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Here’s why you look like a thumb in selfies (and three ways to fix it today)

Remember the meme of that kid that looked like a thumb that caused viral hilarity on the interwebs several years ago?

This was a person whose plight I FULLY empathised with. I’ve always looked like a thumb when I’ve switched that selfie mode on my phone. No amount of angling down or up or tilting my head seems to do anything for my face, and I boiled it down to the conclusion that I just thought I was better looking in my head that I actually was IRL, and that I was horrendously unphotogenic.

I was destined to be the person who looked awful in photos – hey, you saw the photos I sent you last week, right? Not even my husband could make me look nice.

Honestly, for YEARS I hated photos of myself, and it is actually much more stressful than you realise, because over the last couple of decades, having your photo taken has been more and more common.

Everyone has a powerful camera at their fingertips, ready to document the fuck out of shit, from their meals to their bowel movements (true story: I once had an ex who used to swap photos of his morning shits with his housemate, and on nights out, they would bluetooth it to random people in the pub – before the days that you had to accept a bluetooth connection request. How we lasted 11 months is frightening. I would also like to state that I was not his housemate.)

Facebook became a “thing” when I was in my mid-20s, so I escaped lightly, but there were still some photos of me that just looked… awful. But, when I’d checked myself out in the mirror before I’d left? I mean, I felt pretty good, the mirror-version of me was looking decent, what gives?

So, I started doing several things

a) avoiding the camera where possible, b) using other people as my shield, c) only allowing my photo to be taken when HIDEOUSLY DRUNK and thus not caring until the next day, and d) immediately gurning, because if the picture was going to look shit anyway, I might as well go all-in on that vibe.

The next day, I’d wake to a few tags in photos, none of them wildly appealing if I’m honest, like this one taken on my hen do (yes, I’m even gurning in the photo of me ON THE TOP I’M WEARING. META AF).

Sure, I couldn’t totally escape the odd marauding friends’ phone, or when my dad bought a proper camera about 10 years ago. But there’s one type of photo you will RARELY see me in, and that’s a selfie.

I refused to believe I was the only one that felt like that selfie mode was some kind of personal attack on my self-esteem, and I set to figure out WHY.

It’s science that makes you look cack in selfies

Damn and blast that pesky science *shakes fist*, BUT I’ve broken it all down here, with three quick fixes to go from gurn to grin, so you don’t need to be scared of your phone camera anymore.

1. Your phone camera is a wide-angle lens.

That might not mean a lot to you, but essentially, your phone lens is designed to grab as MUCH of the environment as possible.

However, in order to see the entire frame captured on your phone screen, the image creates a kind of fish-eye effect, even if ever so slightly.

So, let’s say you’re in the middle of the photo, your nose will look bigger and more pronounced, but the extremities of your face curve back into the background.

As soon as you start using a camera with a specific portrait lens, a lens with a narrow focal length, this starts to change significantly.

The best way to explain this effect is to see it, and this gif by Dan Vojtech (via Peta Pixel) shows just how drastic that change is. Dan photographed his subject using a selection different lens focal lengths. The photos taken on a lens with a focal length of 20 – 24mm? That’s about where your phone is. The sweet spot? Somewhere around 100mm.

via GIPHY

There’s a couple of ways to solve this in a selfie: first, hold your phone *just* above your eyeline, frame your face in the top two-thirds of the screen, and tilt the phone angle down ever so slightly. Next, once you’ve taken your photo, you can check out my IGTV all about how to correct lens distortion. Works on everything from flatlays to portraits, and I use it on all of my professional work.

2. You’re too used to what you see in the mirror.

You know when you leave post in one place all the time to sort through later, and that later becomes weeks or months later, and it’s gets to the point you know it’s there, but you can just easily ignore it?

That’s what happens with us when we look in the mirror.

You and I both know that our faces aren’t symmetrical, but it’s easy to get used to seeing our faces when the only way we see them is in the mirror.

As soon as we see ourselves in a photo, as everyone else sees us, it’s a bit of a shock; “My nose tilts to one side! my face is about a foot wider on the left! How hasn’t anyone pointed this out to me?!” You forget that everyone is used to seeing your face this way round, and unless it’s a deeply unflattering grimace, you probably look totally fine.

To counteract the unbalanced face, you need to figure out your best side – and it’s normally your left.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can always remember to move your face to take photos from that side, instead of front-on, which is flattering for only the lucky few, especially when you’re working with a wide-angle selfie lens. 

4. You’re not smiling properly

There’s a special kind of name for a genuine smile; It’s called a “Duchenne Smile” (Yeah, I didn’t realise it either until I found it on Wikipedia ).

Whenever I work with clients, my main focus is on making them feel relaxed, so that they stop doing this 😬 and start doing this 😄 (or this 😁. Or even this 😂).

Basically, if you rock up to your selfie camera (or professional photoshoot) with The Fear, you’re going to grimace. To smile naturally, you need to imagine that feeling when you see a really good chum, and all you talk about is That Holiday, and knob gags.

A natural smile is one that also uses the muscles around your eyes as well as around your mouth, but it’s much easier to feel a natural smile before you try to force it. So imagine something or someone that makes you feel happy, and imagine you’re smiling at that (or at them).

I promise you, these little tips will up your selfie game.

And if all else fails, there’s always a Snapchat filter?

 

PS. My Uncorporate Portrait Session Day is BACK on Friday 15th November.

I’ve booked some amazing space in the centre of Bristol with gorgeous big-ass windows (check out the pictures below, because I MEAN, LOOK). You get a style questionnaire, a personalised image mood board, 45 minutes of top banter with me as I shoot you in the face with my camera, and your choice of 10 full-resolution edited images for £225 (going up £50 to £275 next Tuesday 15th Oct) OR with ALL the images for £275 (rising £100 to £375 on Tues 15th Oct). Email me NOW if you want to book or find out more – I always encourage a coffee meeting if you want to get to know me first because, well, hot beverages are life, and it’s very important that you figure out if I’m the right photographer for you.


Katy Henson Social Media and Facebook Ads Expert

 

An Ode to the Unfinishers

An Ode to the Unfinishers

Sometimes you start something, only to, halfway through, lose all the original motivation and desire to finish it.

HASHTAG ME HASHTAG OMG SO ME IT COULD LITERALLY BE ME DRESSED UP AS ME WITH MY NAME

I run with things only until they fly away.

For too long I felt like this was some kind of Bad And Wrong part of me; we all have that, right? The part that mustn’t be uttered about or shown in public because LO! THY SHALL BE STRUCK DOWN BY THE LORD (or that bitch from school who you don’t even speak to and once said you were a show-off, or your mum, or your best mate, some randomer on social media) WITH A DAGGER OF LIGHTNING (or, y’know, an off-the-cuff sentence about how that’ll never work, that you need to pass X exams or have Y experience or nosh off Z-list celebs) AND SMITE YOU TO DEEEAAAAATH (read: send the inner shitty committee absolutely rampant in your own mind).

I forced past-me into doing things because that was visually how I “should” be presenting myself to the world. Stay the course, nose to the grindstone, push through the boredom and the pain and the awkward middle stage.

There is a place for people who stick to their guns in this world. Laser focus breeds success, slow and steady wins the race. The rest of us? Watch the laser-focused race-winners smash goal after goal, wondering what fucking coffee they drink and what shade of pink their yoga leggings are. Then we buy their courses that we don’t finish, and we start their workouts that we quit after a couple of weeks, and we wear the same t-shirts and bathe in the same bath salts and follow their morning routine and and and…

And when you’ve seen the discarded dreams, the unfinished art, the ideas that only ever made it to paper, the 50% completed courses, the guilt we feel as we think of the money we’ve spent on memberships and classes and stuff that scream their incompleteness when we log into our email or rifle through the understairs cupboard, it can feel overwhelmingly like a bag of failure.

We forget that we too are consistent, we too have succeeded, we too have gifts. We just do it in our way.

We’ve all stuck it out in jobs, we’ve all dedicated our time to relationships, friendships, we’ve all felt the joy of completing something, however small – a jigsaw, an awkward call, a wheel of brie (don’t deny it, I know it isn’t just me) – that meant something to us. We’ve all finished something, but you don’t see us celebrating that because it’s not what we feel is worthy enough.

What if – WHAT FUCKING IF – you decided to love the shit out of your “unfinishedness”?

What then?

“I didn’t finish that gym program… and I LOVE THAT.”

“I didn’t complete the Spanish course… and I LOVE THE BONES OFFA ME”

Loving it feels a bit weird, right? I can hear you all now, “I ain’t getting on no love plane, fool” All right, Mr T. Calm your tits. You don’t need to love that part of yourself, but the aim is for acceptance.

“I haven’t finished that book that I started reading… or writing… and THAT’S OK”.

Being the person who started to totally drop in to loving my Unfinisher opened up my eyes

Yep, initially it felt like I was just lying to myself. “No you fucking don’t love it, you twat. You hate that you spent thousands on that online course years ago and then logged in twice”

But then I started to be ok with it. I didn’t immediately start jumping to the “you’re a total shitbag for not finishing” rhetoric I had historically run to in my mind. I had a few micro-seconds of grace. And then a few milliseconds. And then a few seconds.

But there was another, better, stranger part; I stopped being the person trying to do all the courses and buying all the gym gear and following all the success-drenched, laser-focused bellends because I didn’t actually like most of it.

I got to hear myself – and listen.

I became way more discerning with what I was spending time and money on, with who I was following, and with what I wanted to learn.

My ideas got louder. I started actually fucking FINISHING stuff. And finishing stuff that MEANT SOMETHING TO ME. Small things, like washing my face every night. And then bigger things, like starting a new business (I actually started two in 2018. but that’s a story for another time)

Now?

I let go of half-read books. (Most books? Unless they have some wild end twist, I get the joke in the first half. Then they can go back from whence they came #oxfambookshop #overloadedkindlelibrary)

I cancel the subscription when I notice the program or membership isn’t really “me”.

I cherry pick the people I follow on social media. I consciously choose the people I want to engage with in real life.

I support causes I believe in.

I start things before I’m ready, and if I realise it’s working, THEN I buy things that help save me time or money (or invariably I realise that I didn’t need half the things that you’re told to get anyway).

I have SO MUCH LOVELY, LOVELY SPACE for ideas now. My super-power isn’t about being the tortoise that wins some success race, but being the space for the ideas to spring up in that isn’t clouded by the opinions and ideas of people who simply don’t work like I do. I’ll win the damn race all the same, but the only people in it are me, and me-but-from-yesterday.

Sometimes the finishing isn’t the specific finishing goal you were expecting it to be, but rather the decision to stop, and to be agile enough to move to the next thing. And look, I’m not here trying to enable people to just quit all the time, but you know – you know – deep down if you’ll regret not completing something to the best of your ability, or if you’ll regret something for staying the course too long. 

The world needs finishers, but there isn’t only one type. Whether a tortoise or a hare, or a demented chinchilla with a speed habit, you are needed in the world.

 

 

 

Photoshoot prep (AKA OH FARK I’VE BOOKED A PHOTOSHOOT. NOW WHAT SHOULD I WEAR AND HOW SHOULD I DO MY HAIR?!)

I mean, first off, CONGRATS! Dedicating a bit of time to getting some nice pics of you and/or the family is something to be excited about, but I know a lot of you then panic about any preparation. What should I wear?! What should I do with my make up?!?!?! HOW DO I POSE?!?!

First off, if you’re having a family shoot, the most important element is that you’re all comfortable. Wear what you would normally – you want these pictures to represent your family, not a Marks and Sparks catalogue family. You don’t need to be overly fussy, but just keep in mind a couple of things:

a) the weather: Coats, scarves and boots, or t-shirts and shorts? Check out what the weather has in store for your day before the final selection. Standing barefoot in a wood wearing chiffon might look lovely, but it certainly won’t feel it if it’s November and there’s frost on the ground. And…
b) colours: By all means wear green, but remember that I want you to stand out from your background, and if your background is a green field, the shade is an important choice between “floating head” and “magnificent portrait”. Block colours work best in pictures over patterns.

When it comes to an individual head shot or portrait shoot, you want to dress for how you want to be seen. Ask yourself a few questions (I’ll ask them to you, too):

  • Where are these photos going to be displayed? Something on Tinder or a personal Facebook profile page might not be the vibe you want on your business website or as a LinkedIn profile picture.
  • If these pictures are going on a website, do you need to think about the overall brand? You need to make sure that your photographer understands the overall vision, and that you get the right kind of shots for things like wide landscape images to fit on a desktop screen title, specific images of you doing certain actions that can be utilised in your marketing, the colours of your brand, and the vibe of the brand itself.  Shots where you’re laughing like a drain might work well for some brands, but perhaps might be best avoided in a corporate environment.

From the information that you glean from that, you should be able to pick out some suitable outfits, and have a list of images that you need from the shoot itself.

And what about hair and make-up?

Family shoots? Again, wear what makes you feel good and comfortable. Your family want to remember how you look when you feel relaxed, whatever that means for you. Be mindful of hair vs wind. It’s one thing having a cheeky fringe covering one eye; it’s another having jokes about Cousin Itt thrown at you forever more.

Portraits and head shots? Tie this in to your requirements; If you’re a fashion blogger, go all out. Corporate consultant? Keep it as profesh as you need.

Remember to book in any hair and make-up appointments well in advance of the shoot. Give yourself the time to get to the meeting place. Flustered clients don’t make the best subjects, and at the end of the day, you want to be captured at your best.

Never walk into a shoot unprepared – you’re paying money to get the pictures you need here, and photographers might be great with a camera, but are generally pretty cack at anything on a extra-sensory perceptive level.

Remember the ultimate advice:

You being as comfortable and relaxed as possible will create the best shots, Brownie Guide Promise.

I’ve been away

I’ve been away

Well, HELLO.

So, if you’re scrolling through your newsfeed wondering who the hell I am, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been away for, ooh, two years?

Ooops ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But let me reintroduce myself: Hi, I’m Gemma. I shoot people.

In the face.

With a camera.

And a couple of weeks ago, I actually stopped arsing around.

For years (no, really, YEARS), I’ve been the person taking my trusty camera around with me, and capturing little moments of friends and families. I’d often WhatsApp the final pictures over to the friends and families in question. It was something I loved doing (and still do).

I thought nothing of it. Until I realised that these pictures were being displayed on mantelpieces, put in photo albums, sent to grandparents and even printed out as thank you cards.

My pictures? On calendars? And cards?

I’ve told myself for yonks that I’d never be able to be a photographer because I didn’t have the kit, I didn’t have the skills, there were too many photographers, no-one would really like my pictures anyway.

But a couple of weeks ago, something changed; I decided maybe I shouldn’t be the one to down play my kit and my skills and my pictures.

Maybe I should just be the person to do it, and see what other people thought. So I told the peeps over at my instagram page (you should totally join me over there, btw)

I booked my first three clients in 48 hours.

I had my first shoot last week with these gorgeous beauts.

And now? I’m offering all #Bristol based families the same opportunity.

Unposed, natural light photography, no wanky scrabble letters spelling out names, or studio bean bags covered in voile (sorry if that’s your jam, but it really isn’t mine!).

You get images of your family with their smiles and gappy teeth and wind-tousled hair which look great in the family calendar and photo album, and in plenty of time for the C-word.

(Err, other C-word, my friend… The santa/mince pies/acceptable alcoholism before midday C-word, before anyone reports me to the Facebook police)

If this idea floats your boat, don’t hang about. I’ve got a special price to build up my portfolio if you book before the end of October. And it is AFFORDABLE AF.

http://gemmashootspeople.com/your-kids-authentic-frameable

 

Success and my inner-bitch factory

Success and my inner-bitch factory

Success is a fickle bastard.

Wait, wait, wait. No. The way I feel about success is a fickle bastard.

From the perspective of friends and family, I think a lot of people would see me as relatively successful; I have the trappings of a pretty charmed life (good marriage, healthy daughter, nice house in a nice place, my own business, good friends). I’ve also had a few people tell me that the stuff I’ve done has inspired them to do their own things, a concept I find incredibly humbling considering what a lot of my friends have achieved.

But I also find it a bit fucking berserkoid. Because I NEVER FEEL SUCCESSFUL except for fleeting moments when I win an award, or I’m asked to speak at an event, or given some accolade from some person I deem as “better than me”.

I’ve started to touch on this in my therapy sessions, because it’s a theme that always comes up as the Voice of Utter Shitness in my mind: “YOU’RE NOT SUCCESSFUL YET”.

Earlier on today, I was directed to an Enneagram test by Lotte. I took a test, and found out I am a Type 3, also known as The Achiever (I have a wing of 4, which also makes me “The Professional”, but that’s a subsidiary matter). Now, I love me a good quiz, especially when I learn more about me and my personality. I’ve taken fucking billions over the years, from paid tests all the way to the type with batshit names like “which Disney character’s pubic hair most describes your cooking style?”.

Normally, I have a good deal of interest to these kinds of test, but there’s normally an area of “mmm, I kiiiinda think that miiiight sound like me, but not totally…”, and that causes me to not feel comfortable labelling myself as Definitely That Thing. Not to mention, I’ve spent a lot of my life not really knowing what I want, so actually I’m like a jack of all trades (or jack of all personalities).

It’s only been a recent discovery that success is a massive driver for me. BUT WHAT DOES SUCCESS EVEN MEAN TO ME?

I don’t jive with the whole “MAD LEVELS OF FAME AND POWER” concept. I also don’t want to live the life of a rap video, downing Cristal strawpedos while I drive round, I dunno, bloody Monte Carlo in a Mayback with the number plate “R1CH AF” before pulling up to buy underpants encrusted with diamonds from the Diamond Encrusted Underpant Shop. Both just seem quite un-me-like. But until today, I didn’t get why these results of success didn’t appeal.

So, I read into my Enneagram, and this is what I found:

“Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy, or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring. They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value.”

Er, wow. Well. That was a pretty enlightening read. There’s more detail on the Enneagram Institute page, but I cannot fault this.

Yes, dear reader, I need success because my main driving force in life is to “not be a worthless shithumper”. BRILLIANT.

Yes, dear reader, I need success because my main driving force in life is to “not be a worthless shithumper”. BRILLIANT. Not very noble, but it certainly felt very true.

So here’s a couple of other truths. Perhaps you get them, perhaps not:

1/ While I know there’s only one me, the fact that other people could be Type 3s (or ENFPs or Creators or Cinderella’s glittery pubic hair…) brings out a weird competitive edge in me.

I feel a bit “only gay in the village” about it, even though intellectually it’s clearly not true and that’s just a bit of weird programming I have left over from being a child.

2/ I’m more affected by the way I look than I’d like to admit. And that’s embarrassing.

I put myself through an eating disorder as a youngster, and as an adult, I’ve done a lot of work to vercome that. But the aesthetic thing shows up everywhere.

Case in point: on Friday, I had my hair done. My hair is my “thing”. As a teen, I was the girl whose hair people admired. I would wash and blow dry my hair EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It was styled perfectly – FOR SCHOOL. AN ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL. Random strangers and hairdressers used to compliment me on my hair. So fast forward to 2016 – I’m not as hair-obsessed as I once was, but I cannot tell you the joy and relief I had after having my hair cut, coloured and styled exactly the way I wanted it. I noticed the difference straight away; I spoke to people differently, it was like I moved from this place of “oh God what must they think of me” to “now I can be the person I always imagine myself to be”. I felt light and funny and eloquent and friendly, instead of awkward, ugly and weird. Because of MY HAIR.

HASHTAG SUPERFICIAL.

3/ I don’t get jealous often, but when I do, it’s because you’re younger, prettier and more successful than me. And I can be a bitch about it.

This is a really depressing admission for me. I didn’t even realise it was a thing until I voiced it in a therapy session a few weeks ago. Normally I can handle envy – I feel like it points to the place you want to go, or something about that person speaks volumes about where your direction should be heading.

But there’s a magic trifecta of things that cause jealousy for me; age, beauty and success.

Bleurgh, right?!

If you have any one of these assets on me, it’s likely I’ll feel a little envious, but I can kind of get on with my life and in fact I will make it my aim to become friends with you. Two things? I’m going to be a bit jealous, but I can still hide it. All three and one of two things will happen: I will stalk you on social media, work out our age difference, compare how I look to you (unfavourably for me), and if I can, leave sickeningly supportive messages on one or two pieces of your content (BUT NOT TOO MUCH BECAUSE PLEASE DON’T THINK I’M WEIRD. Also NOTICE ME). Or, I will find out bad things about you and feel very justified in my inner-circle bitching about you. And I really don’t do bitching all that often.

I’m working on it, but YES, I know. This is a reeeeally sucky part of my personality.

It does feel good (freeing? Honest?) to admit these things, and there are probably more things lurking in my mind waiting to be unlocked. Better out than in, right? Or is that just farts…?

 

Online business shit I can do without

Online business shit I can do without

I’m a-gonna rant lyrical for a few minutes here, so please bear with me. I would say usual programming will recommence, but consisering I have no usual programming schedule, you might just have to get used to my slightly rant-filled posts.

I’ve been working on the online space now for 6 years. Long enough to get to know a lot of trends in the industry, and long enough to know who and what to avoid, and the fact you won’t earn 6 figures while you curl out a monster turd in the bog. But the frightening shitness of how women are marketed to (AND how they’re marketing) is preposterous. Starting with (but certainly not ending with)…

The Ridiculous feminising of names

Ohhhh, I get it. You’re a mother AND an entrepreneur, so yeah, mumpreneur. And ohhhh, you’re heart-centred and you lead with your soul, so that makes you a heart-centred soulpreneur. And of course, you’re the boss AND a lady – a ladyboss! Oh how quaint! What are the odds!?

Look, I’m calling SEVERAL PILES OF HORSESHIT ON THIS. Let’s take “mumpreneur” as a starter-for-ten. You’re an entrepreneur who happens to be a mum. BUT being a mum has no impact on your ability to have a business – and I’m not talking about the juggling of kids and family with the day-to-day running of a business (relatively-to-really-fucking-hard), but to have a business in the UK at least starts with a) a decision that you want to run a business and b) filling in a few forms (pretty easy).

Women without kids are what? Maidenpreneurs? Nonmumpreneurs?? NOT -ONE-PERSON-HAS-ENTERED-THE-WORLD-THROUGH-MY-VAGINAL-PASSAGEPRENEUR?!?!?!! Why stop at kids – heck I’m a MARRIEDPRENEUR! That’s totally a fucking thing,right?

And those heart-centred fempreneurs? Uh, sounds like a wank-focused shitpreneur name to me. How you run your business doesn’t dictate that you can run one.

Look, if you were employed in a job, does that make you a “femployee”?! I don’t fucking think so.

The word is “entrepreneur”. Men don’t call themselves “dadpreneurs” or “manpreneurs” or “manboss” or “dick-centred cockpreneurs” because firstly, weird, and secondly the fact that they’re fathers or men or are in possession of a penis has no bearing on the fact that they can run a business.

The fact you identify as a female (and let’s not pretend this is more of a middle-class, white, cisgender trend), or have given birth (and deal with intricacies of running a business and raising kids), or are soulful or spiritual have no bearing on how enterprising you are. Why do we need to make special little soft girly names for non-gender-specific roles? It sounds like the term “entrepreneur” is a cisgender white “man’s” thing, in the same way blue is a “boy’s” colour. WHICH IS A COMMON-OR-GARDEN BAG OF DICKS.

You’re an entrepreneur, or a business owner, or a boss. Gender has nothing to do with it.

Ahhh, that feels better now.

Here’s a picture of a leaf shaped like a heart. You’re welcome.

What I dun on my weekend: Autumn flava and a dead squirrel.

What I dun on my weekend: Autumn flava and a dead squirrel.

Well, now it’s technically gone and done an Autumn *gumble grumble where was the Summer please grumble arse grumble*.

I don’t really mind the idea of Autumn – all cosying up with #cinnamonlatte and fairisle socks while you hug a few pumpkins next to a radiator and hide from children doing the annual sweet collection dressed as skeletons and witches. But the days of everlasting greyness plus the diminishing daylight, all multplied by never knowing what the fuck to wear because will it rain??? Will the sunshine be kind?? Is the scarf overkill??? Was this jacket too light?? WHY DID I NOT WEAR THERMAL LEGGINGS?!?! Ugh.

I find Autumn quite melancholic, although necessary. I used to really enjoy September with everything feeling quite “new school term!” and the fresher temperature, but that’s changed in the past few years because I love the Summer, and we don’t really get a proper one in the UK, so I feel like I’m mourning the death of a season that only half showed up, the fickle fucker. I’ve only had my Summer duvet on for about five fucking minutes, and it looks like I’ll be changing it back up to the chunky mutha sooner rather than later.

I’m an Autumn baby, too, so I feel I should LOVE this time of year. But while most posts you see or read on the subject of Autumn are all “LOOK AT MY GINGERBREAD MAN PYJAMAS/HOT CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!/OOOOOH IT’S NEARLY C-WORD (LOL LOL LOL I DIDN’T SAY IT BUT LOL CAN I PUT MY TREE UP YET LOL)”, I’m all “CAN I PUT THE FUCKING HEATING ON YET?!?!/YORKSHIRE GOLD OR GTFO/WHO LEFT THE GATE OPEN AT THE C-WORD FARM BECAUSE THEIR APPEAR TO BE FUCKING CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS IN THE SHOPS ALREADY”

This weekend was the start of the Autumn, and I’m trying to make sure that I spend as much of my weekend outside as possible.

We hit up Oldbury Park in Fishponds on Saturday, threw some pooh sticks, flew a kite (badly) and went for a long stroll. Unfortunately, we also saw a squirrel murdered by two Lurchers. We all froze to the spot with mouths agape, Noemi included, while these two dogs cornered the creature and ripped it to shreds. It all happened so quickly and it was squeaking while the owner tried to extricate it from his dogs’ mouths. Sooo, yeah. That happened.

But, y’know, otherwise a lovely day…

On Sunday, we ventured out of Bristol to Marlborough. A couple of years ago my family and I moved from Southampton to Bristol. I didn’t really gel with Southampton, but loved the friends we’d made there, so we like to try and meet up with them relatively regularly, especially when they do things like, y’know, create brand new humans together. Cute babies, pub lunch, ridiculously changeable weather, and a walk around Avebury stone circle before tea and cake. Because tea. And cake.

Despite the fact I’m a bit of a grumpy bitch about the whole “Autumn” shenanigans, this weekend suited me fine.

In defence of inconsistency

In defence of inconsistency

Consistency has been a concept I have struggled with for MANY. FUCKING. YEARS.

Seriously, even writing this post has endured some fairly industrial level procrastination. In fact before even finishing the first sentence, I have:

  • Watched an entire episode of Pretty Little Liars (TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF OF THOSE PANTS OF JUDGEMENT. I SEE YOU…)
  • Had a shower
  • Got dressed
  • Sent WhatsApp messages to Lotte (follow her, because she’s FUCKING AMAZING) (Aside: I also made an epic typo of boundless hilarity, and now “Wetherspoons”, the brand of affordable and popular British uber-pubs, shall now henceforth be known as “Wergerspoobs”. Much better.)
  • You will notice that even this list suffers with procrastination and lacks consistency
  • Seagulls
  • Ballsack
  • I don’t even know what I’m doing…

My school reports are all dotted with “Gemma doesn’t apply herself” and “Gemma lacks consistency”. And to be honest, I’ve always known there was more in me, I just didn’t see the point of studying for History or Religious Studies when, really, what was I actually going to do with those in my life? (PRO TIP for any teens out there wondering if there really is any point to studying these subjects, I can conclusively declare NO, there is literally and figuratively not one point UNLESS you like them and enjoy them or you just really want to own it at Trivial Pursuit. Get the basics sorted with Maths and English, try and remember a few phrases in a different language that enable you to get by when your family find themselves lost looking for the B&B in a quiet European village and everything else? Seriously, just do the ones you enjoy. Operative word being YOU. Lesson over…)

Even with things that I love, I lack the staying power. I get to a certain level and I’m, well, just done with it. Guitar, keyboard, roller skating, reiki, Michael Jackson.

And consistency is the thing you really need in your life if there’s an area that you want to become masterful in. Running a business, for example, means consistently, day in, day out doing something that moves your business forward, that keeps you in the forefront of people’s minds. Being a fucking epic piano player means, day in, day out, practising playing the piano and the theory and putting your music out there in the ether. Same for being great at a sport, same for pretty much anything else you want to be great at.

But, the big issue is that CONSISTENCY IS FUCKING BORING. It’s ENDLESSLY DULL. The few things I wanted to do endlessly as a youngster were gymnastics, art and singing – and even some of those had boring bits in. The former stopped when my mum decided I wasn’t going to lessons anymore (heartbreaking), and the latter two ended when I went to Grammar school and realised that there were so many other people better than me, so really, what was the point. (Plus, I won’t lie, boys were increasingly more interesting.)

If you are like me, there are two ways you can approach the lack of consistency problem:

1. Choke down consistency every day, and just get it done and reap the rewards of achieving the goal that you desperately want to achieve.

or

2. Accept that you are never going to fall in love with the process of doing the endless work and – despite what the world might say about it – stand proud in your ok-ness about that.

Fact is, it’s OK to be a perpetual starter; things can never be truly finished anyway, especially when it comes to art or anything creative. It’s OK to only do things that you like. You might not be the next trillionaire business mogul, but is that what you even want? (Hint: if it is, then seriously, choke that consistency down like the filthy gruel it can be or get someone else to do the bits you hate).

When you grow up in a world that wants you to hit goals here and achieve All The Things, it can be hard to understand that, actually, it’s totally fucking fine to flow from one thing to the next, doing what you enjoy.

Looking back on all my reports, my lack of consistency and lack of application were down to the fact I was pretty bored. Boredom for me means I either need to step up to the next level of challenge in that area, or I just need to stop doing the thing that’s making me feel bored and try something completely different. I’d wager the same is true for you.

Find the enjoyment in your own process; and hey, it’s ok if that process looks like the physical dance interpretation of fusion jazz while tripping on mushrooms.

A local fair for local people

A local fair for local people

One of my favourite pastimes is haemorrhaging money so my child can bounce on different equipment, so when we heard that our local fair was in town over the weekend, we hit up that mother faster than you can say “four minutes bouncing for £4”.

It started well; £7.50 entrance fee, and we lost my mother to the second hand stalls around the perimeter. We’ve started a concerted effort to help Noemi understand the value of money by giving her a set amount at events like this and letting her decide how she wants to spend it, but understanding that once it’s gone, it’s gone.

You have never seen a child become so frugal in such a short space of time, so tentatively, I think it’s working.

First stop: Spacehopper Hurdles

Yes, it was as cool as it looks. Noemi excelled herself against a couple of two year olds who couldn’t quite fit on the Spacehoppers properly, and won a rosette for her efforts.

There are some things that are quite commonplace at all local fairs in the UK – perhaps elsewhere, too:

  1. A rock band with a singer dressed like she’s going to fancy dress party as a medieval serving maid
  2. Five different types of bouncy castle, all with extortionate prices-per-minute and teeming with more than the recommended safe number of children.
  3. Groups of bored teens
  4. Rain, or the threat of rain
  5. A parent trying to console a screaming little shit child.

And there are things that never happen at local fairs, like leaving with change from a twenty pound note.

Noemi’s next bouncing apparatus was a castle/slide combo. By the way, it turns out it is really fucking hard to get Noemi in focus while bouncing, so these rather artsy shots will simply have to do.

Jon and I laughed for the full five minute bounce time at the name of the bouncy castle manufacturer. That name was fucking inspired!

Our next move was a bit of a mistake, because we decided to wait in a MAMMOTH FUCKING QUEUE so that Noemi could end up on one of those trampoline bungee thingies.

FORTY-FIVE MINUTES (and one tin of Thatcher’s cider – mine, I hasten to add) LATER, and she was launching herself into the air with the greatest of ease.

After spending her final 30p on a Sherbet Dip Dab (STILL A THING APPARENTLY!), we watched four impressive ladies showing us their Zumba skills on stage and headed home.