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Sunday, 16 December 2018

Being Present In An Online World

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We talk about presents and gifts at Christmas time but what about the gift or present of actually being PRESENT during the festive period? It's something I've been thinking about a lot this week. Cliche, yes I know and you may think a little cringe but bear with me. 
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I'm a workaholic, I'm the first to admit that but I'm also a family girl, to me, family are everything but as with everything in life, we've all gotta work so it's about getting a balance. Life is a funny old thing, bad things can happen and they massively put life into perspective and when I say bad things, I mean really bad things, the kinda bad things that make you wish you spent more time with a person rather than being on your phone or rather than constantly flaking on them because you're too busy with work you got your priorities in check. We have to work, it's part of life and it's fine to work hard (obviously) but I want to put more time into spending it with those I love because quite frankly, life is too short not to. I know life often gets in the way of us making plans, seeing family, seeing friends but I really want to make a conscious effort to be more present for the remainder of 2018 and going forward in 2019 (Christmas being the perfect time, whilst we all have some time off together). I guess I feel as if I’ve always had a perspective on life due to not-so-good things that I’ve witnessed but this week, another blow really made me appreciate those I love and want to squeeze them even tighter. So, today I thought I’d write about why I’m vowing to be more present this Christmas and how I’m going to try do that in the hopes that it helps you, if you're a bit of a social media/work addict like me

A friend text recently about some drama on social media, but actually it wasn’t real life and by turning off your phone, you can switch off from it as what was happening was all online. You could argue that it is real life, because ultimately, my job is online for example but,  some things are just internet things and can easily be switched off. I promised myself in 2018 to stop scrolling so much because there are so many indirect/negative things that suck the energy out of me online and really affect my day or make me anxious. I muted/unfollowed those people and now I have a scroll-friendly zone. I feel like I'm the queen of procrastination and one little thing can get me down a rabbit hole and ruin my day if I let it. I'm not saying everything we see should be positive because that isn't real life and that's damaging in itself, but I do think sometimes, it's nice to see a bit of positivity through my feeds. I guess that's why I think it's important to just turn off sometimes and be involved in what's in front of you and going on in the present moment.

topshop vintage faux fur coatI'm a workaholic and a social media addict, something I'm trying to get better at balancing, I wrote a blog post earlier this year about ways I'm trying to be more balanced in life, work and play. I think it's all about figuring out what's worth spending your time and energy on and letting yourself take time off and take a step back. For me for example, I know spending as much time with my family as possible is key, I never want to look back and wish I spent more time with my Grandparents for example. I want to live my life knowing I gave my family my all. 

We live in a work-work-work world and the pressure is immense, so I'm trying to be kinder to myself where I can be. I was replying to a negative comment the other day and my brother said to me: do you want your gravestone to say: 'spent time replying to trolls?' And as morbid as it is, he's right. It got me thinking, we are on this Earth once, I know I'm getting philosophical here but it's true, use your energy whilst on this earth in a positive and worthwhile manner, you don't want your gravestone to say 'spent time replying to negative comments' or even worse 'spent time writing negative comments'. Basically, a reminder that life is short so to embrace it. I know we all have bad days, it's normal but hopefully this is a timely reminder to soak up life because life in itself is a blessing and so many people would do anything to be breathing and living.

When I was younger, I'd go through the Argos catalogue and have a huge list of gifts. I guess everyone goes through that materialistic patch, for me, now it really is who’s around the tree that matters rather than what's under it. I sit and get so excited seeing my family opening their gifts rather than minding too much about what I've got. Infact, this year I genuinely just want to see my family happy and healthy. It can take bad stuff to happen in your life to get to this stage though where actually possessions mean nothing. Yep, I love a nice handbag, some flowers and some chocolate - you wouldn't be human if you didn't but honestly, I'm excited to sit and have a laugh with my family because I feel blessed to be able to sit round the table with them and know some people won't be present at Christmas this year for many people.

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I'm going to put my phone on flight mode and turn my data off a little bit more, so I can still capture wonderful memories and moments to keep forever on that very phone, but firstly, I want to print them out into photo books so everyone can look at them and remember the memories. Secondly, I want to not be scrolling all day long when my Grandparents are trying to talk to me for example. If like me, you run a business that requires your phone (you deserve the day off on Christmas, at least) then try scheduling stuff ahead so you can spend quality time with friends/family when you're with them. I honestly find locking my phone in another room stops me being such a workaholic and I know how much it means to my Grandad when we are just present and listen to his stories.

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Ted Baker boots online here / skirt online here / coat online here and similar here and here / Gucci Marmont bag online here / jumper online here / photos by Marta Ferenc

Over the last few years I've been giving a number of local charities hampers every Christmas/Easter because there really are so many little ways you can make someones day, particularly in the run up to Christmas. I was talking to someone recently who told me he used to hate Christmas because his wife died during this period a few years ago and he feels lonely, you wouldn't know if you saw him as he's always smiling but it's worth checking on people. I actively try to look up from my phone and smile at people now when walking through the street as you can easily make someones day just by smiling, having a bit of eye contact or even saying hello. I used to work in retail and made a conscious effort to chat to every customer, it's such a nice way to chat to people and brighten their day. I'm so happy he's part of an extended family now so he says he doesn't feel as lonely as he used to and he actually looks forward to Christmas now. It really is the little things during Christmas time. Your presence can truly make someones day. Giftwise this year I actually ended up taking my family to Rudding Park in Harrogate, one of our favourite spas. It was so nice to switch off and spend some family time together. I also took my brother and boyfriend to New York as a birthday/Christmas present, it meant we could make some amazing memories. Granted, these things cost so much money but for me I just thought f*** it, life is too short, my brother needs this. Last year, I bought my family vouchers so they had to actively go and do things together, such as meals out, spa days and afternoon teas, it just meant they had to actively make plans to spend time together rather than constantly stressing over work. 

Whilst Christmas is the most wonderful time of year for many, it's the darkest time of year for many too and I guess I just wanted to hammer home the fact that I feel so grateful to be able to take a day or two off and soak up quality time with the people I love (I know so many amazing emergency services work tirelessly over Christmas to keep us all safe - so thank you to those wonderful humans too). I feel blessed to have these people here, in my life. You have no idea what's around the corner and I just want to live my life, loving the people close to me and squeezing them tight. We've had a rough few years, as I'm sure many families have but a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor and you have the power to be present this Christmas and really make someones day, whether it's your old best friends, a stranger in the street or your brothers. So, pick up the phone, call someone, go for that coffee you've been putting off, grab a glass of champagne and have a giggle, those deadlines can wait. Sit with your Grandad whilst he tells you the same story over and over, laugh whilst he bickers with your Grandma and tell your brother you love him. You cannot beat actual interaction and making memories because in the end, it's memories with people you love that matter, not a deadline, not a follower number, not a spreadsheet. 

How are you spending your Christmas? 

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Lots of love, Em x

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