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Hello.

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Hello and welcome to the new #YoungWomanBigDreams blog.

There has been many things over the years that I wanted to write about, but I never really allowed myself the time. My blog originally started out on Google’s Blogger site, with the topic of ‘Life in Lower Level Management’. You can see the original here . Although I will move this content over to my new site.

There is so much more that I want to write about and so the new and improved blog is born.

Enjoy.

Love #YoungWomanBigDreams

Visiting Iceland, Part One: How we did it.

Big Travel Blog (4)We’ve just returned from a 5 day mini break to Iceland. The more I experienced the country the more I realized this blog post was going to be BIG. SO I’ve split it into two!

In this part is all about tips and advice for anyone who is thinking of heading to the stunning island.

So let’s get right to it..

Iceland is a BEAUTIFUL country. This place is more than just a tourist spot, the culture is outstanding and truly unique. From all of the places I have traveled this has been one of the most eye opening to experience.

Icelanders are all about preservation of their land and heritage and I can confidently say that I am in awe of their civilisation. It was one of the last places to be inhabited by humans and they have done it right.

Nearly all of Iceland’s heating and electricity needs are served by hydroelectric power and geothermal water reserves and the water from the tap is extremely pure and safe to drink.

They have strict rules about where you can and cannot drive, there is no railway system and no army. There are also laws on what names are allowed in Iceland, the point is to preserve Icelandic language.

You can learn more about local laws and customs on the GOV website here.

Iceland have quite a comprehensive bus system but the best and easiest way to travel is by car. They have vast roads that are well built and easy to travel on. Somehow they have managed to make an extremely minimal impact on the natural environment. We rented a car to get around. Although we both drive manual we opted for an automatic which we found helpful as we adjusted to driving on the right hand side of the road. As Iceland is part of Europe we both had mobile phone service so used these as a Sat-Nav. We even had signal way up in the mountains! You can find some driving advice from the Icelandic Transport Authority here.

Depending on the type of place you travel to sometimes it is cheaper to book flights & accommodation separately, this was not the case for this trip so we booked package deal with hotel & flights. We flew to Keflavik airport, which took about 3 hours and then drove to our apartment in Reykjavik, the drive was very smooth, it took about 45 minutes and the views were so enjoyable.

When looking for somewhere to stay we found it quite hard to find a place that didn’t have a shared bathroom that would fit our budget so we opted to get an apartment instead and stayed at the Blue Mountains. You can tell from the image below the view from our room was incredible. Check in was smooth, and the Wi-Fi and parking were free. There was also a nice place around the corner to get breakfast in the morning and we had free access to the gym next door (which we did not use).

Iceland is EXPENSIVE. It is the most expensive place we have ever visited and is the fourth most expensive country in the world. Part of this is down to the country being remote and lots of things being imported. The other reason is tourism, as it has increased five-fold since 2010. This is NOT sustainable to the preservation of the country and this ‘tourism tax’ is an effort to prevent over-crowding. Iceland has a population of just 332,000 but welcomed 490,000 foreign visitors in 2010.

Lastly I will say that please remember that you are in someone else’s homeland. It is important to be considerate of their wishes and beliefs when visiting.

For more information on Iceland I found this site helpful here.

Love

#YoungWomanBigDreams

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Shooting Sunset Images

BIG Dreams Photography (5)

I think my favourite landscape styles to photograph is a good old fashioned sunset (and sometimes sunrises too).

Other than the ‘being in the right place at the right time’ mentality I love the patience and skill it takes to get the right shot. Also it’s more fun in the editing process as there’s a wider range of colours. Adding a little extra contrast really gives the image the wow factor.

I have loads of sunset photographs but one of my first was taken at the top of the Empire State Building – November 2014.

A few years later I was lucky to get this shot whilst camping in the desert in Dubai – March 2015. It took me a while to get the angle and settings right so it is a bit darker than I like, but the colours are satisfying.You really have to work against the clock.

The sky definitely looks different depending on where you are in the world and what season it is. I can’t remember when exactly I took this image of the London Eye (I think summer 2014). You can see I have added some extra contrast to bring out the orange in the sky.

I dont travel with my tripod as its just not logistical. Although I have to hold the camera steady (limiting my shutter speed options) it is also good as I am not tied to one spot. I climbed over rocks to get this image (Sydney – Spring 2017). I was at quite a well known spot and there were quite a few other photographers there.

I’ll be honest about this next image.. I took it on my Iphone! You don’t need to be professional photographer or have expensive equipment to take nice images. This was in Brighton – Autumn 2016 on an unplanned trip so I didn’t have my camera with me. With modern technology the way it is, it has never been easier to take photographs.

My final image is actually a sun rise. I dont have a lot to say about it except it has good memories with it Miami – Autumn 2016. Taking meaningful photographs with good feelings is an important part of photography, so that I why I have included it.

Love

#YoungWomanBigDreams

Shooting landscape images at night

BIG Dreams Photography (5)

I took me quite a while to figure out which style of photography is my favourite. I tried out so many. Ranging from studio to editorial and from landscape to pack shots.

Eventually, I realised that I had a knack for (and quite enjoyed) landscape photography. I have a few different collections but one of my favourite styles is Landscape at Night. There is something very satisfying about the glistening city lights.

Due to the lighting differences it takes a lot of patience to get the image right. If you have the shutter speed too high then it’s too dark, too low and it can blur without a tripod (which I don’t always carry). Higher ISO makes it more noisy and lower too dark. However, the patience pays off when you get your final image.

One of my first successful images was of the Brooklyn Bridge in November 2014. I think it took about 50 shots to get this just right..

brooklyn bridge

I was on a role that evening as I managed to also get this shot of the Manhattan Skyline.

manhattenskyline

We walked around for hours trying to get a good view. Here’s me, taking the shot:

me taking image

I’ll try not to drone on too much about the New York skyline but here is another image I took of the city at night. This was a few days later. Taken from the top of the Empire State Building:

empireskyline

I did take a break from photography for a while but here is a shot I got a few months later of a taxi boat in Dubai (April 2015):

dubai boat

I recently experimented with black and white night photography. I found there was less of a glare. Here is the outcome of the Sydney Harbour at night in black and white (April 2017).

sydneyharbour

Although Night Landscape Photography isn’t my strongest genre it is one of my favourites. Keep an eye out for my next blog post where I showcase my sunset skills.

Love

#YoungWomanBigDreams

Training for my first BIG run

Big Fitness Blog

Over the years I have done a few ‘long distance’ runs. I am still yet to complete a marathon but I have a few half marathons under my belt, amongst other things.

Although I had enjoyed running at school (I loved the 800M and 1500M track events) I had to train for a good 3 months or so before running my first ever 10km a few years after leaving school.

Running and general exercise are an excellent outlet for me personally, I have always found that once I get into a solid exercise regime it is easy to stick to. The hard part is actually getting into the routine.

I learnt that it takes 25% cardio, 25% diet, 25% routine and 25% mental stamina to run a long distance.

Instead of planning a whole weak of what exercises to do when, and what food to eat for each meal I found it best to set myself targets rather than actual tasks. Some examples: “I will go for 3 runs this week and build up to 5km by the end of the week.” “I will eat my 5 fruit and veg today and have 1 carb dish”. “I will do 3 cardio and 2 weight sessions this week.”

Another useful thing I found was signing up for running events. My most productive times have been when training for an event. Knowing I have a goal in mind helps me push myself harder. My first run was for charity and I told everyone about it, this definitely motivated me to train properly.

Finally, I will say that slow and steady is fine. I didn’t run for over a year after my last half marathon and I managed about 1km before having to stop. If it is your first time running, remember that you don’t start at the finish line. A week of running for 10 minutes a day is better than no running at all.

There is no better buzz than crossing that finish line so feel free to follow or subscribe to read more about my running experiences and fitness thoughts.

first10kmrun

Love

#YoungWomanBigDreams

Life In Lower Level Management – Being friendly without being friends

Life In Lower Level Management Header

The relationship you have with your team members is an ever changing experience – It is a privilege to be in the position of team leader (or corresponding job role.) You are a cross between a mentor, teacher, confidant, peace keeper, shoulder to cry on… and sometimes the authoritative figure among many other things.

You want your team to perform to the best of their ability, this rests highly (but not solely) on your relationship with them. You take their performance and general well being very personally. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one they have fighting their battles and other times their behavior can drive you mad. But where do you draw the line between boss and friend?

This is a particularly tricky thing to decipher if you have progressed up in the same office or department, your once colleagues and friends become your employees and the dynamic changes.

Everyone is different and will view your position / role / promotion differently – it is in your employees best interest (as well as yours and the businesses) to remember that you are not friends. You are there to manage, whether that be through being a shoulder to cry on or by being the authoritative figure. It may sound blunt, but can you really make the best decision for your employees if you are looking at them through the rose tinted glasses of friendship?

The answer is no.

You do not need to run out and start burning bridges with those friends you had made that have changed from your colleague to employee, but you have to remember to keep it professional. It will ALWAYS be in their best interest if you manage them as a boss and not a friend. It’s also correct to treat everyone fairly. I would use the friendship to have a good working relationship with the person, but otherwise keep the friendship out of the office environment.

Of course, you may have to deal with employees that did not start out as your friend. Quite simply.. remain fair, professional, approachable and caring. You shouldn’t treat these employees any different than you would anyone else. Everyone responds to a different management style but the fundamentals are always the same.

I will touch on dealing with challenging employees at a later date.

American author Travis Bardberry said “More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts”

Regards

#YoungWomanBigDreams

Life In Lower Level Management – Being taken seriously by not taking yourself too seriously

Life In Lower Level Management Header

When you step into your new role of running a team (whatever the size) it is always a top priority to be taken seriously – for me atleast. Whether this is by your boss, your peers or by your new team. But there is a fine line between appearing to know what you are doing, and actually knowing what you are doing.

You want people to behave and perform as instructed, but this is easier said than done. Of course you want there to be some measurable results right away, you need to reassure whoever hired you that it was the right choice. But be cautious of your approach in this. You may be tempted to ‘lay down the law’ with your team by implementing high targets that come with bad consequences if missed.

This is a mistake.

If you want to be taken seriously and see some sustainable improvement with your teams performance you have to be patient.

The first few days, weeks and months of your role are all about patience. Take some time to get to know your team members individually. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their likes and dislikes? You have to tailor their targets based on their capability and learning style.

This is a slow process, but it is worth it.

Your team will see your genuine interest and understand the time you have invested in them. You are more likely to be taken seriously if you share the same end goal and work on it together.

Of course, getting results takes a lot more than patience. You need good communication, approach-ability, good team building and so much more. But for now lets focus on being taken seriously and the patience that comes with it. I will touch on all of these other points in future posts.

As author Charles W Chesnutt said, “We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things”

Regards

#YoungWomanBigDreams