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We Are All A Work In Progress

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

You might assume that because I own my own growing company that I am for the most part, fulfilled. Certainly from a career perspective. And it’s not that I am unfulfilled as such, but more recently, I have been feeling as though I’m simply not….learning.

Apologies in advance if I don’t articulate this feature particularly well, I’m finding it quite difficult to explain. I was supposed to be writing a piece on fashion but then this got in the way: I was talking to a friend recently about the Rock My Wedding book, they concluded that I must have essentially achieved a life goal and where exactly do you go from well, here?

I wasn’t sure whether my immediate (yet deliberately stifled) reaction (which was some where between confusion, surprise and the desire to say “but there are so many more things I need to do”…) would come across as self-absorbed, ungrateful or plain old wanky.

Some aspects of my job allow me to be very creative and I appreciate that I am incredibly fortunate to be in this position. However, there are also the more mundane tasks that come hand in hand with virtually all businesses. The admin. The VAT returns. The endless inbox. Sometimes the constant juggling is just that – endeavouring not to drop a ball whilst simultaneously ensuring our readership and turnover continues to increase.

I am already starting to bore myself into oblivion so I’ll leave the work waffle there.

At the moment (much like most of you reading this piece I imagine) I am trying to make more time. Time to spend with my daughter, time to spend with my husband. Time to go out, drink gin and dance on tables with my friends (ok so this might be a pipe dream but you know, aim high).

I also need to make time for myself. And I don’t mean to go to the hair dressers, have a mani/pedi or spend a day in a spa* (although I like the effects of these things I also find “sitting” for hours painfully dull). I mean have the opportunity to learn new things. Improve my knowledge. Get to grips with a new skill or finally make a properly decent spaghetti bolognaise because seriously, how hard can it be?!*

My main issue is feeling like any new skill should somehow be useful for work. Which is why I didn’t pursue photography. Or floristry. Or any number of things that I genuinely enjoy. My hesitation absolutely and catergorically stems from running my own business – everything you do in life tends to revolve around it. Intentional or not. If I took up a skill that I can utilise for Rock My Ltd, will I be doing it for me?

But actually, I want to take lovely photographs of my beautiful girl. I want to know how to put together a seasonal bouquet to display in my kitchen. I want to read more history books.

I want to stop procrastinating and get the hell on with it.

I’ve made a start at least. I bought myself an Olympus Pen at the back end of last year and have been practising taking pictures in different light conditions over the last few weeks. I’d highly recommend it as a compact “first” camera – the kit lens is ok but fairly basic, more than happy to share some more info on the extra lenses I have and the phone photo editing I do (my lightroom/photoshop ability needs significant improvement but I’ve found my mojo with various apps) – just leave a comment if you’re interested and I can put a future feature together.

I participated in a 1 on 1 workshop last month where I learnt the basics of setting up my camera, the aforementioned lenses to invest in and how to make a pretty floral arrangement. The experience was also useful in allowing me to realise what styles I love and how to evolve my own.

I read this poignant piece the other day which if I could remember for the life of me who to credit, I would. They wrote that no-one is ever the finished article, we are all a work in progress.

I hope to still be learning new skills when I’m 90. And I’m beginning to understand that just because you are hungry for experience and expertise, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are neither content nor grateful for all that you have achieved in the present moment.

Do let me know what new hobbies or skills you are currently considering in the comments section, I’m genuinely fascinated to know.

*I have actually never been to a spa. I just don’t see the attraction. The team were quite surprised when I told them.

*My attempts are either bland or too tomato-y acidic. I’m not keen on lots of garlic and try not to use salt due to cooking for Mabel. Any tips or tricks are most welcome.

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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87 thoughts on “We Are All A Work In Progress

  1. This is a really lovely post Charlotte! It is so true that we are all constantly working on ourselves and I think once we achieve one goal we have been striving to achieve for so long it does then take us time to sit back- assess and work out what we want to do next. I imagine for you it must have all been so manic, crazy and exciting that you were working on adrenaline and now it’s out there it is a huge relief! Now you have some ‘time’ (I use that word loosely of course) to enjoy something new. I love my Pen and highly recommend Emily Quinton for more tips on making the most out of it- she uses it a lot.

    I am about to start re-decorating the lounge and enjoy the challenge that brings. I am also teaching myself how to use video from a course by Xanthe Berkley which I highly recommend as it is SO much fun!! (I am sure you may follow her but it’s worth it if you don’t on Instagram)

    I do hope you continue learning past your 90’s! (There was a woman that pooped up on my FB who started pole dancing in her 50s and has become a right expert- her muscle tone is quite impressive!)

    1. Naomi, pole dancing in your 50s sounds absolutely ace! and yes absolutely you hit the nail on the head, it was quite a long process creating the book (if you consider signing with Penguin and then it essentially being published) that it was quite all consuming. And now it’s very much…ok then, what next?

      Would love to see your re-decorated lounge once it’s finished – do send us some photos xx

  2. This is such a timely post. After our move back, I’m going to have a bit of time on my hands. Gavin’s taking time off to finish writing his first book, and I’ve been reflecting on what I would like to do once or twice a week.

    Learning came up, but after training in graphic design, coding & social media management over the last 4 years, I’m kind of done with mental learning (for now). I kind of feel like I want to get back into my body and learn something a bit more physical. I’ve narrowed it down to four things that have always taken my interest:

    1. Archery
    2. Fishing
    3. Martial Arts – namely an Isreali type called Krav Maga
    4. Painting

    I spend far too much time in front of a computer and don’t see that changing, so I just want something that’s going to challenge me mentally AND physically.

    I think you should totally pursue both photography and floristry lady. You clearly have a natural talent for both. As a woman it’s always really hard to justify time away from family and/or work. Especially to do things that seem ‘pointless’ (and I think my list epitomises that). So I’m struggling with this push/pull too. Looking forward to reading the rest of the comments!

    Also, spag bol… A dash of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce always works wonders for me 😉

    1. So impressed with all of your design and coding knowledge Naomi, it must have been so much hard work and dedication – and with a new baby!

      I am actually doing an SEO course in London next week, I’ve not learnt anything “new” on that front for a while so it will be good to engage my brain and see how everything is evolving.

      On the martial arts front Yes and YES, you have actually reminded me I was going to look for a class, my best friends husband does it with his daughters and they all love it – not to mention it keeps them all super fit. I think it’s Tae Kwon Do they do. xx

  3. Oh babe. Totally with you. Was discussing this with my friends just the other day: husband, tick. House, tick. Baby, tick. Career, tick. Umm.. What happens next?! Is this it?! Not that this is *bad* it’s just… Well.. Is this IT?

    We’re decided on taking a sabbatical next year for 6 months or so and going to go and live somewhere sunny but with none of the commitment issues of emigration! That’s given my brain something to work towards.

    So yes, understand totally. Also, pottery is an awesome hobby I’d recommend. Clay mask anyone ?

    1. Jo, your 6 month sabbatical sounds like such an incredible idea!! I would love to do this one day!! How is it working with your jobs, are they giving you both a career break? Really interested to hear more about it! And where are you thinking of heading?! xx

      1. Ahh! Now I’ve written it down and said it out loud a few times I’m SO going to make sure this happens!

        Vague plan is for me to freelance this year and save the pennies, so I’ll be free and easy to move. Hubby will hopefully get a sabbatical through work but to be honest, if he doesn’t, it’s probably something he’ll do between jobs. (I’m secretly hoping we’ll find awesome employment somewhere on our travels.. Or the lottery!)

        Pondering Hong-Kong, Thailand, Singapore (hubby’s fave) Bali (my spiritual home), Sydney and Melbourne (where we are tempted to investigate moving to). ??

        Oh. With a toddler too!!! ?

        1. It sounds incredible Jo!! We are off to Singapore and Bali in August for our honeymoon so this is totally going to put ideas in my head in advance… 🙂 xx

          1. We went to Singapore and bali for our honeymoon literally best holiday ever I would recommend the sekumpul waterfalls tour was amazing we managed to stay in a hotel called the viceroy in ubud which literally was the best hotel of all time

    2. Jo I am very envious of your sabbatical. We’ve said that depending on the work situation and when Mabel is in school, we might use her summer holiday to go and live somewhere else for a few months.

      Is this…it? Yep, that’s what it’s been like. I keep trying to have a word with myself but it’s been reassuring knowing I’m not alone! x

  4. I recently read an article which had similar feeling to this one, and it said that the desire to constantly achieve more is what makes us human, it’s what makes us the most advanced animals. I also totally have this feeling. I had a career and studied alongside it and then I had my son. My career fell apart and I’m now full time at home with him and I’m 5 months pregnant. I feel like I’m just a mum and a wife now. Not that being those things isn’t the best thing ever, But I do want to do more. I’ve been trying to get back into reading, and I’ve decided I don’t want to study anything academic but I need some hobbies. I need something that’s just mine. I don’t have any ideas though so my comment isn’t very helpful!

    Also spat bol- Worcestershire sauce and a glass of red wine. Slow cook it.

    1. Anna you are right, the desire to achieve more does make us human. I mentioned one of my best friends in a comment above – we have always been the same, and had various conversations about it, i.e. wouldn’t life be easier if we could just be 100% content and not constantly be looking for the next project. When you say your career fell apart, do you mean because you left to have a baby? feel free to tell me to mind my own business. Looking back my previous career would not have worked around a family at all, there were some really interesting feedback on our “back to work” feature on Rock My Family yesterday:

      I hope you find a hobby that you love and is “yours” Anna x

      1. Thanks, Charlotte. I think if we felt content we may wonder why and then feel complacent. I realise that was perhaps dramatic wording- I essentially got pushed out of my job and couldn’t find a new one, and then fell pregnant again so I’m now on an extended career break until my bump becomes old enough for me to work. I throughly enjoyed yesterday’s RMF article on the subject yesterday, sadly I’m not alone. Reading through the comments here to get hobby inspiration!

  5. My go-to toddler friendly spag Bol sauce recipe is the BBC Good Food “hidden veg” sauce – bit of a faff to make initially but I just make loads and freeze it. Either that or the Loyd Grossman smoky bacon sauce ?

    1. Katie I’m sure someone mentioned this on a RMF post and I failed to look it up. Thanks for the reminder x

  6. This is so timely Charlotte. I am a firm believer that we should continue to learn new things – and have spent a lot of time doing various courses / workshops / sessions on anything from photography, to calligraphy, fascinator making, writing, blogging… and lots of other things in between. Not every one turns out to be something I am particularly skilled at, but it gives me such a buzz and I am always looking for the next thing. This year I feel I have stagnated a bit on it though, and I am really noticing the difference in myself and my self-esteem. Wedding planning is taking up a lot of pennies and time and it has just meant I haven’t been able to justify my ‘learning’ as much. But this has definitely encouraged me to find something cheap and cheerful (or free to do online – maybe Skillshare) to keep the grey matter working. Next on my list, when I do have some more disposable cash, is video editing though! I really want to give Xanthe Berkley’s courses a whirl xx ps. totally agree with Naomi on the Spag Bol – a dash of Worcestershire Sauce works wonders. I occasionally add a swig of red wine too…

    1. Emma you are the Queen of learning! I think planning a wedding is a huge project in itself, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Video definitely sounds fun, I may have a butchers myself x

  7. Really interesting article Charlotte – I think looking at learning new skills is a great idea. I work in finance which I’ve never massively enjoyed although it pays well – now in the v fortunate position that I could try something different and less well paid due to my husband’s promotion but literally no idea what I actually WANT to do. Maybe exploring new skills is the key and I’ll find my mojo that way!

    1. Sounds like an amazing opportunity Emma, and exploring new skills would certainly give you an idea of what it is you do genuinely enjoy. x

    2. I am in a similar position. I have recently been made redundant and we are fortunate enough for me to not rush back to work. We are both seeing this as an opportunity to try somethings new, start a business, career change. But I have NO IDEA what to do?? Not a clue??

  8. I did both a lino cut printing course and a calligraphy workshop last year and really enjoyed both, but have been rubbish at keeping them up! I plan on keeping up the calligraphy as I found that a little more *me*, but I’d recommend both. I keep meaning to try bouldering again (one of my friends is amazing and has taken me a few times) – but now I’m 6 months pregnant I think I need to hold off on this for a while! I think it’s really important to keep trying new things, I love the feeling of trying something new or ticking another new skill off my list (I only learnt to ride a bike at 26 – after having learnt to drive the same year!).

    I always put a bit of sugar and a dash of Henderson’s Relish (but I am from Sheffield) in my spag bol. Occasionally some balsamic vinegar too!

    1. Hendersons relish? I have not heard of this!

      I am actually crap at riding a bike, there is somewhere we want to go in France which is very cycling orientated – i.e. if you want to see everything hire a bicycle. So I really need to get practising.

      I’ve always thought calligraphy would be a super skill to have – I really appreciate it when I receive a beautifully inscribed invitation x

      1. Ask Lauren – I’m sure she’ll fill you in on the Hendos! (It’s essentially a condiment similar to – but far superior to – Worcestershire Sauce – and vegetarian/vegan to boot!).

        I’m still pretty wobbly on a bike but at least I can ride one now. That was a source of embarrassment for years.

        I can totally recommend Imogen Owen and Quill London for calligraphy courses. Lovely atmospheres in the classes and really high quality equipment and teaching. x

  9. Well if you want history book recommendations I’m your girl! And I will send you a copy of my new one when it’s out in the autumn, promise!

    Totally get this. I think the book thing is it feels like a huge deal before you do it then afterwards you are just a bit complacent about the achievement- it’s just something you’ve done, no matter how proud of it you are. It doesn’t make you a dick. Or if it does, I am one too.

    Spag bol here is a cheat affair. My secret is tomato pesto and the Schwartz spice mix…

    1. Ha ha Lucy love this “It doesn’t make you a dick. Or if it does, I am one too” Absolutely send me a copy – would love to have a look.

      I went to this evening event at my local community run pub a few weeks ago, it was essentially a presentation on the history of Jane Eyre, her family and how she is connected to Stoneleigh Abbey (Stoneleigh is the village next to ours). It was fascinating – truly. The lady who presented it used to be an English teacher but in retirement had taken up learning the history behind certain authors.

      Schwartz spice mix you say……

  10. I found when my side business to the full time job became the full time job I was bored in my evenings (no small humans here yet) so over the past six months I’ve become the treasurer on my village community council – love a spreadsheet and getting to know my community & helping them design a new kitchen for the village hall.
    AND I was approached to be on the board for the local county foodbank charity to assist with marketing and fund raising – I’d done very little in the third sector and this has been really interesting. On top of this our kitchen arrives today and we are self fitting – as well as self removing!!! We/I like to be busy, we’re ambitious folk & it’s good to keep learning new things. I think a lot of pals also think we had it made with my own business, lovely house (& a couple buy to lets etc) but we’re always looking to improve and grow. Oh yeah and a second site for my business is on the cards ….. bring it 2017!

    1. Sarah you are ambitious! I would love to makeover our local community pub, I might mention it to them…and hope they wouldn’t take offence (!)

      The local county food bank charity project sounds really interning – I haven’t really done anything in the third sector either.

      May you have a successful and busy 2017! x

  11. I make bolognese with two parts minced beef to one part minced pork which makes it richer, and use a whole tube of tomato purée instead of tinned tomatoes. Definitely a good slosh of red wine and worcestershire sauce and simmer gently with the lid on for a couple of hours.

    1. Kirsty the pork thing sounds like a great idea, I think my main issue is prepping and getting it ready so it can simmer for a few hours, I tend to think about it at about 5pm and essentially it has to be ready for 6pm so Mabel can eat before bedtime. *Must be more organised*

      It’s really interesting you use the puree instead of tinned, I always get the acidic taste if I use too much puree – but maybe that’s because I’m not simmering for long enough?! x

  12. A couple of rashers of bacon finely chopped when you are frying the onions and defo a splash of Worchester sauce. I do use a beef stock cube too and figure the portion size my kids are having its fine.
    I really like this post. I constantly feel guilty that I’m not reading more, doing the daily yoga/meditation practice I desperately want to do or even watching the ruddy news once in a while! I have a demanding job and sometimes I feel like it takes all of my brain power and the rest of the time I can only manage to watch Towie or Peppa Pig, lol!
    My Mum is my inspiration she had us young and we’d all flown the nest by the time she was about 45. Now she has learnt to sail, ski, speak Spanish, quilting, pottery, mosaic, started a walking group, travels etc etc. She is only 59 and still finding new things to learn all the time. xx

    1. Ah my parents are like this too!! My mum has learnt Italian, goes walking every week, does yoga (she can do a handstand for 5 minutes…), volunteers as a trustee for a local charity and her and my dad are always travelling (currently in Cordoba!). If I ever think I’m too old to start a new hobby I just think of her! x

    2. Wow Nikki, your Mum is an inspiration. I would love to take up a language again – I was actually ok at French in school and really enjoyed it. We holiday in France fairly often too so it would be useful if my vocab was more extensive.

      And I know what you mean about the news. Lottie and I were texting each other at 10pm last night sharing all of these genuinely fascinating articles from Marketing Weekly and (!) I felt like for the first time in ages, my brain was fully engaged. My husband often reads the headlines on his phone before he goes to bed. x

  13. Oh, and also Charlotte, I meant to say in my comment above – YES PLEASE to a post on the lenses you have for your Pen, and the editing that you do. I LOVE my Pen but am always interested to see what others do with theirs and editing, so that I can keep picking up new tips 🙂 xx

  14. Been there done that. twice. Sacked it all in and went backpacking with a 2 year old. Came back, settled down, had another child, married, qualified in a career. Sacked it all (well apart from the husband and kids) and retrained. Now loving my job but /still/ wondering ‘what next’. I always need a project, I thrive on challenge and change but need to channel that into something not quite to huge and disputive next time!

    1. Rachel, you are crazy/amazing and I feel that perhaps you need to turn your experiences into a book or something?! I for one would love to read it! x

  15. I am also an advocate of learning new skills and taking up new hobbies. Working an office job 9-5 can make you feel like all you do is wish your life away living for the weekends. I took up French for beginners last year and also joined a book group. My husband has jumped on the bandwagon and goes to an evening sketching class once a week. Its so nice to do something of an evening and interact and mix with new and different people, it seems much more difficult to meet and make new friends when you’re an adult too so this is a good way to do it xx

    1. I love my book club. I’ve met lovely people and we have booked a couple of theatre trips together too!

  16. Charlotte, you have definitely touched upon something here. I have this conversation with my mum from time to time, as I never feel fulfilled in my life. Not completely. I’m happy, very happy, don’t get me wrong but I always feel this need for more and then I think, ‘who am I to want more – why can’t I be happy with what I’ve got?’. But I do want more so am always searching and challenging myself. Nearly 3 years ago I left my fundraising job of 9 years and took a ‘sabbatical’. I’m fortunate because my lovely husband was able to support me, but I felt I needed to try other things. I need and crave creativity in my life so I decided to teach myself Photoshop and once I was a bit proficient I opened an Etsy shop selling digital things for others to use. I am more than proficient now and belong to several digital art groups and have just had my first digital art piece published on the cover of a magazine! But it won’t stop there and I shall keep striving to produce better work. I also start work again tomorrow for the first time in nearly 3 years – just part-time, but I feel excited about that and the challenges that will bring. On top of that I try and challenge myself with activity and have done charity bike rides, mountain climbs and swims over the last 6 years. Pushing yourself not only makes you a more interesting person, I think but keeps your brain engaged and your life exciting. I’ve just turned 50 and feel that there is so much more out there for me to do, so don’t feel guilty for wanting more and it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re not content with your present day.

    1. Kate this was so interesting and inspirational to read, love this : “Pushing yourself not only makes you a more interesting person, I think but keeps your brain engaged and your life exciting”

      Huge congratulations on having your work published for a front cover, it really must make the risk/effort so worth while x

  17. I’m afraid I can’t be of much help in relation to life fulfilment/goals (though I do totally get where you’re coming from) – except to say that even if you love your job more than anything in the world, sometimes it’s good to have a hobby that has nothing to do with work.

    Speaking of hobbies, cooking is mine – and if you find your spag bol too acidic, try putting in a big squirt of ketchup. The sugar in it balances out the acid of the tomatoes. Italians also add a dash of milk to mellow it out. x

    1. Tracy I’ve heard about the ketchup thing actually! And I have some in the fridge so… it goes 🙂 x

  18. I think the thing to realise here is we are all asking the same questions, regardless of what our personal situation may be. For those of us, who want, but don’t yet have a husband and family, may well read the comments left by those of you who do have these things & think you should have nothing else to want for…but we are all individuals with many ways to be fulfilled, and that doesn’t change because you become a Mum or a Wife. I do look at friends, who seem genuinely content with their lot, and wonder if that will ever be me – or will I always be looking for something? Am I looking for something or am I just keen to keep growing and expanding (not to say they’re not), if the latter then long may it continue. I’ve just started a bee-keeping course and hope to keep my own bees – it gets me outside, I am doing something for the bees and hope to make lots of lovely honey so it ticks a lot of boxes 🙂 I also think that as women we probably overthink things a little too much and if we have an itch we should just scratch it!

    1. Nikki – Bee keeping?! This is so unexpectedly…..marvellous! It would frighten the living ruddy daylights out of me (although I’m no where near as bothered by bees as I am wasps) but the way you have described the reasoning behind it is perfect.

      I am also sometimes envious of others apparent contentment, but our perception is just that – perception x

  19. This completely resonates with me. I’m now in my late thirties, and having done the wedding/house thing (mostly – always work to do…) and spent the last few years looking after quite a poorly husband and dad, am now in a position to focus on me and my longer term life plan.

    I spent one afternoon having a good self-reflective chat with the husband about what I have enjoyed, where I want to go career-wise at Easter least year, while drinking tea in the sunshine. This has kicked off a whole bunch of things, of which the most significant is an MBA in technology management with the Open University that I start this Easter. I also took on all the tech management for my team globally in January this year, having gently hassled my VP for more responsibility in that area for the best part of a year (if you need advice on this I can highly recommend this book: )

    The hope/plan is that I can complete the MBA in time for our tenth wedding anniversary party, while also gaining a good chunk of practical experience at the same time. It’s exciting and terrifying all at once. I can’t wait to start! The long term plan is that the new skills I pick up will allow me to find a role where I can either shift to a management role or at least something where I can work a day or two from home. We will see!

    1. Caroline this is amazing! It just goes to show if you really want to go for something then it’s possible. The book is now in my virtual basket so thanks so much for that. Masses of good luck for MBA – I’m sure you’ll nail it x

  20. Charlotte I just love your posts and the honesty in them. You kindly answered my question in the “ask me anything” post about how you manage it all but this post really opens up the questions I suppose I should have asked. Not the how do you balance all the usual stuff…how do you find time to think about the new stuff. It’s really reassuring to read that despite what you have you still crave more….

    I definitely believe we all go through different phases as humans and need to continually develop ourselves in line with these phases, whether they be mental or physical changes. Life events seem to sometimes dictate these phases and becoming a mum definitely is something that I think starts a new phase as a woman as your thinking changes entirely in so many ways (haven’t yet caught up on the RMF returning to work post comments but will do!).

    I do find there are so many opportunities to learn now though that it’s quite overwhelming to decide what on earth to do. And as a perfectionist I do tend to hold off doing things unless I can do it “perfectly” so despite wanting to do it I hold myself back because I feel if I can’t see it through to the end it’s not worth doing. Just reading these few posts on what others are doing though makes me realise I need to just try things!! My brain feels very unchallenged at the moment just working in a fairly stress free admin role since I’ve had my little boy. I keep telling myself that this is just a chunk of my life where I need to focus on raising my son but for some reason just want more and feel I should be using the time more wisely (rather than just browsing instagram/ aimlessing watching peppa pig) so that as I head towards 40 I feel like I have made a path towards the next chapter in my life.

    I have always fancied studying nutrition but going straight down the route of a degree seems a bit too much of a big step. So am doing a free online course that is a taster in the right direction….if anyone has any suggestions on any other good, preferably free nutrition courses though I’d love to know about them.

    Spag bol is something I can do though….2xcarrots, 2x celery sticks, an onion, garlic (to your taste) in the food processor…waz it up Jamie style…slowly sweat it off for 10 mins, add meat (mix of pork and beef), brown off and add 1tbsp tomato puree…cook this off for a few mins to save it tasting acidic…add an oxo cube (salt is minimum in the serving for Mabel), add a splash of Worcester sauce, a splash of water and then 6 tomatoes chopped up or a carton of passata (watch the salt contents in these though!). Cook for 45mins on a low heat….bob is your preverbial male relation

    1. Have you tried FutureLearn for free online courses Lucette? Not specifically looked for a nutrition one myself but they have SO many different courses over a massive spectrum (I’ve done ones relating to clinical trials in addition to an intro to Danish!). x

      1. Hi Katie, I hadn’t tried them…just taken a quick look though and they have 4 nutrition courses that all look fab…thank you! 🙂

    2. Bless you Lucette, that’s very kind of you. I do find it quite difficult to create a feature if I’m not really “feeling” it – as a brand we try to be as authentic as possible so I guess this was a subject that was more important than clothes (at the time!) I will be sharing some fashion next week instead though 🙂

      I do tend to give up on things easily/not even try them in the first place if I’m simply not really good at them/can’t imagine it. I feel like this about the garden – which is so short sighted. I just need to get out there and plant some…things 🙂

      Thanks for the spag bol tips xx

  21. What a great post! So timely too. I always feel like I should be learning more/doing more, but time seems to run away from me.
    I have started trampolining lately because it’s a lower impact version of my first love…gymnastics! I am absolutely loving it. I find classes and the gym so boring but I really like the challenge of trampolining and the fact you can still compete in veterans comps (oh the shame of that word). I also try to fit in horse riding lessons when funds allow!
    I’m lucky with my job that I do lots of reading/learning on the job (teacher!) but I’d love to do my masters in Gothic literature in the future.
    I also *really* want to do some floristry courses and improve my photography skills. Don’t we just put too much pressure on ourselves?!

    1. Gothic literature, this sounds very interesting indeed. It sounds like you have lots of hobbies Rhiannon, I am very envious of the trampolining in particular. I was at a friends inlaws house at the weekend and they have just put a trampoline in the ground which I have never thought of – so much better than those huge things that take up half of your garden. Mabel loved it – might look into it for ourselves.

      And yes to the pressure – all the time 🙂 x

    1. I agree with some of these points, but as someone who has coached clients from 14-65+ years I can tell you having moments in your life when you step back and ask “how did I get here and what do I want now” is entirely normal, and nothing to do with being a millennial, I’ve seen people at all stages of life like this.

      Some of this is also to do with the complexity of life now – this very short video is a very good summary of this:

      And I also think it’s a healthy thing to do. Why, when the world is changing as fast as it is, should someone stay in the same place and not challenge themselves, over the course of their life. Yes, it feels difficult, but that’s partly because people don’t talk enough about it and we end up trying to do it on our own. This post is an excellent space to talk about these things and share that we all aren’t on our own in this space!

  22. Great post. I too feel completely unsatisfied work-wise at the moment, and I feel that runs into my home life and saps away the enthusiasm generally. I work reasonably long hours (although shorter than I did at the start of my career!), so by the time I have got home, made dinner etc, I basically have no energy to do anything. I play the piano, but I find limited time to practice, and then have a small person clamouring for her own time to bash the keys. Not sure if anyone else has been watching the pottery throwdown thing but it really makes me want to take up pottery! And I also really want to learn how to use my camera properly, I’m going to look up a course.

    And I too HATE spas, so glad I’m not the only one!! Definitely sugar in the spag bol, just a tiny amount, which helps enormously. Or the Two Greedy Italians cookbook has the simplest version, with a mix of mince and tomatoes, that’s about it. Super simple but lovely with some fresh pasta. And yes please on photography apps etc…

  23. I know the feeling Charlotte! I love my job as a PA to a public figure (the only downside is there is no scope for promotion) and it is almost like running a business as I have to take care of absolutely everything that comes in, but 6 years into the job I still regularly get questions come up I do not a have a clue about – keeps me on my toes! I have projects that come up that give me amazing new experiences and on occasion I have had chance to use my creative side and some of my photos have been used on book covers and other material. But I need something else to keep the old cogs whirring!

    I am just coming to the end of a creative writing course and it has been a real eye opener to be able to take time for myself and just let my imagination run wild. It has also given me confidence in myself to look at achieving one of my dreams. Although I do feel a little bit bad my poor hubby has had to take on more than his share of the housework so I could free up this time. He has seen how much I have enjoyed finding my creative flair again and booked me on a one day photography course for my birthday present. He’s a good’un!

    Also, I have a new discipline of a ten minute walk (almost) every lunchtime to blow the cobwebs away. A bit of fresh air really does do the world of good.

    Hope you are enjoying the new camera and you get some productive me time.

  24. I wish I knew how to work a camera properly but I rely on iPhone and a good filter so I would love to read more about it! Me and my husband talked about this oddly the other night before another night shift, and I am keen to do more things that are relaxing but also give me a feeling of accomplissement on my days off rather than sitting in front of the tv/magazines with a cuppa (Also satisfying when permanently exhausted). I decided I want to do more house up-cycling such as painting some of our furniture and giving it a make over. Not exactly thrilling but something that I would enjoy and don’t stress about. I also started running again but that’s kind of a love hate thing ha, still good to do on days off.
    At some point I’m going to have to study again so that will push me but there are so many times I want to change my job and just wouldn’t know where to start or what would pay a similar amount when you have no other skills! My friend has just started doing botox/filler injections and if she develops a big enough client base and opens a clinic which is her goal I have thought about doing that a couple of days and cutting my normal hours (anything to get away from nights/days/ constant cycle and exhausting 12.5 hour shifts) down. Granted a very superficial side line but never the less a new skill and something less stressful!
    I have considered a floristry or flower arranging course as I do love a flower and a lovely vase etc but the ones I saw were so expensive! Might need to save up for one!

    1. I feel I needed to add, I don’t hate my job or anything I actually love the job self. It’s the politics/shifts and issues of the NHS which are just overwhelmingly difficult at times! ? x

    2. Hi Alex, I’m yet to set a date for it but my hubby bought me a one day photography course with Jessops for my birthday. The info said the aim is to get to know your camera and to move away from the auto settings.

  25. I decided to make this a learning year and so far I’ve signed up to do my Level 2 Peak Pilates instructor course (I teach Pilates part time), an interior design workshop and a 2 week Welsh course. I absolutely love learning new things and love being a work in progress. Never strive to be the finished aritcle-that would be so full I think! X

  26. I want to set up a wild swimming club. I can not find one in Norfolk and I LOVED swimming a mile of the Serpentine in September. So that’s what I shall do. Although I am preggo right now, once the sproglet is a little older I am determined to make this happen! It’s good to learn new things and do interesting stuff! ?

  27. I have recently been struggling with what hobby to take up. Pole dancing is high on the list but I always wish my career was better but always struggled to find what I enjoyed or would enjoy doing at 33 it feels as though I have no real option anymore just stick with what I do now or probably won’t be able to have children if starting at the bottom of a new career. People just say “you can do what you want you don’t have any children” but it almost feels harder somehow plus no one wants to hire someone at my age with no experience in something…

  28. I often feel this way. I get very easily frustrated when I’m not instantly good at whatever I’m trying to learn, which puts me off trying again, and I berate myself how rubbish I am instead!
    I’ve been wanting to learn calligraphy for years. I really must just do it!!
    I’m looking at getting the PEN camera in a few months and would be VERY interested in reading your thoughts on lens etc as mentioned x

  29. I was brought an easel for my 18th birthday and, apart from the odd outing, it has spent the best part of the last 12 years tucked away at the back of my old wardrobe at my parents house. I have recently been inspired to get my paint on by The Lanscape/Portrait Artist of the Year series on The Sky Arts channel – such a simple concept but makes for really lovely viewing if you are interested 🙂
    And yes please to the offer of a post on photography. Ive been looking at buying a ‘proper’ camara for quite sometime. It’s a bit mind boggling for us normal non-photographer folk when researching what one to go for so I’ll definitely be looking into the Olympus pen!

  30. Brill article, I struggle with trying to actually focus on what it is I want to do. Lots of ideas and possibilities but I lack the dedication to one thing to the end or life/work/family simply get in the way.

  31. Hi Charlotte,

    I completely agree that we are all a work in progress! Just sometimes I don’t know what to work on there are so many options! Ha!

    Re the spag Bol-my ex bf had the best recipe when we were at uni…

    Fry off the mince and then pour into a separate bowl. Then get off bacon and onions. Add the mince back in and a couple of dessert spoons of plain flour. This makes it all sticky! Then add all the usual stuff like tomatoes, stock and Tom purée. This is where it gets fun-add red wine! And some Rosemary! And pepper. Always works for me. The bacon is a little salty so no need to add more and more wine than tomato flavour! Hope that helps! ☺️

  32. Ah, man. Sacked it all, apart from the husband, last year, quit the law, retrained as a holistic therapist and moved 3.5 hours away to open our own centre. Scared AF and I’m the girl who changes the loo rolls now, as well as being one of the bosses. All this at 45 years of age – it’s never too late. All you ladies out there – just feel the fear and do it anyway (and that’s a great book to look at when the overwhelm sets in). It may be scary, but it’s the best thing I ever did. Charlotte – you have totally got this! The hubs and I totted up what we’ve had a go at in our lives, and there’s about 100 things. However, the best thing for both of us is to be together. Fencing, windsurfing – blah blah blah. Best thing ever? Cooking a Chinese with my bezzie (him) tonight with a glass of wine each.

        1. Hi Denise! This sounds amazing! If you fancy sending in a submission we have a submit button at the top of the home page xx

  33. Tips for ragu as promised 🙂
    1. Using a mixture of half beef and half pork mince adds extra flavour.
    2. When frying the onions, garlic (if you so desire) and mince make sure you wait for the mince to start to pop & crackle (not quite like Rice Krispies but you get the gist). It starts to turn a little crispy and this is where most of the flavour comes from.
    3. Just before you add the passata or tin of chopped toms (my usual go to as this is what I usually have lying around in the back of the cupboard), add a splash of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce along with a few pinches of sugar. The sugar helps to balance the acidity. I’m not sure what the other the vinegar does but it tastes yum!
    4. Let the sauce reduce down a bit (15 mins is usually fine) and, if you have some to hand, chuck in some torn up basil leaves at the end. Ta da!

  34. OK so I can seriously help with the spag bol issue.
    Assuming you’re using 1 standard pack of beef mince – sprinkle a beef oxo cube onto the met when you brown it off.
    What you need is only 1 tin of chopped tomatoes plus a good glug of tomato ketchup and Lee & Perrins! (Seems this is a popular spag bol secret). The result is a yummy, meaty, not too acidic sauce. And super easy – this was the recipe my mum gave me when I went off to uni!
    These days I also add pepper and garlic, but that’s up to you 🙂

  35. I loved reading this article!!! And all the comments!!! I really did wake up yesterday wanting a Charlotte fashion post though as want some spring tops !!! ? But this inspiring piece did the same. Saved my credit card for a few weeks too as I usually buy everything you suggest!
    So with two little ones I’m also constantly feeling this too, so I started my own little side line business in Stella & Dot jewellery (sparkles and sales…?! Two things very different from my legal background.) And it has just worked, it keeps my brain busy, my cash flow has regained its status, I’m meeting new people all the time, socialising and challenging myself to take risks!! I’m also really enjoying the psychology of it all, in terms of entrepreneurship and sales and how interesting both topics are. Plus there’s been no pressure to do anything which makes it even more rewarding as it’s all self imposed success!! Anyway, it’s my new hobby and gets me dolled up and evenings out. If anyone wants to do the same then feel free to contact me to chat about it.
    Also take piano lessons and would love to throw a horse riding lesson into the mix but might wait until the girls are older for that one so they can join me.
    I also really rate inspirational podcasts such as Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert all about creativity – and Glambition Radio by Ali Brown. They’re both incredible and while away my laundry hours listening to these…..!!
    Good luck with new persuits everyone!! Xxxx

  36. Hi Charlotte, I’m hoping I can help with the bolognaise sitch.

    A teaspoon of brown sugar counters the acidity in the tomatoes without making a sweet sauce – add it to taste about ten minutes before serving.

    If garlic isn’t your thing, try swapping in a leek instead as they have a softer, sweeter flavour that will again counter the tomato. I also pop 120ml of red wine in after frying the mince and onion to reduce down before adding the tomatoes etc. A splash of balsamic vinegar (about a teaspoon) gives a bit more depth without overpowering. I also hide grated courgette, peppers and carrot in my bolognaise to up the veggie quantity and by grating it you don’t get unwieldy lumps that little people will push round their plate, it just ‘melts’ in and helps thicken the sauce. A good teaspoon of basil and oregano during the beef frying stage adds a nice balance too. Out of a pot is fine if you don’t have fresh to hand.

    Appreciate this is a little rambling, but very happy to share my recipe with you if you are interested? I can cook this is less than 45 minutes (with some practice), make a huge batch, freeze it and then I use it as a base for lasagne, quick dinner spag bols and any other Italian style mince meal. Good luck! ?

  37. Charlotte you have totally echoed where I feel in my life right now. Like you it’s not that I am unhappy with my life, but it’s the personal development stuff for me that I feel I am lacking, particularly with working, being a new wife and a mother it’s so easy to lose yourself in that.

    For Christmas I told my new husband I wanted a sewing machine. I didn’t really need anything present-wise and have often borrowed my mum’s vintage one, so this seemed a good idea as it was something I wouldn’t buy myself. I love it! It might only be a basic one, but it’s allowing me to develop my very basic skills. I have already made a mini quilt, a toy elephants and rabbit. I’ve made a mock up of a little girls dress (planned present for my niece’s first birthday) and started a mock up of a dress for me. It not only allows me to be creative, but also have a mini project to work on that produces something useful or pretty (sometimes both) and helps me develop a new skill.

    I’m hoping once we’ve moved house I can set my machine up properly and not have it on the very small dining table, haha. I have dreams of my own sewing room / guest bedroom, which I can’t wait to decorate with all manner of cute and clever bits for my sewing things 🙂
    Amy x

  38. Hi Charlotte, I responded this morning but ended up posting on my Facebook timeline by accident instead of scrolling further down to find the box here! As with so many other women, the timing of your article is amazingly sharp – am in a quandary myself as seemingly there is nothing to complain about in my life, yet I feel stuck and frustrated as I am the main bread winner in the family and so cannot just give up my job to be better fulfilled elsewhere. (Teacher – let’s not go there…)I do things out of work too which are vital to my creativity, social contact and plain sanity (amateur theatre) but I suppose I feel overwhelmed more than anything as even then, I have had to fight back from bearing taking too much responsibility that would take over from it being my time and space to be me. Why should that even have to take so much effort?! Anyway, because my original post ended up on my Facebook page with your article, a friend of mine responded to both of us and we then ended up having a lovely little chat about these issues on messenger and have decided to meet up more just socially just to TALK! I do stuff and it is good for me, it is part of who I am; I have to sort out my means of earning a living but that will have to be more long term; in the meantime, your article has enabled me to know it is ok to STOP and CHECK that what I am doing is right for me, therefore my family too, and share that concern with those who empathise with that. Good luck with the photography and thank you, Beth.

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