How to Live a More Simple Life

I’ve had a busy week / few weeks / month seems to be a staple sentence within a number of my blog posts. It’s isn’t an exaggeration as it’s rare that I get a long period of uninterrupted time to myself, and when I have logged off on a Friday night my brain has often felt more than a little fuzzy. However, being busy doesn’t equate to stress in the way it did when I was teaching – I’m lucky in that a lot of the things that I do and experience during each week vary widely and are usually lots of fun – but over recent months I have been trying to consciously trying to take steps to make life more simple. I have created lots of habits individually which I have blogged about over a period of time, but even just focusing on one of these could make a large amount of difference to your stress levels.
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The Challenges of Being an Extroverted Introvert

The Challenges of Being an Extroverted Introvert

I’ve touched on the notion of having an extroverted introvert temperament in previous posts, but I’ve become more aware of the traits associated with this over the last few years.

Stereotypically, introverts prefer calmer environments, find socialising particularly draining and often need time alone to recharge and regain their energy. Introverts are often self aware and learn through the observation of others. Extroverts, on the other hand, often try to seek social stimulation and engagement with others and are characteristically talkative, assertive and excitable. They are excellent communicators within larger groups and enjoy being the centre of attention.

Of course, both are extremes and many people fall somewhere between the two categories. Extroverted introverts, or ambiverts, can generally be found within the middle of the spectrum, but with so many contradictory personality and social traits it’s a rather confusing place to be for both the individual and their friends.
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Visiting Guy’s Cliffe House: A Hidden Gem in Warwick

Visiting Guy's Cliffe House in Warwick

The Bloke and I recently had a rare opportunity to explore Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick. It is rarely available to public viewing, so when we saw that it was open for its Heritage Open Day (and on a stunningly beautiful day) we were really excited about it.

Guy’s Cliffe House is a Grade II listed building that stands on an artificially levelled terrace above a north-facing cliff. At the present most of the house is in ruins and unsuitable to walk through, with only the Grade II listed chapel and service quarters in use.

From humble beginnings as a secluded place of worship in the 5th century, the house has grown and changed with numerous additions in different styles. Sir Guy of Warwick reputably died in ‘Guy’s Cave’ in 970AD,’ and King Henry V ordered the establishment of a chapel in the 15th century. It has been owned by Plantation Owner Samuel Greatheed – Member of Parliament for Coventry – and later by the Heber-Percy family, it was used as a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in the First World War and  as a Boys Home by the Waifs and Strays Society during the Second World War… It is currently owned by the Freemasons and preserved by the Friends of Guy’s Cliffe Society. Continue reading

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Where do you take a Canadian Coronation Street fan when she visits for a few days?

The Coronation Street Set Tour at Media City in Salford.

Obviously.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not a fan of the show, but Elena Peters is. However, the show has always been a huge part of northern identity, and being from the north has always been something I’m incredibly proud of, and she’s always asking me to send pictures whenever I go to Manchester. Before the set was moved to Media City it was situated at Granada Studios in the centre of Manchester and I remember doing the tour then with my family, so I was interested to see how it now looked in a new location, and I was excited to see Elena’s reaction when she saw the set for the first time.

The Coronation Street Tour is a guided tour of the outdoor working set. Tickets are only available at weekends for a limited time and need to be booked in advance. Continue reading

Theatre, Abstract Art and a Hidden Gem

I often equate a lot of the experiences and opportunities that The Bloke and I have to  being at a bus stop… you wait for ages and then three buses all turn up at the same time.

The latter half of last week was exactly that.

On Wednesday we went to see the fabulous 9 to 5 musical at the Alexandra Theatre. What I didn’t include in my review was that we also went to the after party, during which we had the opportunity to meet the cast. I managed to have a little chat with Louise Redknapp, who was lovely and utterly stunning in person (and she hasn’t aged since the 90’s), and get a quick pic with Amber Davis. It was a weird experience – I knew that the show was coming up so I made The Bloke watch the season of Love Island that she was on so he knew who she was, but she looked completely different in person. I’m awkward at the best of times, but when you’re surrounded by incredibly talented individuals that you’ve just seen perform on stage is a little intimidating!  Continue reading

9 to 5 at the Alexandra Theatre

Yesterday The Bloke and I went to see 9 to 5 the Musical at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham.

Based on the 1980 hit American comedy movie, 9 to 5 tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy – three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. Concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor after he blackmails them, will the ladies manage to reform their office – or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit? While the film was released nearly forty years ago, many of the issues highlighted are still a prominent part of social commentary, particularly on the topics of equal pay and roles and treatment of women in the workplace.

Louise Redknapp as Violet Photo by Simon Turtle

Louise Redknapp plays Violet, a smart and ambitious senior office administrator and widow who is overlooked for a promotion in favour of a man that she trained. She is absolutely perfect for the role – strong, confident and self-assured with a beautiful voice and a presence onstage that demonstrates why she has had such a long and successful career as a performer.

She is joined by Amber Davis in the role of Judy, who has been forced to find a job for the first time after her husband has left her for his secretary. Made famous by her appearance in Love Island, I was admittedly a little dubious about the casting choice, but she quickly dispelled any doubts with a truly incredible performance – sweet, funny and making her own way in a new world, Davis has an absolutely sensational voice. Continue reading

Step By Step

On the 1st January I decided to work on Step One of the next part of my blogging journey, which would eventually lead to Step Two much later on. Neither Step One nor Step Two are actually needed if I’m honest, but I have seen how much more successful Step Two is once Step One has been established for a while. I was quite excited about it – I created a whole bunch of ideas of how I could build on it to make it beneficial…

…and then proceeded to ignore it.

It has been weighing on me for a while, getting heavier each day, so this morning I woke up to the dark and rain outside, had a little tantrum to myself and decided that if I achieved nothing else today, I would do this ONE THING. Just one. Continue reading

Creating a Manual Pinning Strategy on Pinterest

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission should you click through and make a purchase.

One of my big blogging regrets is the number of years that I avoided using Pinterest to help bring referrals to my posts. Pinterest is my favourite part of my daily checklist and is now the primary resource of traffic referrals, bringing in tens of thousands of views with minimal effort. I’ve even been able to expand this further and incorporate it into my Social Media Management Services – growing and developing the Pinterest accounts of others.

This is nothing in comparison to Pinterest Queen Elena Peters, who has harnessed the power of Pinterest to gain over 100,000 views a month, grow her followers in her first year alone on Pinterest from 0 to 12,000 (she now has over 23,000) and increasing her impressions to almost 3 million a month. In her first year she was able to reach one million total views on her blog and quit her job to blog full-time, continuing to earn a steady income from ads due to the high volume of traffic that Pinterest sends her every single month!

I’ve learned a lot from both her blog and in discussions with her about what she does, and now she can help you too! Continue reading

The Best Business Lunch Ever

Last month I took on a new client. I started her fitness class a few weeks before and we became friends, and this led to me helping her to develop her artwork and courses. 

The other day she invited me round to her house after the morning aerobics session for a business lunch to discuss areas of focus in September. She has a beautiful painting studio at the bottom of her (equally beautiful) garden and I was treated to a look through her artwork and sketchbooks, which are gorgeous. I’ve always admired that sort of creativity and her abstract style is one of my favourites, so it was nice to sit and go through ideas in the morning sun. 

However, what started as a business discussion turned into several hours of just enjoying being in her company, snapchatting her cat who was busy stalking squirrels from the fence, eating a rather tasty lunch and admiring the sunflowers on her table. 

Definitely the best way to spend the day!

Taking the Blogging High Road

‘When they go low, we go high…’

It’s become somewhat of a slogan for Michelle Obama, who first used the phrase during an incredible speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention – taking the high road and doing the right thing, even when it isn’t easy. 

While Michelle may be able to rise above it, I (however much I admire her), still find it one of the most difficult things to do. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on… well, I won’t have forgotten what you did the first time so you won’t get the chance to even think of fooling me again. 

I’m admittedly highly strung, easily rattled and have become more outspoken – even more so as I age – and as a result I find it enormously frustrating to have to keep my mouth shut and walk away when I see something that I believe to be untrue or unfair. Now that I’m self-employed I have to regularly check myself in what and how I say things because essentially, I’m on my own. 

Unfortunately, especially when working online, a thick skin and the ability to take the high road is part of the job description. It’s a confusing world to be a part of – particularly in the fact that every aspect of content creation and interaction has the ability to be edited to show the best possible side to a potential audience. This seemingly deceptive nature of blogging and accompanying false sense of security and anonymity that a computer screen provides enables a person to say whatever they want, whenever they want, often without the same fear of consequence or reciprocation that they would be held accountable for in the real world. The longer you inhabit the online world, the more common it is to witness and potentially get sucked into the self-entitlement, angst and outrage that populates the blogosphere and social media platforms on a daily basis. In fact, there are entire blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to it – ‘Drama’ content that focuses on the quarrels and spats going on between influencers. Continue reading