Four ways to transform Monday into your favourite day

Ah, Monday. In the working world, it gets such a bad rap for being the start of the working week, that I thought I’d share some ways to make it better.

1. If you’re able to work flexi-time, go in later or finish earlier on Mondays. I changed my hours so I have Monday afternoons off and work longer days Tuesday to Friday and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

bloggingfromgarden

Blogging from the garden on a Monday afternoon in June.

2. Arrange regular Monday treats with colleagues or other self-employed people. A few of us at my day job meet regularly on Mondays for anything from full blown afternoon tea to a quick cuppa between meetings, and knowing I’m going to see these lovely sparkly ladies makes my whole week better!

3. Make Monday evening a night for dates or catch ups – so you can either spend quality time with your significant other, or catch up with friends (in person is brilliant, over Skype is perfectly acceptable – Contrariety Rose’s Louise and I often have wine nights over Skype!). The day goes faster if you’re looking forward to something in the evening, and you can plan your outfit in those really boring meetings.

4. Trying to escape the day job? Make Monday your Great Escape Plan day – commit to spending an amount of time each Monday working on the broader plan or picture. If you’ve not started something on the side yet, use the time for planning, self-development or training, and taking concrete baby steps towards your vision. If you have already started, promise yourself you’ll use that time solely for planning your next moves, not for doing client work or admin.

Four quick ways to turn Monday from blah to woohoo!

What’s your favourite? Do you have any other tips for making the start of the week better?

Dates with myself (try it, it might just change your life)

Way back when I was still working in London, I wrote about my spontaneous booking of tickets to see the English National Ballet and Flawless at the Hammersmith Apollo.

date1

There wasn’t anyone immediately available who I particularly wanted to join me, so I took myself. It was a Friday night, and my colleagues thought I was crazy and a little tragic. I may even have thought that myself for about five minutes after I left the office.

And then I realised, it wasn’t tragic, it was wonderful. The feeling of independence of doing something typically associated with group or couple outings by myself was incredible. It’s also very freeing not to have any expectations around an event or place – you don’t have to comment on it, or work around anyone else’s plans or needs – you can simply be, and absorb, and enjoy (and eat cake).

date2

And so I’ve carried on having dates with myself when I feel the need to recharge my creative and emotional batteries.

I’ve been to gardens, museums, galleries, parks, coffee shops, restaurants, talks, all sorts. Often I’ll discover it for the first time with someone, and return on my own to appreciate it properly.

It doesn’t have to be a day out, either. Sometimes I’ll go and visit a particular shop I love, or I’ll spend an afternoon scrapbooking, delving into memories.

I might go horse riding, skating or simply sit with a slice of something sweet and watch the world go by.

It’s not always educational and it’s not always obviously connected with anything – but I always, always feel refreshed, motivated and more me when I return. Whether it’s a whole weekend or just half an hour, it helps.

date3

I found Julia Cameron’s “Artist Date” concept via Leonie Dawson this morning, which seems to describe my dates with myself fairly accurately, and as this post was already brewing I thought it was a good sign that I should get on and write it already.

So who’s with me? Julia suggests weekly – I don’t have a schedule, but find I’m drawn to doing things alone whenever I need to recharge, which could be at any interval from a couple of days to a few months.

Whether you’re single or partnered up, a parent or child-free, see if you can find time this week to try it. There are some great suggestions at The Artist’s Way but feel free to choose anything at all to do – something you are drawn to.

The only rule is that you do it solo.

And then let me know how you got on!

This post first appeared on Ducking Fabulous

On dealing with sadness – remember yourself

While seeking solace for an unexpected sadness recently, I came across Rebelle Society’s wonderful advice for a broken heart.

My heart is not broken, merely bruised; my pride is dented, but intact. I know this because I know how it feels to have your heart shattered into a million pieces and each individual piece trampled on over a period of time. I remember what it felt like to lose someone I truly loved… and though I am sad, I know this is not that same broken feeling. Though I cared more than a little, it was never meant to be a long term thing.

lavender

Reading it, surrounded by the kind words and happy wishes,  hilarious observations and unicorn pictures from my beyond amazing friends and family, I began to remember other things, too.

I remember how much I treasure my solitude and my ability to be happy alone.

I remember how lucky I am to have friends and family who see through my insecurities to the beacon of light underneath. They know me even better than I know myself, and they guide me back to myself when I lose my way.

I remember fleeting and enduring passions – for horses, skating, sewing and more.

I remember the feeling of freedom and independence that was hiding under the longing to belong.

I remember that I do belong, many times over, with the people who accept me and love me exactly as I am.

I remember that friendship (with people and with animals) is the most precious thing in the world.

I remember that once, from the depths of darkness, a newer, happier version of me emerged. Though I am nowhere near darkness from this particular episode, I am still excited to leap forward into the next edition of myself.

And along with the remembering, I realised that I have, in the last few years, been building not just a lifestyle but also myself.

Of course I have grieved, I have been sad. But I can feel myself already leaving the disappointment behind and bounding forward into another phase of my life.

What do you remember when you need to reconnect with yourself? What gets you through periods of sadness?

 

photo credit: Chris Gin via photopin cc | This post first appeared on Letters from my Twenties.

Trade show adventures at London Edge

Most of you will know that I’ve shared my entrepreneurial journey with Louise of Contrariety Rose. While I took a while to find my ‘thing’ (or several things as it turns out), she’s always had a way with fabric and a passion for pin up clothing. So it was only natural that her label should develop in that direction.

Last week we headed up to Olympia to exhibit at London Edge, a trade show for alternative, rockabilly, goth and pin up fashion (which would have been our idea of heaven even if we hadn’t been exhibitors, to be fair).

It was great fun, absolutely knackering and I had surprisingly little time to take photos – but here are a few pics from the week.

Lou with her stand after setup:

lou-set-up

Our apartment (SO much nicer than a hotel – doing this again next time I go anywhere) and all three of my drinks on Saturday night – I’m so rock & roll!

 apt-1 evening-drinks

Me looking cheesy in front of the stand on the Sunday:

carla-on-stand

Catching up in the evening with Diablo Rose and Lynsey Le Keux of Le Keux events and cosmetics, and Courtney from Silly Old Sea Dog…

  lekeux sillyseadog

And finally, me with a Balloonicorn (no, I have no idea what one is either), the iPad with a mailing list I set up (I was proud) and Lou and I on the stand complete with vintage hair.

balloonicorn ipad lou-carla-stand

We met some brilliant people among other exhibitors and visitors to the show, felt like Olympia was home for a few days and I learned masses about wholesale too, while reigniting my longing for colour in my hair again.

It was a really good experience as a small business owner myself, to make connections and see how this kind of thing works. Because then if I ever find myself at some kind of web designers’ convention, I can at least pack a pretty dress and a typewriter! 

You can find Louise and buy Contrariety Rose’s latest collection and a selection of her previous ones at Contrariety Rose.

Personality types and individuality

Yesterday, I was at an all-day workshop on the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (MBTI). If you have no idea what this is, here’s a brief overview (courtesy of Wikipedia, of course). Essentially, it allows you to identify your personality and the way you approach the world, prefer to work and take in information by a series of questions and exercises, after which you get four letters which identify your type.

large_10307084714

photo credit: c_thylacine via photopin cc

I’m not going to give you a psychology lesson, but in Myers Briggs and Jungian terms, an extravert (the “E” in the four letter type identity) derives energy from others, from being around people, and an introvert (the “I” in the letters) needs time and space away from other people to process the world and their thoughts. However, I had understood the terms previously as they are commonly used (extravert = confident and happy, introvert = shy and terrified), rather than their actual definitions.

A really key underpinning idea is that of preference. So we have an innate preference for a particular side, but can and do work to varying degrees of success in the other side’s mode.

When I first did the test, while trying to leave the London job, I tested as ENFP. Over the past two years, my preferences have shifted as my real self has come out to play, and I now usually test INFP.

I had mixed feelings about this, as I didn’t immediately identify as an introvert. However, the more I’ve learned about it, the more I’ve come to embrace the fact that I’m simply an introvert who really likes people and talking, but needs that time and space away from the world to recharge my batteries.

(more…)

[reading] away with the fairies

Wanton Fairies, by the incredibly talented Catherine Daniel and Rosie Lee, is one of the very loveliest books I’ve read in a long time.

Do you believe in fairies? Even if you don’t, you’ll find yourself keeping an eye on your garden after reading this. The Wanton Fairies are just that – naughty, risque, real and hilarious, and beautifully captured in delightful words and glorious illustration.

elderberry fairy

I’m a fairy fanatic, so it was a natural choice for me. It would make the most wonderful Christmas present for anyone with imagination, wonder and who’s never quite stopped believing in fairies. Or anyone who needs a cheeky reminder that they very much do.

fairy

It’s an e-book (all the better to take with me on journeys and amble through at impromptu moments, and perked up the old London commute no end) but I’d adore a printed version too. So if any of you know any fairy-friendly publishers, let me know!

Go on – make someone’s day with these irreverent lovelies!

You can find the Wanton Fairies:
At wantonfairies.co.uk, on Twitter, and you can buy the ebooks here. Photos courtesy of Wanton Fairies 😉

Happy fairy spotting!

[blogging] a liebster award, and some questions

Lovely Kathryn at the brilliant The Business of Introverts has nominated me for a Liebster blog award, which is rather happy-making 🙂

The idea is that:

1. You choose a few young and evolving blogs that you love and believe in to receive the Liebster Award (which is simply like a stamp of approval from one blog to another)

2. You write a blog post stating that you are nominating them and asking them to answer 10 questions of your choosing (this is that post!)

3. They write a post on their own blog answering the questions and nominating more blogs for the award

I’m passionate about blogs and one of my very favourite things is finding new ones to read… so here goes with my answers to Kathryn’s questions:

1. Why did you decide to start your blog?

I’ve been blogging for just over eight years and I started my very first one to record my life at university, accompanied by two tiny rubber ducks called Freddie and Frankie. It’s a way of keeping track of some of my life – a journal and guidebook all rolled into one!

2. What’s your favourite season and why?

Spring! I love the feeling of newness as we emerge from winter, lush greens all around and the bracing fresh air, with sunshine and a promise of summer to come.

3. What is the last great book you read?

I am in the middle of re-reading for the umpteenth time, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’m on book eight of fourteen and as always, I’m so hooked that the stories and characters are weaving themselves into my dreams. I’m a complete WoT addict, so much so that my 18th birthday present from my parents was a gold ring I’d designed, taking strong inspiration from the series.

4. What 3 things would you take to a desert island?

This is such a tough question! First up, Larry the lamb – I’ve had him since birth and he’d be a great comfort if I was alone on said island. Secondly, a boxed set series of the aforementioned Wheel of Time – they would at least keep me occupied. Thirdly, a never-ending notebook and a pen with everlasting ink (you didn’t say I had to stay realistic!) so I could get my jumble of thoughts and experiences down onto paper.

5. Name 3 people that have inspired you

You don’t make these questions easy, do you Kathryn?! Ok so firstly my parents, for living all over the world before that was a normal thing to do, for starting a business at nearly 60 and for learning and changing with the times and not being set in their ways like so many of their generation. They’ve set me a brilliant example.

Next up, one of my best friends, the genius behind Contrariety Rose – for having the guts to quit her day job and focus on developing her own indie fashion label. She has the most determination and focus of anyone I’ve ever met and I admire her for it every day.

And lastly (though by no means least, and by no means the only other person I admire – this list could go on for aeons), a newer but no less treasured friend, Rachael, who was brave enough to listen to her instincts, move to the other side of the country and start a whole new life over there. I’m proud and in awe all at once!

(more…)

On the hunt for unicorns

Things have been a bit quiet over here on the blog, while I’ve been having creative block and lots of ideas all at the same time. Which is something of a weird situation, it has to be said – I have notebooks and word documents bursting with ideas, but was stalling on knowing what to do with them.

However, through the haze, one idea has taken shape and become clearer… (my apologies for the terrible quality of the pic – I will endeavour to replace it when the light is better)

unicorn

Yup, I’m going unicorn hunting. (armed only with a camera and notebook, I don’t want to hurt them!!)

Those of you who knew or followed me before Ducking Fabulous was born, when I was blogging but not here, may remember some musings back in 2009 about a camper van trip across the UK.

Now, while I’m certainly still intending to convert my own camper at some point, currently I don’t have the time, space or money to start on that particular project. But it has come up in several conversations recently, and I also unearthed, entirely by accident, the original itinerary and route I’d put together for the first one.

You may also have noticed that unicorns have become my thing. Not intentionally, but I’ve always been fascinated with faeries, unicorns and all things mystical and magical. (yes, I know this blog is called Ducking Fabulous. I like ducks too. I’ll find a duck with a unicorn horn. Maybe.)

The British Isles are heaving with magic and myth, with unicorns and dragons and castles. I want to document the stories in words and photographs, a legacy of magic woven throughout our islands.

For the first time in some time, my day job is one I have no wish to leave. So while I won’t be taking a year off to travel, I don’t want to put off the trip until I a) have a camper van and b) can do the whole trip all in one go.

And so I will shortly embark on a series of journeys in my beloved Poppy, and occasionally by train. Hunting the mythical, magical tales of Britain, and maybe beyond.

I hope you’ll join me on that journey?

(I’ll probably set up a separate site for the trip when I decide on a final name for it – I’ll post the link when I have it. For now, my writing will continue to live here!)

[personal development] what do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year?

I spent some of my lunch hour today listening to this video interview.   As I’ve also been reading The Creative Habit and the Happiness Project, it’s all clunking into place rather nicely.

The video sparked me into thinking – what do I want to be able to say about myself a year from now? What do I want my daily life to look like, what do I want my habits and routines to be, what kind of a person do I want to have become in that time?

every-day-matters

To become a pro at anything is as much about mindset change and daily routines as anything else, and the gist of the interview is that in order to do this, you need to change your existing and new habits from amateur ones into professional ones. Keep going through adversity and crap. Don’t let life get in the way of your goals.

Twyla Tharp advocates morning rituals to get you going for the day, among other things, and as I find mornings the hardest part of the day, I’ve been pondering what I could do to make them better, more joyful and to set me up better for the day.

Now I find my thoughts going further than just the morning. Without taking on so many commitments that I get overwhelmed and give up, what can I commit to changing? Writing every day? A photograph every day? Getting up by a certain time so I can accomplish these things and better self-care (like actually eating breakfast)?

It’s certainly made me consider what I do every day in a new light. I shall continue to ponder and blog my specific changes when they’re a little clearer in my mind. Right now they’re a confused blur of DO ALL THE THINGS BUT BETTER…

What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year’s time?

Further reading:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Image credit – Ducking Fabulous / Letters from my Twenties

What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year?

I spent some of my lunch hour today listening to this video interview.   As I’ve also been reading The Creative Habit and the Happiness Project, it’s all clunking into place rather nicely.

The video sparked me into thinking – what do I want to be able to say about myself a year from now? What do I want my daily life to look like, what do I want my habits and routines to be, what kind of a person do I want to have become in that time?

every-day-matters

To become a pro at anything is as much about mindset change and daily routines as anything else, and the gist of the interview is that in order to do this, you need to change your existing and new habits from amateur ones into professional ones. Keep going through adversity and crap. Don’t let life get in the way of your goals.

Twyla Tharp advocates morning rituals to get you going for the day, among other things, and as I find mornings the hardest part of the day, I’ve been pondering what I could do to make them better, more joyful and to set me up better for the day.

Now I find my thoughts going further than just the morning. Without taking on so many commitments that I get overwhelmed and give up, what can I commit to changing? Writing every day? A photograph every day? Getting up by a certain time so I can accomplish these things and better self-care (like actually eating breakfast)?

It’s certainly made me consider what I do every day in a new light. I shall continue to ponder and blog my specific changes when they’re a little clearer in my mind. Right now they’re a confused blur of DO ALL THE THINGS BUT BETTER…

What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year’s time?

Further reading:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Image credit – Ducking Fabulous / Letters from my Twenties

Freedom, adventure and location independence

Freedom. It’s a very loaded word, particularly for me as a twentysomething single female. With total freedom, in theory I can do anything, go anywhere, be anyone I want – something that is less accessible to those with responsibilities like houses, children, mortgages.

And yet my definition of freedom in business isn’t necessarily what people expect. Sure, I love to travel (particularly if horses are involved)– but what I want is freedom in terms of time and schedule, and where I am isn’t overly relevant.

horse galloping on beachphoto credit: Gastev via photopin cc

To me, it looks like this:

… dictating my own hours and planning my own day. So if I want to work till 4am then sleep in till 11 the next day, I can, without having to phone someone to explain or call in sick

… a steady passive income, so I can develop the next projects and stages of my work without stressing about money

… time and space to pursue my non-business interests, both those that already exist and those that I fancy trying on a whim

… complete autonomy on decision making for my business, with other entrepreneurial friends around if I need to consult them, but without having to defer to someone else for a final decision (this is one of the things that makes me happiest about Ink Drops – Annastasia and I are so much on the same wavelength that we often don’t need to consult each other about decisions, we just make them)

How I see location independence is also different from the standard view, I think. For me it’s all about freedom (there’s that word again!) of choice.

…not being tied to a desk, a physical meeting schedule or someone else’s timetable, but free to choose when and where I work from. After all, there’s no place like home!

…more often than not, I believe my perfect choice of workspace would be my studio at home, filled with all the things that make me happy, or a couple of local haunts with wifi where I love to work when I have the time.

… to be able to travel around the UK and also the world in short bursts, without having to leave my business behind or hand it over to someone else while I’m away

In short, to work from anywhere I choose even if that choice is my own living room… that’s what location independence means to me.

Part of the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This was my 300th post on Ducking Fabulous, which made me happy and astounded in equal measure. Thank you for being along for the ride – here’s to the next 300 posts!

Onto today’s actual subject… Natalie Sisson is running a 30 day blog challenge over on the Suitcase Entrepreneur. Today’s question – If you woke up tomorrow and were free to do anything you wanted with your life, what would you do and who would you be?

What would I do, who would I be? What do I really want to do?

Once, I’d have said have a horse, and to dance. That was more or less the sum total of what I dreamed of.

Now? Now my dreams are more wide ranging. I’m achieving or on the road to achieving many of them, I’m happy with where I am and I have absolute belief that the others will happen somehow, someday.

But right now, if I could genuinely do anything I wanted? I’d…

… buy somewhere beautiful to live, in the countryside, with a kitchen big enough for a squidgy sofa, lots and lots of windows and light, space for crafting and photography and a huge garage/workshop for my fleet of beloved vehicles

…open it as a retreat to friends and family and likeminded souls who need to get their breath back from life, or who want to kickstart their own creativity

…have a camper van for weekends and a caravan in the garden as an extra spare room/studio

… surround myself with the animal companions I adore – horses, dogs and the occasional unicorn

… regularly travel somewhere warm – I love the seasons in the UK, and wouldn’t change my homeland for anything. But during the depths of winter, I often feel like I’ll never be warm again. The luxury of being able to feel sunshine whenever you fancy it is incomparable.

…ride out over the countryside daily

…write, photograph, dance, create at my own pace, in my own time, in my own space

…there would be a river at the bottom of the garden where my narrowboat lives

…and work wise, I’d help people along the journey to self-employment. The fiddly practical bits and the dreamy planning bits; the awkward conversations with friends & family and the incredible feeling of belonging when you find your tribe.

What would you do? What do you dream of?