Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Annual Blogger Bash 2016 #BloggersBash

I've been blogging for three years now and I love it! I write this blog as well as a book/writing related blog over on Word Press - you can find it HERE.

The blogging and writing community is fabulous, and I’ve made many new friends through sharing, interacting and commenting on the incredible blogs that are out there.

To celebrate the best bloggers around, Sacha Black and her awesome team launched the Annual Blogger Bash back in 2015, and I’ve very pleased to say that it’s returning this year and looks to be bigger and better than before.

The physical event takes place on 11th June 2016 in London and tickets can be found HERE. Regular blog readers who are unable to make the event can follow all the fun and frivolity via Twitter or Facebook.

What does this mean for you, the reader? Well, I’m glad you asked – the event includes the Annual Blogger Bash Awards (ABBAs for short), and you get to vote for your favourite blogs. 

The categories are as follows: (Image and information are taken from Sacha Black’sBlog)

Best Overall Blog - This award is for the blogger who has the best overall blog. Who is the blogger that for you, excels in a variety of categories? Perhaps they’re sociable and engage with readers, maybe they share others posts, or have a writing style that keeps you coming back time and time again.Whoever you choose needs to be an all-rounder, a blogger that for you is head and shoulders above the rest.

Funniest Blogger - Which blogger continually makes you laugh out loud? Has someone made you laugh so hard you cried? Maybe you snorted drink through your nose at one of their jokes. Who’s the funniest blogger of them all.

Most Inspirational Blogger - Who consistently inspires you? Is there a blogger that’s thought provoking and inquisitive? Or perhaps they have become a muse to you with constant provision of inspirational content or imagery? Who’s the one blogger that’s touched your heart? This is the nomination for them. 

Best Dressed Blog - This is for the most stylish blog. Who’s blog looks sleek and sexy? Maybe they use stunning imagery or a well-designed theme, or perhaps they just have a unique written style to their blog posts. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so only you can judge whose blog is the best dressed.

Most Informative (Original Content) Blogger - This award is for those bloggers with the most informative original content. Who, time and time again writes fascinating content. Perhaps they are a history blogger, maybe, a blogger who writes about writing craft, or maybe they like archaeology or wine tasting, or perhaps they are an artist or musician. The topic could be anything, what were looking for is a blogger who shares a wealth of knowledge that they have carefully researched and pulled together themselves.Who do you find yourself longing to read because of their content? This is the nomination for them.

Best Book Review Blog - We created a new award because we felt there were so many dedicated book reviewers out there that they needed an award in their own right.Which book reviewer do you love? This isn’t about being prolific this is about quality reviews. Who’s the most thoughtful reviewer? Perhaps their thoughts on a book persuaded you to read it, maybe they use their blog as a platform for authors as well, or perhaps you love them for their scathing honesty!Whoever you choose to nominate for this award, please ensure their blogs are PRIMARILY book review blogs.

Services to Bloggers - Who’s the kindest blogger of them all? Which blogger goes out of their way to help others? Maybe someone helped you kick-start your blog with tutorials, or maybe they continually reblog your posts. Perhaps someone consistently provides useful posts on how to boost your own blog. Or maybe you want to nominate someone who provides a platform for others.Who do you want to thank for their dedication to other bloggers?

Hidden Gem - Which blog doesn’t get the notoriety they deserve? Maybe you stumbled upon them by chance and discovered a minefield of information. Maybe they make you smile or have such an original style you can’t help but go back.Who would you like to have the limelight for a change? This is the award for them.

Newcomer Award - This is for bloggers who have been blogging less than a year. So bloggers who joined the blogosphere after 1st June 2015Who joined the blogosphere with a bang? Perhaps they are funny, or well designed, or maybe their posts make you smile time after time. Whatever the reason, this is for a newbie blogger that you think deserves recognition.

Best Pal - Which blogger do you want to go to the pub with? Or maybe have dinner with? Who never fails to reply to comments, and has thoughtful things to say. Maybe they encourage the community through weekly challenges or blog parties. Who wouldn’t the blogging world be the same without?

Voting is now OPEN. So, get nominating and celebrate your favourite blogs by getting involved. (Check out Sacha's blog for details on submitting your votes)

I’m fortunate enough to be attending the Blogger Bash in London and looking forward to meeting my favourite bloggers in the flesh! I will be adding a post about the whole event later in the year.

Get involved, get voting and follow the fun. The awards are not just for Word Press blogs, but for all platforms so please feel free to share this event with your blogger pals. Want to know more? Check out Sacha's FAQ HERE.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Project You! Self-Love Starts On The Inside

Project You!

Week 4: Self-love starts on the inside.

Last week we looked at abandoning our to-do list, you can read that post HERE.

Today, I want to talk about self-love. It’s a phrase that many of us struggle with and one that I’ve pondered over many times. Last year I joined a slimming group in the hope of shedding the two stone in weight that crept on during the initial months of my ill health. I thought that by losing the weight, I would start to feel better about myself.

Losing weight and feeling fitter and healthier, slimmer and more energetic is a worthy goal but it doesn’t change the essence of who we are. I look in the mirror and still see the dark circles under my eyes, the stretch marks and ‘laughter lines.' Losing weight won’t change that. I just need to embrace everything as a whole – inside and out.

I have a scar on my right eyebrow, caused during a game of British Bull Dog back in the 80s. I have small marks on my face which I believe to be sun damage. My left foot is smaller than the other foot, and my right boob is slightly bigger! These are the quirks that make up who I am. No amount of weight lifting, running, clothes shopping or makeup can wipe away my unique features.

Why are we so critical of ourselves? If a loved one or friend mentioned their loathing of a misshapen nose or a sprinkling of freckles, we would be the first to tell them how lovely they are. So why can’t we turn this love around and praise our own bodies?

I was writing in my journal last night and spent a few minutes reading over old entries. I noticed how often my shape and weight was mentioned. I’d either confessed to over-eating and the guilt I felt after, or revealed my close resemblance to a homeless person as I sat in my office wearing old joggers and a tatty top! I didn’t dare calculate how many hours of my life I’ve wasted worrying about my appearance. Made all the more ridiculous when I realised that I work from home and can go days without seeing another living soul (not counting my children and a crazy kitten).

If I hope to accept myself just as I am, I need to let go of old thoughts, feelings, and expectations and embrace the forty-three-year-old Shelley.

To do this, I need to see past the big nose, wobbly thighs and back fat and look at what I’ve achieved in this body. It’s given birth to three wonderful children (worth every stretch mark). It’s taken me around the world, giving me the strength and mobility to see a host of incredible things. It’s run a half marathon in memory of my cousin.

To begin our journey of self-love, we need to begin seeing ourselves the way our friends and family do. They see our beauty and strength – don’t you think you deserve to see the same?

I receive numerous comments about my smile and yet when I look at old photos I only see faults. From now on I’m going to try and look for the good bits and dismiss any negativity. I challenge you to do the same.

Use this affirmation every morning and night when you look in the mirror.

“I love my body and cherish it every day of my life.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Project You! Abandon the To-Do List

Project You!

Week 3: Avoid Goal Setting and Abandon the To-Do List

Last week we looked at how to stop feeling guilty, you can read that post HERE.

Today, I want to talk about NOT setting goals. Don’t adjust your monitor; I did just suggest that you avoid goal setting – me, the queen of resolutions!

Over the past year, I’ve had to abandon some challenges due to my health; it was upsetting and unnerving as I saw this as a ‘failure.' As the year rolled by, I began to understand the importance of living without a purpose.

My to-do list was, and still is but in a much smaller scale, a great comfort to me. I love a schedule and a deadline, and I find it helpful to run the household events/tasks using a paper diary and calendar.

However, how often have you looked at your to-do list and felt defeated? Not because you haven’t managed to tick off all the tasks but because you find those particular duties hold no meaning. It’s just ‘stuff to do’ instead of activities that drive your real goals forward.

Friday, 1 April 2016

What a Difference a Year Makes

One year ago, my life changed direction. I was fighting with a health issue that not only depleted my energy but caused me pain, anguish, and fear.  To this day, I remain undiagnosed, left with the doctor’s parting remark, ‘we’ll probably never know what it is or why it happened.’ I translated this to mean ‘just get on with it.’

So I did! I chose to take control of my life and health - it was the hardest decision to make but in hindsight, it was the right one. After seven years of hard work, I closed Body & Soul Holistics, my holistic health spa. A small business that had evolved and flourished until I had an eight-month waiting list for ladies wanting treatments.

My clients were incredible and supported my decision, having watched my health deteriorate before their eyes. They were also wise and intuitive about where my life would take me.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Project You! Don't Feel So Guilty

Project You!

Week 2: Don’t Feel So Guilty

Last week we looked at how to stop trying to please everyone else and to take time out for yourself, you can read that post HERE.

Today, I want to talk about guilt. We all carry a certain amount of guilt around with us. It’s healthy to feel a small portion of responsibility or remorse. Telling your kids you can’t afford an ice-cream (because you’re secretly saving for a spa weekend) comes with only a small sliver of shame.

But what about the guilty pleasures? No, I’m not talking about Johnny Depp (for once!), I’m referring to the duvet day you dream about, or that unscheduled pit stop in life when you binge watch all eight Harry Potter films.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Project You! Stop Trying to Please Everyone

Project You!

Week 1: Stop Trying To Please Everyone

My children break up for the school Easter holidays today, and they bounced out of the door this morning with a definite spring in their step (no pun intended!)

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have stocked the cupboards with Easter chocolate and hot cross buns, and there will be a vase of beautiful daffodils taking pride of place on the kitchen table.  Two weeks of family time is something to look forward to, and I intend to use this holiday to mix my own goals with special treats for the kids.

Does that sound horrifying?  Should I spend the next two weeks entertaining my three teenagers, doing double shifts on the cleaning because they are at home and, therefore, making more of a mess?  Maybe I should be slaving over a hot stove to prepare the Easter lunch, or perhaps rushing across the Midlands delivering eggs to my friends and family.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My Open Letter to Depression

Dear Depression,

You have been in my life for far longer than I ever realised, skulking about in the shadows like a malevolent troll.  You slowly depleted my confidence and wiped the smile from my face, and yet all the time I thought I was to blame.  I believed that I was too weak, too boring, and too insignificant and I almost let you win.

You made me feel so lonely that I believed there was an invisible wall around me.  I began to feel discouraged by everything the future had to offer.  You got to me in so many ways; emotionally, physically and spiritually.  I could no longer find comfort in the things that once helped boost my wellbeing.  You cut me off from the beautiful world and laughed as I floundered in the choking fear that tried to drown me.

Maybe it was you that contributed to the physical pains I endure every day.  My muscles scream with every movement.  I ache all the time, I can’t sleep and I embark on moments on self-destruction with my diet, but I think you feed on these debilitating feelings.  You thrive on negative energy and found an inviting home in my suffering.