This weekend, my husband and I went for a few drinks in town. Sitting in the pub, I saw a familiar face, someone called Mike who I knew from my volunteering. Mike joined us at our table and the next few hours were spent chatting and laughing. Before we knew it, the bell for last orders was being rung and Mike and my husband, who had found common ground over music, were making plans to meet the following week to see a band.
In a lot of ways, this doesn’t probably seem like a big deal, but for us it was because – since moving to a new area two years ago and being more than a little over 40 – making new friends has felt like a hard slog at times. Meeting someone I knew and making plans to see them again felt like we had turned a corner and were on the upswing, especially as a few days earlier I had met someone else I hadn’t known for long for coffee and we talked about future plans. Continue reading “Finding friends after forty”
I love my back garden but I am not much of a gardener. When we moved into our house, I thought I would be. I poured over books, made detailed plans, planted, watered, pruned. And was left disappointed. I do not, it seems, have a green thumb.
Enter my dad who, possibly tired of my moaning about what I wasn’t achieving and how, because I didn’t know was in my garden half the time, didn’t know if I was pulling up a soon to be beautiful flower or a weed, said “If you like it, it isn’t a weed. Don’t worry.” Continue reading “Weeds Instead of Roses”
I first came across this post on Natalie the Explorer’s blog and thought it was great. She, and some other bloggers, share their month in a sentence a day. I thought it would be fun to join in, though I haven’t for a few months. I have missed looking back on what I’d been up to though, and feeling grateful for all the good in my life, so I thought I would get back on the horse this month. Here’s what I’ve been up to… Continue reading “April in a sentence a day”
In my ‘before’ life, I spent a lot of time saying how busy I was and how I just didn’t have time for much more than work and being a mum. I hadn’t always been this way. When I was younger and before my daughter I used to volunteer a fair bit. And I enjoyed it.
One of the things I wanted to do when I started working for myself was find time to give back again. Six months in, I’ve started doing just that. It feels good (and it should, research has shown that giving back is good for your mental health). It also makes me feel rather silly for thinking I couldn’t have done anything before because what I’ve realised is that giving back to your community doesn’t have to take much time or effort.
There are so many ways you can give back, from ones that take a few minutes, to one that take hours, days or weeks. So, if you are looking for a way to do just that, you might want to try some or all of these ideas… Continue reading “Easy ways to give back to your community”
According to the Food Standards Agency, in the UK we threw away over 7 million tonnes of still edible food last year and about half of it came from homes, not shops and restaurants. It is such a shocking figure, especially when you think that so many people are going hungry and relying on food banks. It’s also expensive. The estimated cost of those 7 million tonnes is £13bn and the average cost per household is £470. Cutting back on food waste, and your food bills as a result, is easier than you think. Here are five easy ways to do it… Continue reading “Cutting Food Waste (and cutting food bills)”
Recently we opened a children’s bank account for my daughter, who has just turned eight. It’s one I technically control but which we’ve put her in charge of. She’ll decide what to put in and what to take out. There isn’t a bank card attached so I still have to press the button, meaning it’s pretty risk free, but it’s part of my master plan to get her to understand what money and how to manage it…something I didn’t quite get till my late 20’s and after more than one mistake with bank loans, overdrafts and credit cards.
We started off as everyone does I think with a Piggy Bank, and just the idea of money, what it is, how much you have and why you should save it up. Each week, from when she was really small, we would give her a pound to put in the bank and any extra money would go in there too. Once it was full, we would empty it, count it and she could go to the toy store to spend her ‘hard earned’ savings. Continue reading “Teaching my daughter money management skills (at an early age)”
When we moved into our current house, we got ourselves a smart metre to monitor our gas and electricity use. If you ignore the fact that I can’t help nervously glancing at it every time I go past to see how big a bill I’m racking up with the current weather, it was one of the best things we could have done. Since we’ve installed it, we have been watching how much energy we use and, so far, have reduced our bill by about £10 a month without significantly impacting our lifestyle. Here’s what we’ve done so far… Continue reading “Saving energy, saving money…”
One of the things I was looking forward to when I finished work last September and started working for myself was the control I thought I would have. No more having to get up at five in the morning because my manager needed me to go to a meeting at the other end of the country that lasted all of an hour (what’s wrong with a phone call I ask you?), no more working weekends because I was given something to do at 4:55 on a Friday afternoon that was needed by 9:05 on a Monday morning, and no more having to smile and say “yes, of course,” when I really wanted to say the complete opposite and turn the air blue.
For the most part, I am pleased to say my move into self-employment has been pretty successful. There’s been no more early, early mornings and only a few late, late nights. Where I am struggling, though, is the not saying yes part. I am just no good at it and, after a recent conversation where my brain was screaming at me to say no but I still said yes, I’ve decided I need to do something about it. And not just when it comes to work but in life in general, where I am just as bad if I’m honest. Continue reading “Learning to Say No”
Back in January, I wrote about my plan to set-up a website for my new life as a freelancer. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy – nowhere near as easy as setting up my blog, and definitely not as easy as I thought it would be. It’s there, but it’s not great and I haven’t been sharing it with many people as a result.
Recently, I attended a networking event with people doing exactly what I do and the need for a website couldn’t have been brought home to me more; each of the twenty-odd people round the table said most of their work comes through their websites, which is a huge benefit for them as small business owners and sole traders, and would be a huge benefit for me. Continue reading “Simple websites (and why I need one)”
Abraham Lincoln said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds to be.” At least I think it was Lincoln. Whoever said it, it’s very true. This week, I was feeling more than a bit grumpy. I was working on a project that wasn’t inspiring me at all and – over on my book blog – a reading slump was getting me down; not even my favourite author could get me back in the groove.
Then, last night, sat with a glass of wine and an episode of Real Housewives, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. Life really wasn’t that bad and the things that were getting me down just weren’t worth getting down about at all. I went to bed feeling a little lighter and determined to see the good and feel the happy…. Continue reading “Reasons to be Happy (part one)”