How To Be Happy - Throw Your Phone In The River...

Saturday was a truly lovely day. The sun shone, the birds sang and soared in the sky above and the very best bit of all was that Son didn't have to go to school. So, with a song in our hearts, a spring in our steps and a dog by our sides, we set off to watch some of Son's rowing friends competing in the Wallingford Long Distance Sculls.

Walking by the Thames is, I must admit, one of my favourite things. I've taken part in 100km and 50km races along it, I've boated on it, picnicked by it, paddled in it and thanks to Son's love of rowing, I spent a lot of time near it. These things make me happy.

Or so I thought until I threw my phone into my beloved river.

The river, minutes before phone loss - screenshot from  Instagram !

The river, minutes before phone loss - screenshot from Instagram!

Yes, you read that right. I have the distinctly dubious honour of having done just that. In my well intentioned gesticulations to a rower who was heading off course around a tricky bend, my phone flew from my hand and plopped ignominiously into the deep water. With a few frankly pathetic bubbles and within a few seconds, it was lost from sight.

Some prodding around in the water with a very long stick and tentative investigations of the bank confirmed the fact that there was no hope and the phone was indeed lost.

R.I.P. Phone.

But I have to say that since that moment, I've been happy. Happier, more peaceful and a whole load more productive than I have been in months with the apparently 'useful tech' by my side. I've been completely 'in the moment', I've got things done, I've had proper downtime and overall, my life has been way happier.

Yes, I've still had a nice and comfortable Mac sitting on my desk so I've not been totally cut-off but my dramatic ditching of said iPhone has made me realise just how much time I waste faffing around with crappy apps, checking things that really don't need checking and generally wasting huge chunks my life staring at a tiny screen when the big wide world is out there passing me by.

This shouldn't come as a surprise of course. I've read endless features listing the benefits of 'screen free time' but I've never thought they applied to me. I've always thought that it's Son who needs to learn how to manage his screen time, not me. I'm a responsible adult who can be totally in control and besides, it's really important that I check the weather/the TV schedule/Twitter/Instagram/Ocado/Teamer on a regular basis and why shouldn't I play a game or two when I get a free moment?

The answer of course is that there's no reason why I shouldn't do those things but my goodness, how all of that crap has been sucking my time away. In an effort to be more organised, more efficient and more productive, I've been less so.

The last few days have made me realise how I've let my life be run by something that absolutely doesn't give a monkeys about me. My phone doesn't want me to ask it about its day, my phone's face doesn't light up when I give it a hug or offer to play a game with it. My phone doesn't give a hoot if I'm relaxed, happy, calm, loving or useful in any way.

In short, my phone was a bit of a shit.

Don't get me wrong, phones can be useful but let's be honest, they're in no way essential. Yes, I'm sad to have lost some photos but those moments still happened and actually, if I'd not been taking the flipping photo at the time, my memory of that moment that I so desperately wanted to capture would probably be all the clearer. So more fool me.

My happy time over the last few days has been free from bongs, bings, flashing screens and endless alerts. Instead, it's been full of better moments where the world outside hasn't been allowed to intrude at will. Yes, I've checked up on things but without the phone continually tethered to my side, craving attention like a needy two-year old, it's all been on my terms instead and that's been rather wonderful.

So, when the new phone arrives tomorrow, will I re-install all the apps I had before? Will I be able to resist?

I hope so because as unexpected cold turkey goes, the last few days have been bloody brilliant.

Happy Anniversary To Me!

It's not often that I toot my own trumpet but October sees a rather lovely anniversary that I'm most definitely going to be celebrating. Next month marks two years since I started writing features for the wonderful Glitzy Secrets.

And I want to celebrate this for so many reasons. Firstly, I LOVE the Glitzy team. They're great people and they're incredibly supportive (especially of my other book writing projects) but mostly, I admire how they completely 'get' the wedding world. I have to say that I really look forward to receiving my monthly briefing document from them because I just never know what I'm going to be asked to write about and that's such a treat.

I also really admire the fact that Glitzy Secrets blog about things they know their clients are going to be interested in. It would be really easy for to just fill GS Inspiration with loads of features that purely promote their products but they don't and I think that's brilliant.

So, if you'd like to hop on over to Glitzy Secrets to check out the blog, do. It's packed with features and new ones are published on a very regular basis. Just follow Glitzy Secrets on Twitter to find out when ever new piece goes live.

If you're wondering where to start, here are a few of my own personal favourites but trust me, there's loads here to enjoy:

If you'd like lots of lovely blog content for your own blog, just get in touch - tamrynlawrence@gmail.com. Although Glitzy Secrets name me as the author of the features on their website, I write for many wedding professionals 'anonymously' too!

I do always seem to get given anything period or with an historical slant. Can't think why!

I do always seem to get given anything period or with an historical slant. Can't think why!

May Your Days Be Merry & Bright

So, here I am, about to flick on the out-of-office, mix myself a Snowball (filthy, I'm so sorry) and kickback for the Christmas holidays. But, I couldn't let this moment pass without saying a huge and heartfelt thank you to some of the people who've made the last twelve months all kinds of brilliant.

Coco Wedding Venues, Katrina Otter, Perfect Day Bride (and the forthcoming Flossy & Willow), Wedding Yurts, Glitzy Secrets, Tarnia Williams, Liberty In Love, Pudding Bridge, Coco & Kate, Roberta Facchini, Chosen Wedding Collective, Always Andri, Vivien J, Oyster & Pearl, Olofson Design, Hot Pink, For The Love Of Weddings, Gemma Milly, The Wedding Industry Awards and of course, the ever-fabulous Annabel and everyone at Love My Dress are just a few of those who've made me smile throughout the year. I also must mention The Wedding Reporter and The Little Wedding Helper for simply being all-round ace.

I'm going to be taking some time out with my family and friends now until Tuesday 5th January when I'll be back and firing on all cylinders, ready for more wedding words and stories in 2016 (2016?!? OMG!!) and I look forward to seeing you there.

Finally, all that's left to say is whatever you're doing this festive season and however you're celebrating, may your days be merry and bright.

So much love,

Tamryn x

p.s. if you can't quite disengage the work-brain over the holidays and want to get a head start on the planning for the new year, I've still got a few spots left for my 2016 Planning Sessions and if you need words for websites, brochures or blogs, why not drop me a note now and I'll get back to you in January...

Springing Back Into It...

For someone who loves writing and makes her living from writing, I've been really really bad about writing for myself of late. And I don't just mean here on this blog but for the purposes of this post, we'll content ourselves with talking about this blog. Or this not-really-a-blog as I probably should call it.

Anyway, I have nothing whatsoever to complain about because so far, 2015 has been all kinds of awesome. Since Christmas, I've worked on some absolutely amazing projects, have met lots of wonderful people and have so much goodness in the pipeline, it's unreal. I promise, hand on heart, to be far more diligent about keeping you and this let's-try-and-make-it-a-blog-again on track over the coming months.

So, to ease me back into this and to bring you up to date with some fab things you might have missed, let's have a little run down of what's been going on this year so far...

The brilliant Perfect Day Bride has had a complete makeover - new look boutique, brand spanking new website and beautiful new logos and images (courtesy of Xander & Thea) so if you've not yet taken a look, then I suggest you do...

Whilst we're talking about Xander & Thea, have you seen that exquisite new website yet? I absolutely adore Alethiea's images- they seem to have flown to my screen straight from an art gallery wall. You might also want to take a look at her engagement shoot tips over on B.Loved as well...

I'm always so proud to say that I write for the fantastic (and multi-award winning!) Love My Dress and it's a privilege to be a tiny part of Annabel's brilliant and inspiring creation. My catalogue of features grows by the week but I'd like to draw your attention to this piece all about the stylish Belle & Bunty. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Hannah and Alice of late and I hope this feature does their creativity and passion justice.

Image by  Julie Michaelsen  as seen on  Love My Dress

Image by Julie Michaelsen as seen on Love My Dress

I've also been writing for the sparkly Glitzy Secrets and you can find my musings over on GS Inspiration. I'm really loving writing these pieces although I have to admit to spending far too long finding images to inspire me. But hey, when you love what you do, no time is wasted. Right? Right?!

I am also having to sit on my hands (well, not really but you know what I mean) as I write this because I've been working away behind the scenes with lots of super talented wedding suppliers on new websites, new projects and all manner of fabulousness so do come back soon to find out what else I've been up to of late. Oh, what a tease!

Yes indeed, 2015 is shaping up to be a right good 'un.

The Wedding Blog Awards - Don't Try To Be Different...

So, if you've got a vague interest in the wedding world (and I can't think why you wouldn't!), you'll know that last Friday saw The Savoy throw open its doors to Wedding magazine and The Wedding Blog Awards. You might well also know that I was there, along with the lovely Caoimhe, representing Team Love My Dress. I could write a long post about the champagne, the canapés, the decor and the terror, twice over, of having to hop up on stage to accept the awards for 'Best Real Life Weddings' and 'Best Bridal Style' that Love My Dress scooped on the night. But, as so many wonderful women have already penned and published posts about these things (see list at the end of this piece), I'm going to write about something else. Obvs.

I do love a little bit of people watching and so having a good look around at everyone who was sipping champagne and waiting for the awards proper to begin was really interesting. And then it hit me, these women, these terrific and talented women who made up the shortlists for the awards all had one thing in common. None of them were trying to be different.

via  Pinterest

Now, this is the moment when you might well be sitting there thinking I've lost the plot completely but hang in there while I explain myself.

The key word in my bold assertion isn't different, it's trying. The blogs on the shortlist are all different, they have found their niche and they're totally working it. But they're not trying to be different or trying to be something they're not. And this is exactly why they're great.

Nova, the gorgeously passionate powerhouse behind the (deservedly) award-winning Nu-Bride is, when you meet her, exactly as you would expect from reading her blog. She's kind, caring, gentle and strong. Another woman who I fell a bit for was Charlotte from Fizzy Bunting. She 'isn't a dress kind of a gal' so rocked the tux at the awards and was true to herself. Raj from Secret Wedding Blog wanted to write about multi-cultural couples and weddings so did. B.Loved's Louise and Emma from Coco Wedding Venues are just as stylish as you imagine and they're also as warm and as positive as their writing suggests. In short, no-one was trying to be different, they were just being themselves. 

And that's really the key to it all. Don't work so hard to be different that you lose sight of who you really are. Don't strive to stand out when all you really need is to just be you. Just on a really good day. We all might have been dressed up fancy for a night out but everyone was still the same person. And it was great.

The wedding industry is a sociable place - people like to get together and you see a lot of each other. If you're putting on an act or if you're trying too hard, you'll get found out like the kid at school who pretends to be way cool when they're just not and ends up miserable, even when they're hanging with the crowd they want to be with. Because, now that we're not kids in the playground, we know that trying to be different never works out in the long run.

I got to be at The Savoy on Friday evening because a while ago, Annabel asked me to be part of Team Love My Dress. And it was revelatory. Annabel doesn't try to be different, she just tries to be good. And she, and the other fabulous, brilliant, spectacular and downright excellent women in the room on Friday evening, have totally nailed it.

Who doesn't sit on the stairs in The Savoy of a Friday night clutching two awards?

Who doesn't sit on the stairs in The Savoy of a Friday night clutching two awards?

So Caoimhe and I just  had  to get in on the photobooth action...

So Caoimhe and I just had to get in on the photobooth action...

So, if you want to read the reports and reflections on the awards, let me point you in the direction of these little beauties...

 

Love My Dress

Coco Wedding Venues

Nu-Bride

B.Loved

Fizzy Bunting

Who Is Going To Stop Me?

Last week was a good one. Aside from the unbridled joy that finding a couple of skirts that fit me and also suit me brings, I also got to spend a lot of time talking to and being with some really fabulous women. Wonderful, amazing, inspiring and unstoppable women.

The word 'unstoppable' is simply beautiful to me right now. It conveys motion, movement, force, determination and an unceasing progression towards... Well, towards whatever you want and that, my friends, is the joy of it.

If you read Love My Dress, you'll know that it was Annabel's 40th birthday at the weekend and last Thursday, a group of truly unstoppable women gathered at The Rosewood Hotel in London to celebrate with her. What makes this cluster of creativity so fabulous (apart from the fact, as Miss Bush so rightly says in this brilliant blog, they're just damn cool), is that they are the epitome of what women in the workplace need from each other. 

We don't need to be hard-faced, grasping, climb-over-each-other-to-win women. We need to be supportive, we need to be honest, we need to give encouragement as freely as we give kisses at the end of e-mails. We need to be helpful, generous and loyal. I've got your back, you've got mine and between us, we can take on anything. We need to be unstoppable. Together.

Later in the week I met up with another client, a woman who I'm also proud to work with and support. She's also unstoppable (even if she doesn't quite know it yet) because she's passionate, stylish and she's got a super clear vision of what she wants and what she's not interested in. I love this too.

When I was a teenager, I was accused by a boyfriend that I was a feminist (mostly because I read Cosmopolitan at the time) as if this was somehow deeply unattractive. When I was at university, another girl told me that being so interested in sport just wasn't going to be appealing to men. Then, and now, I don't care one jot. I am who am I and as I too approach the 40th milestone, I am happy with this. I am more confident than ever before, fitter than ever before and more willing to stand up, move on and get on in my own sweet way than ever before. 

Through being surrounded by brilliant women, I am full of a belief that I didn't have during my callow twenties or even my eager-to-please-at-all-costs early thirties. I know where I am and who I am and I might just be unstoppable.

I would love it if you were unstoppable too.

Image via  www.favimages.net


It's A Blog Hop Baby...

This time last year, I had the absolute joy of attending one of Emily Quinton's Makelight Workshops. I learned so much it felt like my head would explode and I came away so inspired about photography that it's just become part of my every-day. One of the very best things about the day was the company. Spending blissful hours with a group of exceptional women made me so happy and it makes me happier still to say we're still all in touch. Sat at the corner of the table on that Saturday last September was the brilliant Alyssa Aldersley of Agnes & Miller (well, Agnes & Miller was just the twinkle in her creative eye then but you get what I mean). I love Alyssa's blog - her photography is brilliant, the way she shares her adventures is brilliant and her recipes are oh-my-heaven brilliant. So, when Alyssa asked if she could tag me in a blog hop post, I couldn't have been happier.

Admittedly, it's taken me a while to get around to writing this. I'll not descend into one of those 'the summer holidays were so hard' posts but hey, if I said I wasn't just a little bit happy when the school bell rang last Thursday morning, I'd be a huge liar. Now I've got my schedule back under control, I'm very happy to write this little piece about, well, my writing.

It's only during the last few months that my head has made the switch and I would now define myself as 'a writer'. I write for a living, I write every day and I write because I might just go off pop if I didn't. Writing cheers me up and calms me down. It helps me order my thoughts and explore new ideas. It is a part of me and I love it.

Question - why do I write? - Why wouldn't I? I've written ever since I was a kid. I know we all have and I'm not claiming special writing powers here but it's just always been a huge part of who I am. I guess it stems from reading like a demon when I was young and becoming full to the brim with words, plots, people and places that just had to flood out. So, I wrote stories for myself, I wrote for a national children's newspaper and got a big kick from seeing my words in print. University rather slapped the love of writing and reading out of me - the relentless pressure to plough through so many books every week, to pull them apart and critique every flipping sentence just ruined the magic of it for me. It took a while to get back into reading and it was only when I was planning weddings and writing for wedding magazines that the words and I rekindled our passion. I always wanted to write a book so approached a literary agent with a pitch and ta-dah, my first book was published just before my 30th birthday. Another has since followed and, if I have my way, there'll be another soon too.

I now write for a living and I have to say that writing about weddings for blogs such as Love My Dress is a huge honour. I write for other clients too and I still write for myself.

I write because I love words. I write because I love stories.

photo 7.JPG

Question - what am I working on? - Happily, I've got a list of features to write that stretches over two pages in my notebook and when one is delivered, another inevitably arrives. I love this rolling writing rota and I feel pleased that I don't get overwhelmed by the long list of pieces that need writing. To me, this feels like a huge step forward and that I'm now able to 'turn on writing mode' when I sit at my desk has probably contributed to my recent mental shift.

Aside from all of my wedding features, I'm planning a chunkier piece of wedding goodness and in my free time, I'm writing some historical fiction. I fell out of love with fiction for a long time having been supremely irritated by lots of books I read. Historical non-fiction got me through that patch and everything I absorbed then is certainly coming in handy now. I'm a history geek and the stories of women in world war two float my literary boat so it's not too tough to guess what I'm writing about hey?

Question - how does it differ from others in its genre? Looking at the wedding words first, I guess it differs because of my experience. I came to write about weddings have worked in and on weddings for years. I've been there, done that and got the blisters on wedding days to prove it so, when I write about suppliers, gowns, venues or boutiques, I hope a little of that knowledge and understanding comes through. It's my perspective on things that makes it unique and it's the way that I interpret and convey facts and thoughts that make my writing different.

As for the historical writing, I hope what makes it different is the understanding of the period and the factual knowledge that I have. I am truly the person who complained to a jigsaw manufacturer that you can't possibly have a plane with D-Day markings in a Battle of Britain picture (for goodness sake!) and I tut at the tv every time a wartime inaccuracy pops up. To make it real, it needs to be real and I'm really happy with the people that are coming to life in my story. They're not cliched caricatures because, let's face it, we're all a little bit more complicated than that.

Question - how does my writing process work? - Wedding-wise, I always want to find the story because that's what's interesting. Suppliers submit their information and I read through their answers to questions and look to find the stand-out feature. It might be how they got into their line of business, it might be one phrase that really strikes me, it might be that they take their dog to every wedding or it might be something else entirely but there's always something unique in there and it's my job to find it, amplify it and convey it to anyone reading. It's those details that appeal and can make readers feel they have something in common with a supplier or business. Telling our own stories can be really hard, all those years of training ourselves not to show off have a lot to answer for. Yet when someone else looks at your story with fresh eyes, they can find the best bits to talk about. When I see e-mails from people I've written about saying they got quite emotional when they read my words, I can admit to feeling pretty chuffed with myself.

Quite often, I like to write longhand in notebooks before starting to write 'properly' at my desk so wherever I go, there'll always be pens and paper in my bag. I think reading definitely helps the writing and so my office bookshelves are pretty much sagging under the weight of the ever-increasing stacks and rows. I like my office to be neat, warm and light and there's usually a mug of tea to hand as well. My dog is inevitably by my side and I know when it's time to take a break as she'll nose-nudge my leg to sweetly ask for a walk or a game. Like she is now.

So that's pretty much it for this blog hop. I'll pass the baton onto the lovely Emma of Coco Wedding Venues and the oh-so happy Helen of The Wedding Bazaar. Enjoy ladies - I can't wait to see how you write and I'll add your links to this piece when you've published them too.

Alyssa, thank you so much for prodding me into action with this game of blogging 'it'. And now, I leave you. I've got words to write...

**10th September Update - So Helen has picked up the blog hop baton and sprinted away with it as her post has just been published. Nip over to The Wedding Bazaar to have a read...**

A Wedding-less Feature...

So this post might be a little off-piste but as the song goes, I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. However, I'm not about to lose control which should be a relief to all. What I am going to do is blow my own trumpet about a personal milestone so forgive the indulgence if you can.

My first published history feature! Thank you so much  Pretty Nostalgic .

My first published history feature! Thank you so much Pretty Nostalgic.

I am history geek and the stories of women during World War II are those that particularly push my buttons. From housewives to code breakers, land-girls to ATA girls, my bookshelves are laden with volumes of everyday heroism and outstanding bravery. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to lay my excited hands on copy of 'A Daughter's Tale', the wartime memories of Winston & Clementine Churchill's youngest child Mary. In these pages, I first found out about the gunner girls of the ATS who manned the anti-aircraft batteries during the Blitz and the flying bomb raids. And that was it, I was hooked and my research began.

The book that started it all...

The book that started it all...

Since then, I have read voraciously, I have tracked down old copies of books and memoirs, I have delved into archives and written pages and pages of notes. These women were amazing. In fact, amazing is too small a word to describe them. In a society that still wanted women to be decorative and sweetly feminine, these trailblazing women lived with the men, worked with the men and died with the men. They manned their guns on cliff tops and city centres, they shot down planes and rockets and were themselves injured, insulted and initially seen as objects of curiosity. But they won over the most battle-hardened soldiers and they played a real part in a war that liked to keep women well away from any action. Mary Churchill, as she was then, followed troops into Europe in the days after D-Day and was also one of the observers sent to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just days after it had been liberated. All of the women of the ATS were proud to wear the uniform, proud to do their job and play  an active role. No more passivity for the girls behind the guns. 

There is one photo, from all of those that I have seen whilst researching this fascinating topic that sticks in my mind (and you can see it in the top right of my feature's banner). The alarm has sounded, the girls are running to man their guns, running into who knows what danger and they are smiling. Smiling.

pretty-nostalgic-goodwood-revival

So seeing this piece in print was a big moment. My first published history feature and I'm so chuffed to see it looking so beautiful in such a great magazine. The Goodwood Revival special edition of Pretty Nostalgic is packed with wonderful pieces - from an imaginary tea with another literary heroine of mine, Agatha Christie and craft and up cycling ideas to vintage fashion and beauty pieces. All in all, it's a fabulous read and I'm just so thrilled to be a part of it.

Earlier this year, I set my goals for 2014. One of them was about writing. It's going pretty well, I can tell you now...