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Love Audrey by Franky-loveaudrey - 1M ago

Before it was a business, Love Audrey was ‘just a blog’. Today, that blog is ten years old. I can’t imagine what my life would look like now if I hadn’t claimed a corner of the internet for myself back in 2009. Blogging has been the catalyst for so many amazing things in my life. I’ve built a career and formed some incredible friendships along the way.

In 2009, I was…
  • 37 weeks pregnant with Jesse, my second child.
  • Living with my long-term boyfriend, Mr L.A., in Exeter.
  • Preparing to sit my university finals at the end of the summer.
  • Feeling anxious about four-year-old Izzy starting school in September.
  • Thinking about applying for a PGCE. Or maybe a Masters.
  • Dreaming about writing for a living.
  • In excellent physical health.
In 2019, I am… The Beauty of Online Communities

The thing I’m most proud of is the community that’s grown and developed around Love Audrey. I’ve never had millions of readers, but many of you have been with me from the very beginning. We’ve been through a lot together. Sometimes I think you know the ups and downs and the ins and outs of my life over the last ten years better than I do!

I’ve always tried to share things that are useful or inspiring, but for every post I’ve published, you’ve given so much more in return. You’re always there with words of encouragement and helpful advice, cheering me on and celebrating my biggest wins.

Living with a chronic illness can be incredibly isolating, but I feel less alone whenever you slide into my DMs. You remember my kids’ birthdays and you share my pride when they do well. You get excited about the stuff I’m excited about, and you share your enthusiasm so generously.

This is what I love about blogging and the internet more generally – the way we become invested in one another’s lives.

What’s Next for Love Audrey?

‘I keep reading convos about missing the ‘good old days’ of the internet, when people blogged. Let it be known: YOU CAN STILL BLOG. I still do. I still enjoy reading blogs. Others do, too. I would read your blog. Social media isn’t the only platform, & it’s not the boss of us.’ – Tsh Oxenreider via Twitter

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d love to dedicate more time and energy to my own blog. I want to bring back my weekend posts and share things in a way that’s less fleeting and transient than Instagram Stories. I still love reading blogs and I still have a strong desire to show up here and share.

When I relaunched my website in 2018, I thought Love Audrey had to be a ‘business blog’ and that every post should be carefully crafted with marketing in mind. I soon lost all motivation, posting less than once a month for most of last year.

For me, blogging has always been a form of escapism – something to take me away from the demands of everyday life. It was the perfect antidote to the academic writing of my university years and a wonderful distraction when life revolved around the needs of my very young children.

Nowadays, I spend a considerable amount of time blogging for other businesses, so writing for Love Audrey needs to feel different. I think I’ve been waiting for someone else to tell me it’s OK to post whatever I want. I guess I’d forgotten I can give myself permission.

Thank You

Whether you’re an OG blog reader or a brand new follower, thanks for being here. The last ten years have been a blast and lots of what’s happened wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Love Audrey xxx

P.S. The picture above was taken by my lovely mum at Chelsea Flower Show last week. We had the best day! Maybe I’ll blog about it…

The post 10 Years of Love Audrey appeared first on Love Audrey.

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Love Audrey by Franky-loveaudrey - 5M ago

One of the first books I read last year was Destination Simple – Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life by Brooke McAlery. It’s a quick read packed full of practical advice designed to help you live more simply. Brooke’s description of her morning rhythm and the thinking behind it left a lasting impression, prompting me to create my own.

‘Having a rhythm to your mornings means you know what you need to do and how it needs to unfold. It takes the head work out of your morning, so even if you’re not an energetic person first thing, you will still be productive.’ – Brooke McAlary, Destination Simple – Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life

What I love most about Brooke’s approach is that it encourages you to combine needs and wants. Having asked myself how I want my mornings to feel and what I need to get done, I’ve made space for self-care alongside essential tasks like laundry and packing lunches.

Obviously, some days are more challenging than others, but the morning rhythm outlined below seems to help tasks flow naturally from one to the next. If something doesn’t happen, things don’t fall apart, we just try again tomorrow.

Being more intentional and making a concerted effort to create a gentle, calm environment has had a positive impact on the whole family. Mr L.A. teases me about my hippy tendencies, but deep down he knows mornings are much nicer since instigating these changes!

Instead of starting your day by responding to the stimulus around you, you’re proactively creating the day you want to have. When you wake up and do the most essential things first, you get a good start to your day. Your mind is better focussed on the rest of your day’s tasks. And you’ll do a better job taking are of the people you love most.’ – TSH Oxenreider

  • Early Rise

I’m always the first one up and I’m usually out of bed by 6am. I’m evangelical about my Lumie Bodyclock* which gently starts to brighten 30 minutes before my alarm time, waking me naturally as it reaches full brightness. It makes a huge difference to my energy levels, especially at this time of year.

  • Tea, Coffee, and Morning Chores

While the kettle boils, I empty the dishwasher and put a load of laundry on. Mr L.A. usually appears around this time. He tends to wake Izzy with her mug of tea while I retreat to the sofa with mine.

  • Self-Care

Making self-care part of my morning rhythm has helped it become a non-negotiable part of my day. Sometimes I’ll do a short meditation using the Calm app. Sometimes I’ll dedicate 10 minutes to writing in my Letterfolk Abridged Journal. I’ll always spend at least 30 minutes reading.

If my children were younger and less self-sufficient, I might not be able to allocate quite as much time to these tasks. But I think most of us can make space for at least one small moment of self-care every morning.

I also use this time to diffuse essential oils and listen to classical playlists on Spotify. I’ve had my Made by Zen SOTO Aroma Diffuser* for a while and it remains a firm favourite. At the moment, I’m mainly reaching for State of Liberty’s Winter Essential Oil Blend or On Guard by Doterra.

  • Breakfast

Jesse tends to surface a little after 7am. Once he’s been coaxed into his uniform, we’ll eat breakfast together in the kitchen. I keep things pretty simple, opting for granola with coconut yogurt or a toasted bagel topped with marmite. To avoid creating another chore later in the day, we try to clean the kitchen as we go.

  • Shower and Dress

Thanks to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, getting showered and dressed isn’t always a given. Sometimes, I simply don’t have the energy, but I always feel better on days that I do.

  • Make the Bed

I’ve been following The Organised Mum Method since last October and I’d really recommend it. The daily Level 1 jobs help me keep on top of things like laundry and cleaning the bathroom. I don’t think ensuring beds are made every morning is quite as crucial to the running of our home, but I like how the house feels when it’s done.

  • Hang Washing

If I don’t hang the wet laundry almost as soon as the machine finishes it often remains damp all day, languishing in the drum until bedtime. Dry clothes are folded and carried upstairs to make way for a fresh load.

  • Out the Door

Izzy leaves the house under her own steam at around 7.45am. Unfortunately, I’m not well enough to do the school run every day, but I’m always at the door to see Jesse off. Once everyone’s gone, I tend to make myself another cup of tea before heading upstairs to the office.

  • You can listen to me chat about our rhythm in more detail in episode three of Friends With Business Benefits, the podcast I co-host with Charlie Swift. If you’d like to establish your own morning rhythm, Destination Simple takes you through the process step-by-step. You’ll also find some useful resources on Brooke’s podcast and blog.

Love Audrey xxx

*This post contains affiliate links.

The post My Morning Rhythm appeared first on Love Audrey.

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Love Audrey by Franky-loveaudrey - 6M ago

I’m writing this on the first Saturday of 2019. It’s bitterly cold outside, so I’ve got the fan-heater running as I type. The constant whir of its motor muffles the sound of Sigur Rós playing from my new Echo Dot on the floor below. The light in our attic-office is dull and gloomy, and I find myself wondering how the first week of January can feel so different to the final week of December.

I’ve been writing a version of this post every year since 2010. I take great comfort from the familiar ritual and relish the opportunity to reflect on the past and contemplate the future. This time last year, I was worried. Worried a bad year would follow a good one, that there would be storms to weather or struggles to overcome.

For the most part, my worries were unfounded – 2018 was a great year! Perhaps this should give me more confidence as we head into 2019, but as we’re all facing a degree of uncertainty in the coming weeks and months, I think cautious apprehension is an understandable response.

Looking back…

I did so much in 2018 that I’m incredibly proud of. Launching a new website, gaining new clients, selling new services, running two workshops with The Little Wedding Helper, and ending the year co-hosting a new podcast with my pal, Charlie Swift.

I was also featured by Unconditionally Nourished and Katie Morwenna, published on the State of Liberty blog, and interviewed for two brilliant podcasts, Work Like a Mother and Shoot, Edit, Chat, Repeat.

My word for the year was ‘thrive’. Professionally, that’s exactly what I did and I’m starting 2019 with my copywriting services in greater demand than ever before. I love the work I do, and I’m filled with gratitude, but behind the scenes, things have felt a little off.

The balance and simplicity I worked so hard to achieve after my CFS diagnosis has been out of whack for a while. I know I need to make some changes to my business, but for now, I’m still figuring things out. Wish me luck!

The children continued to grow and change in ways I couldn’t have predicted. Izzy turns 14 at the end of January and we’re still very much getting to grips with the reality of parenting a teen. Year 9 has been her best year yet at secondary school. I’m so proud of the way she conducts herself. She scored the lead role in the school play and shows unwavering commitment to the K-Pop dance group she attends each week.

Jesse fell hard for football in 2018 and his passion for playing and watching the sport dominates his every waking hour. Mr L.A. even overheard him commentating an imaginary game in bed the other night! He continues to work hard at Tae Kwon Do and after a bumpy start, he’s finally settled into Year 5 at school. I can hardly believe my baby boy will turn 10 in six month’s time!

As a family, the highlight of our year was definitely our trip to Koh Samui in July. As well as plenty of rest and relaxation, we had an incredible time exploring the island. I doubt we’ll travel as far in 2019, but sharing adventures together as a family will remain a top priority. The fact we purchased our first car in October should make this a lot easier to achieve. I can’t wait to embark on our first proper road trip!

Looking forward…

So far this year, I haven’t felt the urge to plot and plan my every move. My goals, both personal and professional, are still hazy, nebulous concepts floating through my mind.

Although January can be a useful jumping off point for change, I’m not convinced it’s the best time to overhaul my life. In winter, I crave calm, rest, and sleep. I think I’ll leave the goal setting till spring, when my energy starts to shift as much as the earth’s.

‘Nothing will give you a stronger, truer direction than yourself. Your gut, your intuition, your body, are all telling you what’s right for you.’ – Kayte Ferris, Simple & Season

For now, I want to focus on reconnecting with myself. Last year, I lost sight of how I want my life to look. I also failed miserably at prioritising things that have always brought me joy. The one thing I definitely want to do more of in 2019 is write for no other reason than to please myself. I give so much of my creativity to other people. This year, I’m determined to save some just for me.

As ever, I’m hoping for lots of travel and adventure. I’m planning a brief trip away during the Easter break and we’ll be heading to Dorset again in the summer. My mum and I are off to the Chelsea Flower Show in May and we’ve also got tickets to the Dior exhibition at the V&A. Mr L.A. has planned a packed weekend away for our anniversary later this month, so there’s plenty to look forward to.

How about you? What are your hopes and dreams for 2019?

Love Audrey xxx

P.S. Like Jesse, this blog will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2019! How crazy is that?!

The post Hello 2019 appeared first on Love Audrey.

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Our trip to Koh Samui, Thailand, in July had a rocky beginning. The Malaysia Airlines flight from Heathrow was initially delayed and then cancelled due to technical difficulties. After spending the night in an airport hotel, we woke early for round two, battling further delays before finally departing. When we landed in Kuala Lumpur 13 hours later, we raced to meet our connecting flight, only to discover we hadn’t been checked in. We were diverted via Singapore and eventually reached our destination more than 24 hours late. To add insult to injury, the airline misplaced our luggage for a further three days.

Although we can laugh about it now, the whole experience was incredibly stressful and exhausting. The kids took it all in their stride, and despite hours and hours of travelling, they remained in good spirits throughout. Luckily, we were able to extend our trip and make up the time we missed.

Journey from hell aside, it was an amazing holiday. This was our fourth trip to Thailand and our second time visiting Koh Samui, the first being our honeymoon in 2012. Although it’s a long way to go, we think it’s an ideal destination for those with children in tow. I wanted to create this family-friendly mini guide to Koh Samui just in case any of you are curious about visiting the island with kids.

  • Where We Stayed

Our ground floor beach front suite at The Tongsai Bay was easily one of the best places we’ve ever stayed. Located on a lush, green hillside overlooking a peaceful, private bay, the hotel and its staff made us feel welcome from the moment we arrived. As well as helping us locate our lost luggage, they provided impeccable, friendly service throughout our stay.

We enjoyed delicious food and drink at both Po-Lad Beach Bar and Chef Chom’s Restaurant. Breakfast was a delight each morning, especially the freshly prepared smoothies, and I was really impressed by the hotel’s vegan menu. After two indulgent treatments, I can also recommend Prana Spa. The children loved the free-form pool and we also made the most of the free kayaks and paddle boards at the beach.

  • Things to Do

We wanted a combination of relaxation and adventure, and that’s exactly what we got. As well as days spent lounging at the water’s edge, we hired a driver through the hotel and explored the island by car, visiting some breath-taking sights. Wat Plai Laem, an ornate Buddhist temple surrounded by an artificial lake and giant religious statues, was a firm favourite. Wat Phra Yai, known as the Big Buddha Temple, took my breath away all over again and Pagoda Khao Hua Jook was also incredible.

We fell in love with the Secret Buddha Garden, a beautiful hilltop garden created by an old Samui fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who in 1976 began building statues and temples on his family’s land. The statues depict a number of animals, deities and humans in various poses, including one of Khun Nim himself. Crossing waterfalls and streams as we wandered among the sculptures beneath thick jungle foliage really did feel quite magical.

Na Mueang Waterfall was busy, but fun. We all managed a swim in the pool and Jesse absolutely loved clambering across the rocks. I’d also recommend a quick stop at Lad Koh Viewpoint for panoramic views across the water towards the Chaweng beach area.

Carl and Jesse spent a wonderful morning at Samui Football Golf. It was an affordable treat and transfers from our hotel were included in the price.

After a fabulous experience during our honeymoon, we were very excited about visiting Ang Thong Marine Park with the children. It’s definitely something I’d recommend if the weather is good and you can afford a fairly luxurious tour operator. Unfortunately, on this occasion we went with Insea Speedboat and had a terrible time. Everything that could possibly go wrong, did, and we didn’t feel safe at all. I would urge you to avoid this company at all costs.

  • Food & Drink

Dining out and sampling local cuisine is one of our favourite things to do when we visit Thailand. Food and drink are incredibly cheap and we’ve never had a bad meal. The nearest village to our hotel, Cheong Mon, was a little too far to walk, but grabbing a taxi suited us fine. Having eaten there multiple times, Krua Thai on the main road would be our top pick. Cocktail King a couple of doors down is also well worth a visit.

The night market at Fisherman’s Village was as much fun as we remembered, although we found it a great deal busier. I’d recommend arriving early so you can wander slowly while it’s quiet. If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, a sling or carrier is essential. We filled up on all sorts of street food and the super cheap mojitos were among the best we’ve ever tasted.

At the beginning of our stay, when we were without luggage and desperate for clean pants, we ventured to Chaweng. It’s very lively and busy, especially at night, but if you want to hit the shops or fancy the familiarity of Starbucks and McDonalds, it’s where you need to be. The children very much enjoyed the beach too.

We didn’t have any issues finding vegan and vegetarian meals. As Thailand attracts quite a young crowd and plenty of backpackers, I felt restaurants were keen to provide plenty of options. Many advertised vegan dishes and I ate well everywhere we went. Tofu pad Thai and stir-fried morning glory were among my favourite dishes and I couldn’t get enough of mango with sticky rice for dessert. Jesse, a notoriously fussy eater, ate a lot of chicken satay and chips.

  • Useful Links & Top Tips

You might also be interested in my posts from 2012 about our honeymoon. Discover what we ate and where we stayed.

We booked this trip through Trailfinders. When everything went horribly wrong with our outward journey, their service was outstanding. As well as rearranging transfers and liaising with the hotel, they also made it easy for us to extend our stay. They switched our flights with minimal fuss and helped us secure extra nights at Tongsai Bay without the hassle of having to move rooms.

Our visit fell during the rainy season, but we didn’t have any issues with ‘bad’ weather. It was always hot, sometimes overcast, and the kids loved the sporadic early evening downpours. They would run straight to the pool whenever the heavens opened! However, it was a factor in our disastrous boat trip to the Marine Park, so I’d suggest checking weather reports before booking anything similar.

Love Audrey - Koh Samui with Kids - Summer 2018 - YouTube

  • Our love affair with Thailand continues and there’s still so much we want to explore. We’re yet to venture beyond the confines of the airport in Bangkok and I’d love to see more of the mainland in general. How about you?

Love Audrey xxx

The post A Family-Friendly Mini Guide to Koh Samui appeared first on Love Audrey.

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I know how hard it is to take time off when you’re self-employed, but I believe it’s vital if you want to build a business that’s sustainable. Assuming everything goes according to plan, by the time this post publishes, I’ll be lounging on a beach in Thailand. As I type, it’s my last day at my desk before I down tools for a two-week holiday with my family.

Although there’s been a significant shift in recent years, busyness remains a badge of honour within the freelance community. The busiest people are considered the most successful and to be constantly sought after and in demand is the goal. When business owners describe downtime, they often talk of packing their laptop and checking emails on the go. Fellow freelancers nod in agreement, silently endorsing this unrelenting approach. The idea that we must always be working is accepted as fact when it should probably ring alarm bells.

‘Mindful engagement in leisure… renews and restores us, and it has a positive effect on our health. We’re really doing a trip on ourselves by feeling guilty about downtime, but we have to get past those feelings to restore our mental and physical health.’ – Mary Waller, Professor of Organisation Studies, York University’s Schulich School of Business.

  • Hustle and Hard Work

While building a new business, there’s definitely an intense phase when hustle and hard work is to be expected. Taking time off can genuinely feel impossible, so rest and self-care must take place in other ways.

Even during the earliest stages of your career, I think it’s a good idea to consider what you want your business to look and feel like in the future. Do you really want to work every weekend until you die? How healthy do you think you’ll be if you never take a break? What’s the point of being your own boss if you willingly work yourself into the ground?

As scary as it seems, spending time away from your desk can hugely benefit your business. Not only are rest and relaxation vital for creativity, they’re essential if you want to avoid burning out.

But how do you take time off when you’re self-employed?

  • Schedule It In

If you want to enjoy more than a long weekend away, a degree of forward planning is required. Schedule time off at the beginning of the year, mark your calendar and plan your workload around these dates.

Over time, I’ve realised how work tends to ebb and flow throughout the year. September to March is usually a very busy period for me, so it doesn’t make sense to book time off. Study last year’s diary and see if you can identify a pattern. When do your clients need you most? Take advantage of quieter months and make sure you’re energised and refreshed for your busiest season.

If you’re a parent of school age children, I’d recommend getting to grips with term dates at the beginning of the academic year. Note down all the holidays {including inset days}, decide which ones you’ll take off, and start arranging childcare for the others. If you’re feeling stuck, Val’s post about what she calls ‘the school holiday juggle struggle‘ is well worth a read.

  •  Plan Your Finances

The financial implications of taking time off when you’re self-employed are impossible to ignore. There’s no holiday pay, so if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning. I completely understand the complexities of this and I don’t want to be dismissive of the consequences. Freelance life is often feast or famine and I know how stressful this can be.

I try to treat time off like a business outgoing, establishing it as a cost I need to cover from the beginning of the financial year. Just as you might siphon money off to pay your tax bill or invest in personal development, I aim to create a financial buffer that’s essentially earmarked for relaxation.

Although we’ve been able to book a big trip this year, when money’s tight we holiday at home or stay with family. Switching off from work and spending time together is the main priority and they can both be achieved on a tight budget.

  • Manage Expectations

Although taking time off is about prioritising your own needs, it’s important to consider your clients too. I always communicate holiday dates well in advance. If I’m taking on a new project that might be affected, I make this clear at the outset. For clients I have an ongoing relationship with, I’ll ask them what they might need while I’m away and endeavour to provide it in advance. This might mean my pre-holiday workload is intense, but it’s always, always worth it.

Another huge barrier to taking time off as a freelancer can be fear of missing out on future work. What if your dream job lands in your inbox while you’re away? Although I can’t promise good things won’t pass you by, a killer ‘out of office’ reply could work in your favour. Direct people to previous work, encourage them to follow your travels on Instagram, and assure them your post-holiday response will be worth waiting for. If you do miss out on an exciting opportunity, remember protecting yourself from burnout now will help you achieve bigger and better things in the future.

  • When did you last take some time off?

Love Audrey x

The post How to Take Time Off When You’re Self-Employed appeared first on Love Audrey.

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For the last 18 months, I’ve been meeting with my friend and fellow freelancer, Charlie Swift, for regular co-mentoring sessions. Establishing such a supportive, nurturing relationship with another business owner is one of the best things I’ve ever done and it’s definitely something I’d recommend to anyone who’s self-employed, especially if you’re feeling lost, confused, overwhelmed or demotivated.

2016 was a tough year for me, both personally and professionally. My ill health had a huge impact on my ability to work and as the year drew to a close, one of my biggest clients went into administration. I was left with a large unpaid invoice and some serious trust issues. Money was tight and I was beginning to wonder whether my business was viable anymore.

During the Christmas break, I realised I had two options: give up completely or rebuild. I chose the latter, and as we ushered in the new year, I grew more and more determined to make the most of my fresh start.

Around the same time, I read Kristabel’s post about the benefits of a monthly blog meeting and immediately recognised my need for something similar. Back then, my friendship with Charlie was in its infancy, but I knew she was relatively new to freelance life and might be open to the idea.

One evening, while sharing an Uber home, I casually suggested a monthly meet-up of some kind. Charlie was keen, our first session was a success, and here we are a year and a half later!

‘A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.’ — Bob Proctor

What Is Co-Mentoring?

Rather than looking ‘above’ or ‘outside’ your immediate network to find a mentor, co-mentoring is about establishing mutually beneficial learning relationships with colleagues and friends.

For Charlie and me, co-mentoring has seen us supporting one another, facilitating development, and exchanging knowledge and resources. The process is reciprocal and equal, there’s no hierarchy based on experience or perceived success. It’s also friendly, informal, and often fuelled by tea and cake! Most importantly, our meetings are a safe space in which to share the highs and lows of freelance life.

We usually begin with a quick recap of the previous month, addressing any issues or challenges we’ve faced. We also set quarterly goals and targets together, holding each other accountable during future sessions.

Not convinced? To further illustrate the benefits, here are five things I’ve gained from co-mentoring…

  • A Source of Inspiration and Advice

Perhaps the most obvious and abundant benefit of co-mentoring! From her beautiful, creative Instagram feed to her encyclopaedic knowledge of podcasts, Charlie brings so much value to my life. If Tony Robbins is right and we are who we surround ourselves with, I’ve picked a good’un!

  • A Cheerleader

I love the way Charlie encourages and motivates me and repaying the favour feels good too. Sharing our goals and confiding in each other means we’ve become invested in one another’s achievements. I celebrate Charlie’s wins as much as my own and she’s always the first to congratulate me when something goes well.

  • A Second Opinion

Seeking a second opinion from a co-mentor is a great way to disrupt your usual patterns of thinking and find new ways of doing things. Bouncing ideas around with someone who understands my business and my goals has been invaluable. I’ve learned to trust Charlie’s judgement and embrace the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective.

  • Accountability

Although I excel at meeting other people’s expectations, I often struggle with self-imposed targets and goals. Knowing Charlie will be checking in, tracking my progress and holding me accountable has been a massive help.

  • A Confidence Boost

Answering questions, sharing knowledge and recounting past experiences reveals just how much you already know. As someone who struggles with self-doubt on a daily basis, offering Charlie useful insights and practical advice has boosted my confidence and helped me recognise my strengths.

  • Have you ever considered co-mentoring? Charlie and I have gained so much from our sessions, we’re hoping to transform some of our conversations into a podcast series. Watch this space!

Love Audrey xxx

The post 5 Things I’ve Gained From Co-Mentoring appeared first on Love Audrey.

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Love Audrey by Franky-loveaudrey - 1y ago

I love a summer bucket list. I try to write one every year. Sometimes they make it on to the blog, but more often than not they linger in a notebook or on a piece of paper pinned to the fridge.

Making plans and setting goals for the summer isn’t about putting pressure on myself. I’m not aiming for perfection. Summer holidays can be messy and stressful at times. Real life doesn’t stop when the kids break up from school and my husband and I will still have to juggle the demands of self-employment alongside everything else.

Writing a summer bucket list is about setting intentions and figuring out where we want our priorities to lie between now and September. ‘Making memories’ is an overused and often misunderstood phrase. For me, it’s about how we decide to spend our days. As the writer Annie Dillard said:

‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.’

I still remember how it felt as a child to sense summer stretching before you on the last day of term. The weeks ahead seemed filled with the promise of sunshine, plenty of adventure, and for me, an August birthday. I’m sure nostalgia plays its part, but the magic of summer still gets me every year.

With this in mind, here’s how we’re hoping to spend our days during summer 2018…

  • Add A Stamp to Our Passports

Six years ago, Mr L.A. and I honeymooned in Koh Samui. It was our first holiday without the children and although we relished every minute, we also spent a lot of time talking about how much Isabel and Jesse would enjoy the island. In a few short weeks, we’re finally heading back with the kids in tow.

It’s a long time since we’ve flown long haul and ages since we splurged on a posh hotel. Right now, we all need a break. Life has been non-stop since Christmas and despite prioritising rest as much as possible, we’re tired and wrung out. I cannot wait to slow down a little, switch off from work, and unwind in the sunshine.

  • Visit Dorset

It wouldn’t be summer without a visit to my favourite county! Obviously, our big trip this year is to Thailand, but we’re still planning to enjoy a long weekend with my parents in Bridport. Maybe I’ll finally manage to photograph and write the travel guide I’ve been planning to publish for the last few years!

  • Put Our Bodies in a Body of Water

Having finished a few terms of swimming lessons, Jesse is incredibly excited about putting his newly acquired skill to good use. As well as the hotel pool, I want to be braver about swimming in the sea.

Later, when we’re back in the UK, I also want to have a go at wild swimming. There are plenty of rivers and pools near my parents’ house in Dorset, so if the weather’s good over the August bank holiday, I’ll be going for a paddle. If you’re keen, Flora Jamieson is an incredible source of inspiration, as is wildswimming.co.uk.

  • BBQ Whenever the Sun Shines

We finally bought a barbecue last summer but failed to get it up and running before autumn rolled around. This year, I didn’t want to miss out, so a few weeks ago we took a trip to B&Q and came home with a big bottle of patio gas. Our first attempts at grilling have been a huge success and I’m looking forward to a summer filled with al fresco dining. This recipe for Corn on the Cob with Chutney and Mustard-Seed Butter is my current favourite.

  • Host a Party

I’m turning 35 in August and this year I’m determined to celebrate properly. I want to string up fairy lights, order a vegan birthday cake from Earthcake on North Street, and fill our yarden with some of the people I love most.

  • What’s on your summer bucket list? If you’re after some more ideas, Joy the Baker is a pro.

Love Audrey xxx

Photo by Vicko Mozara on Unsplash

The post Our Summer Bucket List appeared first on Love Audrey.

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Love Audrey by Franky-loveaudrey - 1y ago

As a business owner who serves other small businesses, I’ve come to appreciate the power and importance of learning how to delegate. Not only have I needed to outsource things myself, but a large proportion of my income relies on other people choosing to delegate written tasks to me.

Eventually, every business reaches a tipping point. It can take months, sometimes years, but one day you’ll need help. Maybe you’ll no longer be able to manage packing every order or walking each parcel to the post office. Perhaps you won’t have time to tweet or blog or hang out on Facebook like you used to. Maybe bookkeeping will become too much, or the day-to-day admin will start piling up. It may be as simple as wanting to buy back some time, so you’re free to do other things.

  • Know When to Delegate

Sometimes a growing business is a bit like a house being heated by a boiler that’s nearing the end of its life. Chances are, you’ll notice something is up. The pilot light keeps going out and the hot water isn’t heating quite as quickly as it should. The annual service rings alarm bells and you’re advised to replace it in the not too distant future.

You can pre-empt the inevitable and buy that new boiler right away. The old one’s still running, so you’ve got time to research your options, find the best model and get a good price. Alternatively, you can wait for the old boiler to die in the middle of a particularly harsh winter {because isn’t that always the way} and then rush to replace it from a point of crisis. No hot water, no heat, and no time to shop around or weigh up your options.

Once you accept you cannot do everything forever, the wisest thing to do is look for warning signs and address the weak spots in your business before they start to create real issues. Sometimes a new system or process is all that’s needed to iron out the kinks, but often you need to delegate certain tasks and responsibilities to somebody else.

  • Learn to Let Go

‘If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.’ – John C. Maxwell

If you have no desire to develop your brand or grow your business, you don’t need to worry. If you do, and you think you’re going to do it on your own by working 150hr weeks and never taking a day off, then enjoy! You’ll either prevent your business from reaching its true potential or burnout before you ever really have the chance to fly.

I get it, your business is your baby. You built it from the ground up. Everything you’ve achieved so far has been a direct result of your own hard graft and determination. Nobody could possibly care about it as much as you do.

Except maybe they could? Maybe it’s quite easy for other people to become emotionally invested in your dream, if only you’re prepared to let them in? What about the fact that when you delegate or outsource tasks to another small business, their success quickly becomes entwined with yours?

Letting go can be hard. I’ve watched numerous clients struggle to unburden themselves and hand over responsibility. I’ve also witnessed the overwhelming sense of relief many feel as they begin to reap the benefits. Whether they wanted to serve more customers, dedicate more energy to a different area of their business, or simply spend more time with their family, it’s delegating that’s helped them do it.

  • Find the Right Person for the Job

Ok, time for some tough love. You are not the best at everything. I’m not either. Nobody is. There are lots of things in your business only you can do, but there are also plenty of tasks somebody else will do better than you ever could.

Why? Often, it’s because the other person is a highly skilled expert who’s spent their entire career mastering something you’ve been doing to the best of your ability ever since your business took off. Sometimes it has less to do with talent or skill and everything to do with being able to give certain tasks the attention they deserve. Occasionally, it comes down to passion. Does every aspect of your business make your heart beat faster, or are there things you do begrudgingly? There’s bound to be someone out there who loves doing the jobs you hate.

Either way, delegating makes sense, but it’s vital you find the right person for the job. As well as knowledge and expertise, you need someone you can trust, someone who shares your values and cares about you and your business.

  • Be Prepared to Do the Work

Delegating doesn’t just happen. Handing over responsibilities requires time and energy. Often, you need to create systems and processes, do a little groundwork or spend a few hours training someone up. For many, this can be barrier. ‘It’ll be quicker if I do it myself,’ they’ll say. In the short-term, there may be some truth to this.

If you want to delegate successfully, you essentially need to make time to save time. A few hours spent handing over a handful of tasks this week could save you ten times that in the future.

To begin with, delegating can also involve a bit of back and forth while everyone gets to grips with the new dynamic. Don’t be put off by initial bumps in the road. Focus on establishing good communication and clear expectations.

  • In my own business, I currently delegate all the numbers stuff to my accountant and lots of graphic design to my pal Becky. In the future, I’d like to hire a VA and enlist the help of a cleaner to keep things ticking over at home.

Which domestic or professional tasks would you like to delegate and why?

Love Audrey xxx

The post How to Delegate Like a Pro appeared first on Love Audrey.

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