A letter to all the women in my life

I am so fortunate to know so many incredible women from so many walks of life.

Some of you are businesswomen, running your own companies and building your own empires, and I’m so proud to be one of you. We are changing the face of our industries, and I can’t wait to see what we’ve all achieved in a few years time.

Some of you are building your careers – and are going to go on to do some amazing things, and I’m so excited to see what you achieve. Some of you are still figuring things out – but you don’t need me to tell you that’s fine, because at some point things will fall into place.

All of you are amazing in your own way, and you all inspire me so much. I’ve known some of you for decades, others for just a few weeks or months – but you have all impacted my life in one way or another.

I’ve known some of you for up to 20 years, and I can’t believe how much we’ve grown and how much we’ve learnt in that time. I may have drifted from a lot of you, but you’re still in the back of my mind, popping up every so often as I wonder what you’re up to. I’ve known some of you for a far shorter time, but I hope that in 20 years time I can say the same about you all. I’m sure I will.

Above all though, I want to say thank you.  Thank you for the years of conversations and coffees, the shopping trips and the cinema trips. For talking endlessly about what we’re going to do with our lives – where we’ll work, where we’ll live, who we’ll be with. Thank you for the shoulders to cry on when life gets tough, or when I’ve been heartbroken. Thank you for inspiring me to be the best I can be, and to care less about people who have cared less about me. I really hope I’ve been as good a friend to you all as you’ve been to me.

So  – here’s to laughing and crying, and laughing until we cry. Here’s to holidays and day trips and coffees and cake. To heartbreaks and dating woes and anecdotes of the most ridiculous situations you could possibly imagine. Here’s to falling in love, starting new jobs, moving to new cities and everything else that we’ve shared and have yet to share.

Here’s to friendships that have lasted 20 years, and friendships that have only just begun. Now, let’s go out into the world and be as badass as I know we can all be.

All my love,

Lizzi  xxx

 

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Self-Employed Problems.

Lately, I seem to have been suffering from a major confidence crisis.

It feels like I’m going round in ever-decreasing vicious circles of not being able to finish things, which doesn’t help with the whole confidence thing, which gives me less motivation to finish things, which doesn’t help with the confidence…you get the point. Circles. Decreasing.

In all honesty, I attribute a good portion of this to being self-employed, and essentially losing the structure of my week that a full-time job imposes. What I wasn’t expecting was how quickly things can spiral once you start letting things slip – in my case, a particularly nasty bout of the flu, followed by a holiday (that wasn’t quite a holiday because I had so much to do) threw what little routine I had out of the window, which then turned into constantly feeling like I was a step behind where I should be.

That seemed to turn my weeks into a constant game of catch-up which, when coupled with other more personal anxieties, turned into a slippery slope of “oh god what the fuck have I got myself into”.

Not pretty.

At risk of getting too personal here, I began turning into a bit of a gloomy, unmotivated mess towards the end of last year. By the middle of January I was pretty much in the worst mental health place I’ve been in since the middle of uni, which is stupid. Stupid, because I’m doing a job I love, on my own terms and working with some absolutely fantastic people. But also…not stupid, because there are lots of little things about being self-employed that I didn’t factor in, and am only now learning how to deal with.

I’ve avoided talking about it until now – not only because of the aforementioned feeling stupid thing, but also because I had this even stupider thought in the back of my head that admitting any kind of weakness would make it seem like I’m rubbish at my job. Which, let’s face it, is ridiculous. I know (hope) I’m good at what I do, but hey, there’s that whole not-talking-about-mental-health thing rearing it’s ugly head.

And so – negativity portion pretty much over, onto how I’m dealing with things.

This is still very much a work in progress, and I am 100000% looking for ANY advice anyone can give too!

(And, given that only about 20 people will read this, this is very much a reminder for me to go back to in a month or so to keep me on track, and hopefully give me some way of documenting my progression)


1. ASK FOR HELP

Holy crap, I can’t even begin to express how important this one is.

I’ve very much opened this door already – not only with this blog post, but by letting a few select people know that I was having “a bit of a rough time”.  Opening up and asking for help is a scary thing to do, but the vast majority responded with offers of coffee, escapes from London and encouraging conversation. Most of which I still need to take up.

And whilst it’s so easy to focus on the one person who responded by completely cutting me out of their life (top tip: don’t do that to your friends),  I’m realising that I’m actually surrounded by some really incredible, supportive people. So if that’s you (and if you’re reading this and know me, it probably IS you), then thank you.


2. TALK TO PEOPLE.

There are so many facebook groups for entrepreneurs, freelancers and people who run their own companies – I’ve been a fairly quiet member of Blooming Founders for a while, but more recently I’ve joined a group of local female entrepreneurs, and met a few for coffee the other week. It’s so refreshing to be able to sit down and just talk to people about what’s going on.

Over the next couple of months, I really want to try and find more groups and meetups to keep me motivated and meeting people. And if I can’t find one I like…maybe I’ll start my own! Hopefully, as those relationships build, they’ll replace the kitchen conversations that I’ve realised I miss so much from working in an office – after all, they’re the points in time where I used to vent, or bounce ideas off people – and there’s no-one to do that with when you work alone!


3. TIMETABLE THE WEEK

I’m kind of being careful with this one, because I overwhelmed myself with a stupidly rigorous plan at first that I couldn’t stick to at all. I’m very much going in baby steps – starting with a few hit points in the week, which I’ll try and gradually build up so that I have some sort of structure in place to get everything done that needs doing.


4. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

I won’t lie, my diet has been appalling in the last couple of months, and it’s another one of those vicious circles – when I’m feeling crappy, self-care gets pushed lower and lower in my list of priorities. Sort of tying into my previous point, my aim is to make meals and exercise some of my regular hit points in the week.

Did a gym. Wasn't very successful but at least I went, right?? #project365 #day62

A post shared by Lizzi Michael (@lizzimichael) on

It’s not just about diet and fitness though – I found the worse I felt, the less I was motivated to put on nice clothes and do my hair and makeup, just as I would if I was going to work – of course, it’s different for everyone, but I have really underestimated how much it makes me feel like more of a human being, and less like a zombie.

 


5. GET OUT OF THE FLAT

Sometimes the physical act of “going to work” is enough to put me in the mindset of getting some work done. I’m considering doing a “work from here” series on here to give me a real reason to get out and find new places to work from – but I know there are days when I’m a hell of a lot more productive when I’ve got out of my room and into a new environment. And if I can get a friend to come along with me, then even better (as proved by my accidental 6 hour stint in Leon with my friend Cat).


6. TAKE A DAMN BREAK

I’m definitely guilty of feeling guilty when I take a break. And by a break, I mean a not checking my emails, stepping away from my laptop and putting on a face mask kind of break. Not having office hours means its easy to spend hours and hours working ineffectively because I feel like I should always be working – but if stepping away from it all for a couple of hours every so often means that I do a few hours of really great work, then that’s a much better way to spend my time.

And it’s important to take full days off too – at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter when my “weekend” falls – but a couple of days a week where I don’t worry about work and just look after myself are so absolutely vital.


 

Right. This has been a long enough post – but I really hope that it’s either been helpful to someone, or that it’ll open up a conversation or two.  Because, like I’ve already said, talking is really fucking important. Please do comment, message me, tweet me, email me…whatever takes your fancy. This has been a scary thing for me to post, but an important one.

That’s it. Lizzi out.

 

 

 

A weekend in Paris

Some holidays are meant for sightseeing, but last weekend was all about seeing friends and just switching off from the outside world for a little bit.  Myself, Izzy and Cat have been friends for a good 6 years or so, but amazingly the three of us have never all been in the same place at the same time – until last weekend, that is!

We may have stayed in the most basic of hostels, but oh how we made up for the money we saved on our room with our trips to Sephora, the Disney Store and many a café or bistro.

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Three idiots in the tiniest of lifts.

Top pick of the weekend was The Tea Caddy – a tiny little tea shop that has firmly cemented itself as my-favourite-place-to-go-and-drink-tea-that-I’ll-never-be-able-to-visit-because-it’s-in-bloody-Paris.  It had a tea menu to rival YumChaa’s, and an aubergine and parmesan tart that was to die for. Seriously. I have had dreams about that tart.

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To offset the carbs on carbs that seemed to take over our diets for the weekend (I mean, can you imagine ordering bread and jam with a croissant for breakfast in London!?), we walked. And walked. And then walked a bit more, just for good measure…

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Took this before I noticed the “No Photos” sign. Oops?

I also discovered my new favourite bookshop – Shakespeare And Company (seriously, I need to stop discovering favourite places in Paris. It’s going to become a problem…) – and yes, I did snap a picture before I realised there were no photos signs everywhere. Not pictured: the gorgeously cosy reading rooms with old style typewriters upstairs, and the ridiculously cramped, seemingly endless shelves full of books.

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All things considered, we didn’t do anything particularly touristy – other than the obligatory trip to see the Eiffel Tower by night, and a walk along by the Seine. I didn’t fall in love with Paris in the same way I did with Copenhagen, that’s for sure – but I’d like to revisit properly and do the tourist thing a little more.  But you know what? I’ll make do with a weekend of laughter and just walking around with my friends, because something that’s just what life needs.

Getting the heck off Twitter

I haven’t been on my personal twitter since the 12th January, and for me that’s a very long time.

In the grand scheme of things, my personal twitter is pretty insignificant. I have 1000-odd followers – a mix of friends (old, new and former), ex-colleagues, people I’ve met along the way…and a good handful of others who have, for whatever reason, decided I’m worth following.  Little old me taking a big step back from twitter doesn’t have the impact that someone with more ‘influence’ will have, that’s for sure, but my 24 day absence has made me realise just how toxic it’s become.

Perhaps that comes across as a bit much, but hear me out here.

For me at least, twitter has always been a light-hearted platform, and for the 7 years I’ve been tweeting, the positive interactions have definitely far outweighed the negative. Despite that, however I’ve been feeling more and more unsure of how to approach something that was previously so effortless. Posting funny anecdotes and witty remarks doesn’t quite sit right with me at the minute, but equally I don’t want to get involved in the political side of things at this moment in time.

But it goes beyond overthinking what I tweet too. The general mood has switched from being (for the most part at least) lighthearted and friendly to a constant, 24/7 bombardment of scary, depressing news and pettiness – and that’s not a healthy place for anyone to hang around. It’s so easy to get sucked into it and keep reading more, clicking on another link or hashtag and ending up in a downward spiral of doom and gloom.

And so, with that in mind, I’m continuing my step back from twitter for a little while – either until things calm down a bit, or until I can figure out a way to turn it back into a balance between being a comfortable bubble where I can communicate with the people I like, and being a source of information about what’s going on in the wider world. Because whilst it’s important to be informed, it’s also important to be mindful of your own mental health and the effect that this constant stream of information can have.

It’s all summed up quite nicely (and terrifyingly) in this:

 

A selection of things I’ve actually done since quitting my job

A while back (read: almost 8 months ago) I wrote a silly little post called A selection of things I’ve considered since quitting my job.  Truth be told, I actually knew what I was planning on doing at the time, but wasn’t in the position to actually share it yet – so I figured I should kickstart my blogging again with an updated version.

So – here we go. A selection of things I’ve actually done since quitting my job. Turns out things weren’t as adventurous as I’d planned…and no, I didn’t get a tattoo!

  1. Started my own company. Yep. I did that.
  2. Lost about a stone and a half
  3. Signed up for an Odeon Limitless card
  4. Joined an orchestra
  5. Moved into a new flat with an old friend…but only a short distance from home
  6. Made a heck of a lot of new friends
  7. …and said goodbye to a couple of those friends as they moved back to their home countries
  8. Actually practiced my violin…and enjoyed it
  9. Found a better orchestra and joined that instead
  10. Started to seriously consider writing music again
  11. Met Rachel McAdams  (but failed to get a selfie)
  12. Saved up enough Boots advantage card points to get a fitbit
  13. Joined the local library
  14. Occasionally remembered I have this blog
  15. …and not written a single word for it since July. Oops?

 

Emotion dump // music.

Ooh, brace yourself. I think this is my most personal (and long-winded) post yet.

I used to channel my emotions and feelings into music. Something bothering me? Turn it into a tune. Something making me angry? Take it out on the piano. Feeling sad? Write it into some harmonies. Play some Debussy. Improvise something.

This was a habit for as long from pretty much as long ago as I can remember until about 5 or 6 years ago – although channeling my emotions into writing music was something I started doing when I was about 12 or 13.

I suppose it was a good way of getting those feelings and emotions out without having to vocalise them, but I still dealt with them in my own way. It was my form of therapy, my coping mechanism – and for the most part, it worked.

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When I stopped enjoying writing music, one of the ways of channeling my emotions was essentially closed off – but at that stage, I still had playing music for enjoyment going on.  When that stopped back in 2012, another way of channeling feelings was gone.

Not playing music still feels alien to me – it was a huge part of my life from the age of about 4 until I was around 22. Hell, it WAS my life. I have so many musical instruments around the house, and I barely touch them. I think there are even people in my life who don’t know I can play the violin and piano, can strum a few chords on a guitar or once had dreams of being a film music composer. And yet, because music was part of my life for most of my life, there’s a good handful of people who can’t get their heads around the fact that my work isn’t anything to do with music, or the music industry.

Sometimes I forget about it. Then I remember the joy I used to get out of playing violin in an orchestra, quartet or band and hearing the sounds come together. The thrill and adrenaline rush of hearing something I’d written being performed for the first time.  The excitement as I would hit on the right sounds to fit whatever was happening on screen.

Lately, it’s been bothering me more than ever that I don’t have that outlet anymore, and yet I physically don’t know how to write music anymore. People used to ask me how I did it, and now I really wish I knew the answer. Sometimes it frustrates me to the point that I want to scream, and yet the thought of actually trying to write anything absolutely terrifies me. I sort of touched on it back in 2014 in a post about creativity, and whilst I have found ways to be creative since then, they’ve all been a bit fleeting.

It’s something I know I need to get back to somehow – and I’m taking steps to try and get back to it. I sent out a couple of emails to orchestras to hopefully join, and maybe from there I can eventually get back to writing again. I do hope so. Ironically, I’m now surrounded by friends who are making short films, so I should be in the best position ever to be writing!

This post has mainly been a bit of a feelings dump for me, and maybe a bit of a motivator for myself to try and work this out, but if you’re still reading…here’s a piece of music I really like. I think I associate it with the time of my life when I was enjoying music the most – just before I went off to university. It never fails to make me cry, though.