…and how you could use Lockdown No.3 to change your life.
…..Continuing on from part one of this blog post (if you missed it then you can find it here: Part One). The initial steps I gave you to change your life or use Lockdown to your advantage in some way are there. If you are short for time and want to skip to my top tips and next steps for using Lockdown to your advantage, then scroll down to the heading: “Fake it till you make it”.
Honestly, I loved every minute of the first Lockdown, well, apart from getting sick. The peace, the quiet, the time to think and breath and just be! Lockdown No.3 is quite different as we are living in a very small rental and it’s Winter. Things aren’t quite so rosy this time. I’ve had a few low moments, particularly just after Christmas. However, I’ve still tried to maintain my momentum and continue with positive plans as much as possible.
I took some much needed time out over the festive period just to stop. I needed to find my mojo again. I think it got thrown out with the Christmas wrapping!
What did I do about it?
The best way for me to do that is to clear my mind first. Go on walks and breath the fresh air and notice the small beautiful things around you. It could be the frost on the grass, or the first signs of Daffodils coming up, little sprouts of hope.
Next it’s about getting inspired again. For me, that’s a good old cup of coffee and some interior and garden magazines or falling down a very deep Pinterest rabbit hole. Check out the trends, what takes your fancy? After a good inspo session I’m usually full of ideas again and raring to go. Try it!
Recently, I got together with a friend of mine on Instagram, Cynthia from @cynthia_weber_design to launch a fun little hashtag to help get us all inspired again. #whatsinspiringmenow is all about sharing the love. Instead of obsessing with your own account and your own failings, why not focus on other beautiful accounts and tell your followers about them? I promise the more love you give out, the more you receive.
Huge challenges and even bigger changes.
July 2020 saw the reopening of my salon. I had spent a small fortune on PPE, which I legally had to do in order to reopen. It felt so wrong buying it all, knowing there was a national shortage for the NHS staff who needed it most.
Learning to wear it all, whilst wielding a hot hairdryer and tongs took some getting used to. Within seconds the visor would steam up and I couldn’t see a thing. As for cutting, it was near impossible. Trying to wipe a visor with one hand and cut a straight line with the other. I have a feeling the cuts I did when I reopened in July weren’t that great! I envisioned a sea of Surrey women with slightly too short fringes and wonky bobs, all trying to rock the “permanently surprised” look – very 2020 darling!
Each session was just about getting through it as quickly and as safely as possible. My clients were scared too, really scared. The very first lady who graced my salon on July 7th arrived with full mask, visor and gloves. She’d bought her own towel and gown, even though she had been forewarned to not bring anything at all, not even a handbag. The first ten minutes were a barrage of questions about my cleaning regime, it was exhausting.
Gone were the giggly chats and local gossip. Gone were my outlandish, over-the-top gestures and comical anecdotes. It was: come in, sit down, now just do my hair as quickly as you can, shut up and try not breath on me! I hated it. At the end of each day I was absolutely shattered. Hats off to all the medical staff that had been working like trojans for months prior covered in PPE. We all owe them so much.
That first week back at work seemed like the longest week ever. How incredibly timely that our weekend break at The Pig on The Beach was at the end of it. We had booked it a year before and the hotel would be opening up again just in time for our stay. We decided it was going to be safe as we would not be staying in the hotel itself, but away from it in a shepherd’s hut. Our friends would be in the other hut next to us. We would only eat outside too and, luckily, we were blessed with good weather.
Prior to the whole Coronavirus nightmare, we had been talking about a move to the coast. It had always been our dream to end up by the sea. The many months of Lockdown had sharpened our minds and we found ourselves wanting to speed things up and not wait years for the big move. Mr C wanted to be closer to his work as the journey there and back was slightly arduous. Of course, he had been working from home during Lockdown, but at some point he would be asked to return to the office.
I wasn’t enjoying the new reality of hairdressing one bit and the monthly takings were down due to so many people still too scared to go to the salon. More than anything else though, 2020 had taught us that life is short and precious. There isn’t enough time for “maybe one day”, that day is now as we never know if tomorrow will ever come.
The trip to the coast that weekend cemented our thoughts in our minds and by the time we arrived back in Surrey we had hatched a plan to put the house on the market and look for our dream seaside location.
It was a scary thing to do though! Not only would we be giving up our house and garden that we had worked tirelessly on over seven years and three years of council Planning Department hell, but I would be giving up my salon and main source of income. I would also be giving up my main source of content for Instagram and my blog, the thing I loved more than anything else and the thing I was hoping would form my new career.
That’s a tough thing to do and a brave thing. The very source of my future career was the very thing we were going to sell. How would I be able to keep a website and Instagram account about interiors and gardens going without a home and garden of our own? It’s something that not many people really understood the importance of.
One of the most annoying things about going full steam ahead with a writing/styling career, particularly if it’s on social media, is that a lot of your friends and family will never understand it. They won’t ask you how you’re getting on and if you talk about it, they very quickly lose interest. It’s like they think you’re just playing with your phone and wasting time. It’s very frustrating.
Anyway, rant over! We put the house on the market and in two days it was sold! It was a bit of a shock as we were just testing the water. Within six weeks the sale had completed, which must be almost record time and we had moved out and into a tiny rental property in the best part of Emsworth, a village on the south coast of England, between the counties of Hampshire and West Sussex.
Those six weeks are a complete blur now. I have no idea how we managed to pack up a massive house and garden by ourselves, find a rental and do the millions of chores needed in order to relocate in that short a time. Somehow, I also managed to shoot a Christmas advert for Cox & Cox in that time, which involved ten huge Christmas trees, faux snow and light-up reindeer!
Autumn by the sea.
Those months saw the U.K Interior Awards and the Amara Interior Blog Awards, both of which I had been nominated and shortlisted for. I didn’t win either category, but it was an honour to be shortlisted and there’s always 2021!
Styling in a rental that you aren’t allowed to change has it’s challenges. It does focus the mind though and I’ve learned to create interior vignettes as I only really have one good wall to style near! I’ve had to think outside the box a lot more and get really creative, particularly for brand work.
Three weeks into living by the sea and we had already purchased our first project. There’s me thinking six weeks was crazy fast! We bought an iconic 1960s deckhouse on Emsworth Marina/Harbour. You can find it on Instagram @theharbourdeckhouse
It’s in need of a lot of work, but when it is renovated and brought back to its former glory, it will be beautiful. It will also be a vacation/holiday let and a location house, forming a good steady base for a new income for me to replace hairdressing. It will also be our weekend retreat whenever we want it. As I said before: life is for living and it’s not all about money, so we will be making sure that we get to enjoy it too. One day I think it will be our retirement home, so it’s something we will have forever.
Of course, I will be using it for styling and brands jobs too, but I would be thrilled if brands wanted to use it as a shoot location too. They didn’t film “Howard’s Way” here back in the eighties for nothing! Do you remember that? It was the British version of Dynasty, set on the coast. Loved the theme tune, Marti Webb and The James May orchestra, I believe. God, I’m old!
Fast forward to the end of the year so bad they named it twice – 2020 will go down in history as the year that the world nearly ended – nearly! Somehow though, the spirit of human kindness and a new found hunger to overcome the greatest of obstacles has culminated in a vaccine. There is hope. We will be ok, we will get through this and we will come out the other side better human beings with a greater sense of what is important in this world.
For me, it was the year where almost everything I knew changed forever. It was the year where we would take that leap of faith, spurred on by the knowledge that life is for living. I don’t know what is around the corner. I don’t know for sure if our plans will succeed.
So far, January has seen us start the process of buying our main home, also in Emsworth. There will be two renovation projects to follow along with! As this article goes to press, we still don’t have the main house sorted. It’s been a roller coaster ride so far and we’ve been under offer a few times on various houses, but they have either had huge issues or just didn’t seem right. Buying your “forever” home has to have that feeling. You’ve got to know it in your bones!
Part one “goals” recap.
To recap from part one of this post, write these things down. It’s your starting point and we all have to start somewhere:
- What do you really love doing?
- What makes you happy?
- What have you always wanted to do, but never had the time?
- Do you have a talent that no one knows about?
- Where haven’t you been, but always wanted to visit?
- Who do you admire and aspire to be?
- Perhaps you had dreams, but somehow they got lost along the path in your life. What were they? Get your old diaries out!
Lockdown No.3 is for you! Yes, there may be home schooling and everyone wanting a piece of you all day long. You matter too though and you need to carve out time just for you.
Fake it till you make it!
I had a friend at drama school many moons ago who was absolutely brilliant at making people love him, whether they be new friends or employers. He was incredibly adept at auditions and getting that prized role. Now, don’t get me wrong, he was very talented and he was also a very nice person, but he wasn’t quite as talented or quite as lovely as he led everyone to believe.
From the moment he entered a room he emanated an assured confidence. He had a certain presence that made people notice him. He went into every space thinking: “I am amazing. I am super talented, I’m funny, I’m kind and I’m the only person you ever need to know. Come sit by me!”
Did he have a huge ego? Of course he did! Was he secretly intensely insecure? Of course he was! Who cares? We’ve all got our hang-ups, right?The point is that everyone wanted to be his friend and everyone wanted to give him that job. By believing wholeheartedly, even if it was just while in company, that he was the best, that he was good enough, he made everyone else believe it too. More so, he made people almost obsessed with him because they wanted a piece of what he had. His optimism was infectious!
We can all learn from my friend. If you want to be something, you want to get somewhere, change your life or make a new start, then you’ve got to learn to fake it till you make it. All of us, deep down doubt ourselves. We all think that one day everyone will discover that we’re actually not very good at what we do. We’ve all got to start somewhere though.
Let’s say you want to be an interior stylist, but deep down you doubt yourself and have no idea where to begin. Does your Instagram bio say that you are an interior stylist? If it doesn’t then why doesn’t it? That’s what you want to get paid for one day, right? So how are you going to ever get paid to do it if you don’t tell people that’s what you do? See what I mean?
Now, the doubters amongst you will say that that’s all very well, but you’re not an actor unless you are paid to act, you’re not an astronaut unless you’ve been to space! I don’t agree.
You have a natural given talent for styling. You have been styling up your home since you were knee high and you have done quite a few collaborations with brands, styling up their products and photographing them. You’ve in fact got experience of being a stylist, art director, set designer and photographer all in one! So believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in you then nobody else will either.
There might be lots more that you need to learn and you may need to go on a few courses, but essentially you are good at what you want to do, you just need to tell people that’s what you do confidently and they will believe it. Once people believe it, then they want to work with you – see where I’m going with this?
We’re all faking it to a degree, we’re all just winging it, trying our best to get where we want to get. So, even if you don’t truly believe yet that you have what it takes, fake it till you do believe it enough to convince others.
Be the change you want to see.
By becoming the change that you want to see you will get to your end goal much faster. If you want to be a dog groomer, then tell people you’re a dog groomer! You might still be in training, but that’s what you are!
If you want to be a writer, then you need to write – a lot! If you’re not putting pen to paper, or tippy tappying away every five minutes, then you are not a writer, simple as that. You don’t need to be being paid to be a writer, but you do need to actually write, otherwise you are totally faking it and practice makes perfect.
After turning away from the singing and acting profession, I needed to find a new role in life. A job came up for a PR executive. I was good at English, my writing wasn’t half bad and I was super creative. I might not have had any PR experience before, but I knew I could do the job. I applied and pretty much put into practice the things my friend used to do to help him get where he needed to get.
I walked the interview and within three years I was a top PR consultant in a huge international company. Anything is possible if you believe it enough. So, start today. You’ve made your list. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to become? Now start believing it and making others believe it too!
If you have an aura about you of positivity and confidence then you tend to find that other positive people flock to you. You never know who’s watching, particularly on the internet. By believing in yourself and putting out positive vibes to the world, you will, no doubt receive positive affirmations in return.
If you create a post on Instagram about how down you are, then generally the comments tend to be either people feeling sorry for you, or people who feel an affinity with you. The same goes for a positive post. If you send out love, happiness and hope, then the comments tend to be life-affirming and the people that are listening tend to be of a similar persuasion.
I had a girlfriend once who could never get a boyfriend. The reason for that was because she exuded insecurity, desperation and negativity. That doesn’t turn anyone on! As soon as she started to turn it around and at least pretend for while to be a happy, fun-loving girl who was winning, she bagged herself a boyfriend.
In turn, she ended up being that happy, confident, successful girl in real life. That’s not to say that it was the boyfriend who was responsible for those changes. No, no, it was her. She didn’t need a boyfriend to be happy, she needed to be happy to get the boyfriend! She made it happen.
Planning and research is everything!
If you’re going to fake it till you make it, then you’ve got to be convincing! Do you believe that you can do it? If you do, then you can do it, but not without doing your research first.
We are blessed these days with the wonders of the internet. When I was younger it meant a trip to the library, but now it’s all there waiting for you at your fingertips.
Let’s say you want to start your own online shop. Google “how to start your own online shop”. In know that sounds obvious, but it’s the best place to start. A whole host of information will be displayed on your screen. Take time. You’ll probably find blog posts on the subject, courses and testimonials. Read them all! Immerse yourself in your new found project and set aside time to do so. It’s the very best way to keep your impetus going.
Find out the steps you need to take to make your dream a reality. Write them down! No, I mean it – write them down! Once you have your steps you can then put dates in your diary for when you want to have completed the steps by. Creating a deadline for each step is important, otherwise you will lose sight of your end goal. It doesn’t matter if you miss the deadline. In fact, missing the deadline will spur you on to work faster.
Let’s say you want to learn a new language. What are the steps you need to take? Well, enrolling on an online course would be a good start. Set yourself a date to begin. Mark another date to have finished the first module and so on. Once you are well on your way to achieving your goal then ask yourself what you want to do with it. That’s a whole other blog post, but it’s important.
What is it for? If it’s just to feel that you’ve achieved something, or to expand your mind, then you are totally winning at life. If, however, you want to put that new skill into practice, then you need to follow the research and planning steps again. Google “How can I use my skill”.
I’m no expert, I don’t know everything by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know what I want and I’ve studied how to get there and I’m doing my research and planning. I knew we wanted to move to the coast. I knew I wanted to give up hairdressing and concentrate on my writing, styling and renovating. I knew I wanted to work with brands and ultimately make a living from doing the things I loved the most. I’m definitely not there yet, but I am well on my way. As with anything in life, you just have to start.
You’ve got to have dreams and ambitions, it’s the stuff of life and it’s what stops us all from giving up with life, particularly in these testing times. Ultimately, one day I’d like to be an author. I want to be published by someone other than myself. It’s a dream, yes, but I do believe it could one day be a reality, so I’m going to keep on trying.
Know what your dream is. Only you can make it happen, through practice, research, planning and more than anything else, believe in yourself and your ability. 2021 doesn’t have to go down in history for you as the second year where everything was on hold. It could be the year that you set yourself free and fly!