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Showing posts from June, 2018

Reasons to be cheerful - 28th June 2018

Okay, it's not warm, it's hot, but I am loving it. I'm particularly loving the fact that because I'm freelance I can choose when, where and how long I work for, so I've mostly been working in the later afternoons and evenings. Yesterday was the 150th post on the blog, so I wrote 150 true facts about me. It was fun to write, but actually quite challenging, I wasn't sure I could think of 150 interesting things about me! My friend Mark's radio station. Because I have a nice boss, I'm allowed to listen to music while I work and sing along (badly), to my favourite tracks. I'm listening to Mark's awesome station. He plays LOADS of 80s music (sometimes he even plays what I suggest), as well as new stuff. He's based in Northern Ireland, but thanks to the interweb, you can listen to it anywhere, by going to the website here and clicking on the link.

Being busy. I'm just really busy at the moment writing for clients, and writing fiction/poetry, g…

150 things about me (all true)

Happy 150th blog post to me... And to celebrate, here are 150 things about me and they are all true!

1. My middle name is Margaret
2. My star sign is Libra
3. I'm 50 in October
4. I'm a practising Christian
5. I can't drive a car
6. The last live theatre I saw was Macbeth at the National in London
7. My favourite novel is Dracula
8. My favourite movies are The Godfather, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
9. I have a son
10. He is over 18
11. The first poster I had on my bedroom wall was of Donnie Osmond
12. My favourite Star Trek is Next Generation
13. My favourite classic Dr Who is Colin Baker
14. My favourite new Dr Who is David Tennant
15. My favourite Dr Who companion is Nardole
16. If I had to choose a Dr to travel with it would be the 8th (Paul McGann)
17. I have 4 A' Levels
18. I appeared on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour once
19. The last movie I saw in a cinema was Avengers: Infinity War
20. I always look for Krilitane when I go …

I'm going to summer camp!

Eagle-eyed followers of my various social media feed will have seen this logo showing up all over the place just recently:

Those of you who're aware of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), will be shouting "it's not November, the year isn't passing that quickly!" And you're right. This is NaNoWriMo Summer Camp.

So what do you have to do?

It's a bit of a 'free for all', you can set your own project and your own word count and then jump in and take part for the whole of July!

So what are you doing?

I'm planning to publish a book of short stories in October to celebrate my 50th birthday. The book will be called "50 Years In The Making" (see what I did there?).

There will be a pile of stories (I don't know how many yet, but around 40,000 words I hope). There will be vampires and cowboys and ordinary people and extraordinary people. The stories will range in length from around 300 words to 2,000-ish, so there should be something in…

From the archives... "Nothing but blue sky from now on"

I usually post an archive post on a Sunday, but I took yesterday off the enjoy the blue sky with my family, I didn't even turn my computer on.

The archive post I was planning to share was this one from October 2017 that talks about getting out of my comfort zone, and - wouldn't you know it - that's exactly where I am now, again.

It's nearly the end of June (how?), six months through 2018 and I have to admit that this year is turning out to be a great one. Part of that is, I think, because I'm constantly looking to get out of my comfort zone. I set clear goals at the start of the year and I've looked for ways to stretch and challenge myself and - and this is a big one - I've not given up when things have been tough, which I would have done a bit too easily before.

I'm spending a big chunk of today planning for the next six months, so that 2018 can carry out being awesome.

What are your plans for the next six months? Leave a comment below.

That eureka moment...

I've been trying to do something work-related for a while now and I haven't really been getting anywhere with it and it was bugging me and getting really frustrating, because I know it's what I really want to do. 
Anyway, it's been bubbling away under the surface and I've been trying to do something about it and getting nowhere and feeling a bit like I've been flogging a dead horse. Then I had an email from a magazine editor yesterday about something I'd sent her and I was kind of relieved by her answer, because there was something niggling away in the back of my brain...
This morning I figured out what it was... I've been going about it all wrong! I know what I want to do and I was trying to do it in a certain way, but it wasn't working because the way I've been going about it has been wrong for me! I've had LOADS of little hints from the Universe that I'd got it arse backwards, the big pile of magazines in my room that I've flicke…

Reasons to be cheerful - 21st June 2018

You know when you're 'a bit busy', and a friend drags you out for a coffee or a walk or a chat and you have to just stop what you're doing and enjoy life passing by? That. This week I've spent time doing not a lot with both cats choosing to sleep on me and chilling with my son.  He's eventually persuaded me to give video games another go (I am hopeless, my brain doesn't get it and if I have to press more than one button I'm usually lost). Not that I haven't been busy, I have. I have loads of client work on at the moment, so I've been working away every day. It's easy to get caught up in work and doing though, so I've been careful to take advantage of those times where I can choose to stop. Most of the garden is bursting with life, and I've enjoyed the fruits of it this week. I'm looking forward to being able to use spinach, courgettes and strawberries from my garden in a lunch party on Sunday, but some of it hasn't worked ou…

True tales from the garden... Some of it's gone a bit Pete Tong

You know those gardening stories about how everything is growing a. maz. ing. ly? The gardener has to fight their way through the greenery to actually pick produce?

Yes, that kind of thing...

Well... It's not always like that... The other half of that bed looks like this

There's some stuff growing in it, amongst the weeds, but nothing like what I was hoping for. I know the cats got in this side a bit, even after we put the netting up, but it really hasn't worked.

Then there's the peppers

Or not. Something has clearly feasted on them! And the tomatoes,

I don't know what's up with the ones on the right, they're in the same grow bag as that monster on the left, they were grown from the same bag of seed, in the same conditions and looked equally healthy when they were planted on, but they just haven't thrived.

And some of my beans have black fly

Actually this picture is good news, I've been treating the infestation with a soapy water spray and it's …

Book Review: The Miracle Morning; Hal Elrod

I've done a lot of posts recently about how I plan and how I "do" a day and I've also been talking to a few friends about how I've made my days work, so I've been talking a lot about "The Miracle Morning", and I thought it was about time I reviewed the book and wrote a bit more about it.

I first heard about The Miracle morning from Kara at Boho Berry and it sounded like an interesting idea and something I might want to look into more, but "stuff" was going on and I didn't really get around to doing anything about it until April 2018.

Anyway, I was already doing a few of the things off and on, so I didn't think it would be too much of a stretch to put them all together.

The idea is simple, most of us simply don't push ourselves enough to get what we really want, we settle for the okay life, the mediocre and we know that there's a "better" life out there whether that be more money, a more fulfilling job, a better h…

Investing in myself is paying off, big time!

I wrote back in February 2018 about investing in myself and at the end of last month (May 2018), I revisited that post and talked about how the 'joys' of the menopause had made me take some time to re-evaluate what I've been doing. Well, I wanted to talk today about how the investment has been paying off.

Last week I wrote about how I plan and 'do' my daily life and it slightly freaked some people out, but it's very much the product of my investment in myself and working out what works for me. I'm not for a minute suggesting that it'd work for everyone. Today, for example, I got up and started my day at 4:30am because I was wide awake and raring to go (despite having planned to get up at 6:00am). Anyway, it's now 8:25am and I've done everything I'd planned to do plus an extra hour or so of reading, putting in a load of laundry and mixing up a soap and water spray to go and attack some black fly on my bean plants later.

Is the investment work…

From the archives... "Could electronic planning work for me?"

You know me, pen and paper girl through and through, so when I wrote about electronic planning back in December of 2017, I never thought I'd still be using it in the middle of 2018. But I am. I still update my Google Calendar with events and appointments, so that I don't have to carry my paper diary if I don't want to and I'm still using Trello to keep to dos in one place (I did stop for a while, but then I found myself forgetting to do stuff from emails).

How do you plan?

My day (in painful detail)

I've written about planning my weeks and days before, but my friend Annmarie is intrigued to know more about how I divide my time, so here (in painful detail), is how I spend a typical day.

It all starts the day before

I try and stop work at around 5pm, sometimes that doesn't work, it depends what I'm doing, but the last thing I do before I finish for the day is my diary for the next day. I check what appointments I have, what work I need to do for clients and what I need to do for myself and write it down

I use a bullet journal just because I like the flexibility of having everything in one book. Once I've figured out what needs to be done in the day I can portion out my time.

I get up at 6am and spend an hour doing The Miracle Morning and then I do the Boho Berry Challenge, have breakfast and a bath (marked in yellow)I blog between 8 and 9 (orange)Between 9 and 12 and 1 and 4:30 I write (purple)At 9pm I get into bed and read for an hour (yellow)At 10pm I go to sleep (b…

Reasons to be cheerful - 14th June 2018

I know I say this every week, but how is it Thursday again? Busy week this week, but here are my reasons to be cheerful
Writing about pets
I've spent a lot of time this week writing about pets for a new client, really enjoying it, so long may it continue. The cats even got a look in with a post on this blog.I'm starting to harvest things

Most of what I planted has actually grown and some things are ready to harvest, so this week I've enjoyed radishes, strawberries and spinach. There are a few things that haven't come as well as I would have liked and some things haven't come at all, but that's the way gardening works. Family Time
I've enjoyed a lot of time with these two and with my son this week, which has been lovely. What are your reasons to be cheerful this week?

You blog how many times a week?

Someone asked on Twitter yesterday how many times other bloggers posted every week and I answered "5 or 6", which has been true for the last few weeks and is my plan from now on. I used to post 2 or 3 times, but I felt that wasn't really enough, so I decided to up it.

I jumped over to ProBlogger because Darren Rowse's stuff makes sense and is also eminently doable and I read a few posts around taking your blog to the next level and decided on a weekly schedule that looks a bit like this:

Monday: A 'How To' or 'tip' type post
Tuesday: A review of a product, book, thing
Wednesday: A newsy thing, or a 'this is what I do'
Thursday: I do the 'Reasons to be Cheerful' linky hosted by Becky and Mich
Friday: Is an opinion or newsy piece again
Saturday: I don't post unless I have something that can't wait
Sunday: 'From the archives', where I revisit a popular post and update it or write something related

I say "a bit" …

The value of pets in my life.

Snoopy was my constant companion from 1998 until 2012. He followed me around, sat on my lap, talked to me, slept on top of me even if there was a whole bed empty.

When he died, I thought it was the end of the world, I couldn't imagine 'replacing' him with another pet and as I was having chemo at the time it wasn't right to get another pet straight away.

In fact, it took until 2017, having moved house and spent some time settling into life as a single woman for the time to be right, and then...

My parents bought J a cat (Harry, at the top of the stairs), for his 18th birthday. Harry had always lived with Leo (at the bottom), and they'd been fostered together when their original owners had had to let them go. And I couldn't split them, could I? And anyway, if you've got one cat there's not much more expense to having two right?

So last year, almost exactly a year ago, we added these two little fellows to our family group.

Harry follows me about, meows ev…

Taking time to stop and stare

"What is this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare..."
W. H. Davies
The poem "Leisure", by W. H. Davies (not, as far as I know, related to me).
Yesterday evening I took a cold drink and sat outside. The cats came and sat with me (Harry on my lap and Leo on the patio next to me). And I just sat and enjoyed the evening sunshine and the noise of the birds and the peacefulness of the garden.

This morning I sat at my dining table eating breakfast and stared again at the busy little hub that is my garden.
I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, I was just enjoying the space and the knowledge that there's a lot going on out there that I'm going to benefit from. I was actually eating the first of the strawberry crop for this year (and very nice they were too.)
It's not that I'm not busy, I am, but I'm mindful of the fact that there's a lot to be said for just stopping and doing nothing as part of the plan, it quiete…

Updated: From the archives..."Hello menopause..."

11th June2018...

I saw the doctor today and got someTranexamic acid pills which should stop the bleeding (bored now, though it is actually not as bad as it was), and I've booked in to get bloods done next week to check my iron levels and thyroid function. Will update again when I know more.

Back in September of 2017, I wrote about the 'joys' of the menopause and I thought I'd revisit that post today because tomorrow I have to go to the doctor with the further joys of the menopause.

Without going into too much detail I've been bleeding for 17 days (oh yes), and for the last eight of those days, I've been bleeding at the rate of needing to change a super tampon every two hours! You can imagine the joys that has caused me and the necessity to never be too far from a toilet. Also, there has been no wearing of white trousers, but there has been a tampon, a pad, two pairs of knickers and dark trousers (in hot summer weather. Yay!)

And so tomorrow I need to take myself…

A short rant about people not responding to emails or not getting back to you when they say they will

Does it drive you mad or is it just me? When you send someone an email and they don't respond, I mean not ever. When did we get so busy that it became impossible to hit 'reply', type a couple of words (not even a couple of lines), and then hit send? I mean you literally don't have to do anything other than raising a couple of fingers! You don't need to find paper and pen, go to the post office, buy a stamp, address the envelope, you just press buttons.

And when people say "I'll let you know in the morning", and then you never hear from them again, I mean really? You've actually told people that you're going to contact them at a particular time and then you just don't bother.

In both instances, it's just rude! And in our super-technological world, it's plain lazy, because it requires virtually no effort, you can probably even automate the process.

But the thing that really gets me is, it makes it difficult for me to move on to some…

Reasons to be cheerful - 7th June 2018

How did it get to be Thursday again already? Where is the year going, we already into June? Anyway, here are my reasons to be cheerful for this week (hint: I didn't go to France, but I did go away). I went to London for the weekend to see Macbeth at the National Theatre, it was amazing. I also met up with a friend for a drink, had brunch with some very old friends, stayed with my brother and his family and was treated to dinner out by him and... I tried out the Japanese martial art Shorinji Kempo, which is derived from the Shaolin Kung Fu that the monks do. My sister-in-law is a black belt in art and she invited me to the South Wimbledon Shorinji Kempo Dojo to give it a try. I had an absolute blast, Sensei Paul and all the students were so welcoming and helpful, I've even been invited to return whenever I'm in the Big City.
I came back to a garden that's growing like mad, which is great, but means that there's going to be lots of work harvesting and preserving thi…