What Striving to be More Tolerant has Taught Me

One of my new year’s resolutions last year was to fix something that had started bothering me about myself.

I’ve never been a particularly tolerant person, and I used to justify it as me just standing up for myself. But over the last few years I had started to feel petty, bitter and nasty. It was making me feel unhappy about myself, and I realised I was becoming a not very nice person.

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I would see friends, calm and collected, non-judgemental and supportive and wonder how I could be like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beast. I’m supportive but I could see a side of me I didn’t like. I would jump to assumptions about people, gossip and scoff at things I didn’t understand or were different from me. I wouldn’t listen and I wouldn’t learn.

So I made a conscious effort to change my behaviour. Instead of immediately jumping to an assumption about someone, I thought about things from their side. Before I scoffed at a trait or behaviour, I found out a little bit more about it.

It’s made me feel calmer and happier about myself. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a way to go, and I could never claim to be a saint. I have times where I snap back to old behaviours, when I’m tired or stressed or caught up in the moment. But those will change with time, I hope.

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I hate it when someone belittles me for something I’m passionate about, or tries to make a scene about something they don’t understand (even if they think they do) so why would I do the same? And when someone does behave like that towards me, I can now sit and reason it with myself, deal with the bad feelings it’s given me and move on. I don’t retaliate, or have that burning feeling that I have to defend myself for too long. And afterwards I can remind myself I’m a good person, and getting better every day.

It all boils down to the golden rule, do as you would be done by.

I’m pleased I took a step back and thought about what I didn’t like about myself and made a change. I hope I stay on this journey as long as it takes to become a better me!

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Adulting & Growing Old: What Adults Never Told You When You Were Young

I’m coming up to 34 years old next month, and I have to be honest, I still feel 19 in my head. I think I always will.

I’ve been blessed with a young-looking face, and people always think I’m about 6 years younger than I actually am. I used to hate this but now I like it, and I hope it doesn’t change.

Me and my husband used to look at photos of when we had first met and compare them with current ones, then comment on how we hadn’t changed. But now we look at those same pictures and notice a massive difference. I’m getting old! Not really, but I’m definitely looking older.

Last week I found my first white hair – not grey, white – and I was so happy. I love the idea of getting older, and I feel like I’ve hit another milestone. I’ve been looking for greys for a while now, but since I dye my hair (and have done since I was 16) I rarely see my natural colour. For some reason this time around, my mousey-roots making an appearance hasn’t bothered me so I’m holding out dying my hair until I snap back into hating it again. My plan is that if my hair goes white I won’t have to dye or highlight it any more. I’m aware that won’t work, but let me dream for a while.

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When I was a kid, I knew that as soon as I hit 18 I’d be an adult and have it all sussed out. But along with no one telling you how much aftercare having a tattoo takes and what REALLY goes on when you give birth, it’s one of those things that people don’t tell you when you’re a kid and leave you to work out yourself;

You’ll never really feel like an adult. (Shh don’t tell the kids).

I often see a term banded around on twitter – ‘Adulting’, and I think it’s perfect. For example “I had pizza for breakfast #adulting” or “Spent the afternoon doing my accounts, and now I’m off to a wine bar #adulting” It’s used perfectly to illustrate the psyche of an ‘adult’ who has the brain of a teenager doing things they feel that can or should do but not quite feeling like an adult.

I’ve always said that I never want to feel like an adult. If I start feeling that way, things will be dull and boring and I will have lost the fun. I also say you’re never truly old until you hit about 80, so I’ve got some time to go.

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You spend your young life learning how to be when you’re thrust out into the big wild world, but you never really stop learning. You can continue to educate yourself both academically and by learning from experience and the experience of others. Everyone you meet teaches you something about people and about yourself. You never stop making mistakes, learning from them and choosing which path to take.

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I find growing older to be the biggest adventure. It’s exciting. I want to be a sponge taking it all in, adapting myself to it and moving on to the next thing. I know a lot of people who went through a funk when they hit 30, but I was the most excited. This year I turn 34 and whilst I’m not so keen with my skin changing, my ability to go out in the evening on a ‘school night’ diminishing and my life responsibilities going up, I still know there’s so much ahead of me. There’s time to learn, change, experience and move forward. There are people I haven’t met, places I haven’t seen and so many things I need to learn about myself.

Who wouldn’t want to move forward and experience all of that?

2016: My Year in Blogging

I think this year has to have been one of my most consistent blogging years, the last one being during my year of half marathon training.

And I know exactly what changed it; the blogging community on social media and actually being actively social.

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Blogging has changed a huge amount since I started. I’ve been writing a blog for around 15 years and this particular blog for 7 and a half now. I’m so proud that Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug is the way that it is and that people seem to like it!

I started the year with around 300 email subscribers and ended it with over 600. After having started dabbling with makeup I started to see my reader stats increasing and people seemed to be interested in that kind of content. I’m not going to lie, as much as my blog posts are written for me, no one will deny the draw to being popular. Especially in such a competitive environment. And it’s SO competitive.

When I started blogging it wasn’t popular. It was something emo kids and poets did. For the record, and though there’s nothing wrong with being either of those things, I’m neither. I was just putting thoughts to ‘paper’ and then releasing them into the great ocean of the internet. I think that’s why I get on with twitter so much. You have a thought, you release it, and then it’s gone (for the most part!).

When I began putting in that extra 10% effort this year, I could see it made all the difference. But I also saw that the world of blogging, this expansive Blogosphere, was totally different from how it was when I started. EVERYONE has a blog. The content is rarely original, but when it is, it’s so good. And people can really make money from blogging. People are jacking in their 9-5 jobs to work for themselves and become influencers full-time.

And not only that, the popularity contest is so fierce that people actually pay for followers. Things I didn’t know even existed were brought to the forefront – people spend hours scheduling tweets to go out on a weekly basis. They will plan posts months ahead, spending hours perfecting their Media Kit and profile pages to be PR friendly. I have, for the time being, decided that a media kit and PR related type stuff is not for me. The other day someone had to explain to me what an Insta Pod was – I’m still not 100% sure…

A few years ago I dabbled, and worked with companies reviewing their stuff. I worked with Vita Coco, Chobani and a few tea companies. I had chocolate and yogurt coming out of my ears and finding the time to review everything was hard. I found my content was becoming watered down this ad content and I decided to let it go.

I also found it’s so hard to get noticed in the seas of ‘young’ ‘hip’ bloggers who understand social media and branding way more than I can at my mid 30’s. It’s frustrating to think that the 40th review someone has read about the latest Zoella perfume can get so much more engagement than a post I write about travel or a favourite charity….. But still.

So since I considered myself pretty good at twitter I set up a second twitter account dedicated to Musings and let it loose on the world. I got a few followers but they were mainly people who I already knew. And nothing seemed to happen….. Then I realised that I was being totally dumb and in order for people to engage with me I needed to engage with them. It’s been to the detriment of my personal twitter account, I must admit, but even so, I have really enjoyed it.

Things really started to fly when I discovered The Bloggers Hub (or I think they might have found me!), a network of like-minded bloggers who chat, help each other and are really fun. The guys who run the network are great, welcoming, and really help to boost your exposure all at the same time. They seem like the kind of people I’d really get on with IRL and there’s zero bitchiness from anyone, which is the one thing that had put me off being involved in any other twitter blogger network. Their twitter chat was also the first one I ever participated in (and since I’ve never felt the urge to join in with any others, if I’m honest). Through them I’ve found some amazing, friendly and really down to earth bloggers. I’ve also had my eyes opened to some of the pitfalls of blogging, some of the drama and plenty of the scams.

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Through twitter I got the balls to start my YouTube channel too, which is still very much in its infant stage. But it’s great to know there’s an outlet I can push my videos through, when I really want people to know what I’ve been creating.

Something I’ve always had an issue getting over, so not just this year, is the fear of putting what I really think onto the screen. And by that I mean, I sometimes have the strong urge to write a response to something that might be going on in the press or something in my life, but I’m afraid of the responses I might get. Sometimes it’s a social or political issue that I don’t feel like I know everything about but I still have a strong opinion on. I might know enough to write a post about it, but someone who knows more about it than me might comment and I won’t be able to stand my ground. This is something I hope, in time, I’ll get over. But the more exposure my blog gets, the higher the chance that someone might respond negatively to what I’ve written. I mean let’s face it, beauty bloggers get flack for using too much product in their swatches so what hope do I have if I start to comment on politics?

I also had the chance, towards the end of the year, to attend a couple of Blogger events. One was too far from home, but one was right where I live, and I chickened out. Apart from it being too much money for what you got, I didn’t feel ready to take that scary leap and be social with people I’d never met. The fear was too great. But maybe this year I’ll take the leap. There’s one blogger I’ve been friendly with for the past year, who I would consider a friend even though we’ve never met. Maybe meeting her this year will be the first step to conquering this fear. I think I need my hand held!

So what does 2017 and blogging hold for me? This year I upgraded my Peanuts Moleskine notebook, where I usually write in long hand, a full blog, if I have the idea in my head and I need to get it out. I bought a Dot Creates Blogger Planner. Inside it’s got loads of space for planning upcoming blogs. Up until now I’d either use my Peanuts Moleskine or more often just open a new page on my iPhone Notes app. This can be a little clumsy and when it comes to things like this, I appreciate putting pencil to paper more. This blog planner will also be great for planning YouTube video ideas and it makes my brain feel a little more organised!

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So planning will be important in 2017, though I don’t feel like I’ll ever be the kind of person who can sit, plan and write out posts months in advance. I’m far too much of a spur of the moment, type out whatever’s in my brain right now, kind of blogger.

I know I’ll continue with twitter because it’s been so much fun, socialising with everyone and learning too. I considered dabbling with scheduling tweets, but I enjoy actually engaging in real-time too much. Even scheduling blog posts too far ahead of time makes me feel distant from my content, so for the time being I won’t be scheduling tweets.

I’m going to work on my brand, but I want to keep it real. I don’t want to find myself moving back to where I was when I was doing PR and collaborations. That’s not me – if I talk about a product it’s because I love it and I’m just doing the same as if I told my friends about something amazing that I’d tried. And I want my readers to know that too. If I’m telling you about it, it’s because it’s worth talking about!

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I can honestly say that 2016 was my most enjoyable year in blogging, and I hope 2017 follows suit. I now know that putting that little bit of extra effort in, finding your tribe and being social makes a whole heap of difference. There’s a reason it’s called social media but for someone who isn’t incredibly outgoing or social I was just a little slow on the uptake.

But it’s okay now, because I got there eventually. And I love it!

Learning About Myself

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At the tender age of 32 and a half, I feel like I’m just starting to understand myself. They say you can’t be loved until you love yourself. I think that’s true in part, but who truly loves themselves at the age in which they’re finding love?

As I head towards 33 I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve learned about myself up until now.

I’ve learned that I can’t stand the sight of my own blood without literally passing out, and that I have ZERO control over it. I know it’s going to happen, I can rationalise with myself all I like, but it’ll still end badly. And there’s very little I can do to stop it once it starts. Yay for my brain!

I’ve learned that it’s okay to live with anxiety, and the worst thing to do is be anxious over your anxiety. Living with GAD isn’t great. Very few people understand it and so I don’t tell many people about it unless I feel safe in their space or unless it necessary. I’m learning that it comes and it goes, and that no matter how other people feel about it (and even though the opinion of others sometimes makes it harder to get through) my feelings come first in those situations.

I’ve learned that I have a lactose intolerance, and my love affair with cheese was ill-fated. I’ve also learned that people are intolerance intolerant and just think I’m being picky or fussy when it comes to dealing with it. I’m learning to simply tolerate those intolerant of my intolerance 😀

I’ve learned that I can read people rather well, and that if I take my time and consider all the parts of a story I can usually put myself in another person’s shoes and work out the motive behind their actions. Or at least create a multitude of different scenarios to explain why someone might behave in a certain way. I find it very interesting. As an uber over-analytical person it’s nice to put this obsessiveness to practical use. I’ve found it’s enabling me to give other people factual advice on their problems. Being on the outside of a situation, along with this kind of perspective is very interesting. I sometimes start speaking and by the end of the thought have discovered a solution I didn’t even know was possible, through reasoning. None of that probably made any sense, but there you go – welcome to my brain!

I’ve learned how to let my friends in. I never used to hold onto friends too tight, simply because I assumed I wasn’t worth their time. I didn’t see my value in their life, mainly because I didn’t see my value full-stop. But during the process of helping my friends see their value in MY life, I was able to see the other side. And now I have a heap of close and amazingly wonderful friends, who I couldn’t live without.

I’ve learned that you can be in a long-term relationship and not get bored of the other person. I didn’t think it was possible, when I first started seeing Gary, that you could be in a long-term relationship and still keep interested in the same person. But 14 years down the line and things are better than ever. We still have fun. Still talk in depth about anything and everything and still adore each other.

I’ve learned I’m a massive bitch, and that I should be a bit kinder when it comes to first and quick impressions. I default to dislike of things out of the norm or different than me. But to be different, individual or confident takes a brave person, and who am I to judge? It’s not so much what I say or how I act, but more how I think, and that’s what I’m working on. I want to be a pleasant person, kind and nice. I think I am all these things, but let myself down sometimes and this is what I’m working on.

I’ve learned so much, and so much more than these few things over the years. I really enjoy working on myself, and making this Erin the best Erin I can be. I’m looking forward to how much I change and learn about myself over the next 10 years. Life is darn exciting!

This Week I Have Been Mostly…..

Watching: I saw this movie this week

It’s called Mama and it’s amazing! If you like scary and slightly supernatural movies you’ll love it. Dark and gritty, it stars Jessica Chastain and some incredibly talented little girls. This is definitely a film I will be wanting to own and will watch again.

Reading:

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. It’s set in Scotland and is written from the perspective of two young girls whose parents are (were) junkies – until they died and their kids had to bury them in the garden. It’s an easy read but the content is very well written and intriguing.

Resting: I did my knee in on my last two runs so have been taking advice and resting, icing and stretching over the last two days. I’m back on the pavement this evening though, but hoping to run a flat course to give my knee a bit of a rest. I’ve also found a running club which goes from near my work every Wednesday and is free! If I can sync my work schedule to allow it I’d love to start running with them. We went and had a sneak peek of them as they left yesterday evening and it looks like a really nice bunch (there were about 70 of them, AND it was raining! Gee whiz!)

Dreaming: Of the future and where I’ll be in 6 months. Everything is up in the air. We wanted to be out of our house by Christmas but with my job being so uncertain this is looking less and less likely. Still it’s only just coming up to June so we can hope. I’d also like to do something for my 30th in August but who knows if I’ll be earning then.

Spending: in my mind.

OPI Couture de Minnie

This new range of OPI colours has just launched and I’d really like it. I missed the last Minnie Mouse range because by the time I could get it, it had sold through. This range has a liquid sand option and the glitter top coat is so pretty. The set of minis and the glitter top coat are on my amazon wish list so I’ll be getting them as soon as I can – or it might go on my birthday list!

Learning: about people and myself and growing as a manager at work. I’m finding it really rewarding to have worked with so many different managers this year. I’m able to take elements of all their styles and work on my own and make myself better. It’s been very unsettled at work because of all the change but I’m using it to better myself – who knows where I’ll be this time next year so I might as well reap the benefits!

Waiting:

for Sunday when I’ll be seeing Al Pacino at the London Palladium, in An Evening With Al Pacino. I’m really excited!

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Why So Serious?

So, yesterday I tweeted this:

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The first retweet in the picture was from the actual chef who was cooking the loin on the tv show. I’m glad he shares my childish humour 😀 For the record I also giggle whenever a football commentator uses the word ‘penetration’.

Last night on twitter I also learned that if you rub your hand with stainless steel after using garlic (and after washing your hands) it will remove the smell, and if you drink coffee after eating garlic it will clean your garlicky breath. I also learned that if you wear two pairs of socks inside your Dr Martens when breaking them in, your boots will rub on the socks and the socks will rub on each other and NOT your ankles – maybe I can avoid the monster blisters this time around.

Just thought I’d share these little nuggets of information. It’s always important to learn at least one new thing a day 😀
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