Friday, 1 December 2017

Radio Silence

The title of this post has changed a number of times. It's sat in my drafts since the end of October. And it's theme has altered many times too.

Today, its the 1st of December and it feels like the right day, the right time to actually hit the 'publish' button.

ADVANCE WARNING - This could be a long one, so make yourself comfy. Make a brew.

This morning I started typing a post on my Instagram about the radio silence I've been delivering recently. I've been off social media, I've cancelled most of plans, I've taken a step back from my work. Not because I wanted to. Because I had to.

Shall we get started at the beginning then?

I remember that feeling when I woke up on 30th October 2017. The clocks went back so we got a cheeky extra hour in bed and the sun. The autumn sun was out in full force.

The day before I had spent the afternoon with my best friend, my Mum and my Auntie, drinking Gin and giggling our way through a Gin Festival. I had a date night planned that evening with my boyfriend. 

I woke up that Sunday feeling content. 

Life was good. I was happy. 

Before my Mum and Auntie headed back home to the Midlands we decided on an impromptu visit to Sheffield Park for a walk. 

It was just beautiful there. 

Autumn leaves in full force with the most amazing colours reflecting in the waters of the lakes and many visitors taking part in their own Autumn themed photo shoots, throwing leaves up into the air, clicking the camera at that right moment. 

We even spotted a stunning Kingfisher up in the trees to the delight of my Auntie. They are her favourite. But she's never seen one in the wild. 

Something in the air that day felt special. 

Almost magical. 

Seconds later. Everything changed. 

A phonecall from my Dad, followed by a mad dash back to the car and a drive that felt like it would never end. I didn't know if we would make it. 

This could not be happening. 

The woman I never imagined life without was preparing to leave us...

A series of events

That day sparked a change. A shift in life. And one of those moments that you can never really prepare yourself for. 

The 'grief train' as I call it, had arrived at my platform once again but this time it all felt a little different.

I spent the next few days wondering how we really just 'get on' with life? When you lose someone you love, is it ever actually possible? Does it change you as a person? How does your life keep going when they were such a huge part of it?

For the first time, in a really long time I felt lost. And then, it hit me. Literally. 

What followed was a car accident and a health scare. What was happening to me? Why was this all happening right now?

None of this is your fault

None of this is your fault they kept saying. It's just a big bump in this road of this journey we are all on. 

What I felt was a sense of guilt. I don't know why.

It took me a couple of weeks to get over that. What was happening around me wasn't my fault and that life was just serving me another lesson. A lesson to make me stronger. 

That's why I needed to take a step back. 

When something huge shifts in your life, or a series of events shift your universe it is SO important to understand the lesson, see the meaning and take that step back. More so than ever, because we live such fast paced, 1million mph lifestyles that we never really have time to just sit, be still and learn, do we?

Changing reflections

The last month my reflection has changed. 

I've gone from deep, deep sadness to insecurity to anxiety to, this is okay, I'm okay and here I am. 

I've realised that life changes us, it changes how we see ourselves. 

I've been lucky to have some incredible support from friends and family but my biggest lesson has been that when I really need it, I've got my own back. It's up to me. 

You can find that courage, you can find yourself....totally. It's amazing how you can help yourself when life really, really throws you down. 

Now, I'm better. I'm stronger. I've learnt so much and I know, I've totally got this. 

And so do you.

D xx


Monday, 20 March 2017

#FreelanceLife: 2 Years On

'Are you trying to get to Brighton?' she said. 'Yep, it looks like the world and his wife are hey?' I said.

And that was the moment. That was the start of my #FreelanceLife. A chance meeting on the platform at Lewes train station. That chance meeting that became my first client and my longest standing client to this day. Two whole years on.

Today, my LinkedIn pals have been congratulating me on TWO YEARS of becoming my own boss, becoming the force behind my own future and becoming the person I always dreamt of being.

I know this will sound cliche.


Time flies when you're having fun. So much fun.

Working for yourself and doing a job you love is fun.

Working for yourself is incredibly hard. But it is incredibly rewarding.

What have I learnt in 731 Days?

I've learnt to be prepared. Be it a chance meeting of a prospective client somewhere totally random or a last minute meeting request - I ALWAYS carry my laptop, my business cards and a notebook. Even if I'm technically not 'at work'.

I've learned to believe in myself. Before I found the world of Freelance I felt like I constantly had to prove myself in some of my previous roles. We all like to receive a little recognition and a little pat on the back when we've done something good don't we? It builds our confidence. Now, there is no better feeling than when a client turns to me and says; 'Donna, this is amazing.'

I've learned to put my business hat on. We've all been there. Overdrafts, credit cards, loans - whatever it is that still haunts us from our days of being a student we all hate talking about money and we all sometimes get ourselves in a bit of a pickle. But working for yourself you become a little bit obsessed with budget sheets, invoice trackers and expenses. You work hard for it and you aren't afraid to ask for it on time, or ask for what you know you deserve.

I've learned to say no. There are some projects that land in my inbox that I just think, this isn't me. And that's okay. There are some projects that land in my inbox that request favours or 'pay later' terms. And the answer is no. I've learnt the hard way with this before. Never work for free when you're a freelancer. You've worked bloody hard to get here. You wouldn't go and do your food shop at Tesco, then get to the till and say - 'Can I pay you next week?' would you?

I've learnt to take better care of myself. Working for myself has worked wonders on my relationship, my friendships and my mental health. It's taken some time and some ups and downs and a whole lot of figuring out what works for me but this lifestyle suits me. It doesn't give me sleepless nights, it doesn't bring me out in a rash and it doesn't make me question myself. I am in total control and I make sure (most of the time) I take breaks, I relax and I get regular massages for sitting in front of a screen for too long! #FreelancePerks

I've learnt the universe really does have your back. This might be heavily influenced by the fact I'm reading said book by Gabrielle Bernstein, but this is true. There have been times when I've felt like throwing the towel in. But, once I take a step back and revaluate, I see things clearly and it's like someone, somewhere brings more work or that invoice gets paid...when you believe you can - there is always someone out there cheerleading for you.

Finally, I've learnt that #FreelanceLife brings you the most amazing set of new friends and connections. From Pippa at The City Girl Network to Dan at Bamb, to Rosie at Digital Team on Demand to Felice at Jellyfish and SO MANY MORE, being a freelancer has introduced me to so many amazingly talented individuals and a whole circle of new friends. And that's not including my totally awesome set of clients who I class as friends and colleagues - these are the guys that made it happen for me and these are the guys I am FOREVER grateful for.

What's next?

I can confidently say that I never want to 'work for' anyone again. I can also confidently say that I will never 'work for' anyone again. This life suits me. And I love this life.

The next 731 days look INCREDIBLY exciting. There is a new business venture for me just around the corner, one that I feel proud of and one that I feel has been brewing over the last 24months. I can't wait to share it with you all...

And so, to the last two years and to everyone who has believed in me, thank you. I wouldn't change it for anything.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

3 Lessons I Learnt in 2016

2017 is officially in full swing and I've been taking some time out over the last few days to plan my goals for 2017, as well as looking back on the 365 days that have just passed and some of the lessons I learnt throughout 2016.

1. Find your Tribe
Find your tribe. I found more than one tribe in 2016. From new friends in extended circles who I now class as some of my best friends, to meeting the amazing Brighton Girl's - this year I learnt that your 'tribe' can be incredibly powerful. 

Meeting like-minded individuals and sharing life stories within minutes of saying 'Hello, my name's Donna', planning trips to here there and everywhere and giggling like your 10 years old again. 

Uniting with people you never imagined your life would lead you to, can have an amazing affect on your happiness, your wellbeing, your belonging, your confidence. All of it. 

I encourage you to find your tribe. Find a local social group, take a deep breath and go along to a meet on your own. Trust me, you won't look back.

2. Don't Rush
Whether you're 21 and you haven't passed your driving test yet, or you're nearly 30 and you haven't flown the nest; don't rush. 

In the middle of 2016 I was in full panic mode. I was almost 28, I was still living at home and I had no immediate plan to move out. Suddenly it felt like all my friends were buying houses, getting married and having babies. I hadn't even thought about any of that.

Then before I knew it there was a big old change happening in my life and quickly I moved out into my first place. 

Looking back now I realise I never needed to panic, to rush, or to worry about what the world thought about me living at home with Mum. None of that really mattered. And actually I learnt so much by being at home just that little while longer. 

I'm a firm believer that things will happen when they're meant to and not a second before. 

3. You Will Survive
Life can be a real shit. Can't it? 

Life can turn upside down in seconds. One minute everything in the garden is rosy and then one phonecall, one email, one knock at the door can throw everything out the window. 

But no matter what happens, no matter how tough life is, you will survive. 

You can have what feels like an endless supply of bad news but when life feels like it's all downhill just take some time to appreciate the things that can pick you up.Your family, your friends, your health, job or that running club you go to every week. Never take the good stuff for granted, it's there for you.

With bad times, there will come good. Just don't lose hope and remember you will survive. 

I'm taking these lessons with me into 2017 and I'm already excited about the year ahead. I'm ready and armoured! 
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