September 3, 2015 — September 8, 2015
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September 3, 2015 — September 8, 2015
How do I say this without making an overused Game of Thrones reference — it’s getting cold outside. Dammit, that’s a Christmas song. Fuck it. It’s fall, and with fall comes a drop in temperatures and a rise in layers you must wear to not freeze to death. The breezy whites of summer no longer draw you in as much, it gets dark much earlier, and windows are closed more often than they’re open.
If you are a normal human being who is affected by their surroundings when working, this is a time of adaptation. Blankets come out. Coats, sweaters, gloves. Thicker curtains, possibly. Warmer, darker colors to create an illusion of snuggliness.
For this week’s edition of Lix Wishes She Could Redecorate, I’m bringing you a little bit of inspiration to make your office, or the space where you work, actually appealing to be in in these colder months. A place that makes you want to pull up your feet on an armchair, keep a warm coffee cup nearby and actually work with your laptop on your knees, if you’re not feeling the desk thing. I hope you find a little bit of coziness you can incorporate into your workspace — or bedroom, or home — here to make the most of these colder months in the most pleasant way possible.
I realize there’s a children’s room and a mudroom in there, but they’re the perfect freaking nooks. No windows to freeze against, and still the vibe of a windowseat. Also, let’s be real, I want that slide.
And that armchair.
And I destroyed a pair of slippers like that a while back and have found nothing like them since.
I do have a Minted voucher, and I’ve been eying that pillow they have — it’s seasonal without being weird, and I like it a lot. I was going to use the voucher on planners, but I’m designing my own now (take the survey! Yeah, big news. Or it could be small news. I don’t know yet!). I’m so tempted to look for an armchair, but I can’t afford it and I’m not sure I even have room for it. I just love working like that. Like at Starbucks. For now, I’m getting myself a coffee machine. That’s plenty.
Disclosure: Post written in collaboration with Homify. Contains affiliate links.
Here’s a post I’ve been talking about for a little while. It’s a little visual peek into the local town fair that’s on every summer between August 15 and August 22. Many places in Spain have fairs around this time, because August 15 is a common holiday in the country (and other countries!) as the day of the Assumption of Mary. Many patron saints of towns are a Virgin Mary of some sort or another; ours is del Prado, which is my mom’s name.
On August 15, they take the sculpture down from where it stands in the cathedral, and it stays down for people to pay their respects until August 22. There are parades each day, and fireworks at the end of them; and then fireworks at midnight at the fair location.
It’s not particularly exciting, honestly, but a lot of it reminds me of my childhood. I used to love going on rides up until I was 11 or 12; I’m not sure what happened, but I’ve always still loved the fireworks. I remember families gathering at the bars, and I’m told there was a time when I was a little girl that my family went after the Witch Train ride when it set up around the province so I could ride it. I remember my grandfather spoiling me rotten and how they gave us free tickets at so many of the rides because he bought me so many.
I remember the swan stand because I was obsessed with it, though I can’t recall if I ever won anything! I didn’t do the fishing most of the time, anyway. There are a lot of target stands of various sorts, and a bingo tombola, and a bunch of other tombolas, and bars and — those are not really the things I remember fondly. For me, it was always the rides and the ice cream and the fireworks and the cotton candy. And the churros my grandfather or my parents bought.
My favorite ride as a kid was the baby Ferris wheel, and the Dragon, which I was too small for so my father usually rode with me.
I didn’t go to the fair for a few years when I was a teenager; I didn’t love going out with friends at night, and I relished the time alone when my parents and my sister went. Only for the past couple of years I’ve dragged my mom out to see the fireworks. It’s crowded, and I don’t really like rides anymore, and I’m painfully aware of how incredibly racist the mechanic bull rides are, and I wish I could deface them with graffiti, a desire I can honestly say had never crossed my mind before.
But still, there are fragments that stick. We look for them later and find them.
“Tears of things”: now that I’ve shed them, the line that most comes to me lately—
memory speaking in dactyls.
I’m going to tell you a little story about my sense of direction. I hope my sense of direction forgives me for it.
In April of 2014, I made the very scary, very terrifying decision to move to London on my own. Surprising everyone but especially me, I lasted a year before I moved back home. (It was a very good decision. That was a stressful year, financially.) In that time, I admittedly did not get out of Belsize Park much, and at least I eventually learned which way Swiss Cottage lay from the intersection of England’s Lane, Primrose Hill Road and Eton Avenue. Considering that’s precisely where my regular Starbucks was, it took four walks too many.
I went back in early September to retrieve the luggage I left behind with a friend. I wrote down directions, and ran out of battery on my phone on the Stansted Express, which, as it turns out, has plugs in it. I only noticed this two minutes before reaching Liverpool Street Station.
The google maps directions for buses were weird, and I walked out of the tube station and went down the street, then west on the street, then thought, “The fuck is going on? I don’t recognize anything. Is that way the way I went when I had that modeling gig at a studio on Fleet Street? No. Blackfriars? A bridge? St Paul’s? Y’all, I’m so confused.”
I had some battery left on my phone, which was very dark, so I checked again under the inning of an Itsu.
This was not the way to the bus stop.
I walked back to the station, and up the street beside it. There were letter signs on the station doors to that side, but what could they possibly be? People were waiting outside them, but there were no poles with bus signs on them, and it dead ended. But there were buses at the end of it, and — could one possibly be the number I was looking for? Where would it stop to pick up people?
Then I looked to the side and realized the letter signs on the station doors were bus stops.
I made it to my next bus stop and saw Canada House. Unlike Liverpool Street Station, I’ve been to Trafalgar Square a few times. I know the area between it and Charing Cross Road well enough to not have to pull out a map while dragging other people places with me. This meant absolutely nothing to me this time, when I had to ask tourists with a map if Orange Street was on it (it wasn’t), and then found a Caffè Nero — my phone was completely dead by now — to pull out my laptop and check google maps on that.
Guess what? If you see the National Gallery, which you cannot miss, and walk to the left side of it until you hit a street, that is Whitcomb Street, which goes up to Orange Street. You can see the Thistle sign even if you’re nearsighted and wearing a t-shirt in 10-degree weather because you’re coming from Spain and you couldn’t be bothered to carry a hoodie somewhere outside your suitcase. The Canadian embassy with all its maple leaf flags is right in front. You can’t miss it.
Unless, of course, you’re me.
Through all of my school years — elementary and high — I never had any doubt that I’d go to university. I performed well academically; I was a bookworm and all about learning and I saw no better future for myself than learning more for as long as I possibly could. My career goals changed and faded, with being a writer always staying put as the foundation, but my academic goals only did in terms of what I would study at university.
(Creative Writing either isn’t or wasn’t a college degree in Spain, and I was never that drawn to studying creative subjects, anyway. It seemed far too subjective a field to be graded on.)
Growing up, my family were a bit more financially stable than we are now; my father usually had a job and we had my grandfather living with us, helping out and funding the whims of his grandbaby, aka me. Even when times were tight, college was still in the horizon for a simple reason: scholarships.
In Spain, scholarships are given based on your level of income, and most non-medicine-related degrees have a passing grade fence, so you don’t have to try very hard to get in. Even after my mental health issues extended to physical symptoms and my average went from A to B, I wasn’t worried about getting into college. I didn’t have to write essays or pay to apply.
I like this system. I support this system. Everyone should have access to education, and scholarships are much better than loans, in my opinion. It’s great not owing tens of thousands of insert-currency-here to the government. You just had to meet certain criteria to get the money, and achieve certain low-pressure goals to keep it.
I dropped out of college three months in, bought a MacBook and a Canon camera, went back to sit two exams in September and didn’t have to give any money back. I couldn’t get another scholarship for my first year doing English in my hometown the year after that and my parents couldn’t afford one, so it’s one chance and you blow it, but that’s much better than many, many people get, and my laptop lasted me quite long and my camera — I still use it on the regular. I’m building a blog and a business with that camera.
But here’s the thing.
Time management is a super popular topic in freelance and business blogs, presumably because nearly everyone struggles with it. There’s a lot to do, and it’s hard to snap out of the society-backed idea that we are what we accomplish, and that success doesn’t have to involve being busy all the time.
This is something I’ve thought about a lot with my business, particularly since I was able to catch my breath financially speaking by moving back in with my parents. I spent a year where I was perpetually behind, and my mental health was suffering, really suffering for it.
I wrote a post on how to relieve anxiety with various methods and how to get started with each of them. One of my recommendations was simply to quit. Quit what was giving you more grief than joy. Delegate it, automate it, or simply cut it out of your life or process. It sounds drastic, and it can be; I arrived at it through burnout, after all.
Now, however, I’m practicing ‘quitting’ in much lower-key, consistent, sustainable ways. There are many ways to save time when you’re a blogger or small business owner, and you don’t have to wait until you’ve been crushed by stress to implement them.
In becoming more intentional about my blogging and business and acknowledging the certain aspects of being a professional creative at which I particularly suck, I’ve been revising my habits and plans to be tailored to me — me and all the weaknesses it’s more effective to work with than against. And I wanted to share some of the ideas that work for me with you.
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Avirtual.co.uk.
Went a little grunge for the announcement there, but that’s the beauty of classics: they go with everything, effortlessly.
I’ve been meaning to redesign the site, restructure the content and essentially rebrand, short of changing my name or business interests, for over a year now. At one point last fall I even went as far as designing a mockup for a new blog design and having it developed in nearly its entirety by a friend, but she got busy, and I was stressed, and then I decided I hated my branding anyway. I wasn’t sold on the typography and I was bored to tears by my color palette.
For a year I waffled over what style I wanted, as there isn’t just one that appeals to me, and what went with whatever I wanted my blog to be. I narrowed down the topics I blogged about and I started to think about new categories that encompassed some of what I was doing but made it more intuitive to find and write about cohesively.
And then I moved back in with my parents, spent three months on the verge of a nervous breakdown, got my room back, and took September off. I was going to dedicate the last two weeks of September to the redesign, giving myself some time to rest after I got home from Barcelona.
Well, you guys know me. I started working on this on Saturday.
Surprisingly, it came together like a dream.
Home after my twelve-day trip, that is. I’m still on a break from blogging. London was cold and exhausting and wonderful and full of amazing food and my best friend, and Barcelona was humid and weird and exhausting and pretty nice and full of my best friend also and there was the sea, did I mention I saw the sea? I hadn’t seen the sea (other than from a plane window) since July 30, 2008. No joke. I forgot how giddy it makes me feel.
I took loads upon loads upon loads of photos because duh, and have so much content to get up now — four restaurant reviews (soooooo much food), two hotels, three proper outfits and an outfit diary for London, the zoo, #bloggersfestival, and I’m sure I’m forgetting things.
MEANWHILE, however, I participated in a little competition Ladbrokes put together, and came up with an outfit I’d wear, hypothetically, to London Fashion Week! There’s a microsite up now where you can vote for your favorite, and you can vote for me here. Do it. DO IT. I’ve never won a voting comp, it would be nice. Plus I’ll probably be giving away the LFWend tickets since I’m not sure I can quite justify another trip to London, so hey. Double winner.
Drumroll please… my trip is (nearly) all booked. My best friend is coming with me, and helping me bring my stuff home, and then I’m taking her to Barcelona and we’re spending the weekend so she can catch her flight back to Tallinn on Monday.
It happened really fast and I can’t believe I’m getting on a plane NEXT WEEK. We’re doing five nights instead of a full week in London to make up for the Barcelona costs — they’re necessaryish because she doesn’t want to go there alone and there are no flights to Estonia from Madrid. I’ll have six days in London because I’m reviewing a hotel my first night there, and then Annemari will join me on Friday. I’m very excited.
I’ve got two-three blog posts, a media kit and two blog designs to finish before I leave, which I think is doable given where I am with each. I just need to make a schedule, or a to-do list or something. Also, start writing down addresses and figuring out what to pack. I probably won’t be around very much once the two-three posts I’ve planned go up, so you should follow me on Twitter or Instagram! I also haven’t decided how long or in what way I’m taking September off from blogging, but it may be ‘entirely so I can focus on my rebrand,’ so there’s a chance of that. We shall see.
And now this is where I ask for things to do or see in London and especially Barcelona, because for someone who’s obsessed with the former and has always wanted to visit the latter, I’m drawing a total blank.
A couple of weekends back, a shady, shady link indeed showed up in my WordPress stats: a whole thread — all for me — had been started on a hate forum, and people were clicking over to my blog from it. Being the curious person I am, I clicked. Everything was the usual: either bullshit, accusations of incompetence that made little sense, or remnants of annoyance over the things I do that clash with the most people, especially asking for help.
All in all, I could have shaken it, but the truth is those things stick to me, and that’s why my policy is to block early, block often.
I closed the tab and kept away, but a few days later, when I’d stopped dwelling on it, the link showed up again in my referrals panel.
Google comes up with all sorts of results for hiding referrals in your Google Analytics, but the panel I check the most often — idly, casually — is my Jetpack WordPress stats, and I wasn’t going to stop just in case I was tempted to go feel bad about myself. I’ve been tracking my progress lately, especially my Pinterest hits, and it’s just second nature to look at them.
But seeing a link like that in your stats can be tempting. And seeing a spam link in your stats can mess them up, too. So I went out of my way to figure out a way to hide it. I even directly asked Support. And they gave me a solution, which I am now sharing with you because you know, I stayed strong those five hours, but I could have clicked in the time it took to find a way to hide the link, and seeing the thread on Sunday made me unreasonably sad for four days. I don’t want anyone else to go through that.
Luckily, it’s very simple.