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.

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?

 

30 Reasons Not To Hand In A Bibliography

Usually, Facebook memories just reminds me of regrettable hairstyles (blonde was not my colour…), embarrassing statuses and friends I haven’t spoken to in years.

Today, it’s reminded me of something very, very different – a quite spectacular bit of procrastination from my final year of my undergraduate degree. (Though I say so myself)

So for those of you who are currently mid-dissertation, essay or other such deadline, here is are 30 perfectly valid reasons not to hand in a bibliography, as written by myself and a friend. (Facebook memories didn’t help me with which friend…).  Some of these are quite music-specific, and a couple of the jokes are ever so slightly 2010. But the message is still there…somewhere.

1) I have a severe allergy to bibliographies.

2) All things relating to Harvard Referencing are against my religious beliefs.

3) My newly upgraded computer software is not coping well from running all the programs required for your essay and this bibliography will push it over the edge.

4) I’m going mad from trying to reference the MILLIONS of sources I used, because I spent hours and hours and HOURS researching, and there’s just too many to list.

5) I’m a keen environmentalist and consider it a horrendous waste of paper to print a bibliography due to the unnecessary effects on planet earth.

6) I’m a socialist, and don’t want to give these damn writers any more bloody publicity. They get paid enough.

7) I had one sheet of paper left, and I needed it to write a letter to Obama.

8) I have attached it…it’s written in invisible ink.

9) An evil villain hijacked my printer, and in order to secure public safety I had to take on  some serious negotiations. This eventually led to a return of the piece of paper, but said villain kept the words that were written on it. It was for the good of the human race, though…

10) Turns out my room is actually the TARDIS. The I stepped inside it, I was transported back to three years before recordings were first made, therefore there were no books available on how recordings have changed music. Or about a piece of music written in 2002. Therefore I used all my prior knowledge, and have only just managed to get back to the present day.

11) Jack Black turned up and urgently needed my musical talent and skill to play in Battle Of The Bands and I felt it was necessary for the purposes of Sticking It To The Man which is a cause I have always been a strong advocate of and besides I only just got back and didn’t really have any time anyway.

12) I DID write a bibliography, but on my way to uni I was attacked by a goat. Turns out this goat had a preference for pieces of paper with bibliographies written on them. It was my bibliography or my composition, so naturally I chose to save the composition.

13) Computer says no.

14) I had a vision from God in which he commanded me not to write this bibliography because it is a sin and I would otherwise burn in hell for the rest of eternity.

15) I went with Busted to the Year 3000 and saw that bibliographies were obsolete, therefore it made logical sense to adapt to the way of the future.

16) I got an anonymous letter saying an anonymous donor would give £10million to the university if I didn’t write a bibliography. I wouldn’t want to deny you that possibility. Sadly I can’t show you the letter as it self-destructed 20 seconds after I read it…

17) I’m actually quite close friends with Harry Potter and he needed me to help fight Voldemort. Order of the Phoenix business….

18) I’m secretly a superhero and you were urgently required to go fight some crime and I’m kinda like Birmingham’s Batman, so I couldn’t say no…

19) “Bibliography? You didn’t say please, and I find your lack of manners objectionable.”

20) Your mum has it.

21) I already gave it in *Jedi wave*

22) I’m a ninja. You say the word bibliography again, or question the lack of it and….well, just look out is all I can say….

23) …yeah you heard me. Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry… *insert rapid transformation of Hulk-like proportions*

24) My boyfriend’s a werewolf. You know how they change if they experience strong emotions? Well, he has VERY strong emotions when it comes to bibliographies and Harvard referencing, so every time I print one, he changes and it’s just putting my life at risk really…

25) …and then my crazy vampire ex is going to come back and try to kill him which will involve serious liaisons with legal teams and law enforcement agencies not to mention adding to the vampire-werewolf rift which a bit on the rocks as it is.

26) I feel it’s an invasion of privacy to ask which books I’ve read and which websites I’ve been on in relation to this essay.

27) I was going to do my bibliography, but then I saw the weather forecast for more HEAVY snow on Wednesday. The thought of more snow, especially after last week’s snow-related events, sent me into a downward emotional spiral and I was therefore unable to do my bibliography .

28) I had to remove all traces of my physical and cyber whereabouts due to government surveillance because I’m secretly the Hulk / Birmingham Batman / I have a vampire ex / werewolf boyfriend / because of the villain etc etc

29) Ohhh no. Didn’t you hear? Bibliographies are actually illegal, anyone found writing them will be sentenced to at least 30 years in jail and a lifetime’s ban from music…

30) “Ah. I thought you might ask about that. I have decided, that should you want to know which books and websites I used, I would present it to you in the form of interpretive dance….”

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