Heading To The Aisle – Where Do I Start?

You might have read that I’m getting married. Yep, this girl is heading down the aisle after nearly 11 years of the boy putting up with me – yippie! So, I thought that I might start blogging about the whole thing, I’ve always written about all aspects of my life and this is one I’ve been getting quite excited about.

I wrote a little while ago about how I really felt after I got engaged I’m pleased to say that I’m now feeling a lot less overwhelmed and starting to enjoy planning the wedding. That doesn’t mean I have any idea what I’m doing when it comes to planning. There is so much to think about that I hadn’t even considered.

Now, we’re not planning on blowing all of our money on the wedding. I’ve said from the beginning I want a marriage not just a wedding. So I’m not inviting everyone, I’m not spending thousands on a dress. This is going to be a wonderful day, but it is one day of our lives.

So, I’ve finally started to look at wedding venues, I think I’ve found my dress and have chosen my bridesmaids (more on that in another blog). Now I’ve gotten over being overwhelmed I’m starting to get excited about things and make plans.

I have to point out, this isn’t going to become a wedding blog – it’s definitely not my thing but I’m looking forward to sharing bits and pieces that I’m really excited about but not so much the different variants of cream bows.

And that’s where we’re at right now, I’m going to be writing more about what it’s really like to be planning a wedding the laughs, the frustrations and the excitement. It’s going to be a fun ride!

The Wellcome Book Prize 2019 – Mind On Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning

The Wellcome Book Prize is almost here and I’ve been lucky enough to work with the team on another fantastic book in the short list. I received a copy of Mind On Fire in exchange for this blog and my honest opinions.

I’ve really enjoyed working with the Wellcome Book Prize in the past because it has such a diverse long list, it really shows a broad scope of what it means to be human. Here’s a peak at the 2019 short list. Now, on with my thoughts.

Mind on Fire recounts Fanning’s own experience of mental illness, the good, the bad and the ugly. Through the pages of this novel you are transported to his side and at first it can be a little hard to understand – particularly as the book opens with a manic episode. I think that could throw some people off but I would say to work through it because it is a worthwhile read.

Fanning goes through a lot in these pages, from his initial breakdown, hospitalisations, homelessness, his travels and attempts to still be creative despite his mental illness. It is a difficult read, you want to reach through and help. You want to make a change so that people with a mental illness who are struggling.

This also shows what mental illness can do to the relationships of those around them. The breakdown of Fanning’s relationships with his father and sister were incredibly truthful – I can’t imagine this was an easy book to write.

I gave this book I 4 stars. An important an interesting read but I can appreciate that for some it could be quite hard to get into. This is incredibly raw and hits home what life with a mental illness can be like.

Thank you to the Wellcome Book Prize, the author and publisher for this opportunity.

Book Review: What Would The Spice Girls Do – Lauren Bravo

I’ll tell you what I want what I really, really want. This book, although I didn’t know what before I bought it, but that is why this review is here so you know from the off. Ok, maybe not my most eloquent intro but I was SO excited by this book.

If you were a 90’s kid you will know the Spice Girls were everything. Hit after hit, I idolised them and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I didn’t know quite how much I would enjoy it until I finished it on a trip to London and listened to all the songs as loud as my headphones would go (sorry fellow travellers but you needed to spice up your life.

A collection of personal memories, those of fellow Spice Girls fans and looking at the cultural history of five women who wouldn’t take no for an answer and how they changed our lives. Additionally, Bravo considers modern problems through their eyes and ask what would they do? Hello new motto for life!

This book is incredibly well written, of course it is fun but it’s also very informative. Bravo considers what the Spice Girls were up against for the time, how they broke boundaries and more. The were, an always should be considered groundbreaking in the music industry.

What I found really interesting though, and this might just be the marketing geek in me, was looking at their choices from a marketing perspective. Bravo pointed something out I hadn’t considered that they made the Spice Girls merch something everyone could enjoy. From Spice crisps to a Spice Cam no matter your budget you could enjoy it.

I was a Spice Girls collector, long after the split I was picking up everyone else’s memorabilia at car boot sales to add to my own…it now live at my Mum and Dads. This book brought back the joy I felt for my entire childhood. I was born in 1994, when I was 2 years old I bopped to Wannabe, at 3 I had my own Spice Girl oufits, I had to start school with bunches like Baby Spice. And then, the holy grail, my Mum got us tickets to see them live at Earls Court in December 1999 – minus Geri, although I made up for that in 2007.

I’ve been recommending this to anyone and everyone who I know is a Spice Girls fan, of course I gave it 5 stars. This is a small but mighty book and while I listened to the audiobook, I now need to get my own copy of the actual hardback and proudly display it on my shelves. If you loved the Spice Girls this is for you. Trust me, you won’t forget it.

And now I leave you with the Spice classic that started it all.

How I’ve Evolved As A Blogger

Ah blogging, something we all love – well I’d assume so, seeing as you’re reading one! As I write this I’m struggling with blogger block, I’ve got over 100 ideas in drafts but can I finish one I’m happy with? If you’re reading this then clearly I can.

I’ve been blogging on this site for almost 6 years, originally starting it just before I went to uni because I wanted to write about what it was really like to be a student, rather than just a generic guide. Comparing my blog then to what it is now is odd. I’ve grown as a person, but so has my blog.

I don’t post every day

When I went to uni I wanted to write on my blog every single day. It had a kind of diary element too I guess. The longer I’ve been writing the more emphasis I put on quality, not quantity. Each week I try to post 1 book review and 1 other post. I don’t put any more pressure on myself than that.

Of course, if there is something in the news or something that’s caught my eye that’s time sensitive I write about it. Personally, I think my blog is better for it.

I learnt about images – and where to get free ones!

When I first started I knew I wanted to write, that was it. I had a shiny camera and I’d try and add pictures when I could or I’d just find some on Google. I didn’t know about sites like Canva where I could create my own. I had no idea about image copyright – now it’s something I do and make sure that I only use images I have permission to use.

Everything about blogging has been a learning curve and I’ve gained so many skills from working on my little corner of the internet.

My writing is better

Every year I write the equivalent of a book on here (let’s hope I can sit down and write an actual book at some point too!) over 6 years that is a lot of writing. I can see such a positive change in my writing and hopefully in another 6 years it will have improved even more.

My opinion is valid (to some people at least!)

It’s crazy that I get asked to read and review books. I’ve been sent some absolutely incredible reads, my NetGalley is fit to burst – I couldn’t have imagined that people would care about my opinion on anything, let alone books.

I definitely feel like I’ve evolved for the better and while I might have a few slumps a year, and I do, it’s a part of me now. So, I’m curious how have your blogs evolved?

Book Review: Pilu of the Woods – Mai K. Nguyen

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

This is one of the sweetest and most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read. Initially drawn to the art this gave so much more, including lyrical prose. Ultimately this is a story of family, friendship and dealing with grief. While Willow and Pilu come from different worlds, they are such a sweet pair and I can’t say no to a doggie sidekick!

The art style itself is unique and while it will appeal to a younger reader as a woman in her mid-twenties I was enchanted by the illustration. Additionally, the use of colour to show the woods felt real to me. I read this at a point where I needed something to fall into and escape – something I was easily able to do.

I will warn you going in that you might get a little emotional reading. I wanted to reach in and give Willow the biggest hug. The way that Nguyen has shown emotion and the complicated feelings that are being experienced from the perspective of a child is nothing short of incredible.

It’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This really touched my heart, it’s not a complicated story, however, it can speak volumes. I really hope that there is a follow-up because I can see the relationship and story really growing and evolving. This is a wonderful book, I can’t stress enough how much I adore it.

A huge thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for giving me a chance to read this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

10 Things I’ve Learnt As A Freelancer (So Far)

Last year when I went Freelance and I still stand by that it was one of the best decisions of my life. That said I’ve learnt a lot in a short space of time and why not share it with you all?

If You Want Something, Go And Get It.

Opportunities aren’t handed to me, if I want to do something I have to chase it. Whether that’s by going to networking events, connecting with people I don’t know on Linkedin, sending a tonne of emails to people who have no idea who I am, and most of the time ignore them. It’s all part of getting where you want to be.

You Have To Think Positive

I learned pretty early on that if spend all your time worrying things will fail, they normally will. So, I normally throw myself into things and believe they will work out – doing everything to make that happen.

I have a motivation wall next to my desk and you’ll regularly see me sharing positive posts on Instagram (@chloemetz_ if you want to follow!). Positivity isn’t always easy and there are days when all I want to do is lie in my bed and hide, but, being negative won’t get you where you want to be.

People Will Project Their Fears On To You

I had a lot of people thinking I was insane for going freelance. That I hadn’t thought it through, that I was too young, etc. Later on, after speaking to other freelancers, I realised a lot of people were projecting their fears on to me. They couldn’t imagine themselves doing it, so they didn’t get me wanting to.

You know what’s right for you, so just let it go over your head. Mostly, people say this kind of thing because they care, although you will also encounter people who are just arseholes.

You Need To Get Educated About Your Money

I’ve always been very conscious about money, but this isn’t the way for everyone. When I was working as a full-time employee I knew exactly what I made in a week, a month and how much I paid into taxes. I initially used this as a basis for what I needed to earn as a bare minimum.

That said, I’m not an expert. I’ve had to spend a lot of time looking at taxes and making sure I’m putting enough away to cover them. I also need to look into a self-employed pension – something I’ve been putting off…oops. But if you do splurge a little one month? That’s ok! I’m guilty of this, nobody is perfect.

What’s The Worst That Can Happen Is The Question To Ask Yourself

When I email a business or try to connect with someone on LinkedIn I have to think – what’s the worst that can happen? The worst they can say is no and then what have you lost? Nothing.

Connecting With Others Can Get You Work

For some reason there’s this idea that other people in the same industry are your competition. Actually, connecting with others can be great for work opportunities as well as being great to discuss your industry with people who get it.

Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out, That’s Ok

I’ve had things not work out with clients. There are so many reasons this could happen – they don’t have the budget anymore, you realise that you don’t work well together and everything is a struggle and sometimes they’re just short term.

It’s part and parcel of being a freelancer. Sometimes you’ll make a mistake or the situation changes. These things can be super scary and cause a lot of anxiety. Know that it’s ok to have a bit of a freak-out or be anxious about how things are going to resolve, it’s human.

At Some Point You Will Freak Out – That’s Normal

That feeling of ‘what the hell am I doing, I can’t do this’ is felt by every single freelancer. If they say that they have never felt this way then they are lying. We all do to varying degrees.

Of course, you’re going to freak-out! Sometimes it looks so much easier to just go get a job and know you have the stability, the routine etc. That’s fine, BUT, don’t make any rash decisions. Take a deep breath, have a cup of tea and sleep on it.

No One Knows What They’re Doing

Not even the people who have multi million pound businesses actually know what they’re doing. They might say they do but they’re almost certainly lying. Plus, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for others too.

You do you.

Know Your Worth

It’s hard in the beginning to know exactly what you should be charging. There’s so many different factors. When I started out I literally googled what other people were charging as a daily rate and went from there.

You’ll probably find in the beginning you’re kind of making it up as you go along but as time goes on you get more confident, know what you can offer and what you should charge. It takes time.

Is there anything fellow freelancers would add, or maybe you have questions. Let me know in the comments below!

March 2019 Favourites

It’s time for my favourites agaaaaain! I’ll admit I was unsure about doing one for this month as life has been SUPER quiet. I haven’t been travelling into London much so I’ve mostly been a homebody.

Books

Boooooks, wonderful booooks. I’ll have a full post of what I read in March coming up for you guys but I had an even split of fiction and non-fiction in my favourites this month.

I picked up Internment by Samira Ahmed after loving her debut and this got a 4.5 star rating from me. A story set in a not too distant future where Muslims are sent to Internment camps – something I’m scared could happen in this current climate.

Next up was That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger another new release. This focuses on the lives of school shooting survivors and what really happened on that day, rather than what was reported. This also got 4.5 stars from me, a really interesting read.

I was sent a copy of Mind On Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning, a memoir about the author’s life with mental illness, a 4 star read from me. This was a tough but incredibly well written book and I’m so excited that it’s on the Wellcome Prize shortlist for 2019! Full review to come.

And finally I was given an early release copy of Voices of Powerful Women by Zoe Sallis. This is a collection of big questions put to incredible women and although I didn’t know all of them it was a refreshing read.

Movies

Ummm, hello new favourite superhero with a kick ass soundtrack. I love Captain Marvel and really wish that I’d had her growing up. This film has proven that there is a place for female superheroes so umm, Marvel can we get that Black Widow and Scarlet Witch movie going? Thanks.

Gigs

I went to 2 amazing gigs in March with some of my favourite people. First up, George Ezra with my sister and I can honestly say he is brilliant live and was well worth the wait. This was my sister’s Christmas present from me, I always try and get her a gig ticket/something to look forward to.

I also went to see Dream State. Ali’s a fan and got me into them, so he got us tickets to a local show, these guys are also going to be playing Reading & Leeds this year. Definitely one to watch.

Wompa

And three became four. Yep we got our fourth hamster baby this month, I spotted her and thought no, we have enough. Then I called Ali…who told me to go get her, within 5 minutes I was back in the shop. She’s called Wompa, she’s very inquisitive and right now likes to bite things, including me.

General Life

Ok guys, not to brag or anything but I went out TWICE this month. I know, who is this party girl? I kid, I kid. A night of drinking for funsies and a birthday celebration but, you know a girl can’t go too wild.

I also got Ali home from tour and he got me this AWESOME Harry Potter jacket (an engagement ring one month and a jacket the next – definitely picked a winner there). And finally, I just wanted to share with you all this dress that my Mum got me because I felt hella cute.