Saturday, 29 June 2019

JESSICA: JOURNALIST!

Another in our fab series about cool careers... we talk to Jessica, who has worked as a journalist for numerous top mags and newspapers. Wow!!!

Jessica says: 
From a young age I was infatuated with magazines. Growing up, all I wanted to become was a magazine editor with my own office full of books, plants and a rail of snazzy trench coats. If I’m honest, I thought being a magazine editor would be like the chick flick movies - Thirteen Going on Thirty maybe, or How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, about magazine editors, ha! I’d spend all my pocket money on mags and loved reading the genuinely inspiring articles for women. I was always writing stories and my heart was with certain women’s issues I cared fiercely about. During my teen years, I saw so much in women’s magazines that broke my heart. Whether it was airbrushing photos or the pressure for us to look and behave a certain way, it felt like we were being pushed to be some kind of elusive dream super woman. There were a lot of problematic themes in the heart of women’s magazines, but I felt compelled to write articles for women. Pieces that gave women freedom instead of chains, that gave us hope instead of judgment and gave us laughs instead of us thinking we need to go on a diet. There is a power in words and with my passion for women and my interest in magazines, it made sense for me to put the two together and hope that I could make some positive changes in women’s magazines.

I started off doing a LOT of interning. I first started doing work experience at 14-years-old for Sugar magazine ( a teen mag that sadly is no more) in London. I studied journalism at uni and bounced around internship from internship in the city like a headless chicken at magazines like Cosmopolitan, Elle and OK! I learnt on the job and from a lot of really incredibly talented, funny, intelligent and dynamic women around me, who inspired me but also terrified me. From the get go, I would attend an event every night for work, whether it was a beauty product launch, a red carpet premiere, a celebrity birthday party, an awards ceremony, reviewing new restaurants/hotels or just a general showbiz party. It sounds glamorous and it was exciting for the first couple of months when I was starting out... but it’s definitely a lot of hard work. Interviewing celebrities and going to champagne fuelled parties may sound like the dream, but don’t be fooled. For a few years, I was interviewing up to six people a day. Talking to lots of different people can be interesting but exhausting.

As a journalist and an editor, I have worked on news, showbiz, culture, travel, fashion, beauty, politics and entertainment desks at national newspapers and global magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar, BBC News, OK! magazine, Stylist magazine, Elle magazine, The Independent, The Washington Post, Grazia, VICE, Refinery29, The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan and The Guardian. When I was writing about showbiz and celebrities, I landed exclusive interviews with George Clooney, Matt LeBlanc, Kate Winslet, Kim Cattrall and Will Smith. I was also the first to break the royal engagement world news of Harry and Meghan months before the palace announced it - a source leaked it to me and I spent most of the week leading up to press day worried sick that the Queen would sue me, ha! I have also put together extensive features and news articles that have been a part of UK campaigns and political movements. Now, I’m a freelance writer, so my job includes pitching a lot to editors, writing for different papers and magazines and reporting on current affairs.

In the future, I plan on continuing freelancing for different publications and writing in particular about social injustices and women’s issues, but I have started doing one on one freelance sessions which I’m really excited about. They are for people who may have always wanted to become a journalist and are keen to get published in their favourite magazines and newspapers, or for people who want to make the leap from blogging on social media to writing for global publications or those who simply just love writing and want to get their ideas out there. I’m passionate about getting people on the freelance journalist ladder. There are so many options and different roads to take that it can seem a bit overwhelming, so the ethos of my sessions is to really strip it back and simplify it. A lot of journalism courses and writing workshops overcomplicate stuff and it really doesn't have to be as painful as that! There are easy ways to widen your net, make solid connections with national/global editors, freelance for different publications as well as working in your job and get writing on the subjects you feel most passionate about, without having to do loads of unpaid work for 'exposure'. I feel super strongly that every piece of work you do should be paid. I’m also putting on a six-week masterclass course very soon for budding journos wanting to make the jump to freelancing, were the group will learn everything they need to know on how to spread their writer wings and become a successful freelance journalist!

For info on Jessica's courses and workshops,  email jess.hope.evans@gmail.com 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

GEORGIA RAE - SINGER!

Another in our cool series on careers - talented vocalist Georgia Rae is carving out a successful career as a musician. Read on to find out how!

Georgia Rae says:
My job is entertaining people. I am a professional vocalist and everything that I do for work involves music. I was born into music as my parents both perform for fun, and now I am lucky enough to say that something that I am so passionate about is my “job”. I am only twenty two years old so this is the start of my journey, I am just getting going but it is still so amazing that I have the support from my family to make this my career. As a child, I dreamt big. I always wanted to be a heart surgeon and it was only as I started to do my GCSE’s that I realised that science wasn’t my strength. Although I had been performing since I was seven years old, I only came to notice that I could sing whilst my friend was having singing lessons. It appeared that I naturally picked things up very quickly and so we started to sing in lessons together. Back then, I never would have thought that I would be in the position that I am in now

It all started when a performing arts university came to my school to hold after school sessions with pupils who were committed. I remember auditioning and thinking 'That was awful, why did my teacher ever suggest such a thing?' A month or so down the line I was attending stage school on Saturdays in Liverpool, playing key roles in my school productions and had chosen Music, Dance and Drama for my GCSE’s (which some teachers thought was absolutely ridiculous!). I can’t thank my performing arts and dance teachers enough for believing in me when I didn’t. It was a whirlwind from there on. Next thing I know, I’m performing in an ensemble around the UK and was preparing for competitions in The Netherlands. This career path wasn’t an accident, I have tried and trained so hard for a long time and I still have a long way to go!

You don’t need any exam passes or qualifications to become a professional singer. However, I did study music all the way to receiving my first class degree in music and I have grown so much as a person and a performer through music education! A love for music, hard work, dedication and a whole lot of passion will take you to great places. For me, there is no typical week. Every single day is different from the next! The one consistent thing in my life is that I wake up and get to make music that I love! I teach during the week, rehearse alone and in numerous ensembles, spend time writing new material, I travel to be a part of my acoustic duo, Afterglow Acoustic, both for rehearsals and gigs, I perform during the weekends both as a solo artist and with Afterglow Acoustic at events such as weddings, birthdays, charity events, local promotions and corporate events, and finally I spend a lot of time acting as a booking agent for both acts, dealing with all enquiries, making sure that all bookings are in order and that the client is getting the best from us.

Music is very rewarding, the fact that my weeks are never the same keep it interesting and as a creative I get bored quite easily doing the same thing over and over, so it is ideal for me! I love tutoring and seeing my students achieve something and watching their faces light up and leave my lesson on cloud nine. Getting that review after a performance is great, whether it be verbal or in written, it is always a great feeling knowing that you’ve pleased your audience. I have so many dreams and plans for the future. I am currently working on my own music and aim to release this within the next year, something that I have never done before and I am so so excited! The only downside is that I often spend a lot of time alone and there is a certain level of insecurity - you never know where your next job could be! I find both of these very hard, I hate being alone and I am a planner so hate uncertainty!

My advice for readers who would like to follow a similar path? Go for it!! Put 100% into everything that you do! Take inspiration from others, this will make you want to try harder - but never compare your self to others - be yourself.

Follow Georgia Rae's Facebook music page here: https://www.facebook.com/georgiaraekmusic/

Cathy says:
Wow! I love Georgia Rae's story and hope it can inspire my younger readers who might like a career in music too... amazing! What's YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 14 June 2019

GRACE'S GUIDE TO THE CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS... AND BOY!

Reader Grace is mad about the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series... check out her quick, fun fact file on the five sisters!

Grace says:
I love The Chocolate Box Girls!! My favourites are Honey and Cherry. I've read CHERRY CRUSH, MARSHMALLOW SKYE, SUMMER'S DREAM, BITTERSWEET, COCO CARAMEL and SWEET HONEY - I am reading FORTUNE COOKIE at the moment. This is what I think about the main characters...

Cherry Costello: Nice, kind, friendly (even to Honey), tries to get along with Honey, and likes telling stories. 

Loves: Gypsy caravan, Shay Fletcher, Paddy, Skye, Summer, Coco, Charlotte and Kiko, her room at Tanglewood, stories about Sakura.

Skye Tanberry: Shy, kind, nice, friendly, gets along with everyone in the family. 

Loves: Going back in time, Jamie Finch, Charlotte, Paddy, Greg, Summer, Coco, Honey, Cherry, being with Millie.
                                                                                

Summer Tanberry: Kind, friendly, nice, hardworking, anxious, thin. 
Loves: Ballet, Paddy, Charlotte, Greg, Skye, Coco, Honey, Cherry, Alfie Anderson, flower from Alfie, having a Valentine's birthday and Tia.

Coco Tanberry: Kind, shy, nervous, worried about saving the earth.
Loves: Charlotte, Paddy, Greg, Skye, Summer, Honey, Cherry, Sarah, Amy, Jayde, Lawrie Marshall, animals, Caramel, Spirit and Star.

Honey Tanberry: Moody, selfish, impulsive but sometimes kind and caring. 

Loves: Charlotte, Greg, Skye, Summer, Coco, Ash, Riley, Bennie, Tara, Skype, Australia and Emma. 

Jake Cooke: Scared of leaks, clumsy, scared, nice, caring.
Loves: Alison, Greg, Skype, Skye, Summer, Coco, Cherry, Paddy, Honey, Charlotte, Maisie, Isla, Chinatown, Kitnor.

Cathy says:
I love Grace's verdict on the main characters... what do YOU think? Is there anything you'd add or disagree with? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

SKYLAR: COMING OUT AS TRANS

Heart-wrenchingly honest blog from Skylar, about discovering his true identity - and coming to terms with it...

Skylar says:
I think I was sixteen when I first learned what being trans meant. I wasn’t really familiar with the concept before that – if you’d asked me what a transgender person was, I probably would have said something about men wearing dresses. I had very little idea what the word meant - it just wasn’t talked about in my small Scottish town. I spent most of my life very confused up until I was sixteen, with no words to describe exactly how I was feeling. I had this overwhelming sense that I didn’t belong anywhere; no matter who I spoke to or how I dressed, nothing felt right. I remember telling a friend once that I would have preferred to have been “born a boy”. I had no idea what that meant for me - I just thought that I was stuck being a girl because that’s what I had to be, no other option.

At sixteen, I stumbled across an online blog written by a trans person. That’s where it all started. From the moment I started reading, it was like I’d finally cleared the fog in my head. Everything made sense. Why I never felt like I belonged, why I had so many insecurities about my body, why I identified with boy characters in books more than the girls. I realised that there were others who felt how I felt. It was amazing, realising that you didn’t have to identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. I finally had the language to describe how I was feeling. I'd been questioning my gender identity for years without realising. At college, there was a LGBTQIA group and I spoke to a youth worker who helped me unpack the thoughts I was having. It took months to feel comfortable identifying as trans. I spent a long time trying out different pronouns and names in my head, trying to figure it all out. The first time I heard someone else call me “him” it was the most validating experience ever. I kept replaying it in my head for the rest of the day!

I officially came out as trans to all of my friends and family when I was eighteen. I came out to close friends first, and received an overwhelmingly supportive response from almost everyone. I then came out to my family. They struggled to accept it, especially my mum, and I felt very rejected. A lot of other circumstances were in play, and I ended up leaving home suddenly and becoming homeless. Around the same time I  learned first hand that being trans came with its hardships - healthcare professionals were sometimes ignorant and discriminatory, people online had so much hate to spread, and not everyone I came out to respected my new identity. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but I received continuous support from LGBT Youth Scotland, and from my new found community of fellow trans people, which made it a little easier. But it was still a very long time before I got over the pain of feeling like my identity was a burden on others. Years later, after rebuilding my relationship with my family, I know that they didn’t mean any harm. There was a lot going on at home already, and it was just a bit too much all at once. My mum and I understand each other a lot more now, and she’s one of my biggest supporters. She uses the right name and pronouns, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for rethinking her world view for me.

I’d encourage any young people reading this that think they may be gay, bi, trans, non-binary or are questioning who they are even a little bit, to know that it gets easier. That’s such a common phrase that I feel it’s became a stereotype, but it’s so true. It didn’t get better for me for a while, and it was definitely baby steps when things did start looking up. But I wouldn’t change any of it. All of the hardship, the questioning, the negative reactions, the turbulent living situations - it made me stronger and more sure of myself in the end. Look for communities online or in your area where you might be able to find a sense of belonging. Look for youth/support groups you can attend in your area - you might be surprised at the resources you can find with a little research!

I’m now in a place where I’m surrounded by people who validate my identity, and when I run into people who disrespect it, I’m able to brush it off. I know who I am, so why let a stranger’s words change that? It takes a while to get there - it’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative things people have to say, especially online. But I promise you, all you have to do is look a little harder, and there are countless people ready to provide their support and kindness. Is absolutely everyone in the world ready for us? No, maybe not. But they will be! One day, they will be.

Photos courtesy of Pexels.

Cathy says:
Skylar's story is so honest and heartfelt - it has clearly taken a lot of courage to share, and I hope it helps others to understand more what it feels like to be trans. Do YOU have any words of support for Skylar? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts...

Friday, 7 June 2019

MARILYNE: ARCHAEOLOGIST!

Another in our regular series on cool careers... we talk to Marilyne, an archaeologist living in France!

Marilyne says:
I decided I would be an archaeologist when I was six and began to spend summers volunteering at sites when I was sixteen. I studied at the universities in Nancy and Lyon - I wanted to study Mesopotamian history, but it was not possible, so, as I loved the Middle-Ages, I decided to study the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. In France, we have some good laws protecting archaeological sites - before starting a building project, we check that there are no archaeological remains there, so that sites are no longer destroyed without study on our part.

Archaeology is a very difficult job - it is very far from the myth of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. It's a very physical and exhausting job, in any weather, rain or snow, and the salary is low, even with lots of diplomas. But…archaeology is my passion as well as my job. My brain is split in two: a part that lives here, today, and an other part that lives in the past with the Merovingians. I am still wondering how they lived, what did they look like! I have managed very beautiful projects and written many articles, but my best discovery is what newspapers have named : une bouteille à la terre, a bottle to the ground!!! On a site of the Merovingian era, we found a bottle with a letter dating from 1918. A letter, intact in its envelope, posted to Oklahoma city from an aunt writing to her nephew coming to war in France and posted in Lorraine. It was such a moment of emotion!

Sadly, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia so I can not search anymore or do the hard physical work of an archaeologist. I tried to think about another job, but I can’t leave… this is a passion, it’s under the skin. What do I do now everyday ? I read and correct the reports of the others, write historical records and do documentary and archival research. Sometimes, I imagine I could write books, stories about my Merovingians.

A tip to give to someone who would like to be an archaeologist? To start archaeological digs early.
It's the only way to know if the passion is really there. If it is, to prepare for an exciting but weary job, poorly paid… but if you have the passion, you will feel alive. You have to love the outdoors, but it's so much better than being locked in an office!

More details about archeology in France : www.inrap.fr.

Cathy says:
I LOVE this blog! As a teen, I dreamed of being an archaeologist, and later on my son had the same dream too, although he eventually took a different direction. Thank you Marilyne for sharing your love of this career with us - and please, write those books... I for one would read them! What is YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 3 June 2019

YOUR STARS FOR JUNE!

Skye Tanberry is back to bring you your horoscope for June... check out your starsign to see what could be in store!!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
You have been working so hard recently and your efforts have not been in vain! Be proud of all that you have accomplished and don’t forget to stop and take time for yourself! Like Cathy, your birthday will be coming up this month, so make sure that you plan something that you want to do with your friends and family. And try to have the best birthday ever!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Although being loyal to your friends is extremely important, if you notice that they have done something wrong, don’t be afraid to tell them - gently! A true friend will always listen and not be mad at you for expressing how you truly feel. If they don’t value your honesty, then they aren’t worth it.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
If you are dying to go on holiday this summer, but don’t have enough money, then try to plan something low key, but make it special! A trip to the park is good, but a surprise picnic is even better! Why not treat someone you love to a small surprise day out?

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Hard work is essential if you want to be successful, but remember to take time to stop and smell the roses. Try to make time for yourself and those around you. A day off once in a while will balance out your life and really help you to unwind!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
It may be fun to hang around with your friends all the time; but don’t forget about your family! It would make their day to know that you want to spend time with them once in a while too.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Try not to be jealous of people that have it better than you. Try to turn any jealous thoughts into productivity, that will be your drive in to getting you what you want most. And see how you can learn from those you envy!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
Patience is a virtue, but it can also be really frustrating! Don’t worry though, the thing that you want will be worth the wait!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
If you come across something that is broken, don’t think of it as a piece of rubbish. Think of it as a special project, that you can turn in to something beautiful!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Compromise can be hard, but with compromise can sometimes come the happiest outcome. So try not to think of it as a bad thing, try to think of it as a win for both sides.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Remember that it is okay to be scared, but don’t let fear rule your life! Make sure to get out there, even if perhaps you feel a little overwhelmed. You can conquer your fear and come out better for it,  on the other side!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are likely to succeed this month, but don’t be too impulsive! It’s essential to think through the outcome of each decision before you make it.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Sometimes you may not feel like sharing your things, be it sweets or ideas, to other students in your class. But if you start sharing more, then you may find that you receive more than you give away!

Cathy says:
Ooh, I actually got a name check in the Gemini horoscope this month! Thanks, Skye! Do Skye's predictions seem accurate for YOU this time? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

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