Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Success: How to Achieve it and Keep it

I have a new philosophy on success. I've applied this philosophy to my freelance career but it works in every area of life. You might say that I've had an epiphany. A revelation, in fact. And had I had this revelation sooner, and recognised this law of success at work in my own life, then maybe I would be somewhere very, very different right now.

My discovery is the law of Just. One. Thing.

Life is made up of an accumulation of One Things. Your success is dependent on you doing Just One Thing. And if you do enough One Things, and you do them well, then probability dictates that some of them will succeed and change will occur.

For years I dreamed of being a freelance writer. For years I poured all my time, talents and efforts into working for somebody else, wishing I could just work for myself, create my own destiny, build my own success rather than the success of a corporation which sees me as valuable but replaceable.

I never had the guts to go freelance. I didn't have the confidence, I didn't see the value in my own skills or experience and I definitely didn't have the time or the financial security to quit my day job.

However, when I had my baby girl, circumstances and finance finally dictated that it made more sense for me to have a go at freelancing than get a new job which would fit around our new family. So this year I took the plunge into building a freelance career.

I remember my first day. I took Ruby to my mum's house and sat up in my parent's bedroom, drafting out query emails while Mum looked after Ruby downstairs. I wasn't expecting a response. I was prepared for there to be a period of time before I was commissioned. A period of building, researching, introducing, querying. It would be a while before I saw the fruits of my labour.

Less than 24 hours later, I had a proofreading commission with a major book publisher.

You would think that this initial success spurred me on to generate more work. It didn't. I completed this commission successfully, I got paid, I received good feedback. Then I stopped.

Why?

Because it had been too easy. I convinced myself that never again would I be able to get a commission in that fashion and somehow that stopped me from trying.

Then came the epiphany.

I had sent one email. I had one response. Which resulted in one job and generated one paycheck.

Just one!

It just takes One thing. And an accumulation of Ones will create a whole.

Some Ones won't generate results. But if you do enough Ones, then probability dictates that some of them will generate success. And those successes will hopefully generate more success in the form of repeat business.

It only takes One thing.

If I could repeat this pattern, then surely I would generate more work. And since then, that is what has happened. I jumped back on the horse and every day that I have set aside for queries has resulted in a job. From now on, I am committed to doing Just One Thing every day to further my freelance career. Whether that be sending an email, writing a blog post, generating ideas or researching an article.

And what I am terming The Law of One can translate into every area of life. Whatever your goal - whether that be writing, exercising, job-hunting or knitting - just do One thing each day and over the course of time, you'll see success.

What One Thing can you do today to generate success in your life?
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Monday, 28 October 2013

6 Breastfeeding Myths Busted

Breastfeeding. We've been doing it for centuries. The survival of the human race has depended on it since the beginning of time. Whether you've done it, plan on doing it, chosen not to do it, or just observed other people doing it, it seems that everyone has an opinion or a snippet of advice when it comes to feeding your baby.

We're now over six months into our breastfeeding journey. This by no means makes me an expert on the science behind it, but generally it's been a good experience and my baby has survived and thrived! It has, however, shocked me how much of people's (including my GP's) well-meaning advice is rooted in mis-information, twisted logic or general old-wives tales.

So, in a bid to set the record straight and to encourage you in your breastfeeding journey, I thought I would address some common misconceptions here.

1. "You're feeding her again?!"
Yes. I am. Because she needs it. 

It's common in the early days, or even later on during a growth spurt, for baby to feed for long periods of time and often. Sometimes it felt like all we did was breastfeed! But that's good. Your baby grows an awful lot in those first few weeks and she needs food. Lots of food.

2. "She's not hungry. You've only just fed her. She's got you wrapped round her little finger!"
I do not believe that a two week old baby has the mental capacity to manipulate you into giving her a comfort feed. If she's crying and all her other needs are met, feed her. It's not necessarily always because she's hungry. Your body produces milk according to how much your baby feeds. It responds to the suckling action, so even if you've only just fed her, it might be that she's getting your body ready to produce more milk. 

I also don't believe that there's anything wrong with comfort feeding (I know many would disagree). I've never deprived Ruby of a feed when she wants it - whether it's because she's hungry, tired, upset or sick. She's grown into a very confident, content baby who is happy to be passed round other people but who also knows that all of her needs will always be met. It also makes for a happy mum because her baby is very happy and healthy and doesn't cry.

3. "You should feed for 10 minutes on one side and 10 minutes on the other to avoid being lopsided."
No. The first milk that your baby gets from the breast is known as the fore milk. It isn't as high in fat content as the later hind milk. It could be considered to be a nice drink or starter before the main course. And who wants to go through life always eating starters and skipping the main course? No one! When you breastfeed, empty the breast before switching sides. This ensures that baby gets to the hind milk and has a nice, big, calorific meal.

4. "She's being sick a lot. She obviously doesn't need all the feeds you're giving her."
Babies' are sick sometimes. It's just reflux. Their digestive system is still developing, they're learning how to digest food. It's not a reason to withhold feeds. 

5. "Express milk so that you know how much baby is getting"
This was one from the GP. Ruby's weight gain has always been slow (but steady) so to be cautious the health visitor told me to visit the GP. Her advice was flawed. 

I told her that despite feeding every 2-3 hours for up to an hour that Ruby wasn't gaining weight as we would like. She told me that obviously the breastfeeding wasn't effective so I should give Ruby solely expressed milk from then on because at least I would know how much she was getting.

First of all, if your baby is having plenty of wet nappies and is satisfied after each feed (Ruby regularly falls asleep with milk dribbling down her face) and if, once you're well practiced, it's not a painful experience, then rest assured you are feeding effectively.

Secondly, feeding baby solely expressed milk will only tell you that at each feed she's drinking 4oz. It won't tell you how much your baby actually wants. It won't tell you how much your body is producing. And even with the best pump that money can buy, it might end up affecting your milk supply because no pump can perfectly mimic the action of a suckling baby.

It's worth mentioning that after my appointment I ignored this GP's advice before feeding it back to the health visitor who laughed at the absurdity of it. 

6. "She's three months old now, she should be feeding four hourly."
Breastfed babies will often settle into a four hourly routine when they're ready to. But they're not born with an internal clock that tells them when it's time to feed. They cry when they're hungry, I'm pretty sure they haven't checked the time! 

Yes, it's nice when they're in routine and they can then fit in around our personal schedules. If they're a bit older and you're trying to stretch out the feeds then check all other options - are they bored? Can they be distracted with something else for a while? Do they just want a change of scenery, a nap or a walk? If yes, great. If no, feed them! There's a reason why mothers produce milk - because it's in constant supply! It's there on demand so babies will demand it and expect to be given it - whether it fits into your routine or not.

***

So there you have it, six myths that I was presented with. Busted.

At the end of the day, I love breastfeeding. I haven't got any plans to stop at the moment. I know that there are many reasons to formula feed and for some people it's a personal choice, and all power to you! Whatever works! 

However, I absolutely believe in breastfeeding and with a family history of eczema, asthma and allergies I am committed to breastfeeding to prevent Ruby from suffering the same. I do think that every mum should be supported in breastfeeding if that's what they wish to do and myths like these only cause stress and worry to a first-time mum. If there's one piece of advice I could give to first time breastfeeders it would be this:
  • You are the mum. You know what your baby needs. Trust your instincts.
  • You can never over feed your baby and no harm will come to him. When he's full, he'll stop.
  • In those early days when you're both learning how to do it, when your nipples are cracked and bleeding, when you're dreading it because it's so painful, when you're sobbing through the feed and everything within you wants to give up, push through! It doesn't last forever, it's so short lived in the grand scheme of things and it will get easier. You'll be glad you did it and when you stop it will be your choice.
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Friday, 25 October 2013

Follow Friday: Two Craft Blogs You Simply Must Read

I love craft blogs.

Sometimes, however, it seems that craft blogs don't receive the standing they deserve in the blogging world. So when two of my good, real life, friends launched their own crafty corners of cyber space I was very excited! Not just because it means that craft blogging has infiltrated my Real Life and become something that Real People do... but also because I know these girls, and I know these blogs are going to be spectactular!

So without further ado... let me introduce you to my friends...

Made Peachy


Made Peachy is written by my old colleague / editor / friend, Laura. It's titled The Home of Daily Handmade Inspiration, and it doesn't disappoint!

But of course it wouldn't! Laura is a stitchy, knitty extraordinaire! I first met her when she was Deputy Editor of Let's Knit. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have a clue what amigurumi was and she was the first person I ever saw using DPNs (which at the time, as a g-stitch scarf knitter, seemed incredibly clever!).

I worked under her when she was Editor of Sew magazine, and remember her mostly sprawled on the office floor checking dress patterns whilst I piled copy on her desk for her to check in her 'spare' time. (Those were the days...).

Since then she's excitingly gone freelance, has written her own Sewing Manual, has another DIY wedding book in the pipeline and has now turned her hand to sharing her all round amazingness with the interweb.

And we're not just talking bog-standard inspiration, there's free patterns, downloads, quick makes, interviews, reviews, competitions and giveaways. Not to mention beautiful, professional photography and writing. In fact, this is more online magazine than blog, and it acts like it, with a post of loveliness every single day, like clockwork.

If you read one craft blog, make it Made Peachy (and as a thank you to me for letting you in on it, read this one too please!). On my list of things to make, is this lovely, autumnal cowel a la Laura, might have to be for next winter at this rate though!


Visit www.madepeachy.com, follow Laura on twitter +Laura Strutt and buy her book!

Dottie Does Craft



Last year the whirlwind of creativity that is Lucy Hopping started working in my office as a children's craft product developer. But that wasn't where her passion lay, and as she crocheted, stitched and knitted her way through each lunch hour, it quickly came to light that she was actually in the middle of writing a craft book! And by happy coincidence, her co-author and good friend was a designer I had worked with in my previous job (whether she would have been aware of this, I don't know!).

That book was handmade hit of the summer, Handmade Glamping by Charlotte Liddle and Lucy Hopping. And seeing as that collaboration worked so well, they've roped in another crafty friend, Michelle, and recently launched Dotty Does - a blog about their crafty, handmade exploits. 

It's early days and so far they've been busying themselves at various festivals and shows, but I'm sure that this blog will develop into a fabulous source of crafty inspiration so keep it bookmarked and check back often!

Visit www.dottydoescraft.wordpress.com, follow them on Twitter @DottyDoesCraft and on Pinterest.
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Thursday, 24 October 2013

How Not to Work The Knitting & Stitching Show

Last week I had the exciting job of heading off to the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace! Hundreds of yarn and fabric shops under one beautiful roof. Money in the bank ripe for spending. Crafty friends to meet and greet. What more could you want?!

A PLAN would have been useful!

Let this be a lesson to all you crafty folks heading off to a huge show or fair.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail!

It was a fantastic day out, don't get me wrong. But did I buy anything of note? No. I met some of my loveliest, craftiest friends. I had lengthy catch ups with people who I haven't seen in months, if not years. But in all honesty, I was far too reserved with the ol' bank card!

Here's the thing. I have a lot of craft stuff. You don't have a career in craft publishing without accumulating a fair amount of soft-to-touch yarn, reams of fabric, pretty papercraft products and jars upon jars of buttons and beads. So these days, I try to only buy with purpose. Which was the problem. I arrived at the show with no purpose whatsoever. Since the birth of Bubba, it's been so long since I had time to do any proper crafts that all I could think as I browsed the stalls was 'You'll never use it'. Or 'Order it online when you think you'll actually use it.'

So, in a last ditch, desperate attempt at shopping, as all the stalls packed up at the end of the day, I panic bought three balls of cheap, chunky yarn (hence the lack of amazing yarn pictures). In the hope, that one day, they might be cast onto some needles and turned into an amazing pair of mittens, or maybe a cowel.

Learn from my mistakes people - plan, plan and do more planning. Work out, pre-show, what you want to make and head directly for those products. Boring, I know. But otherwise you'll be like me and leave (almost) empty-handed or you'll spend a million pennies on a bunch of stuff that you'll never actually use!
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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Baby Diaries: 6 months

You're six months old! Half a year! Already?!

Where does the time go?!


You now weigh 12lb5oz. We finally managed to break the 12lb mark, it's taken you six months to put on a little over four pounds and when you think in these terms, it really does sound like slow progress! But you're perfect in every way so no-one's worried over it. You're just quite petite, that's all.

I'm still approached by strangers almost every day with lovely comments about your smile, how alert you are, how responsive, how beautiful. I know everyone loves all babies, but it's lovely to think that you bring so much joy to so many peoples' lives.

Just this week you have cut your first teeth, crawled forwards (you've been in reverse up to this point!) and started to pull yourself up onto furniture. It's amazing to see you concentrate so hard, working out your next movements and begin to understand that if you repeat certain actions you get certain results.


You seem to be growing up so fast. I know that before we know it we'll be celebrating your first birthday and then within a blink of an eye you'll be at school or leaving home! We're trying to treasure every moment.

This month you started to try different foods. We began with porridge, which you love, and moved onto purees at lunch time. Your favourite is pasta bolognese (you are your parents' daughter!). You were immediately very independent and wanting to feed yourself. You began by carefully holding the neck of the spoon, but this week just starting sliding your hand down the spoon and sucking the food off your hands! It's made for some very messy meal times!

Now that you're cutting teeth I'm thinking maybe our breastfeeding days are numbered. I thought that I was ok with that, but maybe I'm not.

When you're crawling you can sometimes look so tiny that it looks almost impossible that you should be doing these things! As if you're super advanced! It does, however, mean that we're having to start thinking a lot more about safety ~ it's incredible what small things can become hazardous when you have a baby on the move!  


This month we travelled to Norfolk so you could meet your Great Grandma & Grandpa for the first time! They very much enjoyed having you and it was lovely to watch Grandpa playing with you on his lap. You made him smile!

Daddy started a new job, and Mummy resigned from hers. We're now on an adventure which will see her becoming self employed and running her own business. I want you to grow up knowing that we worked really hard to provide for you and that ultimately, you can be anything you want to be, and that if you put your mind to something, it can be limitless. I hope I can model these values to you so that you grow up to be hard working and ambitious.

We went to your Chloe & Phoebe's first birthday party, and this week we're going to Sienna's. It's so lovely that you're getting to share these milestones together. I hope that that will continue well into the future!


We bought your first shoes, some cute pink high-tops. But you're more interested in eating them than wearing them!

You're sleeping much better in your cot now, although I'm beginning to wonder whether you'll ever sleep through the night! Let's just say it's a work in progress!

We're now starting to think about your first Christmas and have even bought you some presents (we're never that organised!). Here's hoping Santa will be kind this year!
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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Quick Make: Dry Wipe Memo Board


Everyone needs a sweet memo board in their house. Where else do you write reminders, shopping lists, messages or words of encouragement? I had an old picture frame that wasn't displaying anything in particular so I decided to turn it into a memo board.

1. Take one old picture frame.
2. Remove the back and insert some pretty patterned paper. If the pattern is quite busy, you may like to insert a piece of plain card so that your memos show up against the background.
3. Replace the back.
4. Use a dry wipe marker pen to create reminders, messages and lists.

Ours hangs by the front door. I like to write my favourite Bible verses on there so that when I leave the house I can remind myself of something encouraging. My verse at the moment is:

"Ask for anything in my [Jesus'] name... and I will do it!" 
~ John 14:14.

A great reminder that God is able to fulfill all of our needs and answer all of our prayers if we believe!
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Thursday, 3 October 2013

When God Tries to Tell You Something ~ Part 2

Last week we went to a party. There were lots of people there, most people we knew quite well. Others we have met on occasion and really hit it off, but we've never quite managed to break into that particular social circle, as much as we like and get on with those particular people.

As we were walking back I found myself lamenting to my husband: I wish we could be friends with these people. They're fun. Decent. They're at exactly the same stage in life. We get on. It would just be so nice if we could get in with that crowd.

Now, don't get me wrong. We have friends. We like our friends. But since moving from London we don't have many friends our age. And we don't have many friends who have just had babies. I'm not by any means lonely. And I'm so busy half the time I have no clue how I would fit more friends in! But something within me was sad that we weren't a part of this particular crowd.

During this conversation, I did have to remind myself that I had bumped into a lovely girl from our antenatal class at a craft fair and that we were meeting for coffee the following day. So, you know, not all was lost. At least our babies were the same age.

I then thought of another girl from our antenatal class. I had bumped into her at our local chippie a couple of months earlier. We had swapped numbers but apart from the odd text, we hadn't quite managed to meet up.

I'll text her tonight, I thought. Maybe she can come for coffee tomorrow.

We turned the corner and crossed the road. And who should be leaving a house with her partner and baby? But that second girl! [We live in a reasonably big town. That wasn't her house either. The chances of this happening and us being there at that particular moment are practically nil].

She was so happy to see us. We chatted for a long while. She was going away the next day so couldn't come for coffee, but could we go and weigh our babies together next week?

As we walked away something whispered into my spirit. These are the friends I've placed in your life. Stop wishing for those other friendships. You're in the right place.

***

I blogged a few days ago about how God spoke to me through a series of events and helped me make a difficult decision. As I said then, I don't normally blog about my faith. But people often ask me how I know God is speaking to me, and these are just two recent examples which might serve to help me explain. I hope in some way it might encourage you or help you to understand the realities of faith.
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