Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Lessons From 2015...

We got off to a very rocky start, you and I. The passing of an old school friend came as the greatest of shocks; even now it feels so raw that it is hard to believe nearly a year has gone by. It took me a good while before I let go of my anger, but for the most part I've learnt to focus on how lucky I am and how blessed I was to have grown up with such a lovely chap.

Given that 2015 also saw me finishing uni and moving back home, it is hardly surprising that I've come to the end of the year feeling like I've got a fair few lessons tucked under my belt... and as this blog is about sharing and caring, I thought I'd write about the most helpful today!


For the entirety of 2014 and much of 2015 I had a spending problem, yet I was deeply in denial. Month after month my bank balance hovered only briefly above my overdraft, and it wasn't until I had a series of epiphanies this summer that I made some big changes. I've set myself a reasonable allowance for what I spend each month and saved the rest, a choice that has made me so much happier. I finally realised that a drawer full of lipsticks and wardrobe of cheap clothes was doing me no good, and that a consumerist lifestyle was doing the world harm too.


These words were said to me by a teacher friend during my year abroad, and they really struck a chord in 2015. It literally means "to step back in order to jump better", but she described it as taking what looks like a step backwards in order to make a better decision. I've moved home after uni and told myself that I'd take my time before I committed myself to any serious career moves like grad schemes and internships... I knew that after being pretty unhappy for much of the last few years, I needed to take time out to find the right fit and hopefully do some travelling in the meantime. It's the best decision I've ever made.


A recent lesson, and one that I know will be challenging to stick to, came to me from my boss during my appraisal last week. "Sometimes I can tell you're feeling insecure, and it's like you close in on yourself," she said. "You don't need to."

I was surprised and immediately moved by this comment... I had always thought that the shit I say to myself, and the mean voice that says it, were things only I could hear. To have someone I respect tell me they knew that I was struggling floored me, but this week I've been making a very conscious effort to answer back to that voice (cheesy as it sounds). I don't want to be in my 80s, desperately wishing I could have told my younger self she wasn't half bad, really. It is so hard to ignore our inner critics but I hope that I can get better at it this coming year.


A night in with my brothers. A gorgeous sunrise on my way to work. Singing in the car with my bestie. They're all moments that I used to let pass me by, but now I revel in these times... For all the grass-is-greener thinking that social media can encourage, there is no denying that there are really lots of little blessings to be spotted in the quiet of our everyday lives.

Anyone want a cracker with that chunk o' cheese?! ;)

But that's me done... What lessons came to you throughout the course of this year? Please feel free to share them in the comments!


Sunday, 20 December 2015


It's been a long time coming but my Simple Pleasures series is finally back, this time with a look on a winter's day.

If you've not come across my Simple Pleasures videos before, it is a series that celebrates the little things... The aim is to appreciate moments that can't be bought or even truly captured, just enjoyed.

Whatever you are up to this Sunday, I hope it is relaxing and suitably cosy too!


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

My Career Path Thusfar

This post idea is whole-heartedly taken from this beautifully shot piece by Siobhan (whose amazing new blog look has me itching to update my own site... Go take a look!)

I loved hearing about the jobs she has had, especially because I understand the feeling of not wanting to be pushed into one narrow path, to be followed until I retire.

As a child I wanted to do it all: to be a vet on a Monday; a singer on a Tuesday (thankfully that never moved beyond the pipe dream stage); an actor on Wednesdays; a writer on Thursdays and a painter on Fridays... I no doubt had plans for what I'd be doing work-wise on the weekend, too.

In school I liked pretty much everything, eventually choosing to do languages at university because I hoped it would yield more opportunities than other subjects.

If you, like me, find the idea of being pushed into doing just one thing simultaneously terrifying and dull beyond belief, you have to watch this video. Seriously, it will do you so much good.

In the meantime, I am a 23 year old French & German graduate with a little gaggle of jobs in my past, and today I wanted to tell you about them...


Yup, I'm not kidding you... My first job was cleaning out the chicken shed on a family friend's farm. At age 12 I was paid £2.50 or so for maybe a couple of hours' work and I loved it. Not the mucky specifics of the job; there is nothing glam about a week's worth of chicken sh*t, let's be real. Instead I loved feeling like I was independent, and my hen impressions at this time were solid gold. Dr Dolittle I was not, but was I training my ear for my language skills later in life? (Probably not.)


After my chicken shed days were behind me, I started babysitting for friends and neighbours for what I realise now were hilariously good rates. I remember being damn good at it; I love kids and I wasn't down for being a sitter who'd plonk themselves in front of the TV and ignore the sound of children's feet out of bed, oh no. They'd be in bed and asleep or they'd have to endure the punishment of me sitting in earshot, ready to call them out on any shenanigans. I also had a wicked trick for making kids fall asleep when they really needed to... It never failed me.


At 15 we did our two weeks of work experience, and I was very excited to be working for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. I'd chosen to apply to a charity as I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise (little has changed) so I thought I'd try something that felt really helpful. However, the week beforehand brought a phone call, saying that they were sorry but they had to cancel on me. (I was pretty gutted.)

Long story short, my mum mentioned the situation to the ladies working in her favourite shop, and some rules were bent so that I could spend two weeks with them. I again loved it, and was asked to stay on to help out on the odd Saturday. Being the first to open all the boxes of new clothes was my favourite part of the job by far!


All UK language students are expected to take part in a Year Abroad, and as part of this our uni suggested that students studying two languages aim to spend time in two countries. My position started just five days after I finished my second year of uni, originally set to last two months but I ended up staying for another month as I was having so much fun. Being an aupair is always an intense experience, but I was lucky that it was intense in purely a positive sense. I loved the hyperactive five year old I was in charge of, her parents were fantastic and the surrounding area was utterly stunning. It was one of the best summers of my life and I still chat to friends I made there now!

A photo posted by Anna (@byhermirror) on


Alas, this was the only job on this list that I really didn't love. In retrospect, much of it was to do with the work environment - the team I was on was very unhappy and while things never got nasty, it was clear there were problems from long before I got there that were not going anywhere. Thankfully I loved the kids I was teaching and my home life was really happy, but it's made me want to put off any thoughts of teaching for a long time yet.


And now we come to my current job, one that started when I got back from France... and I love it. At present I work at the very same shop I did my work experience, but I get to be involved with lots of aspects of the business, including writing copy and taking product photos for the website. I work with a lovely team and every day is different. At times it can be much more demanding than you might think for a shop floor position... but I love it and I learn something new every day.

So there you have it... Head to the comments to tell me about your career experiences - what were your best and worst jobs?