{To share} A space to call my own

For a while now, I have been feeling dissatisfied with my website and blog. Neither had done anything seriously wrong. In fact... they had both been good to me for a few years now. But I couldn't shake the feeling that things just weren't right.

I looked at ways to change them, to fit with the ascetic and tone that I had grown into. I subconsciously began to ignore them, hoping the feelings would pass. Moving from Cape Town to Edinburgh, then to London with all the joys, trials and travels in between only added to those feelings. Finally, I realised that despite the good times, they just didn't fit anymore. It wasn't all bad. I had found a love for photography, I was drawn to a more minimal style and in embracing these changes I found my voice again. *Ahem. Not in a cheesy Little Mermaid kind of way.*

This brings me to the present where, after a few months of tinkering and editing, I have combined everything into a sparkling new site to call my own. It is a work in progress, but aren't we all. Thank you to endless support from the ever patient, amazing boyfriend, family and a handful of wonderful friends. Huge amounts of gratitude and love to you all.

Have a look at designerisms.net and drop me a line if you have any feedback on the contact page. Thanks for stopping by and see you again soon!

{To share} 12 surefire ways to save money

Before I started saving to travel to New York last year, I was rather useless with money. "Where did my salary GO?" I would ask in dismay, staring at my empty bank account with hundreds of transactions littering the page, resulting in a lonely little zero. Really Burr? Those second flat white coffees you really didn't need, those shoes that were on sale and didn’t-really-go-with-much-but-who-was-judging-because-hello-they-were-on-sale? Erm. Yes, OK present self, you see it now. Wake up call.

I know how hard it can be. The media convinces us that we need more *stuff* to feel good. So we mindlessly spend spend spend. The more we make? The more we spend. We make life difficult for ourselves, justifying silly purchases which don’t make us happy in the long run. I have realised that mindfulness is a huge part of saving money. It’s not one of those things that will just ‘change if you leave things alone’. Well, if you leave your wallet at home, maybe. I digress.

Here are 12 ways that helped me break out of habits and learn to save. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This is not how to save casually for funsies… this is how I actually made enough to go to New York and later how I managed to save enough to move countries.

1. Find a goal to save for. This is important. A trip is a good one, or how about something grown up, like a car or enough to quit your hateful job and start your own business? Whatever it is, sit down and work out how much you want to, or need to save to get there. Be realistic.

2. Learn to say no. This is so simple, yet so important. Practice it out loud…. deep breath, and go! This little word will help with many of these tips.

3. Work out your expenses. I know these don’t sound like fun tasks and you are all waiting for the tip that involves eating copious amounts of ice cream as a magic solution, but it’s not quite that easy. This is important because it will help you see where you have been spending money unnecessarily. What’s coming into your account, or mattress *no judgement* and what is going out? Break it into the big things: rent, electricity, food etc. Be honest. Don’t hold back.

4. Decide how much you ‘need’ for entertainment. We will come back to this, but for now, look at the amount that’s left over after you have worked out expenses and entertainment (so eating out, movies, going out) and put that into a savings account.

So for example:

Salary: £1500 EXPENSES Rent & Electricity: £350 Food: £200 Gym & Medical Aid: £120 Transport: £70 Entertainment: £100 TOTAL: £840

£1500 - £840 = £660 (Goes into savings immediately. Do it.)

It sounds pretty hardcore but I learnt very quickly how little I really needed to get by on after my expenses. Once I worked out that I could put a quarter of my salary into a savings account and still live, I became so much more aware of how much I was spending on silly things.

5. NO ‘EXTRAS'. Seriously. This may be hard at first but it is one of the most important factors in this process. If you can’t walk around the shops with your friend without feeling tortured or giving in and buying something, then don’t go. It’s that simple. Avoid the temptation until you are out of the spending habit. When you go out, I’m sorry to tell you this but you will have to stop regularly having a few drinks, or eating snacks at a bar 'just for fun'. It wasn’t always easy for me but most people were understanding when I told them that I was saving, and the ones that aren’t? Really people. Come now. How did I do it? I ordered water… a lot. It will get easier.

 
 

You will become aware of how many coffees/drinks that you find yourself having “just because” and how much it’s actually costing you.

6. Don’t LIE to yourself. “But it’s just one coffee. What difference does it make?"

Coffee = £2.50. 1 month of coffee purchases = 4 coffees a week = £40 a month! x 12 months = £480 towards your goal.

7. Ask, “Do I NEED this?” A simple question and unless the thing you are questioning is a loaf of bread, the answer is usually always “No.” When I left South Africa, I got rid of 70% of my wardrobe. I donated most of it to charity, but also had a big sale with friends. Seeing all the items I had wasted so much time and money over as a burden (picture them taking up room in that one suitcase that you will then lug around London for 3 weeks) made me realise how each purchase has been mindless. Sale!? Done. Different colour to the one I have at home?! Done. Result? Broke and a room full of clothes I didn’t really wear, or even want anymore, and certainly didn’t need. Why not have a go at The Everygirl’s latest 30 Day challenge  to get started?

 

On that note…

8.  Cut the fat. Remove any expenses that aren’t necessary. Quit the gym for a few months and take up yoga at home, running or working out with a friend instead. Small sacrifices. Big reward.

 
 

This can also mean selling that old camera that you never, ever use. Let’s get down to basics. Make sure that your bank account or insurance isn’t costing you more than it should. Check that your air con or heating isn’t set to come on automatically each day. Again, this is all about being mindful and aware. Wherever possible, walk to places to avoid parking fees or public transport costs. Do you need 50 channels on TV? Is Netflix a cheaper option?

Whenever you have moments of frustration, picture yourself driving your new car, or sipping a cappuccino in a quaint cafe in Italy *insert dream goal here*.

9. “Honey, let’s stay home.” When friends want to meet up, just for this 3 months or so, rather socialise at your place or theirs. Instant money saver! Tea at a friend’s versus a pot of tea with cake, parking money and tip at a café? Simple maths right there. This may seem hard if you are in the habit of eating out a lot, but please note the word ‘habit’. Once you are used to thinking differently it will be easier. You need to be mindful and start to appreciate the simpler things. Re-arrange your room, read those books that you have sitting by your bed gathering dust, hang out with friends on the balcony that you love but never actually use. When people come for dinner, each person can bring a plate of food. Life doesn’t have to be expensive.

10. Be creative. No i don’t mean sell your hanger sculptures online, but hey, why not?

 
 

What I actually mean is, be creative about finding things to do that don’t require money. Public garden nearby? Use it. Neighbours dogs need walking? Bonus. See, it’s like an old school video game. If only a ding ding sound and flying pixels actually happened each time we saved money.

11. Make lunch to take into work. Requires fore planning, I know. But think how much time you will have now that you don’t go out as much ;) Here are some recipe ideas to get you started. While we are talking food, shopping in bulk is a great way to save. If you can, get to a farmer’s market or order a veg box. You will also be supporting the guys who grow the veg as opposed to the supermarkets who rip them off. Also, no ready meals or take aways. Yep. You heard me.

12. Make something visual to track your progress. A simple idea would be to buy a glass jar, and put a jelly bean inside for every £50 you save. Seeing the jar fill will remind you how well you’re doing. It isn’t science, but it helps.

Be firm for a few months and the end result, as well your renewed mindfulness, will be a great reward. What are your tried and tested ways to save? Some say this method helps too.

Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this. Believe me, it’s so worth it! Less meaningless stuff, more satisfaction. And.... GO!

{Ah, Mondays} Work stuffs

Hi there everyone. Yes, it seems to be Monday. I sometimes need a bit of a push on this day of the week, so this is the start of a new series. A titbit of inspiration to have with your breakfast.I hope that you are all remembering to be mindful and present in all that you do? I know that it isn't easy... so let's hear it from one of the greats to remind us to keep trucking:

staceyburr_monday01

Keep going dear readers! Over and out.

{To live} Feminism, change and Emma Watson
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Emma Watson has been appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. I love that someone who could just be out spending her thousands on drinking and clothes, sitting on yachts in the Med… has chosen to be openly passionate and involved about a cause that so many of us take for granted. She is using her fame for good. (Superhero joke, I digress…)

Just the other day, people in the office were talking about Scotland’s lack of interest in politics before the independence referendum. It’s hard to believe that less than a century ago, in the United Kingdom, women were turning to violence in desperation in order to show how much they wanted to be allowed to vote. Even after the First World War, where women worked in factories and pulled their weight in hospitals and other industries once see as male-only, after all that… Only a set few were allowed to vote.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE[/embed]

Today, many women still do not have this right. From education to voting, the world is still divided in some areas by gender. Emma Watson rightly says:

I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.

She acknowledges that most people see her simply as Hermione from the Harry Potter series, but she hasn’t let that label limit her. This movement allows us to look at how social expectations and limitations affect both men and women, and how we can face up to things in order to move forward. Something that resonated with me in particular was her statement

In my nervousness for this speech and my moments of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?

So many of us tend to bumble along, holding strong opinions about things but never acting on them. I despair about farmers being paid so little for their produce, yet I keep forgetting to order an organic box of veg from the nearby farm instead of supporting big chains like Tesco. I despair about sweat shops, yet I have shopped at Primark. We can do so many little things to make a difference. It’s not news to everyone that if we all do nothing, nothing will change. I was so inspired by this couple in Cape Town who have the courage to break the mould and do something to initiate change.

Her call to action is simple, she is asking men and boys worldwide to sign up at www.heforshe.org, to show that they are part of the movement towards unity, towards change. If you haven’t already, please share this movement on your social media platforms.

Image source. Please note that Hillel the Elder originally said "If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?"

{To wander} Edinburgh Festival Time 2014
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Well everyone, today marks the final day of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It has been incredible to be here during this time. A lot of locals find it manic, and yes, getting from A to B in town is trickier. :) But with the chaos is a fantastic, almost electric vibe, with street performers every few metres along the Royal Mile, doing an array of weird and wonderful things. From music to tap dancing, star wars characters to jugglers, the festival attracts a huge array of creative folk all vying for your attention. There are numerous hubs where larger shows take place, all with a great selection of some of the best street food I have ever had, and bars aplenty.

I love that eclectic, artsy Edinburgh opens its arms every year in August, to everyone. Nothing is too odd, no act too small. I have seen a mix of shows, some rather average (free comedy should come with a disclaimer) and some absolutely brilliant. My top three were: Camille O'Sullivan with her diva-esuqe, Irish charm, beautiful voice and wonderfully eccentric stage presence, David O'Doherty (loving the Irish) with his honest, genius comedy and trusty partner "Keybs" (his keyboard) and Abandoman - an outstanding team of three whose witty, energetic and engaging show is hip hop rap, comedy genius. 

Adding to the joy was a visit from a dear friend in London and another great friend from South Africa being sent here for work for five weeks over the festival. Fabulous! Without further a do, some photos from this month:

Some tips for maximum enjoyment next year:

- Wear comfortable walking shoes and take an umbrella (standard for Edinburgh exploration, really)

- Keep an open mind, but read reviews to make sure you catch some of the best shows

- Buy tickets at the festival box office , or check out the Half Price Hut next to the National Gallery to save money

- Be prepared to face crowds, and full pubs. If you want to have a relaxed meal, rather opt for the outskirts of New Town or further afield and avoid the Royal Mile come eating time

- Have a game plan for getting home aside from cabs late on a Saturday night

- Just embrace it. Take photos, have a laugh and soak it all up

There has been fireworks above the castle almost every night with the Military Tattoo and I for one will miss the air of celebration.

I loved showing Edinburgh off and it's amazing how much calm you can find from the chaos of the festival just a few steps up onto Calton Hill:

Megs and I did a bus tour of Edinburgh and it was so great to hear more about the history and visit the outside of the castle for the first time.

If you get the chance to visit Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, I can highly recommend it. Yes it's crowded, but it's worth it for the culture-feast! Keep exploring, dear readers.

{To Share} Dealing With Procrastination
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Today I would like to introduce you to a new series I’m doing called "The Pursuit of Purpose and Productivity”. Having freelanced on and off for 5 years now, I have been faced with many a challenge from a business perspective, but also as an individual. We all have those demons, the little habits that form over time that seem so harmless as a kid. For me, a biggie was procrastination. Something we all laugh about: “Hello? Yes hi Jess. Yep, I’m still re-organising my dvd collection. Today it’s in order of genre. Oh you have painted your nails three different colours today? Hardy ha ha! We are silly aren’t we?” Oftentimes it isn’t even as “productive" as that… Some days it’s watching mindless TV or making a cup of tea to fuel the strenuous task of staring at the wall.

Why do we procrastinate? For me, a huge factor is  fear, and the perfectionist in me. I fear failure, and I want to do things to the best of my ability. If the fear of failure grips me, I find myself putting off a task until I think I can put my all into it. But the danger there is that there is never a perfect time. Haven’t we all used the excuse, “But I work so much better under pressure!” Do we? DO WE? Or are we lying to ourselves to justify all the wasted time… There is something to be said for enforced time limits to mimic the push that last minute pressure gives us, but that’s a post for another day.

So what is the result of all this procrastination? I often end up “punishing” myself for procrastinating by forcing myself to stare at my computer screen, waiting for inspiration to strike, or simply staying at home instead of going for a walk on the beach, going for coffee or reading my book on a bench in a nearby park. One day I was staring blankly at my computer screen, with the sun shining outside and I was invited to go for a run, which I refused because I was reaching that last minute stage of the deadline and realised that what I was doing was completely ridiculous. That was the wake up call for me. I realised that procrastination is a thief of time (thank you Dickens). I was wasting time that I could be:

a) Following my dream and being a productive, awesome, creative force of brillianceb) Exploring, taking in the beauty around me and getting inspiredc) Relaxing, savouring something I love like a book or coffeed) Completing admin tasks that were weighing on my mind or exercising

Watching endless hours of re-runs I had seen before, or refolding my clothes, or scanning numbly through social media were not things that I wanted to write down in my journal to remember. Yes, you are probably thinking that not every moment can be noteworthy, but wouldn’t you rather TRY to make those moments purposeful, or have room for spontaneity feeling satisfied that everything you wanted to accomplish is done for the day/week?

It can take time to be free of the hold procrastination seems to have on you. I want to you to stop beating yourself up and instead get busy working towards the freedom from this vicious cycle, and the joy of guilt free spontaneity. Here is a recipe of sorts that I find helps. It can be repeated to distract from it and get you into better habits.

  1.  Firstly, look at your to-do list and pick a task that you know can be accomplished in an hour or so.
  2. Then, do something constructive. It doesn’t have to be connected to that task. It’s about relieving the pressure we associate with work. Even if it’s as tiny as replying an important email or clearing out the trash on your desktop. That, combined with a walk around the block, should clear your head and make you feel the slightest bit more resourceful.
  3. Now this is key. When you get back, DO NOT allow yourself to sit down and get on your phone. Ride the wave of resourcefulness. That little bit of energy and motivation you feel? Hang on tight. Go quickly onto something else. Depending on your goal… Get going with that first task. In my case I could start writing an article or wrap up a design I have been toying with for days.
  4. After 40 minutes, take a break. Not an hour long lounge on the couch watching cheesy TV. I mean a 5 minute break. Do some yoga (I used to laugh when people said this but I don’t mean a full session, just ease into downward dog for a few deep breaths), make some tea and look out the window. The important thing is to relax without easing back into bad habits like playing mindlessly on one’s phone or checking for grey hairs.
  5. Sit back down and wrap up that first task. Just do it. If you feel yourself drifting, remind yourself that this is just 40 minutes and you ONLY need to do this, and nothing else. Keep the thought of relaxing afterwards with no guilt in mind.
  6. Rinse and repeat. But yes, do it all over again if you can, or start slow and build up the process over a few days. Once we become aware of the awesomeness that we are missing out on, it's harder to drift back into wasteful, negative behaviour.

Note the word mindless that I have scattered through this article. Being mindful is SO important. In fact, being mindful isn’t part of procrastination. We blatantly chose lying on the couch knowing full well that it’s not a good idea and convince ourselves that we are tired or that it won’t be for long. Stop lying to yourself. Be proactively aware of what you are doing, and what you are accomplishing.

I hope that this helps. I know from experience how days of procrastination can sap ones' self-worth, so know that you are not alone, but do not accept it as something that is part of your character.

Do you struggle with procrastination? How do you get motivated to push through?

In my next segment of  “The Pursuit of Purpose and Productivity”, I will be looking at productivity and motivation further and how to continue recreating new, positive habits. Over and out fellow humans.