IMG-20170421-WA0003

A Thank You to a family, or what Christianity means to me

When I was 9 I decided I wanted to be a Christian.

My parents were definitely not Christians and I’m not entirely sure what led me there. I think a craving for values and loving a good hymn. I was young and can’t really remember the details but what I do know is that aged 9 I started going to church on Sundays alone.

And what I do know is that from the first Sunday I went, I was not alone, because one family took me in. Every week they were there to sit with and to answer questions. They were great fun, but also took me and my (I’m sure) precocious need to ‘do religion’ seriously and helped me grow with it.

They took me and their wonderful daughter on so many holidays where I got to help her learn to swim, and stand with her as her grandpa got ill, and hear the very first Harry Potter read to us for the very first time.

My mum asked me recently which couple I admire most and somewhat bizarrely without a second thought I said them.

It was a lifetime ago but to this day they are what I understand Christianity to be.

Tomorrow I get to watch that beautiful daughter Hannah walk down the aisle in that perfect little church where her parents watched as we grew up. I’m so proud to have been a weird little part of your family for a while, so glad to see that family grow. And if you and Jon manage to bring even a tenth of the good into the world that your parents have, then your union will be one of the most blessed I know.

(And apologies for the cheesy essay but we don’t say thank you enough and this seemed a good opportunity to show my appreciation for a family who truly made a huge dint on my life :) Happy Wedding Day!)

IMG-20170421-WA0003

torrii

26

To have no idea what you’re doing next, and to be absolutely sure that is the right decision.

26 was a deciding year. I’m not sure I wanted it to be, or even planned it to be, but I think in the end it simply had to be.  I will sound like a twat, but I wasn’t ‘present’ in my life. I used to write diaries and blogs to savor a moment – that was clearly my way of processing and enjoying it – but for the past few years I stopped even doing that. When I wrote the last 2 birthday posts, that probably the most excited I’ve been all year because I actually took time to think wow, I did all that.

I have been really really busy, and really really tired.

 

So the biggest thing to happen at 26? I quit my job and decided to move to another city. There are other things I can and will write about this. Lots of people keep telling me it’s such a brave decision, and I guess it is, but it didn’t feel that way when I made it. It was just obvious and not really a decision in the end… it was between being asleep for the rest of my life, or finding something worth being awake for even if I don’t know what that is yet.

What else though? Well. I spent 2 weeks in Japan. It was kinda stressful at the time actually but the further away I get from it the more incredible and unique the memories become.

I went skiing for the first time. And honestly, it woke me up.  I’ve experienced lots of new things throughout my life, but so often it feels like ticking boxes. Skiing felt like an absolute thrill. The satisfaction of getting my body to get down a hill burned through me like I imagine drugs must feel, and then to spend time with family in the evenings felt like the perfect mix of adventure and people that I have always craved.

I got promoted in my job again. And it was a great role, and I know I did the best job I could while I was there. Part of me is gutted to leave. But in a way still really wanting to leave even though I had a great role made it even clearer to me that leaving was just something I had to do. Right now I’ll be honest and say I feel jaded about publishing. But I can already see with a bit of time and perspective I don’t think I’ll feel that way in 6 months. I still believe communications, media and the stories we share are some of the most important things on this planet; I just need a bit of time to step back and rethink how I think they should work.  I also think teenagers and young people are such a phenomenal under-acknowledged power. I would have loved to continue to grow what’s available to them in the media, but luckily my work with Girlguiding and Girls Out Loud will be able to continue some of that.

I had some brilliant trips with truly dear friends to Berlin, Paris and Gibraltar, and had a brilliant baptism into the Balkans and all its history in a week long sojourn to Belgrade, Serbia in my trustee role.

I watched the London Marathon for the first time, which really blew me away.  I also hit an all time low with my health which it seems was necessary to bounce back from and really start taking my body seriously. Thus a mix of fear and inspiration is firing me to make little steps to get my diet back on track, and start running again. I have loads of time now, so no excuse 😉

And this is probably the understated but really most exciting one… I started studying for my foundation accounting qualification.  I’ve always been fascinated by everything and I am hugely indecisive. When it came to university applications my plan was to apply for both arts and economics and decide depending on the offers; until I realised you could only write one personal statement. I went for arts (probably because of too much Gilmore Girls / Dawsons – role models matter..).  I’m grateful for the open-mindedness and debating skills it has give me, but I always kept my toe in the numbers side, and the more I got to work on budgets and accounting in my publishing roles, the more I craved it. So initially the plan is to just beef up that interest with a basic formal qualification, but who knows.. I’ve done almost 10 years of creativity (which will never leave me), maybe the next decade is for numbers and logic? Or a magical mix of it all.

 

So now what? Now I’m on sabbatical. Or something.  I am trying to take it easy. To give me space to think, to learn, to have new ideas.  My intention had always been to take 6 months off after my masters to explore various bits and pieces, but unfortunately / fortunately I got my dream job in London straight away and had to get on with life quicker than anticipated. So now is my time to explore, and luckily working your butt off for years affords me that freedom for a few months. On the menu is finishing my accounting qualification, reading lots, spending time learning from all the amazing people I know and hopefully will know, taking care of my long forsaken health, exploring London, exploring Manchester, doing some strategy and comms work for a few businesses, and hopefully by September be doing some really great and exciting new work.

In the middle of the ride :)

IMG_20140503_122131 (1)

25

I dreaded being 25. To me 24 had seemed fresh and young but with a little bit of experience. 26 looking sophisticated.. older but sussed at it. 25 just seemed a naff inbetween with none of the benefits of being old or young. And yet here I am 2 days to go and I’ve never wanted to leave an age less.
A lot has happened to 25 year old me.
My company put a big lump of faith in me and gave me a big promotion to Associate Publisher.
I applied and was accepted onto the Board of Trustees for Girlguiding, the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women.
I moved to a real home (with a boy no less) in London that I would be quite happy not leaving for the foreseeable future.
And mainly thanks to the above I’m feel far more settled than I have in a long while. I have singing lessons, I go to Toastmasters, I spend my Friday nights with teenage Girl Guides, I have a zoo membership and it’s just 10 minutes walk from my house, I have lavender plants on my front porch, my walk to and from walk is part green fields and part stunning metropolis, I watch Netflix and lots of American TV, my family all seem stable and happy for the time being, some friends are happier while some are transitioning but all are brave and get more so every day, I have girlie trips to Berlin and Paris planned, I have adventures with the boy in the pipeline to Iceland and Japan and Austrian Skiing and a mega tour of the US, and I finally have the budget to buy something from Reiss… 😉

There is still a lot of shit too, and a lot that pulls me down every single day. It’s taking far longer than I ever imagined it would to become the person I want to be. But now and then I’ll have a moment, usually insignificant, where I stop and think ‘woah, when did I get here?’. Here is an increasingly good place.

I want to be happy, and I want to make the world a better place.

I’m getting there :)

24

24

This week saw the 25th anniversary of my birth and the 1st anniversary of moving to London and starting my dream job. Because I’m super crap and haven’t written in forever, you’re now going to get a summary post of all the things I’ve wanted to write about while being 24 and living in London, but.. well.. haven’t.

24 has been the longest year of my life. Which is entirely a blessing when life since about age 13 has gone distressingly fast. Here’s what happened…

 

I went to Qatar in the Middle East.  I’ve never been anywhere too exciting in my life (aside from a week in New York which was just the best) so venturing to Qatar was super satisfying as one of the most random places on earth I could possible go.  I went to visit my friend Katy who edits an English magazine out there called FACT.  I spent a week just exploring and eating and breathing the super sweet air of this Aladdin country. It was fascinating to see it from Katy’s expat point of view rather than just as a tourist because it made me realise I really could live anywhere and feel comfortable anywhere if I wanted.  Which is a relief for the future!

 

I got back involved with Girlguiding.  From aged 7, I was a Brownie, and then a Young Leader helping at said Brownies unit until I went to uni.  I think after that I was literally brainwashed of the whole thing because it was only around October 2012 amid a desperate search to find something London based to replace the work I was doing with Girls Out Loud, did I see some press coverage of Girlguiding, and have the brainwave of ‘Oh yeah, I used to utterly love doing that?!’ No clue how I hadn’t thought of it sooner.

So now I’m helping at a guide unit (ages 10-13 so more of a challenge then Brownies, but a good challenge), helping now and then at Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Guide & Scout unit, I’m the Marketing & Communications Adviser for London North West County and have been trained as a 4 peer educator (to give sessions on the standard bullying / health etc but also skills like self-confidence, communcation). It feels good to be doing it in London for a while, because I feel closer to where the bigger policies and plans are happening, and that seems a good place to be right now as the organisation is changing a lot and trying to freshen up its image away from all the tradition.  I do miss nature walks though and just generally being able to take the girls outside…

Ooo and also I’m taking my Queen’s Guide Award! I have to complete it before I’m 26 (argh!) but most of it was stuff I was doing already.  It’s the highest award you can get in Guiding and includes things like service to guiding, improving a skill, research into an issue affecting the community, and taking your Guiding holiday license to be able to take the girls on holidays and camps.

 

The job is great.  I’m enjoying it and learning a lot.  I’ve realised that one of the reasons it’s hard for our generation to share stories on the workplace that could mutually help us all, is because we’re so used to sharing online as much as face to face.. and I just can’t publish most of what I would want to say about my work.. not because its bad, but just because it’s sensitive and wouldn’t be appropriate. Which pisses me off. So do ask me about it in person. But I’ve learnt a lot about the media industry, about negotiating or at least being clear about what you want, about work being a two way street where both employer and employee have to give and take, and that you have to be smart and play to your circumstances. Anyone who thinks they will be handed things on a plate once and because they ‘deserve ‘ it, is unfortunately not someone likely to get far, and not someone I would chose to employ anyway. (Generalising, obvs, but it’s an important thing to at least be aware of).

 

Keeping up the singing. I was really lucky to have found a singing teacher in London before I even moved (through people at Preston Opera). We really started having regular lessons in the past few months and focusing on my Grade 8. God I love it.  My teacher has suggested I learn quite a few options for the Grade, and then do a little recital of them all (which naturally terrifies me, but a good challenge!).  I’ve also been involved with an office choir we have at work where we rehearse every Wednesday evening. It’s been a great way to keep singing and we have a really great teacher while the music is a bit more poppy and laid back which is fun. Oh and also I’m going on a music camp at the end of June?! No idea what to expect but apparently we just spend a whole weekend learning a big piece of opera.. why not?!

 

Women of the World Festival.  I went to my first of these festivals just for a day in 2012, but this year I went the whole hog of 3 days and it was just a dream from beginning to end.  I couldn’t have spent a happier weekend.. just learning and having my mind blown by amazing women, and just feeling all this potential in the world.  And I took my live tweeting skills to a whole new level 😉 They videoed a lot more of it this year so you can still see lots even if you weren’t there. A woman at the end of the weekend made a comment like ‘I feel we come to WOW each year, say we’re going to keep it going and change things and then nothing ever happens’.. and I so disagree, because if any of the people in that room leave feeling the way I do, they’re going to spend the next year making changes in their own little patches and collectively things will get better.

 

I graduated from my MA! Crikey this feels ages ago now. But I managed the craziness of doing a masters project for 3 months while working. I was so proud of the final result. My magazine is a work in progress but it is everything I wanted it to be. And however stressful it was for that year, it was very much worth it.. I learnt so much and I know it’s propelled me more in my career.

 

I’m slowly getting back into running.  I still haven’t quite found my rhythm. I desperately want to run lots but can’t quite work out if I prefer it alone or with someone, morning or evening, whether I need extra exercise to compliment it.  But I’m just going to keep trying until something clicks 😉

 

Counting down to London.  I spent a long, long time waiting to get to London. I think I had a 24 month countdown at one point.  To be fair, things got better at home and I forgot about that countdown for a while, but for whatever reason, I have always wanted to be here.  Be it childhood visits, or too many movies, I never wanted to miss out on this cosmopolitan glittery magic.  And it is wonderful .  I’m so lucky to live so central. I cannot believe that now for the rest of my life I will always get to say I lived in Fitzrovia for a year (or more!). I prefer it to Paris, but I think that’s more the luck of a great job and just being more used to a culture I love.  I’m not going to live here forever. Who knows if I will even work here forever. I miss the countryside desperately and all the time, but right now my pulls country / city are still 50/50.  We’ll see. But I know how much I wanted this, and I’m so so grateful I got it.

 

Who knows what 25 will bring. I’m moving in with a boy so that’s a biggie. My career could go anywhere and good God I miss writing. I’m also just desperate to keep learning and discovering. But more generally, I feel like the last few years have been the super hard work, then 24 was the setting up, and now at 25, I’d really like time to just, well ENJOY it all for a bit. I’m not sure I’m capable of sitting back and just taking it all in.. but I know how content it makes me, so I’m really going to try :)

‘What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.’

 

gol1

Girls Out Loud and the Anxiety of Influence

Who is your role model?  I mean really? I don’t mean the person you tell people when they ask – Mother Theresa, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Thatcher… and a host of other generic examples. I mean, when you’re not sure who you are or want to be, who is the person you secretly picture and think ‘that’s what I want to be like’.

I ask because I have only just admitted to myself who my real role models are.  And they’re not necessarily who I’d want them to be, or people I’d want to admit.  But I know and have to concede that they are the people who have driven me to be who I am.

They are television characters. Yes I’m that lame.  And it’s not that I aspired to be these people, it’s just that growing up there happened to be two strong female (brunette) characters who everyone seemed to like and for better or worse they were the most well formed images I had to follow.

This comes up now because I have just had a meeting with Girls Out Loud, the charity I’m working with to inspire young girls.  One of their main aims is to provide girls with better role models.  When I thought about it, I realised it’s sad because those semi-decent television role models don’t exist any more. I was luck that Joey Potter and Rory Gilmore were both quiet, bookish, hard workers.  Girls today don’t have anything like that, it’s all bad-ass street kids, murderers and rich kids.  I remember the tag line for The OC when it first started was along the lines of “It’s going to make Dawson’s Creek look like kindergarten”.  I think it went downhill from there.

 

When thinking of a title for this piece, ‘Anxiety of Influence’ flew into my head without me really remembering much about it except that it stirred some strong feeling somewhere in the back of my gut.  As it turns out, it has relevance here.

The Anxiety of Influence is a book written by Harold Bloom that I read in my undergraduate Literature degree.  It’s a theory of poetry (stay with me) that talks about poets struggling to escape from influences on their work from poets who have gone before them.  They need to be original in order to not be forgotten themselves but they can’t help being influenced by the past.

 

Girls Out Loud recognise that you cannot help being influenced by the people around you; that it is natural to copy and imitate and follow. But you have a far greater chance of finding an original and satisfying path for yourself if you have a far wider range of influences.  Because of that our aim with mentoring programmes and discovery days is to put women from all sorts of careers in front of young girls, who they might otherwise never have met.   Jane Kenyon, one of the founders of Girls Out Loud mentioned one discovery day where 3 newly trained lawyers came along to talk to the girls.  By the end of the session the girls were all going round casually saying ‘Yeah I think I’ll be a lawyer me’.

 

I remember the trouble I had with Bloom’s theory was the fact that he felt it was a categorically negative thing to feel the power of influence.  I could never quite buy the overbearing downside to building on something that has gone before and adapting it through your own voice and time.  Maybe its a male thing?  All I know is that I can’t be ashamed of being influenced by TV characters since they helped me become the person I want to be.  And again, maybe its a woman thing, but we women/ girls desperately need influence and role models because we’ve only been doing this equality thing for a few decades so the great examples of happy womanhood are few and far between.

And in conclusion, if you could possibly be that positive influence (criteria: you are a woman) to another woman or girl, then please PLEASE reach out to the women around you and if you feel you can give that extra bit… come and join Girls Out Loud.

hpphotocall

I left my job today…

I hadn’t planned to write anything about this (yet) but while I’m in the emotion of the moment, here are a few things my first real job taught me…

  1. People are the most important thing in just, well, anything… be it work or play, everything revolves around people and I think that maybe the most important thing you can ever do is surround yourself with people who make you feel alive whatever you need to feel.
  2. Do what you love. Not in some distant future; NOW… when I was looking for part time jobs as an 18 year old fresher, I obstinately had no time for just any old job.  I wanted to do something I was at least mildly interested in, found it, pestered and pestered and eventually got a job tearing tickets in a theatre.  4 years including 15 months of a full time job later, I’ve had the time of my life :)
  3. Be curious, be persistent, be confident, be excited… not because it will get you far in life (though it probably will) but because it makes every experience you have so, so much brighter.
  4. People, no matter what they want out of life, are incredible…  I tend to get so ahead of myself;  in this job I have moments where I’ve had the chance to slow down and really understand people.  And the most beautiful thing I’ve found is how people can want incredibly different things from their lives and yet deep down it’s all just the same desire to be… content I guess? Something like that :) To be whatever they want to be.
  5. People are rarely, deep down, driven by money.  Things money represents perhaps, but rarely money.  Most people are better than that (!!) even if it is only deep down.
  6. A head on your shoulders is A MILLION times more valuable than a grade, a degree, anything measured by a fixed system created by a fixed group of people.  If those things help give you that head, great; if not, you are screwed. (Generally).
  7. There is some serious crap out there in the art world, but there are also some of  the most magical, inspiring, awakening little moments, lines, stagings… moments that take your breath away and can change you forever.  This is why ‘the arts’ and ‘culture’ matter.  Because amongst all the crap, are the little inspirations that make you see the world in that beautiful light that makes this life worth living.
  8. Finally… I learnt that being lost and confused and embarrassed and sad and frustrated and exasperated is all completely and totally and utterly worth it as long as you play on through all that… because eventually you start finding your feet and making things happen and finding your way.
I do believe that the harder you work the luckier you get.  I also want to acknowledge that the above is all just in my limited experience; none of it do I believe to be fact.  That said I hope as many people as possible can find their way like I did (and am still doing), and I know that it isn’t always easy, which is why I will spend the rest of my life helping as many people as possible to find their own way.
M xx
IMG_2229webedit

What you’re made of.

Oh I miss miss MISS writing!!  Oh it is horrifically cliche but life has just been insane since summer. I know that’s a good thing, but reading over my last through posts, I just remembered how much I LOVE reflecting on it sometimes :)

Uni is great and I think I finally know what I want to be doing for the forseeable future which is more exciting than I can possibly describe :) I won’t say it out loud yet though because I don’t want to jynx it. Let’s just say it fits in every possible way, lord knows why I didn’t believe in myself enough before to think of it, and when something excites you this much then you can’t help but trust it.

I moved in with the boy and the house is magical! It’s a luxury and challenge and a learning curve but it’s such a great experience. I have totally been bitten by the decorating bug.. just give me more houses to do up! Pictures to come hopefully!

Oh so much to say, so adamant not to create word vomit :p Shall get it going soon!

xx

Now or Never

So I wrote my 25 things when the fad was about, then realised they were actually a bit too honest for me to publish.  I just found them again and realised they give a pretty accurate snap shot of my life in the past few months and I suppose it would be a shame to just forget about them; so here they are, warts and all :s…

My 25

My brothers are the best, most interesting, genuine, fascinating, honest, purest, people I have EVER known.  I cannot describe how lucky I feel to be related to them.

I seem to make people feel awkward around me.  I don’t mean to, I’m still just an insecure girl who wants to be friends with everyone.

I usually have very low self-esteem.  I hide it VERY well.

I am and always have been an over-sharer, which probably explains my numerous blogs and love of social media.  It also means there’s little I can write here that isn’t already on here.

I am personally pro-abortion and politically pro-choice.

Since being in Paris I’ve realised how young I really am, and I feel that I’m discovering the world for the first time.  This is a good thing.

Most political/philosophical/religious issues interest me a lot, but I’m only just starting to form my own concrete ideas on them.

This year in Paris has changed me and made me grow up more than anything, ever before.

I don’t regret a single romantic mess up I’ve had because it has led to this boy and to how truly happy I am with him.

To quote A History of Violence, he is the best man I have ever known.

The relationships I have with my boy and with my brothers are the most (and possibly only) healthy relationships I have.

I have been obsessed with technology and digital media since my first computer when I was like 8.  I’ve only recently admitted to myself that maybe I should make a career out of this.

I want to be, and will be fluent in French; but purely for my own enjoyment, nothing more.

I tend to get very impatient with inefficient people, particularly when they call themselves professional.  This is an unfortunate character flaw to have when living in France.

I think Paris is as magical as everyone believes.  It’s not just a stereotype.  But that doesn’t make moving to another country any easier.  It’s not easy.

I have a lot of wishes/dreams/ideas for life, but my greatest wish has always been and actually still is to be a mother.

I want to learn Dutch.  I also want to explore Holland and the town where my Grandma grew up.  I feel it’s a part of me that I need to discover.

I am going to New York in September and I have never been more excited about anything in my life!

I think that growing up in lots of different groups of people (particularly private/state school) has made me quite understanding and accepting of different social and cultural groups; but it’s also made me realise how important it is to keep discovering and understanding more groups of people.

My current dinner guest 5 are: J.K. Rowling, Meghan McCain, Stephen Fry, Dakota Fanning, Helena Bonham Carter.  It annoys me that I can only choose 5 though.

I want to visit as many big cities and as many little towns and as many striking landscapes as I possibly can, but I’m pretty sure I always want my home to be in England.

I really want to do an MA.  Not for any particular reason.  Just because it looks fun.

The excitement I feel when I realise there is a new episode of Brothers and Sisters (like just now) is almost as much as my New York excitement..

On my 16th birthday my friends all told me to make a wish on my candles and I couldn’t think of a single thing, because I had everything I ever wanted.

The boy says I make him explode with happiness whenever he thinks about me… so there’s fascinating fact number 25; I can make people explode… 😉

x21x

On the day of my 16th birthday, my friends had a surprise gathering for me at one of their houses.  They brought out a cake and, as is usual, they told me to make a wish.

An odd, but pure realisation came over me.  I had nothing to wish for.  Literally nothing.  I had everything I wanted and needed.  I was content.  I had everything to live for.

All my life, I have been and still am incredibly lucky.  As we get older, we realise that solving our own problems is only the start.  There are millions of things I have left to discover or to change.  I will try as hard as I can to make my life and the lives of others as good as possible.

I am 21 tomorrow :) I have had the best childhood and teenagehood I could wish for.  I feel it slipping away all the time.  Sometimes I want to forget the future and cry the bittersweet tears of naivity forever.  But I know there is too much out there.  The only thing that scares me more than loosing what has been, is the possibility of loosing all the things that may be.

To take a quote from a rather innocent but accurate film…

Norah: Are you sad that we missed it?
Nick: We didn’t miss it. This IS it.
— Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Maya xx