Category Archives: Life

Miranda’s Book Club Has Launched!

Online and London Book Club | Miranda's Notebook

I’m so excited to announce the first book for the Miranda’s Notebook Book Club; some of you who know me well will likely have guessed which author I would pick already….so (drumroll please) the first book is:

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

‘After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. There she finds Patience a changed woman, downtrodden by her violent husband, Joss Merlyn. Mary discovers that the inn is a front for a lawless gang of criminals, and is unwillingly dragged into their dangerous world of smuggling and murder. Despite herself, she becomes powerfully attracted to a man she dares not trust – Joss Merlyn’s brother. Before long she will be forced to cross her own moral line to save herself.’ – Virago Modern Classics

Daphne du Maurier is one of my very favourite authors, and I always think her novels are fantastic for sparking discussion. As the blog theme for February will be romance, I thought it appropriate to pick one of her most dramatically romantic books. I first read Jamaica Inn as a teenager, and haven’t revisited it since, so my recollections of the novel are rather hazy, and I’m looking forward to finding out what my impressions of the book will be as an adult.

I can’t wait to read it together and discuss it with all who take part!

There will be opportunities to join both an online and in person (for those in London) version of the Book Club. Both will be held on the last Wednesday of every month. The in person meet-ups will be held at a location on the Southbank, from 6.30-7.30pm. I’ll most likely be bringing along cake, as I do always feel a slice goes rather well with book chat! If you’re interested in joining the London Book Club get-togethers (and I do hope you are!), then please pop your email in the form below (or here, if you’re reading this in your email and can’t see the form) so I can provide you with more details (you’ll only be signed up to receive London Book Club news):

Please don’t be shy – all the Miranda’s Notebook readers I have met so far have been a very friendly bunch 🙂

In terms of the Online Book Club, I’ll publish a blog post recounting my thoughts on the book, with questions to invite further discussion on the last Wednesday of every month (see below for a list of dates and upcoming titles). There will also be some Cornwall / Daphne du Maurier themed posts published throughout February. I’m toying with different ideas of how best to host an online book group at the moment, so please bear with me as I iron out any initial wrinkles. If you have any ideas or suggestions for what you’d most like from an online book club, then please let me know.

If you’d like to read ahead, then here are the book choices for the following few months, with the dates for discussion and meet-ups:

**February 22nd – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

**March 29th – Longbourn by Jo Baker

**April 26th – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Will you be joining the Miranda’s Notebook Book Club discussion? Have you read any Daphne du Maurier books already, or are you excited to start your first? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Fun Things | January 2017

I always enjoy writing my ‘fun things to see and do’ posts each month, as they encourage me to seek out the best of what’s available in London, as well as more general ways I can get the most enjoyment from the passing months. There are some especially good exhibitions currently on or just about to begin in London, so I foresee a lot of cultural outings at the start of the year.

1/ Go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s definitely time to renew my membership to the DPG, as 2017 looks set to be a stellar year for this beautiful gallery. There’s still time to catch the fascinating sounding Am I Rembrandt? show, which I’d like to see. Also, Bloomsbury Group lovers can rejoice at the upcoming Vanessa Bell exhibition (incredibly, the first major solo exhibition of her work), which opens the beginning of February. I’m also extremely excited for the John Singer Sargent exhibition (one of my very favourite artists, and his paintings are always even more luminescent in person) and the celebration of Tove Jansson’s The Moomins. If you know any children who love Moominland, then be sure to drop by Adventures in Moominland at the Southbank Centre too.

2/ Continuing the Bloomsbury theme, on 28th January Sussex Modernism is opening at 2 Temple Place and is a must-visit for fans of Charleston. The exhibition is free entry so there’s no excuse not to go, especially as this beautiful space is generally closed to the public.

3/ Go to the cinema. A friend and I got each other membership to the Prince Charles Cinema as a Christmas present, with a resolution to see more films together in 2017. The cinema is fortunately easy on the pocket, with members’ tickets costing as low as £1, so it’s a perfect January activity!

4/ Eat what you love. I very much enjoyed this timely article describing food writer Ruby Tandoh’s philosophy on eating for pleasure, as well as nourishment.

5/ Join a library. It’s definitely the month to curl up with a good book in the evenings, but January is generally also a time when you’re watching your pennies, so why not check out on what’s on offer at your local library, rather than buying something new? It’s also worth noting that library memberships often give you (free) access to online sources of audiobooks. I’m currently working my way through a vast list of Agatha Christie books, which I listen to as I cook or embroider.

6/ Celebrate Chinese New Year (28th January). Indulging my love of dumplings, I’m thinking of making this soup from Smitten Kitchen. I would also love to see the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House & Garden.

7/ Visit Greenwich to see the raved-about Emma Hamilton exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. If you happen to be called Emma, then you can even visit for free this weekend (14-15th January)! Just bring along some proof of ID….

8/ Celebrate Burns Night at Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair. From 6pm on the 25th, guests will be greeted with bagpipes, haggis canapes, whiskey and a poetry reading in honour of Scotland’s much-loved poet, Robert Burns.

9/ Do Yoga for your face. Much as I appreciate a great moisturiser (and sun block!), I also believe that exercising the muscles in your face is as good as exercising the muscles in your body. I keep this book by the mirror in my bedroom and have started trying to incorporate some of the suggested movements into my morning skincare routine. This article has some quick and easy to do exercises too.

10/ Write your thank you cards. I managed to send some of mine off just after Christmas, but then I lost momentum and still have a few to do. As I recently reorganised my office, I realise I’m positively overflowing with pretty stationery, so there’s no excuse not to write all my thank you notes!

A Few More Things

++ Meeting a blog reader for the first time in Richmond today, as well as attending a fun skincare related event at Debenhams.

++ Cocktails with friends at Quo Vadis (my favourite Soho hangout).

++ A day trip to Cambridge. There were some fabulous £6 ticket deals available for trains to Cambridge, so I’m treating myself to an afternoon exploring a different city.

++ Spending a week in Geneva at the end of the month.

++ Having an ‘Ask Miranda’ Skype chat with Melanie.

++ Working on my current embroidery project.

++ Meeting up with some of my lovely blogger friends, Milly and Isla.

Has anything on my list resonated with you? What are you looking forward to this January?

P.S. If you love London, why not sign up for my newsletter? I send out a weekly ‘Postcard From London,’ featuring bitesize information about my favourite London discoveries, as well as a monthly roundup sharing what I’ve been doing and loving most lately. Simply fill in your email address below (or go here) and check your email to confirm your subscription.

T&T 10 | Theme Word for 2017

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Today on Tea & Tattle, Sophie and I are sharing our wishes for the year ahead. We’ve each chosen a theme word for 2017, which we hope will help us to achieve our goals and keep us in a positive, forward-thinking mindset. We both agree that trying to stick to a long list of New Year resolutions never works very well for either of us, so this January we’ve chosen instead to focus on one word that sets the tone for the year ahead. Sophie especially is anticipating some big and exciting changes in 2017, and I share the number one thing that I hope will help me improve in all areas of my life.

Also, we’ve introduced a little change to the podcast: instead of our regular ‘do-over’ section, we’ve decided instead to check in on each other’s goals quarterly throughout the year and discuss whether we need to make any adjustments or improvements to our habits. Instead of the usual ‘do-over’ section, then, we’re sharing snippets of some of the wonderful comments and feedback we receive from you, our listeners! It’s our aim to create a real dialogue with Tea & Tattle Podcast, so we were happy to think of a way we could incorporate the insightful, fun and interesting things our listeners let us know too.

Thank you as always to everyone for getting in touch and letting us know your thoughts on the latest episode. What would be your theme word for the year?

Happy Listening!

On Beginnings

Happy New Year ~ reflections on January ~ the pleasures of beginnings ~ theme of the month ~ my own beginnings for 2017

Hello and Happy New Year! It’s great to be back to the blog (and, as you can see, I’ve done a few little updates to the design), although I definitely enjoyed taking a bit of a digital detox over the holidays. Unfortunately, both my Mum and I were rather ill over Christmas and New Year’s, but we relished the fact that, for once, we could just lie on the couch and do nothing until the lurgy passed. I also managed to completely reorganise my wardrobe, bookshelves and office over the holidays, which has definitely left me feeling a little smug. We’ll see how long it lasts….

January, my least favourite month of the year, often finds me a little dispirited, with the prospect of February and March looming ahead not doing much to diminish the gloom of these grey days. This year, however, I sense a change. Blogging has helped me to connect more with the seasons, to pay attention to the rituals of each passing month, and in doing so, I’ve learnt to appreciate each stage of the year so much more. For me, January is a time for cosiness, with quiet evenings spent reading or knitting, but it is also a time for beginnings. Are there any months more pregnant with possibility than the first month of a new year?In general, I like beginnings so much better than endings: opening the first page of a new book; stepping off a plane into an unknown country; putting pen to paper on a white page of a fresh notebook; catching the sunrise over a beautiful landscape; butterflies in your stomach as you get ready for a first date with someone you like. There is definitely a lot that is intoxicating about beginnings, which is partly why it’s so easy to get fired up and start so many New Year’s Resolutions.

The hard part, of course, is what comes after a beginning, when excitement, novelty and optimism have deadened, giving way to less pleasurable experiences. Change always brings its challenges, and it can be all too easy to leave those new projects and intentions at the beginning stages, never finishing anything or creating a lasting change. I no longer write New Year’s resolutions, as I found I never stuck to them for long; instead I now choose a theme word for the year (I share what mine is for this year in tomorrow’s Tea & Tattle episode), and it serves as a good reminder whenever I go off course.As well as having a theme word for the year, I thought it would also be fun to introduce a particular theme for each month. For January, then, I am focusing on beginnings: early rises to greet the dawn, nourishing breakfasts that set me up for the day, fresh projects, different approaches and new friendships. These topics will be reflected in blog posts throughout the month, but here are a few beginnings I’ve just started or am about to commence:

Building A Capsule Wardrobe

I am gradually shifting my closet towards a capsule wardrobe, and over Christmas I donated or gave away about 20 bags worth of clothes! This month, I’ll be continuing to think more about my style and any changes I want to make as I go into my 30s.

Using Mantras

I’ve started writing down short phrases that especially resonant with me in a place where I see them often (e.g. my diary). The ones I’m using to keep me inspired, motivated and lighthearted at the moment are: accept people where they are, do small things with great love and it’s what you do everyday that counts.

Keeping A Journal

A few days ago, I read this fantastic article on the benefits of writing a daily diary, and it immediately changed my perspective on journal keeping. Never having had much interest in journalling before, I dug out one of my prettiest notebooks and a pen and got started straight away. My very first entry taught me a valuable lesson and a rather shocking realisation about myself that has made me determined to keep at it. I think this subject deserves its very own blog post, so I won’t say anymore for now, but I’ll be writing about it soon.

A New Book Series

For Christmas, I received all of the Murder Most Unladylike books, and I love them! It always feels exciting to discover a new series, with all the pleasure of the next book ready and waiting before you. These mysteries are technically children’s books, but I know many an adult enjoying them too. They’re like a cross between Mallory Towers and Miss Marple – delightful!

Sleek Technique Nutrition Programme

On 10th January, I’m joining the fabulous Victoria and Flik from Sleek Technique, as well as other dedicated Sleekers, in the Ballerina Body Nutrition Programme. I spoke with Flik and Victoria on Tea & Tattle about the programme, and I’m looking forward to a bit of a body reset after the indulgences of Christmas (although I do have cocktails with girlfriends scheduled on the 12th….whoops!!).

I’m hoping many of these beginnings develop into lasting habits; I’d be proud if I stuck to keeping a journal for a year, for instance. We’ll see how I do!

Are you starting anything new this January? What kinds of beginnings do you enjoy best?

P.S. If you like my updo in the photo at the top of this post, then you may be interested to know that I got it done by Prettly, and they’re currently offering Miranda’s Notebook fans 50% off their beauty treatments (offer valid until September 2017). Use the code N-MIRANDA to get the discount.

T&T 09 | Sleek Technique Interview

Click here to listen to the latest Tea & Tattle podcast episode. You can also listen for free on iTunes.

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the holidays and are starting the New Year feeling refreshed and invigorated. For Tea & Tattle’s first episode of 2017, I’m interviewing the lovely Victoria Marr and Flik Swan, best friends and founders of the ballet-inspired fitness programme Sleek Technique. If you’re seeking some fitness inspiration to meet your health goals for 2017 (or are fascinated by the world of ballet), then this is the perfect episode for you. And fear not: even if you’ve never done a single plié, Sleek Technique is still highly accessible, and you’ll be getting those ballerina legs in no time!

I first discovered Sleek Technique one January a few years ago, at a time when I desperately needed a fitness routine that I could do from home and that was as enjoyable as it was challenging. I was gritting my teeth getting through a job I didn’t particularly enjoy at the time, and I knew that instead of coming home and feeling miserable most evenings, I had to find something fun to do instead. I started taking 1-2 Sleek Technique Live Classes a night, and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. My mood transformed, and it was wonderful to feel strong and graceful again.

As you’ll notice in this episode, both Victoria and Flik have such friendly, bubbly personalities that it’s hard not to smile all through their classes (hard work though they may be!). I loved hearing about how they switched careers from professional dancers to fitness entrepreneurs in this interview, as well as their tips for keeping on track with your exercise routine and their advice on creating a successful business with your best friend.

I’ve also signed up to join in the new Sleek Technique Full Ballerina Body Nutrition Programme, which starts January 10th (we discuss it a little in the episode). I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, and do drop me a line if you’re keen to try it as well, as it would be fun to know if anyone else is doing it too!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017! I so enjoyed this Sleek Technique interview and hope you do too! I’ll be back with regular Miranda’s Notebook blog posts on Monday; in the meantime – happy listening!

Some Blog Housekeeping (and Merry Christmas!)

December really ran away from me this year. I was talking with a friend over coffee the other day, and we were both reflecting on the craziness that was 2016 and how quickly time passes. Granted, this is a friend who has children, which made my complaints feel rather small in comparison. I mean, I’m sitting there thinking ‘goodness, I blink, and I’ve missed the time slot for publishing my Christmas gift guide,’ whilst my friend is pondering how she can possibly have a child taking GCSE exams this year. So yes…rather different priorities, and I have to say that I’m pretty thankful that not publishing a Christmas Gift Guide is my biggest concern at the moment.

I must admit, I’m really looking forward to taking a break over the holidays. Much as I’ve loved the start of Tea & Tattle, it does mean I’ve been working flat out, weekends very much included, ever since the launch, trying to juggle teaching and blog and podcast and social life. I have a very large laundry pile.

Blog Contributors

Before I get down to my laundry and also some creative writing (which I’ve woefully neglected of late, but my goal is to finish a short story over the holidays), there are a few things I want to announce that are blog related. I think I was slightly mad thinking I could arrange possible contributors this month. To be honest, I thought maybe only 1 or 2 people would respond, and I was rather overwhelmed by the many emails I received! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply to several of you yet; I shall do so in the New Year. Thanks to all those who have expressed an interest. I’m not sure how many contributors I’ll be able to accept, as I want to start this process very slowly on the blog to see how best it suits myself and others, but I’m very grateful to all who contacted, and I shall be in touch asap.

Skype Blog Sessions

Again, I think I was a little mad picking December as my first month to start this! I’m bumping my first session to January, and of course I hated the idea of not picking everyone who responded asking for advice, so instead I’ve chosen you all!  Rather than offering this every month, then, I’ll only announce this offer every 5-6 months and pick 5-6 people who respond each time. Melanie, you’re the first, with a January session! I’ll send you an email to set this up asap. The others selected are: Lauren (for February); Ana (March); Llinos (April); Anika (May). I’ll be in touch with all you ladies in the New Year!

I’ll also publish some #askmiranda videos in January, based on the questions I received, which I can’t wait to tackle!

Book Club

The Miranda’s Notebook Online Book Club is officially launching in January, when I’ll share the first choice of book, which will be discussed in February. I’m really excited about this and hope many of you will be keen to join in! For anyone London-based, would you mind letting me know if you’d be interested in having an in person book group too, where we all get together to discuss the book?

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Thank you so much to all of you who have read and supported Miranda’s Notebook throughout the past year(s). This online space enhances my life so much, and I’m very grateful to everyone who takes the time to read and comment. I hope you all have a truly fabulous Christmas and a spectacular year ahead of you. I’ll be back blogging on 9th January, and Tea & Tattle will be resuming on 3rd January (with an interview with the gorgeous ballerinas, Victoria Marr and Flik Swan, founders of Sleek Technique). In the meantime, you can keep up to date with me on Instagram.

See you in the New Year!

T&T 08 | Christmas Traditions

christmastraditions

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here.

In our final episode of 2016, Sophie and I have put together a special Christmas bumper edition of Tea & Tattle. We share some of our favourite traditions that we each celebrate every Christmas, and read aloud extracts from some much loved festive reads. This episode is a little longer than usual, but we picture you listening to it with a mince pie and hot chocolate (or mulled wine!) to hand, enjoying some well-deserved relaxation (it should also provide you with some good company if you’re still in the throes of Christmas wrapping and baking!). We’re taking a little break from T&T over the winter holiday, but will be back with a fantastic interview episode on 3rd January (see more details here), so be sure to tune in again then!

Happy Listening!

Stuck On Branding? Get A Free Skype Session With Me!

brandingsecrets

This Is A Passion Project

I am SO excited about this post. The idea for it suddenly popped into my head a couple of weeks ago, and at first I thought I was crazy, but then I realised it was exactly what I wanted to do.

More and more, I’m approached by people who want my advice about how to start a blog, or who want me to take a look at their website and suggest how it could be improved. Although I do my best to help the people I know personally, I simply don’t have the time to reply to emails that come in asking me to look over other blogs. However, that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want to help!

In My First Year of Blogging, I Had Questions Like These:

++ How can I create a consistent brand? Why is branding so important?

++ How can I create a pretty logo without hiring a photographer, graphic designer or illustrator?

++ How can I make my blog aesthetic stand out from all the other lifestyle websites?

++ How can I use photoshop to create images that match my branding?

++ How do you create watercolour backdrops? How can I use pretty illustrations that won’t cost the earth? Where can I find unusual fonts? Could I make my own screen-savers easily?

++ I want to diversify my brand: what’s the best way for me to go about doing this?

++ Which social media platforms are best for me to use? Do I focus on all, or only some?

++ Should I start a newsletter? How do I do this? Mail Chimp or Convert Kit?

++ How can I create downloadable PDF booklets I can send out to my readers?

It’s these questions I’d now like to help you to answer.

I still have a lot of questions, by the way, and I’m still figuring it out as I go along, but I definitely know a lot more than I did two years ago, and this experience is what led me to being able to brand, create, and launch a new podcast and website (Tea & Tattle) relatively smoothly, in a short amount of time. It’s that experience that also enabled me to sign on guests for the podcast before it even launched, and that helped get Tea & Tattle on the New & Noteworthy list on iTunes.

When I Started Blogging, I Had No One To Help Me

And I couldn’t afford to pay for expensive courses that wouldn’t guarantee success anyway. My initial blogging experience was a frustrating one: the person I hired (and paid a lot of money) to build my website turned out to know next to nothing about website creation, leaving me completely in the lurch.  I knew no other bloggers and didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice. Everything I’ve learnt about blogging I’ve gained through trial and error and through ingesting as much free information as I could.

I always felt a little resentful that a lot of information offered by bloggers was not free, or that the free information given often promised a lot but was in fact extremely watered down and very general. Now, I completely agree that investing time and money into learning from experienced professionals with a proven success record is extremely beneficial. However, rents are high in London; it’s very hard to justify an expensive photoshop course on your ‘hobby.’ Also, I was sometimes doubtful about the quality of the courses I saw offered; after my initial website disaster, I didn’t want to get burnt again.

I Vowed That One Day I Would Share My Knowledge For Free

As soon as I know anything about blogging, I would say to myself, I’ll share it for free. And that’s exactly what I still want to do. The question I’ve been struggling a little bit with is how. I don’t want Miranda’s Notebook to become another blogger advice blog, and the largest proportion of my readers aren’t fellow bloggers anyway. Also: the more specific the advice, generally the most useful.

This Is My Idea

I am starting the hashtag #askmiranda for you to ask me all your blog related questions. They don’t have to be just blog questions, by the way, feel free to ask me anything you’d like to know about me, or for any advice or tips on a particular subject. I’ll create regular videos answering the questions, but I’ll also pick ONE person a month (starting December) for a 45 minute Skype session where we’ll discuss their blog’s branding, whether the blog is brand new, still a pipe-dream or needing a bit of a refresh. I’ll be happy to have a thorough look through your blog and offer any advice or tips I’m able to give. This will be your chance to really pick my brain! I’m choosing branding as my topic, because I truly believe getting a clear idea of your brand is what helps everything else: suddenly you’ll know how to style your pics, the kinds of connections you should be trying to make and the ways in which you can make your blog stand out.

I am by no means an expert, and I still have a lot to learn; however, I do honestly feel that I can be of value in this area. Also, if there’s interest, I will potentially offer free Skype sessions unrelated to blogging, but on other topics such as: productivity & how to get more time for creativity into your everyday, setting up a morning routine that will transform your day and personal style advice. Just let me know what topics you’d like help and / or advice on!

#askmiranda

 If you’d like a chance to get a Skype session with me to discuss your blog and branding, then comment on this post with the questions you’d like to ask me, or reach out on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, tagging me and using the hashtag #askmiranda.

As I said, even if you’re not interested in a Skype session, but would still like to ask me some questions, then please do ask away, and I’ll do my best to answer them in future videos.

I’m so excited about this new project and hope you will enjoy it too! If you have a friend who you think would be interested in some blogging advice, please let them know about #askmiranda too. I’d so appreciate you helping to spread the word! 

My Thankfulness List

thankfulness

Even though I no longer live in the US, I still enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving and I still take the time to reflect on the past year and make a list of everything I’m most grateful for at this stage in my life. Here’s my list for this year:

1/ My office. I always feel more peaceful and grounded when I come into my office on the days I can work at home and settle down to write. My desk is tiny, but sweet, and I like to add pretty details, like attractive notebooks, a rose in a vase, an attractive bottle of perfume and a scented candle to make the space feel truly my own.

2/ People who have the gift to uplift and inspire. You know the people in your life who always leave you feeling that little bit happier, or have the knack of igniting that spark of creativity and joy in others, as well as themselves? These friends are truly the special ones, and I’m always thankful for them.

3/ Focus. After some shaky months over the summer, when I felt oddly distracted and unable to settle, I’m grateful that my true focus and clarity of purpose has returned.

4/ Tea & Tattle. I can’t believe Tea & Tattle has only been going for two weeks; it’s brought me so much joy and excitement already. Being able to do a creative project with such a good friend is a lot of fun. Sometimes, blogging can feel a rather solitary experience, so getting to share a part of it with someone else is definitely enjoyable.

5/ Jane Austen. Always my refuge in moments of stress or crisis, I am eternally grateful for my collection of Jane Austen novels. In preparation for a few projects I’m turning over in the back of mind, I’ve been rereading all of her novels in odd moments of time as I commute on the tube or have a few minutes to kill at a coffee shop. What a joy it is to meet all my old favourite characters again!

Which things are you most thankful for at the moment?

Thoughts on Friendship

Lessons Learnt in My 20s | Friendship (via Miranda's Notebook)

Last week’s launch of Tea & Tattle Podcast has led me to reflect on many things, not least the importance of friendship. I count myself lucky to have some truly fantastic friends in my life (Sophie included), but I didn’t always feel this way, and many important lessons I learnt in my 20s centred on friendships. Here are a few of them:

Know Your Tribe

How I choose friends (and I mean real friends, not acquaintances) now is very different from how I chose friends in my early 20s. When I was younger, I generally thought that people who had similar interests to me would make the best pals. Over time, I’ve realised that, although of course it’s great if you both enjoy a trip to a gallery or baking a cake together, the best recipe for friendship is whether your values are the same. When you find people who match both your values and your interests, well, then you know you’ve met a kindred spirit.

Keep Open to New Friendships

Never close the doors to the possibility of new friendships. For some people, making friends comes more naturally than for others, but I still believe the art of making friends is definitely something that comes through practice. In general, I’ve found that starting a conversation with a smile and ‘Hi, my name’s Miranda‘ is often all that’s needed for the beginnings of what could well turn out to be a beautiful friendship.

Don’t Sacrifice Friendships for Relationships

We all have that friend: the one you never hear from again as soon as there’s a new boyfriend / girlfriend in the picture. We also all have that other friend : you ONLY hear from them when they’re in a relationship, and then they insist upon dragging their significant other to every single meet-up, whether it’s appropriate or not.

All I can say is: don’t be that person. It’s impossible to be completely fulfilled by a single other being (whatever Hollywood would like us to think), and it’s never a good idea to put that much pressure on someone else anyway. Be your own person, have your own friends. It’s fun!

Not Everyone is a Friend for Life

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that sometimes people are only meant to be your friend for a certain period of your life. I truly believe that there are worthwhile lessons to be learnt from anyone who enters your life, but that doesn’t mean everyone is meant to be part of your story forever. In the end, interests change and people grow apart naturally, so it’s best to accept the fact that even your best friends in high-school or university may very well not be in your close friend circle as you move into your 30s. Appreciate the good memories you’ve had with these people in the past, be thankful for the lessons these friendships have taught and move on with grace.

Accept Only the Best

As with any kind of relationship, you should be made to feel supported and loved by those closest to you. Of course, you need to do the same for them too! Although I’m always quick to pick up warning signs in romantic relationships, for much of my 20s I was terrible at noticing red flags in platonic friendships. Everyone goes through bad times, and part of being a good friend is to stick with people when they’re at their less than best, but there’s a definite line between being a sympathetic friend and allowing yourself to be treated like a doormat. In general, your friends should leave you feeling buoyant and confident; they should cheer on your successes and let you know they’re your biggest supporters. Anyone who leaves you feeling drained, disheartened or downright miserable isn’t worth your time. Although it can feel scary to let a friendship go, and you may also struggle with feelings of guilt, remember this: by stepping away from friendships that don’t bring you much joy, you make room for those that do, and the difference will lighten your heart.

Make Friends Beyond Your Peer Group

Limiting your circle of friends to only those your own age (or very close) is just that: limiting. I’ve always been open to making friends beyond my own generation, and several of my friends are either older or younger than me. I like to think this helps me to be a more understanding person and to have a broader perspective on life.

Keep in Touch

A big part of having great friendships is being a terrific friend yourself, and that means making an effort to stay in touch regularly. No one wants an absentee friend! Even if you have to set yourself reminders (and I mean literal reminders) to text someone every day / week / month – whatever is appropriate for your particular friendship – do it! Yes, your friends might notice they always hear from you at 9am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but they will appreciate that you’re making an effort to negotiate a hectic timetable (or an innate inability to organise) and will respond to you with warmth, rather than irritation over their unanswered messages. If you don’t generally have problems with communication, then occasionally try to go that extra mile: send someone a ‘just because’ card to let them know how much you appreciate them, or take a turn to suggest a fun meet-up.

There are great ways to keep in touch through social media too: for instance, I’m part of an instagram group that was set up to stay in communication with some of my lovely instagram friends. Rather than sometimes missing each other’s posts in the constant updates of our instagram feed, we send our new images privately to this group, and it’s a great way to have a little daily communication with each other and to see what’s happening in everyone’s life.

What lessons have you learnt about friendship? Did any of my own resonate particularly with you?

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