morning monday… summer report card…

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Hey everyone, so it has been a while since I did any kind of goal orientated post, and what with it being the beginning of the summer holidays, and the nostalgia of the end of year school report, I thought it was as good a time as any to check in with you guys, and probably more importantly, with myself.

My resolution for this year, was to carry on trying to be the person I want to be. You know that perfect version of yourself that gets up early, a bundling ball of energy and takes on the day, with shiny hair, a big old smile, and this general aura of being calm while completely bossing it? Yeah. Her.

I didn’t set myself any specific goals with this, so the sub headings here, are the areas of my life that when I imagine the girl I want to be, these are her fundamentals. Does that make sense? Like, if I get these building blocks in tip top shape, then I’m stood on a pretty good foundation.

So without further ado, or poor confused metaphor’s here goes…

Health & fitness… Stephanie has come a long way and should carry on the good work…

Guys, I’m actually in pretty good shape. Like not perfect shape, and I’m definitely still soft around the edges, but generally speaking? I’m doing ok. Of course there is always room for improvement.

My running routine isn’t anywhere near as solid as I would like it to be, but when I do get my trainers on, my times and distances aren’t all that embarrassing. I’ve never been one for public sport or exercise. I was terrible at PE at school (apart from dance) and had one or two mean comments made about me that really stuck. Not to mention the fact that co-ordination just does not come naturally to me. So other than the odd zumba class (where everyone at least THINKS they look slamming) I’d always believed I truly didn’t enjoy exercise. But that has definitely changed. Running clears my mind, and lifts my mood like few other things can, and now I’m even thinking of signing up to a real public race. A 10k might not sound like a huge challenge, but up until a few months ago I was too embarrassed to even tell people I went running in case they asked me how fast or far I went.

Other than running, because I don’t drive, I get in a fair amount of walking, but I would like to start doing more exercise that focuses on other areas and not just cardio. I throw in the odd swim, but I really want to spend a little time thinking about my strength and toning up a little bit. Nearly every week I tell myself I’ll complete at least one online yoga class, and barely ever do. But if I want to be able to touch my toes, and carry my shopping up the stairs (not at the same time) then I need to do something about it! Not to mention the fact that I don’t want my fitness to take a nose dive when the weather turns and the days get shorter, and running around the park is just no longer a viable option. It may even be time to join a gym!

Diet wise, as regular readers will know I’ve stuck it out with veganism. Again, I’m not a perfect vegan but my attitude towards food, is now much more balanced. Even when I do indulge, it is never to the level that it was before, and this is a huge improvement. I’ve never had brilliant will power, but towards the end of last year, I’d gone beyond that and fallen into some seriously unhealthy eating patterns, which weren’t doing my body, my confidence, or my mind any good.

And that shift in attitude, is the biggest improvement I’ve seen in myself since the beginning of this year. I lost weight, but even though it wasn’t as much as I originally wanted, the confidence and perspective I gained, were double that (I spoke more about this here). What’s more is I’ve kept the weight off, and stayed at one weight for longer than I have done in years. I’m happy in my body, I still have days where I think ‘oh if only…’ but I don’t hate myself. I don’t punish myself. I know, that I am lucky to have a healthy body that can do all the things I want it to do, and looks pretty good while doing it.

I want to carry on improving in this area, and at the end of summer I intend on doing a month or so of very clean living, but I know longer see health and fitness as just an impossible goal to measure my failure by, it’s just the next step on the running track.

Career… Stephanie always works hard in class but her homework lacks care and attention…

This time last year, I was new to my day job, I was excited and eager to learn, but also nervous, and scared that I would fail. Today I can hardly believe that was only a year ago. I still learn something new every week, and I’m still finding the systems that work for me, but my confidence in myself, and the work that I’m doing has grown tenfold. In June I took on a big old project, and while it didn’t all go as smoothly as I would like, I realised that things rarely do. This job, may well end in February, which forces me to regularly reflect on what I’ve done and where I’m going. I don’t want this job to end, I still have so much to learn and I love where I work, and what I do, but the idea of going back on the job market isn’t entirely terrifying. In some ways I find it quite exciting. I don’t want to tie myself down to one area of theatre, or type of arts work, so looking for a new job, feels a bit like, looking for a new adventure. Of course if having to find a new job does become a reality, I can’t promise I will be quite as chipper about the situation but for now… I’m happy, I’m confident, I think I might even be quite successful.

I love my regular pay salary job, and I know I’m very lucky to be in a position where that job is in theatre, but I never intended to get that dream day job, and stop working on my own independent, writing, shows, workshops or theatre company, and in truth, that is exactly what has happened. I haven’t performed properly in over a year, and the new show I intended to work on, hasn’t got any further than an elaborate set of scribbles in my notebooks. I’ve found it much harder to stay motivated and driven in my independent work than I thought I would, but I guess that is natural. When you spend all day working on and in theatre, you don’t necessarily want to come home and do more! Some sort of burn out was inevitable, however, I’ve recently been rethinking this extra work, and what exactly I want my side hustle to be. In particular, working out how all the areas of my life and work sit beside one another. I won’t go into that too much here, but I’m working on a set of steps to take that should make my purpose a lot clearer, and hopefully see my blog, and my theatre work sit much closer to one another.

Blog… Stephanie needs to focus on the real task at hand…

Ok, I feel like I say ‘I don’t do this for the followers’ so often that it’s beginning to sound like I protest just a little bit too much. So I am going to be straight up and tell you, that at the beginning of the year I set myself the target of reaching 500 followers on bloglovin’ by December.

I’m not going to make that goal, and that’s generally a bit disheartening.

Here’s why: I don’t want a HUGE following because I want this to be my day job, or because I want to get cool stuff for free, or to feel like a bit of an internet celebrity, but because I want to know that what I am writing is RELEVANT to people.

At the very beginning of this year, I made myself an editorial calendar and I stuck to it. I took out some small scale advertising and I saw my numbers begin to climb slowly but surely. And then all that new year gusto wore off, life got in the way of spending three nights a week blogging, and I’ve actually seen followers, and my stats in general, fall.

For the past two months, I’ve been struggling with this a little bit. I saw this down turn in views and follows as proof that what I was putting out there wasn’t relevant. However, I’ve recently realised, that isn’t true. Those of you that do pop by this space of mine, keep coming back, I love that I have conversations and comments with the same group of people, because what that means, is that what I’m writing may not be relevant to the masses but it is to a handful of bloggers out there who if they lived down the street would probably be some of my best friends. Which HEY GUESS WHAT! Is EXACTLY what I really wanted this space to be about.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of you in real life, I email more of you, all the time on my lunch breaks, and I love that. Moving to Blackburn where I knew nobody meant that blogging and you guys, really were a life line. So I guess what I’m trying to say is THANK YOU! And if you pop by here regularly, and we haven’t spoken, please feel free to get in touch.

Now I’ve done the soppy bit, what action have I decided to take about all of this. Well, I’ve got rid of my editorial calendar, so that when I do post it is because I truly have something to say. And to those 4 people that unfollowed me on Bloglovin’ (yup, it was only 4 people and I nearly scrapped the whole thing) that’s cool, maybe you don’t want to invite me round for dinner each week, but lets still meet for the odd coffee every now and then?

Relationships… Stephanie get’s on well with her classmates, and her friends are a credit to her…

At the beginning of this year I did a fair bit of reading about mindfulness and happiness, and everything I read and watched talked about the importance of strong personal relationships. At the end of last year I think I’d started to shut down a bit, and even though I still spoke to my amazing friends, all the time, I was never really TALKING to them. This is something I decided to change at the beginning of this year. I put my irrational fear, that they didn’t really care to one side and just told them everything that had been going on with me. It will come as no surprise that I instantly felt a thousand times better.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year, being really honest with people, and making sure that those people that are really important to me, are regularly a part of my life. There isn’t as much face to face time as I would like, and there are a few friends a bit further away that I want to just call more often, but generally speaking, it’s quality over quantity with my friends. I have a handful of amazing friends, that I see a handful of amazing times a year.

Of course the other thing is that I have a boyfriend now. This was never a GOAL as such, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that as I worked on myself, and started to fix all those software glitches I’d been experiencing, I started to become more open to the possibility of meeting someone, and eventually did.Getting a boyfriend wasn’t a goal, it was a happy by product, and being in a relationship is already teaching me a lot about myself, and who I have become. I’d quite like to keep learning in this more one on one way please!

Growth… Overall Stephanie has made a lot of progress this year, with just a bit more hard work, she will be well on track for a good 2016…

Final category, I promise (well done if you’ve made it this far!), and this one is a bit of an amalgamation of two things:

1. Being a grown up
2. Personal growth.

So firstly, being a grown up, is probably one of the areas, I have the most work to do in. Especially when it comes to my finances, bills, and flat. I’ve started paying more attention to what I’m paying when, rather than letting the direct debit do it’s thing and hoping for the best. I’ve also set myself the challenge of paying off my credit card off by February (to coincide with the possible change of job and circumstances). This isn’t a huge figure, but so far summer has being seriously expensive, and when you combine that with one or two unexpected bills, it’s enough to make a very sensible mans daughter begin to panic a little bit!

The other thing is me rented flat. Which generally speaking is fine, but there are a couple of things I’ve been putting off calling the landlord about, and actually they need to be dealt with. Like the ceiling peeling in the bathroom, and the wardrobe that never stood up properly in the first place.

Finally on the grown up front. I NEED to learn to drive. I’ve never been behind the wheel of a car and for 3 months now I’ve said I will book a lesson. But then something else (that I’d rather spend money on) popped up and I put it off. No more excuses though, because my parents have paid a bulk of lessons for my birthday, and I have to get them booked by, well, today actually.

The second part of this category, is personal growth, which I guess makes for a pretty good conclusion to the end of this lengthy post, which essentially is entirely about how I’ve grown so far this year.

At this point of the year I think I’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting for becoming the person I want to be. I could still get up earlier, and I will always want a better morning routine (or any morning routine), I will always want to read and learn more. Write more, create more. But these are small tweaks I can make every day. Little steps like cutting down my screen time, and working on getting a night time routine, so that I’m awake enough to tackle a morning one. I’ve journalled much more this year than I’ve ever done before and found myself becoming much more interested in mindfulness and meditation. Which in turn has has made a positive shift in my attitude, something which I credit for making everything else I’ve spoken about in this post possible.

August is just around the corner, and writing this post has made me realise, is that what I really need to do, is to use the remainder of the year to keep up the good work, and polish off the edges, so that come 2016 I feel ready to go even further. In truth becoming the person you want to be, can’t be done in a year. It’s an ongoing project. I’m an ongoing project, and one, that in all self indulgent truthfulness, I really enjoy working on.

How does your summer report card read? This one is certainly better then my year 5 one which said I was a bossy little madame, and caused months of upset!

Live Life & keep working on it x

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what to post on a friday?

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Hey everyone, how are you?

I’m going to be straight up with you, this post may lack direction.

It’s not for a lack of ideas, oh no there are plenty of them. Thankfully I don’t have bloggers block at the moment, the struggle I’m having today, is finding the right post, the idea that sits nicely with how I’m feeling and what I want to say right now.

On Wednesday I posted about how I was worried I was missing the big things lately, and not giving enough time over to my own opinions on the world we live in. In particular I was referring to the BIG issues, those headline grabbing happenings, politics, feminism and everything else that you’d find on the news. I specifically said that I didn’t want this blo to be used just for that, because I still think everything I have been giving time and thought too is equally important. However, after sch a ‘heavy’ post it just didn’t seem right to post something completely off of that topic.

On the other hand, it’s Friday. And while I don’t want to stick to too strict a blogging schedule, I just don’t feel Friday is the right day for tackling the heavier stuff.

I think my problem at the moment isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, it’s about not knowing when to say it.  And also worrying how that voice is going to be received.

Which is completely daft really isn’t it? And not something I have ever worried about with this blog before. So maybe it is a reflection of a bigger picture. Maybe it is a reflection not that I am worried about this blog or the direction it is going in, but that I am reaching a new stage.

It isn’t something I had really realised until right now, but I think my opinions on life aren’t exactly changing but in contradiction to everything I’ve just said, I’m more sure of them than ever.

When this blog really started to take on a life of it’s own it’s when I started musing over how confusing being in your twenties can be. And it still is. I by no means have all the answers now, but I definitely feel more equipped to start tackling the questions this decade is throwing at me. That in itself is scary. The idea of saying ‘This is who I am and this is what I think’ feels bold. You have to be prepared to put that voice of yours out there and have it not only heard but also, possibly answered. And that answer might not be what you always want it to be. That’s all part of growing up though isn’t it?

So what to post on a Friday? Isn’t so much a case of bloggers block, but rather what to tackle first? Guess it’s a good job the weekend is here, give me some time to start thinking it through.

Live life & don’t be afraid of your own opinions x

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hitting your stride…

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Happy Wednesday everyone, how are you? Today I want to talk a little bit more about work and careers and how it feels to finally have hit your stride with something.

As I explained in this post my career path has been one, not exactly of twist and turns, but definitely of wibble wobbles. To recap, I currently work as a theatre programmer (I pick which shows go on) and before this I was a community artist (working with people with Alzheimers) a writer and performer (I make solo shows about life) and a children’s storyteller (brackets entirely unneccessary). That’s the edited version. The version that makes sense on my CV. And the version, that has not only recently begun to make sense to me, but has also begun to feel real.

When you step out of the world of education and into the one of work, it can all seem a bit cruel and sudden, and it can also seem a little bit like a dream. Nobody sits you down and says ‘this is how to be a grown up’ and when you get your degree, you’re never given a piece of paper that says ‘Stephie can be an Adult now.’ Wouldn’t that be nice? Something real to hold on to and pose with?

The fact is, on your first day of work, you walk into your office, sit at computer, and begin to act the way you’ve always imagined people with jobs do. You check your emails, you count your tea breaks, and at the end of the day, you’ve achieved something, although your not always sure what.

I hope at this point, your still with me, and that I’m not the only person who has felt this way!

You see the thing is I got what my parents would call ‘my first real job’ nearly 3 years after graduating, and for a while, I wasn’t sure it was real. I was doing stuff, good stuff, but I still spent a good while being afraid that somebody one day was going to turn around and say ‘hang on, you’re not a real person’ but at some point along the line all that changed. The novelty of having a desk and an inbox full of things other than ASOS newsletters wore off, and I just started to get on with it. I can’t put my finger on the exact point when this has happened, but I’m now very aware that actually this is real.

The things I put on my CV, I can proudly say I have done, and I can say it with conviction. I’m no longer afraid that somebody is going to try and pull of my mask. These grown up wrinkles are real, I worked hard and stressed hard to get them. And actually that’s a damm good feeling.

Yesterday I was at an amazing event with work, where I bumped into a whole bunch of people I’d met at different stages of my career path, and when they asked what I was doing, I answered without even thinking about it. Not by trying to over explain myself, not with an awkward shuffle, and not with any sort of self deprecation.

I guess it’s happened. I guess I’m a grown up.

So here is my advice to you, if you’ve just come out of uni, or actually you’re 10 years down the line, and still don’t feel like you’ve hit your stride. Our careers, if we want them to, make up a big chunk of our life. I think half the reason I struggled so much with summing up what I did, was because I see it as a big part of my identity. This isn’t the case for everyone, and that’s ok, but if you are still trying to find your feet and your confidence, it can take time, but trust your gut. If your gut is telling you that this is the right direction, but your not far enough down the line to be able to say where your going just yet, that’s ok, follow your gut one step at a time. But if the reason you feel like your pretending is because when you talk about your job, it feels like somebody elses life, a life you’re not connected too, it might be time to go back to the map and work out a different route. It’s scary, and it isn’t easy, and I don’t have any concrete directions, but all I do know is that from everything I have done, I have learnt something, something that has helped get me to where I am. And if you see every experience, job interview, and tough Monday as a chance to learn something about yourself, then it won’t go wasted.

Live life & fake it until you become it x

ps. If you liked this, you might like a blog I wrote for work, about what it’s like to have a job your nan doesn’t understand.

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