Daily Inspiration, Journal

Autumn blogging reflections- gratitude

Today is my 1 year friend-adversary with Ellie Quinn, travel blogger of the Wandering Quinn (check her out- https://thewanderingquinn.com/) and it seems poignant therefore to complete a blog today around this. Meeting Ellie, as I have no doubt previously mentioned, woke me up to my life. I know, dramatic, but hey it’s true. It woke me up to the world of fear based “shoulds” I had been ascribing to and reminded me of what the younger me had aspired to. It’s had the following affect:

  1. I left my job a few months later. It had been causing me a whole heap of anxiety and discomfort for some time and I was growing more and more miserable. I could feel myself becoming more negative and feeling stuck. I start a new job tomorrow, via an agency. I can’t tell you yet how that’s going to work out for me, BUT it’s better paid which means more authentic me choices in my spare time and for that, I am delighted.
  2. I changed and enhanced the content of what I am absorbing and tuned into more positive and self nurturing material. I choose uplifting people to follow on Instagram, attend health and wellness events, and have started to meditate. I follow groups such as the shelf-help book club, Gary Vee and Hazel Wallace aka the Food Medic on Instagram (follow them- they are ace!) which has also helped to wake me up about the possibilities for our lives if we believe and work for it.
  3. I started this blog in Feb this year. It’s not been very consistent as you will have seen. I have floundered a little at times on its direction, and due to this I think  therefore it’s been difficult in the past to grow. My aims are to grow the blog so that I can be an “influencer” rather than just a blogger. I’d really like to travel more and take beautiful photos and write up of the experience. In the meantime until I travel again, I’ll be focusing on beautiful London and improving my photography skills over autumn.

So. Much. Gratitude! Thank you Ellie! Thanks for always giving your time, support and friendship to me, when you have been so busy yourself., and as always in your high energy and positive way. It means a lot!! Literally everytime I message Ellie, she always get back to me in such a loving and positive way and really, she’s been like an informal mentor to me. Whatever happens I owe so much to her! (Now please go and check out her page re the link above, as she’s away travelling in super fantastic places now for a bit which will get your wanderlust drooling!) It brings it home to me with how fantastic it is to support one another.

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The super lovely Ellie, on our meet up on my birthday 8th April 2018

Nicely leading on from this, I’m tagging the wonderful girls of Twins That Travel who are doing something amazing and offering one lucky blogger the chance to be mentored by them in their exciting competition for free mentorship. Did I say for free? How amazing is that. Check out their wonderful writing, photography and travel destinations at: https://twinsthattravel.com/

Happy beautiful Sunday. What are your reflections on the months past and how are things shaping up for you with your life goals?

 

Daily Inspiration, London Living

Celebrating good friends

I feel like I should have a category on here called “Inspirational people” as there are so many in my life, and slotting these blog posts into “Daily inspiration” doesn’t quite seem right!

I met Shirley when we were studying Occupational Therapy at London South Bank University, just a few short years ago. I am pretty sure we would have spoken during group work during that time, but we were in different factions (I was full time and Shirley was studying part time, already employed by the NHS) and so, being as busy as we were our paths never really crossed. Roll on 2017 and being in the same department, in the same hospital and my meeting of one of the loveliest people you could ever meet. That’s quite a broad word, I appreciate and could sound just a bit gushy. I’ll qualify it- wait a mo! There are just so many fab qualities about Shirley and she has shown me so much unconditional friendship and love, which I just love her for. She has the patience of a saint, always tries to help if you need it and is super generous to share the amazing knowledge she has. As well as being very intelligent with a confidence I so admire, Shirley is very funny, but also very sensitive and therefore also a great sound board to discuss life or general ideas with. If life is short, as we know it is, it’s important not only to have, but to appreciate the good people around us, and I am so appreciative of the fact we connected in the way we have. Her new Trust are SUPER lucky she is with them, they have hit a real gem there.

And hence this event and the sharing of these photos! This was Shirley’s leaving day at the Trust and our going out to celebrate what a huge friend Shirley has been to me during the last few months and no doubt will continue to be.

What we did: We took in some happy hour cocktails at Bar Soho (£5 for a large variety of drinks- certainly got us merry!), walked to Thai Metro on Charlotte Street and had some amazing mussamon curries (I highly recommend this restaurant! Family run and I get a tofu mussamon every time I go!) and then watched the fabulous Dream Girls at the Savoy Theatre. We basically took in some of London’s best areas, with plenty of sunshine and laughter along the way. Soho is so vibrant and as the sun was shining brightly that day, all of London was in a tangibly happy mood, and Charlotte Street has a sophisticated cosmopolitan feel with lots of tables and chairs to eat set outside, a gentler pace than the hustle of Oxford Street just five minutes away. There is also nothing quite like a walk along the Strand just as the sun has set to make you feel alive, especially with a good friend, off to see a good show.

It was my first time at the Savoy theatre and I had spent some time stressing about the seats and trying to work out on theatre monkey which to avoid, but was getting more stressed trying to use it! In the end I have to say I was really pleased with the seats: I got the impression that the Savoy was small enough that wherever you sat, you would get a fairly good view point. We sat in N7-8 in the Dress Circle, seats which offered very good views for just £20. The show was awesome, and in itself quite appropriate in its themes of friendship and life, and the main line up could certainly belt out some tunes. It was glitzy, gorgeous and glam- all the things that also sum up Shirley!

We didn’t get a photo of us together! But there will be plenty more opportunities for that.

For now, here’s to the good friend or friends we have in our lives and how lucky we are to have them!

Daily Inspiration, London Living

Interview with Ellie Quinn of super travel blog, “The Wandering Quinn”

Which, if you haven’t checked out by the way, is excellent! I’ve introduced it as a travel blog, but actually it incorporates travel, well-being and general lifestyle topics. A sprinkling of everything, highly positive and enthusing and highly informative: check it out here http://thewanderingquinn.com

I met Ellie quite randomly/by fate when we were walking to the Wanderlust Mindfulness Triathlon event in Victoria Park last September. As I’ve said elsewhere, I can’t remember when she told me exactly what she did, but I do remember being fascinated by it. I’m not sure who I assumed was writing blogs: in fact, I’m pretty sure I’d never read one, or not properly. But I think I resonated a lot with Ellie and it sparked a curiosity in me, to write, document and attempt to publish THIS blog, this January 2018.

So- Ellie. Coming up to 28, currently working full time as well as blog writing, a traveller of a million countries. Calm and grounded, yet vivacious and bubbly. Spiritual and positive: a belief in herself and her future that I really wished I’d had in my 20’s! And which I well imagine draws people to her. Working super hard on an amazing blog started in 2014 which to date has 22,000 followers on Instagram. Ellie is also super helpful and generous with her sharing of the blog and how she has achieved what she has. We met on the rainy day which was my birthday last Sunday in the Highness Tea Rooms in Highbury (meeting again coming out of a tube station, just 7 months later!), had tea and cake (standard) and I had the good fortune of asking her these questions. This is quite a long post, but absolute gold dust, especially for us new bloggers! 🙂

What started you blogging, was it your travelling?

Yeah! I’d already lived in Australia for 2 years, and then I was going off to S.E Asia. I literally remember going for brunch with a friend and she was like, “you should start a blog”. I got hooked into reading peoples blogs about S.E Asia such as “my Battered Suitcase” (and I’ve become friends with Brenna who writes this blog which is very cool!), and thought, I should do this! So I did one post called “How the travel bug bit”, which is still on my blog actually! At this point it was very journal like and to share with family back home, but I would also write about what bus to get/where to stay and really useful content about these places that really wasn’t available at the time, as travel there then was so new.

What was your education background Ellie, was it in something that might be considered related to blogging?

Not especially. I went to college and did A ‘levels. I was going to go to uni to do business, which I thought was a good all rounder, but then decided it just wasn’t for me. I had a boyfriend at the time as well, and although he didn’t formally actually stop me, it definitely had an influence in my decision around not going. Which I am so glad for now!

So, I then got a full time job in reservations in a hotel for a year, which then led to events managements. After this I went to Camp America for a summer, which was the start of the travel bug. I then came back and worked for another company in events.

What’s really funny is that there is a definite connection between the promotional and communication aspect of that work, and the press trips I do now as part of my blogging role. Now I’m very confident doing press trips and I just feel like I’ve just slid into it with ease, and then it clicked and I realised why I’m so used to it! So the blog isn’t directly related to any education background, but the job experience certainly helped in a way I didn’t initially consider when I started! It all helps.

And so, you’ve had the blog for four years, when do you think you started taking it *more* seriously?

Definitely when I moved to London (2 years ago). I finished another travelling stint and at the time was following a lot of bloggers who lived in London. That also coincided with around the time that people were becoming quite big in blogging. So I think I moved with the intention of becoming more serious with my blog.

What is it about your personality that you think that has helped you becoming a successful blogger?

I’d like to think I’m quite an upbeat and friendly person, which then comes across on my blog and social media. I will just randomly talk to people and I’m quite open which definitely helps with the travel aspect.

I definitely like providing information! Which is where my whole motivation with blogging came from, my sharing of travel knowledge. Organisation: I’m very organised and good at scheduling which helps.

Its hilarious thinking back to school days; I was so shy, probably the shyest person in the class! I probably seemed like the most unlikely person to do the amount of travelling I do now!!

How did your following grow, what steps did you take?

Definitely different things. I do Pininterest at least half an hour every day. But I do it on my lunch break so that helps. Sometimes I also get up early in the morning, sit on my laptop in bed. It’s mindless, but it’s so productive!

A bit around the background to my growth; I remember I went to South America 2015 and I just hit 300 followers. I literally did 3 months, posting every day of what I considered good content, had a month in Europe and towards the end of that trip had just hit 1000 followers. So it took me about 5 months to get that number. Then I was home for a few months, then I went to Asia and I hit 10,000 in 2016. So basically from being in Asia I gained 9,000 followers! I was posting regularly, but generally when you travel that also attracts a lot of followers. I brought the numbers up another 10k within a year, and now those numbers are pretty stable.

Tell me about pitching! How does it work, how do you do it, and what should we focus on as new bloggers?

So! I have a media kit which I send out. it’s basically a PDF where I write about myself and my blog. I update it every month and include key stats such as traffic to my site, and how many unique users come. I have my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook numbers (it’s important to be a presence on all, but focus on one or two: my Instagram and Twitter accounts are definitely my priority). From Google analytics which plugs into WordPress blogs if you’re on WordPress, you can also find out really useful information such as the readers age, where they come from in the world. Mine are predominantly UK based readers, US and Australia and are mostly male. Lets say there’s a tourism board that wants to focus on a UK audience: this is really helpful information for them to know.

When did you feel ready to start pitching?

I probably started around the end of 2016, and I had around 3-4000 page views on my blog back then. I also had around 10,000 followers on Instagram at that point. But I would honestly say now that even if you had less, and your numbers are low, you can still put a media kit together and focus on how engaged your audience are. As if your numbers are low, your audience is more likely to be engaged anyway. I would really highlight and focus on your audience and their involvement with your blog instead of making the numbers a focus.

Do you get much paid work, or is it mostly press trips, discounts, samples?

I’m getting more paid work now, but this has probably only happened in the last 10 months, and I’ve had 3 press trips which have been paid, of which I didn’t make a formal request for being paid! Pitching to say you would like to be paid can seem quite awkward I think and I need more confidence to do that.

I’ve had a few sponsored posts come through which has been cool. I’ve also recently had a couple of trips where I wasn’t paid, but I was able to take someone with me, so I took some friends to Hamburg and Jersey, which was amazing.

What are you most proud of and what’s been a highlight to you?

The trip to Jersey with my friend was a particularly highlight- my friend and I just had the best time! A personal highlight for me has been the page views to my blog. This time last year I was getting around 4,000 page views and that was without me really trying. In March I hit 20,000 views which is just incredible! Once you hit 25,000 regularly, you can apply for an advertising platform, and from that you can get some income from the blog, which is what I want to do.

And finally, what’s ahead for The Wandering Quinn?!

I want to go longer term travelling again! I’m desperate to go to India and Africa to start, as they’ve always been on my travelling radar and I’ve been saving hard. From this I’m also planning to make a leap and leave my job to combine with the travel and become a full time blogger! This is what I’ve been working really hard for. In a way I’m hoping to be able to make some money whilst travelling and producing content for companies, but if I could get the press trips and samples that would also be really handy. I want to go travelling anyway, so it makes sense for me to combine the two!

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the “Twins that Travel”, but one of the catalysts for them to leave their jobs was basically wanting to go on a press trip and not having the annual leave which feels like the position I might get myself in.

Before I go on the longer haul trip, I’ve done some pitching to companies, but also want to enjoy London for at least a couple of weeks this summer.

 

A summary of Ellie’s top blogging recommendations!

* Use Pininterest to attract traffic to your blog. Ellie does 30 minutes every day, but little and often would help to begin with.

* Don’t get too tied down by the numbers when pitching. Focus on your audience’s engagement if your numbers are currently low

* Know your stats, as this feed into pitching. Consider the use of a tool such as Google Analytics that can help you break down who you audience are and where they are from- this is incredibly useful for companies to know.

* Be present on all social media where possible, but choose to focus on one in particular

Thanks so much Ellie for sharing your thoughts, feelings and inspirational blog development!! It has been so useful and wishing you every continued success- you deserve it!!

And before we finish- to highly recommend the Highness Tea Rooms, about a 10 minute walk from Highbury and Islington overground and tube station. Very friendly staff, lovely selection of cakes, quiches, paninis and hot and cold drinks 🙂

 

 

Daily Inspiration, Journal

My weekly inspirations

Today is a much needed day off after working the Easter weekend and bank holiday. I always tell myself I’ll be super productive and have all these amazing things ticked off. The reality is that I hit snooze several times, mooched with a very beautiful cup of tea as mentioned below, surfed the net and then realised I was running late for an appointment! So much time to so little time- bam! There doesn’t always need to be this demand to be super productive though; as in, there does in my head, and it’s something I am trying to get better at. Everyone needs their downtime, their quiet time! I’ve still got lots done, it’s just not been in the super-woman way I was unfairly demanding it to be! And it’s during these moments of quietness I catch up with the great things that are inspiring me in my life at the moment! Here’s a few lovely things on the list:

  1. Heard of Yoga Girl? I hadn’t, until very recently! First of all, it’s not all about yoga, so don’t let that put you off! Rachel Brathen talks about all subjects and is real and personable. It’s deep, meaningful and spiritual stuff. She’s so honest, and just 2 episodes in, I love her for that. Find the “From the Heart” series on podcast. Loving the #metoo episode and her deep and meaningful podcast with her mum and their sincere honesty and love for one another. I love that Rachel doesn’t pretend everything is perfect and is really open about that.
  2. Latest blog site readings: wowed by the content and design of the following sites, which I really recommend. So, so much good posts to read and so carefully put together.  If you haven’t read http://www.eleanorgraceful.com/ or http://www.sophiecliff.com, then you should. Also loving  jessicarosewilliams.com bluejayofhappiness.com me&orla.co.uk (amazing podcasts) https://asthesparrowflies.com/ and https://weekendcandy.com/. They give me food for thoughts and just sheer admiration for what they have and are creating. I have no idea how many if not all of these ladies created such beautiful sites! I love it.
  3. Days off with a cup of tea from Good and Proper and deciding between the lovely loose tea we’ve chosen! They make it a perfect lazy morning as per THIS morning 🙂 I’m normally all about a teabag, but on a day off you can just go with the flow more, and Good and Proper teas are gorgeous. I love this London based tea company and their humble beginnings and friendly vibes.IMG_0506.jpg
  4. My friend and yogi Claire Matthews. Former actor and dancer, current yogi, swing dancer, more, and all round super-human. Her strength, flexibility and dedication to #yogaeverydamnday is brilliant and I admire it so much. (And I heart anyone who does anything everyday) Struggling at the moment with my own exercise routine and inspired by Claire’s posts. Find her and enjoy her on Instagram: Ilama Soares.
  5. Skincare rituals (my skincare ritual specifically! and just rituals in general) I am following through with my commitment to great products from The Ordinary to hydrate and nourish my skin, and am following up every morning with a factor 50 from La Roche Posay. Evening time I do the same again and use the Superfacialist, as pictured below! You have to find the products which work best for you, and as previously discussed it is just great that these don’t always have to be pricey. I think the guys at The Ordinary have done an amazing job!IMG_0511.jpg
  6. And finally, individuals, (as my boyfriend below) who are studying or doing something extra on top of a full time job, to better their situation. That takes a lot of determination and drive. Come rain or shine, 4 hours sleep or not, Ruben is studying…and it reminders like this certainly challenges some of the excuses I make. And that reminds me, I did promise myself I would learn some Spanish today! Umm…IMG_0491.jpg

 

I think inspiration helps to make us happy and bring us joy, or strive to be the best version of ourselves we can. What is inspiring you today? 🙂 xx

Daily Inspiration, Journal

Blogging: the basics!

 

Just to tell you of my own entry into blogging. As you know, this blog is very new, started just in February this year! I decided to start blogging when I met blogger, the lovely Ellie Quinn (check out http://thewanderingquinn.com/) quite randomly on the walk from the tube station last September 2017, when we were about to commence the Wanderlust mindfulness triatholon session at Victoria Park (also totally recommend this event by the way, if you like yoga, running and meditation!) I can’t remember how she told me what she did with her blog. But we swapped details and the result, is this!

To be honest, I didn’t know much about blogging before. I had never thought about it. For those of you that only know me in connection to my last few years of working life (public sector and health and social care related) my first degree included aspects of media and journalism, and my MA in Radio too, so I’ve always enjoyed writing, taking photographs and have loved travelling since a child. My first work ambition at that point was to present on the radio. Things changed, but I think the underpinning elements of my enjoyment for meeting others, being creative, travel and photography remained. I kind of wish I had come into this a few years ago, but I guess things come into your life when they are meant to, and that is what has happened here! I decided that if nothing else, blogging would be a fun way of documenting the fun events I enjoy and get up to in London 🙂 That aspect of it is quite lovely.

Ellie really helpfully connected me to another blogger Lucy (https://wanderluce.com) who runs amazing podcasts called “What She Said” and I recommend that if like me you are thinking “how on earth do i start?” that you totally listen to those. They cover every little question you might be thinking of. Lucy is so honest and it’s a real down to earth and realistic way to think about the how’s what’s and whys to starting off (I’ve got a “hint” list written down from Lucy’s podcasts!).  Many bloggers include “handy hints” sections on how to start off and what you might need to consider. I also read on Julie Falconer’s site https://www.aladyinlondon.com/ that she presented talks on the blogging process and decided to attend the “Blogging basics” workshops with her (I went this week- I recommend if you haven’t started or are in the initial throes!)

Here are my top tips, from what I have learned so far: 

  • You should post a blog at least once a week. Julie told us she actually got up an hour earlier every day to spend time on her blog! That is amazing. At the moment I am probably just spending a couple hours a week- note to self…! Any less and you will lose the attention of readers.
  • Patience. You have to be persistent, consistent and have patience. You can’t just post photos and instantly expect 5,000 followers. Things take time to cultivate and grow.
  • Consider your “about” page carefully! It’s one of the most highly viewed pages, and people like to know who it is they are connecting with.
  • Consider having 10-20 blog posts before starting to advertise your blog. That way you have enough on your site, to bring people back, rather than it appearing the site is half empty.
  • If you like what I am writing and think you would like a blog with a similar approach, check out sites such as https://wanderluce.com/,  https://thetravelhack.com/, https://twinsthattravel.com/ and http://thewanderingquinn.com/. These people are doing it and doing it well, and you can learn from their posting, writing and advice on how to get started.
  • Listen to “What she said” on Podcast. It is brilliant!!
  • Good sized photos, quality posts and having keywords in the post can help when people are searching for a blog.
  • Social media will of course help you advertise. Facebook, Instagram and Pininterest should be your friends!
  • Try not to get too carried away by the “likes”.  It’s nice, but I got a bit obsessed there for a week or so and it reduced the fun of it! (whilst I appreciate that if you want to make a proper go of this, you do need followers!)

So far, so good, I love the little connections and keeping a record and sharing of ideas: it’s fun. It definitely takes work, and time. Maybe it will lead somewhere, maybe it won’t; I guess we will see won’t we? I would be really interested if you have started blogging, on how it’s going? It’s certainly interesting finding out about others paths and journeys!!

Happy writing!! 🙂

 

Daily Inspiration

Reconnecting to your inner self

If you feel your life has become a bit of a blip, that the joy of work isn’t quite there, that you’re trudging along kind of ok but have lost your mojo…then its time to take control back! The US based and internationally renowned life coach Brendan Burchard and his book “High Performance Habits” just might be for you. Yes, it’s about creating as he says habits that lead you to being a “high performer”, but for me, the crux of the matter is connecting or reconnecting to the essence of who you are, and what really makes or brings you joy- even if not necessarily wanting to achieve the “high performance” levels the book also focuses on (although, ok, that would be nice!). Its positive to say to yourself to some level that you have gotten off track and need some assistance, and books such as this one are a darn site cheaper than therapy or going to 1-2-1 life coaching sessions (which would be awesome, lets admit).

My case as example and what led me to this book: I’m not necessarily as happy as I could be with work. It’s my second career change, I find it overwhelmingly stressful and I’m not sure I find it my “life’s work”. I wake most mornings dreading going in, and I struggle with the quick speed of the environment.  I also earned more 10 years ago! I read the book because I am wondering am I doing the best I can, am I making a difference and where is my soul in what I am doing, that life is short and in essence I don’t want to be wasting my time. I don’t think I AM “wasting my time”, but sometimes if I am honest these are the thoughts I am contending with, and that’s a bit soul destroying. There’s nothing worse than not fully enjoying what you do, or deep down letting it make you feel a little bit removed, a little bit miserable. Life IS short, therefore it’s good to get on top of what is holding you back, and books like these kind of healthily pick that apart.

I don’t read easily. In fact if you know me you’ll know I tell you that I don’t read for pleasure because I get distracted easily. I must say, Brendan’s style of writing was very engaging and easy to follow. He breaks down high performance into 6 different areas of equal measure: clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, influence, courage. Brendan advises these are not just things that high achievers are just “born with”, they are things we can learn. Good news!

Some of the books most exciting points for you to ponder:

  • Know your “why”! Know your purpose to everything you do. What are the key skills you need for what you are interested in, and how can you go about obtaining them? Are you actually working on obtaining them? High performers set themselves apart by their clarity over each and every interest by knowing their “why”; it keeps them focused.
  • Being grateful and positive are not enough on their own (wonderful though these habits and positive thinking approaches are) It’s what we consistently do as well as think that will make a difference to our performance.
  • Live as your “best self” now. Don’t wait for a future moment. Imagine and visualise who you “want” to be, and demonstrate behaviours towards it NOW.
  • High performers don’t shrink back from challenges. The only way you’ll truly test yourself is to put yourself forward and learn from feedback, both positive AND negative. Be courageous and put yourself forward. I think that’s something I really struggle with, so I understand this is a difficult one, but with challenge, however terrifying at the time, may come amazing growth.
  • High performers aren’t afraid to commit, to show their passion and obsession to their interest. They link what they are doing to their identity and in doing so, raise the level in which they are working. In this way they are more than what Brendan describes as a dabbler. Commit to your intention fully: by committing fully we then up the stakes to see positive results
  • Create positive energy. Sleep well, eat well, exercise routinely which in turn raises energy levels. You can’t perform well if your body is sick or broken. You can’t be your “best self” if you are sick. Lift your mental energy by asking what you CAN be excited about today, if in a rut with work/life. Ultimately whilst simply being grateful isn’t enough on its own, creating a more positive force around you mentally and physically is important for you to achieve your goals.

There is SO much more to say and that can be commented on, it really is an exciting read, but I’ll leave it there otherwise this will turn into an essay! For now, I’d recommend this quick test which is where I started before ordering the book:

http://2.highperformanceacademy.com/10factors

And any comment on the book would be great; I’d really love to hear what you thought and how its working out for you!!