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Category: Thoughts
Are You Sabotaging Your Life?

Are you sabotaging your life? You may not realise it, but it could be that you are. There are many theories in this world that support the idea that what you think determines the outcome of your life. The mind is a marvellous, untapped resource that is potentially infinite in its influence over what you do and how things turn out. The Law of Attraction is just one of these theories, and it is fascinating to find out more about it.

Even if you don’t believe in how it works exactly, there is no doubt that having a positive outlook affects how you perceive things, and how you are perceived. So it is important to think positively whenever possible.

If things have been going badly with regards to your work or writing – or any other creative pursuit – then could it possibly be your thoughts and feeling about it all that is causing the problems? Could it be that you are sabotaging your life? Let’s take a look at how you might be, without even realising that you are.

sabotaging your life

You Make It A Competition

If you are constantly looking around you at what other people are doing, you’ll never be able to fully focus on what you are doing – and that can spell disaster for your current writing project. That is one of the best ways of sabotaging your life. Comparing yourself to others can sometimes work in terms of allowing you to set yourself a goal, but doing it all the time is distracting, and can push you off course from that goal very easily.

It is always better to be looking ahead, towards your next goal, and ignore what other people are doing. Creativity is not a race. It’s not a competition. It is a personal journey. That may sound a bit ‘new age-y’ but think about it; it’s completely true.

You Get Angry

Allowing yourself to get angry about things is another excellent way of halting the creative process and sabotaging your life. If something has irritated you – it could be anything, from a Facebook post by a fellow writer, artist, poet etc, to hearing about someone’s success in the same genre that you work in – the important question to ask is ‘why?’. Why are you angry about this? And what is that anger doing to harm your creative process (hint: it’s another way of sabotaging your life)?

Is your anger about being envious? Is it that you have a particularly deep competitive streak? Does the news make you feel less secure about your place in the creative world?

Whatever it is, remember that your own thoughts are taking you on a journey, and if you want that journey to be a fulfilling and successful one, then you need to dispense with all the superfluous feelings of anger and just get on with working your way towards happiness. Another artist’s success will not diminish your own. There is no need to be envious as your time will come as long as you work towards it and acknowledge that fact.

sabotaging your life
Image from Pixabay – ijmaki

You Complain All The Time

Complaining to yourself is a waste of time. Complaining to other people… well, that all depends on the complaint. A valid complaint should often be aired – in a well-thought-out and calm kind of way. That is how things can be done, that is how problems get solved. A general gripe about the state of things, about a tweet that you didn’t appreciate, about someone else’s success or writing ability… that’s usually less productive. Plus this kind of pointless complaining has a knock-on effect. Firstly, it takes up a lot of time when, you guessed it, you could be writing or painting or doing whatever it is that makes you feel complete.

Secondly, empty complaining puts you in a negative frame of mind. One small niggle and suddenly everything is less rosy. Unsure about that? Think of it the other way around – when you see something that makes you happy, or you get some good news, doesn’t your day immediately seem better? Brighter? Altogether happier? It’s true, and the same goes for negative things. Your day (if you let it) will go downhill. Don’t let it. Keep positive, and things will improve. That’s just how it works.  

Why Fairy Stories Are Good For Children

We all like some things that aren’t good for us, especially when we’re children. Children love to do slightly naughty things; they love to eat all the chocolate, they love to stay up late… In fact, we all like to do things that aren’t particularly good for us when we’re adults too – we still want to do slightly naughty things, still want to eat all the chocolate, still want to stay up late (although we regret it in the morning)…

So if things we like tend to equal things that are bad for us, where do we stand with fairy stories? Children adore them; give them a prince, a princess, some talking animals, and a happily ever after, and they’re over the moon. And adults have a soft spot for them; they are a reminder of our childhoods.

Which would mean that they are bad for us – that they are bad for our children.

The funny thing is… they’re not. Not in the least. In fact, they are good for children in several specific ways.

Image from Pixabay

Imagination

There is nothing quite like the imagination of a child. Even the most imaginative of adults can’t come close to the weird and wonderful minds of pre-pubescent kids, and being able to make up stories and games is an essential life skill. It can go so far as to define the kind of career they have in the future. So listening to fairy stories, and going on later to read them, can play a big part in the lives of children and the adults they grow up to become.

Morals

Parents do their best. They give children a moral compass and information about right and wrong, but it is the fairy stories that cement it in the little ones’ minds. Fairy stories have a strong moral message – good versus evil, good wins out, and so on – that it is easy for children to remember. That, coupled with the knowledge mum and dad have already given them, means that children are going out into the world with an excellent moral sense behind them.

Critical Thinking

It may sound surprising, but fairy tales can help children with their critical thinking. They can see the consequences of any actions or decisions that characters may take in these stories. They know that their choices can have profound implications, so it is best if they stop to think before acting (or reacting) in haste.

fairy story
Image from Pixabay

Emotional Health

We often hear in the news that younger and younger children are having mental health issues. We’re not saying that fairy stories can prevent this, but they can perhaps allow children to have a good idea of how to deal with internal conflict – something that can cause mental stress. Children identify with the main character in a fairy story, and those characters tend to win out in the end, even if they are going through hardship. They do it with the help of those around them, whom they have confided in. It’s a good lesson and one that children can easily apply to their own lives.

Just Because…

Children are children for such a small amount of time. They will have enough time to be sensible and grown-up. They will have enough time for worries and life to take over. So when they are little, they need to have fun. It will give them a good base for the rest of their lives, and with a strong foundation, they are sure to grow up to be good people. So even if for no other reason than children love them and they are fun, we should read them fairy stories.

The Sinister Left – A Left Hander’s Thoughts

Trapezoid_bone_(left_hand)_01_palmar_view

Recently there was a news story about an Oklahoma teacher who ‘forced’ a 4 year old boy to write with his right hand rather than his left. Investigations are ongoing, but it seems as though the teacher was concerned about associations with left handedness and unlucky or wicked behaviour.

Whilst this may sound strange today, it wasn’t so very long ago that making left handers write with their non-dominant hands was usual in schools. But why was (and, as it now appears, is) being left handed such a problem?

Throughout history, the left side of the body was considered to be a negative influence. In fact, the Latin word ‘sinistra’ meant both ‘left’ and ‘evil’ or ‘unlucky’, so the idea was well ingrained in society. Today, ‘sinistra’ has become ‘sinister’, so the wicked connotations remain. This, along with the idea that the word ‘right’ also means ‘correct’ and ‘proper’, reinforces the belief that anything on the left side had to be influenced by evil in some way.

Superstition has us throwing salt over our left shoulder when we spill it. Why? To blind the devil that sits there. A devil on the left shoulder is counterbalanced by an angel on the right, so turning to the left, using the left side of the body, working with the left in anyway is seen as working or using the devil. Bad stuff indeed. Whereas using the right side of the body is seen as working with the angels, which, of course, is seen as a much better option.

There are always studies going on to discover why some people are left handed and others (the majority of society) are right handed, but as yet there is no conclusive evidence for anything. Maybe one day we will understand, or maybe – as I believe is most likely the case – there is no reason. It just is.

I’m a left hander, and so is my daughter. So far so good for both of us – we’ve not yet met the devil. But I suppose I’ll keep throwing the salt just to make sure…

Writing: It’s Never Too Late

There is a feeling that steals over me sometimes that I’ve left it too late to be doing this. That I should have started writing earlier in life, a decade earlier, 15 years earlier… If I had, I wonder where I would be now?

And then I remember two things. The first is that I didn’t start writing earlier because I wasn’t ready to. If I had, my writing would not have been of the right standard, and I might have given up after a few rejections. Secondly, I’m not alone. Many writers had other careers first before moving on to new and exciting things.

That’s life.

So here are a few of them to illustrate my point. It’s quite an impressive list.

Frank McCourt

Author of the wonderful Angela’s Ashes, McCourt didn’t start writing until he was 65 years old. On top of that, he left school at 13 due to his family’s poverty; he had to start work.

EL James

No matter whether you love or hate the Fifty Shades series of books, no one can deny what a phenomenon they became, spawning movies and many copycat versions. EL James was 44 when she began to write these books which began simply as fan fiction.

Mario Puzo

Mario Puzo, the father of The Godfather was 33 when he began writing. Whilst that’s not ancient by any means, it is still a lot later than many famous authors – Stephen King was just 12, for example, and F. Scott Fitzgerald was 23.

Chuck Palahniuk

The Fight Club author was another of the 33 year old club, picking up the pen to write down his incredible stories in his fourth decade of life.

Charles Bukowski

writing

Although Bukowski wrote for most of his life, he didn’t get his big break until he was 49 when he submitted Post Office to a publisher. It was published two years later, and at 51 Bukowski’s life changed forever.

Donald Ray Pollock

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Donald Ray Pollock had a variety of different jobs in his life, but writer came relatively late. He published a collection of short stories when he was 55, and when he was 58 his debut novel, award-winning The Devil Of All Time, came out.

Helen DeWitt

Writing Helen de Witt

Helen DeWitt spent most of her life in academia until she almost had a breakdown and realised she just couldn’t face it anymore. With 100 different novels in fragments around her home, she took some time off just to write – with no interruptions. She would, she said, ‘write until the money ran out’. At the end of that time, she had her impressive novel, The Last Samurai written. She was 44 years old.

So there you have it. Many of the writers who are now household names didn’t start writing until they were 30, 40, 50, even 60. And even if they had been writing for longer, being published took the time. So I can relax and enjoy what I’m doing – just write and the rest will follow.

Why Do We Say That? Language And Its Origins

The origin of phrases can be absolutely fascinating. We use them on a daily basis, but not many of us ever stop to wonder why – why the words we say are part of our language, and what they really mean. Here are a few great examples of that – and their origins.

Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water

Back in Victorian times, the practice for bathing was for the ‘man of the house’ to bathe first, then the wife, then the children in order of birth. Therefore, the baby would be last in the queue. By this time, so it is said, the water would be so dirty (people only tended to wash once a month) that it was entirely possible (apparently) to lose someone in it. Hence, when emptying the bathtub, the baby might be thrown out too!

Raining Cats & Dogs

When the majority of houses had thatched roofs, they were made by literally piling straw up – there was no wooden structure underneath. Now, due to straw being nice and warm, a lot of animals used to climb up and live in there, or at least sleep in there when it was chilly. But, when it rained the straw became slippery, and the larger animals (such as cats and dogs) would be washed right out. It would therefore be ‘raining cats and dogs’.

Bringing Home The Bacon/Chewing The Fat

If you were doing well in your profession, you might have been able to afford some bacon to go with your diet of (mainly) vegetables. If you could literally bring home the bacon, you would most likely hang it up to show it off hen guests came round. And because it was pretty expensive and a rarity to have it, it would be used sparingly. When friends came over for a chat, the fat would be cut off first, chopped into small pieces and handed out. You would ‘chew the fat’ with friends.

A Wake

Holding a wake for someone who has passed away has become something of a tradition, but it has a very practical origin. Whiskey and ale was served in pewter cups which contained lead, and this could have the effect of knocking someone out for two or more days. They might even be thought to be dead. But before arranging the burial, mourners would hold a wake – sitting around the ‘body’ with food and drink to keep watch in case the deceased woke up.

Dead Ringer/Saved By The Bell/Graveyard Shift

People were just not that great at knowing whether someone had actually died or were just pretty unwell. Premature burials were a definite thing. So rather than the trauma of worrying about burying someone alive, a bell would be attached to a piece of string, which would be attached in turn to the body. The bell would remain above ground, and, if the person in the coffin awoke, the bell would ring. They were known as ‘dead ringers’ who had been ‘saved by the bell’. And who would hear the bell ringing? It would be the person whose job it was to sit in the graveyard, on the graveyard shift, to listen out for it.

So there you have it; language is a fascinating thing. I wonder what phrases the people of the future will use that relate to us right now?

The Deep, Dark Woods

I write all sorts of things; flash fiction, poetry, short stories, novels… And these pieces of writing are in various genres; horror, romance, children’s, literary fiction, mystery… With over one hundred different projects, either completed or in process, I like to think that I’ve managed not to repeat myself when it comes to plot and characters.

I try not to anyway.

But there is one thing that I do mention a lot, and I’m completely aware of it. It’s not always intentional (although at times it is integral to the plot), but whether I mean it to be there at the start of a story or not, ‘the woods’ often pops up.

What do I mean? I mean actual, literal woods. Deep, dark places full of trees and animals and scary things. Or peaceful places full of beauty and clearings of dappled sunlight and twinkling, tinkling streams that lead on to adventure.

woods

I love to read about them. When I was younger, The Faraway Tree was one of my all-time favourites, and the two poems that are stuck on the wall by my writing desk are “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare, and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

I love to write about them too. Sometimes my stories are set within the trees. My children’s horror entitled The Waldgeist of Wanderal Woods, focuses the entire story in the magical world below a lush, green, leafy canopy. Another of my short stories is called “The Woods Today”, and is about a rather nasty teddy bears picnic. And another, “Miles To Go” details the shock and confusion of a man who awakes naked in a snowy wood.

Equally, some of my stories just touch on the woods. In “Fairy Lights” the protagonists camp by the edge of a wood, not daring to enter. “One Man and His Dog” has the eponymous man looking towards the woods, but eventually going in the other direction. “Careful of the Castle” involves a woman sitting on a hot, sandy beach; but she wishes she was wandering through the shaded woods of her home town.

There is something so fascinating, so elemental, so mysterious and exciting about woods, inside or out, that I find myself drawn to them. Of course, it helps that I’ve lived near one for almost all of my life. Or rather, near a few of them. The very first house I can remember backed onto woodland. I have a distinct memory of playing in the garden, sitting on a swing that my dad made and which hung from a big old apple tree, and staring, hard, hard, harder, over the back fence and into the woods. I wanted to see something move. I never did, unless wind-waving leaves counted.

woods

A few years later we moved, and this time the garden was bigger, and at the bottom of this one was a large meadow on which horses roamed. That was nice. That was fine. But it was what was beyond the meadow, just on the horizon, that delighted me – a patch of trees that I was happy to call a wood. I even climbed over the back fence on a few occasions and ran across the field, dodging manure, to reach the trees. But fear of what (or whom?) I would find forced me back home. I never did go in.

And then I found a reason to go into the woods. The geocaching adventures I go on now mean that I have to enter the trees and I have to search amongst them. Now I love the woods even more.

5 Ways To Offer Your Customers Added Value

Running your own business isn’t always all about what you want to do; sometimes (most of the time) it’s about what your customers want, which means that you need to work out how to give them everything they need in such a way that they will return time and again. Offering something of added value, whether online or in a physical store, is one way to do that.

Giving your customers added value will be hard work initially, but once you have done it (and you have systems in place to allow you to continue to do it) you will make more money, have better profits, and your business will thrive because of it. Not only that, but you will be ahead of your competition, which is always a good thing. Take a look at the following ways of adding value to your business and see which ones you can implement.

Quick And Efficient

It used to be the case that people were happy to wait for whatever it was they had ordered. It could take weeks, perhaps even months, for their purchase to be ready and for it to be dispatched. Today, no one wants to wait that long – no one really wants to wait at all. Therefore, when someone orders something from you, whether it’s a product or a service, they expect it as soon as possible. Some even require it on the same day, and most would prefer next day delivery where they can get it. If you can promise that you will deliver on the next working day, your business will stand out and you will find that more people choose to use your services.

What will really add value for your customers is getting this speedy service without having to pay for it. Whereas some companies will charge for next day delivery, you could take on those costs yourself. Although it would be a higher initial cost, over time you will find more customers so it would be canceled out. It’s important to do this because you are equating your business with efficient, inexpensive service.

The Best Quality

It’s not always possible to beat your competitors when it comes to pricing; if you start to price your goods too low, you will stop making a profit (and you might even make a loss). So if you can’t stand out due to your pricing, you will need to look at other ways to do it and the best way is to provide items or services that are of exceptional quality. If you do this, the higher price won’t matter because people will be willing to pay for something that is above average.

Remember that determining something’s quality is all down to the customer; if something is of high quality it is because the customer believes it to be do. Therefore, you will need to carry out market research to work out what it is that your customers want (and need).

Give Them A Gift

Everyone loves a free gift and if that gift happens to be able to do some advertising for you at the same time, then it is doubly useful. You don’t have to give something away to every customer who buys something from you, but if you choose to give, for example, iPhone cases to the customers who spend the most with you, or who refer their friends, or even who write a glowing testimonial, then they are going to receive even more value for money. This will go a long way and although you will need to spend at first, the return you get on this kind of investment should be excellent, and well worth the initial cost.

Choose something that has your name and logo on it, and the more the gift is used, the more your name will be noticed. This adds value to the process for you too, which will help you with lowering your marketing costs.

Be There

If you can be available as much of the time as possible, you are automatically offering your customers even more added value. You will need to be as responsive to emails as possible, and reply to comments on social media as quickly as you can. Answer the telephone within two or three rings and this will all ensure that your business appears to put the customer first. These may only be small acts when you look at the big picture, but these are the ones that can make the biggest difference.

Of course, you can’t possibly be around 24 hours a day to answer emails and comments quickly, and this is where you can utilize new technology to your advantage. You could include a chat bot on your website so that questions can be answered at all times of the day and night, or you could make an app that is intuitive and allows customers to work through the process without having to get in touch in the first place (another bonus for them).

Fix Problems

Added value comes in many forms, and one of those forms is being able to fix problems when they occur. No one is perfect, and issues will arise through no one’s fault (or sometimes a genuine mistake has occurred). What the problem is is far less important than how it is solved and what happens afterwards.

Every company is going to work hard towards fixing any problems that occur, but will every company offer something to any customer who has been inconvenienced by the problem? The answer is probably not, but you can and that will make you stand out and give your customers added value. You could give them a discount on their next purchase, or coupons that they can use or give away to their friends, for example. You might go even further and ask them to come in to take a look around your workspace to see how things are done, if that is something that would interest them.

How To Have A Debt Free Retirement

If you truly want to retire, you will need to pay off all of your debts before you stop working – if not, you may have to delay your retirement plans and continue to work just to service those debts. When you reach retirement age, you will want to enjoy life and see and do as many things as possible – the things you couldn’t necessarily see and do when you were working. So being debt free is something you should work towards. Here are some ways to do it.

Save

The simplest way to pay off your debts is to save money. Open up a separate savings account and put all your ‘spare’ money into it. When you have enough to pay off a loan or credit card entirely, you can take the money out and do so. At the same time, you will need to stop borrowing, so lock the credit card away (for emergency use only) and don’t take on any more finance or loans, otherwise as quickly as you pay one thing off, you’ll have something else to save up for. It’s far better to buy things outright, even if you have to dip into your savings to do so, than it is to borrow because when borrowing you will have to factor in interest, and that can make things very expensive.

Once everything is paid off, continue to save and use that money to fund your retirement plans. If you start early, you will have plenty of money to enjoy some exciting trips and start some wonderful new hobbies.

Start Investing

Investment is another good way of paying off debts and funding your retirement at the same time. If you do your research first and learn as much as possible about what you are doing when it comes to investment, you can make a good return on your initial payment, and pay off your debts much more quickly. You can invest in almost anything including stocks and shares, property, and other businesses. Once you have decided where you want to put the money, finding a broker is a good idea so that you can make the most of your investment.

Downsize

If you own a property and you’re paying a mortgage on it, will that mortgage be paid off by the time you come to retire? This can be the biggest debt you owe, but you may not consider it a debt and it may not figure in your plans. However, if you’re not working, are you going to be able to continue to pay your mortgage? If not, downsizing is a good option. When you downsize, you sell your current home and buy something cheaper (and usually smaller). That way, if you choose wisely at the right time, you may not have a mortgage left at all – and you might even have money left over, which can be used to pay off any remaining debts.

4 Ways To Keep Your Employees Motivated

Having a motivated workforce can make a big difference when it comes to how profitable and productive your business is. It’s your job as an employer to ensure that your team is motivated and happy. There are a number of different ways that this can be done, and here are some of them to consider. Not all will work for all people and all businesses, so take a look and decide for yourself what will work for you.

Be A Supportive Leader

In many cases, good leadership can be a huge factor in employee motivation. If you are going to be supportive you need to work closely with your team but also allow them some freedoms to work on their own initiative. Getting this balance right can be difficult, but once you have found it you will discover that it definitely helps with your employees’ motivation levels.

A good leader always holds themselves to a higher level of accountability and will own up to any mistakes they make (which they will because, after all, no one is perfect). That means working with a data loss specialist to prevent devastating losses, and it means taking responsibility for errors made within the company when it comes to customers, for example.

Empower Individuals

When an employee feels empowered and valued as an individual, they will work harder for their employer. Make sure that you allow your entire workforce to the chance to show what they can do. Even if they don’t quite manage it as you might have liked, giving them the opportunity is what really counts and it will make them work much harder in the future too.

Have A Positive Workplace

With so much time spent at the office, the working environment needs to be as positive as possible in order to get the best out of people. If it’s dull or uninspiring or even uncomfortable in any way, your employees will simply want to leave at the earliest opportunity and it’s unlikely that they will look forward to returning in the morning. This is not conducive to great work.

Making the office a great place to be by ensuring it is well decorated and has everything that your employees might need such as tea and coffee making facilities, a comfortable break room, even indoor plants and pictures, can really help to push them to do their best.

Reward Good Work

The best employees are the ones that want to work hard for you, but those who are doing so, and getting results, without hearing anything from you in response are going to become demotivated very quickly. Therefore, you need to look out for good work and reward it where necessary. This could be as simple as calling a meeting to praise that employee, or you might want to give them something such as vouchers or flowers. It’s these small touches that will keep an employee motivated for longer.

Etiquette For Dining Out In Portugal

Whether you’re in Portugal for a vacation or a business trip, you’re going to want to eat out at least some of the time you’re there (and the food is so good in Portugal that you might even want to eat out for every meal). If that’s the case, then it’s important to know the right Portuguese restaurant etiquette so that you can be comfortable and relaxed knowing you’re not making any faux pas that could embarrass you, your guests, the other diners, or the staff themselves. Here are some of the most important pieces of etiquette to be aware of.

Should You Seat Yourself?

The short answer is no, you shouldn’t, unless you’re in a café or bar. If you’re in a normal kind of restaurant then it’s better to wait by the counter or the ‘to be seated’ sign if there is one and look for a waiter or waitress to help you. Busy restaurants mean that if you seat yourself you won’t always be spotted which results in long waiting times for you and frustrated staff because they didn’t realize you were there.

Free Food?

In Portugal, just as pretty much everywhere else, there isn’t really any such thing as free food. However, you would be forgiven for assuming that you have been given something for nothing when, after getting you seated, your waiter or waitress brings out a plate of what is called ‘entradas’. They won’t have asked you what you wanted, or even if you wanted something, but unless you tell them otherwise, it will be brought to you. This is an appetizer and will be added to your final check so be aware of this before you begin to question what is on your bill. Remember, though, that dining out in Portugal is not an overly expensive thing to do, so it shouldn’t cause too much of an issue on your budget and won’t eat into the loan (or emprestimo) you got to fund your trip.

You Don’t Have To Order Extra Vegetables

When you look at the menu of a Portuguese restaurant you’ll notice that there is very little description for each dish. Whereas in the States you’ll get lots of fancy phrases and plenty of information about exactly what comes with the meat, fish, or vegetable dish you are ordering, in Portugal it’s different. There you will find that people assume each dish will come with the right accompaniments. For example, fish tends to be served with boiled potatoes or a salad, and meat dishes will often come with white rice or fries; it will all depend on what you order and how the particular restaurant you have picked works.

Look For The Plate Of The Day

When you’re choosing your food at lunch time, you should look out for the plate of the day (the pratos do dia). This will often be handwritten on a piece of paper and stuck to the window or menu board, so it could be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, and that would be a shame. The plate of the day consists of whatever was caught fresh that morning by the local fishermen, and it will be something different each day; even if the fish is the same, how it is prepare will vary. It is always worth trying because it tends to be cheaper than other dishes on the menu and is always something interesting.

Order The House Wine

It can be a little embarrassing to order the house white or red in a restaurant at home because that wine tends to be inexpensive and not always that pleasant. In Portugal ordering the house wine makes a lot of sense because it is going to be locally produced and sourced, great value, and it will compliment the dishes you have ordered perfectly. The restaurants in Portugal take pride in being able to match their wines to their food. Ordering the house wine is what the locals will most often do, so it just shows you what a good idea it is. Don’t forget to note down the name of the wine so that you can look out for it elsewhere too.

Don’t Ask For Substitutions

In many restaurants in the States and in other places in the world you can choose a dish from the menu but ask for it to be made with this or that ingredient instead of one of the ones mentioned in the description. You might want extra cheese, or you might want the dish without capsicums, or any other changes that take your fancy. This is not the done thing in Portugal, and what you see on the menu is what you’ll tend to get served to you. Even if you do ask for something to be changed in most cases it won’t be, so it’s best just to order and enjoy rather than trying to get the busy chef to make substitutions.

Your Water

Unless you specifically ask for it, water won’t be provided to your table, so if you want it make sure you mention it to your server. You’ll have a few choices when it comes to your water, and one of these is not something you are likely to come across at home – you’ll need to choose whether you wanted the water chilled (fresca) or at room temperature (natural). In Many European countries the preference is for room temperature water, even on the hottest of days, so make sure you do ask for fresca if you prefer your water colder. You can also choose between sparkling (com gas) or still (sem gas).

No Hands

In Portugal it is seen as bad manners to use your hands to eat, even if you are enjoying a burger or a pizza. Therefore, it’s much more polite for you to use your knife and fork. This may feel a little strange, but if you don’t want to stand out you should try it – you’ll soon get the idea.

RatesRates

My pricing guidlines

Type of Publication

Type of Work

£

Magazine Writing & research per 1000 400
Magazine Editor per day 250
Magazine Sub-editing per 1000 120
Magazine Fact checking per day 200
Newspaper (regional) Writing & research per 1000 220
Newspaper (regional) Sub-editing per 1000 95
Newspaper (regional) Fact checking per day 200
Newspaper (national) Writing & research per 1000 700
Newspaper (national) Sub-editing per 1000 450
Newspaper (national) Fact checking per day 200
Online/digital media Writing & research per 1000 180
Online/digital media Sub-editing per 1000 95
Online/digital media Fact checking per day 200

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lisamarie20010@gmail.com

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WHAT I CAN DO

Blog Writing

A blog is an essential tool in ensuring your website is seen. I can create regular blog posts that will move you up the rankings and give you a better placement within your industry.

Ghost Writing

Have you ever wanted to write a novel, memoir or short story but don’t have the time? Do you have the ideas, but the words don’t flow? I can help. Contact me for a confidential chat.

Articles

I am happy to carry out research, conduct interviews, and write/edit articles of any length. Contact me for more information about my rates and services.

Web Content

From your home page to your about me details and everything in between, you want a website that has snappy, interesting, high quality content. Let me create it for you.

Sales Letters

If you have a product that you want others to know about, you need a sales letter that is going to get attention – and keep it. I can write that letter for you.

Emails

Are you thinking of starting an email campaign but don’t know what to include? Or perhaps you want to send a special email to that special someone, but you can’t think of the right words. Contact me and we can discuss exactly what I can do to help.

Product Descriptions

Selling products online can be an excellent way of making a business, but if your products sound boring and your descriptions are dull, no one will want them. I’ve written thousands of products descriptions, and I can make your products shine.

Copy Editing & Proofreading

Have you written something that needs that extra level of checking? With my years of experience I can proofread or copy edit your work so that it’s the best it can be.

Social Media Management & Digital Marketing

Getting your digital marketing and social media strategy right is essential. I can provide and implement a social media marketing plan that works for you. Contact me to find out more.

About MeAbout Me

I'm a content writer

Excellent work by Lisamarie, on time, great quality and constant communication. Would not hesitate to recommend and in fact use again as soon as opportunity arises.

Andreas K
Andreas K

Lisamarie was great to work with - she did a fantastic job that completely met the brief and was delivered before the deadline.

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Helena W

Quick and brilliant, nailed the brief! Will work with her all the time 🙂

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Roshni S

Fantastic work A++++

Rob C
Rob C

It was a pleasure to work with Lisamarie, she adjusted to our workflow and process with ease and completed work quickly and effectively.

Geoff J
Geoff J

Lisamarie is a very good writer and is very easy to work with. She reacted well to my guidance and provided me with content I'm very happy to use. I look forward to working with her again soon.

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Ola F

Great work from Lisamarie, articles are exactly what we wanted

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Matthew E

Brilliant work from Lisamarie. I would definitely retain her again and recommend her to others.

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REVIEWS

I studied English theory at university and have always been interested in the mechanics of writing, but it wasn’t until 2010 when my daughter was born that I started to write professionally. Although this was out of necessity (it was a job that I could do from home, and it brought in enough to pay the bills!), it soon became a passion. Since that time, I have been published in over 40 fiction anthologies and have written seven novels.

Find out more about my publications on my Amazon Author Page.

I am now a full-time freelance writer. The majority of my time is spent writing SEO-friendly blog posts for businesses in all kinds of niches from bakeries to florists to roofing specialists and plenty more in between. 

Between 2014 and 2020 I was the features and online editor for insideKENT magazine.

Today I live with my husband, daughter, and a cat called Cheryl in a cottage in the Kent countryside, writing, painting, and – whenever possible – watching horror films.

http://www.facebook.com/lisamarielambwriter

info@lisamarielamb.co.uk 

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5 Reasons Why Hiking Is Good For You

Hiking is one of those activities that appeals to different people for different reasons. That’s what makes it so universal; there is a chance that everyone is going to love getting out in the fresh air and discovering new places or even walking across familiar ones and enjoying them for the second, third, fourth (or even more) time. You can explore the world through hiking and meet many like-minded people along the way. Here are some more reasons why hiking is so good for you.

hiking
Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava from Pexels

Hiking Gives You Perspective

If you’re finding life is tough going and you need to get away from it all and recharge, hiking could be the answer you’re looking for. This kind of walking has a way of enabling people to get a fresh perspective on the problems they might be experiencing in life and cope with issues in a much healthier way. Hiking isn’t just about going for a long walk and breathing in the good air; it’s about being able to have the time to really think and make decisions that you just wouldn’t be able to do if you stayed at home.

Hiking Keeps You Fit

It’s amazing what this kind of walking can do for your overall fitness; when you are really striding along you can burn up to 440 calories an hour! This can be increased even further by trying Nordic walking, but even if you stick to the standard method of hiking you’ll find your fitness levels will increase. Not only that but your lung capacity will grow too and that can help the circulation of blood and oxygen around your body and make you much stronger too.

Hiking Bring Happiness

Even if hiking did nothing else to help you out, it makes people happy, and sometimes that’s enough. Hiking, like most exercise, releases hormones into the body. Specifically, these hormones are serotonin and endorphins which are nicknamed the happy hormones because they improve the mood. Serotonin also limits feelings of loneliness and between them, they can help to keep you happy in general.

Hiking Brings You Closer To Nature

No matter where you choose to go hiking you’ll find that you are closer to nature than you’ve ever been before. You can really see the breathtaking scenery that it has to offer and the animals, insects, and plant life that are all around you. If you combine this kind of exercise with camping you will get to experience all of this even more. You might even be touched by a level of spirituality and can find some inner peace on your literal journey.

Hiking Is For Everyone

Another wonderful benefit of hiking is that it is for all ages which means you can take your whole family or a big group of friends with you and enjoy some company as you walk along. Who is in the group will determine where you go and how far you hike – some trails are easier than others – but no matter where you choose you’ll all get to enjoy some time together and bonding away from screens and work is a good idea.

Beaverbrook Town House Reopens September 2021

Joining its beloved Surrey sibling, Beaverbrook Town House is the debut London outpost from the lauded Beaverbrook brand, in partnership with Cadogan.

Spanning 15,000 sq. ft., this heritage hotel occupies two masterfully revamped Georgian townhouses, originally commissioned by Charles Sloane Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan, at the end of the 18th century. Surveying the leafy-green, Grade-II-listed Cadogan Gardens opposite, Beaverbrook Town House boasts a prime perch on superlative Sloane Street, in the heart of Chelsea, nicknamed the ‘Town of Palaces’ by Daniel Defoe.

Inside the hotel, rich rewards for guests include 14 theatrical suites, art and antiques galore, a 60-cover contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar, a meeting room, a private events room, and a pretty, perfumed garden, reserved for corporate functions and private hire.

A creative spirit prevails throughout, with delightful interiors courtesy of Beaverbrook’s dazzling design duo: Sir Frank Lowe (advertising mogul and Beaverbrook’s Creative Director), and acclaimed designer, Nicola Harding, whose previous triumphs include The Garden House at Beaverbrook in Surrey.

Drawing upon Lord Beaverbrook’s legendary tastes and predilections (including a certain fondness for mischief), the hotel’s medley of muses includes London’s storied theatres and iconic cultural attractions, Art Deco and Japanese culture.

Inspired by his Lordship

Beaverbrook in Surrey rekindles the spirit of the roaring Twenties, honouring its infamous former owner, Lord Beaverbrook: press baron and wartime MP. Beaverbrook Town House adroitly transports this nostalgia to the Big Smoke. The hotel recalls Lord Beaverbrook’s colourful life in London and his Fleet Street residence, where he hosted his illustrious friends, including Ian Fleming, Winston Churchill, Rudyard Kipling, Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Olivier.

Private-home

Channelling the charm of Lord Beaverbrook’s London abode, and decorated with antique treasures, vintage toys and saucy curios that could have been plundered from his travels, Beaverbrook Town House affectionately recreates a bygone era of hospitality combined with modern panache. The hotel conjures an atmosphere of generosity, so guests will feel like they’re staying with a fabulous friend. Instead of a formal reception area, there’s a snug little library, brimming with London-centric tomes to borrow; instead of formal staff, obliging personal assistants dispense savvy local recommendations. Upstairs, thoughtful touches abound, including personalised minibars stocked with guests’ preferred treats, help-yourself whisky decanters, tea stations and thoughtful gifts. Once again, Beaverbrook cements its reputation as the host with the most…

Dapper design & inviting interiors

Joyfully referencing the Art Deco aesthetic of the 1920s and ’30s, sartorial highlights include: an abundance of tiles and tactile textures; a playful blend of the old and new; vibrant colour schemes and statement wallpaper, including bespoke marbled collages and pineapple motifs (a symbol of hospitality); and a collector’s stash of prints, posters, photographs, art and memorabilia. Art Deco was influenced by Japonisme, and this translates into cohesive design touches throughout; most notably in the Japanese restaurant and bar, but also upstairs and in the garden, via lacquered planters, brass accents, bonsai trees and flora picked for its lush blossom and autumnal foliage.

Looking closer to home, Nicola Harding has sourced fabrics, furnishings and fittings from an array of local London-based suppliers, including antique chairs from Howe, cushions by Penny Worrall, lampshades by Rosi de Ruig, decorative lighting from Vaughan Designs, ironmongery by Joseph Giles and trimmings from Samuel & Sons. These choices complement the hotel’s heartfelt celebration of historic London.


Theatrical boudoirs

When in London, Lord Beaverbrook relished attending West End shows with his artistic coterie. Thus, each of the hotel’s 14 suites is named after a famous London theatre, and decorated with clues to its playhouse’s past. Additional eye-candy comes in the form of four-poster and half-tester beds, antique bureaus and bedside tables, colour palettes ranging from the bold to the demure, oak floors topped with seagrass carpets and bespoke rugs by Nicola Harding, and opulent, theatre-style curtains, decorated with velvet geometric trims. Ensuite bathrooms star glossy tiles, Art Deco-inspired lighting and lacquered mirror frames in jewel-box hues.

Beaverbrook Town House


Flavours of Japan

Continuing Beaverbrook’s love of contemporary Japanese cuisine, and aligned with the hotel’s sartorial leanings, Beaverbrook Town House is home to the Fuji Grill and Omakase Sushi Bar. Like the Dining Room at Beaverbrook, the restaurant will serve flawless sushi, sashimi and nigiri, alongside signature Beaverbrook dishes such as ‘Charcoal’ Wagyu with Juniper Miso. Restaurant General Manager, Trudi Fairweather, brings a two-decade stint at Nobu to the table; Alex Del (ex-Roka) is Head Chef, and Beaverbrook’s Head Sommelier,  Giovanni Tallu (plucked from a 22-year stint at Annabel’s to open Beaverbrook in 2017) has curated the stellar wine list.

Dressed in soft shades of green, the Fuji Grill showcases an impressive collection of 19th-century woodblock prints depicting the eponymous Mount Fuji by the Japanese Masters, Hokusai and Hiroshige. This artistic treasure-trove represents the ukiyo-e genre, immortalised in Hokusai’s Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa.

The elegant bar has lacquered walls, burnt-umber and berry-bright stained glass (now a Beaverbrook trademark) and raspberry-pink fitted seating. Tables are decorated with new and vintage matchbox covers, sourced from Japan; some enjoyably risqué… Cocktails come courtesy of Alan Cook, Beaverbrook’s much-loved Bars Manager, featuring Beaverbrook favourites alongside London-edition libations. As a fan of Chinatown afterparties following dinners and dances at the nearby Savoy, His Lordship would no doubt approve.

London, unlocked

Like Lord Beaverbrook’s lucky guests of old, visitors to Beaverbrook Town House will benefit from exclusive access to the city’s cultural scene. Cherry-picked partnerships with the best contacts from Beaverbrook’s black book will put London’s crème de la crème at guests’ fingertips. Other prestigious perks will include private-shopping experiences and in-room massage and beauty treatments, devised by Beaverbroook’s Coach House Spa Director, René van Eyssen. Guests can also book fitness classes at nearby KXU, or personal training sessions in the peace and privacy of Cadogan Place Gardens.

Beaverbrook Town House is Beaverbrook’s first partnership with Cadogan, whose stewardship of 93 acres of Chelsea and Kensington spans over three centuries. The project forms part of Cadogan’s strategy to strengthen Sloane Street’s position as the leading luxury shopping destination in the world and complements the existing focus on improved leisure and hospitality. A further £40m investment programme is underway, which includes ‘greening’ the street and upgrading everything the eye touches with the finest materials.

Beaverbrook Town House

www.beaverbrooktownhouse.co.uk

Rates from £400 on a room only basis

Reservations: reservations@beaverbrooktownhouse.co.uk

Wilko Extends Instore Maks Recycling Scheme

An instore scheme to help Wilko customers recycle their masks has proved so successful that the home and garden retailer will extend it by another three months.

The scheme, which allows shoppers to drop off used, disposable face masks so that they can be recycled will now be in place until the end of September 2021. This extension follows an initial three-month pilot and will see the service remain in place at the original 150 participating stores.

Wilko estimates that a huge 400,000 masks could be recycled via the scheme. This equates to a giant 966kg of single-use plastic. Those wishing to take part need to simply visit their nearest, participating Wilko store as part of their usual shopping trip and safely drop their used single-use face masks into the special collection bin. Once full, these bins are then taken away by recycling specialists ReWorked, who together with Metrisk Ltd, Scan2Recycle are partnering with Wilko in the scheme – which was the first of its kind on the UK high street.

Masks collected via the scheme are broken down into raw fibres which can be sustainably refashioned into products ranging from other safety materials for businesses, to building materials and even quality, durable public space furniture.

While masks are no longer a legal requirement, Wilko is still recommending face coverings for team members and customers in busy indoor spaces. The family retailer seeks to respect individual choices while providing a sustainable solution to single-use mask disposal.

wilko

The Covid-19 crisis overall has seen a huge increase in the use of disposable face masks. While the government has encouraged Brits to dispose of face masks via general waste bins, there has been an ever-increasing volume of PPE being discarded in public spaces – meaning there are often greater levels of litter nationwide in areas such as parks, beaches, and high streets; impacting the life and leisure time of local communities, endangering wildlife and ultimately harming the health of the planet.

Disposable face makes are made from polypropylene fabric – a type of plastic. An estimated 8M tonnes of general plastic waste already ends up in the world’s oceans every year, and the impact of the pandemic will only increase those figures if PPE litter continues to increase. Wilko and its partners for this scheme hope by continuing to provide an easy way to safely dispose of used PPE, they can help make it easier for families to reduce litter in the community with a little win that makes a world of difference.

Jerome Saint Marc, CEO at Wilko, said: “We know that our customers care about the environment and this scheme has proved again to us just how much. We’re so delighted that it’s been this much of a success and that our customers and team members are helping to reduce litter in their communities, our partners are helping to recycle the waste, and that we’re able to bring it all together in our stores. It’s a little win that truly makes a world of difference.”

For more information on disposable mask recycling at Wilko and the 150 stores that are taking part, please visit https://www.wilko.com/face-mask-recycling.

How To Manage Lactose Intolerance

One of the most common health concerns is how to manage lactose intolerance. There is no question that this disease can interfere with your daily life; people who suffer from lactose intolerance are unable to digest milk and other dairy products. After eating these items, a sufferer can develop unpleasant side effects such as gas, diarrhoea, or bloating.

There are debates over whether there is an effective method to treat or manage lactose intolerance without limiting one’s diet. This blog, however, will advise anybody experiencing similar symptoms on what they should do to live a normal life free of intolerance problems. The good news is that there are many effective ways to deal with lactose intolerance and avoiding all of these unpleasant symptoms.

manage lactose intolerance
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko from Pexels

Eat Small Portion Sizes

To live a tranquil life free of intolerance problems, you must first learn how to eat small quantities of food more often throughout the day rather than big meals once or twice each day.

Eating smaller portions more often can enable you to digest your meal properly and, as a result, prevent unpleasant side effects such as gas, diarrhoea, or bloating after eating dairy products.

Take Lactase Enzyme Tablets 

If you’re lactose intolerant, this is the best choice for you. As previously stated, lactose intolerance develops when your body lacks an enzyme called ‘lactase.’ When you eat any dairy product that lacks this enzyme, it takes longer than usual to break down milk sugar. This causes unpleasant symptoms such as gas, diarrhoea, and bloating.

If you wish to prevent these harmful effects and manage lactose intolerance, use lactase enzyme pills with every meal that contains dairy products. These tablets aid in the production of the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose.

Use Probiotics

Taking probiotics is another excellent way to control lactose intolerance and have trust in your eating habits. Probiotics are ‘good’ microorganisms that can be found in a variety of meals and supplements. Probiotics, in addition to aiding individuals to manage lactose intolerance, can also assist people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive system disease.

Several research investigations have shown that probiotics can help with lactose intolerance management. Probiotics are living bacteria that increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in your intestines, thus preventing side effects such as gas, diarrhoea, and bloating. As a result, they will aid in the digestion of milk sugar, ensuring that it does not have a harmful impact on your body.

Driving Myths Debunked

Driving should be a fairly easy – at least in theory – thing to do. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the traffic, other motorists, or those strange half-truths that seem to float around. Those stories that may or may not be true, the ones that no driver is quite sure about. Here are some of those driving myths debunked, so you can go ahead and enjoy your driving and your car without having to worry.

driving myths
Photo by Alex Chernenko on Unsplash

You Can’t Eat And Drive

Eating when you’re behind the wheel of the car is not illegal – yet. There are potential plans afoot to ensure that no one can munch their lunch when driving along, but at the moment, you are free to do so, as long as it’s safe. That’s the important point; it does have to be safe. Leeds University carried out a study that shows those eating whilst driving were up to 44 percent slower to react to things going on around them. If eating behind the wheel leads to careless driving and the police stop you, you could be prosecuted.

Passengers In A Car Can’t Drink Alcohol

We all know that it’s illegal to drink and drive (and quite rightly), and this is not one of the driving myths we’re talking about, but many people are a little less sure about whether it’s okay for a passenger to nip a sip. The truth is that it’s perfectly fine for passengers to drink alcohol as long as they are over 18, unless, that is, they are supervising a learner driver. As for soft drinks, drivers are legally allowed to drink them. In fact, it’s advised that drivers keep hydrated on the road, especially on a long journey.

Driving With The Interior Light On Is Illegal

Much like the myth of the white van man, the idea that driving with the interior light on is illegal is one that prevails, despite evidence to the contrary. We can accurately state that there is no law that prohibits driving with the interior light on (although, as with any rule of the road, if the police feel that the interior light might be impacting your driving in a negative way, they can ask you to switch it off).

driving myths
Photo by Toni Tan on Unsplash

You Can’t Wear Headphones When Driving

Strangely enough, you can actually wear headphones when driving. This is one of the driving myths that would definitely make sense if it were true, though. Headphones will mean you can’t hear anything that is going on around you, and they could block out important sounds such as sirens, screeching brakes, children shouting… sounds that would put a driver who could hear them on high alert and ensure their reaction times were fast.

It’s Illegal To Drive Barefoot

Another untrue myth – if you want to drive barefoot, you certainly can. It might be fairly uncomfortable, though, and remember that you won’t have the same strength when it comes to pushing those peddles as you would with shoes on. Similarly, you can also drive while wearing flip-flops if you choose to. We wouldn’t recommend it though, as they can easily slip off and get caught in the peddles. Wearing flat shoes is the best idea when driving – you can always change when you get to your destination.

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are not only uncomfortable, but they can also cause infection. The infection caused by an ingrown toenail is more painful than the initial issue and should be avoided. It is essential to take measures against this problem in order to avoid the pain and mobility issues that arise from it. The following precautions will assist to reduce your chances of getting an ingrown toenail.

ingrown toenails
Photo by Deeana Creates from Pexels

Toenails Should Be Trimmed Properly

Ingrown toenails are most often caused by poorly trimmed toenails. Toenails should be cut straight across with no rough edges. The nail’s edges should not curve upward into the sides of the toe. If this happens, the nail becomes jammed into the side which is the first step toward being ingrown. You should also always use sterilised toenail clippers to avoid spreading bacteria to the region. This is due to the fact that you do not want an ingrown toenail to get infected.

Wear Shoes That Fit

You may not connect correctly fitting footwear with ingrown toenails, but they are related. Your toes will be squeezed together in the toe of the shoe if your shoes are too small. This results in trauma, which can lead to an ingrown toenail. If you wear them often, you may develop an ingrown nail by continuously pressing the nail into the skin. Shoes that are too large, like shoes that are too small, can also create problems. When your foot moves around too much in the shoe, it can cause damage to the toes, particularly the big toe, which is prone to ingrown toenails.

ingrown toenails
Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash

Visit Skilled Pedicure Technicians

If you like getting pedicures on a regular basis, even if it’s just for fun rather than for a medical issue, you should always seek out a board-certified professional. Someone who is licenced and skilled will ensure that all equipment, including the chair’s tub, is clean. They will also know how to correctly clip toenails to prevent ingrown toenails. Some pedicure experts may be able to relieve your pain if the ingrown nail is small and not infected.

Get Recurring Ingrown Toenail Treatment

Some individuals appear to get ingrown toenails more often than others, particularly on the same toe. If this is the case, the issue may be related to the form of the toe or even how your toenail develops. If this is the case, you should seek ingrown toenail therapy to ensure that the recurring issue is resolved. These treatments are often minor and performed in the doctor’s office rather than in the hospital. They must, however, be performed by an ankle and foot expert who is well-versed in ingrown toenail therapy.

It is important to take care of your feet so that you can walk comfortably as well as participate in more strenuous sports such as jogging. You don’t want an ingrown toenail to slow you down if you play sports. Make sure to seek the proper treatment for your ingrown toenail if it occurs, even if you took precautions to avoid it.

8 Ways To Get A Better Job

If you don’t enjoy your current job there is no reason why you should stick with it. It doesn’t matter how long you spent training for it, how much money you spent to get there, what success you’ve had, or even what friends you have made along the way; if you dislike getting up each morning and making your way in, you have a problem. The good news is that that problem can be fixed by getting a different, better job. Here are some of the ways to go about doing exactly that.

better job
Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

Write A Compelling Resume

Writing a resume is not something that many people particularly enjoy doing, but it is essential if you want to find a new job that you’re going to love. It’s not enough just to list out the things you have done, the places you have worked, and all your qualifications. Instead, you need to make it stand out. Your resume is your way in to get an interview, and if yours isn’t interesting then your chances of that happening are slim, especially if there are dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of applicants for the job. You can use online tools to help you make something a bit more special. Remember not to go crazy using different fonts and colors – you still need to look professional.

Look In Different Places

Finding the right job to apply for is something that might take you a little while, but it’s worth putting in the hard work to find the right new career for you. Although the more popular job boards are great (those such as Indeed and Craigslist, for example), it might be better for you to look at the less obvious ones if you want to find a job posting that won’t have many applicants. It’s also a quicker way to go about things, as they will have fewer postings and that means you won’t have to search through dozens of jobs that are no good for you before finding one to apply for. Don’t forget to check out job listings provided to alumni of your college too, even if it’s been years since you graduated.

Try The Company Not The Job

If you’re not picky about what job role you fulfil but you do know which company you want to work for, search through their open postings. You might spot something that you’re qualified for that will get you in with that company to begin with. If you get the job you can then work towards a different position over time if that’s what you want. Or why not simply reach out and ask the company or companies you’re interested in working for whether or not they might consider hiring you – send in a speculative cover letter and resume just to see what might happen.

Learn New Skills

If you feel your resume is lacking in something or you have seen a job posting that you are keen to apply for but you are missing one of the key skills, make it your mission to learn something new before applying for anything else. Having additional skills is another way to make your resume stand out, plus it can be truly useful in your new job. Knowing how to program or getting a business qualification can boost your chances of success, find you the ideal job, and keep your brain active even when you’re bored in your current place of work. 

better job
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Make The Interview Count

Once you have got as far as being asked to come in for an interview you need to make sure you make it count. Dress appropriately to begin with. This does not mean that you have to wear your most formal attire and shoes you would never wear anywhere else – you need to be comfortable in order to make a good impression. However, it does mean that you need to dress smartly, make sure your clothes are clean and pressed, and make sure your shoes are not muddy or scuffed. These little things can make a big difference, even if it’s subconsciously. If you’re not sure what to wear, ask. It shows that you’re thinking ahead and that you want to do well.

Understand Body Language

Having at least a basic understanding of how to read body language can help you out in an interview and will certainly give you an idea of how well you are doing. It’s essential that you show that you are a pleasant, charming person from the outset as first impressions do count for a lot. If you understand body language you can avoid doing anything negative that might affect your chances of being liked. Try not to keep touching your face, for example, or playing with your hair or nails. Don’t bounce your legs up and down. Don’t slouch, but don’t sit up too straight either. You need to come across as professional and comfortable with the people you’re with and in the place you’re in.

Practice

There will be some questions you are asked in your interview that you can practice beforehand. If you already know your answers you will come across as calm and confident, as someone who is able to think on their feet. Even if it does sound rehearsed, don’t worry; this can show that you have done your research and that you are serious about doing well. You might be asked questions such as what your greatest weakness is, where you see yourself in five years, or what attributes you can bring to the company. These questions (and others) don’t have a right or wrong answer as such, they just need to be answered as cleverly, confidently, and truthfully as possible.

Don’t Leave Angry

When you do get your new job it can be tempting to walk away from your old one and burn your bridges behind you, especially if you really disliked the place, the job, or the people there. However, this is not a good idea, no matter how satisfying it might be. You never know when you might come across that company again in a different setting; you never know when you might need to work with them, or need their help. Leave on good terms and life will be much easier further on. Even if you never see anyone from that company again, and even if you never need to call on their services, leaving on good terms will keep you focused and happy.

Your Disney World Holiday Is Coming… What Do You Need To Take?

Summer will be here before you know it, and if you’re thinking of going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, then you’ll already know there is a lot of planning to get through. Not only do you need to work out exactly which parks you want to go to, where you’re going to stay, and how you’re going to get there, but you need to save for it too.

Once that’s all sorted out though, and you’ve paid your final instalment, it’s time to really get serious. You’re going, and you need to be prepared. Unlike with a beach holiday, there are more things needed and more things to think about when you plan a trip to Disney so it’s best to get planning as soon as you can. Here is a checklist for you to go through to ensure that this holiday of a lifetime is memorable for all the right reasons!

Disney World holiday
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Guidebook

You may not want to look like a tourist when you get to Florida but the thing is… you are one. Embrace it, and get a guidebook so you know exactly where to go and what to do. You wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, especially if this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of Disney World holiday. It’s true that you can look things up online, but it can often be easier to have a handy guidebook in your bag – and you can make notes in it, use markers for your must-do spots, and generally make use of it. It’s a great investment. A second-hand one is even better if someone else has done all the note-taking in the margins already!

Cool Clothes

Orlando is a hot place. Hotter than you might realise. Shorts and t-shirts are required on a Disney World holiday, but remember to pack thin clothing, not just summer clothing. This kind of heat is entirely different to anything you’ve experienced in the UK, and you don’t want to be uncomfortable as you walk around the parks all day. Take a hat and sunglasses too – you’ll be glad you did when you get out there in the heat of the day.

Good Shoes

Whilst on the subject of packing, making sure everyone has good shoes to wear is essential. You may not realise it, but those parks are enormous, and there will be a huge amount of walking to do, plus you’ll find yourself standing around in queues for many minutes (hours) at a time. Fashionable sandals and heels are lovely, but not during the day. You want trainers or breathable shoes. It’s not just about comfort, either. Some of the rules in Disney mean you can’t go on some of the rides if you don’t have the appropriate footwear.

Tickets

The main reason for anyone to go to Orlando is to go to Disney World, but Disney is not just one theme park; it’s a number of different theme parks that make up the whole group. So do a little research in advance to work out where you might like to spend some time. The Magic Kingdom, for example, is where the famous Cinderella’s castle is, and it’s great for younger children. Older kids might like the Epcot Centre. Film buffs will love Hollywood Studios. Plus there are animal parks and water parks to enjoy as well. Knowing where you want to go will give you a good idea of how many days’ worth of tickets you will need. Buying them in advance is the cheapest way to get them, and you might even be able to make use of special deals. A little tip: take a photo of the tickets when you get them, making sure the ticket numbers are shown. If you lose them or they get damaged, you can then get them replaced.

Itinerary

For some people, a holiday is about going with the flow and working out what to do – if anything – once you get there. In Florida, it’s slightly different. There is so much to see and do that if you don’t have at least a bit of a plan and itinerary by the time you get there, you’ll miss out on something wonderful. If you’re staying at a hotel you can get some great advice from the reps and the staff, but if you’re in a villa you’re a little more on your own. The Internet will help you immensely in that case, although you can also ask the park employees for advice on what to do. Orlando is more than just Disney, though, and you might want to find something different to do, even on a Disney World holiday. Days chilling out by the pool are needed just to re-energise (perhaps have a pool day once every two or three days), and hiring a car so you can go a little further afield will show you some interesting places. If you pick a car from a reputable car rental company, then you don’t even have to worry that you’ll break down; they’ll have help on hand should that happen, working with companies that will be able to help you if you need it.

My family in Disney World, Florida

Money

It’s usually best to change your pounds into dollars here in the UK before you leave as you tend to get a better exchange rate. Don’t assume that’s the case, though, and check out the exchange rate in the US before you travel. You might get a better deal by waiting. For a bit of fun in the parks, you can exchange your American dollars for ‘Disney dollars’. They have the same face value and can only be used in Disney itself, but they’re cute and put a smile on everyone’s face.

Extras

There are a number of little extras that are always worth packing when it comes to going to Orlando’s Disney World. They’ll make your trip more magical. Remember, for example, your autograph book and a chunky kind of pen. There will be characters walking around the parks and they will happily pose for pictures and sign your children’s books, so it’s a nice (free) souvenir! A poncho is another useful item. Yes, it’s hot in Florida, but it rains too, and when the heavens open they really open! Showers don’t last for long, but they happen most afternoons in the summer and you don’t want to get caught out. Take a little plastic bag that can fit in your pocket or bag too because there are water rides, and you can protect your phone/wallet/tablet that way.

Enjoy

The final thing to remember when travelling to Orlando for a Disney World holiday is to enjoy yourself. Have fun. Smile. It’s worth every second of packing when you realise you’re in a truly magical place.

4 Ways Work Could Be Causing You Stress

People are getting increasingly stressed at work, which is producing a crisis in management and poor health. Businesses are suffering as a result of workers being forced to take time off due to stress-related illness, despite the fact that the job is creating it. As a result, while they are away from work, they begin to feel better, but when they return, the old difficulties resurface, and the condition continues to worsen. If this is the case, it is apparent that the work you are performing is not the appropriate one for you, and it is time to choose one that will not be causing you stress.

If you’re not sure if stress is the source of your condition, here are several ways work may be causing it; you might recognise your own scenario here.

Poor Organisation

A badly structured workplace is one of the things that could be causing you stress, and it may even force you to take a lot of time off. Workers will be unable to find what they need to accomplish their jobs if a workplace is disorganised. This may include crucial documents, handy stationery, or even the proper equipment to brew a cup of coffee or a drink of water. If you can’t locate what you’re looking for and can’t do the job you’ve been assigned in a timely or satisfactory manner, you may be reprimanded. Even if you aren’t, the situation is tense.

causing you stress
Photo by Lisa from Pexels

Being Overloaded

We’ve all been in situations when we have more work than we can handle, only to be pushed to do more. This isn’t such a horrible thing if it just happens once in a while (though it’s preferable if it doesn’t happen at all); a little overtime now and again isn’t too bad. However, if this is a recurring problem and you are constantly pushed to do more than you have time or aptitude to accomplish, you will, of course, get highly agitated and may need to take time off because you are burning out. If you’re doing too much, then work is sure to be causing you stress.

Work Relationships

It’s difficult for everyone to get along with everyone else, but in the workplace, it’s vital to tolerate your coworkers so that you can all be adults and get your tasks done. This is not always the case, and negative sentiments amongst coworkers might seep into the job itself, causing you stress. It’s difficult to have to go to the same office every day when you’re having a fight with someone or have a falling out with a former buddy.

causing you stress
Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

New Management

At work, having a competent manager is critical. Even though we have the authority to work in our own way and on our own schedule, having a manager to ask questions of, as well as get orders and praise from, is vital for maintaining high morale and a sense of stability. A change in management might be another source of stress since the unknown of who will be your boss and what they will be like is unsettling, especially if you were satisfied with the person who was there previously.

How To Get Your Blog Noticed

When you write a blog, you want people to read it; this is the main reason behind writing it in the first place. Therefore, you want your blog to be noticed, shared, liked, and talked about wherever possible. This can be a difficult task, but it is essential if you want your blog (and your website or business) to be boosted high up in the search engine rankings. Take a look at these tips for getting your blog noticed and implement as many as you can. 

Stay On Topic 

Having a blog that sticks to one main topic is a good idea. It means that people will know what to expect when they read your work, and it can prove that you are an expert in your chosen sector. Although some blogs do have varied contents, to really get noticed, you should ideally find the topic you are happy writing about and make that your main focus. Otherwise you can easily confuse people, and they won’t know that they should come back to your blog or that it could, in fact, be useful to them. 

What you write about is entirely your choice as long as you know something (or rather a lot) about the topic and can find a lot to say about it. 

blog noticed
Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Keep It Simple 

Most people don’t want to read something too technical and complicated – in many cases, they are looking for ways to make a potentially tricky yet important topic more accessible. As a blogger, your job is to take that topic and put it in layman’s terms. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing about a tax return, days out with the kids, cooking, book reviews, starting a business, or anything else; the key is to keep it all simple.

Use Social Media 

If you really want to boost your readership levels, you must use social media to promote your blog. Posting your link on a Facebook page (perhaps in a group, or on your own page or your business page) can potentially give you a huge reach, and many more people will read the blog, clicking through to your website, than otherwise would have done. They will also easily be able to share the content with their followers and friends, ensuring that even more people will read it. If you want to have your post in front of many thousands of people, you can even pay to have it boosted, but it may be possible to do this organically, so try that first before spending any money. 

Use SEO To Get Your Blog Noticed

SEO (search engine optimization) will make your blog noticed a lot more. SEO is about identifying important keywords or phrases and incorporating them into your blog post, and it needs to be done carefully and strategically. The search engine ‘bots’ will pick up on these keywords and phrases, and your webpage will be boosted higher up the rankings when people search. There are many different techniques involved in getting SEO just right, so it’s best to read up on them before you begin so that you can make the most of the opportunity to promote your post and make sure it is noticed.