I am writing this today to appeal to every person who has the label 'feminist' in their social media. I'm writing to the women who pose in slogan tshirts to demonstrate their belief in feminism. I am writing to anyone who used the phrase "May we know them, May we be them, May we Raise them" on International Women's Day. Please speak up. Speak in a way that works for you but please, do not fall silent having expressed how you cried at the #hometovote hashtag. Your influence is what is needed on the back of the repeal outcome.Read More
This month's podcast guest is Kristabel Plummer, the writer and creator behind the fashion, travel & lifestyle blog iwantyoutoknow.
“It’s ok to be figuring stuff out. It’s ok to be a bit awkward. It’s ok to not know what you’re doing” - Kristabel PlummerRead More
It's Sunday and once again I'm sat, music on (today Nina is telling me birds are flying high for those interested) and I'm gathering my thoughts. I've realised I always want to blog on Sundays lately. It's possibly because I take most of my photos at the weekend and have time to think outside of the frantic busy pace of the working week. I can't help but feel there's something else at play here though. There's something to be said about giving yourself time to think about what you want to share with the world.
That's what got me thinking about Slow Blogging. Slow Blogging is a movement to reclaim these online spaces and share thoughtful posts that we feel more invested in. When you blog or work in an industry that exists predominantly online, it can feel like you must keep up with the fast pace with which your creations are consumed. Bigger follower numbers, regular blog posts, new images and quick fire Twitter chats seem vital to your continued success. The level of burn out I see from people who lose themselves to beating the stats is so heartbreaking.
Yet, I've noticed something lately that gives me cheer. The content getting the deepest interaction and engagement, is the content telling the most heartfelt stories. I'm not necessarily talking about huge emotional moments, more a sense of investment from the person publishing the blog post or image. I sense that the online world has started to hit 'Peak Click' and now we are looking to root our experiences in real life too. Events and gatherings springing up from online hangouts are happening with more frequency. Also I'm fairly sure that the posts that go viral lately are those which speak to us as people not consumers.
Is it just me?
It's meant that I'm really looking forward to the next workshop I'm teaching in a week at A Yarn Story in Bath. We'll be exploring how to tell your story online if you're a creative business owner or blogger. There's a few spaces left and I would love to sit and hear what makes you tick as a creative person and then help you to get that story online.
It's not about stats and it's time we stopped being consumed by them. I understand it's frustrating to feel there's a vast echo of nothing when you post and believe me, I've caught myself feeling like I need to churn out content for the sake of keeping my voice heard. What I'm advocating is a gentle storytelling combined with some serious reflection about what you truly want to achieve. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive. My own experience has been that Slow Blogging builds an audience much more effectively. I love to see regular commenters and chat on Twitter with people reacting to what I've chosen to share. It feels more like a flow of conversation between long distance friends.
If you would like to join us to think about how you're presenting your story online, you can join us at 10 am on Saturday 6th February 2016. All details can be found on A Yarn Story's website here, including tickets.
If you want to read more about what others have to say about the Slow Blogging movement, you can find some thought provoking posts pinned on my Pinterest board, Love your Blog. If it has struck a chord, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
A few months ago I fell madly, deeply in love.
Armed with cameras and a tent, my friend and I took ourselves off for a creative retreat that changed my life forever. You can prepare for lots of things on a trip away but life changing love isn't one of them.
Tucked into the Dorset coastline I found myself desperate to escape London. This wasn't a new feeling. I'd been feeling smothered by the noise, the smell and taste of my city for such a long time. I found the fast pace stifling and the seriousness with which everything was treated just made me crave my knitting basket and a good audio book. I wasn't enjoying London and suddenly in that weekend was another life, a life full of possibility and joy.
I tried to make other options work and I tried hard to bury the craving for big open skies and vast coastal walks. I heard the call of the sea and listened, hoping it wasn't going to make me wild with need. Yet every few weeks I found myself jumping in a car and travelling down to breathe it all in. Then something amazing happened: I found a cottage. Or rather, someone found me, saw my need and offered me a route in.
Overnight everything changed and I started putting in place the things that needed to happen to take my daughter and I from a gritty city post code to a thatched home tucked into a my beloved coastline. Our cottage won't be ready until early Summer but I knew my path so in the last month I found a temporary place, canceled the alternative relocation plans and enrolled Little One in a preschool she can thrive in.
Decisions that involve massive change are never easy and yet somehow, this one burst from within me. I needed it. I needed to feel the land sweep away to join vast open skies and I needed to tell my stories to the sea everyday. I knew I was on the right path despite the overwhelming pressure not to make a mistake that comes from having a young daughter who you are raising on your own.
So the reason there's been no podcast and very limited blogging is because I've jumped and have been focusing on getting us settled. I've landed and I can honestly say, I have no regrets. Right now a storm is making the power flicker and the internet speed is patchy as hell but you know what? I'm going to make it work.
Sometimes the rewards are greater than the fear of the jump.
Sometimes you thank your lucky stars that you're a risk taker.
I'm not too sure what lies ahead at this point. I'll still be snapping, writing and providing business support. I'll play around with the podcast soon and see how things upload. I'll blog, I'm sure of it because it feels good to record this change.
Bear with me. Love is an overwhelming feeling. And I'm so very glad to feel it.
Announcing a Special Workshop for Bloggers and Creative Business Owners!
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting to Carmen from local yarn store, A Yarn Story. We were pondering the dilemma of work life balance when you're self employed and how to put your best foot forward online. Whether it's keeping up (or not) with a blog, doing your accounts or growing a real life local community, it can all feel a bit frantic.
We hatched a plan
On Tuesday 13th October you can join Carmen and I at her store in bath for a 2 hour workshop aimed at Bloggers and Creative Business owners. The focus will be positive and creative (as always), but also provide lots of practical tips and tricks to try afterwards. During the workshop we will cover:
- Finding your voice online
- Branding vs story telling
- How to create an engaged community
- A look at social media platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter (and others if people wish)
- Newsletters for business
- Blogging and working with bloggers
- Collaborating and developing a support network
- Measuring impact
- Maintaining balance and focus
The session runs from 5.30- 7.30pm with half an hour Q&A afterwards. The session will be a mix of hands on or worked examples with some information sharing by myself. We've also allowed for a little down time after for some further questions should anyone need.
This is a ticketed event to help you carve out time to pause and reflect about some of your goals this year. Tickets cost £25 and can be purchased here. We recommend booking in advance as spaces will be limited for this session.
If you're wondering about some of my experience as a professional supporting small business owners and creating online, you can find out more on my About page.
We hope to see you there!
Last week I received some special mail that made me stop, smile and reminisce. A simple question: 'when was the last time you climbed a tree?' sparked a few blissful moments of nostalgia.
In truth, it wasn't that long ago since I scrabbled up a tree because I like to earn my playful title. Since creating an online home that centres around finding a playful moment in everyday, I've been struck by the many opportunities there are to be a lot wilder and a little less contained. My online friend, Bryony agrees and she blogs about yoga, trail running, bike rides and more. Her instagram is full of cartwheels and views of the sea near her home.
It's safe to say we hit it off immediately.
Thus started 'The Life Offscreen Project', a simple action that we hope will cause a ripple effect encouraging more people to get outside and off their screens. The idea is really simple:
- send a snail mail reminder to a friend to get out & enjoy some seasonal activities
- Use your mail as a prompt to notice the little things, to gather and share some outdoor inspiration
Over the coming weeks you''ll start noticing other bloggers joining in with us and little pieces of mail being shared that we hope inspires others to live life on a slightly wilder side. You don't have to sign up and no one is going to hold you accountable. This is your moment to share and discover. If you have taken part in the project though, we would love to hear from you!
To start you off, we've gathered some of our other freedom seeking friends to help us create a Pinterest board with plenty inspiration for a Life Offscreen.
See you on Instagram? #lifeoffscreen.
"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” - Eleanor Roosevelt*
Today I burst into tears an extraordinary amount of times. I burst into tears when I couldn't remember my password for an email account. I sobbed pitifully as I realised I was about to miss a deadline for a submission. I even cried when I couldn't open a jar of new jam to spread on some toast I'd made to comfort myself.
It's safe to say that I'm more than a little tired.
What makes it worse is the underlying sense of frustration that this was not meant to be how my glorious start to Autumn began. All Summer I have journeyed to new places, collected stories to share with you all and learned so much about myself along the way. I always knew my theme for September would be about sustainability but when I looked at the definition in preparing this post at long last, I reeled at how apt it seemed.
1. The ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed
2. The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.
It's funny isn't it? In my exploration of how we can source locally, invest in makers and slow down our consumerism to ensure a better future for everyone, I learned the biggest lesson of all: it's about the support we give to the values we uphold. If I can't live by my own beliefs, what's the point?
I needed to slow down my pace and pause to really reflect and nourish the ideas that are growing inside me so that I could communicate them in a mindful way. Just as I was sniffling into a tissue I saw Sarah, of Orla and Me share a post about Slow Living that really spoke to me. More than her quip about needing more than crumpled linen tea towels in that concept, this spoke directly to me:
"That never-ending cycle of need and work. If we needed less, we could work less. & somewhere in there, all my talk of ‘slow living’ and ‘minimalism’ meet. I was so busy chasing things to make me happy that I’ve been forgetting to actually feel that happiness." **
Life is fast and often you can get into a pace that you simply can't maintain. In striving for excellence we think we need the best, the most expensive, the thing that everyone else seems to have. However, in journeying and listening to others stories this Summer I learned the greatest lesson of sustainability: nothing will thrive without sensitive and considered support. As a single mother, my support is limited and so I must slow down to nurture those roots and branches that keep me grounded. It's vitally important.
So this is my lesson that I take forward this month. There will be no schedule for the podcast or blog. I will publish these stories joyfully and in the way they were intended: with love and investment in their importance. I have stories to share with you about prolonging the life of what we have already, producing in a way that nurtures our Earth and creating in a way that doesn't damage or harm. These are stories of people who are investing in a way that causes the least possible damage as possible and anchors them within their craft and communities.
In the meantime, my bed is calling and it says if I slept more, I might just stand a chance of remembering a password once in a blue moon. I can only hope.
* with thanks to Ruthie at Rain cloud & Sage for her prompt to start each month with a quote that is particuarly resonating at that time. This was a thought provoking exercise x
** There's some lovely reminders and thoughts on Slow Living at the moment being hosted by some of my favourite online people on Instagram: #thisthingcalledslowliving, #findingtimeforslowliving & #slowliving_create
In today's '15 Mins With...' I am so delighted to introduce you to Teri of The Lovely Drawer. Her photography and beautiful prints instantly grabbed my attention and after a lovely walk together through London recently, I came away feeling calm and energised so I knew I wanted to share her story with you.
First of all could you introduce yourself in your own words?
Hi! I’m Teri from The Lovely Drawer. I live in a cosy and overly white flat in West London with my Husband…and what I’d love to say is ‘with our cute little sausage dog pal’ but alas that’s not yet the case. We moved to the area to help start a church and have become acquired quite a soft spot for Shepherds Bush! Aside from being a Christian and a wife, I’m also a freelance designer, blogger and dabbler in styling.
Tell is about your online home, The Lovely Drawer.
The Lovely Drawer started three and a half years ago as a blog I wrote just for fun. I was working full time as an in house greetings card designer and wanted my own creative outlet on the side. I really didn’t have any plans for it to go anywhere but The Lovely Drawer has gradually become the over arching name for my whole design business, as I transitioned into freelance design. I love the opportunities my blog has given me and how it’s stretched my skills, particularly in design and photography. I’ve also learnt to create at a much quicker rate which sounds like negative thing but it’s totally liberating and how I produce my best work.
You work as a freelance designer, please tell us about the work you do.
As a freelance designer I mainly focus on wedding and event stationery but I also run an online shop where I sell prints. I also take on lots of commissions for personalised prints and branding work for company’s, as well as commissioned illustrations. I love how varied my job is and particularly love being part of a couple’s special day for the weddings. I went full time freelance in March 2014 and have been building the business ever since. I love creating on a client basis as it’s so personal which I find a lot more satisfying than creating for wholesale. I use a lot of brush lettering in my work and have even been running workshops to teach people this skill with Quill London.
Please describe your work process in creating something new
Creating something new usually comes from a little store of ideas I’m constantly building up. I have so many ideas that come from all around me that it’s more a question of when can I grab a minute to put them to good use. I usually take a solid chunk of time to sketch out my ideas and then start creating them in a more finished fashion. 99% of my work starts out on paper, whether that’s using ink, pencil, watercolours, gauche, print or collage, I always like to begin with my hands rather than a purely digital piece as it retains some of my artistic handwriting and personality. When I have a collection of lettering or illustrations on paper I’ll photograph them with my decent camera and start working them up in photoshop. That might involve making colours more punchy, cleaning up slightly messier areas or adding a font. I sometimes even draw or paint all the elements separately on a sheet of paper and place them together in Photoshop to create a whole image. It really depends what I’m working on. If I’m selling the piece online I’ll then have to style it and photograph it to give customers a sense of how it would look. This usually involves white backgrounds and cute props and the laborious task of photo editing.
What inspires your design work? Where do you draw inspiration from?
I find London such an inspiring place whether its shop windows, the parks, exhibitions or the architecture. With all of that flooding in my sense, I can’t always pin down where an idea has come from. I do obviously get inspiration from the web and Pinterest is great but I try not to spend too much time on there as to avoid ripping people off or being so saturated by a trend that I feel I have to jump on the bandwagon. A helpful technique is to try and pin images from unrelated categories which will hopefully help create something new and fresh. For instance if I wanted to come up with a new illustration I wouldn’t search for illustrators or art prints, I’d find photos, colour palettes, patterns or even interiors I find inspiring and these will hopefully contribute to a look and feel I go forward with.
Some of your designs are like mantras or affirmations, can you share a few of your favourites and why you chose them?
Every one loves a mantra and I find the creative ones go down particularly well. I like ‘You will have more ideas than time, that’s ok’ and ‘More creating, less thinking’. These are things I constantly need to remind myself of. One of my most popular prints has the quote ‘It is well with my soul’ on it. It’s a line from a old hymn and is so powerful for Christians as the reminder that we have peace with God because of Jesus. It’s such a restful line.