My unintentional fight for equality

So I’ve caused a bit of an unintentional stir at work over the past 2 weeks.

In my office we have 4 meeting rooms and, as our company’s catch phrase is ‘Turning heads’, each meeting room is named after a celebrity, or public figure who has turned heads. So, you have;

John Lennon, John McEnroe, Winston Churchill, and then lastly Marilyn Monroe.

Last week a colleague was asked to look into how we can decorate the rooms to represent the public figure it was named after, and it got me thinking. So we have a male musician, a male sportsman, a male politician, and a female… what? I know Marilyn starred in many films and was extremely successful during her time, however what do this generation mostly recognise Marilyn Monroe for? To put it bluntly, her looks. She is a sex symbol, in fact THE sex symbol. My generation and younger aren’t likely to know that she was in movies such as ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ or ‘Some Like It Hot’, let alone have seen those films. They will, in fact, most likely recognise her for her blonde bombshell hair, her voluptuous figure, and her sex appeal.

And this didn’t sit quite right with me.

Now, whilst I’m not one for putting a successful female down, and I do appreciate that Marilyn did play an important part in perhaps showing women that they can love their curves and embrace their sexy side, I just felt that there were a hell of a lot more women in history who have done a lot more to make a difference in the world. Who have used their brains and knowledge to make a change, rather than their appearance. And that it would be wiser and sit better if we choose to celebrate that.

Now, with this thought niggling away at me, I began to vocalise it. Firstly to my fellow female colleagues, who then encouraged me to raise it with the decision makers within the company – who, admittedly, are male. And so, I raised my point to 3 of my male Managers, who also happen to be Members of the Board within the company. Now, I feel it’s important to say, I had no idea what I wanted to do with this observation of mine. Whilst it didn’t sit right, I had no action or resolution I was aiming towards. However, I took my colleague’s advice and I sat and told them my thoughts on this matter, and whilst they listened respectively to my point, I was then unfortunately met with laughter. I don’t think that it at all was meant maliciously, I think that they in fact didn’t know whether I was being serious or not – it being the first time I’ve ever brought something like this up in the workplace. But, as soon as I heard that laughter, which was in front of a good majority of the company, I felt belittled and demeaned, and it made me angry.

This was a thought of mine, which had unintentionally caused a stir in the office. And whilst I had no plans to take any action from this, as soon as I heard that laughter, I knew then and there that I was going to pursue this, and take action.

The next day, much to my delight, one of the gentlemen I made my case to actually took me seriously, and gave me a shortlist of women he felt would be a better fit. I then sent an email to all involved making my case, and including my shortlist of women, and I concluded with my resolution of a company vote. It was approved.

After a company vote, the Marilyn Monroe room was replaced with a new title, the Emmeline Pankhurst room – for obvious reasons. Others on the shortlist included Rosa Parks, Margaret Thatcher and Amelia Earhart.

Now, the name of a meeting room may seem, in principle, not a very important issue within the workplace – particularly not one which should evoke such a reaction. Initially I felt embarrassed, and I didn’t go in with a resolution straight away as I thought that this was perhaps too little an issue. However, I realised that no fight for equality is too small. It’s important to pave the way for a more fair and equal society, and with that, every little way in which we can improve and reflect this in our decisions is something we need to address. Not only that, but it’s also about educating people, making them aware of what they can do differently to make a more equal world. Gender equality isn’t perhaps something that is at the forefront of my male colleagues minds, however hopefully I may have given them an opportunity to think about it in more depth.

The following day I received an email from the key decision maker at work, whose initial reaction was to laugh at my observation. He had written to tell me that he admired my tenacity, and that I was right. Safe to say, that email is stored on my desktop in it’s own little folder, for me to look at on the very few days when I may doubt my ability to fight for gender equality. Heck, I may even frame it and stick in on my wall!

Strong

We all have qualities that we admire in people that we know. Characteristics of that person that you respect, look up to, and perhaps inspire to have more of. I have friends who are super laid-back, confident, intelligent, hilarious, extremely talented – these are the qualities that I would describe about my friends if asked.

I was thinking earlier today about what my main quality would be, if my friends were asked to describe me, what would they say? And more importantly, what would I like them to say?

The past 5 months have been extremely difficult. My 7 year relationship ended, which was a decision that was mainly mine, however that factor hasn’t made it any easier. I’ve had moments of doubts, bouts of sadness, an overwhelming urge to see him or talk to him, times of blame and self-hatred, and, most prominently, a constant yearning to have that familiarity back. You know when something just feels like home? However, the main thing that’s got me through these moments, and what I’m desperately clinging on to until time heals the pain, is belief. I have to believe that I made that decision for a reason, I have to believe in myself and my ability to make a conscious decision, and lastly, I have to believe that one day, in the distant future, it will make sense. Because that’s what I’m struggling to find right now – sense.

I realised that to be able to hold on to that belief has required the quality that I most want to be recognised for. And that’s strength. I want friends, when thinking of or describing me, to say “Charlotte’s strong“. I want to be tough. I want to be able to go through hard times and come out the other side stronger. I don’t want to be knocked down, I don’t want to give up, I want to keep fighting.

And strong doesn’t mean that you don’t have moments of weakness. Strong means that you get back up again.

A big part of that, I’ve found, is choosing what you show to people, how much you let them see. I’m not a closed book, but I’ll never be one to sit and cry my heart out to someone. If I do that I’ll do it on my own. I’ll let it out, and then get back on the horse. It’s tiring, it’s lonely, it’s overwhelming, however it’s called being strong, and that’s a trait I most admire and most aspire to have.

What quality would you most like to be recognised for?

Resolutions

Whenever I get asked if I’m doing any resolutions this year, my default response is no, absolutely not. I’ve never believed in them if I’m completely honest. If you want to make a positive change in life, then it should start right there and then.. otherwise it’ll always begin tomorrow. I’m all for making positive changes, however it seems that people almost rely in these resolutions in order to revolutionise their life. When, lets be honest, more often than not they last a couple of weeks, a month at best, and gets swept under the carpet until next year for the 2nd/3rd/4rd (etc.) attempt.

I’ve been there, working at a gym, at the beginning of the year, and it is crazy. Filled with crowds of people, all with the same hope and wish for the new year – to lose weight, and tone up. Their beginning efforts are admirable – there they are, without question, bright and early before work, trying to sweat away the pounds. Truly inspirational.. for the first week. And then one by one, they drop off, and you don’t see them again, like an episode of the Hunger Games – their hunger for food gets the better of them!.. Some make it through, and last, but, I hate to break it to you, that’s a tiny percentage. Just a side note for those that wish to join the gym.. start going February. January is stupidly busy, it’s enough to put anyone off. Whereas by February, it quietens down to the usual pace for the remainder of the year.

But hey, not to sound pessimistic at all, or dampen anyone’s spirits, I suppose I have thought about a few resolutions I could make, or should I say challenges to tackle for 2016?

Sort out my finances (because a girl needs to get out of her student overdraft at some point)

Run more half marathons (I got to a good level of fitness, and I want to keep it that way)

Move out of home (2016 is the year for this. I love my parents, but being in my mid-twenties is plenty old enough to have my own space)

And the most important one….

Enjoy life as much as possible, say yes to everything, experience everything, make the most of where I am and who I’m with, and have no fricking regrets. Because life is too short.

Change

Everyone goes through change in their life, and this time it’s my turn.

I’ve always been someone who’s welcomed change, I like a challenge, I believe change makes us stronger people, and is good for the soul. You may discover more about yourself, what you like, what you dislike, you may meet new people, create new friendships, etc. And whilst it may be scary, sometimes those experiences make you grow as a person, and it can be worth it in the end.

2 months ago my long term relationship ended. And now here I find myself, alone and single for the first time in about 9 years. And it is scary. In the back of my mind, I’ve always kind of had an idea how my life would pan out, and now I’m here with absolutely no clue what the next year will bring. The other evening I celebrated New Years Eve at a house party filled with complete strangers, bar my friend from work, who I only met a few months ago at a new job. I compare that to last year, when I was with my boyfriend, and 3 other couples, 2 of which have broken up, and the other are pregnant. 2015 brought a lot of change for not just myself, but the people around me, and I can’t help but wonder where I’ll be and who I’ll be with next New Year’s Eve.

If I think about it for too long it does make me sad, to think that there are people I’ve shared amazing experiences with in the past, and now I probably won’t again. The last couple of months have been extremely strange for me, very much up and down, but, without risk of sounding cliche, I’ve tried to make the most of it by trying to discover who I really am. Change happens to everyone, it’s unavoidable, and so I think how you react to it and deal with it is very much important.

I don’t know where I’ll be this time next year, I don’t know who I’m going to meet over the next 12 months, what experiences I’ll have, good and bad, and how that will effect me. And whilst I find that extremely scary, I also find that extremely exciting. The doors are open for me now, and never being one to shy away from a challenge, I’m going to welcome this change with open arms – whilst also being extremely grateful for the experiences I’ve had in the past and the amazing people I shared those with. I’m thankful for the change I encountered which made me meet them, and I hope to say the same in the future with the people I am yet to meet.

190f13d6b2ce72f766a54f3fbb9bf551

September Favourites

file44652

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

I’m a bit late on the bandwagon with this one. It’s been raved about for a while on the whole blogosphere and, having been an avid cleanser and toner user for years, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I have to admit, at first I wasn’t bowled over. I found it strange putting the cleanser on my skin dry, it felt like I was putting on moisturiser to my made up face, and then using it I couldn’t see the difference in the product from using to my cheaper Garnier cleanser.  I have to say though, after a few weeks of using it, I absolutely love it. It takes your make up off so well, I know once I’ve used it that there isn’t one bit of make up left on my face, which is really nice before you go to sleep. One of the main things that I like about it is it’s smell. It’s almost like a pepperminty smell, and as soon as I put it on, it instantly relaxes me. I’ve never experienced any product like it. I will most certainly be repurchasing this in the future.

000147598

Richmond Half Marathon

This month, I ran my first ever half marathon. Boy, was it hard, but I did it – and I did it in a time I never thought possible. I’m so proud of myself, I can’t believe I did it. I always thought it was something I could never do, so I proved myself wrong. It was a lovely course as well, running in Kew Gardens and then down the River Thames in Richmond. The weather was perfect too. It was a brilliant day, and I can now hang my medal up in pride of place.

IMG_4649

Manchester

Okay, so I have a confession.. I’ve never really ventured up north. I’ve only had UK trips away to either Devon or Bristol/Bath area. I’ve never been to Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle, let alone Scotland! Sacrilege, I know! So when I was told at work that I would be staying in Manchester for 3 days, I was actually quite looking forward to it. I was there on my own, and I was there to work, so I probably didn’t get to explore it as much as I would have liked, but I did take an evening to go for a wonder around the centre, and I fell in love with the place. It’s having a huge renovation at the moment, so there’s quite a few road works, however this also means that everything it newly paved and looks new and clean. I also love the fact that it has trams! There was something which felt so European about it. I was pleasantly surprised by Manchester, and I left knowing that I most definitely wanted to go back for a weekend away.

Sex and the City

As much as I love my TV box sets, I’ve never watched SITC – shock horror. So when I was offered the box set to borrow, I couldn’t say no. I knew I was going to love it, and it certainly did not disappoint. I’ve only just finished season 1, and I’m hooked. All the characters are brilliant, the stories are brilliant, and although I don’t live in NYC, with amazing designer clothes, writing a weekly article on sex and relationships, without sounding so cliche, there’s something so relatable about it. My friend even went so far as to say it gave her a new perspective on life and relationships. So yeah, definitely worth a watch. And I’m so Carrie btw.

3db34f9de86a05f8_o-SATC221-facebook.xxxlarge

Florence and the Machine

I was fortunate enough to be invited to see Florence and the Machine play last week at Alexandra Palace with my good friend Lauren. I had seen her briefly at Glastonbury festival, but I couldn’t watch the whole performance, and I was gutted because what I did see was absolutely amazing. To be able to watch her again in full was wonderful. She literally gives it her all, and she is an amazing woman. I concluded that she must live on cloud , in lala land, because she is absolutely crazy, but that makes me love her even more. She’s an amazing singer, and she gives an outstanding performance. Not only that, but my goodness Alexandra Palace is hands down the best venue in London for gigs. If you live in London, and get a chance to see someone perform there, please do. It’s magnificent.

Autumn

This is so going to be on every blogger’s September favourites, however I had to put it in the list as I frigging love Autumn, and to see the first signs of it makes me so happy. The leaves browning and falling to the ground, the cold crisp in the morning air, the acorns on the floor, the little bit of frost on the window sills, heck, we’ve even turned on our heating! (sincere apologies climate zone)

Everything about Autumn makes me so happy, and I want to really enjoy it this year. I’ve already booked in Halloween and Bonfire night. I’ve got my boots, hats and scarfs ready and raring to go. This year’s autumn is going to be a good’n.

What’s been your September favourites?

British Military Fitness – A year on

Browsing my phone apps first thing this morning, as everyone knows you can’t do anything else until you’ve checked all your social media sites (obv.), Timehop told me that a year ago today I went to my first British Military Fitness session. Looking at my posts a year ago is not only a reminder of just how difficult that first session was – but also a reminder of just how far I’ve come.

There I was in Bushy Park on a Saturday morning, having dragged my best friend along with me, giving our health and safety forms to the instructor, not knowing what the next hour would behold. Thank goodness we didn’t know, because no way would I have put myself through that knowingly. When asked about my fitness at that point, I had replied saying that I could run 10k, so running wasn’t a problem, it was just my body strength that needed improving. Putting on the blue beginner bib, the class started, and I soon had the realisation of just how wrong I was. My friend and I were at the bottom of that class the whole session, trying desperately to keep up with the rest of the participants. I particularly remember crying out “I can’t do this!” when having to do sit ups lying down a hill, and the instructor shouting “there’s no such thing as can’t!” Some how, we managed to get through the hour without collapsing in defeat. Once it was announced that the session had finished, we jumped for joy, knowing that we had completed one of the hardest challenges we’d put ourselves through to date. And boy, did we feel it in the morning.

Looking back to that time last year, I remember having got to my 10k running target, and deciding that no way could I ever run anything more than 10k. That was as far as I could run, and I had faced that fact. Also, I had accepted that I was never going to be a fast runner. I was never going to do 5k any faster than 28 minutes, and that was okay. I’ve never been a strong person, I had hardly any muscle, and that’s just how my body is going to be.

Over the past year going to BMF, I have worked my way up from the bottom of the blues beginner group, to the top of the blues, moving up to the red intermediate group, spending months and months at the bottom of the reds, suddenly finding myself at the top of the reds, and to this week, being told to move up to the green advanced group. I have trained in the boiling heat, in the pitch black, in the freezing snow, in the pouring rain. I’ve gotten lost in the middle of the park, I’ve narrowly escaped running into wild deer, and I’ve been on the verge of tears more times than I could count. In that time, however, I’ve gotten both my 5k time and 10k time down by an amazing 5 minutes (5k – 23:35 and 10k – 52:02), and most impressively, I have more than doubled my running distance, having ran my first half marathon ever this month, completing it in a time I never thought possible (1:51:43) , and I’ve got another one in 2 weeks.

I am astounded, and so so proud of how far I’ve come in the past year thanks to BMF. I have gotten so much stronger, and I have achieved things I never thought possible. It honestly has proven to me than anyone is capable of achieving anything, if they put their mind to it and commit.

Now, I’m not saying everything’s all roses – I miss sessions because I don’t fancy going, I skip out on my mid-week runs because I’m tired and it’s dark, I can go through 2-3 weeks having not done any exercise. And sometimes I just feel like throwing in the towel, because it’s just too big a commitment! Not to mention, there is absolutely no way I’m changing my diet and giving up chocolate and pizza and all the things I love in life. I’m not a fitness and healthy eating fanatic, and I never will be.

But that’s okay, because I’ve found an exercise that I enjoy, that has made a difference, and that I will always go back to. I believe that anyone is capable of committing to exercise and improving their fitness, they just have to find the right exercise for them. And BMF is that for me.

My University Experience

6 years ago yesterday I was in a car jam-packed with all of my stuff, on route to a part of the UK I’d never been before, embarking on one of the biggest life changes I’d ever experienced. Yes, that’s right. I was on my way to University.. *gulp*..

I had no idea what lay ahead, the people I was about to meet, the experiences I was about to encounter, and the person I would become as a result.

I often get asked by various people about my University experience. I had quite a mixed 3 years – I had some of the best times of my life so far, and I also had some of the worst times. I studied Performing Arts, which is not entirely a course which will guarantee you a job (understatement of the century), I was trying to maintain a relationship with my boyfriend back home (not going to lie, he put in most of the effort..), and I was unsure whether or not I had made the right decision.

I had chosen to study Performing Arts as I enjoyed it. It was my passion since primary school, and having studied it throughout college, it seemed the right choice for me. I was concerned about whether I should have chosen a degree better suited to getting me a well-paid job after graduation – I was to-ing and fro-ing between Performing Arts and Event Management, as that was also something I thought I’d enjoy and want to pursue in the future. But I had to bite the bullet, and I went with my heart. And it is one of the best decision I have ever made.

During the three years I made new friends, I challenged myself, I learned what home sickness felt like, I learned how to deal with it, I became more confident, I became the ‘mum’ of the house, I pushed myself and my acting abilities, I discovered what alcohol I could and couldn’t handle, I struggled with my long distance relationship, I became selfish, I laughed so much I cried, I dyed my hair way too dark, I made wrong decisions, I made right decisions, I fell out with friends, I made up with friends, I lost way too many things, I broke off the long distance relationship, I distracted myself by focusing on University and avoided going home, I made so many wrong fashion decisions, I made a few right ones, I took way too many photos, I shared way too much on Facebook, I got so very drunk, I almost dropped out of 3rd year, I found a network of people I could call a family, I got myself in bad situations, I got good grades, I got a few bad ones, I doubted myself, I spent way too much money on nights out, I performed, I did what I loved and I laughed. I laughed so so much… and I created memories. Memories that will live with me forever. And I formed bonds, bonds that I still hold with people today, despite only being able to see those people once a year, if not less.

Now, funnily enough, I work in Events. It took me a very difficult 2 years after graduation to cement enough experience to get me on the career ladder in the event industry. I had to volunteer, do a lot of temp work, and undertake an unpaid internship until I finally got my first permanent job in events. I am now where I want to be, and I’m on the right path. but it wasn’t easy. And I often get asked if I regret choosing to study Performing Arts, seeing as I’m not working in that industry. The answer will always be no. Despite some lows, as an overall experience I loved every second of it, and it made me the person I am today. If I didn’t choose my course I wouldn’t have met the people who I now class as my Uni family, and we wouldn’t have the memories we now love to spend time reminiscing about.

Today I received my annual student loan report, which actually showed me that in the last year I have incurred more in interest than I have managed to pay of, despite earning the average salary of someone my age. How they can expect someone to pay off their loan completely, I have no idea. None the less, University fees have risen in the UK since I went – in fact it’s tripled, which is disgusting. This means that unfortunately not as many young adults can study higher education any more, and that’s it’s a bigger decision for them and their family if they do – perhaps they’d shy away from choosing a degree they’d enjoy, having to choose a degree more likely to get them into a job straight away.

Even with all that in mind, if I did it all again I would still choose Performing Arts. My advice to people in that position would be to just ensure that you either choose a course which has a work placement year, or spend your summers undertaking unpaid internships or voluntary work in order to get a tonne of experience under your belt. Because you will come out of University and employers will want to see your experience, as that’s become more important than a degree nowadays.

But do I regret following my heart? Hell no! I loved every second of it, it was the best 3 years of my life and I’d happily get myself into even more debt to relive those times again with those people. At the end of the day, University isn’t just about the degree you study, it’s about the whole experience – and oh my, is it an experience you’ll never forget.

326972_10150325972857162_483435595_o

Glastonbury Festival

I’ve always been someone who’s loved music. I love listening to it, I love singing along to it, I love finding the right lyric that can perfectly describe how you feel (shout out to you, Tay Tay), I love all genres, I appreciate the classics, I love dancing to a great tune, I love jumping around to rock n roll, or crying to a emotional ballad (yeah, I definitely haven’t done that.. gulp).. and I could go on..

So, with this, I’ve always always always wanted to go to a music festival. But there’s always been one thing that’s put me off… the camping. *cue high pitch scream*

I love my GHD’s, I love my warm bed, I love wearing my make up, I love being clean, I love being indoors, and I love just being comfortable in my own space.

But, about 4 years ago, I sucked it up, and bought myself a ticket to Glastonbury Festival, and I haven’t looked back ever since.

When I say that there is no where else like Glastonbury Festival, I mean that there is no where else like Glastonbury Festival (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually been to any other stay-over festivals, so there may be others like it, but in terms of my experience, and for the case of this post, there is no where else like Glastonbury). There is no other way to describe it but as a bubble. And in that bubble, all you think about is you, in that field, with a select few, at that current point in time. And it’s therapeutic. When I go away on holiday, I can always find myself thinking back to home, work, relationships, finances etc. For some reason at Glastonbury, I don’t do that. Perhaps because there is just too much to think about when I’m there (like stupid drunken, high people, or how the hell am I going to look like Millie Mackintosh festival-chic when there’s so much mud!!) but I just don’t have the opportunity to think about reality. Because everything about Glastonbury shouldn’t be reality, it is so much on another level, it makes you question if it’s real. You wonder around the world’s biggest festival, and around every corner is a surprise.

For example: For the past three years, I’ve heard a rumour that at a bar called The Rabbit Hole, which is on Glastonbury Park hill, there is actually a hole which, if you go down, takes you to secret underground bar, and you have a kind of Alice in Wonderland experience. This year we were determined to find this hole. And we did. And it was the best, and most craziest experience of the whole 3 years that I’ve been. And I wasn’t even on drugs.

Another example: In the corner of Glastonbury is a sign which says “Grey field exit, no re-entry”. If you go through that exit, you find yourself in an underground piano bar, where there is someone playing the piano non-stop for 24 hrs…

You couldn’t make this shit up!

And I haven’t even mentioned the music yet. Of course, it’s a given, the music is amazing, and you get to experience and see so many musicians and artists, and tick them off your list. But my favourite thing about Glastonbury is that even is there wasn’t one performance that you wanted to see, you will still have the time of your life. You could have been going for the past 50 years, and still discover new things/areas about the festival.

Of course, the camping isn’t the greatest. I get cold. I don’t get to use my GHDS. I have to learn to get on with the mud. But I remember that it’s only temporary. And it’s worth it. And actually, trying to look like a beautiful, Topshop, festival model isn’t the main priority of the weekend. It’s to have the most amazing time of your life with your favourite people, and come back with a million and one stories that no one will believe unless they were there to experience it themselves.

“YOU WEREN’T THERE MAN!”

1052383_10151432112001862_1430633931_o 1001604_10153005271525711_1761486459_n 10404087_10152470333595129_1862398576182323559_n 10409370_10152470335635129_1449924180002814997_n 1604695_10152727915428973_7551340076671620444_n 10519247_10152728003428973_7587637439855697052_n 10353646_10152728085498973_2268199747326672415_n 10440865_10152728084698973_7052040577479812833_n 10457923_10152728093128973_721626261060387142_n 10476459_10152728099833973_5685892541849388401_n 11412301_10153287025950129_3881672751871043896_n 11703129_10153287026390129_2726866127234949340_n 18724_10153287026590129_7806328914175606945_n 10986568_10153287030935129_2060760871831476911_n 11707761_10155730180480293_8122317682793668802_n 10986505_10155730182395293_6067864173468206710_n 11667532_10155730228485293_8903104031010429377_n

11781854_10155838272035293_5402944163711585479_n

P.S. Spot the bun in the last photo! Libertines 2015 babyyyyy 🙂

Wishlist Wednesday

I get paid on Friday, and I’m due to be spending quite a large amount of it clothes shopping, because I need a massive overhaul of my wardrobe, which is currently full of autumn/winter clothes and seriously lacking spring/summer dresses! In preparation for my shop (yes, it does need preparation!), I’ve created a little wish list. Enjoy!

02L02HWHT_2_large 22P01HBLK_large image1xxl-1 image1xxl-2 image1xxl-3 image1xxl-4 image1xxl-5 image1xxl image3xxl

27B10FPCH_large image1xxl-6