There’s nothing like facing a new decade to make you take stock of the years that have gone before it.  So before leaving my forties I decided to write a list of what I’ve learnt from those years.

 

 

I also wanted to take this opportunity to say that I’m taking a little break from writing my weekly posts.  You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been sporadic in posting on Not Givin In this year.  My time and energy have been needed to take care of family matters, which are obviously a priority, and to be completely honest I just don’t have the head space and time to think about my little space on the internet right now.  I will return when time allows.  Til then, thank you so much for our weekly chats and here are my 40-somethings musings.

 

Lots of Love

 

Gail xx

 

  1. My forties were some of my best years. By the time you dive in to middle age it’s likely that you’ve experienced some dark times along the way, but it does make you rejoice even more so when the good times roll in.  I don’t just want to visit Ayers Rock, I want to drink champagne on the back of a Harley Davidson going around it.  Because I know those dark times will happen, still happen, but if I load up on the good days, then maybe they’ll override how I feel when the crap ones turn up.

 

  1. Belts are not the enemy. I definitely had a drawer full of belts in my twenties, but somewhere along the line I thought drawing attention to my waist was a waste of time and only drew attention to how thick it was.  How silly was I?  It helps the situation, giving you feminine curves.  All hail the belt, which I only recently discovered, is my saviour.

 

  1. It will cost around £6,000 to rid me of my double chin. I asked a cosmetic surgeon. She said it would be cheaper to lose a little weight.  It’s true, I lost some weight and the double chin, but they’re both back and I’m trying to lose them again.  I’ve set up a savings account.

 

  1. I can’t ignore my mobile phone, but I’m trying to. It’s not that I dislike it, in fact the problem is I love its ability to keep me in touch with my nearest and dearest, but I’ve really got to work on being present. Texting while walking, running, cooking dinner, talking to SP, visiting family, all comes with a price.  Have I concentrated on what I’m doing, who I’m with and what I’m saying?  Possibly not and it’s not fair and sometimes dangerous, so I’m trying to keep my priorities in order

 

  1. The coil isn’t as scary as I thought. I have always had short, punctual periods but around my mid-forties my ‘monthlies’ really started to play me up and I was having a lot of trouble managing the flow. Numerous doctor appointments later and I was offered the coil.  I didn’t want it, but, other than the discomfort of having it put in it has been the best thing for me. I’m a no show nowadays and couldn’t be happier. It will also last five years and I’m hoping it will see me through the menopause.

 

  1. Forgetfulness can work in your favour. If I ‘forget’ the clothes washing, Steve will do it. Win

 

  1. People’s noses can get bigger as they get older.   Google it.  Mine has.

 

  1. I’m not a slave to fashion but wearing it is fun. I used to love fashion when I was younger but lost my mojo somewhere along the line.  Fed up with the way I looked, who wouldn’t be, same old sloppy jumper and jeans, I started to really take an interest again. I don’t go mad, there’s no credit for this savyy shopper, but if buying a new style top for the season or a trendy pair of jeans gives me a confidence boost I need I’m on it.

 

  1. What I weigh still matters to me. No-one is sniggering behind my back in the playground and SP (thankfully) hasn’t left me cause I’ve eaten all the ice cream, yet still my weight continues to be a source of angst, after all these years.  You would think I’d give up and relax into middle age, but I can’t.  I blame it on those sodding eighties supermodels, but I always want to be the better version of myself.

 

  1. Colour my happy. That time I spent on a floor in a friend’s lounge with a woman holding squares of coloured fabric against my face in my twenties was worth doing.  Getting a colour analysis and knowing the colours that make your complexion look fantastic is the quickest way to getting a compliment and not looking like death warmed up.

 

  1. Jamie’s fool-proof dinner trick is a real people pleaser. I can’t remember where I read it, but this Jamie Oliver tip has helped me out on more than one occasion. Basically, if you don’t have time to make dessert just buy good quality bars of milk, dark and white chocolate and break them into pieces on a plate.  Voila!

 

  1. Multi-tasking sounds great but it’s a total wind-up. I can do several things at one time, balancing campaigns and clients in one hand while hanging out the washing and calling Sky to complain about a lack of Wi Fi in the other, but it makes me so stressed.  It’s a bit like the high I would get from smoking a cigarette, which is also horrible.  Now I try and start one job and complete it before starting another.   I don’t want to juggle plates and its way more satisfying than running around like a headless chicken.

 

  1. Being a smoker is a big regret. It’s probably the silliest thing I ever started, and I hope I never pick it up again.  To clarify, I puffed on my first cigarette that I had pinched from my mum’s packet before I started secondary school. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I finally kicked the habit.  At times it ruled my life and it wasn’t until I realised it made any anxiety worse that I finally stopped it, for good.  That said I would say I am a smoker.  I will always have been mindful that I could easily do it again, and it scares me to think I would

 

  1. You’re not a failure when a career choice doesn’t work. Although it feels like it at the time, I’ve been employed twice where I didn’t feel that I fitted in.  However, it wasn’t the end of the word, it just meant I had to keeping moving forward until I found the right role.  Square peg in a round hole sounds about right, but it’s not anyone’s fault and a better opportunity is likely to be just around the corner

 

  1. Love was worth the wait. I had boyfriends, some serious, some not, but when it came to me being settled, I guess I was single half of my life.  I really did marry my better half, soul mate, truest companion, love of my life, but it was a hell of a wait and one I loathed at times. I wouldn’t wish singledom, unless they’re happy with it, on anyone. If not keep looking he/she might just be out there.  I hope so, I really do. And I hope you don’t have to wait like I did.

 

  1. I still want to dance into the dawn. I don’t, of course, I can only imagine the looks I would get going down to Motion on a weekend throwing some Saturday Night Fever shapes.  But I love dancing, I do!  Probably why I love Vegas so much.  I can go dancing and the guy next to me is 92 (true story).

 

  1. Wine packs on the pounds. Call me stupid (please don’t), but I didn’t realise how much weight you gain from drinking wine (and other alcoholic beverages) until I slipped into my forties and staying in was the new going out.  Wine goes with cheese, crisps, cake and chocolate as does other alcohol, but there’s less calories in gin…so avoid unless you want a double chin or other problematic areas of your body

 

  1. I’m not an imposter, I’m just me. I know I’ve felt like it so many times, imposter syndrome is a ‘thing’, a feeling that someone is going to find out that you’re not as smart, funny, successful, clever as you feel you need to be.  And it’s bullshit. I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone feels this way in some way or another at some time or another and it’s just a trick to hold you back from bigger and better achievements in life. Feel the fear and do it anyway

 

  1. I’m not good at everything. Steve is really good at hanging out washing….and bringing it back in, folding it and lying it on the bed ready to be put away. WIN

 

  1. You really should brush your teeth twice day. I don’t know when I started the habit of not brushing my teeth at night, but boy have I paid for it, and feel there is more squirming in the hot chair down-the-line.

 

  1. Fad diets are not the answer. Any routine that suggests cutting out a food group to ensure weight loss is likely to fail.  I have tried them all and although I have seen good results with some (anything with less carbs works for me) it is NOT sustainable.  We don’t live in a protein only world, or a world where cabbage soup is in every store.  Follow the fad knowing that it will help you be party ready, if that’s what you want, but know you’ll be eating greasy pizza come 3 am.

 

  1. Always have a back-up. And my back up I mean good quality hard drive.  There’s no going back, we are paper-less people, and if your lap top or other device breaks you’re screwed, let alone broken hearted to lose all those precious memories of holiday past.  Worth the investment and the time, it takes to set it up (yes, I hate this bit too).

 

  1. Wardrobe basics will see you through. You don’t need to follow fashion, but if you have some good quality basics in neutral shades in your wardrobe you’ll be ready for anything. Think dark jeans, a white shirt, black trousers, striped T.shirts, ankle boots, trench coat, black turtle neck, checked blazer and khaki jacket.  You get the gist.  Then keep an eye on the sales for on-trend pieces. The sales start so early you should get plenty of wear and most pieces can be kept for the following year.

 

  1. Unless you exercise like an athlete you won’t lose weight just by working out. There’s a reason why those in the know say Eat Less, Exercise More in that order, the first rule is the most important.

 

  1. Camping doesn’t come easy to me, but I can survive it. A boyfriend once said that I wasn’t an outdoor pursuit kind of gal, which I took as a compliment.  However, with the right amount of positive thinking, a case of ale, warm socks and a bobble hat I can get through a long weekend under the canvas.  My hair meanwhile cannot.  Fine wavy hair equals tangled bird’s nest by day three, but thankfully by then it’s time to head home.

 

  1. I can also do festivals, if they’re fancy schmancy. I absolutely loved my first-ever festival.  It was at Wilderness in Oxfordshire and we stayed for the whole four days.  It was fun, interesting, exciting and the toilets stayed clean right up until the last morning, when I was very glad to leave.  We were also lucky that the sun shone gloriously, every single day.  Rose tinted glasses, you bet.  Highly recommend it

 

  1. Saturday night TV sucks. Just because I’ve hung up my disco pants for family life does not mean I want to spend my much-loved Saturday nights watching a dog do tricks on the box or watch an Irish guy dress up like his mammy.  It’s supposed to be entertainment, but really, I’m glad to go to bed

 

  1. Make sure your car battery never runs out. On my return from a trip to London I found that I had accidently left my car headlamps on all day, which in itself is a pain in the ass, but was made 10 billion times worse by being parked in the middle of nowhere in a car park known for dogging.  Waiting for the AA man was the longest hour of my life and luckily a friend was with me, though that also meant creepy old men kept coming up to our vehicle, flashing torch lights to watch us “make out”.  It was hell on earth and kept me awake for weeks to follow.  I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been on my own.

 

  1. You don’t need to worry about bumping into an ex past 40. Uh uh, life’s journey is just as hard if not more so for them (I would hate to lose my hair) and if you don’t have your glasses on you won’t see them anyway

 

  1. Say what you want, but I love Botox. I started to notice the two vertical lines shooting upwards between my eyes from my early forties and by around 45 it was all I could see when I looked in the mirror.  Obviously by this time I had read everything I could on Botox and was interested but scared, then one day I couldn’t face seeing the 11s anymore and made an appointment.  I’ve never looked back and have minimal injections every six months that clear those “concentration lines”.  It doesn’t hurt, there’s no side effect and honestly, it has given me back my confidence.  I love it, and no-one can tell me otherwise.

 

  1. Pick an exercise that easily fits into your routine and you’ll keep doing it. I go running.  Though strictly speaking it’s a jog, I do it three or four times a week before I start work and have been doing it for so long it has become second-nature to exercise before I shower and get dressed and is part of my daily routine. I wouldn’t do it if I had to get dressed, drive to a gym etc, but it’s free and neatly fits into my day. I have no excuse.

 

  1. Saying thanks goes such a long way. I blush to my roots when I think of the times I received cards and gifts as a child and didn’t respond and acknowledge the thought with thanks.  My parents didn’t instil the discipline in me and now I’m older I realise how much the gesture means.  I try to remember now

 

  1. Working with young people motivates me. I notice it more and more, people in charge are now younger than me.  Whether it’s the store manager, policeman, doctor, a client, I feel like I’m always thinking how young people look and how able they are.  It frightens me a bit, because it means that I’m in the generation that has passed its first flush of life, but I also love working with and surrounding myself with young people.  It rubs off, that youthful motivation, goal-driven passion for all that can be achieved in a day and gives me a kick up the backside to do my best.

 

  1. An eyebrow is important, two are preferred. I don’t have much beauty advice, but after Botox the one treatment that I can’t live without is Microblading.  It has changed my face.  I can’t see for toffee, so pencilling in my eyebrows was a joke.  Eyebrows frame the face and this tattoo-like treatment means I only must pluck a few stray hairs, which I can just about do, and my face looks alive even before I feel it

 

  1. Be careful what you say. I’m always going on about my love of flying, because it generally means I’m getting out of dodge on a big old aeroplane and heading somewhere far more interesting, but for my 50th Steve has bought me an hour’s flying lesson in a two-seater plane!!!  I’ll let you know how that goes….

 

SP gives it a month before I start whinging, but right now I’m kind of glad to see a bit of cloud.

 

It has been the most fantastic summer, hasn’t it?  The past few months have felt like we’ve been on a permanent holiday and it was bliss, but the heatwave has left me pretty lethargic at times, so I’m looking forward to some fresh air, a change of pace and a new season.

 

Not that I’m willing us bad weather.  Please don’t blame me if we have non-stop rain the next few months…

 

As the new season approaches I’m starting to pick out tops with sleeves from the wardrobe and shove the summer dresses to the back. I’ve even worn jeans a few times recently (didn’t thank myself for it afterwards!) and as I start to think about to wear I’m thinking of venturing back to shops.

 

I’ve have looked in the shops or online for a couple of months, there’s hasn’t been a need since I went holiday shopping as I then needed to wear my holiday at home while the temperatures were high, but now I’ve started to take some interest and we are starting to see new shapes and designs coming into store.

 

One look that is going to BIG this Autumn has to be animal print.  I know I mentioned it so many times since I started writing this blog, but really it’s going to be huge in the stores this season.  I’m glad I bought my midi leopard skirt from Zara way back as it will be on repeat with boots the next few months.

 

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Long gone are the days when leopard and zebra print fashion were seen as uncool.  Nowadays, animal prints are defined as neutrals by the fashionistas and there’s so much choice, from coats and bags, to belts and skirts that everyone can find their own inner animal and wear it with style.

 

I’ve worn my skirt with bright colours this Summer, but I’m also looking to buy a camel colour sweaters this Autumn and wear it with tan ankle boots. Then I’ll turn to skinny black turtle necks jumpers as we head toward winter.  Yes, I can lots of ways that it will continue to be a staple in my wardrobe.  Red also looks good, see above, but we careful to pare the red down or the two can become a little competitive for the attention.

 

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If you’re thinking of starting the transition into Autumn (and there’s no need to rush just yet) then here’s a few pieces I’ve pulled out from what’s new in store.  It you want to start out slow, choose a belt.  That’s where I started and now I wear head to toe leopard at times. LOL.

 

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Gail xxx

 

I became a freelance PR at the end of 2006.  It wasn’t planned, at all.  I had become sick in the summer, suffering from Bells Palsy, which had me laid up for a few weeks and during that time I realised that I just didn’t want to go back to my job, working in a PR agency in Covent Garden.

 

While convalessing back in Bristol, where I’d fallen sick, I started to think about what I would do if the Bels Palsy left me with permanant damage to my face.  I was suffering from stroke like syptoms down the left-hand side of my face, and I began to wonder if I could do my job, which mainly involved writing and talking to the media, from home.

 

I met up with a good friend who said she was looking for some freelance support and that was all I needed to hand in my notice.  I leapt into an unknown future.

 

What I love most about being self-employed, though it has its ups and downs, is working from home.  It has surprised me that I don’t mind being alone for one thing, because for the most part I’m on my own and I love to talk.  I mean I can really chat some when I want to and I love company.  You only have to look at my old school reports to know, “well, Mrs Dibble, Gail is easily distracted”.

 

More and more people are choosing to work alone, so I thought I would share some tips that I’ve learned.  If you have tips and tricks please share in the comments below.

 

1 – Music All Day Long

Steve is the real music fan in this house, so I’ve learnt from the best and have a radio on in the background all day long.  It keeps me up to speed on the news of the day, there’s chatter that can imitate a noisy office background and I turn the dial to suit the different moods I’m in or need to get to.  If I need to quicken my pace it’s Kisstory club sounds all the day, but there’s plenty of times that I’ll go on Youtube and pick out a favourite and enjoy The Best Of…

 

2 – Early Morning Jog

It wakes me up with a blast of fresh air – there’s nothing more mind-numbing than moving from bed to desk in one move – and means I can tick exercise off the list before my day really begins.  I just have a quick espresso, start up Strava and stick on my head phones.  Admittedly sometimes I feel like I’m running in my sleep and my legs are still heavy from the night’s sleep, but I really am chuffed.

3 – Watching the Clock

It’s not what you think.  I watch the clock to do the best, most effective job I can.  By keeping track of my time, from the start of a piece of work, to when I finish, not only means I’m efficient for my own purposes, I’m accurately billing for my businesses.  If you don’t, you can easily think you haven’t done enough and over-service, equally, the people who pay me want their money’s worth.  Using timesheets means we’re both winning.

 

4 – Office Essentials

Includes a clutter free desk (have I said I can be easily distracted), good coffee (see last week’s post here), hand cream – (currently loving Neutrogena Hydra Boost), a pin board with motivational quotes and pics of family and friends, cute fairy lights to cheer me up in the winter and a leafy plant to help clean the air.  I have a Spider plant on a shelf, which I bought years ago.  I’ve never looked after a plant so well.  And I talk to it!

 

 

Lastly, I always have a bottle of bubbles on the side of my desk. It reminds me that my job is supposed to be fun.  I’m not saving the planet, but sometimes it can get stressful when working to others deadlines.  You remember Ab Fab, right?!  Successful pitches, wins, achievements just need to be celebrated…

 

5. Decor

 

We turned our small bedroom into an office space.  Aside from the usual equipment (desk, exec-style office chair, printer/copier/scanner, modern table lamp, white blinds and a mug coaster) I added a snazzy rug and brick wallpaper, to give the space a sense of being in a real office.  There’s no room for lying on a bed when you’re trying to earn money.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

 

Gail xx

 

P.S  I didn’t take the photo on the front page.  Credit: wong via unsplash

Credit: Snapbythree- va Unsplash

 

About a month before we went on holiday in June I decided to give up milky coffees.

 

I drink at least three or four coffees a day, two mugs before work and then one at nine and the other around 11 am.

 

Not only do I like the caffeine kick to help wake me up I love the taste.

 

That said, it was causing me two problems.  I was full before even thinking about breakfast and I think the dairy was leaving me bloated.  I’m not a doctor, but I’ve taken an intolerance test (Cambridge Nutritional Sciences) and know that cow’s milk and sady, cashew nuts, should be avoided.

 

Leaving the intolerance aside, not eating breakfast was leaving me with low reserves of energy to keep me going through the latter part of day, but also, I would eat most of my daily food intake during the evening, erm, and then go to sleep on a full stomach.

 

I was basically enduring a famine during the day, when I needed to nourish my body with energy-giving food the most, and then rewarding myself for getting through it at the end of the day.  What is she doing, I hear you cry?!

 

It’s amazing how you can pick up bad habits and live with them for a long time, without realising the harm they’re doing.  Perhaps these habits had been okay during my twenties and thirties, but not in my forties when I need all the energy I could get, and this pattern was obviously not helping.

 

So, my day needed a better start, but should I cut the coffee?

 

According to the British Coffee Association drinking coffee can have a positive effect on an individual’s alertness and concentration.  Well known for containing caffeine, a mild central nervous system stimulant, it can aid a better performance and benefit when an individual is feeling tired or lethargic.

Credit: Devin Avery pic via Unsplash

 

Keeping coffee in the equation was therefore a necessity and in truth a part of my daily routine I was keen to keep, so first off, I dropped the milk and went straight for an Americano (black coffee), using the same instant coffee, but to be honest without the milk is was a bit bland.

 

Luckily, we do have a Nespresso coffee machine that my mother-in-law bought us when we got married.  At the time we made lots of cappuccinos, but it hadn’t been regularly used for a while, so off I went to my nearest store at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway.

 

The assistant sat me down and asked me what type of flavour I was looking for.  Not being a connoisseur, and giving a poor description “uh, something quite strong please” she began pouring a few samples.  After a few that were too light and a couple that were too intense for me I ended up choosing Roma, which offers ‘a balance of lightly roasted south and Central American Arabicas with Robusta beans, giving it sweet and woody notes and a full lasting taste on the palate’.   Roma is an intensity level eight in flavour.

 

I have started enjoying two espressos in the morning, along with drinking lots of water throughout the day.  At first, I thought I would suffer a headache or two, but no those two small cups were enough to get me started and keep me going for some time.  I would then have an Americano around 11ish.

 

A new habit has been formed and because I’m not full of the milky mugs of coffee I have started to eat earlier in the day.  Breakfast is now fruit and yogurt or at the weekends a cheeky crumpet and peanut butter, or a lean bacon butty (with the fat cut off and no butter).

 

At least I’m starting the day better.

 

Since getting stuck in to the espressos I’ve also tried the Nespresso pod dupes from Aldi.  I love the Colombian Coffee Pods

which have an intensity flavour level of 6.  Perfect!

 

I really kind of love the mornings now.  I’m getting the hit, starting the day off stronger and I don’t have a bloated tummy from all the milk I was drinking.  I can also choose different coffee tastes to suit my mood, so I’m building a selection of choice rather than reaching for the same jar every morning. Yep, I’m really enjoying all the benefits. I think this new habit is going to stick.

 

Hope you had a good weekend folks.  Here’s to a great week!

 

 

Gail xxx

 

I haven’t really worn belts for a while. Hadn’t really thought they were necessary to be honest.  My jeans were staying up or if they needed a hoist it didn’t seem to bother me that much.

 

The lack of belt love became more obvious when I ventured in to the wardrobe to look for a belt for my holiday and I found a number a low slung wide belts from the 2000s and a couple of elastic/plastic numbers that I can’t believe are still hanging around.

 

Obviously people do still wear belts.  This Gucci belt is THE belt to own right now, but at £315 and my past history with belts to keep my head in check, my hard-earned cash was safe.

So why did I want a belt anyway.   I’ll give you three reasons:

 

  1. I wanted it to appear as if I have a waist.  Sometimes denim and in this particular case, denim shorts, need something to help give you a bit of shape
  2. Accessories, when done right, turn a plain outfit into something way more stylish.  A great belt can be just the finishing touch you need
  3. I wanted to switch up the look of several outfits.  See dress below.

 

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I think I actually prefer the dress worn with the tan belt, but it’s great to have the option.

 

So without having over 300 hundred quid for a Gucci I looked around for some dupes and ended up with the double circle tan belt from Miss Selfridge (via ASOS) for £10.  I didn’t want to go mad now did I!!  It could end up in the drawer with all the others.

 

But I absolutely love it.  I wore it loads on holiday and I’m still wearing it back in blighty.  I’m chuffed to bits with it and to be honest I don’t need to swop it for a more expensive version.

 

If you fancy belting up (couldn’t resist), here’s some options.

Have a great weekend!

Gail xx