Thursday, 31 March 2011

How to Change the World by Being a People-Person

Image thanks to hillary

When you meet new people: you learn from them, and when you learn, you change. Those who think ‘I just am who I am’ in a static sense are either foolish, or keep themselves in a bubble-world, free of challenge and the subsequent growth that challenge brings.

You are improved or worsened (which one is your call) by the interactions that take place between you and the people you meet, and by observing the patterns and habits of those people. If you surround yourself with the right kind of people, you’ll excel – we know that. Equally, though, there is really no such thing as a ‘wrong kind’ of person; we should bestow everyone we meet with the potential to teach and change us (the lesson we take is up to us) otherwise we become obstinate and egotistical, living on face-value and superficiality.

You exist amongst people, and as much as western culture might champion the individual, there is really nothing you can ‘achieve’ in that world of people, without successfully and sustainably interacting with them. Scarily, adopting a ‘me and the crowd’ or ‘me and the others’ mentality is the dark seed of all manner of racist, sexist, bigoted abominations, all the way through history and still today. So isn’t it time we discarded it altogether?


We must believe in people; we must identify with the collective – not in such a way that we let our own, individual voice be drowned out, but in a way that values communication above superiority. Every human being has the potential you do, and you have the potential of all those seemingly ‘higher’ in the world’s pyramid than you.


I’d never be tempted to describe myself as a people person, and perhaps many of you wouldn’t be either, but at our core we all are. We are tribal, familial, compassionate, and in need of each other – but this is that is something all too easy to forget.

It’s okay to like your own company; to be content in your own thoughts; to believe in and love your own being in a self-satisfying way – but you deserve to have the world see all that too. And the world deserves your contribution. In giving compassion, and love, and charity, not only do we like ourselves more, but we contribute to the cycle; we warrant ourselves worthy of the same compassion in return.

Furthermore, consider that this compassion can and should extend beyond those people immediately close to us; it should reach a global scale, even if this merely begins as empathy. It should also extend beyond our species alone, to animals, and to nature, because human beings believing themselves superior to the rest of life on the planet is another significant error in our collective-consciousness (consider that only 0.02-0.03% of all life on earth is human life).


We’ve all been hypocritical, selfish, or egotistical once in our lives – but we can all reject these patterns anytime we like, if we allow ourselves to change. Perhaps the first step to achieving this is to interact with people, to admit previous misconceptions, and to let ourselves be people-people, as well as planet-people.

"I do not think that I will ever say, "This is what I believe. Finished." What I believe is alive...and open to growth." - Madeleine L'Engle

Remember: the world is ours to change, but it is also there to change us.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Words to Live By #135

"I am weak, yes, I know I am weak, but why? Because I have learnt to hate strength and power and dominion, and if I do err a little on the weakness side, forgive me, because it is only a reaction to the hatred of hurting others, and I shall soon learn to understand how to find the balance when I neither hurt nor am hurting. But just for the moment I would rather that I suffered than that I caused on moment's pain to my brother."
Dr Bach

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Saturday Salute 26.03.11

Oh, hello there! This weekend I'm chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool in Wales with my family. Today I went bargain-hunting in nearby Aberystwyth and picked up a pretty dress and floral Cacharel shirt from the charity shops, among other things. I also had a traditionally British chipshop lunch + a cuppa! Too homely and good.

// There were a few good posts on Problogger this week, but I particularly liked How to Create an Instant Yes.

// Shopaholly is such a down-to-earth blog, I feel like I'm just having a chat with a friend when I read it.

// Continuum and John Mayer are my two new favourite things. Listen and behold. Music has never been so sexy.

// On the topic of music, you might want to acquaint yourself with Jukesy.

// Yummy.

Tomorrow I'll travel back to Bristol by car, then I fly back to Spain on Tuesday. And, next Friday, I've only got a weekend trip to Ibiza booked... It's my housemate's birthday and we managed to get return flights for 14 euros - woohoo! Yes, I do travel too much. Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Let yourself cave in – you can rebuild yourself better

Image thanks to horia varlan

Sometimes, when we feel on the brink of a ‘breakdown’ or emotional crisis, it can be natural to resist; to battle against the wave of pain that threatens to break us entirely.

When feeling like this recently – and also acutely aware that my life was changing in a dramatic way – I realised that perhaps it was okay if I collapsed; caved-in; crumbled – because then I’d have the opportunity to rebuild. And perhaps rebuilding was the exact thing I needed.

That negative emotion, that feeling of having nothing left, that tension of being back on the proverbial square one – why can’t we see it as an opportunity to clear the decks for new, positive emotion; to fill the ‘nothingness’ gap that has been left in our lives, and enjoy a chance to begin ourselves again?

If you let yourself fall apart, you gain a little control back – you stop fighting against the world, and start flowing with it. Let the pieces of yourself be revealed, let them scatter like the parts of a puzzle, then pick them back up, and put yourself together again, even better than before.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Featured Sponsor: Eclectic Eccentricity

A while ago I did a little feature on Eclectic Eccentricity, and guess what, they've decided to come back for another stay! You might remember me gushing enthusiastically at their selection of sweet trinkets and treasures, and it's all still as pretty as ever. What's new in the EE family? Well, for one they've just launched a video lookbook:

Their current line is characterised by pastel shades, quaint charms and quirky combinations. Find it all by clicking below, my favourites are the dotty heart earrings and delicate pursuits scissor necklace.

You can follow Eclectic Eccentricity on Twitter at @eejewellery, or keep up with them on Facebook. Take a look now!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Words to Live By #134

Image thanks to tibchris

"What has always been a problem to me is how people can be alive and take so little interest in the performance."
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Saturday Salute 19.03.11

Image thanks to jessica garro

Hello little sparks of universal light, how are you all today? I'm well and regenerating. Here are lots of little things to make you smile:

// Do you need Tea & Kittens?

// 25 Vintage Baking Tips from Tipnut.

// I've never witnessed so many apetizing cupcakes as is gathered at Ming Makes Cupcakes.

// The real-life version of the movie 'UP'.

I'm off for a day and evening with friends, enjoy your weekend to the utmost!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Pretty Parcel of Pesky Points...

Me in colourful Glastonbury.

I love alliteration. Fact.

There have been a whole bundle of things on my mind blog-wise over the past few months, and, with recent changes in my life, I feel it’s time to tackle them all in one swoop and steam on ahead into a more glittering existence – what kind of sham-stress would I be, after all, if I didn’t heed my own advice?! Here goes (it’s a bit of ramble – so bear with me!)

1. Last chance to buy the Learn to Love... Series

Well, not strictly, but for a while. My plan is to write one or two more and combine them into one big ebook, and to do that I’ll need to take them down as they currently are. Before I do that though, I thought I’d give you a chance to buy any that you fancied individually, so that you don’t need to pay for the whole lot if you don’t want to. I might make them available individually again, who knows, but I can’t promise. My aim is to streamline this whole enterprise to make it a little more manageable as my life adventures start to gain speed! Also, I’m eager to make the big charity donation from 20p of each and every sale there has been. Once I’ve taken them all down, I can do, that for a nice big dose of the warm and fuzzies.

I will take them ALL down in ONE WEEK. So take a quick peek to see if there are any you’re hankering after.

2. PAY WHAT YOU CAN for the last 14 Annuals

When I released the 2008-09 Annual (containing all the Charade-juice from the first year), I put a bundle of them behind. For what reason, I know not, though I think it was some kind of sentimental attachment. Anyway, 14 of those 15 are still left, and they’re not doing me much good in a cupboard, so I feel I need to send them out into the world. Therefore, if you want one, you have the opportunity to offer me whatever price you feel a copy is worth to you. I won’t be giving them away, but if you explain why you think your price is fair, even if it's low, I’ll more than likely take it – though postage will remain at £2.50, so take that into consideration. Email me your offer and I’ll send you an invoice.

3. No new annual

Whilst we’re on the topic of annuals, you may have noticed I won’t be doing one for last year. It was a tough decision because I loved doing the first one, and got so much amazing feedback, but I feel that I’m more excited about other projects and I’d rather focus my energies there. I’m so sorry to anyone who was anticipating the next one! And for those of you who were offered a discount on the next copy, email me and I can sort out a little freebie for you in another format.

4. Other fun-bites!

To add a bit more pizzazz to this post of practical points, I can tell you I’m working on all manner of new jammy-treats for the blog, including a re-think of the Charade concept (to spice things up and look to the future as I move beyond university), a new eBook, and a new highly-related Masters course, out here in the real world!

And that’s me all summed up. Any questions, or concerns, or invites to your house for a cup of tea – you know where to find me (

Monday, 14 March 2011

Words to Live By #133

Image thanks to a sea of red rabbits

"I'm less interested in why we're here. I'm wholly devoted to while we're here." 
Erika Harris

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Saturday Salute 11.03.11

Image thanks to hillary

I'm not going to lie to you, it hasn't been a great week. I don't really want to go into detail on the blog just yet, but let's just say I'm starting a new phase in my life. And, actually, that's kind of exciting. For now, though, it's all about the links:

Say hello to my dream home. Also, kind of wouldn't mind this one.

50 Life Secrets and Tips is one of those articles to print out and stick up on your fridge!

I want this rose cake at my wedding!

With ice cream bars like these, I really wonder why we aren't all vegan...

Happy weekend, kittens.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Mint Tea, Trust, and Why Emotional Crisis Need Not Destroy You

Image thanks to demi

You are always being the best you can be. I know you are because you are reading this. You want to learn about and love yourself, but sometimes catastrophe strikes and your ability to do that is weakened.

I remember once seeing something on the TV saying that when a crash helmet takes a serious knock, even if it looks fine on the exterior shell, it has to be replaced. Your positive state of mind, that beautiful part of yourself that you are always working on improving, is like that helmet. If it takes a bad hit, of course it won’t work the same. And, whilst we can’t replace it, and wouldn’t want to, it is important to understand that it needs time to heal. It is important not to expect to get right back on track/in the saddle/on the road – and to channel your energies into the healing process instead.

I know that can seem impossible, trust me, I know. When life starts to feel like a bad dream you can’t wake up from, developing your positive attitude is never your top priority. I know that, often, the pain gets in your way to such a degree that you are rendered powerless. That said, there are two things we can do as we let ourselves work through this pain (because quick fixes never actually fix anything, and working through emotional ups and downs is what life is). The first is to drink mint tea, because hands clasped around a warm mug make a prayer to heal. The second is to trust.

Trust your gut. Trust in the nudges the universe is giving you. Trust in yourself. Trust in light at the end of the tunnel. Trust in fate, or God, or whatever spiritual belief system you follow. Trust that you’ll smile again, because you will, and that will make it okay that you can’t smile right now. Trust that what you’re feeling only makes you human: a beautiful, vulnerable human, with a warm heart that beats. Trust that now is not forever. Trust in time. Trust in your ability to grow new roots, even if right now it feels as though they’ve been cut away. Trust in your power, in your presence, and even in your pain – we don’t feel it for nothing.

Just trust.
(Thank you to my wonderful mum for the inspiration for this post.)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Words to Live By # 132

Image thanks to tmcdaily

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust... Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
e.e. cummings

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Build Your Personal Brand as a Student

Image thanks to visiophone

We’ve all heard the buzz term ‘personal brand’ when it comes to marketing yourself in your chosen career field – but what does this really involve? And where to start? One of the key ways to connect with your market (be that companies you’d like to work for or directly to prospective ‘clients’) is to develop a communicable career personality. Here are some tips to get you closer to that ‘full package’ which will give you the edge.

1. Identify your market. Once you know who you need to sell to, you can tailor yourself to them; what are their desires and how can you fulfil them? Find out who the key players are within your market, and how you can emulate them. Of course, you don’t want to directly copy anybody, but it is good practice to get a feel of what is being well received. Also, make the effort to find out who the not-so-key players are/have been: who has failed – and why? Could you be displaying any of these traits?

2. Think about what makes you unique. A brand is no good if it is merely a carbon copy of something else. Though two manufacturers of MP3 players may be selling the same technology, if one has a brand based around simplicity, and one appears fussy and complex, which brand will triumph? Do you have a unique voice, angle or experience that makes you relevant in a saturated market? Discover what will potentially make you stand out and build on that.

3. Summarise your core message. Try to explain yourself and what you are trying to achieve in only a few words as this will help to focus you. This process will also help you think about the words you use in any query emails, interviews, conversations, presentations etc. and assist in defining and streamlining a message that you can stick to. Looking ahead, this can also develop into your ‘elevator pitch’ – a mini-presentation on you and your work that should take no longer than a ride in an elevator, i.e. one to three minutes. This is important as you never know how influential the next person you get chatting to could be!

4. Be consistent and repeat your message whenever and wherever possible. Treat your outcome from the above exercise like a mantra, and repeat it to yourself when in doubt concerning any work you send out, interview you take part in, or even just with day-to-day email. People need to remember and recognise you, and they won’t if your approach changes often. If you want to establish yourself as a health guru and write bestselling books on nutrition, do the utmost you can not to say or present an image of yourself which may go against this, such as drink a coke in an interview, however informal.

5. Get online. People with an interest in your brand will want to access and learn about you in a variety of different ways, so give them that option. It’s worth developing a presence, however small, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as having a blog or website. Remember to keep your message consistent across all mediums; don’t write a blog post about the values of keeping fit, and then admit on your Facebook status that you sat in front of the television all weekend. That said, people respond well to honesty; don’t be robotic, if you experience a blip you can use it to your advantage by playing up the ways in which you overcame it.

6. Create a press kit. This differs from a CV in that you can imagine you are your own publicist and write in the third person. This will help you take an objective view of yourself, hopefully weeding out any potential weaknesses and forging new strengths – and nobody need know that you wrote it yourself! It can take the form of a press release if you are releasing a new project, or act as a portfolio of existing work. Imagine someone is coming to it with no prior knowledge of you and your work, what impression do you want them to be left with? Think of the words and images you use, but also think of things like font and layout – all of these factors will be perceived as a reflection on you, and if anything looks cluttered, hard to read, or disorganised, you may well be giving that message about your work style.

7. Get opinions. It is important to get outsider perspectives on your brand because, if you are aiming to be too radically different from how others are seeing you, this could generate a friction and you may not be received as you’d like to be. Aim to ask a cross-section of people, rather than simply those loved ones who adore you anyway! At your next interview, ask your interviewer for sincere feedback, or, if you do creative work, try and find an unbiased source of feedback. Encourage honesty and try not to get upset if it isn’t exactly what you want to hear, as they might not be as honest in the future. They are your market whether you like what you hear or not, and real-world recipients of your “product” will likely be far more critical.

8. Get some professional photos. If you and your brand are published anywhere, from a website, to a local magazine, to a national newspaper (!) it’s good practice to have some photos ready (avoiding the panic of last minute shots against the living room wall with your low-spec digital camera). Quality photos are also great for your online brand as people will begin to recognise your face. Think about what you want the photos to say and talk with your photographer about this. Consider your backdrop, whether you want the images in colour or black and white, and if you want to be holding anything like a copy of your work or something more informal like a mug of coffee. All of these things will send out a message about you and what you do.

9. Create a logo and tagline for yourself. This may seem silly at first, but it can be an excellent creative process for thinking of yourself as a brand. Even if it is simply scribbles in a notebook, getting something down on paper will help to clarify the way you want to present yourself. If you get something you’re happy with, it may be worth the investment in a professional graphic designer to establish your initial drawings as a digital “identity” on business cards and the web.

10. Be prepared to change. This may seem a strange point after my many mentions of consistency, but consistency needn’t rule out adaptability. With constant changes in technology, ways of living, people’s desires etc., you won’t get away with stagnancy in your market. Yes, you should keep an ultimate goal and a clear core message, but if your market changes, you must change with it. Stay on top of these changes by regularly repeating steps one, two and seven.

Do you see yourself as a personal brand? Have you made initial steps but want to develop it further? Lord knows mine is a little muddy! Share your thoughts/experiences in the comments.