Sorry I was gone – but I’m back for 2021

Well readers, it has been quite some time since I last wrote for you. While 2020 has been an inexplicably difficult year, I was presented with a lot of extra time to read, write and pursue other goals.

Professionally, I’ve been busy with a few commissions and am please to say that you’ll now find my name in publications like Wired, HuffPost and Digital Spy, to name a few. So my first goal for 2021 is to keep up this momentum and land commissions in some other dream publications, like Cosmopolitan, Stylist and The Independent (ssh, I’m manifesting over here).

I’ve also realised that I spend far too much time thinking about what to write here, on my personal blog and website, rather than just simply writing. I’ve got about 16 draft posts that are either outdated or half-finished. So, in my efforts to climb the professional ladder, I’m also making a commitment to write more regularly here (yes, I’ve said it before, but I’m determined this time!).

I moved out just at the end of 2020 (so this piece about living with my parents during lockdown isn’t so relevant to me anymore, but I still hope you enjoy it), so being busy with flat-hunting, furnishing and general life admin is another excuse I’ve come up with. But now that I have a lovely home office space, if a little cold and bare (artwork pending), I’ll make good on my commitment to you, who have stuck with me through this.

As for my non-professional, non-writing-related goals, I’ll be reading more – something I did do in 2020 and have been lucky enough to write about – and I’d like to pick up some more creative hobbies.

Suggestions are welcome, because so far I’ve taken to organising 500+ photographs in a box… And there’s still another thousand or so to print…

The Road to Leaving Lockdown

Like most non key-workers, these last three months have been a challenge and a holiday simultaneously. I’m not exactly fighting the global pandemic so I can’t complain too much. But, I’ve never been more anxious about the world, or more relaxed during the day. It’s a weird combination to get used to and, naturally, I’ve gotten a bit too used to it. So, now that we’re starting to ease off the lockdown restrictions I’m worried about what will happen when things fall back into our ‘normal’ state.

Picture this: a brisk walk in the cold air to the train station, being packed into the tube like sardines, sweet release as everyone steps off together, followed by the rush to get into the office. And then sat at a desk for 8 hours, laughing and joking with colleagues – perhaps even a tea round is thrown in the mix.

A woman standing at a station platform as a train rushes past

It seems like an illusion, doesn’t it? Or some distant dream. Instead, our new reality could be alternative shift patterns, company-wide zoom meetings and making individual teas. (The horror!)

And faced with this new world, I wonder: will I be too accustomed to the ‘work from home’ lifestyle and forget that my commute takes over an hour? Will I use that time to recoup my lost sleep or will I pick up reading again? Will I come to resent that commute? And what about my fitness routine? I’ve been so used to working out whenever I please that the idea of having to wake up in the small hours to fit in a gym session before work makes me physically sick.

READ MORE: What I accomplished in lockdown

And yes, I know these are small and petty things to be concerned about, but I am genuinely worried. Worried that after all this time at home, revelling in the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want (within the parameters of lockdown), I’m no longer fit to rejoin society. I’ve forgotten the expectations of the world. I don’t remember in-person social cues. And meal prepping has gone to hell.

How about you? Are you ready to rejoin the workforce? Or maybe you never left it? Let me know your thoughts – we’re all in this together after all!

What’s happening to 2020?

From the very beginning, 2020 has been a whirlwind. When we rang in the New Year with our Roaring ’20s themed parties and sophisticated looks, did anyone ever think that World War Three was imminent? Or that bushfires would ravage Australia while we all decidedly didn’t freeze in one of the warmest and wettest winters to date? Did we ever dream that all that would be overshadowed by an even deadlier pandemic?

World-ending events are inevitable. Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out, humans will be too – eventually. And possibly due to events of our own making (global warming really isn’t helping anyone) but this pandemic isn’t something we could have seen coming. Okay, sure – we knew about the novel coronavirus as early as January, but it seems that no government was able to predict how quickly it would spread or how deadly it might be.

And now we’re a quarter of the way into a new year and people around the world are locked in their houses (with some countries placing heavier restrictions than others), many workers now find themselves out of work, and small and big businesses alike find their very existence hanging in the balance.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

But what does that mean for the rest of the year? Well, so far we still don’t really know what the global cost will be, in terms of human life and also to the economy. We know that a worldwide recession is likely, and that many people are going to die. But we don’t know how we will cope with these losses just yet.

But I remain hopeful that we’ll emerge victorious from the quagmire and perhaps go back to a better version of our society. Ideally, one where we truly value our key workers and pay them accordingly – and I don’t just mean health workers, but binmen, supermarket staff and transport officers, too.

READ MORE: Be kind to strangers

Let’s become a society that values the little things, too. Like taking a walk outside to hear the birds sing, or making a short phone call to tell someone you love them. Capitalism has consumed us with the search for money and profit in everything we do – enjoy hobbies again, don’t search for the monetary value in everything. Your mental health and happiness should be value enough.

We might also create a more inclusive society. All those jobs where we were told that working from home was impossible? Turns out it’s possible in times of crisis. So let’s demand more flexible working, for mothers and fathers, for less able-bodied people, for when you’re feeling under the weather and could be contagious, but are well enough to work.

And let’s not forget the environment. With each city’s lockdown, pollution levels have dropped and it appears the Earth might be starting to heal. So let’s give her a helping hand. Walk where possible, run if it’s further. Only take long journeys in the car if they’re absolutely necessary – public transport networks connect us all over the country. And maybe airlines will do their bit to reduce emissions or even flights worldwide.

READ MORE: Cutting down single-use plastic

We have the power to make demands, and this crisis makes you wonder if the rest of 2020 will mark a big societal change, from caring only about capital, to actually caring about workers. And caring for our most vulnerable with decisive actions, not just words.

All I know for sure, though, is that I can’t wait to hug my loved ones again ❤

2019 in review

Back in 2018, I set myself some goals for the new year. I swore off making steadfast resolutions and instead had five things I wanted to be better at… So, how did we do?

1. Travel more Well, I’d say I nailed it. I visited a few countries this year – India, Spain, France, Denmark – and the trips varied in length. It’s safe to say I’ll be doing more of these in the new decade.

Nyhaven, Copenhagen
Dreams really do come true in Paris

2. Read 2 books I didn’t quite hit this quota. I got stuck on a book that wasn’t gripping me and sucked the fun out of reading (unfortunately). I’ll give this one up for 2020 and hope to find something I enjoy for next year.

3. Be healthier By and large I’m doing okay – more consistent gym schedule, and eating better meals. I’m hoping to eat less meat in the new decade and more seasonal fruit and veg.

4. Blog consistently So, I was unemployed for a little while this year and managed to get regular posts out for a few months. Since then, I’ve started a new job and am about to move house so once things settle down, I’ll be coming back to the blog. But I’ve been writing consistently for Brown Girl Magazine this year so definitely check them out!

5. Keep better skincare This one worked to an extent! I certainly took care of my skin, but unhealthy eating over the holiday periods really made good skin a challenge…

Fun with skincare, makeup and hair products ❤

And for 2020? My outlook is similar. But with the added goal of furthering my writing career. So, if you’re looking for a versatile freelance writer, drop me a line in the comments 😜

How to Cut Down on Single-Use Plastic

Given that the Earth is now in a Climate Emergency, cutting down on plastics has never been more urgent. Rather than trying to recycle them, we should be aiming to reduce the amount of plastic that we produce and use.

Continue reading How to Cut Down on Single-Use Plastic

Avoiding Burnout While Keeping Up the Side Hustle

Scientific evidence is suggesting that the rise in burnout, especially amongst young professionals, is closely linked to the idea of the “side hustle”. With many millennials exposed to entrepreneurs and influencers on social media, there is a higher level of pressure to create content or build an empire alongside working for an employer.

For those of us who are looking to create content and work to support ourselves while doing so, I’ve put together my tips on how you avoid burning out too early.

Continue reading Avoiding Burnout While Keeping Up the Side Hustle

Thought of the Day: Why Handbags Are a Con

The fashion industry is rigged. You know how I know?

Pockets.

Continue reading Thought of the Day: Why Handbags Are a Con

Maintaining Adult Friendships

Picture this: one day you’re chilling in the playground, making friends left right and centre, and the next day you’ve got bills to pay, food to cook and you’re swimming in student debt. It’s a reality that many of us live, and as our adult lives get busier, we tend to neglect our friends; the very people we promised we would be with forever as youngsters. How could we have forgotten the sacred creed: Best Friends Forever?

Continue reading Maintaining Adult Friendships

Thought of the Day: Toxic Advertising

With TV on-demand, streaming sites and the BBC, it’s rare to be sitting around and watching adverts on the television. And a good thing too – I’d forgotten how damaging some adverts can be.

Case in point: Bio-Oil. Now, we all know what Bio-Oil does – the product reduces the appearance of scars and marks on the skin, and makes everything blend in. That’s all they had to say.

And on the whole, Bio-Oil has always been positive – their #ScarStrong initiative last year was refreshing, and body positivity is in fashion, on trend and marketable. So that’s why their latest advertising campaign really shocked me.

Bio-Oil helps improve the appearance of scars and stretch marks

Bio-Oil Advert, 08/04/19

Red flags. Immediately. Now, the average person may find this an overreaction; after all, no one wants their scars and stretch marks on show, right?

Wrong.

This advert is another case of beauty products being marketed at women by making us feel insecure in our own bodies.

My scar shows that I am strong.

My stretch marks tell a story.

It is up to no one but me whether I choose to have them blend in with my skin or keep them visible. I choose to wear them with pride.

Not everyone has to – if you feel prouder to have them blend in with your skin, that’s great. But Bio-Oil, and the beauty industry as a whole, should not be making us feel bad about our marks. They are normal. They are part of us. They do not need to be “improved”. They are perfect the way they are. They are perfect the way you choose to have them or hide them. They are a part of your body, and it is yours to control, and yours to be proud of.

How I’m Combating Fast Fashion

Inspired by Phoebe Parke’s Grazia article (one of my contemporary writing inspirations), I’ve decided to abstain from shopping this year. I kept this quiet over the January period as this is when most resolutions fail. Now that we’re well into the new year, and I’ve still not bought a single item of clothing, I’ve decided to share a bit more about the reasons why I’ve made this decision, and how I’m kicking my shopping habits.

Continue reading How I’m Combating Fast Fashion