All change all change… it’s time to move

A quick note to check in with you lovely people! Also to say things will be looking very different round here come Friday.

I have been working super hard on getting The Social Stylist ready and I am crazy excited, which is a combination of not enough sleep, too much coffee and loving the creative process of giving birth to my second baby!

See you on the other side…

 

Love and Light

X x

 

The next chapter for Belle Noir Loves

 

This blog has always been a journey through my life, so not surprisingly it has seen a good few iterations and changes over the years.

I started it in 2011 following my own wedding. In response to the lack of representation in the magazines and blogs of the time. I vowed to start something I would have valued during my planning.

Fast forward a few years and life was taken over by fertility troubles and a truly hard time.

 

 Yet at the end of the most difficult year, we were blessed with a pregnancy that stuck.  And in June 2013 the most beautiful little girl came into our lives.

 

Maternity leave brought a year of hazy, sleep-deprived and caffeine fuelled moments filled with love and cuddles. This was then followed by an even hazier and sleep deprived transition to being a working mum. A life re-evaluation saw a foray into a portfolio career with freelance clients and a day job, then a new job and a seed of business idea.

Which brings us to today.

You will have noticed the theme of the blog posts have been changing of late. Influenced by my newfound interests, entrepreneurial endeavours and spiritual reasonings.

 

So you guessed it, it’s time for BelleNoirLoves to change her clothes metaphorically and literally.

 

The posts that have resonated with you the most are the ones about business and balance. I know so many women who are determined to live life rather than let life live us.

 

And this.

 

This is my passion and it excites me beyond belief.

 

 

My mantra has always been to ‘Enjoy the Journey’ and this is it on steroids.

 

Lovingly curating the hell out of life. Less hoping and more hustling.

From work, relationships, home, marriage and motherhood. Embracing life’s adventures. Do you catch my drift? I hope so!

So here I will share the inspiring ideas and motivational musings I come across as well as my entrepreneurial journey. Still blogging my happily ever after but making it more focussed. Less drifting, more doing.

 

The existing wedding content will remain as it is some of most popular pages. And I continue to invite people to share their wedding days with me, as well as creating posts where it feels right.

If you are after wedding advice and a place to go where diversity in the wedding industry is being championed then please hop on over to Nubride. Nova is my blogging bestie, having met through our respective blogs we have bonded over the years and she is truly rocking it like a boss over there.

 

I am working my little butt off on le business and have finally given it a deadline and a date.

31st July is launch day…eek there I have said it.

It’s now out there in the universe, so must happen…right!?!

 

And in a slight read *big* development I decided to change the name and the website platform, so it is now called The Social Stylist and hosted on Squarespace but more on that in a later post. There are also some other plans underway for this blog. Watch this space!

 

So if you fancy coming along for the ride, I warn you sometimes it might be a bit rough and ready, then I would absolutely LOVE for you to join me.

 

So raise a drink to taking control of happiness and living a life we love.

 

Gin and Prosecco are favoured but with a beautifully demanding toddler in the house, a cup of tea that is actually still hot will do.

Love & Light

X x

 

 

Dealing with overwhelm

Vision bigger than schedule

 

Since becoming a mummy my levels of productivity, ambition and desire have increased ten-fold. The irony is that at a time when I am the most busy I have ever been. I have never wanted to do so much.

But as a mum to a toddler, a wife, part-time employee and soon-to-be business owner there is only so much I can physically manage and only so fast I can go with progressing my plans.

In short…

MY VISION IS BIGGER THAN MY SCHEDULE.

In my case this leads to suffocating feelings of overwhelm.

It manifests itself in creative and productivity paralysis, rendering me unable to do very much, squeezing my self-esteem into submission and resulting in a big old crisis in confidence.

Dramatic I know, but that’s me folks.

A few weeks ago a big dose of the overwhelm flu hit.

Wanting to do so much but lacking the time was causing me to worry about all the things I WANT / NEED/ absolutely MUST to do right now.

Following a few days of wallowing, I got a grip of myself and resolved to stop wasting time worrying. Instead channeling the energy it into getting shit done.

So, I started on the action that I had been avoiding and found I was not only more focussed but also more forgiving of myself. And do you know what? I got shit done and it felt good!

I know most of you have multiple commitments, where juggling is the name of the game and who also experience similar bouts of  overwhelm. So I thought I would reach out to some of my favourite coaches and all round fabulous ladies to get their tips for what to  when your vision is bigger than your schedule.

So without further ado here we go…

Danielle is The Clarity Architect. She helps ambitious entrepreneurs get super clear about their brand so they know what to focus on and when to achieve their desired goals.

“Whilst our vision at times can seem bigger than our schedule, the key thing to keep in mind is, not everything needs to be done right away. Reaching our desired goals is a process. A process that allows us to develop, grow and take things in steps and stages.

I truly believe that if you really want something, you will do everything within your power to get it. We can always adjust our schedule and spend time on the things that matter to us most, and will have the biggest impact.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you need to do, my number one tip would be to review how you’re spending your time. How much time is spent watching TV, on social media, reading magazines, surfing the web etc. Write down the number of minutes or hours per day, week and calculate a monthly figure.

Now of course we need some of these things in our lives, but the question to ask yourself is could that time be better spent elsewhere? If so, dedicate that time to your vision instead.

We can’t manage time, but we can manage ourselves to do the things that will bring us closer to our desired goals. The power to do so is within you.”

Entrepreneur or budding entrepreneur? If you want to build your brand and grow your business join Danielle’s list.

 

 Jen is an online business coach inspiring women all over the world to quit the rat race and start their own businesses at The Freedom Leap. She combines mindset and life coaching with business and marketing training to transform the lives and careers of her clients.

“When you’re trying to juggle a million things at once – work, your business, relationships, children, housework etc – sooner or later something will slip – and the person who suffers most is you, because you’ll likely beat yourself up for not being able to cope and feel guilty for letting others down.

My top tip is to brainstorm everything you feel you need to do and write it all out on paper; highlight the priorities; delegate what you can and leave the rest for later. Then, each week, pick 1-3 key actions for each area of your life to complete. For example, with your business setting up a meeting with a potential client and completing some client work around your other commitments. That’s progress and you won’t get frozen by procrastination and overwhelm!

And remember, “you can do anything, but not everything”…”

Join Jen over at the The Freedom Leap

 

Gina is an author, work-life balance advocate and career coach. As part of her Limitless Coaching initiative she works with awesome women (and kick ass men) with untapped potential to accelerate their career and lifestyle goals whilst ensuring partners and family remain firmly in the picture.

When balancing so many things, feeling overwhelmed isn’t unusual so remember that:

  • You are not alone. Or strange. Or inept. Or not handling things.  If you have ambition, lots of goals and a big vision – that feeling of overwhelm hitting you like a wave is likely to be part of the journey at times. The key is not to panic if and when overwhelm hits you. Instead take a few deep breaths and recognise that you are amidst a tribe of people
    determined to work towards their dreams. That in itself is worth celebrating. *Exhale*.
  • Structure / planning is an incredible antidote to overwhelm. It’s like it’s kryptonite. Try (1) carving out regular times when hubby, a parent or any other support looks after your little one or (2) breaking down tasks into manageable chunks and dividing them across a few occasions. This activity means that everything feels more manageable. You know exactly what task you intend to do and if you don’t achieve one of these smaller goals you can identify what you need to catch up on, as opposed to thinking “I’m so behind on everything!”.
  • Work life balance isn’t about always being 50/50. If you set that expectation you’re setting yourself up to feel overwhelmed / disappointed in yourself! Instead, aim for ‘balance’ on your own terms. Sometimes that may be hugely careers focused. Sometimes it may be all about your family. Maybe sometimes it’ll be all about you (yoga retreat anyone?!). I’ve created a monthly tool to help you monitor where your current priorities giving you an easy way to set goals in different aspects of your life.

Access Gina’s monitoring tool here.

 

WOW!!! Fantastic advice and so many takeaways. I hope this has helped you as much as it helped me! Do let me know if you can relate.

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What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness?

In a bid to balance how busy life has been, I have felt the need to incorporate some mindfulness into proceedings. As usual the internet has come up trumps and I have found some brilliant resources, so I thought I’d share them with you. Please forgive me if this is a bit out-there for you, but if you are on my wavelength with this I would love to hear your thoughts.

So, what is mindfulness? Awareness of the present. It encourages us to  simply take time to recognise the world around us as well as our thoughts and feelings. It is savouring life in the now but also acts as a way of  helping us to achieve our goals.

We often live for the future, where we want to be and or how “things would be so much better if . . .’. Mindfulness seeks to redress this and fits so perfectly into my mantra of ‘enjoying the journey’.

Here are my top picks of the internet to bring some mindfulness into your life…

1) TINY BUDDHA

A collation of articles from various contributors quotes, ‘reflecting on simple wisdom we can apply to our complex lives’.

2) ZEN HABITS

Zen Habits is about ‘finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives’ and is thoughtfully written by Leo Babuta.

3) TuT UNIVERSE

My favourite!!! Sign up to receive these beautifully motivating and inspiring notes of daily goodness delivered straight to your inbox.

4) ELEPHANT JOURNAL

Achieving the good life through mindfulness, yoga, mediation, wellness, family and food. Fun articles from a variety of contributors.

If you decide to check these out, if you already visit these sites or practice mindfulness, share your experiences in the comments below.

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Catching up with Don’t Buy Her Flowers

Belles in Business 3

I hope you are enjoying reading the Belles in Business series as much as I am enjoying writing about it.

I am super excited to have the lovely Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers gracing these pages. Having met at one of the awesome Mothers Meetings, a mere week after she launched her business, her friendly nature and wonderful energy made me feel like I’d known her forever. Her business is the most genius idea. Read on to find out all about it.

 

HI STEPH. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?

Me B&WI’m 34, married to Doug and we have two children – Buster (4) and Mabel (2). I’ve been described as having ‘infectious enthusiasm’ which I think is a good thing…I wish I had the brazen confidence I had as a kid. My mum used to say ‘open a fridge door and she’ll start performing’ (due to the light, not the lure of food). That said, I met up with some friends recently and a photo of me dancing on a table emerged after, so perhaps I’m not so different. I blame the Prosecco.
I’m a massive believer in Sisterhood and I write a blog called Sisterhood (and all that). The more we’re honest about how we feel – about relationships and careers and motherhood – the better chance we have of being able to laugh at some of the ridiculous situations and emotions we go through and feel a lot less lonely. I am very lucky to have some amazing, supportive and hilarious women in my life. I have five siblings and always thought I’d have at least four children, but turns out having babies can be quite hard – on your body, your relationships and your mental state, so we’ll see!

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START DON’T BUY HER FLOWERS? TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I started the business in November 2014, selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums that offer some TLC because frankly they deserve it. The aim of the packages is to encourage Mum to take 10 minutes to herself or with her partner. The most popular package is the Care Package, which contains tea, flapjack, truffles, a magazine and a scarf. We teamed up with COOK food so their vouchers can be added to any of our packages, so you can give new parents good food they don’t have to prepare delivered to their door.

When I had my babies I was given lots of flowers – kind friends and family wanted to send congratulations and flowers are the go-to gift. They were lovely, but I had more than I knew what to do with (or than I had vases for) and in hindsight, giving someone another thing to care for when they’re putting more love and energy in to something than they’ve ever done before is a bit crackers. I since did some research and 96% of new mums are given flowers, most more than 3 bunches. The idea of Don’t Buy Her Flowers felt really strong and it also came at a time when I was finding the return to work and commute in to London a juggle. I wanted to find a way of doing something I am really passionate about that would also give me flexibility to work around the kids and it all started to fit together.

DBHF family

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DON’T BUY HER FLOWERS?

The main inspiration probably came from how tough I found those first months after having a baby; it was totally unexpected. I’m reasonably bright, I had a good husband, I’d held some babies before…what could be so hard? I think most women find themselves in a fog for a while. No-one finds it easy but there’s often a perception that everyone else is finding it easier than you when you’re ‘in’ it. We re-emerge, but you don’t know that at the time and it can feel quite lonely. When friends had babies I sent them little packages of stuff for them and left food on their doorstep if they lived nearby and they all sent the loveliest thank you messages, overwhelmed that someone had thought of them. I suppose in someone sending something that is thoughtful and gives some TLC rather than just a nice gift it communicates that they know it’s tough, which is really powerful. The idea developed from there.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM HAVING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

DBHF Me 1st week holding boxes15novThe biggest learning that I wasn’t expecting is that the mental side of running a business is the most challenging. Forget late nights and the logistics of managing a business – if you’ve worked in pressured environments and you’ve managed people and projects, you’ve done all that. Staying cool, not worrying about the next piece of coverage or sale and never doubting what you’re doing takes a strong nerve and you need to have complete belief in what you’re doing because although you’re not supposed to take anything in business personally, it feels very personal.

 

I LOVE HEARING STORIES OF WOMEN BALANCING BUSINESS WITH MOTHERHOOD. HOW DO YOU DO IT AND WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR ASPIRING BUSINESS WOMEN?

Oh god – it’s still so new and I largely feel like I’m frantically leaping from one thing to another, compiling an endless to-do list. I definitely haven’t got it ‘cracked’! I think a top tip would be to be kind to yourself. Something’s got to give because starting a business is all-consuming. You won’t be able to do everything you did before and run a business, so maybe the house will look a bit less tidy, or you get a cleaner, or your partner steps in to do more, or all of the above! And THEN you need to not beat yourself up about any of that. Also, having superb family, friends and a partner that remind you of all this when you feel like you’re sinking is a huge help.

WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?

I’ve got so many ideas about where it could go and one of the toughest things I’m finding at the moment is that I didn’t start Don’t Buy Her Flowers to be completely absent from family life and there’s only so much I can do. I have to remind myself that I only have childcare for three days so for this period – while they’re young – I’ve got to remember that I set the pace. My aim is to have flexibility, to be able to do the pick up when they go to school, to do something I’m passionate about and use my brain and all the things I’ve learned through my career prior to now. It’s a long-term plan. Sometimes when you hear success stories from other people you think ‘oh I need to work harder, do more’ but chances are, those people have worked for years before they’ve reached the success levels you’re seeing. And if I’m not enjoying it, I may as well be working for someone else and just taking a nice salary.

DBHF collage3

DESCRIBE WHAT A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE LOOKS LIKE?

On a work day, everyone is up anytime from 6am (sadly) and I tussle the kids to nursery, go to the gym (I had a prolapsed disc in the summer so this is something I can’t skip as I’m a bit screwed if I’m bed-ridden!) and then spend most of the day in the office, formerly known as our spare room. I pack up orders first, and the rest of the day is a juggle of checking and ordering stock, paying invoices, promoting the business and looking for marketing opportunities, and interviews like this! The day flies and there’s always a to-do list for the next day. I work most evenings to stay on top of orders and enquiries – it’s not something you can leave for a few days, especially as a new business, but I am working on how I stay focused on the non-work days to get the essentials done but not lose hours in front of the laptop. It’s a steep learning curve, but I already know I wouldn’t want it any other way.

DBHF package

I love this…Steph saw a gap in the market from her own experiences and has managed to turn it into a fully fledged business.

Anyone who knows me in real life and is expecting, sorry to spoil the surprise but you will be receiving one of these when bubba arrives! You can also keep up with Steph on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and of course her hilariously honest blog ‘Sisterhood and all that‘.