Magazine

31 January 2019

Too Much Lost Talent

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27 January 2019

Under the influence

Social media has went mental in the last few years. I’m forever grateful I’m old enough that I made all my teenage faux pas without the added pressure of the world watching... and judging. Being a teenager is hard enough without being surrounded by perfectly filtered snapshots of people’s life to make you feel like a failure.

I’m a Instagrammer and occasionally promote products for money so I guess that makes me an influencer. A tiny little one all the same but the term still makes me hella uneasy. 3 years ago I didn’t know what an influencer was an when I found out my instant reaction was ‘urgh’. Obviously my perception has changed but admittedly only slightly.

Money changes people, a little bit of attention changes people. Ego gets involved and people who were previously your friends start looking at you as competition. It’s savage and I’ve been let down by so many. I’m a sharer and so many others are. We share opportunities and tips and it’s really quite lovely but there’s the sad minority who would step all over you and any loyalty if they think it would gain them some extra followers.

Instagram has tainted so many phrases for me. Self care *rolls eyes*, girl gang (is it though or is it just another clique?) and let’s not forget #blessed *gags*. The terminology people used has changed. “I was gifted this .... by my husband”. NO BARBERA! Your husband fucking bought you it. Calm the fuck down. The ASA are ok with that.

I know lots of influencers who are personable and transparent. Kudos to those guys! If you’re in it for every freebie you can snaffle and will happily trot along to the opening of an envelope then it’s perhaps time to reassess your values. FYI those types eventually out themselves anyway. That shit has no longevity. Realness lasts.

There’s been a lot of talk re: paid followers lately. Mostly me moaning in all honesty but I can’t stand it. It’s misleading to your genuine followers, to brands you might work with and most importantly: it’s unnecessary. It hurts my heart that someone is seeking validation that much that buying some numbers in a fake popularity contest seems like a viable way to succeed. It’s not. Someone who has 300k followers is no better or special than someone with 3.

Let’s talk the kindness brigade. ‘be kind’ is another massively overused term. Of course we should be kind. It shouldn’t really have to be said but ironically it’s used by some of the biggest bitches on these squares. Also if someone’s not kind do you think reading an ‘inspirational’ meme on he gram is going to change someone’s ways? I’m guessing no! We’re grown ups and in theory we should have the common sense to be kind. I’m ok for reminders, thanks.

Bloggers and influencers have a tendency to jump on hot topics. We love a bandwagon. For me certain issues don’t need a bandwagon. They need facts and REAL experiences. Mental health for example. Share your experience by all means. It’s so important that we do but for the love of god please don’t give ‘advice’ on medications etc. Let’s leave that to medical professionals. Everyone is different and we respond differently to treatment. You have no idea how your words can impact people so jumping on a very serious topic to increase your stats in all kinds of wrong.

Getting sent freebies can seem enticing and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a welcome perk but working with brands has to be done right. So many people go asking for freebies with no regards for the fact small businesses just can’t go giving things away willy nilly. It’s just not cost effective and the sense of entitlement that some bloggers have just blows my tiny mind. I’ve worked and will continue to work with some businesses that I’m happy to support because I love them. To the point where I'd happily meet up with them for a gin and a chat.

I’ve had some hellish experiences with brands too but thankfully these are few and far between. I bought some items from a lady, I was a loyal customer and she offered to gift me an item for a charity raffle I was organising. In return for a mention on my page. She messaged me a week later saying she’d been mentioned by a huge account and therefore didn’t need exposure from me and my tiny following so the deal was off. That was an eye opener but luckily I’m extremely thick skinned. You have to be. There are twonks in all walks of life.

Sadly blogging seems to be dying a death. We live in a fast paced society and stories can be easier for many to follow. I’m guilty of using my feed as a mini blog post as it’s so much easier to grab attention on there and let’s face it it’s quicker to knock up a few paragraphs on there. Laziness play a large part of this plus writing carries very little financial gain in comparison to throwing an ad on the grid. That’s the harsh reality for many - me included.

Someone (who's name escapes me- sorry) recently said 'be more social on the socials' and I love that. Let's remember what social media is really about. Engage, interact. Follow who you love - and get rid of anyone you don't. Instagram gets a bad press but it's not the fault of the app. It's the people and let's not forget the genuine bonds we've formed on there. I've made friends for life.

This year I’ve decided I’m upping my blogging game. It’s cathartic if nothing else and in all honestly I came on Instagram to write so I'm going back to basics. I’m happy to do ads that suit me and promote small businesses I believe in but last year made me realise I need more balance. I don’t want my grid looking like the littlewoods catalogue so you can expect more rambles on here. You’re welcome!

Yvonne
@champagneandsnottynoses
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23 January 2019

Alesha Dixon named judge of the Explore Learning Writers’ Awards 2019



  • Free writing competition for children aged four to 14 launches 11th March
  • Winner awarded a trip to Disneyland Paris and £500 of books for their school
  • Author, TV presenter and singer Alesha Dixon is this year’s incredible judge who will surprise the winner at their school!
Children’s author, TV presenter and singer Alesha Dixon, has been named this year’s judge of the Explore Learning Writers’ Awards.  The competition, now in its 11th year encourages children from across the UK to get their imaginations going and write a 500-word story in the hope that they will be selected by Alesha and the team at Explore Learning as their writer of the year!  The winner will receive a trip to Disneyland Paris for their whole family as well as £500 worth of books for their school libraries AND a meet and greet with global superstar, Alesha Dixon, who will surprise them at their school!

The competition will be open for entry from Monday 11th March and Explore Learning will be running a number of FREE creative writing workshops with schools and libraries across the UK to inspire children to take part.

The closing date of entry is Sunday 5th May and this year’s theme will be announced when the competition opens! Previous themes have been: Heroes, The Future and Around The World.

The multi-talented Alesha Dixon first found fame as part of Brit-nominated and MOBO Award-winning group Mis-teeq, which achieved two platinum albums and seven Top Ten hits, before going on to become a platinum-selling solo artist in her own right.  Alesha’s appearance on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 led to her winning the series and becoming a judge for three seasons. Since then she has presented and hosted many TV shows including CBBC dance show Alesha’s Street Dance Stars, Children In Need, Sport Relief, Your Face Sounds Familiar, and ITV’s Dance, Dance, Dance. She is a hugely popular judge on Britain’s Got Talent and has just been announced as the presenter of new BBC show, The Greatest Dancer. 

She has written two very popular children’s books – Lightning Girl (launched in April 2018) and Lightning Girl 2: Superhero Squad (September 2018) about 11-year-old Aurora Beam who finds out she has superhero powers!  The laugh-out-loud high-voltage adventures have received rave reviews and the third instalment is set to be released in March 2019.

Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “We are thrilled to have Alesha Dixon as our judge for 2019.  Her Lightning Girl series is so popular with our members at Explore Learning and we are sure that she will inspire lots of children across the UK to have a go at entering the competition in the hope that their creativity will impress Alesha!  We can’t wait to launch the competition and see what incredible stories the children of the UK come up with!”

Last year over 38,000 children entered the competition and previous prolific judges include David Walliams, Steve Backshall, Cressida Cowell, Lauren Child and Liz Pichon!  Last year’s winner was eight years old, Mia Falatoori from London who impressed David Walliams with her story ‘The Mum with the Toxic Bum’ which you can read here.

Throughout the next six months Explore Learning will be providing some top writing tips from their creative writing team, previous winners, judges and best-selling authors via their website, social media and face to face.  They will also be hosting a collection of free downloadable information on their website that can be used at home or in the classroom as well as running free workshops with local libraries, schools and community groups to inspire children’s love of writing and support them with their entries.  For more information visit www.explorelearning.co.uk/writersawards.

Explore Learning are an award-winning English and maths tuition company with 143 centres located all over the country.  Over 35,000 children aged four to 14 attend their centres each week.  Explore Learning’s aim is to help every child reach their full potential and get the best results they can, but more importantly develop a generation of fearless learners.
  
For more information about the National Young Writers’ Awards visit www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngwriters



About Explore Learning
  • Explore Learning provides maths and English tuition for 4 to 14 year olds 
  • Over 35,000 children attend Explore Learning centres every week.  It has 143 centres across the UK 
  • All courses are aligned to the National Curriculum and Curriculum for Excellence and Explore Learning tutors select appropriate resources for each child to ensure they cover a combination of courses, enabling them to reach their potential in all areas.
  • All Explore centres are located in areas that are convenient for families to attend – these include centres within shopping centres such as Westfield London, Lakeside, Cabot Circus and Sainsbury’s supermarkets. 
  • Explore Learning was named the best Private Tuition Centre Operator in the Education Investor Awards 2014, 2015 and 2016, a One to Watch in The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100, a finalist in the European Business Awards and were recently named the 20th Best Place to Work For by GlassDoor. For the last 6 years Explore Learning has been named as one of the Sunday Times Best Companies to work for in the UK.
About Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon first found fame as part of Brit-nominated and MOBO Award-winning group Mis-teeq, which achieved two platinum albums and seven Top Ten hits, before going on to become a platinum selling solo artist in her own right. Alesha’s appearance on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 led to her winning the series and becoming a judge for three seasons. Since then she has presented and hosted many TV shows including: CBBC dance show Alesha’s Street Dance Stars, Children In Need, Sport Relief, Your Face Sounds Familiar, and ITV’s Dance, Dance, Dance. She is a hugely popular judge on Britain’s Got Talent and has just been announced as the presenter of new BBC show, The Greatest Dancer. 

She has written two very popular children’s books – Lightning Girl (launched in April 2018) and Lightning Girl 2: Superhero Squad (September 2018) about an 11 year old girl who discovers her superhero powers!  Her third book is set to launch in March 2019.
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The Loneliness of Motherhood


The Loneliness of Motherhood


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14 January 2019

5 Things I Wish I'd Known...

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To label or not to label…

I have heard this ‘debate’ so many times, however, most often, it is those who do not have a child with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND) that have the strongest opinions regarding labelling a child. Not always, but often.

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10 January 2019

To the lonely mum or dad...

To the lonely mum or dad...

My early days of newborn glee I remember hazily. I was fueled by my overpowering love and utter disbelief that I in fact had created a tiny human with ten little fingers and ten little toes (I think I spent the first few weeks just gaping at Arthur and saying, "He's actually real. This really did happen.
This eventually dissipated and whilst the love still grew, the reality of cluster feeding, engorged tits, brutal loneliness and sleepless nights took it toll quite heavily.

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Comment or not to comment…?

Unless you’ve been underneath an Instagram rock lately you would have seen the ever-growing group of females, mostly all Mum’s, taking over your feed and flooding you with their Kick-Ass vlogs, blogs and books. And, it certainly is impressive.

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2 January 2019

I grew up collecting Care Bears, not likes on social media!

It’s has been 20 days since I wrote my last post about my deep dive into my headspace and emotional goals. People have been super responsive, and I’ve had some fascinating conversations (thanks!), though I think I may have also weirded some people out like I just flashed my boobs on the internet or something. Baps out or not, (and my god, they used to be out a lot; I refer here to the time I was nearly arrested in Mexico for topless sunbathing. I’m digressing already, first para in, this doesn’t bode well for this post, you better get a cuppa on hand), I already feel so much lighter, freer and focussed. I certainly don’t feel like I got naked on the internet.

My first step towards a healthier headspace was that I deleted social media for a couple of weeks to see what it was like going cold: quick disclaimer here, this is not a post about me sitting on a self-righteous judgy throne being all like, ‘I totally just digitally-detoxed, and I’m like totally a new person who lives in the moment now’, because that’s annoying, and also not true, but during some ‘reflection’ (I think that’s the professional term for what I’m doing here with this emotions business, though I’ve always been shite at professional terms), I observed that I’m quite shouty at myself in reference to my phone and social media use. Rather than just listening to these ongoing internal scoldings, I decided to reply to them quite simply by saying, ‘well let’s just try and find oout if you are really addicted, self-indulgent and not living in the moment. This idea was so basic (bitch), yet felt liberating. Being kind and reasonable to yourself, and responding to negative thought patterns rationally and with control, feels like some kind of revolutionary and rebellious act. I highly recommend it.

But first, I wanna go back in time….

xxx has invited you to join Facebook
xxx has invited you to join Facebook
xxx has invited you to join Facebook

“Do you keep getting these invites to this thing called Facebook?”

“Yeah”

“What even is it?!”

“I think it’s like Friends United, but less rubbish and not about school. Maybe more like mySpace, but not your own space; everyone’s all in the same place”

“Oh right. I don’t think I can be arsed. My MySpace is so good and I just worked out how to put a song on”

“Yeah and that video you added to your page of you doing the hula hoop WAS pretty cool”

“I know. It took me 12 days to work that out. It was worth it.”.

xxx has invited you to join Facebook
xxx has invited you to join Facebook
xxx has invited you to join Facebook

“So, I joined the Facebook – everyone’s on it”

“Who?!”

“Everyone. You can see what people, they write a ‘status’ thing and people have their own wall where you can leave messages on the wall and see people’s pictures”

“Shit. I’m totally joining. I want a wall.”

The year is 2006. Ben and I are living in Australia. I was sponsored to live there for a job I bagged in Melbourne. It’s my second ‘proper’ adult job. I’m really fit. I go to 7am kickboxing classes, to spar. We both skate longboards. We take 6am beach runs. We’re THAT couple. I take flying trapeze and pole dancing lessons. We live in an art deco one bedroom flat, which if you lean over the balcony and crane your neck a bit, you can see the sea. We do not have air conditioning, we can’t afford that. When it gets really hot in the summer, I make an ice bath before we go to sleep, and when we wake up hot in the night, we zombie shuffle to the en-suite and take a dunk. I put my pillow in the freezer before bed. We both agree this is a genius idea that we should probably be famous for it. There are penguins at the bottom of our pier. We buy food at the fresh food market every weekend, and I bring it back in a granny trolley on the tram.


It honestly is, as good as it sounds.

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