Friday, 19 January 2018

Why I'm Happy I Pursued A Journalism/Media Career Outside Of London.

I've now been working in the media in Cardiff for almost a whole year. I can't believe how quickly it's gone, but it has been incredible. I've learned so much - about the industry, about what I want to achieve within it, about how much I love working in television, and also about how glad I am I decided to pursue a media career in Cardiff. 

When I think back to this time last year and just how much has changed in the space of 12 short months, I'm in awe. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was living out of a suitcase, travelling four hours on a train twice a week between my home in West Wales and a hostel in West London, as I strived to make it in the media industry. I was working as a video assistant in my first paid journalism job and I won't lie, things were tough

I wanted so desperately to love the London life, and I really, truly did. I loved the buzz and the hustle and bustle of the city. I loved how it was always busy, how there was beauty and excitement around every corner. I even grew to love the sound of the tubes rattling along the Central Line. What I couldn't shake off, however, was the loneliness I felt. I made some lovely friends and met fantastic people, I had the best time and really pushed myself, but the reality was that I was desperately homesick, and I felt as though I was kidding myself into thinking this was the sort of life I wanted. In all honesty, every time I was applying for jobs in the Big Smoke and getting interviews, I would be left feeling sick with worry, not at the thought of an interview, but that the temporary situation I was in would become permanent.
In January last year I took a week out of my temp video assistant job in London to freelance for BBC Wales, and instantly my mind was made up. I spent the week making contacts, learning, realising this was exactly what I wanted to do, and basically living. I loved the work. It was so exciting, and I felt like they really valued me and what I was doing. It was a completely different atmosphere to sitting in a pokey fashion cupboard, sorting through worn garments. The team wanted to push me, and gave me the opportunity to see every aspect of production, and to ask questions and learn more.

What's more after a hard day's work I could hop in my car and within fifteen minutes I was home, in a cosy, warm house, with the option to see friends, head to the gym or just chill if I wanted to. I had hours after the working day to contend with; there was no rush hour traffic, no running to catch the tube and cramming myself into the nearest carriage, finding my head squished under someone's armpit. It was a completely different lifestyle to the one I had been living. Of course, working in television means super early starts, long hours and travelling all over the place, but I felt calm, content, happy, and there were so many amazing opportunities which were right on my doorstep.

I decided it was time to go for them.

I guess I was worried about people would think. I had this weird perception that to make it in the media industry you had to live in London. Even though it was never drilled into me, by parents, friends, family or even at university, I really felt that London was where I would have to be to make things work in this industry, and that's truly not the case. I also felt like I was expected to live a certain life, when all I truly wanted was to be happy. To be in a job I loved, to be able to live the life I wanted, to be close to my family and boyfriend, to see friends, to actually have money... Pursuing a media career outside of London would allow me to do just that.

I'd also kind of followed the beauty journalism route, and again I wasn't sure if it was 100% something I wanted to do in the long-term. Yes, I love makeup, clothes, beauty and all things girly in general, but I wanted to do something a little more, something a little different. I couldn't really see myself still writing about makeup when I reached my thirties, I suppose. I wanted to work on projects that would make a difference. I wanted to learn about the world, to interact with people and to find out about the lives they live, rather than to write about the hottest product on the market.

One year on, I can safely say that making this decision was the best thing I ever did. I've gained amazing new friends, worked with fantastic people, had the opportunity to expand my skills through various courses and training, have worked in the best places and have been able to put into practice all the skills I learned whilst studying. I often find myself thinking about how happy and grateful I am to get to do something I love every day.

For me, the main benefit I've felt of pursuing a journalism/media outside of London is that I've been able to do all of this whilst absolutely nailing that work/life balance. Admittedly, when filming schedules are in full swing any chance of meeting up with friends or even having a night to yourself tend to fall by the wayside, but most importantly I am close enough to all the people I need, I have my own little place to call home, and have exciting career prospects right on my doorstep.

Please rest assured that this post does not aim to deter anyone from reaching for their dreams in The Big Smoke. I just feel it's not for everyone, and that you can definitely live outside of London and can absolutely smash it in this industry if you're prepared to work hard and put in the graft. I don't want people to feel as I did, and it's amazing just how much media content comes out of Wales and South West England.

Who knows, maybe this small town Welsh girl will find herself back amongst the throng of people bustling along Oxford Street on her work break again some day? I never say never. But for now I'm happier than ever to be working in the Welsh capital.

Lots of love. xoxo

Monday, 15 January 2018

Five things I'm grateful for this Blue Monday.

Bleugh, Blue Monday - aka. the day that is said to be the most depressing day of the year - is here. I can totally understand why it could be seen that way. I mean, January is pretty boring. It's an incredibly long month, and for most it's the start of the second full week back in work since the Christmas break which means the festivities are well and truly over. If you're doing Dry January then you're only h a l f w a y through, and honestly there's just not a lot going on is there? 
I guess though, that's the beauty of January. I really enjoy this calm before the storm, as every year when the last week or so of January kicks in it's all go-go-go, and I love it. But it's always nice to have a little time at the start of the year to focus on yourself rather than your hectic schedule. So, let's embrace those January Blues in all their glory. Here are five things I'm grateful for this Blue Monday...

1. Waking up feeling fresh after a Saturday night in

Last year I really overdid it when it came to spending my Saturday nights on the dance floor instead of on the sofa, and it was one thing I vowed to change this year. I've been absolutely loving having cosy Saturday nights in with my lovely boyfriend, eating good food, watching some trashy telly and heading to bed at a decent time ready to get up and work out in the morning. I absolutely love waking up feeling fresh on a Sunday and I feel like I'm far more productive all week because of it. I do have a few shindigs planned over the next couple of weeks, but I'm making sure I have plenty of quiet weekends in between. 

2. Making plans for the year ahead

One of my favourite things is seeing my diary fill up with events to attend, people to see and things to do. I bloody love being busy and making plans with family and friends is my absolute favourite thing. Over the next few weeks I'm celebrating my birthday at a luxurious spa with my mum, I'm jetting off to Paris (oh em effing geeeee!) for a weekend with Dan, I've got a DJ night with all my favourite girls planned, as well as lots of exciting work things along the way. It's going to be busy but I thrive on that, though I am ensuring I find a healthy balance so I don't overdo it as I did last year. This is why I'm really relishing these quieter weeks in January. 

3. My January health kick 

I vowed to get back into healthy eating and training hard in January, and I've done just that. I'm feeling so much better. I feel like I'm really nourishing my body and am seeing the benefits both physically and mentally. Exercise is such a stress-reliever for me, and I particularly love going in the evenings after work. It's a great way to burn off some energy after spending all day sat at a desk. I love that the quietness of January has enabled me to refocus on this. 

4. Having a beautiful home to get all cosy in

Every day I thank my lucky stars that I'm able to live in a such fun, vibrant, friendly city, and more importantly that I have my own space to settle in. After years of house shares and hostel living, spending time on trains back and fore from university to my cosy home back in West Wales, having my own flat still feels surreal and I'm forever grateful that I have a place in Cardiff I can finally call home. 

5. Sunny Winter days 

You know that feeling when you wake up on a cold January morning to see the sun shining through the morning mist? I've bloody loved that over the past two weeks. Admittedly, those days are few and far between, but I've been really enjoying getting out into the cold, fresh air to enjoy the sunnier days when I can. This has meant ditching the car to walk to work, and it's also meant long walks around Cardiff's beautiful parks and the bay on the weekend. If mother nature could bless us with some more sun in the lead up to spring pleeeeeease that would be just great.

So this Blue Monday, why not curl up and read my blog post about how to survive the January blues, run yourself a hot bath, and get engrossed in a TV drama. I'm definitely enjoying embracing the quiet times, and I feel so much better for it.

Lots of love. xoxo

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

How I Plan To Change Up My Instagram Game, & Why I'm Only Instagramming For Me.

I wish I was more serious about monitoring my analytics sometimes, because I bet if I looked back to my Instagram stats this time last year, they would be exactly the same. There has been absolutely no movement whatsoever. No growth, no improvement, nada. That's despite my photography improving (at least I'm happier with it anyway!), being active on the platform while supporting other bloggers/Instagrammers, meeting new people and posting content almost daily. And I know I'm definitely not alone in this. 

 Instagram used to be my favourite social media platform. I loved catching up on everyone's snaps at the end of the day. I used to find so much inspiration from it, on places to visit, how to improve my own photography, different clothes and makeup to try out, and how to nail that blogger fave, "the flatlay". Then, BAM, along came that freaking algorithm and all the fun was just sucked out of Instagram like that. 

It's shit. It's disheartening when you're working hard to grow your audience, and I miss out on so many of my favourite bloggers' snaps because they're not coming up on my timeline. I just wish that Instagram would bloody listen to its users, but in the mean time I'm going to change up the way I use Instagram and focus on posting what's right for me. 

I want to share more memories. Pictures of people I love and places that I've visited, funny friendship selfies and pictures of my family. I want my feed to be more real, a digital photo album that I can look back on in years to come and remember what fun I had. 

I want to follow more types of platform, even though it's almost impossible to keep up with those I do follow already. There are so many amazing platforms out there, and I do feel like I miss out on a lot of them because I'm not following enough people.  
I want to utilise my Instagram stories more. I've only recently got into this because I always tend to use Snapchat, but I really love seeing the people behind the profile and getting to know the people I follow on a more personal level. I'm intrigued by what people are getting up to on a Saturday night, and I love those funny ramblings so many post. I'm not going to go into full-on vlogging mode, but I want to share a little more of my life on there. 

Finally, I want to post for myself. Forget themes and structure, I want to use the platform for essentially what it is; to share visual memories. We don't know what the future holds for Instagram, maybe the algorithm will be abolished and our Insta-prayers will be answered. Who knows? But here's to 2018 and a whole new overview for me. 

Lots of love. xoxo

Friday, 5 January 2018

Five ways to beat the January blues.

I'm not going to lie, after what is always a crazy busy build-up to the festive period and then the actual festivities themselves, I look forward to January and the peacefulness that comes with it. I enjoy getting back into routine, switching the carb-tastic Christmas buffets and horrendous hangovers for veggies and a Body Pump class, and putting on my pyjamas instead of my dancing shoes. But I can totally see how the huge contrast between December and January can cause an impact. 
January can be long. It's usually cold, it rains for 99.9% of the time, it's so bloody windy you can't step outside without fear of being whisked off your feet (she says as Storm Eleanor is howling outside), and everyone tends to hibernate indoors. BUT it is the next step towards the beauty of springtime, and the quietness allows a time to reflect and refocus, and hello, cosy nights in means a little pamper becomes part of your daily routine. I definitely think you can embrace those January blues, and here's how...

1. Get outdoors

As I write this the rain is absolutely hammering it down outside. It's another dull, grey January day and it couldn't be easier to just sit in bed all day with Netflix for company, but that ain't gonna boost my mood. In fact, it will make me feel like a lazy sloth, so later I'm gonna wait for a break in the rain, I'm gonna grab my coat and woolly hat, and I'm going to get outside for a stroll. The fresh air really boosts my mood and gives me so much energy.

2. Indulge in some exercise

I love working out, so any time I feel a bit shit I head to the gym, with a new playlist at the ready on Spotify, and I just smash it. I usually love going in the evening after a long day at work; it always helps to rid my head of the day's stress, but a morning workout is also really effective in setting myself up for the day. January is the perfect time to start a new hobby or join a new gym class. Yes, it can be extremely daunting, but everyone has to start somewhere. That person who is the fittest in the class would have felt nervous at joining a new gym class at some point. 

3. Have a digital/home/life detox

Ahh, a cleanse is so good for the mind and soul. Whether you need to overhaul your wardrobe (I once threw out hirty sequin, leopard print, and cleavage-showing dresses that I used to wear when I first started clubbing aged 17. No better way to start your year!), your laptop, your kitchen cupboards or your "friends" list, January is the perfect time to do it. Set yourself a day, get some comfy clothes on, shove your hair up in a pineapple bun and get to it. 

4. Enjoy a cosy night in with the gals

Honestly, I don't think I can look at another flute of prosecco until well into February. Christmas has well and truly ruined me, and I don't want to suffer with another hangover for a very, veeery long time. Instead of painting the town red this January, I'm going to ask the girls over for some pampering, movies and healthy treats. Waking up feeling fresh will be absolute bliss too!

5. Get planning for 2018

One of my favourite things to do is plan out my new year, in my super sparkly mermaid-esque planner which you can find here. I love being busy and love having plans, so I'm already starting to get some things booked into the diary over the next few weeks. I have my birthday coming up, I'm off on a spa day and I'm trying to convince Dan that a mini-break away in February is a great idea. It doesn't have to be a massive event or special occasion, mate dates to the cinema or out for coffee work just as well.

Lots of love. xoxo