Category Archives: Christmas

2017: The Year of Grit

Dear Alex,

Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and 2017 is your best year yet. I aim to make 2017 my best year yet, and have started the year with a string of resolutions, all which I feel are manageable and achievable – hopefully. One of these resolutions, is to do at least one productive thing a day that is just for me (i.e. work doesn’t count) and should hopefully mean by default, my blogging record is better than I ended 2016 with.

All my New Year’s Resolutions are based around the ideas of a truly great book I’ve just finished. This truly great book, is entitled: ‘Grit’ and is written by the psychologist Angela Duckworth, who has quickly been awarded a place on my list of idols and people I admire. Short of being a book that only people who are interested in Psychology will enjoy. Defined as a ‘special blend of persistence and potential’, a will to never give up and to overcome setbacks in the pursuit of long term goals; the cimages.jpgoncept of grit is something anyone can live by and is perhaps more relevant than ever today.

I have long believed that our focus in society on talent and intelligence is unhealthy and inaccurate. To me it seems that the suggestion is, that only the talented and intelligent can truly achieve. Therefore leaving everyone else in some grey area that will never match up to those who are ‘bright’ enough to achieve greatness, all because we weren’t born with a gift. It disregards so many other character traits that may in fact allow us all to achieve. In other words, according to Angela’s book, it disregards grit.

‘Grit’ is filled with case studies of gritty people who have achieved through pure hard work and an overwhelming attitude that they weren’t going to quit that is hugely admirable. What I’ve gained most from her book is that it is also achievable. The majority of people in her book credit their failures as the reason they are now a success. Failure and how they handled it, has allowed them to achieve.

Angela notes towards the end of the book, that so often the restrictions we see as barriers are not because we aren’t talented, clever, fit enough or whatever enough we’ve talked ourselvesimages-2.jpg around to believing is the reason we can’t be successful and happy, but instead are self-inflicted. Gritty people don’t impose limits on themselves and the best part of the whole concept of grit is that we can all learn to be gritty.

I love this idea. I have fallen culprit to the idea of talent and intelligence being the ‘be all and end all’ myself too many times. I have a sibling that has so often achieved more than what I have worked hard for, naturally. Whilst I want the best for him, I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes seeing someone achieve things you strive for easily is difficult.

But I also don’t think I would change it, because the achievements I’ve gained through hard work, the ones where grit has been the key reason for my success, are the best ones.

So this year, I’ve decided to be the grittiest I’ve ever been. Who knows, maybe it’ll lead to the most success I’ve had. But if not, I don’t think resolutions that are based on grit can be a bad thing.

Love T x

P.S Anyone who is interested can also test their own level of grittiness using the ‘Grit Scale’ created by Angela Duckworth (whom I admire – don’t know if you got that) and find out more about grit, on her website

It’s 2016!

Happy new year T!!

Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve. I’m currently nursing a bit of a headache, watching Friends and drinking tea. Almost like being back at uni!

I also loved that John Lewis gave their employees Boxing Day off. I cannot understand one ounce why anyone would need to shop on Boxing Day. I actually heard that some shops were putting sales up on their websites on Christmas Day! And people were actually online shopping. Bizarre. I did work this Boxing Day and I noted that a large percentage of customers were retuning items they’d received for Christmas. Apparently waiting one more day to take back unwanted gifts isn’t an option for some. But as a nation I don’t think we’re famed for our patience. Each to their own.

After spending nearly every day of December working it was really nice (and needed) to go away for a few days with my family to end the year. We spent most of the time eating, reading, and going for long walks along the Cornish coast. The dream.

Tom and Poppy playing on Crackington Haven beach

These dogs love a holiday!

 

Tintagel

 

More Tintagel

 

My mum and dad love their walks

I’ll always love holidaying in Cornwall. Even when it’s tipping down with rain and I can’t feel my toes. It’s all part of the fun. Though certainly a contrast to where you’re jetting off to this year!

Have you made any new year resolutions? I want to be able to touch my toes (without bending my knees). But that was my resolution last year and I am no closer to those toes. If anything I’m actually further away…

Hope 2016 is your best year yet

Alex xoxo

Join in 

Dear T

Seasons greetings! Sorry for the delay; I’ve been working a lot so haven’t had a chance to sit down at my laptop to write a proper post.

Before I say anything else let me say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope you have a beautiful one. I went out for Christmas cocktails last night at this new bar in Cheltenham called AquaVitae. We didn’t understand half of the words on the menu so there were a few risk takers among us who took a bit of a bevarage gamble. Sadly, Meg was given one that was literally just six shots of different spirits. Other than that little surprise the evening was wonderful – great atmosphere, great company. 

  

I’m excited to spend Christmas Day with my family tomorrow. There’ll be quite a lot of us (17!) so we’ll actually be going out for lunch. It’ll certainly be different. What are your plans for tomorrow? 

I think it’s important to remember that not everyone can have such a joyful time at Christmas. There are many people who spend the day completely alone. Last year Sarah Millican lead the #joinin campaign on Twitter which offered support to such people. I was totally shocked at how many people tweeting were spending Christmas Day by themselves. And it’s not limited to strangers. There will most likely be someone you know that, for one reason or another, will be experiencing a lonely Christmas this year. Which is why I’m hopeful that those of us who are lucky enough to have our family around us this Christmas should think carefully before boasting across social media or whining about presents/relatives/food. Because there might be someone you know on the other end of Facebook who isn’t so fortunate.

Sarah Millican is fronting the canpaign again this year. So if any readers are feeling alone tomorrow, or fancy showing some support, #joinin. 

  
I hope you have a magical Christmas and new year; I can’t wait to hear what you got up to!

Alex xoxo

London Wonderland

Dear Alex,

I should totally copyright ‘celebrigods’ – let it be known to all that I invented the phrase. I very much appreciated your top 5 Christmas films and sorry I have not written in a while, I’m a bit confused as to where the time has gone since I saw you in Cardiff (which was awesome by the way).

The positive of not blogging recently though, is that I have loads to catch you up on. So this is probably going to be a bit lengthy. Sorry. One piece of news is that I am now back at home again after a month in London. It was amazing and I know for sure I want to live and work there (anyone fancy giving me a job – preferaFullSizeRender 3.jpgbly one that pays?). Also the weekend in Cardiff, and since, has been filled with Christmassy activities that have made me very excited for Christmas.
For example I went ice-skating at the National History Museum, which was great. I was absolutely sure I was going to
fall over about a million times. But I didn’t fall over once! Proud of me? Then we went to Winter Wonderland, which never serves to disappoint in making me feel festive. Although there was a German band on a spinning stage, in the Bavarian village, that was singing ‘YMCA’. Maybe it’s just me, but this doesn’t scream ‘Happy Christmas’.

Nevertheless, all the lights and decorations around London make me feel really happy. Apparently my emotions are dependent on visually pleasing stimuli.FullSizeRender 2.jpg

Last weekend was particularly fun. I had my first taste of the West End. That makes it sound like I was performing. I was not. But I had never been before so it was on my London bucket list of things I wanted to do while I was there. We saw Matilda and it was fantastic. I loved the actor that played Miss Trunchbull the best and the ending was great because they all rode onto the stage on scooters – it definitely appealed to my childish side that wishes I could ride a scooter and not look like an oversized idiot.

However, the whole way through I couldn’t stop thinking about the weird life child actors must live though. Wasn’t it passed there bedtime? Didn’t they have school that day? How did they remember all the words and the dance moves? Of course I enjoyed the show, but these were the kinds of questions that were simultaneously running through my head– a little insight there into my brain.

Love T xx

P.S This is not Christmassy at all, but I watched ‘Southpaw’ the other day and thought it was incredible and Jake Gyllenhal was extraordinary. Plus there were three scenes that made me cry and as you know this is a rarity for me and movies. Either I am more emotional nowadays or it was just a very powerful film. I’m tempted to say the latter. Anyway, if you haven’t already seen it I think it is a must watch and I think you should 🙂

Christmas is all around us

Dear T

Did you come up with the concept of ‘celebrigods’ yourself? It’s brilliant. You should copyright it. Like when Taylor Swift trademarked ‘this sick beat’. Sorry – This Sick Beat©

It was amazing to see you over the weekend. I’m still recovering from the lack of sleep. And I’m not likely to catch up anytime soon as my shifts at Waterstones start at 6am for the next four days. I’m also freelancing for BBC this week so I won’t be home until late each evening. So I’m sorry in advance if my blog letters (‘bletters©?’) are not up to scratch (or not up at all!)

The weekend was full of fun, food and festivities (and wine). It is, as they say, the most wonderful time of the year.

But now I’m feeling a little low on Christmas spirit. Since the weekend reality has smacked me in the face like an unwelcome Scrooge with work/early mornings/lack of pigs in blankets. So to lighten the mood (our recents posts which have been topical and interesting and wonderful have also been rather serious) and to cure my Christmas woes I’ve taken it upon myself to choose my top 5 favourite Christmassy films. Because if you can’t say it at Christmas when can you, eh? (Spot the Christmas quote!)


5. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Nowlarge_yUqTe0sf91jgamwzXoCwzg9zuKj I know you hate the Muppets and they scare you to death. But I love anything with a good song in it as you know very well. And a Charles Dickens adaptation. With a singing frog and Michael Caine. What’s not to love?

 

4. The Holiday

The-Holiday-DVD-coverA rom-com starring Jack Black sounds all wrong and it is. But on the other hand it’s so so right. And Jude Law is in it so…

 

 

3. Nativity

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Again this is mainly featured because of the excellent songs. I’ve seen it about 45 times and it’s always amazing. Stay clear of the sequels though.

 

2. Gavin and Stacey Christmas special

51-UkqW5xELI realise this isn’t a film but nothing in this world makes me feel more festive and happy!

 

 

1. Love Actually

I do51-CU01Fp4L._SX940_n’t think I even need to say anything. This is the ultimate Christmas movie and always will be.

 

 

Hope you agree with some of those! All I want to do now is get into bed with a mince pie and watch James Corden as Smithy screaming out Do They Know it’s Christmas in his car.

But I’d better get some sleep – need to be up at 5 tomorrow!

Alex xoxo

 

Celebrigods

Dear Alex,

I couldn’t agree more, especially about the Ellie Goulding – I too have judged. Celebrities have become the new deities. I think it honestly is because a lot of society has has become disillusioned with the concept of religion. New scientific discoveries have made people more inclined to question the existence of God and when once going to church on a Sunday was commonplace, I don’t know anyone who goes now.

I always put ‘no religion’ on forms because religion doesn’t play a large part in my life. It is true that religion has started a lot of problems in the world. But I do agree with the values religion teaches. Respect, kindness, generosity, to put yourself in another’s shoes. There have always been famous people, instead they used to be people who had done great things for the benefit of humanity – religious icons like Mother Theresa – not found fame for sex tapes or dropping a successful album (my god is Justin bieber’s new one catchy).

I think our obsession with celebrity has arisen through a lack of a belief in something bigger. We hold them up to be Gods because we don’t have anyone else. Nor do we have a concrete belief system to guide us.

This isn’t an excuse in anyway – I agree that how people act towards celebrities is bizarre and unacceptable. But perhaps this provides a possible explanation for the madness.

On another note, I’m sitting here on the bus drafting this (perhaps futilely as I’m seeing you in a few hours!) and feeling happy. It is beautifully Christmassy in London, I had a great week at work – had my first copy published on the website, a lovely catch up with one of my besties this morning, and I’m heading to Cardiff – one of my favourite, memory-filled places ever – to see some more of my favourites for an early Christmas reunion.

Life is good.

Love T xxx

HeForShe and Christmas Puddings

Dear T

Working on the 100 women season must’ve been amazing! It’s a tough line: celebrating people is definitely the dream. But would women get the recognition they deserve without a season dedicated specifically to their gender? Perhaps. Or maybe the list of inspirational people would be, like many of today’s industries, male dominated.

It’s interesting that you say you don’t see feminism as a dirty word – I don’t either as it goes. But I recently read that Emma Watson was discouraged by the UN Women organisation from using the term in her #HeforShe gender equality campaign. Apparently the word is ‘alienating’. Seems very strange not to use the word in a gender equality speech though (which you can watch again here). I thought Emma’s words were all the more powerful because she wasn’t afraid to use the word feminism:

I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do. If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?

I wish I could say that I’ve been working on something as interesting as you (or Emma!); I’ve been spending most of my time working in a book shop in the run up to Christmas. I love the books. I don’t love being blamed every 20 minutes for the 5p bag law. Some customers clearly think I am an important power in this country. Not yet, customers, not yet.

Speaking of Christmas – I’ve been searching for a new Christmas pudding costume for Poppy. So if you (or any reader) know of any christmassy dog costumes let me know!!

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Poppy *now sadly too fat for current xmas pud costume*

I’ve also finally started learning to drive. About time I paid something back to the numerous people (including you) who have helped me out with their wheels over the years. Although in my first lesson I drove on the wrong side of the road without realising so you may be waiting a while. Also when I initially got the car to move I thought I was absolutely flying. I screamed at my instructor, ‘Woah I’m going SO FAST. How fast am I going??!!’

‘You’re going 10mph’ she replied.

Very good.

Alex xoxo

(Gossip Girl. Gossiping about Emma Watson and my own driving failures. So destructive!)