Is blog honesty the best policy?

Last week, I joined the More To Life Than Shoes website, and after only a few days, got a message from Nadia (our fabulous leader!) She passed on an ad from a company looking for a part-time copywriter / blogger, so I sent an email to investigate…

The initial feedback sounded interesting. The company is based within the film and TV industry, located within a half hour drive and, there is potential for an avalanche of copywriting. The owner is interesting and engaging to talk to, and has seen a spark of potential in me through reading this blog!

I have often wondered if blog honesty is the best policy. I’ve written in detail about the highs and lows of searching for a great copywriting / blogging job, and did wonder if it would ever come back to bite me! My out-of-the-blue email enquiry, backed up by my blog, is either going to fade into nothing or, provide a great step into an interesting new world…

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Running 5k (away from peanut butter!)

Since coming back from holiday in April half a stone heavier, (all that lovely American food was worth it!), my fitness regime has taken a bit of a nosedive. I haven’t had the desire to get back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon yet, so I’ve been relying on sporadic gym visits to get me back on track.

Peanut butter on toastAlas, I’m only human, and I’m not working out enough to combat the speed I can eat peanut butter on toast! To spur me on, I’ve signed up again this year for the St Albans Race for Life. The thought of running a 5k where I MUST BEAT last year’s time, is enough pressure to get my trainers back on!

Being a great fan of ‘The Biggest Loser USA’ and MTV’s ‘I Used To Be Fat’, I’m mortified to see people weighing twice as much as I do, running 5K in half the time it takes me! Ok, so these people work out for 6 hours every day with a personal trainer by their side but even so, I was feeling pretty inadequate.

For all you treadmill junkies out there, I usually run on a 7.2km speed and build up slowly to 8.5km by the end. If I complete the 5k (because sometimes I haven’t got the stamina to run more than 3k), it takes around 45 minutes. To up the ante, my speed is now 8.5km for most of the run with a quick sprint right at the end, in desperation to get finished! This takes about 35 minutes.

I’m never going to break any Olympic speed records at this rate, but as long as I can run the whole way AND beat last year’s time, it will be a great achievement for me! Why not donate the cost of one cup of coffee to a great cause? £2.50 can help to make a world of difference in cancer research… If you’d like to sponsor me, follow this link http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/charlottemoore3103

Thanks to boozebagbettygoestorehab.blogspot.com for the image!

Super-size, American style!

Anyone who knows me is familiar with my love affair with America – it’s the holiday destination of choice for Other Half and I (every year if finances allow!) One of the reasons we love going is to sample the different foods on offer but, one thing never fails to amaze us – the portion sizes are out of this world, but not in a good way!

Whilst in Florida, we visited Olive Garden – a popular Italian style restaurant chain. We went in for lunch and ordered a pizza for me and a pasta dish for Other Half. The waitress asked whether I wanted soup or salad and I politely declined either. She looked at me wide-eyed in shock and said, “But it’s free?!?” To keep the peace, I agreed to a salad and Other Half chose one of the 4 soups on offer. We had delicious warm, fluffy garlic breadsticks left on the table to occupy us while we waited.

Less than 10 minutes later, my super-sized salad arrived…
  Olive Garden Salad

I’m not sure if the photo conveys how big this 1 person salad is, but it’s no exaggeration to say I could have worn the bowl as a hat! We also heard from the customer behind us that the soup and salad can be replenished at no extra cost, as many times as you like. This is all before the main course has even arrived…

This is the norm in America. I often wonder what the Yanks think when they visit Britain – are they astounded that you have to order and pay for a separate starter? When the main course arrives, are they startled by the average sized portion?

I love America and its wonderfully hospitable people, but they are literally killing themselves with kindness…

Service with a smile… American style!

I’ve been lucky enough to holiday in the wonderful USA and was reminded once again, that somethings are just done best American stylie! The Yanks are well-known for their friendly and welcoming attitude and, while we British may laugh at some of their OTT mannerisms, they have a lot to teach us about great customer service.

I was putting my credit card limit to the test in a Florida outlet shopping mall and wandered into a shop called ‘Dressbarn’. There were a myriad of dresses that I just had to try on and within 10 minutes, I had 6 different styles in my arms, and had only looked round half the shop. The Assistant came over and asked, “Can I set a dressing room up for you Ma’am?” She then unloaded the dresses from me and whisked them into a changing cubicle while I picked up another couple of styles.

As I entered my dressing room, the Assistant noticed my current t-shirt / shorts / trainer combo, and offered to bring me shoes to try on with the dresses. It was service like I have never experienced before and this wasn’t an isolated case. It seems to be the norm that Shop Assistants ask if anyone helped you while you shopped and, if you found everything you were looking for.

American Shop Assistants are on basic wage, the same as many of their British counterparts, yet their attitude is so different. They seem to care that you have a good shopping experience and are always offering to help. Shopping in Blighty often makes you feel like you are a ‘nusiance customer’ when you interrupt the staff in mid-conversation to ask for another size or, enquire about a particular style and get the blanket answer “If it’s not out, we haven’t got anymore”. 

As work takes up so much of our life, surely a friendly smile and a dose of American can-do attitude would make all of our lives just that little bit sunnier..?

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

So, as the countdown to my holidays is getting ever closer, hitting my weight loss target looms further away…

I’m at that really rubbish stage where I only have 4lbs left to meet my goal, and it has stubbornly eluded me for the past few weeks. I decided to go bikini shopping to celebrate the weight loss I’ve achieved up until now, and feel I must make a complaint on behalf of all ladies out there:

Lighting and mirrors in shops are NOT flattering!

Despite being a fairly slim size 10/12, the harsh lighting and mirrors made me look as though I hadn’t even bothered to give up muffins, orange kitkats and the odd piece of cheesecake for the past 2 months! Every bump and dimple I own (plus many more I didn’t know I had) were highlighted under the vicious strip lighting in the tiny changing room.

This was in a huge department store (who you would assume had money and consumer flattering sense at their disposal), and I felt like diving straight into a Starbuck’s skinny latte and a full fat cinnamon swirl!

Fortunately, after 1 hour 20 minutes of intense trying on (because bikini shopping is a serious business!), I settled on two lovely bikinis and a matching bag. Doing a quick fashion show back at home for Other Half in   
softer lighting, made me look and feel a million times better in my new purchases.

If Mary Portas needs a new cause, changing rooms and strip lighting is top of my list – JUSTICE FOR NORMAL WOMEN’S THIGHS!!!

There’s ‘more to life than shoes’ apparently!

As my work life is about to experience a big upheaval, I thought it was time to look out for new potential opportunities. Several months ago, I saw a flyer in my local Starbucks for a women’s group called ‘More To Life Than Shoes‘. I went along to my first meeting a few weeks ago and it was a real mix of women from various backgrounds, at different stages of their lives and careers. 

About 15 of us mingled in small groups, introducing ourselves by name and supplying the small crowd with a quick snapshot of our lives to date.

The main discussion topic was ‘decisions’ – it couldn’t have been more apt for me if I believed in luck / horoscopes / karma etc! We split up into different groups to discuss what influences our decision-making processes, how we prioritise our thinking and the speed involved. Later, we moved into ‘sliding door moments’ when decisions we had or had not made, had shaped our lives in a particular way. This was an easy one for me as I have two:

Randomly choosing Other Half to send an IM to while in an online chatroom
and
3 1/2 years later, accepting a job that meant moving from the North to the South to be with him.

I can report my life is very happily shaped due to both of those decisions!

There was  also a section called ‘The Buzz’ where you bring along any interesting articles, gadgets, tweets etc to share with the group. Finally, we buddied up and each decided one action we would definitely do over the next month, then made a firm decision to contact your buddy during that time to update them on your progress i.e. this means you actually have to do it!

It was a worthwhile way to spend almost 3 hours on a Tuesday night, and I was really inspired by the amount of women who were taking a risk and making changes to their lives. I felt like I was in good company and plan to have some business cards ready for the next meeting…

Coffee and a slice of advice please…

Girls think too much – fact! However, when two girls get together, all those extra words and thoughts mean you can tackle the biggest problems and come up with amazing solutions!

Last weekend, good friend CB and I met up for Starbucks and a girly chat. Amongst delicious sips of skinny latte, we talked about my current work dilemma – how the ideal job I thought I’d got is anything but – and together, we figured out what the next stage should be in my work/life plan. It’s so good to have someone to talk about it who is removed from my personal situation, but at the same time, has similar experiences herself. CB reiterated many thoughts that had run round my head for the past few weeks and as we parted a couple of hours later, I was buzzing as a result of our chat, rather than the espresso (I’m a one shot wimp!)  

Buoyed by the thought of a light at the end of this work tunnel, a phone call later that night from my parents (who knew nothing of my new plan), simply reconfirmed the decisions I had made earlier that day. You know in your heart and mind when something feels right,  but it doesn’t mean you don’t feel nervous at the same time! Breaking news of the plan to my wonderful Other Half at breakfast the next day was scary – not because I didn’t think he would support me – but because I didn’t want him to think that I had failed. He didn’t, of course, and this attitude is one of hundreds of reasons I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have found him. He simply gave me more words of advice and encouragement and, offered to help me progress the plan using his own area of expertise.

Change is a scary thing; it’s much easier to carry on with the familiar each day, bemoaning the life you feel you are missing out on, but doing nothing about it. Taking a risk takes courage; I’m at a point in my life now where I’m prepared to go all out for what I want to do because YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE! I’m scared and excited and nervous and happy – a combination that keeps adding spice to life…