebook, Instagram and The Daily Mail website is increasing every day. I wouldn’t mind but I don’t even like the way the Mail stories are written and believe very little of what I read on there. The scrolling through Instagram and Facebook is pointless too as I feel a huge sense of under achievement once I tear my eyes away from the screen an hour or two later.

Adding more hours to your day

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Put a stop to spending hours looking at social media

So, I’ve made the decision to limit my time on these websites. I’ll only visit them once a day for a maximum of half an hour, plenty of time to catch up on what’s been going on in the world. I’ve also put myself on a ban from The Daily Mail and already feel better in myself having not read about the trials and tribulations of celebrities.

One thing I went through a phase of doing is not watching television throughout the weekend. If you can do this it really makes a difference. I found I had more time than ever to just chill out and really relax my mind and thoughts. When you sit down in front of the TV your mind doesn’t switch off so it’s not as relaxing as you think. Without it you’re able to concentrate on the simpler things in life and feel as though the world isn’t going past you like a bolt of lightning.

I highly recommend switching off and reconnecting with the things that really matter, you’ll feel the benefits and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Life is short enough already, so don’t waste it on reading about other people’s lives.

Concentrate on the one that matters…your own.

Family is where life begins

I’ve been living away from the county I grew up in for over 10 years, but recently I made the move back due to a job change. One of the things I realised when I arrived back was how out of touch I was with the people living in the area. Even though it’s somewhere I grew up and all the external buildings and streets are familiar, I felt like I was walking on unfamiliar territory with my friends and family who I’d lost touch with. Being so far away means you miss out on the little things that happen on a daily basis and I’d forgotten to stay in regular contact with those I’d previously been so close to. The expression out of touch, out of mind never felt so real.

The realisation hit me at my cousin’s wedding where I saw many relatives who I hadn’t spoken to in years. I left the next day feeling great after having caught up on their lives but also sad I had missed out on many moments with them.

I was determined to change this.

Making time in an active life

I’m a busy person so making time for every member of my extended family was nigh on impossible so I thought I’d start off with just one. After moving house I was closer to them, which made it easier to arrange a visit. One weekend I travelled over to see them and it was great to visit the house I’d been to many times as a young child. There were no awkward moments like you sometimes experience when meeting an old friend, no questions asked about why you hadn’t stayed in touch and most importantly I felt happy and relaxed to be around them.

I think as you grow older you realise it’s more important to have a handful of really close friends rather than hundreds of distant ones who you just say hi to on the street.

Family is one of the most important things in your life and we should treasure those we are lucky enough to have in our lives. I’m so glad I made the move to reconnect and will continue to do this when I have the chance.

Lives go fast so don’t forget those who help move and drive you along to be your best self.

Battling against the pressure

Getting married is stressful! Regardless of what people tell you about making it all about you and doing what you want, there is always something that crops up to sway you away from that path. One element that is high on the never-ending to do list is finding ‘the one’. I don’t mean finding yourself a groom but instead finding that one dress that makes you feel like royalty. However does it really need to make you feel like Princess Catherine or Meghan Markle? Shouldn’t it be about making you feel comfortable to help you enjoy your special day?

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Your dress doesn’t have to sparkle on the outside to make you sparkle from the inside

Finding the right shop

I set out on my journey of finding this elusive dress and felt increasingly despaired at every dress shop I visited. There was nothing that made me feel special and I thought the day would never arrive when I looked in the mirror and thought ‘that’s it’. I finally found myself in a converted barn in Framlingham with just one of my friends and the owner. The business bought dresses from the previous season and sold them at a fraction of their original price. There was no pressure from other people as we were the only ones there, the appointment time was lengthy so there was no rush and the owner really listened to what you wanted. In fact the dress I finally settled on was one she chose for me and is something I wouldn’t have tried on if I’d seen it on the hanger.

The dress isn’t flamboyant, it doesn’t make me look like a loo roll cover and there are minimal sparkles on it. It’s a simple, yet elegantly plain dress that will never go out of fashion. More importantly it felt like me and is really comfortable. Remember there will be lots of food on your wedding day so you need something that gives a little anyway to help hide the food baby!

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Choose a dress that feels right for you

Do it your way

I also bought my dress before setting a date for the wedding as this also took the pressure away from having to find one before a particular date. It’s seen as the wrong way round to many people but it worked for me and I would recommend it to anyone. As someone who gets slightly anxious I knew this was the best decision for me so ignored the words of others when told I was looking too soon.

Granted since that day I’ve seen others that I think may have looked better but I’ve trusted my instinct and stayed with my original choice. Plus I know my fiancé will be happy I chose one that I felt comfortable in.

Now I just need to organise the rest of the day!

The politics associated with wedding planning

In October 2017 my boyfriend proposed to me and became my fiancé. Thus started the process of organising a wedding day. For someone who hasn’t kept a wedding book nor has any idea of what they want, this has proved tricky.

Understanding the technicalities

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We set out with the intention of only inviting people we wanted to share our day with. The words ‘it’s your day, you can do whatever you want’ were ringing in our ears thanks to our parents’ kind advice. Due to this advice it was an understandable shock to the system when the same voices expressed concern over certain people who weren’t invited. People who we don’t speak to or even worse even knew existed. ‘You’ve got to invite them, I went to the past two weddings they were at’, well if a good attendance record gets you an invite to the most memorable day of two strangers lives then sign me up!

The problem with inviting the couple who live at number 28 on the street adjoining your grandma’s house, is the cost implications. The day is already expensive and overpriced (thanks to the wedding industry) so adding two extra people on adds up to a lot of extra money. It comes to the point where you have to put your foot down and say no. This leads me on to the term ‘Bridezilla’. Is this really such a bad term? Is it not understandable when you realise how much pressure and hype surrounds a wedding day and for everything to be perfect?

Now I understand some people take this to the extreme – making obscene demands to wedding guests, however I’ve had the term thrown at me a few times when I’ve said no to requests or when I ask for certain things to be in place on the day. It’s not unreasonable to make a few demands, especially when you’re paying over the odds for it anyway. What frustrates me is when people get annoyed with me for wanting what I want. Those reassuring words about it being our day said at the start of the process quickly fade into the distance and are replaced with ‘you need to invite him because it would be unfair not to’.

Remember:

  • You can’t please everyone and more disagreements happen when you try
  • At the end of the day you’re not going to please everyone, if you do upset people due to silly disagreements then try and decide whether they’re worth having in your life anyway
  • It’s the only day you can get away with being demanding so do what you want to do (within reason)
  • Your family and friends should want this to be as special as it can be for you so make sure they rally round and support you

Current stage

We have just finished designing our website with all the details of where to be and how long it will last. This was the easier option for us as it kept the price down (no postage or paper invitations) and keeps everything in one place so is easy to track. We’re currently gathering up email addresses to send the invite to the lucky few people and then we’ll wait for the RSVP’s to come flooding back (hey we can dream!).

Things we have done:

  • Booked the venue
  • Bought THE dress
  • Decided on bridesmaids
  • Bought bridesmaid dresses
  • Chosen our cake
  • Selected our wedding breakfast (Spanish tapas)

Do it your way

To sum up we are getting married in the North East of England in a French/Mediterranean chateau with Spanish food for the wedding breakfast. If that isn’t doing exactly what you want then I don’t know what is!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Since I was eight years old I have been horse mad and my passion for these elegant animals has only increased over the years. I have owned my own horse, worked in the equestrian industry most of my life and had my fair share of falls that I’ve bounced back from. Horse owners are often seen as fearless due to our gung hoe nature to getting jobs done whatever the circumstances. However one part of the industry I hadn’t delved into until late last year was the racing world. Thanks to a friend who works on a racing yard in the heart of racing (Newmarket for non-equestrians) I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride a racehorse.

I was excited to accept this offer but in my heart of hearts I hadn’t really thought about what it would entail until the night before. It suddenly dawned on me how different riding a racehorse would be and boy was I right to be nervous. I arrived at 6am the next day to a bustling yard of jockeys and horses ready to head out to the gallops. Thankfully I was given a hand in tacking up my first ride as each race yard has their own way of displaying their logo on the equipment. I was given a leg-up and told to walk my horse round until it was time to leave. The horse felt like he was dancing on tip toes, which was a completely different experience to the stocky warmbloods I was used to riding.

Disaster strikes

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The racehorse who took me safely round the gallops

All was going well until we rode past a gap in the hedges and due to unlucky timing a loud bang spooked my horse. In a racing saddle I had no chance of staying on as he turned on a sixpence so it was out the side door for me. I landed on the ground with a thump but fortunately it was a soft surface. ‘That’s it’, I thought, ‘I’m not getting back on, this obviously wasn’t to be’. As I was explaining this to a yard hand who had kindly caught my horse I could tell he wasn’t really listening. He told me to get back on and enjoy it.

Every single fibre in my body was telling me not to do it. I felt sick at the thought of sitting back in the saddle and couldn’t contemplate galloping on board a horse that was so on edge. However, I’m one of the most stubborn people I know and I had a nagging doubt at the back of my mind telling me that I’d regret it if I didn’t take this chance. Against all the voices in my head I was legged back up on the horse and headed out with the others towards the gallops.

If I said the rest was an easy ride I’d be lying. Unbeknownst to me my horse didn’t like traffic or lorries and spooked every time one passed. Now picture this, we headed out on the horse path running next to a road during rush hour in the middle of Newmarket. It was scary and I was worried sick that something was about to go terribly wrong until the 20 minute ride was over.

Experiencing Britain’s busiest racehorse gallops

We arrived at The Severals where we gave the horses a trot round the oval shaped track to warm up their legs. I was still anxious at this point and nerves were tingling throughout my entire body. There were horses everywhere and the buzz in the air was palpable.

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The famous Warren Hill in Newmarket is 4.5 furlongs

Walking across to Warren Hill is a memory I will hold onto for the rest of my life. It was a conveyor belt of horses lining up to take a run on the famous hill at (what felt to me like) break-neck speed. My turn came and I was partnered up with an experienced jockey who ran his horse just in front of me. His parting words before we started were ‘if he starts to overtake my horse, just shout and I’ll let you pass’. Great, so how the hell would I stop him if I had nothing in front of me?

Making memories

We set off and the exhilaration was out of this world. I can’t describe the power those horses have as it’s something you have to experience. Before I knew it we’d reached the top and my mouth was as dry as sandpaper – little did I know I was in that much awe my mouth had stayed open for the entire experience! I wanted to do it all again but we had to head back to get the next round of horses out. I only rode one that day but that was more than enough for my nerves. Despite the initial hesitation I rode through my fear and made a memory that will last a lifetime. It wasn’t easy to drown out the voices telling me not to do it but I’m so glad I did.

So what are you waiting for, feel the fear and do it anyway, it could turn out to be the best day of your life!