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make money online

This weekend I was invited to join Sophie Cliff at her Kickstart 2020 event to discuss how I kickstarted my online career. One of the questions an attendee asked was, ‘is it too late to build a career online?’ followed by, ‘how would I even go about doing that?’

It’s an interesting one because I can totally see from the outside that many people who don’t currently have an online presence could feel like that ship has sailed. That if they wanted to build online platforms so they could launch a business or a career, that their time is gone.

But I think that’s wrong!

Firstly, I think a huge stumbling block for those of you who haven’t begun building an online presence based business yet is knowing what the actual fuck that actually means.

Lots of people say to me that they want to work for themselves because they want the freedom and want to make money online but that they have no idea how or in what way.

So I thought I could share my route into it and my experience and then if it sounds like something you might want to explore, I can fill you in on how!

make money online
Photo credit: @StoriesByChloe

There are many different ways to make money online…

Affiliate sales, advertising, digital products, influencing, services, webinars, courses… the list goes on!

To me though, first and foremost, it’s about building an online presence.

In my head, and experience, the route to making money online goes a little something like this…

Define a niche > Build an audience > Serve great free content > Create amazing paid content > Launch a service.

Within that comes blogging, influencing, advertising, affiliate sales, products etc

But the key is first building those platforms so that you have an engaged audience to eventually sell to or one that will at least support every endeavour from here on in.

Side hustle or career?

Many people build an online presence as a part time job or side hustle for extra income – it is totally doable!

Others though wish to build a career from their online presence. Perhaps as an influencer, a coach, a speaker, an author, a retail endeavour or many other things.

And often, when you set out to build an online presence, you never know what career you could fall into.

I set out to be a dating blogger and now I’m an online educator! Sophie Cliff set out to run a lifestyle blog and is now the Joy Coach and Victoria from Apartment No4 started off with an interiors blog and now teaches manifestation.

Join Sophie, Victoria and I for the ultimate retreat built for those of you wanting to build a career online!

The best bit about building an online presence is that as long as you’re serving great content and building an engaged community – the world is your oyster!

That audience could be your first 2 orders for your floristry business, your first 5 photography clients, your first coaching client or your first 100 beauty product sales.

So where do you start?

Again in my experience you start by setting up an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook page and website and then you get building from there!

When you set up, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to invest tonnnnsssss of money.

But there is a catch.

You do have to invest tons of passion, energy and time.

You don’t have to get it perfect from the off. You might decide to build an online presence as a lifestyle influencer and then a year in decide to pivot into something else – like online educating (hi, it me) or a physical product business.

If you are going to treat it like a business though, some amount of thought and planning does need to go into it – but is that too much of a trade off for the possibility of a lifetime of freedom?

I have my platforms, now what?

I do really recommend doing a little bit of reflecting, dreaming, wishing, planning and getting to the core of WHAT you want to bring online.

Do you have a desire to help people with their marketing? Or are you passionate about vegan skincare? Whatever it is that sets you alight inside, that should be your niche (even if you change your mind later).

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start creating content around your passion – a.k.a the fun bit!

You don’t HAVE to attack every platform. Perhaps your blog and Instagram is enough for you. Or maybe you’d rather start a podcast or get into video – you don’t HAVE to do it all.

Choose your preferred or strongest platforms and then get to work building your community…

Why do I need a strong community for business?

Put it this way, if you can get 100 people spending £100 with you, you’ve made £10,000.

Now think about how your life would change if you could get 1000 people spending £100 with you – either through physical products, digital products, services, affiliate sales and to an extent – supporting sponsored content!

Look at your platforms now – how far off is 100 engaged and connected people? How far off is 1000?

Your dream of building a career online doesn’t seem too far off now does it?

Alright, I’ve got my idea, niche and platforms set up but I’m not making the money I need to turn it into a part/full time career, so now what?

This is where strategy comes in.

It’s not just enough to pump out content and chat to people in DMs, you do need to learn a little bit of strategy. And this is where you need the passion and time!

Whether that’s mastering Pinterest so a wider number of people are hearing about what you do.

Or growing your Instagram so that you can earn more via sponsored income.

Or learning about SEO so you can drive traffic to your website and make a killing in affiliate sales.

Growing and scaling those online platforms so that you’re constantly building an engaged community and expanding your online presence does take strategy (why do you think we built Grow & Glow) so if you really are serious about building a career online you do need to get working!

I’ve not got time, energy or the money to invest in this…

Rephrase that to ‘building a career online is not my priority’ and then we can continue!

Listen, I see and hear it every day. People like you who think they want the freedom to work from themselves or to build an online presence so that they can launch a life they love but they just don’t have the passion for it.

That’s OK! It might seem like a dream lifestyle but you just might not be in the space for it and honestly, just because Tom, Dick and Harry are doing it – doesn’t mean it’s for you.

But if it IS and you REALLY WANT IT, you’ll find the energy. And if you’re time poor, you’ll reprioritise those Netflix binges. And if you can’t afford to be a Grow & Glow member (less than a Starbucks a week, c’mon) or invest in starting your own business by learning the strategy somewhere else – then just admit it’s not your priority at the moment!

I DO have the passion, energy etc etc HELP ME

I mean, that’s what Grow & Glow is for. But I didn’t have G&G 2 years ago when I was trying to make things happen so this is what I did:

  • I re-niched into something I was passionate about
  • I brainstormed all of the different revenue streams this niche could facilitate
  • I tried the ones I thought I wanted
  • I sacked those off and tried some more
  • I took over £2,000 worth of courses on social media marketing, content marketing, coaching and digital marketing
  • I built an engaged audience through my channels
  • I worked on weekends
  • I worked in the evenings
  • I read every book going about becoming an online educator/entrepreneur
  • I listened to podcasts such as GoalDigger, Amy Porterfield, Gary Vee, Starting the Conversation with Alice Benham
  • I went on Alice’s retreat

You don’t have to do ALL of these things – I have an unquenchable thirst for learning and creating.

Knowledge vs Action

Often another huge stumbling block in building a career online is absorbing so much knowledge on how to do it – reading every article about the algorithm, hiring coaches, ALL. THE. BLOG. POSTS. that sometimes it’s too much guffff.

The key is taking action. Is absorbing the knowledge, learning the strategy and then IMPLEMENTING IT through daily, weekly, monthly tasks designed for building that presence.

We’d all love a hand to hold us through all of this wouldn’t we?

So what’s holding you back?

Hopefully you’ve learned through this blog post that it’s never too late to build a career online and hopefully you’ve also learned the route towards getting you there.

So now I want to know what’s holding you back? Come and chat about it on Instagram with me, I’d love to dive into your blocks with you!

 

*this post contains affiliate links

I was 25 before I bought my first thong. I’d just gotten out of a relationship and was getting into a new one – my first foray into dating apps – and my pals were shocked at my choice of festive or neon boy shorts.

I remember it. White. Lacy. Itchy and forever needing to be picked out after walking 4 steps.

I was 19 when I wore my first mini dress. I was at college and was going clubbing for the first time. I wanted to wear clothes the other gals were wearing and I wanted to appear way more confident than I actually was.

I remember that too. Strapless, silky, black on top with a fruity, brightly coloured pattern on the bottom. Probs from the Lipsy sale. Defo worn with concealer lips and Maybelline mascara.

I was 23 when I wore my first pair of proper high heels out on a night out – believing I needed to graduate from Vans, Converse and ankle boots if I wanted to attract guys.

I remember going over on my ankle whilst holding a kebab and being asked by a police officer if I needed a lift home and having to try and convince him that I wasn’t pissed – even though I was eating a kebab at 2am and definitely was. My ankle hurt for 2 weeks afterwards LET ALONE the throbbing pain in the balls of my feet that only an 11am bacon sandwich the next day and a full 10 hours could fix.

I was 24 when I wore my first pair of Spanx (but the Primark version obvs) under a Miss Selfridge body con dress for a uni night out because, well Lauren Conrad, obvs.

I remember still not feeling like LC and almost peeing myself in the bathroom because trying to peel the dress up and those pants down was a MARATHON.

I was 31 when I bought my first pack of M&S cotton pants* that covered my entire butt and went up to my elbows.

I remember the sigh of relief as I pulled them on, jiggled around and could still feel comfortable after a full day of wearing them under jeans.

I was 33 when I threw away all the tights that chafed my thighs or gave me the bottom of butt itch when I’d been sat down too long.

I remember promising myself I’d never need to wear tights ever again unless I reeeeaaally wanted to.

But I was 33 when I finally gave up choosing uncomfortable clothes.

uncomfortable clothes

No underwear that would cut into my groin or give me a yeast infection from being synthetic and totally unbreathable.

No tights that were so tight they’d make me want to throw up after a Nandos with the girls.

Or wouldn’t quite go up over my thighs and bum so I’d be totally aware of the gap between vulva and tight crotch all day long and feel them cutting into my inner thighs the entire time (could people see it if they walked behind me?)

No jeans that wouldn’t fit so that I’d be constantly monitoring my builder’s bum.

No tops that made me pick at the material around my stomach and boobs, constantly rearranging it and ensuring it wasn’t disappearing down to my belly button exposing my greying, comfy crop top bra.

No dresses that I had to constantly pull down or worry if my bum was showing.

And no shoes that make my feet ache after being in them for more than 10 minutes.

As women we are not only constantly monitoring our outward appearance but we’re often trying to force ourselves into clothes that are uncomfortable and awkward for the sake of ‘fashion’, trends or to impress others.

And. I. Got. Tired.

I was chatting to my therapist about body image one day (we’ve focussed a lot on this in therapy) and she asked me what clothes I felt comfortable in or that made my feel good about myself.

I described silky leggings, cosy, brightly coloured jumpers, jeans that fit on the waist AND calves, high waisted trousers made from a lush material and flowy dresses I could just chuck on with trainers.

She asked me why those clothes make me feel good.

I said that I didn’t have to think about how my body looked when I wore them.

And a lightbulb went off.

The more uncomfy the clothes were – restrictive blouses, mini skirts, skinny jeans, structured trousers, tight dresses – the more I had to think about my body. And the more I thought about my body, the worse I felt.

Then she asked what would happen if I didn’t wear clothes I felt uncomfortable in for the sake of trends or appearing ‘put together’ and just wore what was comfortable?

I said I’d worry I’d look slobby, frumpy, and unattractive.

She said that sounded like I was more worried that other people would think those things and then asked what was more important – how I felt in my clothes or what other people thought.

Obviously, as neurotic as I can be, being comfortable way outweighed what I perceived other people to think.

And what does ‘feeling put together’ really mean anyway? Who made these rules? What does it matter if we’re simply wearing ‘clothes’ rather than an ‘outfit’?

She also asked how I perceived people if I saw them wearing leggings, flowy dresses, trainers instead of heels, comfy trousers and cosy jumpers. Would I make a judgement that they were frumpy, slobby or unattractive or did I just not care? Or did I look at them and think, ‘yasss comfy queen, I wish I was wearing that!’

She then said, ‘what sort of clothes do the people most important to you wear?’

I realised then that I either didn’t know or couldn’t care less because the qualities that I cared about in the people closest to me didn’t look like the New In section on Zara.

It was these questions and the resulting discussions that was my wake up call.

If I was to become body neutral and accepting, my first step was to stop wearing clothes that made me feel bad about myself or distracted me from being in the moment – because of being conscious, having to fuss with them or feeling restricted.

Now of course, ‘level of comfort’ is relative and what may feel like being wrapped up like a meatball Subway to me, may be pyjamas to you, but if any of these feelings resonate with you – I urge you to do a comfortable clothes audit too!

For me, it was out with any underwear that had wires or was made from really syntheticy material.

I even disposed of socks that cut into my ankles, and gave them to Olive as toys!

I donated or sold trousers that were itchy or stiff and replaced them with the M&S leggings of dreams*, lounge bottoms and cotton jeans* (again M&S because I like the fit).

I also donated skirts and dresses that were either short enough that I was always concerned with flashing or tight enough that I felt restricted.

I replaced these with the Zara dresses of Hot for The Spot fame because the JOY of chucking one on with trainers and a hoodie or my faux-leather jacket in under 5 minutes with no further faffing or fannying felt so freeing.

And out with tops and jackets that I would have to fuss with or that felt too tight on my arms. 

I now have an array of brightly coloured jumpers* that go with all of my leggings, trousers and jeans.

My wardrobe of today isn’t likely to win me any Fashion Blogger of the Year awards but it does mean I can run around the field after Olive, make the train on time with a coffee and sit down for 9 hours on my laptop without anything feeling like it’s digging in, itching, flapping open or riding up.

I’m no longer constantly monitoring how I look on the outside or how the clothes feel and I’m much better at donating or returning something that does make me have to think about it whilst I’m wearing it.

Clothes and fashion can often be a great way to express your personal style and taste but do they have to be uncomfortable and distracting?

For some the trade off between expressing themselves artistically or stylistically in clothes and feeling uncomfortable is one they’re happy to ignore or bear.

For 33 year old Vix, working from home, playing with a puppy, building a business or bopping round town they’re something I enjoy experimenting with and styling up but not to the extent that I’m willing to give up my comfort any longer.

I don’t think there has to be an all or nothing approach. Otherwise we’d all be walking around in tunics. I’m certainly not going to be hanging up my & Other Stories blazers for North Face cagoules any time soon because I still do enjoy fashion and styling but I’ve just drawn the line at pieces that make me feel uncomfortable and am choosing all future purchases based on my comfy test.

Will I be pulling it up or down?

Will it be tight against my crotch?

Am I going to be on alert for builder’s bum?

Will my arms feel like circulation is going to be cut off?

Will I get annoyed at a baggy crotch?

Will I be constantly picking at the material or rearranging it?

If it doesn’t pass, it doesn’t come home.

Where are your clothes on the comfy scale?

And does choosing comfort over fashion mean, ‘you’ve let yourself go’ and is ‘all part of getting older’ or are these myths perpetuated to keep us monitoring ourselves so we’re distracted from bigger things?

All the big questions!

 

This is the second part in my, ‘What I’ve Learned From Therapy’ series, the first part you can read here.

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that my first session began with two questions from my therapist, who for ease of this series, we’ll call L;

Vicky, why are you here and why today?

Those two simple questions opened up a gate to a wave of emotion, feeling and pent up thoughts I’d had and answering was easy.

It’s a funny one – knowing when therapy is needed. Often choosing to start therapy can be out of your hands if you go the NHS route and have to join a long waiting list. Although, it’s always worth speaking to your GP or Googling your local Talking Therapies services because you may find that the waiting list isn’t as long as you fear!

Fortunately, I’d looked over my finances and after years of telling myself I ‘couldn’t afford it’, I realised that if I’d just cut back on a few online shopping orders, had 2 less Deliveroos a month and took the 159 home from Oxford Circus rather than an Uber every time, I could afford it.

Part of me believes that the ‘can’t afford it’ excuse was exactly that – an excuse – because previously I wasn’t totally ready to open up and dig deep into what was going on inside.

So what exactly prompted me to finally bite the bullet and go, I’m not exactly sure of but I believe I was there because the deaths of my mum and dad in the last few years had devastated me. Leaving me feeling lost, abandoned and with relationships unresolved.

Furthermore, I was depressed and my anxiety was getting worse with each passing month.

I had a relationship to grow. A business to run and a sense of self that was suffering – it was the right time.

My ‘why today’ was that it was 9 months until I was getting married and I didn’t want to enter an impending phase of life with the same feelings, moods, hurt and attitude that had hung around for as long as I can remember.

It was that question that hit me the hardest. I had to take a little while to pin point exactly why it meant so much to start then and there.

I realised that I was entering into a new phase of life without being completely happy or resolved about the phase before. I didn’t want old issues, old pain and old me to hold me back from what I was trying to become.

The first thing L said after I seemingly rambled for more than half of the session was, ‘any one would feel depressed or struggle with the weight of what you’ve just expressed.’

Immediately I felt heard, seen and safe.

I wasn’t dismissed. I wasn’t questioned. I wasn’t judged. It was accepted.

I cried for the rest of the session. Having an outsider just accept what I was saying. Who didn’t try to ‘fix’ it. Who didn’t minimise. That feeling is indescribable.

By the end of the session we had broken down what we’d like to cover in our upcoming sessions. Grief. My relationship with my parents. My relationship with my sister. My upbringing. My attitude to life. And how I viewed myself.

L asked me how often I’d like to come and that she’d be happy to see my weekly, fortnightly or monthly – my choice. I asked if it would be OK to come weekly and then to see how we got on.

Our early sessions mostly covered my childhood and my parents and whilst I’m not going into the ins and outs of my ‘issues’, I’d like to share some of the revelations and practical changes that have come about since having therapy, starting with ‘Grace and Forgiveness’.

And I want to share about what I learned about that, next time.

 
getting out of debt
This post contains affiliate/referral links

Before we even kick off, I just want to say that I’m not a financial advisor AT ALL – I’m just sharing my personal experience and what helped me. If you want formal advice, try the charity Step Change.

Debt is still such a dirty word, isn’t it? One that people really struggle to utter.

Often though, speaking about debt freely helps to lessen the shame you can often feel for having the proverbial monkey on your back.

I’ve been in debt since I was 18, only extricating myself at 33 (student loans don’t count, k?).

And I’ve had every debt going – payday loan, credit card, overdraft, store card, car on finance – any way I could get money or an object of desire that I didn’t have, I applied for.

Debt had been a burden but keeping it secret had been the hardest cross to bear. So here’s my debt story – how it happened and how I turned it around…

getting out of debt

I needed everything, now

I got my first credit card at 18. My friend and I had wanted to go to New York for New Years because we thought it would be a really fun thing to do – except I didn’t have a job or any way to pay for my trip.

So I applied for an ‘Egg’ credit card account and was accepted for £1500 instantly and moments later, I strolled into a travel agent and paid for the holiday, thinking to myself that I’d get a job and pay it off eventually.

This was followed by getting a car on finance a year or so later and a further credit card 6 months later when I was struggling to pay off the car.

I was getting into debt to help pay for debt.

When I went to uni at 23, I was excited to learn I could get an interest free overdraft and asked Barclays to give me the most they possibly could.

Suddenly I owed somewhere near £7,000.

The worst part was how irresponsible I was with paying it back.

Every time I earned money from work, one part of my brain told me to pay my debts back and the other part told me YOLO and to spend it on things I know now to be unnecessary – clothes, holidays, drinking, takeaways.

I genuinely never thought it would catch up with me.

Until it did.

The lowest point

It’s a tough one between having to answer the door to a debt collector after defaulting on my repayment plan from a credit card that had already been sent to a debt agency or getting a job at a debt collection agency and realising I was phoning myself to discuss an overdue gym payment.

Part of the severe depression I was suffering from my late teens to mid twenties was how self destructive I became when it came to getting myself in financial trouble.

I believed that spending was my release from the hurt I was feeling. That I could spend my way to happiness – I know now, obviously, that’s not the case.

The turning point

I had a big wake up call from not bothering to chip away at what I owed and the belief that I’d sort it out by some sort of miracle.

As a teacher, I began earning more comfortably. Rather than obliterate debts where possible though, I just chipped away as and when but it wasn’t really getting anywhere.

When I was deciding whether to leave teaching and try to ‘make it’ as a full time blogger, the debts I had remaining (2 credit cards and an overdraft) were what held me back – I knew I couldn’t default again.

I also had met Ben and began to heal my mental health – with this came a view into the future. One where I wanted us to be comfortable and not held back by my debt.

At this point I realised that if I was to go full time with blogging and enter into a marriage with the least amount of baggage as possible, I’d have to work out a way out of debt.

How I got myself out

The first thing I did, which I had avoided for over 10 years was to face up to it.

Part of the reason my debt had escalated was because I just refused to address it. Ignoring it had made it worse.

I’d often go to bed and force myself to dream of a way I’d win £5k – the lottery, bingo with my Mum, a lucky trip to Vegas – all because it was weighing on me but I wasn’t willing to properly address it.

So I looked at my credit cards and overdraft and wrote down how much each had outstanding.

I then signed up to ClearScore – an app that details how your overall credit is looking – what you are doing well and what you are doing poorly.

When I saw that I only had 4 ‘bad’ marks and 5 ‘good’, I was immediately bolstered.

Genuinely feeling like the biggest failure in the world, when it came to money, made me continually tell myself that I was a lost cause and because there was no hope, there was no point in trying.

Seeing that it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, I realised that I had been blowing my debt up in my head to be insurmountable and impossible – this app gave me hope.

The app also ‘coaches’ you with what to do. Things like avoiding late payments and not going over limits were the easiest things to improve.

I was on a roll.

I decided to go through every single payment I had going out and either cancel it or change the date to payday – all of these direct debits going out at random times had been so chaotic and hard to keep track of. Just becoming aware of exactly what was going out and when helped me face it.

I also decided that rather than use my next blogging invoice towards a holiday, ASOS order or Tuesday night Deliveroo, to put a chunk of it towards all of my accounts to stop me from going over the limit.

Going freelance helped, oddly, too. I was worried that I’d be living invoice to invoice and struggling compared to the steady teaching pay check I had but actually, getting paid in dribs and drabs suited me better.

Previously, I’d get paid my salary, pay all my bills and think, ‘I’ve only got £400 left, I’d much rather go out or buy something than take a chunk out of my debt.’

I also saw it as getting paid for doing hard work means the money needs to go to treating myself. But treating myself had gotten me into the mess!

Getting paid irregularly was one of the things that improved my relationship with money – it was money I suddenly enjoyed making and saw as totally precious – not to be frittered away.

Another huge help was meeting Chloe Slade from Vibe + Flow and learning about money mindset from her. My whole attitude towards money – the flow, abundance and the value was revolutionised.

Then, I read Profit First (affiliate link) – a book about paying yourself when you run a business/are freelance. It was a system that made sense to me and aligned with the flow of money I had begun to experience.

When implementing the Profit First system, I worked out how much all of my life and business expenses were, how much I’d need to save for tax, how much I’d pay myself to live on and not feel restricted and how much I could safely put towards my debt without it affecting my new positive mindset.

Rather than pressure myself to get out of debt in a day, I told myself that I’d lived with a variety of debt since 18, I could take it in my own time. So I set myself the target of paying off one debt – credit card or overdraft – per quarter.

Taking the pressure off, whilst being fully aware of my finances was the best thing I could have done for myself.

Suddenly and for the first time, I was actually excited to pay off debt rather than see it as money I’d rather spend elsewhere.

Slowly but surely each account was paid in full and settled and here we are today!

I do still pay a student loan but when I decided to go to uni as a young adult I decided to see it as an ‘education tax’ – a tax I’d pay forever for the privilege of getting a uni place – rather than as a ‘loan’ that had to be repaid instantly or feared.

Today, I have one default left on my credit report from a few years ago but once that has disappeared, I’ll have good credit for the first time in my life.

I can safely say that being in debt and getting myself out has been a huge struggle that I’d rather not have – but seeing the positive side, I’m glad I now understand money and am being responsible, even if it took me to my early thirties!

If you’re struggling with debt, my top tips are;

  • Face up to it – work out what you owe
  • Get your finances in order – payments on dates that you’ll recognise, cancel any pointless direct debits that you don’t need
  • Cut back on unnecessary spending for a while
  • Get ClearScore or Experian to keep track of what’s happening with each debt
  • Don’t pressure yourself to pay it off immediately – set realistic goals for getting rid of it
  • Switch to a bank like Starling (referral) or Monzo where your spending is itemised and you can have ‘pots’ for savings so you can round up your spending or move money into a ‘Debt’ pot more easily

I hope by reading this you’ll realise you’re not alone if you’re struggling with your finances and I do wish that this will show you you’re not a lost cause and it is surmountable.

I think we should all be a lot more open when discussing finances because often the shame of debt is what compounds it.

My comments are off for now but if you’d like to carry on this conversation, I’d be happy to chat over on Instagram!

 
starting therapy

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I started therapy in early 2019 and have regularly discussed my sessions on my Stories.

Not insofar as to spill all of the secrets and the finer details of each session but more to normalise going to therapy for anyone out there feeling like it might not be for them.

Each time I speak about my therapy experience, I have tons of questions, people asking for advice and an interest in learning more. So I’ve decided to start a lil series here on the blog!

I’m being called to write more about what I’m learning about being human, being a woman and navigating life as a thirty-something, married, countryside dweller – a person I wouldn’t have recognised even 5 years ago, so this series excites me to write.

If you’re interested in this journey, I hope this will be for you.

I’m not sure what shape or form this series will take, all I know is that I’ll be writing from the heart – saying bollocks to SEO, paying no mind to what people may think and just rambling out my honest experience.

The main themes of my therapy so far have been around; forgiveness, learning about grace, reacting to others around me, unpacking my childhood, my relationship with my self and my body and preparing for marriage – losing baggage and learning to communicate.

These are some of the things I’ll share.

But before we kick off with a big ol’ life lesson, perhaps it might be best to give a bit of background into why I made the decision to start therapy, how I found my therapist and what our first session was like – as these are the questions I get asked the most!

Are you coming with me?

Why I started therapy

I’ve written many a post on this blog about my mental health journey – in fact, do a lil search of ‘mental health’ in the tags or ‘vix meldrew mental health’ on Google and you’ll learn lots about my experience so far.

I’d gotten to the point, after moving in with Ben, leaving teaching and losing my Dad where I realised that the medication I was taking to stabilise my moods and help me get up every morning wasn’t enough on its own to really get to the core of what was going on with me.

Ben and I would rarely argue but when we would bicker or have a discussion, I angered quickly. I didn’t like being that way. I realised, as we were engaged, that I didn’t want to enter our marriage with the baggage I’d carried from the past.

Suddenly on the horizon was a life I never could’ve dared to imagine. A stable, happy relationship with an amazing person, my own business growing from strength to strength and a life in the country being mooted – and I didn’t want to enter this life with a version of me that wasn’t ready.

How I found my therapist

On one particularly dark day in our old flat, I woke up late, around 11am and I looked around our bedroom – I felt physically unable to get up. Work was overwhelming me, I felt like crap and everything in life just felt too big.

My back was glued to the mattress, my face was fixed into a grimace. I cried. How many more mornings could I have like this? I didn’t feel like this feeling represented everything I had to get up for.

So I picked up my phone and Googled, ‘Therapists Lambeth’.

Apprehensively, I scrolled the list of registered therapists near me and began to leave voicemails…

‘Hi, my name is Vicky, I live near Brixton, I found you via Google and am interested in discussing therapy sessions with you, could you please call me back so we can discuss further?’

It felt like calling a plumber, except Rodney with the spanner coming to fix my sink doesn’t want to hear about my relationship with my parents.

And then on one phone call, my now therapist answered.

She had a kind, warm voice and addressed me by my name. She asked about me – where I lived, what I did for work and why I reached out.

I told her I’d recently lost my Dad and was about to get married and that I wanted someone to talk to about everything I was feeling and working through before I started my new life.

She told me to come to her house for an initial session and if we clicked we could continue. I said I’d be there tomorrow.

And because, at the time, I’d only been full time blogging for a little while and not exactly rolling in it, she said she offered discounted rates for people who were students, on a low income or self employed.

But by then, the excuse I always gave myself of, ‘I can’t afford therapy’, when I’d happily wank £30 a week on Deliveroo wasn’t really standing up any more any way.

The first session

My therapist’s house was a short bus journey from our old flat in Streatham Hill and I remember shitting myself, the entire journey there.

What would I say? What if she judged me? What will she ask? What if she doesn’t like me?

The nerves almost got the best of me but I found my feet treading the pavements closer and closer to her house.

When I plucked up the courage to ring the doorbell, she greeted me warmly, welcomed me in and offered me a tea or water.

She led me upstairs to her therapy room and showed me to a chair sat in front of hers.

Once settled, she asked me two questions…

‘So Vicky, why are you here and why today?’

The answer to that wasn’t so simple. And it has been dissected, discussed, cried over, pored over, screamed over and whispered over in every session since.

I’ll share more about my why and why now, next time.

 
petplan - olive the cockapoo
This post is written in collaboration with Petplan 

It’s Olive’s first Christmas and if she’s anything like me, she’ll be wanting to be awake at 6am, praying for a new bottle of Jo Malone and in a roast potato coma by 3pm.

Except she’ll snooze in til 9, can’t wear perfume (maybe Jo Mabone?) and I’m pretty sure potatoes are toxic to dogs – more for me then!

So in honour of her first Christmas, and a precursor to the post I’ve written on the realities of puppy parenting, I thought I’d pull together a lil summin’ to share how we’re going to be spending the big JC’s birthday.

petplan advent calendar - olive the cockapoo

In collaboration with Petplan (who we insured Olive with even before we got her and way before they asked me to partner with them), I’ll talk you through our plans, what we’re getting her for Xmas and a few extra ideas if you’re also in the market for pet presents!

And by the way, if you’re up for winning a gift for your pet pal, Petplan insurance has the,Petplan advent calendarwhere they’re releasing a new prize every day until the 24th!

The Big Day

We’re very fortunate to be living closely to Ben’s family and I’m even more fortunate to have spent the last 2 Christmases with them as well. They KNOW how to Xmas.

Christmas Eve will be spent a family friend’s house for MERRIMENT (do you say that word at any other time of the year?) followed by at least 2 rounds of Dixit, a cheese board and a G&T or 6 back at their’s.

We’ll stay there with Olive, who’ll probably take over their cockapoo Lily’s bed, and be there to exchange stockings in the morning.

The temptation to get Olive a stocking is HIGH and I might cave yet.

Then we’ll take her out for a morning charge around, followed by a snooze (her after playing, us after breakfast mimosas) and prepare for a delicious lunch at around 2ish.

After lunch is presents. Which is a big change for me as when my sister used to have Christmas with our Mum and Dad, presents could barely make it past midnight after Xmas Eve.

petplan pet insurance - olive the cockapoo

Olive’s Presents

I’d already ordered Olive a snuffle mat which I had heard was good for canine enrichment as they spend ages sniffing and retrieving the treats. But I caved early and let her have it.

She loves her puzzle bowl to eat her food out of as in a regular bowl it’s gone in 0.2 seconds so I might treat her to a slow feeder bowl to change up her meal times.

If someone got me a bowl for Christmas, I’d be RAGING but alas, we are not the same.

Olive is teething so it’s be recommended to get her a range of chew toys to keep that daily teeth grinding an exciting activity.

We also got her this lonnnnng Santa boy from our local pet shop (pictured) because she loves playing tug but if our fingers aren’t careful, they can get an over excited puppy nip so another Xmas present we’ll get her a pack of equally long boys.

petplan - olive the cockapoo

Other Gift Ideas

Ben’s mum, Alison, has reliably informed me there is such a thing as Jo Mabone perfume. Olive isn’t a particularly stinky dog, but if you’re getting a bottle of the good stuff this Christmas, it could be a fun one to give your pampered pooch too.

Speaking of a bottle of the good stuff, have you heard of Pawsecco? Me either until I learned it was one of the prizes you could win in the Petplan advent calendar and now I’m intrigued! If you don’t win, it could still be a fun gift.

Perhaps your pooch is so pampered that the bed you got for them, that they’ve already chewed to death, just isn’t cutting it any more? Then maybe a dog teepee could make for a great present! Perfect for a Queen’s Speech snooze!

We’ll be bringing Olive home on Boxing Day – full of her own puppy turkey dinner, happy with her pressies and spoilt from all of the cuddles, ready to start a brand new year with our brand new family member.

How are you spending Christmas Day and has your pup been a good boy/girl this year?