Happiness Is… [Guest Post By Jo]

Happiness Is… [Guest Post By Jo]

Happiness is something different to everyone. For today’s guest post, the superb Jo from www.arosetintedworld.co.uk, is telling us what it means to her.


Happiness for me is all about the day to day pleasures and small moments. The problems start when I feel that I don’t have enough of these. For me, happiness is having something to look forward to!

Having Something To Look Forward To

It is all about the pleasurable anticipation. Planning and thinking over a future event makes the experience sweeter and last longer. And there are so many advantages of having something to look forward to.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

Even setting aside 5 minutes every day to have a meditation break or a chocolate bar can be something that you routinely look forward to each day. Or if you have a certain day off each week, why not make a promise to yourself that you will do something for yourself on that day each week?

Put it in your diary or on your calendar. Tell others of your intentions. Make an appointment with yourself as a priority, as your happiness is worth it. Having something to look forward to each week is a brilliant step towards feeling good.

Calendar

It doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Planning something to look forward to is a little bit like window shopping. You can have all the pleasure with none of the expense. However, at this time of year it is lovely to spend some time planning a trip away or a holiday. Thinking about the clothes you will wear, the sunny weather, and the books you will read.

It can even be free. The moments that I look forward to the most are times spent with my little one. Going for walks in nature and taking time to enjoy and be grateful for everything around me are the times that I relish the most. Just being in the moment and being mindful is great for our well being.

E in Nature

It can make you more talented.

In the last couple of years, I have found a hobby in sewing. The creative part of my life makes me happy. I’m always looking forward to sitting in front of my machine. I go to a sewing group on a Wednesday evening, and always look forward to those nights.

Now, I am not suggesting that we all take up needlework! But having a hobby that is portable or learning a new skill makes you feel better about yourself and can be something that you look forward to doing each day. Again, you may need to set some time aside in your diaries to do this. Express yourself, love what makes you you, and do it with pride!

Colourful Piano

It can get you in contact with other people.

Like my sewing hobby, looking forward to an event can get you in contact with other people. I always look forward to social evenings in or out with family and friends. We can all agree that being more in contact with others is a vital part of being happy. Even if it is just making time and looking forward to ringing a friend for a chat each week.

Or it can give you quality time on your own.

Similarly, if you are anything like me you may look forward to some precious me-time. Sometimes, all we need to look forward to is some self care such as a long candle-lit bath, or a quiet moment spent reading.

So why not spend a moment making a list of all the things that you could plan in the near future? Plan your next wonderful moment. Having something to look forward to is a beautiful thing. 

Happiness Is...

The Importance Of Having Things To Look Forward To
We Need Things To Look Forward To
Do You Have Something To Look Forward To?

IMG_2724 copy

Hi , I’m Jo. I’m an almost 47 year old Mum of an almost 3 year old, and I blog at 
 
 
 
 

I’m definitely with Jo on this one! I love having things to look forward to, and find it makes a big difference to how I feel. No matter how simple it is!

Did you catch Elle’s guest post last Friday? Click here to read That One Little Word.

How To Overcome Writer’s Block As A Blogger

How To Overcome Writer’s Block As A Blogger

1. Write something no one else will see.

My paralysis when it comes to writing usually stems from the fact I know others will be reading it. These days, everything we do – especially as bloggers – is crafted for an audience. Blog posts, tweets, Instagram captions… and it doesn’t matter if there are 5 people or 500 people reading it, the fact it’s someone other than you can be intimidating. And, sometimes, that gets the better of us.

So write something, safe in the knowledge you’re the only person who is going to see it. Destroy it afterwards if you want to. Write about anything. Your childhood. Your day. One of your favourite songs. It doesn’t really matter.

A couple of times I’ve done this and they’ve actually turned into blog posts. Some of my most popular ones, at that. Though that somewhat defeats the point of the activity, I was so proud of what I’d been able to create without fear holding me back, I was keen to share it.

Other times, it has made absolutely no sense and I’m glad it will never be seen again.

2. Try a less intense activity. 

Blogging requires hard work and focus. Between writing, SEO and creating/selecting graphics, it’s not always the most relaxing thing to do. I sometimes think the amount of work which goes into it is what causes us to procrastinate.

Instead of sitting and staring at the page in front of you, do something that requires little thought. Have a bath. Go for a walk. Watch Netflix. Basically, stop trying to force it and take a breather. Just be wary this break doesn’t descend into a semi-permanent hiatus…

Stationery and art supplies including paints, pencils and notebooks

3. Do another creative task.

I recently discovered that doing something else creative can bring inspiration for blogging. For example, while I’m busy colouring in, my mind will wander and all of a sudden, there’s a blog post forming in my head. Though it’s a different type of creativity, it puts me in that mindset and can work wonders!

If it’s not going to look completely out of place in your blog, you could even write a post about whatever activity you choose.

4. Read…

A) Books.

I’ve found that reading something tends to spark a bit of creativity. Sometimes, it reignites my love of words; of expression. Other times, reading someone else’s thoughts and experiences stirs emotions in me which are good to channel into my own work.

It’s all well and good saying that, but what do you read? I, personally, turn to books I know and love. Others dive into something new. Try both and see what happens!

The only word of caution I would give with this one is that, although it’s perfectly fine to be inspired by others, be conscious of not losing your own voice. If you write something in the aftermath of reading, be sure to compare it with previous posts to make sure it sounds like you – not the author you’ve just read!

B) Other blogs.

Have you ever read a blog post, and wanted to leave a mini essay as a comment because you had so much to say on the topic? Other blogs can encourage us to open up about our own experiences – use that energy and put it into a blog post.

Or, it could be the opposite situation – you disagree with what was said. To use this post as an example, if you get to the end of it and think “none of these ways have ever worked for me” but have your own ways to overcome writer’s block, make a post on the subject. You may have the answers someone else is looking for.

Laptop and sketchbook

5. Get off social media.

I notice a BIG difference in creativity levels depending on how much time I spend on social media.

When I spend a lot of time on social media, my head gets full with what I’ve been seeing. Despite my best attempts not to, I take a lot of it on board. Consequently, any ideas are pushed to the back. Social media stifles my creativity a lot, it seems.

When I take a few days away, or when I reduce the amount of time on there, a lot of the clutter falls away. Then I find my ideas can wriggle their way to the front of my mind.

6. Take a blogging break.

It’s better to take some time out to recharge your batteries than to churn out content you’re not happy with. If you’ve already generated a lot of content, it’s natural to hit a block. Let your readers know you’re taking some time out, and set a date for your return. You can always use social media scheduling to keep older content circulating in the mean time.

Take a few days and implement some of the previous suggestions. Write down any ideas that may pop up, but don’t necessarily dive into working on them straight away. Allow yourself the breathing space!

7. Stop putting pressure on yourself.

As the saying goes “done is better than perfect.” I nitpick my posts beyond belief – it’s a miracle any of them are published on time. As I know I’m going to do this, it takes some of the fun out of the process. That said, blogging should be fun! So, try to put the perfectionist on pause, and enjoy yourself.

8. Explore Pinterest for inspiration.

If you search “blog post ideas” in Pinterest, you’ll be met with numerous suggestions. There are hundreds! Some are niche specific, and others can be tweaked to fit in with any blog. Browse through, make a note of any which could work for you, and go from there.

If you haven’t delved into the world of Pinterest yet, that’s not a problem. Do the same thing with Google instead.

How To Overcome Blogger's Block
8 Ways To Overcome Writer's Block
Battling With Blogger's Block?

What’s your top tip to overcome writer’s block?

28 Life Lessons I’ve Learned In 28 Years

28 Life Lessons I’ve Learned In 28 Years

1. There are so many different ways for your heart to break.

When people think of heartbreak, they tend to associate it with romantic love, but there are so many other reasons it happens. The pain of heartbreak stems from loss. I’ve lost a lot of things along the way for different reasons – friends, family, my sense of self. Though some undoubtedly stung more than others, they all created the same feeling in my chest.

2. Things don’t go to plan, and that’s okay.

I touched on this in a tweet on my birthday, as well as this post about approaching 30, and it resonated with a lot of people. Predictability is comforting to me, so it would be nice if things went as I pictured them. Of course, this isn’t the case. There are days when I struggle with this, but, overall, I’ve made peace with it.

3. The quality of friendships is more important than the amount.

Like most people, this is something which became crystal clear as I got older. In school, I used to long for more friends, and wonder why so few people liked me. Then, in college, I met the best friend I’ve ever had. We are still friends now – 10 years later. She is full of life, hilarious and encouraging. She is my biggest supporter, and my strongest ally. I’d rather have one of her than five of anyone else.

4. Internet friends are real friends.

I know there are people out there who “don’t get it.” How you can have a friendship with somebody you’ve never met? But, I have been fortunate to connect with people who have shown it’s possible, particularly since I started blogging.

5. Your family are human, and they will make mistakes.

And it will hurt a little bit more than normal because you love them so much.

I love my family, but they are human. I think we all forget that sometimes. Particularly when we are young, most of us don’t think our families can do any wrong. Yet, part of growing up is learning to accept that even the people who love us the most make mistakes.

6. The right person for you will treat you with love and respect.

I can laugh about this now, but my taste in men has been bad. In my defence, I didn’t know any better. Now that I do, I can see what a relationship should be like. Neal never gives me any chance to doubt his love for me. He makes a point of showering me with compliments and saying he loves me multiple times a day.

That’s not to everyone’s tastes. Some individuals might find that quite overbearing and so, the key is, finding someone who respects you. In doing that, they demonstrate that they want to make you happy and comfortable. They value you and show it in their actions.

7. Nothing is worth the cost of your mental health.

I repeat: nothing is worth the cost of your mental health.

Upon reflection, I’ve persevered with a number of situations which weren’t worth the upset they caused. We all do it – stay in relationships that make us unhappy, struggle with a job that makes us miserable etc. And because we all do it, we think it’s okay. It’s not. If there’s something in your life which is forcing you to feel unbearably sad, please change it if you can. And if you can’t…

Black and gold notebook with iPhone on top next to white dish with two gold paperclips

8. It’s good to talk.

I bottle things up a lot. The simple reason is that I don’t like to bother people with my worries, or because I think what’s upsetting me is silly. I’ve improved slightly since attending counselling, but I’m not always the best at opening up when I’m not feeling great. However, counselling showed me the value of talking things through. Even when I made absolutely NO sense, just having the opportunity to unload worked wonders. I recommend giving it a go.

9. Being childish is a good thing at times.

Once in a while, it’s good to jump in puddles, or blow bubbles, or do something for the pure joy of it. So many of us stop doing things like that because we’re growing older, and we have to be responsible. I would rather stop and admire a rainbow a million times over, than lose that spark of innocence. Don’t ever grow up completely.

10. Pets are members of the family.

If you have pets, you’ll know what I mean. If you’ve never had a pet and you think they’re “just an animal”, you are incorrect.

11. You are more likely to see someone you don’t want to see on days when you feel rubbish.

Exes, past crushes, old classmates – these people always pop up on those days when you’re tired, you haven’t brushed your hair, and you’ve thrown on the first few items of clothing you saw.

12. Trust your instincts.

You know yourself better than anyone else. If something doesn’t feel right, mentally, physically, or in any other way, trust yourself and do something about it.

13. You are your worst critic.

Picture this. You put on an outfit, stand in front of the mirror, and say “I can’t wear this, it looks ridiculous!” Maybe you start to cry a little bit. So, you move to the next outfit. Again, you whimper “everyone will start at me”, before collapsing in a heap on the bed. Been there? Yep, me too. Give yourself a break because…

14. People aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think.

It’s a weird lesson to learn. It is, for the most part, reassuring that everyone is too busy living their own life to notice yours. On the other hand, I suppose it can be a little bit sad to think no one notices you. So let’s clarify: people can see you, but they’re not analysing you.

Most of the time, when I’m staring at someone in the street, it isn’t because I’m thinking something negative. In fact, I’m admiring their outfit, or their confidence. Don’t get me wrong, there are unpleasant people in the world who enjoy mocking others, but the majority are not like that. They’re usually busy thinking about their own lives.

Gold pen, white computer mouse, white disk with two gold paperclips

15. Three great remedies: sleep, tea and the sea.

There are lots of things which don’t have a quick fix but, if you’re having a bad day, I recommend one or all of these. Sleep is a nice way to escape sadness. Tea is a hug in a mug. And the sea is the best reminder I know that us and our problems are small – no matter how enormous they feel.

16. Self care should be a part of your routine.

This is one of the life lessons I learned last year. The idea of self care had been circulating before that, but I’d never bought into its importance. Then I started blocking out time to read, or to take a bath, or to just be outside. I noticed a big difference. When life got busy and I felt I had to sacrifice self care, I could sense myself feeling overwhelmed. So, look after yourself. You deserve it.

17. Time away from social media is essential.

Prior to blogging, social media wasn’t quite such a big thing in my life. I’d nosy on Facebook a few times a day, but there was no need to be constantly connected. As bloggers, I think we feel that pressure to always be online; always available. We expect we will slip from people’s minds if we take a few days off.

But, you have to. It’s not good to be bombarded with all of this stuff constantly. There are times when scrolling through Twitter is draining, and Instagram is depressing. Yet, we keep doing it because we think we’re bad bloggers if we don’t. It’s not true. Step away, chill out. Your supporters will still be waiting for you when you get back.

18. Money can’t buy happiness, but not having it is hard.

I believe in the old cliché that money can’t buy happiness. It comes from all sorts of other places. But the absence of money and struggling to make ends meet is exhausting, stressful and unpleasant. If you’d like to know more of my thoughts on this, I explored it in depth for a guest post.

19. The love for a child is unlike any other.

Don’t panic – this isn’t the post when I suddenly reveal I have a child I’ve managed to keep quiet for several months. In my case, it’s my nieces and nephew. I have never experienced love like it at any other point in my life, except when I laid eyes on them for the first time. Since, I’ve only grown to love them more.

I can only imagine how it will feel if I have a child of my own someday.

20. Loving yourself will take you further than hating yourself ever will.

Again, one of the life lessons I learnt last year which I’m still working on putting into practice. There are snippets of my counselling sessions which I can remember as clear as day. One of those is when my counsellor said, “do you ever wonder what you would achieve if you put the same amount of energy into loving yourself as you do hating yourself?” I had never considered it before. She went on to highlight how all of that time being unkind to myself hadn’t gotten me very far, and it was time to take a new approach.

It’s a tough habit to break, especially as I spent so long drilling negative thoughts into my own mind. I’m hopeful, though, that I can learn to love myself.

21. Music is one of the greatest gifts we have.

When I think about being a teenager, the first thing I see is me in my room, with my CD player on. Music has helped me through so many situations in a way that only music can. When you can’t make sense of your own feelings, and then somehow, someone sings them to you and hits the nail on the head? It’s amazing.

Black and gold notebook with iPhone on top next to gold pen and white computer mouse

22. It’s okay to dress for comfort rather than style.

I would be a liar if I said there aren’t occasions when I wish someone would swoop in and give my entire wardrobe a revamp. However, fashion changes so quickly. There are timeless classics but, for the most part, what’s “on trend” changes in the blink of an eye and I’m too lazy to keep up. As I am on the curvier side, I do appreciate things which make me look and feel good, but the most important factor will always be comfort.

23. You don’t have to like what everyone else does.

I recently wrote about this in this post, but I’ll give it a quick mention. I have been ridiculed at several times in my life for various hobbies, interests and passions. Equally, I’ve been baffled by the latest crazes and struggled to see their appeal. It’s fine. Everyone is different. You do you.

24. The comparison game is one you will always lose.

We seldom come out of it well when we start looking at what everyone else has, and what we don’t. Focus on what you have, rather than what you lack, and you are bound to feel happier.

25. It is not your responsibility to “fix” others.

There are people in this world who are flawed. There are people in this world who are stuck in a rut. You can dedicate endless hours to trying to help them, but they have to choose to help themselves. Until they get there, your efforts will have very little impact.

26. There are more good people in the world than bad.

Though it feels like it’s getting harder to believe this, I stand by it. There are so many incredible, kind, driven, and exceptional individuals on this planet. Try to remember that next time you’re watching the news, or an internet troll crawls out to test your patience.

27. The best thing to be is kind.

Imagine what a wonderful world we would live in if people pursued being kind as much as they pursue being rich, or famous, or popular, or skinny. The world could do with a little more of it, that’s for sure. It’s impossible to know what someone else is going through. Make the choice to be kind, and you’ll always be on the right track.

28. Nothing lasts forever.

Though it is true of happiness as well, I want to focus on the context of bad times. When you find yourself lost in the darkness, it can feel like you will never, ever get out. Each day feels harder than the last. If I’ve learnt one thing in my life, it’s that no matter how permanent and all consuming it feels, sadness is temporary. Then, one day, you wake up, and your lungs are a little lighter. You can breathe easier. Or, you catch yourself laughing again, and you feel unstoppable. The sun will come up again. Cherish every second.

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That One Little Word [Guest Post By Elle]

That One Little Word [Guest Post By Elle]

I was so delighted with the content I received as guest posts that I decided to continue accepting them this year! I’m so excited to read and share more.

The first one is from Elle, who is new on the blogging scene, but clearly very talented. If you enjoy her contribution, be sure to let her know, and support her going forward!


The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be exhausting, daunting, and downright stressful most of the time. Thinking of the things that need to get done in that day, or in that hour, or in that minute can be enough to make someone’s head spin. Add a mental health issue into the mix, and you have yourself a recipe for a breakdown. How do I know? Because it happened.

In January of 2016, I suffered through a period of intense mental and emotional distress. Call it a nervous breakdown, a mental breakdown, whatever you want. It felt like my depression and anxiety was getting the best of me. Getting out of bed to go to work felt like an impossible task. Socializing with people was exhausting. Doing my day to day tasks like washing dishes, doing laundry, or cooking dinner seemed daunting and near impossible. If it couldn’t be done from my bed, I didn’t and couldn’t do it.

The day that I broke down in my therapist’s office was a turning point for me.

It was the first time I had felt my life spiraling so out of control. It was the first time I felt truly and completely helpless and pointless. I felt that I didn’t matter. The thoughts I had were scary and the feelings were so real. My mind was turning against me. My therapist had to call my sister to come pick me up, and she took me to an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist to get my medication evaluated

From that day on, my therapist has been working with me on positive self-talk and positive self-image. One of the most important and helpful things I have learned through this process is to change my thinking a little bit. Instead of saying or thinking “I have to go to the gym” or “I have to go grocery shopping”, I’ve changed the “I have to” to “I get to”. I GET to go to the gym. I GET to go grocery shopping.

That one simple, tiny change makes a difference, at least in my mind.

It reminds me that while I have responsibilities and obligations, I am lucky to have them. I am lucky that my body is healthy enough to get me through a work out. I am lucky that I have the money to go grocery shopping without worrying about spending too much. I’m lucky that I have a career and lifestyle that permits me to “have to” do things sometimes.

Doing things like going out in social settings is still hard for me at times, but I have to remember – I GET to see my friends. I GET to have a nice meal and some drinks. Changing those two words helps to change my thinking and helps me to realize that just because I HAVE to do something, doesn’t mean it needs to be unpleasant. So often we gripe about our responsibilities and the things we have to do, but we are blessed to have these obligations, because it means our lives are so enriched.

That One Little Word - Guest Post By Elle

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Elle's Guest Post On One Little Word

Check out Elle’s blog, www.joltofimpulse.com, and follow her on Twitter.


If you’d be interested in doing a guest post, please visit this page for all of the information.

Why I Won’t Be Participating In The UK Blog Awards Again

Why I Won’t Be Participating In The UK Blog Awards Again

I know what you’re thinking. Is this really coming from the same person who pleaded with us to vote for our favourites?

Yup.

It seems I was naive. Consider this a lesson learned.

At the time of writing the previous post, I truly believed it would be fair. It looked good on paper, and I was optimistic. When I was nominated, I was ecstatic. Upon discovering I was through to the voting stages, I was emotional. It was something I was eager to see come to fruition.

Then I read this post by The Bloglancer and some concerns started creeping in. I considered things from a new perspective, and approached with caution.

Then, since the voting process began, everything has gone downhill.

Let’s preface this.

This isn’t on the basis of being bitter. This was my first year of blogging. I didn’t expect to be nominated, or reach the finals. I’m not going to say I didn’t want to, because I did. Despite how things have turned out, I remain grateful for the opportunity, and the support I received.

Then things started happening, and my confidence in the UK Blog Awards started to dwindle. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I respected them. Time and time again, though, they fell short of expectations.

No system is perfect. You can’t please everyone. But to get it so badly wrong? That’s something else entirely.

This post is on the back of how things have been handled, the mess that it’s been since November, and the shameful lack of communication.

I’m also willing to admit that, yes, I am a little angsty about some of the other bloggers who have been overlooked. My opinion isn’t the be all and end all, but these are individuals I was confident would be there because they are admired throughout the community, and because they’re fantastic at what they do.

I’m not going to rehash every mistake.

Most of you will already know, and the rest probably aren’t interested. If this was their first year, then I would have been more understanding. After six years, though, I feel they should know better.

I wrote a thread on Twitter, and plenty of people echoed my sentiments, but there was no response. There was opportunity to go some way in redeeming themselves, and they chose to bury their head in the sand.

Bear in mind, this is a big deal to a lot of people, especially newer bloggers. It was new to them, and there were new elements to the process for seasoned bloggers, too. We were anxious, we were excited and, understandably, perhaps a bit restless. A lack of communication meant this quickly transcended into confusion, and, in turn, frustration.

Now, it’s easy to say “it shouldn’t matter, what’s the big deal – awards don’t define your content”, and I do agree with that. Yet, during the process, you get swept up in it. There’s a chance to receive recognition for your work, and that should be a good thing.

Open laptop with white flowers and gold dotted notebook

I appreciate they experimented with new systems, and new procedures.

I know technology is unpredictable. This is all well and good, but when things failed, it seemed increasingly more difficult to get hold of anyone to find out information. People were left in the dark.

I know they have since released the judging criteria which may have been helpful to some. But it’s a struggle for me to have respect for an organisation that claims to be in favour of bloggers, yet messes them around, and doesn’t offer so much as an apology for their conduct.

The feedback I gave them was well-intentioned, and I did my best to make that clear. I am of the opinion that feedback is helpful to learn, and to grow, and wanted them to acknowledge it for next year.

Of course, they didn’t. They were happy enough to retweet and like tweets which sang their praises, or anything in their defence. To respond to justifiably unhappy individuals? Nope.

And the thing is, is that they won’t do that while people passively accept or, worst yet, blindly praise them regardless of their actions. It’s a case of if they can get away with it, they will. I don’t really care who you are – if you mess up repeatedly, you should be held accountable. Especially when you fail a community you represent.

I can’t agree with an organisation that claims to celebrate the diversity in the blogging community, yet…

1) The majority of the finalists are white.
2) Almost all have self-hosted blogs.
3) The fashion finalists are all female, and there’s not a single plus size girl amongst them.
4) Several of the finalists are “big names”, who have several opportunities under their belt.
5) In some categories, the finalists’ blogs all look exactly the same.

With the first three points, it is possible that that reflects who entered. Without access to that information, it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions, but it is a point of interest for me. The last two points, though, are a little more dubious.

Does that really represent the broad talent across the community? I don’t think so. Then again, it’s tricky when the marks are based on 3 blog posts, and 3 bits of criteria. A year’s worth of work for most people came down to their three most recent posts at the time of marking.

Having one judge per category is bound to cause issues. No matter how impartial someone aspires to be, they have their tastes and will naturally be drawn to certain things more than others. This is nothing against the judges as people, it’s simply how humans are. I’d be just as guilty as it of anyone else.

This was pitched as a level playing field; it was presented as an opportunity for all, but it’s difficult to believe that.

Small camera, computer keyboard, white pencil and white calculator

As for numbers not being a contributing factor, I’d like to give you some figures to mull over.

The average Instagram following in lifestyle was 5800. In fashion, 7000. Beauty was 9800. Culinary was way up there with 13,500. Oh, and in Parenting and Baby, there was a finalist with 811,000. Yep, you read that right. Though that one is extreme, there were several others in that category beyond the 10k mark.

I’m not saying those individuals don’t deserve their follower numbers. But, at some stage, you have to admit that popularity comes into it somewhere, and it’s harder for new talent to emerge amongst established names.

The vote, supposedly, counted for very little, with a 40% role in the total, and 60% from the judges. Why have it at all? Any voting system is open to abuse and puts anyone with low numbers at a disadvantage. It instantly becomes a popularity contest. (In the interest of fairness, I will say that this isn’t the case in every category. Some are better balanced than others.)

It is questionable to me, though, that these votes can’t be revealed because it’s “too much work.” I would have thought these statistics would be readily available in a voting system? I don’t know – that argument just doesn’t sit right with me. Once again, it demonstrates a lack of transparency.

Throw into that the fact that, as it turns out, there’s not one big event, but a few smaller ones, a dinner for the winners, and just an Instagram live ceremony? While this may work out better for the people involved (and I hope it does), I’m confused as to why this wasn’t made clear previously. This information only came to light in emails to the finalists.

It’s unfair to use this as a basis to tell bloggers to “work harder.”

On the one hand, we have people saying it doesn’t matter. Be proud of your content regardless. On another, we have people saying “let it motivate you to work harder” or “improve your content for next year” and I take issue with this.

This feeds into the idea that, somehow, an individual wasn’t doing enough, or that their content wasn’t up to standard. Perhaps, in fact, the truth is that the odds were stacked against them.

There are bloggers I have connected with this year who have outstanding content. They nail it every time – their writing, their images, their tone. It’s all fantastic. It’s a struggle to pinpoint how they could improve.

Yet, they didn’t make the cut.

I know the community is packed with talent, and not everyone can win. But the individuals I have in mind… well, to be frank, I’m baffled how someone could look at them and not see them as fit for recognition. Even having seen the criteria they were judged on, I can’t find any logic in it.

In some instances, maybe I’m biased, but in other cases, I know I won’t be the only one who was completely stunned to not see some deserving names in there.

Maybe it was simply a case of bad luck, but please, don’t come out with the nonsense that it should drive them forward. It’s insulting. If you’re going to attempt to console people, maybe stick with “your content is awesome, keep it up.” (I did see a lot of that as well so kudos to you, cuties.)

Gold scissors on top of opened lined notebook

I am aware there are humans behind this, but there are also humans behind these blogs, too.

We deserve more respect than has been demonstrated throughout this entire process.

This isn’t a personal attack against any one individual. Having worked on a website in a previous job, I am painfully aware of how unreliable technology is sometimes. Things go wrong. This understanding is probably the reason I wasn’t as quick to jump on tweets or direct messages as others. I didn’t want to bombard anyone when I could imagine how stressed they were.

In these situations, though, communicating makes such a big difference – especially when people are eagerly waiting on you with bated breath. It may not be viable to respond to everyone individually, but intermittent updates along the way wouldn’t have gone amiss.

It’s hard to be criticised and not take it personally, or feel like you’re being attacked. But a lot of what I saw on Twitter was legitimate feedback. Though, nobody knows what could have been said in direct messages, and I don’t think there’s ever any excuse to be unpleasant.

Believe it or not, I have let a lot of things slide.

I’ve been patient and polite (correct me if I’m wrong) and I’m not content to sit and keep my mouth shut. I imagine this looks like I’ve gone off on a random one-woman crusade, but this is the culmination of a lot of frustration – both on my end, and for others who have been involved.

Maybe you’ve reached this point and you think I’m taking it all too seriously. Does any of it even matter? Well, yes, I think it does because, as a community, we are responsible for each other, and responsible for the standards we set. In my opinion, they failed to meet the mark, on numerous occasions, so it’s up to us to say that. We deserve better.

Having written and re-written this more times than I can count, I know it’s hard to talk about it without 1) sounding like you’re spitting the dummy out because you didn’t get through and 2) trying to take glory away from the finalists, but it’s not about that. It’s about how everything has been handled, which has ultimately caused me to lose any respect I had for them.

White flowers, small camera, open laptop, white calculator and gold notebook

Would I still be writing this if I were through to the finals?

The tone may have been different, but I still would have had similar things to say. I would have discussed the highs and lows of the process overall. The number of hiccups along the way were beginning to replace any excitement with frustration. This was growing and it no longer felt as fun as it should. Whether or not you trust me on that is your choice.

The lack of organisation and the poor communication left a bitter taste in my mouth, which wouldn’t have been washed away just because I progressed.

I don’t think any less of anyone who is excited to be in the final. I hope it lives up to their expectations. As well as that, I hope the process is a lot smoother going forward, because this should be a big moment for you – once which isn’t overshadowed by anything else.

In the context of the category I was in – mental health – I maintain that I’m happy to see it there. It was a category of wonderfully talented individuals, and I stand by the fact I felt proud to be amongst them.

Nothing can be done now, and I will be letting it lie from here on out. But I’m disappointed, and think the community deserves more. I’ll stand by that.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I’m not going to name names because those individuals chose to message me privately for a reason. But I am aware that several people feel let down by the way the whole thing has been executed.

Now, before you write us off as haters, you should probably know that a couple of the people who have messaged me have been finalists. Grateful as they are to be moving forward, they admit the entire thing could have been handled much better. I think that should set some alarm bells ringing.

There were also finalists from previous years who popped up to say they were disappointed in the conduct this year. So, the feelings aren’t exclusive to me.

Needless to say, I have absolutely no intention of being involved next year.

Though I hope the UK Blog Awards learn from their mistakes and the whole thing is much better co-ordinated in 2020, I would prefer not to have a part in it.

For those who think I’m just upset right now and will feel differently next year, I can tell you from knowing myself as well as I do that it’s highly unlikely. The way I work is that I give people multiple chances, but when they mess up the last one, that’s it. It’s very hard to rebuild my trust from there.

This was my first time being involved with the UK Blog Awards, and they’ve made sure it will be my last. What anyone else does is their choice.

My choice to not be involved in the future will likely be of little consequence to anyone or anything, but the reason I’m writing this is so you all know and appreciate where I stand on the matter. And so that anyone who may be feeling the same way – even if they don’t want to express it openly – knows they’re not alone.

White calculator on top of lined notebook with white pencil

In summary, it’s just not worth the price.

Following the announcements, I imagine a lot of us went through a similar series of emotions. Sadness, disappointment, self-doubt. I’m not going to pin that on the UK Blog Awards because this is a sad side effect of these kind of things, and not created intentionally.

But what I realised was that anything that makes me question my content and my ability isn’t worth signing up for again. Given the cruel way my mind works at times, it may not have been the best idea to try in the first place. I was just so moved by the encouragement I’d had from others that I felt motivated to give it a go.

I held off on saying anything in the immediate aftermath, because I knew I wasn’t in the right headspace to be reasonable. Yet, after those feelings subsided, there was still an underlying sense of anger at the whole situation – not only on behalf of myself, but of many others, too.

Am I shooting myself in the foot by making such a decision? I’m sure some people will think so. As far as I’m concerned, I’m staying true to who I am and the morals I adamantly believe in. So, no, not really.

As I said way back at the beginning of this post (congratulations on making it this far, by the way), it’s a lesson learned, in more ways than one.

My blog, my platforms, and my “brand” if you will, are built on positivity, and I know this doesn’t necessarily showcase that. But, I do also have a deep respect and admiration for members of this community. If you think I’m being over the top, keep in mind it’s because I care.

Why I Won't Be Participating In The UK Blog Awards Again

Why My First Experience With UKBA Is Going To Be My Last
I'm Frustrated With The UK Blog Awards
Do The UK Blog Awards Represent Diversity In The Community

The Pressures Of The New Year

The Pressures Of The New Year

The pressures of the New Year are something I’ve felt quite intensely this year. I don’t tend to make resolutions, January 1st is just another day but in a new year, and I’m happy to plod on as normal. So, why is this year different?

This is the first New Year when I’ve been a blogger.

I’ve been trying to figure out the direction I want to go, and what I’d like to achieve in 2019. I haven’t really gotten anywhere with this as of yet. I can’t seem to get my head straight for long enough to figure it out.

In the past couple of days, I’ve identified why this is. There are actually two reasons.

Number one is that I achieved far more in 2018 than I planned for. It’s left me a bit stumped about what I want to do this year. That’s a wonderful thing to be able to say, though!

The second reason is not so great and that’s that, despite surprising myself in 2018, I’m still lacking in the self belief department. If a goal pops into my head, I’ll immediately respond with a reason why I should scrap it.

So, the first thing I need to tackle is getting out of my own way, which I knew long before we were counting down to 2019.

Everyone is talking goals (which I love, for the record).

My social media feeds are full of it. My inbox has exploded with things along the lines of “how I’m making 2019 my best year yet!” Even though I love seeing the ambition and drive in everyone, it’s a new experience. I haven’t necessarily found myself in a situation quite like it before. I’ve had light-hearted discussions about resolutions with family and friends, but that’s about it.

In the week between Christmas and New Year, I lost count of how many times I was asked about my goals. It’s a natural conversation to occur at that time of year, but I found myself panicking about the fact I hadn’t made any.

I thought reading everyone’s goals would get me fired up, and help me to discover my own. It seemed to have the opposite effect. I froze up, and thought “I really don’t have a clue.” This caused a bit of a wobble, and a panic about my lack of ambition, even though that’s not entirely true.

Now that it’s all a little less intense, I’ve had the welcome realisation that my ambitions simply aren’t quite as straightforward to measure, which is perfectly alright.

I turned 28.

I’m still not used to saying that.

My birthday is right at the start of January. It got me thinking, once again, about approaching 30. It raised a lot of questions about where I’m at, and where I want to be. I read my previous post on the subject to try and reassure myself that things will happen as they’re supposed to – even if it’s not in the way I pictured it. It was comforting to a degree.

The combination of the New Year and my birthday means there’s a lot of reflection, and contemplating the future. Yet, no answers.

I realise a lot of the pressures come from within myself. That’s something I’ve always been guilty of. I pile it on, until I feel like my head is about to explode. I’ve made some progress with it, but if this New Year has shown me anything, it’s that I’m still doing it.

I guess I wanted to write this to say it’s okay if you haven’t got a long list of goals, or any sort of plan for 2019. Maybe your plan is to dive in and see what happens. That’s cool. Even if you’re a blogger. Maybe you need more time to figure it out, and come June, you’ll know how to ace the last half of the year.

Equally, if you’ve made goals, I hope you achieve them, but please don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t. If you’ve failed your New Year’s resolutions already by this point, it’s not a big deal. There are still over 300 days of the year, and you can make changes on any one of them.

This is a note to myself, and all of you, to say January 1st is just like any other day, and guess what? You can set goals any day of the year! Don’t let the pressures of the New Year overwhelm you.

The Pressures Of The New Year

New Year No Goals
Struggling With The Pressures Of A New Year
Feeling Overwhelmed By New Year

Merry Christmas (Plus Some Important Information!)

Merry Christmas (Plus Some Important Information!)

Merry Christmas!!!

Depending when you are reading this, I hope you are having or have had a wonderful Christmas.

I’d like to thank you all for your support over the last few months. You have given me more than you’ll ever know. The feedback, the comments and the messages I have received have left me speechless on plenty of occasions. Blogging has brought some exceptional people into my life, and I am so touched by the whole experience. You are the driving force behind what I do, and the reason I continue to work on giving you the best content I can. Though it hasn’t always been easy, it has been a pleasure to open the doors and let you in.

There’s not a single one of you who doesn’t deserve for all of your wishes to come true this Christmas. You deserve the best, so I hope Santa has been kind. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, enjoy it. Make sure you relax, let loose and have fun. That’s what Christmas is all about!

Now, that important information I mentioned:

As most of my loyal readers will know, I have worked tirelessly since I started in April. Hundreds of hours have been invested in making this blog the best it can be. The whole reason for that was to be able to fully enjoy Christmas, Neal’s birthday, New Year and my own birthday. To feel able to take that break, without any guilt. With that in mind, there will be no posts until Monday the 7th of January. It’s likely I will still be active on social media, although much less than I usually am. Please be patient if you try to contact me and it takes me a while to respond! I am hoping to return feeling refreshed and ready to take on 2019.

Let’s make next year one to remember – for all the right reasons!