My accidental soul-searching journey

In through the nose, out through the mouth…

Sitting outside for the first time this year, soaking up the sunshine and smelling the fresh scent of the grass, I embrace the feeling of calm.

The last few weeks have been really, really stressful and there have been some huge alterations in my life. Dealing with these has meant I’ve been away from home, my routine has been massively disturbed, and I’ve been unable to study or work. It isn’t just the logistical changes that have been hard – there’s a lot of emotion to process, too.

For someone who strives working under a routine and doesn’t adapt to change very well, this has been a lot to deal with. I hate feeling as though I’m not in control, am always anxious, and often stressed. My life strategy is to stay ahead in everything I can.

Having life throw you a few curveballs tosses all of this out the window.

Past curve-ball experiences have led me back to some very unhealthy coping mechanisms. This time around though, it’s different. As challenging as the past few weeks have been, I can be proud of the fact that over the last year, something in me changed for the better. I’ve learned that going through difficulties that are out of my control isn’t something I should punish myself for. In fact, it’s the time I should be showing myself the most forgiveness and self-love.

This is me taking steps forward in the face of adversity, not backwards.

So, how have I done this? My first steps were brought about by the down-time lockdown forced upon us (read my blog post on how I believe lockdown brought brought us closer together here). It took away the hundred-miles-per-hour pace I was going at before, the pace I believed was necessary to succeed. I still had huge anxiety about the safety of our family, our friends, our jobs – but there was also enough down-time to start training myself to think logically, rather than letting the immediate every-bad-thing-you-think-will-happen-is-going-to-happen thoughts take over.

First, we had nowhere to go, no friends to socialise with, no obligations at all. So, I started doing things that made me happy, and learned more about myself in the process. I started this blog, started reading more, started jigsaw puzzles, colouring and walking. I had time to think about what I wanted to spend my time doing. This got me thinking: what can I do to make life easier for others around me?

That led to step two: I started developing more active compassion for myself and for others. I was doing things that made me happier, but I could still act in ways that helped other people. I started to understand that my words have meaning. It’s a work in progress… but I try to think twice before speaking: will what I say help someone, or bring them down? Can I compliment rather than complain? Can I thank rather than apologise? Can I stay optimistic rather than pessimistic? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a way to go to nail this one (especially after a couple glasses of wine) but I’m working on it.

The response I saw from this was great, and helped to change my own internal monologue (again, huge work in progress…). I’m learning to counteract a negative or anxious thought with a positive one and recognise how either of these make me feel. This has helped me to understand that failure is okay, not being perfect is okay, asking for help and letting people help is okay – and owning this can be pretty liberating in itself.

All this accidental soul-searching ramped up a few gears at the beginning of the year. I started yoga as a last-ditch attempt to move my stiff, non-flexible body once a week whilst it was too cold and dark to even think about leaving the house to go for walks. I’m fortunate to have a friend in Devon who conducts some amazing Zoom yoga classes (find her here) so I logged on one evening, expecting a few stretches and to giggle to myself through the meditation parts.

HOW WRONG WAS I?

For probably the first time ever, I actually stayed PRESENT and IN THE MOMENT and didn’t stress about ANYTHING for a full 60 minutes. I felt energised, warm, full of serotonin, and grateful (and pleasantly surprised) at what my body had achieved.

Nearly three months later and I’m still doing yoga every single day. My stretches are getting easier and I feel *slightly* stronger, but most importantly I’ve recognised the change in my mental health. I’m focusing more on staying in the present, not letting my mind wander too much in the past or too far ahead into the future. I’m remembering to show gratitude for what I have now, and feel (more) comfortable in letting go of things that are outside of my control. I’ve asked for help, and gratefully received it, and understand that it’s okay to pass responsibility to others when you’re not capable of holding it all on your own.

I’m glad I started developing these brain-tweaks long before I needed them, because now, in a time of difficulty, I have a small box of healthy coping mechanisms that make each day slightly easier. I’ve slowed down. I’m not trying to make everyone around me better or happier or have less to worry about: I’m doing those things for me, first, so I can help others afterwards.

Here’s some helpful links for anyone who’s curious in exploring yoga/mindfulness for themselves:

Yoga Journal – Gives you all you need to know about yoga

Sjana Elise – Amazing yoga/wellness instagram account

Yoga with Adriene – Hundreds of step-by-step yoga sessions for all abilities

Downdog – my daily yoga buddy.

How the pandemic brought us together

Not quite Coronation Street

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder and up until now, I’ve been fortunate enough to never truly understand the gravity of that statement.

I’ve felt that stomach-dropping pain of absence more regularly in the last 18 months than ever before. I haven’t seen my dad in 8 months (which seems even longer thanks to his cancer). I haven’t seen my sisters in over a year. I haven’t seen my best friends for that long, either. We spent our first Christmas in our home without our family.

I’m not just missing the people still here with us today (albeit not physically), but also the ones long departed. It’s given me the time to really think about those closest to me. To appreciate what they add, or added, to my life: the joy, the laughter, the fun and the wisdom imparted on me each time I’ve been in their company.

So, how can we be closer together? Hear me out.

Each time I’m in the company of my loved ones – entirely through FaceTime – I’m conscious of absorbing more of their ‘being’. I listen a little more, ask another question, am more present in their presence.

It’s easy to take things around us for granted. I did this whilst living in Devon and now I’m away I can’t wait to get back to the small-town life I once grew tired of – to the things that so quaintly never change, to the people I’ve depended on forever.

On a wider scale, there’s so much I’ve learned that’s brought me more in tune with the world:

Young people have been given the chance to be grateful for education – and can acknowledge how much they don’t want to lose it

We appreciate the freedom of travel and our ability to explore the world at our leisure

The Black Lives Matter movement taught us to see life from another person’s perspective

The spotlight on the NHS taught me to truly respect the immense pressure our healthcare providers are under every single day

Our 17:00 briefings with the government – no matter our individual views – taught me the colossal decisions made on our behalf which dictate so much of our lives

My job in the Life Science industry taught me about the importance of intelligent individuals who push scientific development, and save our lives by doing so

I thought about the hundreds of thousands of elderly people who go weeks without speaking to another person

We admire the work of the brilliant people working in education and will never again undervalue the time it takes to educate young people

We understood both how much we rely on small businesses, and how much they rely on our custom

We became thankful for the stability in our lives: be it family members, our homes, or our jobs

We became aware of the journey our food travels before getting to our plates

We learned not to take for granted the pure joy we get from socialising

We thought about how much we rely on one another

We cherished the natural world

We value the life around us

I hope we continue to remember these lessons long after we’ve got ‘normal’ life back.

What Christmas 2020 meant to me

My favourite tradition

My favourite Christmas tradition is to wake up early whilst the rest of the house sleeps on, shrouded in darkness. I pad downstairs in my dressing gown and slippers and turn on the Christmas tree lights, breathe in its piney scent and watch the lights twinkle lazily, hearing only the reliant ticking of the clock. I love the solitude of these moments: reflecting on the sentimentality of each Christmas decoration and embracing that ‘Christmassy’ anticipation that only comes round once a year.

Usually, these opportunities of peace and quiet are rare across the festive season. The weeks leading up to the big day are a frenzy of spending, searching and ticking off lists. We plan 6-hour car journeys, menus, presents and the dreaded Christmas dinner. There is constant worry: did I send cards to all the right people? Will the turkey feed all 10 of us? What will great Aunt Maud do to offend mum this year?

This rush is always a given – there’s no other choice. The planning and worrying and purchasing is all forgotten on Christmas Day when we’re surrounded by loved ones, wholly absorbed in cheer and warmth (and a few too many glasses of Buck’s Fizz). The following week flies by in a blur of food, alcohol and TV and, before we know it, the holidays are over and January is upon us. We’re in a new year but with slightly larger waistlines and still with the slight remnants of a hangover. Although we know we had a lovely time, we’re also exhausted and don’t feel we had much of a break at all.

But now as I sit on my sofa, watching the lights twinkle and drinking tea, I realise 2020 altered the typical construct of Christmas. It’s just Callum and I at home this year, in Tier 4 – a far cry away from the Christmas we’d planned with Callum’s family coming to stay. The big dinner, family games and long dog walks we’d envisioned were replaced with lots of Christmas films and colouring books. For the first time, my favourite moments of peace and quiet aren’t limited to 07:00 in the morning whilst the rest of the house sleeps on. On the 27th of December, I’m immersed in silence and have the rest of the Christmas break yawning ahead of me with no places to be or even a reason to get out of my pyjamas. Now don’t get me wrong… Christmas away from family has been heart-wrenching, particularly because the distance between us means we’ve not seen each other for at least 6 months. But, I’m a glass-half-full type of person: the perks of modern technology and frequent FaceTimes help us feel not too far away – I still saw my nephew excitedly open his Christmas presents and my parents’ delight when I opened mine.

This year taught me the festive period doesn’t need to be as manic as the rest of the year. Taking time to enjoy the holiday is important. The winter season is all about slowing down, enjoying creature comforts and – like our animal friends – hibernating (although self-isolation has taken that a step too far for many of us). Next year, I hope the pain and sadness Covid-19 brought to the world is long behind us – there’s that optimism creeping in again – and that we combine the rare positives taken from this year with the love of being back with those we care about most.

One big change I’m making for 2021 (and the rest of my life)

The one, the only.

We can all agree 2020 has been a shocker of a year and quite frankly I’m tired of feeling like a passenger in my own life. Granted there’s not much I can do to cure Covid-19, and Cancer still exists, but there is one thing we all can do to make this place a little more bearable for the future (kudos to Joe Biden for being the only good thing to happen to 2020 so far).

If you’ve read any of my posts before, you’ll know I’m a bonafide nature lover and would spend all my time outside living on a farm in my dungarees with hundreds of horses if I could. Lately, though, I realised appreciating nature is pretty pointless if I’m not going to do anything to sustain it. Pretty Instagram posts aren’t going to cut it anymore. It’s time for a change. No nature = no planet = no us.

David Attenborough’s ‘Our Life On Our Planet’ was the wake-up call I needed. I finally understood change really does start on a personal level. It’s no use blaming huge corporations if my consumerism still requires their services. Thankfully, making these changes has been the easiest and the most rewarding thing EVER. So, what have I done, and what can you do?

– I’ve bought reusable makeup pads, shampoo bars, wax wraps to replace cling film and LOADS more from here (15% off with code SHETTY2020 – if you know, you know).

– We purchased a compost bin from my local council which means the stuff we’re throwing into landfill has reduced massively.

– I keep a plastic bag or two in my handbag for shopping.

– We buy meat from the local butcher, fruit and veg from a market stall, and only purchase what I can’t get elsewhere from the supermarket.

– I’m buying planet-friendly Christmas presents for friends and family.

– I’ve started litter picking – I take a bag and some gloves out with me and come home feeling like a champion.

What have I gained? Our food tastes AMAZING; we’re not emptying our bins as much; our garden will look beautiful next year thanks to the additional compost; and our bank account is fuller too.

Make your 2021 so much brighter by choosing even one thing that will help the planet (and your conscience) feel a whole lot better.

Back to university

An accurate depiction of lecture halls in 2020

When I started my Open University degree in 2015, nobody could have predicted that 5 years later, online study would be pretty much the only option across the whole of the UK. Open University must be leading the way for many other universities in how to move all lectures and activities online… Perhaps now OU will start getting some of the recognition it deserves.

The concept of online study always receives mixed reviews: some don’t class it as a ‘real’ degree, others think it’s easy. But when it comes to an employer interviewing one candidate with 6 years’ work experience and an OU degree in contrast to another candidate who spent three years sleeping their way through lectures, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who they’ll choose.

I chose to study Psychology and, by taking seven years to finish my BSc, continue to meander my way through all kinds of different sub-disciplines – much like a 7 course taster menu – to decide which area I could see myself pursuing a career in. I’ve also experienced three very different job roles since 2015, identifying what I do and don’t want to do in the future 9-5. By comparing areas of study and work that I love (and most definitely hate), I’ve got a strong idea of my strengths and weaknesses and where these are best utilised professionally.

Joining the OU just after leaving sixth form gave me the headspace to focus on developing a career but without the all-encompassing ‘university experience’. There was no way Freshers Week and I would have ever worked out. Instead, I worked in a beautiful local cafe in Devon before getting my first ‘proper job’ at a Sixth Form, so really, there was no escaping education at all back then. This role taught me so much about the education system: how teachers really are just people (although it was still weird having the people that were my teachers becoming my colleagues), the challenges students go through each day and how beneficial strong networks within an educational setting can help them, and also that educational psychology – where I’d envisioned my career taking me – most definitely wasn’t for me.

Moving through my degree, I’ve been exposed to subjects that have sparked a huge passion within me. This is the beauty of OU: you learn at a time of your life that works for you, and you have the desire – and maturity – to continue to do so. Right now, starting my fifth out of sixth year, I’m excited to continue to learn and cultivate the niche part of Psychology that I’ll stay excited about.

I’ve met an incredibly broad range of people through studying with the OU – an experience somewhat limited at brick universities because you’re surrounded by people who haven’t really created their identities yet. Working with such different types of people is eye-opening and useful for understanding different perspectives: some students are in their 70s and bring a wholly unique perspective of the world than I could ever have thought of. Others are parents whose children have left home, who are looking to pursue a career at a time of their lives which is right for them. Some are disabled and not able to attend ‘brick’ universities. This diversity is incredible and a refreshing part of the university experience.

Nevertheless, OU study still has its challenges. There is little option to work with other students and the idea of brainstorming is almost non-existent because of minimised face-to-face interaction. Facebook groups and forums do help, but there are fewer ‘eureka’ moments that only truly come from engaging in literal discussion on a topic. It’s easy to forget that tutors and other students are people behind a screen, because – as we all know – words online can be taken in the wrong way. This becomes especially true when an assignment comes back with ‘constructive criticism’ that only reads to be harsh without the verbal communication needed to explain its meaning fully.

In the current climate where nearly all university students are interacting with their studies online, I hope there is a change of perspective of the hundreds of thousands of students – and tutors – who’ve always learned or taught in this way. I hope students consider how the convenience of OU study could improve their opinion of academia and perhaps open doors earlier than they’d be opened should brick university remain the only option. Mostly, though, I hope OU students get the respect they deserve from their brick university counterparts. Now, we’re all in this together.

Getting back in the (literal) saddle

Speak to me for five minutes and you can guarantee I’ll incorporate horses into the conversation somewhere. My nickname is Shetty, my office computer is adorned with a pink fluffy unicorn pen, my house is covered in horse pictures and I would most definitely wear my riding stuff everyday if my boss would bear it. It is a confident assumption to say that, yes, I’m one of those ‘horse-women’.

The difference between loving to write and loving to horse-ride is that the former can be done pretty much anywhere for the total price of 0, whereas the latter is on the total opposite of that scale. Of course, I’ve always found ways to feed my addiction (horse books, horse games, horse TV channels etc, etc) but now we’ve settled in an area surrounded by likeminded equestrian nuts, I’ve finally started riding regularly again after a long 6 year break, save for the occasional lesson or hack. Luckily near enough 20 years of equestrian experience wasn’t totally wasted and getting back in the saddle was like I’d never been away. There’s an unparalleled bliss of lazy strolls through the forest, only the clip-clopping of hooves and birdsong for company. In contrast, the adrenaline rush of galloping through open fields, streaming eyes and a pounding heart, is like no other feeling I’ve experienced. It was incredible to get back to this.

I feel that starting to ride regularly again is reflective of finally feeling settled in West Sussex. The last three years since moving here have been entirely focused on building a career and trying to put down roots, whereas now that we’ve bought the house and my career is progressing, it feels like the right time to re-start the parts of my life which have always connected me to home.

The goal is to get back to having my own horses again in the future and I’m certain that my children will experience horses in the same way my sister and I did: mucking out in our pyjamas and seeing two hairy ears and a big nose appearing in the kitchen window. Now, half-way through my twenties, I know that the career I build for myself now needs to facilitate the (slightly terrifying) costs of equine life later down the line. So, for now, I’m so excited to be spending every other Saturday back at the stables – and the rest of the time wishing I was there!

Buying our first house in lockdown

Being the superstitious worrier that I am, I’ve delayed writing this post to avoid jinxing the very motive behind it. Clearly the House-Buying Gods smiled down on me and appreciated my thought because thankfully this blog can go ahead. We own our own house!

Thinking back to pre-lockdown feels like years ago. Nevertheless, it’s only been five short months since we started looking at buying our first property. We fell in love with only the second we viewed and, one cold February night after our third viewing, excitedly called the estate agent from a local bar (obviously, liquid courage was necessary) and made an offer. My partner and I both work in sales so aimed to play the estate agent at their own game and after some back-and-forth it wasn’t long before we had our offer – which was nicely below asking price – accepted and mortgage confirmed. It only became real when this monstrously large figure was added to our direct debit accounts after moving in.

We had a week of blissful stress-free skiing in France and were, no surprise, sat in a local bar when we heard about the lockdown that had just hit Europe. We frantically called our mortgage advisor who started hinting at some potential outcomes and outlined a couple of additional considerations: delays further up the chain, halts in the housing market in the future, dramatic reduction in house-prices… Maybe the House-Buying Gods weren’t going to be so kind after all. We had 0 experience of purchasing anything more expensive than a car so the thought of gambling with hundreds of thousands of pounds (as well as the next ten years of our lives) was terrifying.

Being the worrier I am, I had visions of being stuck in a house for the next 30 years with no ability to sell because the house wasn’t worth what we paid for it. I had premonitions of wanting to start a family but with no hope of moving somewhere closer to our own parents in Devon. We couldn’t even go to see the house again because of lockdown restrictions and no number of drive-bys eased our concern. My partner is without question the less-stressed one in the relationship so thankfully his cool head and process-driven methodology kept us on the straight-and-narrow. We both spent time researching the housing market (which, in hindsight I like to think we would have done had lockdown not happened) and took our parents’ advice to sit tight.

Now, living hundreds of miles away from our friends and family and with both of us working from home through lockdown (and sans printer) made signing contracts and having witnesses for said contracts extremely difficult. What would usually take us an hour or two took us weeks, adding to the anxiety that we wouldn’t get our paperwork completed by our exchange date – which unbeknownst to us – was taking place six weeks earlier than planned. Cue extreme wine-drinking and feeling like we were in a scene from Money Heist gathering thousands of pounds for our deposit ready to send to our solicitor.

And then, there was nothing. We received polite emails to confirm our life savings had been safely stashed and were told to wait for a call on the day of completion weeks later to pick up our keys. We organised delivery vans and carpet cleaners and packed up about 2 weeks earlier than necessary, then before we knew it the 15th July was here and we were driving to pick up the keys (clearly we were driving far too hastily as we got caught speeding on the motorway. Great start.)

But, finally, we did it! We spent 2 solid days scrubbing the place top to bottom and running up and down *our own* stairs like children. Our first few nights felt like we were staying in a hotel and having cool glasses of G&T in the garden in the evenings felt like living in a dream. The weeks between our move-in date and today have been one huge blur. We’ve had both sets of our parents travel up from Devon and have spent more time in the sun in the last few weeks than we did in the entirety of last year (a garden with sun is 100% my favourite part of the house).

I’ve only started to understand just how stressed living in a built up area with no garden or sunlight was making me. I’m so much more relaxed being in our own place where I can see a sunrise and sunset and am in walking distance of a woods (and yes I’ve already scoped out at least 10 riding stables in the local area). Having our own base really is priceless and I’m so happy we stuck with our guns – particularly for a home that really is everything we wanted it to be.

I’m sat in the garden with a G&T on one of the hottest days of the year, the sun beaming down, feeling truly content. Next step… a puppy!

Why I Work in Talent Acquisition

If only my desk was this tidy.

When people think of a Talent Acquisition role, they often think ‘recruitment’. Yes I earn commission for hires, work to monthly ‘starter targets’ and am focused on hiring into a company. I spend the majority of my time on the phone to candidates and embrace the target-driven and incentive-focused nature of the wider company, but I combine this with a strong focus on talent strategy and growing the global brand of my business.

Working in Talent Acquisition means I know my business inside out. I act as the face of the company and am the first impression of the firm to new consultants, so I need to be a reflection of the type of consultant I look to hire. I am responsible for hiring for three offices across the UK and also support our global offices in their hiring processes. I embody not just the businesses’ overall culture, goals, visions, but also the individual needs and requirements of each Sales Manager. The benefit of having such an intricate knowledge of the team means that I’ve developed strong relationships with each Manager I’ve hired for, as well as working on a one-to-one basis with the CEO and COO.

The job certainly isn’t just ‘CV-sifting’. The majority of my hires came from sources such as LinkedIn and referrals which means it isn’t my responsibility to just find someone who needs a job; I need to discover talent and attributes that align with the businesses’ needs and introduce the candidate to long-term career opportunities.

The benefit of working in Talent Acquisition over pretty much any other type of recruitment is that every day, I personally see and contribute to my hires progressing and growing into award-winning members of the team. Yes, working in sales means there’s nowhere to hide, but it also means that when you do well, the entirety of the office is supporting and celebrating your success along with you, but NOBODY cheers louder than the Talent Acquisition Consultant who hired you when you ring the deal bell for the first time!

My biggest achievement to-date has been filling four ‘strategic’ senior-level hires. These aren’t your standard roles and were challenging to fill, but seeing these people thrive in managing teams, devising refreshing training programmes and opening up the reach of the business is a huge motivator to continue to source these types of profiles for the company. The Talent Acquisition team work hard to ensure each consultant we hire adds a positive and fresh dynamic to the team.

The biggest challenge I face is the unreliability in candidates – there’ve been processes which has gone without a hitch right up until the day before the candidate was due to start…only for them to message me the night before they’re due to start saying that they’re dropping out. In my head, I’d already spent the commission and celebrated an early finish on a Friday for hitting target, so to know I needed to start the process again was really demotivating. From this, I’ve learned that no deal is truly closed until the candidate has turned up on their first day. I’ve also learned to listen to my gut feeling – it’s very rarely wrong.

So far, I’ve hired over 50 people into the company spanning three UK offices. I’ve witnessed my Consultants break billing records, receive promotions, earn life-changing money and be part of closing huge deals. I’ve more than doubled my earnings since my previous position and have hired into every team in the company. I’ve written blog posts for external sources and have been part of bringing in brand new processes and social media ideas for the company.

Talent Acquisition, like any recruitment position at my company, is genuinely more than just a job. I’m so invested in not just hitting my targets and making great commission (an inevitable motivation) but also in creating an amazing working environment and group of colleagues around me.

Teenage Life in the Country

Yep. It really was like this.

Sitting cross-legged on my side of the bed in our old bedroom writing this article, the downstairs television and wafts of conversation reverberate through the thick farm-house walls. The blustery Devonshire gale rips through an open window, closed doors rattling through the rooms. A call comes up the stairs “Callum, Lauren, diiiiinnnnerrrr”.

Visiting home is like being taken back in time. Nothing really changes in the small seaside town we’re from but it seems a lifetime away from our ‘new normal’ in West Sussex. Coming home provides the opportunity to reflect on my teenage years spent in the country and identify the differences to those who grew up in central towns and cities.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I know that West Sussex is hardly the Bronx. But the close proximity to London means ‘city-life’ feeds into the mindset of most who live there. Life is fast-paced, energetic, always on-the-go. Whatsapp, Deliveroo and Uber are ways of life. Devon? 3G is a rarity, your only takeaway option is a 25-minute drive to the nearest fish-and-chip shop, and convenient public transport means waiting an hour for a bus (and you’ve got no chance on a Sunday).

In my teens, a typical Friday started by mucking out the horses (usually in my school uniform), before our parents ferried my sister and I to the top of the country lane where we’d catch the school bus and not go home until Monday. Our parents never worried. They knew we’d be somewhere locally with friends, confirmed by a passing conversation with the postman who’d mention he’d seen us in the park earlier in the day, or with the barman who’d joke at our failed attempts of buying cider with awful fake IDs. I didn’t think twice about spending two hours on a rickety bus to travel to see friends in a nearby town, however the anger of missing said bus and waiting an hour for the next was a constant source of frustration. Our time was filled with the dramas each teenager experience: school, parties, relationships. But, we took for granted the horses, the beach parties, the freedom – because these things were all we ever knew. Until the age of 21, my life was spent with salty hair and minimal makeup, driving around in my 1987 classic Mini Mayfair called Beethoven.

Living in South Devon was an idyllic place to grow up. The pace of life was – and still is – most definitely slower and, although we lived in an expensive tourist trap, the cost of living was a fraction of that in London. However, it soon became clear that well-paying jobs are like gold-dust and, if you want to pursue a career, relocation (or a 4 hour daily commute) is necessary.

It wasn’t until we were propelled into ‘urban life’ upon our move to West Sussex that I understood just how different my upbringing made me to my new colleagues: I’d never been to London. Wearing heels and bronzer were alien to me. I was genuinely excited about being within walking distance of a train station. This period of adjustment was huge and it’s taken me two years to find a balance of ‘country’ Lauren and ‘professional’ Lauren.

I’ve learned that no city bar beats a beach BBQ and that life is a hell-of-a-lot simpler when there are fewer people around. But, I also have come to appreciate the beautiful surroundings of my hometown far more than I ever did when I lived there, and know when the time is to leave. It’s true what they say about living in small towns. Nothing really changes and that feeling is claustrophobic. I love now living somewhere which is vibrant and ever-changing. I love working in an environment full of energetic, young people who reflect my mentality.

Living in the deepest corners of the countryside before moving to ‘civilisation’ has taught me a lot about the qualities I want to maintain, no matter where I live. I’ll always hold on to the dedication it takes to live on a farm and appreciate early mornings. I’ll never forget the brilliance of board games and evenings spent with the family around a roaring fire in the depths of winter when nothing is open because all the tourists have gone home. I am only really calm when in open green spaces or on the beach, and I know to give myself the dedicated time each week to find my ‘calm’.

Moving away from your hometown is something everyone should do at least once. But, don’t forget what you learned from living there, and use that to help shape who you want to become.

“68 Pieces of Unsolicited Advice” – Kevin Kelly

I stumbled upon this brilliant article, written by Kevin Kelly, on WordPress recently:

https://kk.org/thetechnium/68-bits-of-unsolicited-advice/?

Take five minutes this morning to read the full article – I promise you’ll find one thing that you needed to hear today.

If you don’t have five minutes, have some of my favourites:

“If you desperately need a job, you are just another problem for a boss; if you can solve many of the problems the boss has right now, you are hired. To be hired, think like your boss.”

“A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.”

“Rule of 3 in conversation. To get to the real reason, ask a person to go deeper than what they just said. Then again, and once more. The third time’s answer is close to the truth.”

“If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting.”

“Following your bliss is a recipe for paralysis if you don’t know what you are passionate about. A better motto for most youth is “master something, anything”. Through mastery of one thing, you can drift towards extensions of that mastery that bring you more joy, and eventually discover where your bliss is.”

All Credit to Kevin Kelly for these brilliant pieces of advice. Find the article here: https://kk.org/thetechnium/68-bits-of-unsolicited-advice/?