Month: December 2015

Life’s lessons learnt for 2015

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I came across this list of “Lessons learned in 2015” written by nathaliesejean.com. (Please visit her website, it’s full of ideas for inspiring creativity).  I liked her list so much that I thought you might enjoy reading it as well.  

1)  It’s okay to say no.

2)  Your creative voice lies where you feel vulnerable

3)  If you stay fluid bruises will become lessons

4)  Find your own habits and stick to them

5) Always be in motion

6) Creativity is a muscle, not a gift

7) Quantity matters

8) Be kind to yourself

9) Know the intention behind your decisions

10) Virtual connections can be life changing, IRL (in-real-life) connections are vital

lifes lessons

What have I learnt this year? It’s been a big year for me and my family in terms of growth, we’ve all done things which we’ve not done before, and we’ve all struggled and eventually succeeded in the goals we set out to achieve. For La Gidg it was the improvement in her Catalan and Castillano grades at school. She’s gone up two grades in Spanish and one grade in Catalan. When we went to get her end of term marks two days before Christmas it was quite the proudest moment for us all to see how she has improved. For me it has been to find an achievable work life balance where I get to do things which I need to do for my health, and in particular my back (I have sittingdownitis which is apparently as bad for you as smoking used to be) whilst still also earning a living and keeping most of my clients happy most of the time. My other goal was for this to be the year when we would finally earn enough money to get our kitchen sorted out. We didn’t quite get that in this year but we have put the plan in progress for it to be done by next March, so “Good enough for rock and roll” as a friend of mine used to say.  But the thing that I think we have all learnt collectively is to believe and have confidence in ourselves and our dreams, they are achievable, we can do it, we are in the right place.

2015 has been a year of movement and change in the Mallorcan expat community, quite a few people have moved back to the UK or onwards to somewhere else, making room for new faces and new ideas. I’ve seen increased confidence in businesses in Mallorca to invest in themselves but not necessarily in the traditional tourism areas, we’re seeing diversification: more interest in cycling and other sport tourism, more interest in Mallorca’s natural treasures, as well as the continuing appeal that our island has for the more “upmarket” visitor, and a boom in the nautical industry and services. What will 2016 hold for us all? I hope continued recovery from our various financial dips, a healthy and happy new year for you all, and a continued belief in ourselves that we are truly living our dreams, and if you aren’t then make steps to change what you’re doing so you’re living the happiest and most fulfilling life you possibly can. Happy new year. See you in 2016 xxx http://www.mallorcamatters.com

 

Christmas Survival

Xmas Tree Bauble

It’s happening, it’s here. The main event if you’re to believe the hype. Can it possibly live up to the expectations? Well perhaps we should measure our expectations to make sure that we can get through the next week or so with the least amount of stress. I’ve been reading around the subject of “Christmas Survival” and there’s plenty of articles out there on the web which can give you some ideas, but if you don’t have the time, here’s my round up of the best.

Blog Photo - Back to School 3

Don’t try and do everything

If you are responsible for cooking and hosting the Christmas Day activities, then don’t take it all upon yourself. Ask other family members to bring different parts of the meal, such as snacks, salads or desserts – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make sure you have some time for YOU, even if it’s just allowing yourself to watch one special TV show that you really want to see.

Everything in moderation

Christmas seems to be all about excess – but there is not much enjoyment in feeling the size of a padded Santa suit or as stuffed as the festive turkey! The best advice is moderation – apply it to everything you eat and drink. Drink moderate amounts of alcohol and try to alternate soft drinks or water with alcoholic ones. As for food, have a bit of what you fancy but try not to stuff your face if you can help it! Difficult I know, but try.

Get active, rehydrate and sleep!dog-christmas-xmas-bulldog-medium

You’ve got to balance your festivities with some time to rest, and recuperate. Active recovery, such as taking a walk in the beautiful landscape of Mallorca is a perfect way to do this. Follow it up with a snooze on the sofa or an early bedtime.

Don’t be on your own

If you are concerned about being lonely over Christmas, either being single or unable to spend it with family, then do something about it now. Think about inviting a few others over who are in the same boat as you and consider offering your house as a venue for the event. Also try not to turn down any invitations to other festive events, provided that you are giving yourself a chance to recover in between!

A final word…

Christmas should be fun but if you find that previous years have not been enjoyable then consider doing something about it – try something different. One way would just be to get away from it all and remove the majority of the hassle from the whole festive experience. Although – we all know how stressful preparing for a holiday can be!

Happy Christmas for me and my family to you and yours. Vxxx http://www.mallorcamatters.com

Let’s be friends

A previous Supper Club meeting

Networking needn’t be nasty.

I spent an hour today talking about networking on Frank Leaver’s show on Radio One Mallorca. I hope I did myself proud. I was on the radio because this week (in fact 7pm on Thursday November 5th, then Thursday December 10th) I am restarting (after a year off) an informal networking and friend making group that I had originally set up five years ago. It’s called The Supper Club and is a great opportunity to make new contacts, catch up with old ones, possibly do some business, definitely have a laugh, and get dinner thrown in all for under 20€. If you want to attend then email your reservation to info@moodbeach.com and get yourself over to Portals.

It’s not so long ago that I hadn’t even heard of the term “networking”, but I think I’ve always been a “networker”. Back in the day I might have been called less flattering things, like “busy body”, “do gooder” or (crivens) “nosy parker”. Why? Because in order to be an effective networker you don’t spend hours talking about yourself “selling” whatever it is that you need to get across, no, you spend time finding out about others and working out what might be helpful for them, perhaps make connections for them which they will find useful, and think about their issues and problems trying to find solutions. It can be exhausting doing this, it’s a relentless one way street so you need to know when to politely slow to a halt on your helpful assault and wait to see if the other side reciprocates. Like unrequited love, it’s not healthy to be in a one sided relationship.

But networking needn’t be frightening, approach it with an open mind, remember to stay authentically true to yourself, perhaps arm yourself with five opening questions that you can try out to get the conversation going, or perhaps a joke, and step in. If you need one then ask for an introduction, go to the organiser and say “Can you introduce me to….” and get them to help you. The good thing is that at a networking event other people are there with the same aim as you so you don’t need to feel strange about talking to a complete stranger, and remember, you get out what you put in. Don’t forget your business cards.  The networking doesn’t finish there either, the next day you need to send a message to the people you connected to: either as an email, a Facebook request, a text message, a phone call, whatever seems appropriate to the situation.  

The more you network, the easier it gets, but you have to keep doing it. There are plenty of different types of groups in Mallorca, so go find one, invite me to it, and let’s do it! http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

It’s a dog’s life

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I’m trying my best to not look at the news anymore. Donald Trump’s recent insane pronouncement, another shooting, another death, another flood, another person being arrested for fraud, another species about to die out. I need to take a break from the news: it’s too much to take in. That’s ironic, given that this article is for a newspaper (but you can also read it on my blog mallorcamatters.com). Instead I have been looking inwards, at myself and at my family and trying to make sure that each and every one of us is happy, or at least happier, than we were. I’ve found inspiring lists like these:

  • Sit in silence for at least ten minutes a day
  • Dream more while you are awake
  • You don’t have to win every argument, agree to disagree
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously, no one else does
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone, so get rid of those ill feelings
  • No one is in charge of your happiness, except you
  • Read more books than you did last month
  • Sleep for eight hours a day
  • Smile and laugh more
  • Drink plenty of water, at least two litres a day
  • Forget issues of the past, don’t remind your partner with their mistakes of the past
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change
  • Call your family often

And yes, some of it I should certainly do more of, and I am trying, but really what can make an instant impact on your life? Get yourself a Cookie. My daughter, La Gidg, and I had been talking (plotting) for a while about how we might be able to get a small dog into our house without my husband minding too much. We knew that we couldn’t have a big dog as they are so much responsibility, but a small dog which doesn’t need too much walking and is about the same size as a biggish cat? Shouldn’t be a problem. Now all we had to do was wait for the right one to come along.  This week it happened. My daughter was on a sleep over and I got word that there was a cat sized male adult dog looking for an immediate home. After a chat with his fosterer (Kim from Dogs For U) and a chat with my husband, I went and met Kim and took Cookie home with me. My daughter didn’t have a clue that her dream was about to come true until she got back and we introduced her to our new family member. Now Cookie is settling in nicely and seems to be fitting in just fine, all he wants to do is be with his new people, get a cuddle and a biscuit and in return we get a very waggy tale,  stinky kisses and unbridled joy.  Happy days.

A Winter Wonderland at Mood Beach

A winter wonderland

A “Winter Wonderland” is a rare occurrence in Majorca, we might see snow once or twice a year, and normally only on the mountain tops, but in a restaurant in Costa d’en Blanes? Never! Well, maybe not quite never… This Christmas season a talented artist is being brought over to transform the interior of Mood Beach Bar and Restaurant into a snowy winter scene. Over a cup of tea and a slightly dodgy Skype connection I had a chat with artist and visual merchandiser Sian Wedgwood-Walker, tasked with turning a Mediterranean seaside establishment into Santa’s grotto.

Vicki McLeod: So, where shall we start? Where did you study?

Sian Wedgwood-Walker: I went to Birmingham University where I studied Fine Art. When I left I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I thought about becoming a curator, but I’m a bit of an art snob, I don’t really like “old” art and I knew I would have needed a wider perspective than that. Within the art world you’ve got two ways you can go: you can either be one of the chosen few of amazing artists which make it, or you can be part of the rest and basically have to find something else to do!

I’d been doing a lot of performance and installation art during my degree, I liked to explore my interaction with the world through clothes, so I thought perhaps fashion was something I could try to get into. I started to work with a friend of mine who was an illustrator and we did some shows and projects together, but it didn’t work out so I looked to change direction a little. I’d always been interested in creating environments, and I was fascinated by window dressings, I really liked to go to the shops just to look at the windows, so I decided that maybe this was the way to go. I knew that I needed to use my creativity and I really like building and making things, so that’s why I decided to join House of Fraser and work my way up. I started to work as a Sales Assistant on the Phase A “mat” (that’s retail speak for the area you get when you are a franchise in a department store). I was forever redressing the mannequins and moving things around to see how they would work and they soon realised that I was really interested.

VM: Did they notice an increase in sales as well?

SWW: Oh yes, every time I increased the sales between 5 and 20%.  I started to look into how I could develop my career. The clothes I was working with were very nice, but not my kind of style. Then a job came up internally at House of Fraser where I had the freedom to create my own windows from scratch. It was a fun dream job, I had total and utter freedom! I could take things from anywhere in the store and put them together. That’s when I made a ball gown out of Lee jeans and dressed a mannequin in it, I called her “Miss Light Up Lee”. But then the credit crunch came and that really stifled my ability to be creative, we had to focus on blatant discounted offers and really work on selling, and everything just lost its fun. Then I moved to work for H & M in a very different, much smaller store. It was a promotion for me as well as I was also in management. The company look at visual merchandising in a very different way, and it does really make a difference to sales. Then I moved up from a 2.3m store to a 9m store, and I am running a team of six. H & M are an amazing company to work for, but still retail is very structured and set, there are specific things you have to do depending on the brands that you are working with.

VM: So now you are developing what you do outside of H & M as well.

SWW: Yes, I’m moving into creating environments for parties and weddings. I did my own wedding last year when I married my husband Flixx. My creativity really got to flow, we had a Peter Pan theme because it was his favourite book when he was child. Everything was drawn from the idea of being in Neverland. The whole theme was magical. The only problem was that my ideas were much bigger than my budget, so we had to keep it realistic! Now I am currently working on a project for a Burlesque show which is great, and I am still also working for H & M. We have Katy Perry jumping out of shopping bags throughout the stores at the moment for the Christmas campaign, it looks great!

VMC: What kinds of window and visual displays do you like to see?

SWW: I love Selfridges, their windows are always amazing, and Karen Millen as well. They are always very creative and inspiring.

VMC: From a cynical point of view the windows have to make you stop and want to go inside the shop don’t they?

SWW: Yes, of course. That’s the aim. We use “Hotspots” inside the stores as well to promote clothing. We might have something which has been in the store for months and we move it to these particular places and it will sell out or a customer will say “Ooh, this is new!” even if it’s been in the store in a different position for a while. There’s certain things which most people know about the psychology of visual merchandising now: like keeping the items that you want to sell on eye level. And customers always turn right when they enter a store. We have what we call an “A” area it’s the main selling point where you would put your main trend or campaign.

VMC: And what’s your personal style, which designers do you like?

SWW: I love Vivienne Westwood, she’s a crazy mentalist, completely bonkers! And I love Alexander McQueen as well. But I pull things from everywhere really, I like Victoria, 1920s, street style. And I love to make things as well.

VMC: Were you a big fan of Blue Peter when you were little?!

SWW: Yes, I loved it, but I never had the sticky backed plastic. My mum taught me to sew and I would make clothes for my troll dolls. I love to see how things are put together, I’m a bit of a geek about that.

VMC: So what are you going to be doing at Mood?

SWW: Margaret, the owner, wants to have the theme A Winter Wonderland so I’m going to use the colours white, silver and tinge of minty blue. There’s going to be as much fake snow as I can fit in as well! I have some ideas about how we can make it seem as if you are walking on snow as you go into the restaurant area.  I’m going to be using a lot of icicles, baubles and snowflakes, and white twigs. I want to hang a lot of things from the ceiling and make the whole place very glittery and twinkly. I don’t want to say too much as I want it to be a surprise.

VMC: It’s a big place though, this sounds like a lot of work!

SWW: Yep, it will be, we’ve scheduled that it will take us two days to install, we want it to be ready for Sunday December 20th. We’ve doing everything including the table settings. I’m also really keen to recycle and reuse objects so I’ve asked Naim at Mood to save wine bottles and we will be spraying them and using them in the installation as well. I’m so excited! It’s going to really fantastic!

                                                                                                                                                                                               

You will be able to see the Winter Wonderland at Mood Beach from Sunday December 20th to January 3rd. For more information email info@moodbeach.com

 

Not every apple is created equal

 

Fruit n Veg

I dislike the phrase “health kick”. It suggests that it will be over in a flash, probably after taking someone out at the knees and landing on their bottom. It’s not a good image. I prefer the phrase “lifestyle change” which is more appropriate, sounds more serious and more, you know, grown up. We’ve (I say we, I mean “I”) been reading a lot about different types of diets: low fat, low calorie, Paleo, 80/20, Cabbage Soup, the White Food Diet, you name it they’re out there. They all claim they are THE diet to make the difference. Following research from Israeli scientists it turns out that it’s not a “One Size Fits All” approach to diet that will work: your body may well respond differently to your partner’s because of different responses to a food’s Glycemic Index.  But measuring your responses to your food may be a step too far for most of us, you’d need to ask a scientist to move in for a start, but there are other things we can do to improve the healthiness of how and what we are eating. I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who buys her veggies with every good intention to “do something with them” and then at the end of the week have to throw them out to replace them with a new version of the same thing, what a waste. According to Mallorca’s own Mister Eco, Jerry Whitehouse, not every vegetable is created equal as with modern farming methods there are plenty of your five a day that are coming with added ingredients you probably didn’t want. Spinach, kale, lettuce and leafy greens have been found to be contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. Potatoes are the vegetable which has the most pesticides used on it by far but even the humble cucumber will have had 86 different pesticides used on it whilst celery will have seen 60 pesticides. 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue strawberries are covered in a fungicidal spray, and cherries (which I eat like sweets in the summer, you can imagine my dismay when I saw them on the list), pears and grapes (imported) are all fruits to give a serious swerve to as well. Apparently you should also be checking out your humble raisin as well, as just like the grapes they come from they can have traces of 15 different pesticides on them. And don’t even get me started on apples…. The good news is that you can source organic products in Mallorca very easily, and cost effectively, which supports both your health and the economic health of the island and you can even get them delivered to your door!  Check out http://www.mistereco.es for more information about organic food in Mallorca, we are the potato capital of Europe, but that’s a whole other story.