Escaping the rat race is something we all dream of from time to time. It takes an idea followed by action. It really is as simple as that although negative self-talk can stop that dream coming true. I hope you are inspired by Melissa’s story of leaving PR to pursue a dream in Africa. You could say she just dived in to a whole new life!

Rat Race

 

Tell us about your job and why you decided to make a lifestyle change

I’d been living and working in central London for nearly 10 years and – on the most part – absolutely loving it. It’s a vibrant city with so much going on and I’ve always enjoyed my job as a PR consultant and, more recently, a freelance journalist too. There are lots of different aspects involved in PR but, in a nutshell, I work with organisations to advise on their communications strategy and help them tell their story to the press.

My career has been pretty varied and, over the years, I’ve done everything from promoting new ice cream launches (yes, I spent a day visiting journalists in an ice cream van and, yes, it was fabulous!), organising celebrity interviews and red carpet photo shoots, raising awareness of charity fundraisers, responding to a crisis when something goes wrong, writing press releases about complicated travel technology developments, organising events and hosting journalists on press trips – and pretty much everything else you can think of in between.

People often comment that my job sounds really glamorous – and parts of it can be – but what goes on behind the scenes is far from glam: the long hours (at one point I was looking after 13 accounts), challenging clients, demanding journalists and tight deadlines mean stress levels are through the roof a lot of the time.

I knew I was at risk of burnout and, after just short of a decade in the city, I needed a change. With friends moving further out of the city and settling down to start a family, London was becoming more and more isolating. Plus, I absolutely hate the cold!

Being a scuba diver, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and love spending time by the coast. I’ve often thought about relocating but usually just attributed it to “holiday blues” and there was always something keeping me in London: a job, a relationship, an upcoming promotion. Finally, last year, I decided to trust my gut and make the move – and it’s all fallen into place since then!

 How did it feel when you relocated?

 I’ve only been out here in Mozambique for two weeks so it’s all still pretty new but I’m really happy I made the decision to relocate. Since I decided to move to Africa, I’d been waiting for that “this is crazy – what am I doing?” moment to strike but it wasn’t until I was on the overnight flight to Maputo that it hit. I’d been so busy planning my trip that it hadn’t really sunk in that I was moving to a new country on my own. The nerves quickly passed, though, as it was something I’d been thinking about for a while and I knew deep down I was making the right decision for me.

Strangely, since I arrived, I’ve found I settled really quickly and already feel at home. The team has been really welcoming and it’s such a small town that you’re almost guaranteed to bump into a familiar face when you pop to the market, which makes a nice change from the Big Smoke!

 What are the joys?

 There’s something so wonderful about living by the ocean. I can nip down to the beach for a quick swim before work, go diving at the weekend or just sit and watch the sunset and chill. While we’re all working hard, I’ve got a much healthier work-life balance and I’m already feeling the stress of London life melting away.

The other joy is being able to help a cause so close to my heart: protecting our oceans. The Marine Megafauna Foundation – where I’m volunteering – is doing some really interesting work in the marine conservation sphere. As well as their research into ocean giants such as whale sharks and manta rays, they’re working with the local community to reduce unsustainable fishing practices and inspiring the local school children to protect the ocean by teaching them about marine conservation and running swimming lessons. Community engagement is vital here and it’s so interesting to meet some of the locals who are spearheading a change in behaviour.

There’s a lot to learn about the projects that are going on here but I’m excited to be able to help them shout about the incredible work they’re doing and make a real difference. It’s such a rewarding way to use my skills and expertise.

 What are the challenges?

 Life is very different here, of course: there’s no ATM in our town so you have to travel into the nearest city to get cash out and if there’s a storm we could lose power and internet for a day (which would have sent my London office into absolute chaos). I’ve found the easiest way to adapt is to just roll with things because there’s no point getting stressed about something you can’t change! In Mozambique you definitely have to be ready to adapt to difficulties outside of your control.

How did you find the volunteering opportunity and what attracted you to it?

 This role came up quite organically for me. I’d been thinking for some time about “quitting the rat race” and moving abroad but wasn’t sure where I’d go, what to do or even whether I’d want to leave PR altogether. Thinking he’d probably never reply, I took a punt and emailed MMF’s Co-Founder, Dr. Simon Pierce, for some advice and amazingly heard back from him not only with advice but with the opportunity to come to Mozambique and help the charity with its Comms. I was interviewed by the CEO and Mozambique’s Country Director before officially being offered the role.

As a scuba diver, finding an opportunity that let me use my PR expertise to help a cause I really care about (while living by the ocean, no less!) was a dream come true for me and, of course, I jumped at the chance.

Rat Race

 

MMF does advertise its vacancies too and we rely on volunteers from various different backgrounds from  research to accountancy, marketing and business development. If anyone is interested in the possibility of joining our team, you can take a look at our current positions here: https://marinemegafaunafoundation.org/volunteer-positions/.

If you have escaped the rat race and would like to share your story, please do get in touch.

Mudpie Fridays

I love a good children’s book and feel in a way you are never too old for them. It is good to be reminded of more innocent and straightforward times. Dr, Michael Boyle’s ‘Canary Across the Mersey’ has such an intriguing title and is a perfect read for younger children based on a true story.

Book

 

Everyone with a heart loves animals and birds have such a special air about them. I still remember my childhood Budgie called Billy with affection. I keep trying to persuade my husband we need some birds in our lives and of course canaries are so pretty and delightful.

Canary Across the Mersey is about a young boy called Michael who is a footie-mad lad who happens to find a canary. He falls in love with the bird as do his school mates

What will happen if Michael loses his pal? Will this be a good or bad thing? Sometimes we have to lose things to make other people happy. Self-interest or doing the right thing is a theme of so many books for children and adults too. It reflects real life.

When my son was little he loved any books about forms of transport. This book leaves us wondering how the canary crossed the River Mersey in the first place to find Michael.

The author comments “I’ve sold over 400 already, mainly locally, owing to the book’s natural local feel. I’ve also been in touch with former classmates who remember the incident well, including my then teacher who still lives in the area. It just goes to show what a profound effect animals can have on our lives!”

‘Canary Across the Mersey’ is available now, from the official website: http://canaryacrossthemersey.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter is autistic and that’s OK. First and foremost she is my amazing child and I love her. This is one of those blog posts which I start not quite knowing how I will end but that’s fine too.

Autism

When my daughter was born, the major thing that nobody mentioned initially that was she had super red cheeks. I doubt this had any connection to autism but I think it is interesting how often people don’t say presumably for fear of upsetting the mum. That has its advantages and its disadvantages too.

My daughter was very late to walk and had real struggles with bed-wetting well into childhood. In the grip of post-natal depression, I put these down to me being a totally rubbish parent. She was late with daytime toilet-training too come to think of it. She also struggled with bath time not liking the feel of water on her skin at all. As for hairdressers, they were her worst nightmare.

She could throw a tantrum but then so can I to this day. Art has always been her safe place and sanctuary. She draws and designs a lot. She has a strong focus and will work for hours and hours on a project.

When she approached school age, my parents and her step-sisters all said they thought she would struggle. They did not say how or why but they seemed agreed that she would find school hard. I though she would be absolutely fine and she did navigate her way quite well for many years.

One thing that did happen early on was that the school tried to stop her flapping her arms up and down like a little bird. This was one of the things I really liked about her so I resented that.

Eventually in one school she was tormented so much by not only her peers but also the Head, that she was threatening self-harm. That makes a decision like home education easy to take even if education at home brings its own challenges.

Nowadays she is happy in her own world with us. She will rock backwards and forwards on the sofa and we have learned that this is part of us she is. She will pace sometimes when out and about but I no longer find this embarrassing. It is what she needs to do when life or whatever gets a little much to take.

It’s an interesting thing that my parents and her step-sisters never mentioned the word autism. More remarkably is that my brother who is a teacher who regularly talks about “the spectrum” never raised the issue with me about my daughter. My daughter attended four schools and nobody ever mentioned autism to me.

So I am grateful to bloggers who blog openly about autism who made me start to wonder and then to believe more and more that my daughter is on the autistic spectrum.

She does not have a diagnosis. She does not need a label from a GP for now especially as she is out of school and leading a happy life.

The other day in a negative frame of mind due to other issues like the TSB bank farce I questioned whether the fact she is autistic is my fault. It is of course the wrong question. I know there is autism in my birth family so perhaps there is a link there. I may well be on the spectrum myself considering some of the issues I have found challenging over the years.

My reality right or wrong is that my daughter is autistic and that’s ok. So she is wired differently. Aren’t we all in one way or another?

I think my daughter rocks and not just on the sofa!

Hot Pink Wellingtons

 

 

 

Reflections from me

Mum Muddling Through

Lucy At Home

Twin Mummy and Daddy
Post Comment Love
ethannevelyn.com
Tammymum
My Random Musings
Me, Being Mummy
3 Little Buttons

href=”http://www.confessionsofanewmummy.co.uk” target=”_blank”><img src=”https://i.imgur.com/N1uEzuI.png” alt=”Confessions of a New Mummy” />

Mudpie Fridays
Run Jump Scrap
The Pramshed

div align=”center”>Winnettes

Mummy in a Tutu

It’s an argument that crops up in many households — just who does take the longest to get ready before going out? Together with Frank Wright, a British footwear brand that offers high-quality men’s leather boots, we take a look at spending figures and grooming habits to determine who takes longer in the bathroom.

The difference in spending habits

As Brits, it seems as though we do like to treat ourselves to new clothes on a regular basis. In fact, American Express discovered that British buyers are spending £1,093 on new garments for their wardrobes each year. Ecommerce retailers are making shopping for clothes even easier too, as people can browse their favourite brands from the touch of a few buttons and try the products on within 24 hours.

So, how do men’s wardrobes differ to women’s? It appears a female’s wardrobe is packed a lot tighter — the average woman owns 95 items of clothing compared to 56 garments in a man’s closet. That’s almost double the number of potential outfits a woman must decide from ahead of a night out compared to their other half.

Research has shown that men are more efficient shoppers however, as they wear 62% of their wardrobe on a regular basis. Comparing this with women who only wear 59% of their selection frequently, it’s clear to see that females are more into ‘fast fashion’ (where clothing is bought regularly and then pushed to the back of the shelves at home).

Since women own more clothing, you’d think that they spent more per year on clothing? Wrong. It is in fact the men who splash out more when hitting the shops for things to wear. American Express discovered that men spend £115 each month on clothing, compared to a lady’s average spend of £81. The pattern is similar when it comes to purchasing shoes too, with men spending on average £46.50 on footwear each month and women spending more than £10 less (£34.80). Could it be that men are buying higher-quality, more long-lasting clothing?

According to Greenpeace, women now own a significant 60% more clothes than they did before the year 2000. Can this all be accounted to the growing online fashion industry? It certainly appears to have contributed. The online fashion market is set to increase a huge 79% by the year 2022, reaching just under £29 billion. An outstanding 85% of females aged 16-24 have also purchased something to wear online. Men are choosing outfits over the pub now too — statistics revealed that they spend £67.10 more each month on clothes than on drinks or tickets to games.

Personal grooming

Aside from choosing what to wear, getting yourself well-groomed can also take up some time ahead of a big night out.

Perhaps it was once women who spent the longest doing their hair, moisturising and getting prepped, but it’s all changing. The average male monthly spend on beauty and grooming products totalled £40.90, whereas women were found to be spending £35.30. According to grooming expert, Lee Kynaston, the number of 16-24-year-old men using self-tanning products increased by 27% between 2016 and 2017.

More men are wearing make-up now too as a way of covering small imperfections and boosting confidence. In fact, the UK boss of L’Oreal, Vismay Sharma, has forecasted that men may have their own cosmetic counters in department stores very soon to meet the demand of the ‘selfie generation’.

 

The verdict

So, who do we think takes longest to get ready?

It seems to be an even split. As we can see, women own a lot more clothes and therefore probably take a while choosing what they want to wear. Men on the other hand, own less clothes but spend more on grooming products. This means that they could be spending a few extra minutes making themselves look good.

 

Sources

http://www.heart.co.uk/lifestyle/men-spend-than-women-on-clothes/

http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/fashion/uk-online-sales-of-clothing-fashion-accessories-and-footwear-grow-by-17-in-2017

http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/shopping-sport-peacocks

http://marketbusinessnews.com/british-men-spend-fashion-grooming-women/169569

https://www.home.barclaycard/media-centre/press-releases/Modern-men-spend-more-than-women-but-retail-therapy-is-still-lost-on-them.html

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/men-new-women-selfie-generation-took-male-make-mainstream/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/news/do-spend-1042-clothes-year-new-research-reveals-average-brits/

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/hair-and-beauty/5597492/this-is-the-uk-city-where-women-take-longest-to-get-ready-to-go-out-and-you-wont-believe-how-long-they-take/

 

Hot Pink Wellingtons

Are you looking for a new linky to join? I encourage you to celebrate blogging positively with Best Boot Forward. Before we get started, I though I would answer some of the questions bloggers have already asked.

Why have you set up a new linky?

I know how important it is to live positively to make magical memories for ourselves and our families. Experience of depression and loss made me wake up to that! By bringing a community of bloggers together (and you are invited!) we can be inspired to do this every day.

Who are the hosts?

Myself and the wonderfully quirky and creative genius that is Chloe over at Indigo Wilderness.

When does the linky go live?

Best Boot Forward will go live every Wednesday and remain open until the following Tuesday giving you plenty of time to link up.

How many blog posts can I link up?

We don’t have a harsh limit. Link up posts that you feel could be described as “blogging positively”. If your posts show you taking baby steps or even huge ones to make life better, you will be helping other people too. Consider Best Boot Forward your flexible linky friend  – we are not going to around with a big whip and just ask that you blog positively and act with a good heart.

What’s in it for bloggers?

The Best Boot Forward linky is a superb way to promote your blog to some new readers. Joining in linkies is of course fabulous for increasing your domain authority which in turn can lead to more review and paid opportunities. My domain authority is 37 and an awful lot of that comes from being an active participant in linkies.

Chloe  and myself will comment on every blog post linked up and share them on social media.

Participants are encouraged to comment on as many posts as they feel they can manage (because life is busy!) but definitely on one of the host’s posts and the post linked up before theirs.

Anything else I need to know?

Best Boot Forward will also have a Facebook community and we will be active on Instagram and Twitter with hashtag #BestBootForward

So are you ready to showcase how you are blogging (and living!) positively with Best Boot Forward?

 

Kate on thin ice