Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A positive mindset towards going to work...

Following on from my last post, today I'm going to talk about my mindset towards going to work. Although the vast majority of the time I'm fine when I have got there, taken my coat off and made a brew, the prospect of a day or two at work gives me an anxious feeling right in the centre of my chest. The sensation is similar to the one I used to get when I was eight or nine and found saying goodbye to my mom at the school gates a torturous and anxiety-riddled experience. Last Summer, I worked much more regularly than I do currently - two or three days a week. This summer, I'm not so desperate for money, which is lovely, but it also means that when I do the odd day at work, I feel far less in the swing of things and I tend to work myself up unnecessarily. It's just silly, because nine times out of ten, work goes pretty well, and I feel confident and productive. Nevertheless, as a work day looms closer, the worried feeling is present, nudging the back of my mind. 

My boyfriend, Tom, has a great outlook on going to work. His positive mindset and dislike of moaning and laziness has made me appreciate how good I have it, and encouraged me to improve my feelings towards working. Tom has had many, many jobs, some better than others. These valuable experiences have given him the ability to compare previous jobs to his current one, and clearly see the advantages and positives of it. Tom is very popular and liked in his office, and I think his positive, friendly and upbeat mindset plays a big part in this. 

I find it very helpful to tell myself before a work day that: 
"I am a positive person"
"I am going to brighten my colleagues' day by being cheerful and optimistic"
and simply, "I will have a good day".
Work is a lot more enjoyable if I aim to be the friendly and chipper person in the office who cracks a few jokes and lightens the mood. It can be hard to stay positive if everyone around me is being negative and gloomy, but perhaps my sprightly mood will bring my colleagues out of their slump (that we all know is all too easy to fall into) and create a happier environment. 

A simple action that is beneficial for me is to text or ring Tom and my friends (who are also at work) during my dinner break. Knowing that my loved ones are also working and in the same boat helps me to get through the day, and realise how lucky I am to have a great deal of free time in the summer. Plus, a joke or two and a bit of lighthearted chitchat with my pals gives me a boost for the afternoon. 

Most people are at work through Monday to Friday, and to put it bluntly, many would rather not be! They'd prefer to be spending time with their children, making the most of the summer weather, or working on their blog. But ultimately, we've gotta work! If I want to get some goodies for my new university room, I better get working! If I want to expand my savings in order to improve my future, I gotta get my ass to work! But I do want to make the most of my working days and see them as days full of opportunity. I tend to write off work days as if they don't really exist, but they are a small chunk of my month, my year, my life... so I should make the most of them. 

I should note that my part time job right now is just a basic admin job that I've had during my teen years to earn a bit of cash... I hope that my future, real career will be one that I genuinely love and feel passionate about. 

I'm working on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and although there is a twinge of worry in my chest, I'm looking forward to having a catch up with my office pals and hopefully lightening their day by cracking a few jokes! Laughter is very necessary in my opinion! And on Friday, I will really appreciate having free time. My goal is to keep in mind that work days are days full of possibilities and opportunities too (no matter how little), and are a significant and affecting part of my life... so my mindset towards them is pretty important!


Sunday, 19 July 2015

The "Falmouth Mindset"

The air is clear and fresh, with a hint of seaweed, the people are bronzed by the sun and relaxed, the pace of life is slow and mindful, and the overall atmosphere is zen. This is the impression I always get of Falmouth. Yesterday, I returned from a four night break in the lovely seaside town with my friend, Laura. We had a great time relaxing on the beach and browsing the shops, and both of us noted the different mindset that seems to be present. 

I have always lived in a city. I was born and raised in Birmingham and now live in Manchester most of the time. Cities are fast, busy, living and breathing places where people hop from train to bus, shop to office and club to party. I love living in a city and feeling involved in a buzzing mass of human life. To city dwellers like Laura and me, a beachy, chilled out, bohemian town feels very different. People seem to be more laid back, teens appear to be less influenced or bothered by what's trendy at the moment, the beach is an accessible and inviting place offering fun and relaxation... the overall atmosphere comes across as being easy going and serene. 

When in Falmouth, I become influenced by this laid back environment and find myself donning pretty bracelets and anklets, lusting after hair braids and trotting around in flip flops after a day or two. Less aesthetically speaking, I feel inspired to quieten my whirring mind more, live in the moment, follow my passions, and generally live a more peaceful and happy life. Although I find myself feeling like this in Falmouth, ultimately, it's just a mindset and isn't glued to a certain place. Despite Birmingham and Manchester being busy, urban places with faster heart rates, there's no reason why the "Falmouth mindset" cannot be adopted in these environments. 

What's stopping me doing yoga by the lake in my local park, like they do on the beach in Falmouth? And who said I can't roam around town in flip flops and anklets? Although it's easy to blame the city for hindering my quest for a more balanced and satisfying lifestyle, I'm sure that I can achieve it by altering my mindset. Like I said, I do love city living and I enjoy visiting places that contrast to where I live and feeling inspired on my return. I don't think life in a more isolated place would suit me... but it's great to visit and take something from the contrasting pace of life. 

I'm excited to work at being a more mindful, relaxed and motivated individual in my everyday life - a lot of it is just down to mindset after all, and I can take my mindset with me wherever I go. 


Monday, 13 July 2015

Rainy Day Cosiness

This morning I woke up to the sound to rain. Whereas this may fill many of you will annoyance, it gave me a cosy feeling of familiarity and happiness. I do love sunny weather, and a summer full of downpours disappoints me greatly. However, after a long spell of dry weather, I begin to miss the gentle (or sometimes quite aggressive!) pitter-patter of raindrops, gloomy light and sound of cars revving into puddles. 

It's so cosy to wake up in a duvet cocoon, knowing that the rain clouds outside have well and truly opened, and that pulling back the curtains would reveal an overcast sky rather than a blindingly bright blue one. 

When the weather is sunny and warm, I feel like I have to spend as much time as possible outside. In England, we can never been sure if a hot day is our last for ages! I feel guilty for retreating indoors to read some blogs or flop on the sofa with a cup of tea. In my mind, a rainy day justifies indulging in simple home comforts... reading whilst curled up in a blanket, watching an old black and white film (and giggling at the old fashioned, posh accents and archaic humour), or whipping up some treats in the kitchen. 

My cats tend to stay indoors more when it's raining, meaning I get their company more than I normally would... and I bloody love cat cuddles. Gem has spent most of the day snoozing on a rough scrap of old carpet meant for the bin... why do cats choose such odd beds?! And Tabs is currently sat on the table I'm working at, probably in the hope that I'll get up and feed her, but it's nice to have her company nonetheless. 

While the garden gets a good drink, my cats and I are enjoying a snug, indoors day under a cloudy sky. I'm crossing my fingers that sunny weather is on its way, but for now, I'm content to make the most of a rainy day or two. 


Saturday, 11 July 2015

A few words on finding my own style...

Do you follow the trends or stick to a more classic style? Or do you just wear what you love? I adore clothes and would much rather spend my money on a new frock than a fresh mascara. I wouldn't say I'm a huge trends sheep, and I would never wear something that I dislike, just because it's the hot garment of the moment. Having said that, before heading off to university last year, I definitely did feel the need to don a few trendy items each season. 

Since going away to university, I feel that I have found my personal style. I put it down to not being in the gossipy environment of high school anymore, becoming more of an actual adult, and moving to a city where people are on the whole, more diverse and expressive when it comes to fashion... sorry Birmingham, I still love you too!

I look back on outfits that I willingly wore not that many moons ago and cringe unbearably at my ensembles...
"How did I feel comfortable in that?!"
"What on earth was I thinking?!"
"Never again."
These exclamations buzz around my head when I  cast my mind back to my old style. It's amazing how quickly personal tastes can change, and it's amazing how swiftly trends go out of fashion. 

Finding my personal style has taken many years, and it's totally different to what I favoured to wear a couple of years back. Although it can be fun to follow what's hot right now and buy into the current fashions, I have found that doing so often results in cringe-worthy memories. For me, sticking to classic styles and what I now feel comfortable and myself in, regardless of if it's currently on the cat walk, is best... and certainly reduces my feelings of fashion regret! 


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Overlooking perfectionism and going with the flow...

I've been trying to write this post all day. I got up early with the aim of getting lots of writing done, and yet it's now almost nine in the evening and I'm only just putting pen to paper. I can't even really say that I've been trying to write since this morning, my notebook has been closed until now, but I have wanted to get my creative juices flowing and be productive since the early hours. Wanting isn't even though, I have to actually do

Why is it that sometimes I lack so much motivation to do the things that I long to achieve? I love writing, and hope it to be heavily involved in my future career, but I often find myself putting it off. Although I'm making the reason sound all mysterious and ambiguous, it's not at all. I can put my procrastination down to a fear of failure. Like many of us, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I tend to put huge pressure on myself when it comes to things I care about a great deal. 

It took me a long time to start this blog last month. I spent a good couple of weeks planning and planning a meaty blog post on my move from Birmingham to Manchester. I wanted it to be an impressive, very well written, "perfect" post, and this pressure caused me to put off writing it as I was scared. I thought about it way too much, and when I finally did try to get some words out, it didn't sound natural or like my voice at all. Eventually, I scrapped the post (for now), and my first entry on Polly Cat Contemplates ended up being one I wrote quickly and spontaneously in the middle of the night. 

Planning tasks in huge detail, rather than getting down and doing them is just another form of procrastination. It's like that old cliche of spending an age making a pretty, colour coded revision timetable to fool yourself into thinking you're being productive. Although a spot of planning is helpful, I often find that when I write in a more relaxed, spontaneous mind frame, I get better results and feel more motivated. 

Fear of failure can be very debilitating and has the power to stop you from taking the first step in the direction of where you want to be. I'm writing this post with a cup of tea, a YouTube video playing in the background, and I'm wearing my comfy leggings and hoody. I only wrote a couple of quick bullet points as a guideline, rather than an extensive and intimidating plan. I adore writing and feel that it comes naturally to me. But the natural flow is at its best when I overlook my perfectionism... and just go with it. 


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Social Media and Living in the Moment

"Better tweet about going to the pub and let people know I have  social life!"
"That wedding on Saturday will be a good place for some cute boyf/girlf photos!"
"We've arrived! Let's all check in on Facebook so everyone knows!"

Does this sound like you? Maybe these aren't conscious thoughts, but we live in a day and age where many of us plaster our social lives all over the internet. Occasionally, I'm guilty of this... as the majority of my generation are. And although my mom may laugh and scoff at our oversharing, it's become normal and expected for us. 

My boyfriend and I do not often inform social networks of our activities together, despite frequenting pubs and bars most weekends. We don't feel the need to tell our friends via the internet that we are spending time together- we don't have to validate our activities by putting them on Facebook. 

However, many people do seem to feel the need for this online, social validation. They believe that if they don't share a snap of their beautifully presented meal on Instagram, they didn't really eat it, or if they don't check into the place-to-be bar of the moment of Facebook, there isn't much point in going. Many people live and validate their lives on the internet instead of living in the moment and really experiencing real life. 

At a David Byrne concert I went to a couple of years ago, Byrne touched upon this subject. He encouraged his audience to take a few photographs or videos of the performance if they so wished, but reminded them not to watch the gig through the screen. Why watch the concert through the small screen of your phone when you could view it happening before your very eyes, in the same moment and place as you stand? My generation lives life "through the screen", often not fully engaging in what they are experiencing because they are too busy tweeting about it. 

I hope I don't sound harsh. I too have plenty of social networking accounts and play my part in the social media scene. Sharing your photos and activities is a quick way to keep up with your family and friends, but in some way, it does affect how we experience life. 

Mindfulness is about seriously taking in and living in the moment. An individual practicing mindfulness might, for example, choose not to listen to music whilst doing their makeup, because they're purely focusing on doing their makeup. In return, when listening to music, they would simple sit, listen and appreciate. Mindfulness is a kind of stress relieving therapy for many, helping to quieten constantly whirring brains. Although I've gone off on a bit of a tangent, I think the principles of mindfulness connect with my views of online sharing. Rewind to the David Byrne concert, a man to my left spent the entire evening recording the performance on his iPad. Rather than immersing himself in the music and experiencing the unique magic of a great gig, he was busy worrying about whether he was getting all of David's impressive white barnet in frame. 

My mom has just reminded me that this form of recording our lives is not exclusive to the era of social networking, telling me that when video cameras first came into popularity, holidaymakers spent their break behind the camera. They recorded the surroundings to impress their family on their return, rather than truly living and experiencing the holiday for themselves.

It's important to remember that people only share what they choose to online. It's easy to believe that your favourite vlogger lives a constantly fun, glamorous and friend-filled life, packed out with colourful events and endless meals in trendy bistros. But no doubt they have boring days in between where they do their washing, buy loo roll and spend too long in their pyjamas watching trashy TV. They just don't broadcast these normal activities quite so enthusiastically. Your online image can become a source of much stress. It's so easy to slip into the mistake of comparing yourself to those who seem to live the perfect (online) lives. Social media, a thing that isn't even tangible, shouldn't be something that causes more stress in already busy and fast-paced modern lives. 

Living in the moment is a highly attractive concept that many of us try and struggle to achieve. Perhaps if we took a step back from our beloved online accounts and took more care in engaging with and experiencing life, without our brains reminding us "you better tweet that", we would feel like we are getting closer to making the most out of our real lives.